So a bit of a strange thing happened last Wednesday night – my balloon popped. The balloon is the part of the feeding tube that holds it in my intestine. Here’s a picture in case anyone is curious. The little white circle you can see in the picture is the balloon and it gets inflated with 5 to 10 mL of water once the tube is in place.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that it popped; I was having a pretty wild night, after all. I was sitting at my desk (just wait, it gets crazier) doing a 1000 piece puzzle (I’m not done yet) in my pajamas. This might not sound wild to you, but you should know that my pajama top did not match my pajama bottoms. Yeah, that’s right. You had no idea I could be that crazy. Go ahead and reframe your picture of me now.
Anyway, I was just sitting there when I heard a somewhat loud popping noise accompanied by a split second flutter from my abdomen. It was a really weird sensation because I knew that this popping had come from inside me, but I also knew that it hadn’t come from my own body. That probably sounds really strange to you, but that’s just how life goes when you have a foreign object hanging out in your abdomen. I instantly knew that it was the balloon, which I quickly confirmed by untaping my tube and seeing that it was now very loose.
Because even when deflated (or burst) the balloon is still a little bit wider than the rest of the tube, and because I still have a fairly new tract and have only had one prior tube change, chances are the tube wouldn’t have just fallen out on its own. If it had gotten snagged or pulled, though, it definitely would have come out. And having a tube come out means a trip to the ER because you have to get a new tube in there quickly before the stoma starts to close.
J-tubes have to be replaced in Interventional Radiology (IR). Seeing as it was late in the evening, I essentially covered my entire stomach with tape and waited until the morning when I could call IR. I called them the next morning and I was lucky enough to be squeezed in for an appointment before the long weekend Friday at 1:00.
Fast forward to Friday at 12:45 when my mom and I showed up at IR and took a seat in the waiting room. Fast forward to Friday at 2:00 when the clerk apologized that they were running late because of an emergency case first thing in the morning and a patient currently on the table taking longer than expected. Fast forward to Friday at 2:15 when I crocheted through all the yarn I had brought with me. Fast forward to Friday at 3:40 when it was finally my turn! Talk about a long wait. In anticipation to having my tube changed I hadn’t hooked up to feeds that morning so not only had I spent three hours in a waiting room, but I also hadn’t eaten all day. Needless to say I was very tired.
I was also a little bit worried because my last tube change had been crazy painful and had actually left me really sore for almost a week afterward. To add to that worry, I figured that the doctor and nurses would be tired and perhaps a little grumpy after their crazy day that was sure to carry into the evening.
Mostly, though, I was just happy it was finally my turn! Ridiculously long wait forgotten, I went in with a smile. This was my third visit to IR and every time I have been there I have been so impressed by the staff. Everyone there is just so pleasant and so friendly! Friday was no exception. The doctor and nurses were relieved that I was still smiling after waiting so long and I was relieved that they were still smiling after such a crazy day. We spent the entire appointment laughing and I can honestly say that I had fun…at the hospital having my feeding tube changed. The only reason my abdomen was sore when I left was because I had laughed so much!
When all was said and done it came down to joy. I shared joy with them, they shared joy with me, and all of our days were better because of it.
So often I feel completely helpless to support others the way they support me. Lots of days I don’t have the energy or the resources to do more than just get myself through the day. But I do have joy. And I can share that joy. I spend so much time in doctor’s offices and at hospitals, places that are not usually joy-filled, so I make it my goal to bring a smile and little bit of light with me.
One thing I have learned through feeling so sick all the time is that there are always reasons to smile and there are always little things to celebrate. There are always ways I can make someone else’s day a little brighter which in turn makes my day a little brighter, too.
There is always joy to be found, and when you find it, even if you feel like you have nothing, you will always have something to share.
Joy can make your life better.
Joy can make the lives of others better.
Joy can make the world a better place to live in.
Win-win-win. And that is something to be joyful about.