Switching the G-Tube Button On Your Own

Many moons ago, when we first got the g-tube (a “button” surgically implanted in Abi’s stomach that eliminates the need for a tube going through the nose and down the esophagus – and instead provides a port for you to connect a tube directly to the belly), I had no idea it would ever need to be replaced. I think I was just thinking one second at a time, and since nobody mentioned this fact to me (strange) I didn’t know it was an issue. Weeks after surgery, a nurse asked me in passing if I would need training on how to switch the button. “Wait… What?”

Somehow, we had made it in and out of the hospital without anyone explaining this minor detail to me. Turns out, the button needs to be switched every 3-6 months (depending on your type and doctor’s recommendations.) It does not mean another surgery, (thank God) it just means exactly as it sounds: take one out and put another in. This is especially helpful, since sometimes the button comes out on its own. A snagged t-shirt, an active tummy time, a number of things can rip that little sucker out and leave the hole exposed. While the first time this happens to you can be a bit.. daunting… Luckily, it has never hurt Abi.

In fact, here she is at school after I got a call that her button had come out and I needed to go replace it.

I think she was loving all the attention.

The first two times it needed to be switched we took Abi to the clinic and watched carefully as the nurse explained every move. After that, Sean felt comfortable enough to do it on his own and together we became a scene out of ER: “Surringe.” “Gauze” “4ml of H20” “Extension”

All that to say, today it’s no big deal. Bing, bang, boom. Old one out, new one in. First time that Sean was out of town and I had to change it completely on my own, I stood back up so impressed with myself that I couldn’t decide where to put all my newly empowered energy. Would I run a marathon? Build a company? Run for office? Ha. If I could change that button alone than there was truly nothing off the table for me.

PS. Ask me to run to the mailbox and back and watch me double over with a side cramp.

All that to say- today is switch the button day and it’s no big thing. I’ll probably get that sucker changed somewhere between House Hunters International and a rerun of Frasier.

(Sidenote: Abi had a real struggle with painful granulation (scar tissue around the surgery site) for about a year post surgery. It was awful. One thing that seemed to help a bit was switching from a mickey button to a mini-button. It’s smaller and for whatever reason, according to our nurse, patients who have granulation often benefit from a mini. After trying everything under the sun, today she is granulation free (THANK GOD) and the g-tube is no big deal. If you’re dealing with granulation try a eucalyptus soap… more on this later.)

Also- just in case any of you parents need it- this is a video I watched before I changed the button for the first time alone. Praise God for social media.

Have a good one and I’ll see you on the flip side of a new button. 🙂

Mary Susan