Why Owen has a G-tube - a highlight on the medical condition that requires tube feeding.
Warning: I am in no way a medical professional. This is simply my interpretation of the information I have been given about my son's condition.
Short Bowel Syndrome
Definition: Short bowel syndrome is a condition in which nutrients are not properly absorbed (malabsorption) due to severe intestinal disease or the surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine.
For Owen, it all started when he was 3 weeks old. Owen developed a disease called Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Definition of NEC: the death of intestinal tissue. It most often affects premature or sick babies.
NEC progresses fast. When the hospital in Modesto transferred Owen to Oakland, it was almost too late. The doctors were sure he wouldn't make it. In the emergency surgery, the surgeons had to remove 60% of Owen's small intestine. It was hard to measure because he was so sick and so little. In a later surgery they had to remove another 5% of small intestine.
Owen was left with less than half of the portion of the bowel that absorbs all of your nutrients. Over time, the body tries to adapt by dilating the portion of the bowel that is left to create more surface area that would be able to help absorb the nutrients. However, dilation of the bowel causes a whole new area of problems for the bowel. The bowel works by contracting to move food through the body. When the bowel is dilated too much, it is unable to move the food through and creates pockets where the food sits there and creates bacteria overgrowth. The food sits in one spot and allows for bacteria to feed and grow rapidly, which causes gas to form.
So, why a feeding tube?
A feeding tube is used in short gut patients to slow the food down through the bowel. If you have a short bowel, the food goes through it quicker. To add to the problem, if the bowel has dilated and you feed it too quickly, something called dumping will occur. Dumping is where the bowel is basically overworked and thinks its being given too much food to absorb so it will "dump" it, also known as diarrhea. In order to feed the bowel slow enough, a feeding tube needs to be used along with a pump. Every body is different, every bowel is different. For some short gut patients, they will be able to eventually eat as you and I eat, bolus. For others they will need to eat at a continuous rate to keep their problem from getting worse.
As of right now, Owen is on a continous rate of feeding 24hours a day. He is also fed a specific formula that has broken down all the components of the formula into its smallest form so that it can be easier absorbed by the bowel.
For those of you that don't know, I wanted to update you on Owen's (our little tubie) status.
He is currently in the hospital and he is septic. He is having symptoms of septic shock but it doesn't actually seem to be septic shock because he recovers so quickly. Please keep him in your prayers as the tests come back and we know more about what is going on. Thank you all who have been praying for him thus far.