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FTA Week 2013: Day 7, Humor

Sometimes you just have to laugh: Tubie Humor
We all have those funny tube feeding moments. What is yours? Share your funny tube feeding stories!

“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

I was raised on a dairy farm in Idaho. There isn't really much about dairy farming that's funny, but I learned from a very young age that having a sense of humor in the face of large amounts of bodily fluids (bovine or otherwise) can keep you from being thoroughly disgusted. Like the time my brother decided to throw a giant chunk of what he thought was dry cow poop at me while I rode past on my bike, and it turned out to be not dry cow poop, and it was the one time that he happened to have perfect aim. At the exact moment that the flying poop hit me square across the face and knocked me off of my bike, it wasn't very funny but even now I can't keep from chuckling just thinking about it.

Farm humor has translated very well into tube feeding humor. So has the ability to laugh when I feel like crying or throwing things. When Raya was in the hospital the first time, she had been switched from breastmilk to Pregestimil, which I'm still convinced is one of the most foul smelling formulas on the market. She no longer smelled like my sweet little newborn. She smelled awful, her poop smelled awful, and her puke smelled awful. I had planned on breastfeeding her just like I had with the 3 other kids, and being blindsided by the feeding tube and the nasty formula, plus being in the hospital unexpectedly, was weighing heavily on me. I was sad. It hurt. Donny had come by to visit us one afternoon and as the three of us sat on the little vinyl couch in our tiny corner of the shared room, Raya spit up. I cleaned it up, and Donny spontaneously started singing the "Smelly Cat" song from the show Friends. The words are, "Smelly cat, smelly cat, what are they feeding you? Smelly cat, smelly cat, it's not your fault!" I was probably the only one that would find that funny, but it was exactly the laugh that I needed right then.

So many times in the last 3+ years, I've found myself teetering on the edge of an emotional breakdown and HAVE to find something to laugh about so that I don't cry. I never found vomit to be at all humorous until Raya came along. It's still gross but it can be pretty darn funny too. I think my best vomit story was a little incident that happened at a therapy appointment once. Raya was about 10 months old and at that point, she was vomiting 3-5 times a day on average. When we went to therapy appointments, I always sat within arm's reach with a cloth diaper so I could catch the inevitable vomit. On this particular day, I saw "the look" sweep across her face and with catlike reflexes, my hand shot out to put the burp rag in the path of the puke. I was a little overzealous though, and my hand got a little too close to her mouth. Instead of the stream of vomit being soaked up by the burp rag, it hit my hand, shot straight up in the air, and landed directly on top of my head. The therapist and I just sat there staring at each other for a few seconds in stunned silence before we both started laughing. She got me a towel, I cleaned up, and we went on with the session. A laughable vomit episode helped me to not hurt so much over the ones that were so bad that I wanted to cry along with her.

There have been plenty of other things to laugh about too. I did a whole blog post a couple of months ago about the things I hope our neighbors don't overhear while our windows are open. It's open window season again and I cringe every time I say something like, "Raya, PLEASE don't put formula in your teddy bear's tubie. She's not hungry and it just makes her smelly." Or, "I'm sorry, sweetheart, I can't let you eat spaghetti. Do you want some more ice soup?" Some things seem normal until you say or do them in front of someone else and see the look on their face. One night about a year ago, we went out to dinner for Cole's birthday. At that point in time, Raya wasn't really all that interested in food but she liked water. Her favorite thing to drink it out of was a 60ml catheter tip syringe.
I fully acknowledge that it is not normal for a 2 year old to suck water out of a giant syringe. It worked for us though, so we let her do it anyway. She'd been playing with it for a few minutes when she accidentally dropped it on the floor. Right then, a lady who was walking by saw her drop something and was kind enough to pick it up. As she reached out to hand it to me, it suddenly dawned on her that she was holding a giant syringe that a baby had just been sucking on. Her facial expression instantly changed from that of a happy nice person picking up what the baby dropped to equal parts shock, fear and disgust. Her face froze that way and she cocked her head to the side and opened her mouth a little, as if she was going to say something but nothing came out. The way she was looking at it, you would have thought that she had looked down and seen a bloody hatchet in her hand. I smiled and thanked her and she turned and scurried back to her table. As soon as she was gone, Donny and I looked at each other and erupted into uncontrollable laughter. I suppose that's not something that woman sees every day.

I've been known in the past to laugh my way through difficult situations, even if laughing is probably completely inappropriate at that particular time. I much prefer that to crying. There is so much about having a child with medical complexities that is hard and heartbreaking. Laughter truly IS the best medicine. A healthy sense of humor will get you through just about anything. However cheesy this may sound, the lyrics of the song "Smile" sum it up pretty well:

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just

And that's the key to life with a feeding tube. Learn as much as you can learn, speak up when you need to speak up, cry when you need to cry, but learn to find the humor in life too. The sooner you learn to laugh about poop, puke, and leaking stomach goo, the better you will handle them.


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