Our brave little K

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Since birth, K has always been on the small side. Her birth weight was 2.495 kg and after almost a year, she only managed to reach 5 kg. The doctors and dieticians were very concerned about her growth, and I would say that they were definitely even more concerned than I was. Let me clarify, it was not that I was ignorant or tried to dismiss any medical condition she might have. It was just that Ch was also very small to begin with, and she is definitely still very small as compared to her Primary 1 friends. So, the two sisters might have the small-sized gene.

After struggling with K's fussy eating habits for a few months, coupled with frequent visits to the feeding clinic, the doctors finally decided that it was time for her to be put on the Nasogastric Tube (or NG tube). On 1 Aug this year, she was admitted to the hospital to have the tube inserted and I stayed with her for the next three days. I was sad that I had to put her through this process, and uncertain if she would have the side effects which I read from various online sources. I blamed myself a lot. Perhaps she wouldn't have to go through this if I had tried harder to overcome her fussy eating habits. Or perhaps, if I had been more persistent in training her to use the milk bottle, she would have fattened up a lot more.


The doctor who inserted the NG tube did not allow me to stay in the room to observe. Standing outside, I felt so helpless when K screamed loudly all of a sudden. I cried and blamed myself more. The medical staff managed to calm her down before opening the door for us to reunite, but K still looked traumatised by the tube insertion process.

The stay at the hospital was tiring. I was kept awake by the other 5 patients sharing the room, and by the medical staff who came in every 3 hours to tube feed her. Each tube feeding session lasted about 20 mins- with one nurse holding the NG tube to pour the formula milk in, and another to carry her if she was fussy. I also had to learn the steps to tube feed her myself. Before each feed, a check had to be done to see if the tube was placed in the correct position. I had to aspirate and test the liquid with blue litmus paper. The tube also had to be held at a certain position above her head so that the milk would flow into her stomach at a suitable rate to prevent her from vomiting. 


Thank God for K's sweet nature. She wasn't really fussy during each tube feed, and was so cooperative with the student nurses that I was able to have my meals at the food court in the hospital. The nurses loved her and kept telling me how friendly and smiley she was. 


I became very reliant on the NG tube after a while, as it got easier each time I used it. Plus after I changed her tube to one with a wider diameter, the feeding duration was cut down to just 5 mins. However, a nagging thought was always at the back of my mind- that we must get her off the tube as soon as we can. It pained me to see her scream with fear each time a new NG tube was inserted. But doctors will only approve if she has a constant weight gain to the desired range, and that she needs to use the cup or milk bottle for the milk feeds.

At 16 months old, I'm happy to say that she is off the NG tube, and has successfully gained 1.5 kg since August. 

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