Thursday, November 06, 2008

Up Your Nose with a Rubber Hose!

I don't know if any others will remember that common play yard threat which we threw around in my youth. I never expected for it to actually happen to me, by someone I love, or that I would perform the same upon another.

But happen it did! My husband and I were receiving our Missionary Medical Intensive training and as it would be, we were often one another's lab partners. We had lab work most of the afternoons and would practice the procedures we had been taught.

It started out lame enough, taking histories, blood pressure and such. Then we began injections and stitches and other procedures.

One morning we were taught how to make our own NG feeding tubes out of VI tubing. OK cool! This procedures is needed to be able to feed patients who are unable to self feed. Or to give meds without an IV. It involves plastic IV tube about a meter long which is placed in the nostril, fed down the throat, carefully avoiding the lungs, and on into the stomach. Then one can begin feeding with a syringe through the tube, directly into the stomach.

It is not that complicated and many parents learn to put them in for their children, but one does need practice and to learn how to avoid the lungs. So...

Yeah, there I was, head tilted back as my loving husband held a long plastic tube which he intended to place 'up my nose'. And I was going to allow him to do so. I began to practice my Lamaze breathing which I remembered from labor! You girls know, pick a focal point, breath slowly ...basically, zone out!

OK, so it was not so bad. He did it quickly and correctly as he does most things. He is a quick study and very confident and unafraid to try new things. My husband can pretty much do anything he sets his mind to. Later, in the jungle, this would be invaluable in our small dispensary. He has delivered over 50 babies, placed many stitches, removed arrows from people, placed feeding tubes, catheters, pulled teeth, done biopsies, even helped with an amputation.

After he inserted and removed the tube a few times, it was now my turn. I needed to do this as well because I might be alone one day and be required to place a feeding tube in a patient. Or perhaps I would need to place one in my husband, so...

Now he was the one with his head tilted back, great fear in his eyes, as I held the tube and fully intended to place it 'up his nose'. I just wanted to get it over with! Although, later in the jungle I did have to do many things, like deliver babies, put in stitches and the like, I never enjoyed it!!!

And so, I carefully measured the tubing I would need, cut it off, put in the holes, melt down the sharp edges of the tubing, sterilize, and began to feed the tube up my husbands nostril. He began to gag, which is common as one reaches a certain spot. This is helped by having the patient swallow water if able. I offered the water, my husband, pushed my hands aside and continued gagging. Loudly!

Everyone was soon watching us because he was gagging and squirming. So I continued to feed the tube, until...he opened his mouth! The tube was going up the nostril, down the back of his throat and now out of his mouth!!!! Not knowing what else to do, I quickly hauled back on the tube and pulled mightily! It came ripping out. Along with a fair amount of blood and a murderous glare from my husband!

That maneuver became known as the 'Briggs and Stratton' maneuver! You know, how you haul back and pull the rip cord to start a motor? Or lawn mower?It really should not be used to remove an NG tube. The patient would much prefer a calmer removal as there will be less blood involved.

Of course, I still needed to successfully place the NG tube. So we did it again, and again, until it was done properly and I could do it easily. That was not my husband's favorite day of our marriage. Although he had been taught many things in the Marine Corps, Lamaze was not one of them ,so he had difficulty with the 'zoning out' part. All the males seemed to find the procedure much easier to give than to receive.

I am very glad we did learn the procedure as we were able to use it in the jungle for patients who could not eat.

I never did need to put another tube up my husbands nose, though, for which I am sure he is most grateful!


Liz said...

Rita, remind me not EVER to have the procedure done by you, LOL!!!!

Seriusly now, I had it done recently (to take a pick of my stomach) and the doctor made me sleep for a little while. I cannot even have the wooden thingy to take a look of my throat, it makes me sick, VERY SICK.

Clint is a brave man ;D

Pam--in Jerusalem said...

Okay, I'm sitting hear with tears in my eyes... laughing! That was just too funny. :)

Yekwana Man said...

so now eating just baked potatoes for a meal is weird.....What have we done to our children?

Jungle Mom said...

Maybe if we threw in some live worms they would enjoy it more.

Yekwana Man said...

I remember that day. I remember gagging and then when Rita saw the tube coming out of my mouth I saw the panic in her eyes and then she hauled back on the tube like I was an outboard motor. Lotsa blood but at least my sinuses were clear!!

Yekwana Man said...


Yekwana Man said...

You ought to tell them the meaning of 'cold steel and sunshine!'

MightyMom said...

and your next post will be telling us how you practiced putting in a foley catheter right??

ok, only a nurse would find that uproariously funny!!

by the way, it was his fault for not swallowing at the right time....otherwise it would've gone down instead of out.

having the patient swallow ICE water is best as it helps to numb that gag reflex.

that's just too funny!!

oh and I wanted to tell you, in my post quoting Matthew, where it says "who of you would give your child a snake when he asks for fish."

I thought "Well, Jungle Mom'd give em a worm....does that count?"
sorry babe, just popped in my brain. really it did!

Jungle Mom said...

MM, I do not think I can write about the Foley catheter!
I will just quote this from my post;
"All the males seemed to find the procedure much easier to give than to receive."
Medical personal are a little sicko... I once caught my husband and a lab assistant in the jungle, faking a 'toast' with urine samples!!! Happy some test was negative or something...

Betty said...

I am learning more and more things about you. This is something I would never want to do or have done on me!
But funny to read!

nanc said...



we had to learn to feed our youngest in the hospital via gavage(sp?) - as a result, she has excellent gag reflexes and never chokes on anything, whereas our son nearly chokes on dust.

now, i have found an interesting cal thomas commentary i thought you'd appreciate.

Jane said...

Oh my!!! I don't think I could have done that. I was almost gagging just READING about it!!!
Is hubby OK???

Barbara H. said...

This is hilarious -- though I am sure it wasn't at the time!! What a way to clear one's sinuses!

Brenda said...

If people only knew all that we go through to become missionaries! How many people can say that they had to have a plastic tube shoved up their nose to get a job??? :)

We missed you last night! We did have a great time. You have wonderful kids, thanks for sharing them with us.

Brooke said...

Cool story... Except for your hubby, I suppose. ;)

~K~ said...

Gagging here! (and glad it was not something we were required to learn!)

Tacogirl said...

xD This amuses me.

Shane Rios said...

|Caption contest!Must See!

Mike's America said...

sounds like torture to me... Where are the civil rights attorneys when you need them?

Starla said...

LOL and Yuck!!!!

Sarah Joy said...

Truly love tried in the fires of field training. I can see how a hearty sense of humor is a survival tactic that can't be taught.

Jackie said...

Can u believe this??

Pat said...

How funny!!

I would have been aghast!!

I am sure he trusts you implicitly!!

Thanks for the word pic!!

Pam said...

Another funny I hadn't heard before! Gagging here!

Thursday's Child said...

OK, I'd definitely flunk missionary school. I could never allow anyone to do that to me...especially not for PRACTICE and I'm pretty sure DH would rather die than have me practice on him.

Although I did enjoy first responder training a few years ago...but nothing trickier there than taking someone's blood pressure. :D

Anonymous said...

Once again I say, "You have got to be kidding me?"

Rita, you are an amazement to me!

Charles said...

In the past few months I've learned all I ever want to know about tube feeding. Still it is cool to have skills.


The Chambers Family said...

I laughed so hard I cried just imagining this! We've been around medical stuff ALOT so yeah, this is hilarious. =)