- The most common misconception at my age is: "Teenagers can't have feeding tubes. That's only for babies or the elderly."
A few weeks ago a thread I had commented on into discussing the reasons why some may have feeding tubes, someone told me they weren't aware teenagers could have feeding tubes because those things are only for babies or old people. This was a mother who was fairly new to tube feeding as her child was only four months old. However I am all too aware that that statement is FALSE!
For the past three years I have put together a video for Feeding Tube Awareness Week that shows all the teens who walk a similar journey as me. Every single one person in those videos have feeding tubes. They are all either teenagers or young adults. Here's a list of some reasons why teenagers may have feeding tubes: Mitochondrial Disease, Eosinophilic Disorders, Crohn's Disease, Gastroparesis/Digestive Tract Paralysis. (For this years link click here)
Some of us have had our feeding tube since we were babies but there are many of us who didn't wind up on this path until the last few years. Disease can strike at any age. I know most teenagers like to think we are invincible and nothing bad can ever happen to us like being sick because in our society most people don't get sick until they have had a good long life. That is a great thing and that's how it should be! However, there are those of us who don't fit that common criteria. While I am sure all of us would love to be able to say feeding tubes are surely not a thing for teenagers the truth is they are. Feeding tubes are for anyone who is in need of nutritional support.
I had my first feeding tube placed on November 16th, 2012. At that point in my life it was my very first year of high school and I was miserable trying to battle with the pain that came with eating. I did not have a true diagnosis but we wanted to give an elimination diet a try. First I had started with drinking the formula and that was not an option which was where the feeding tube came to play.
You see you never know when disease may strike! It won't spare you just because "You think you are too young to be sick." or because "Only babies and old people can need feeding tubes. That can't happen to teenagers." The truth is yes it can and will. There is no discrimination when it comes to feeding tubes and being sick! I have made friends from Australia, Canada, Alaska, London, New Zealand, and many other places in the world who are in the same boat I am. When you look through the teens with feeding tubes video you see faces of teenagers and young adults from all over the world. We are forgotten or not even thought about because teenagers aren't supposed to be sick but it does happen. We are just as susceptible to chronic illnesses as babies and adults! Feeding tubes have helped me and many other teenagers thrive and I know we are all very thankful they exist because without them many of us would have never made it through our teenage years.