A busy mother of three, Jessie, who is also a pediatric nurse in Houston, Texas puts in a full day! After recently completing her master’s degree she will soon be a pediatric nurse practitioner. Jessie’s youngest, who will be turning four in January, has had a feeding tube his entire life. Her son started with a NG tube, then got a G-tube, and now finally has a MIC-KEY*GJ-tube.
Jessie shared with us her thoughts on being a mother of a tubie and a pediatric nurse:
Q: What was it like going from a nurse and a mom, to a nurse and a mom of a tubie?
A: It has been quite an adventure. In the beginning our boy was so sick that the NG tube was the least of our worries. As he got stronger, feeding became more of an issue. At six months a G-tube was placed. It was nice to have a background that allowed me to already be familiar with the tube, how they are placed, and how to care for them. I believe my experience as a special needs mother has made me a better nurse as well. I can now relate to my patients and their families in a way I never could have before.
Q: What’s the toughest part about being a professional caregiver?
A: I absolutely love what I do! Being a nurse is not just what I do, it’s part of who I am. Loving my work makes the difficult parts much more tolerable. I think the hardest part for me is when I understand a patient/family’s frustration, but I am not able to fix it.
Q: What’s the toughest part about being a personal caregiver to a tubie?
A: This one is easy, seeing my child struggle to do something most people don’t even think about, eat. I come from a family that loves food, it’s how we celebrate everything, and it saddens me that eating is so complex for him.
Q: What are some things you’ve learned in your personal life with caring for your son that you now share with your patients/caregivers at work?
A: First and foremost, it helped me to have a better understanding of what they are going through. I’m also able to provide better home care instruction for GJ-tube families, as I have learned first hand what works and what doesn’t. For example, if a parent expresses concern about a tube getting pulled out, I can tell them what I do in my home to help prevent it.
Q: Where do you turn to for support?
A: I am very blessed to have a wonderful support system. My wife and I are in this together and support each other. Both sets of our families are always available to lean on whenever we need them. During this journey we have also met a number of other families going through similar journeys and they are great to talk things out with.
Q: What advice would you personally give at discharge to a new caregiver?
A: This all seems overwhelming right now because it is new. Give it some time and it will all feel like second nature. Before you know it you will be the person reassuring another family.