Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

My NG tube




I have no idea why I chose this. I just wanted a picture

I was challenged in a comment yesterday.  Why do I mention my own NG tube if I am appalled at all the pictures? And why do I mention the NG tube and things like the ER visit if I am supposedly recovered?

I only mentioned the NG tube in the pictures entries because I wanted to highlight the fact that I wasn’t proud of it and didn’t take a picture, which seems contrary to the norm these days.

I hadn’t thought about my mentioning these things as showing I wasn’t recovered.  They are a part of my past that I cannot deny or change. I am not proud of them.  I am ashamed of some of the things I put people through.  That NG tube experience was traumatic for me.  I volunteered to eat.  But it was the standard policy of the hospital that if you were anorexic and AT ALL underweight, they started you on a tube.  I cannot imagine taking pictures of it.  I still wish it had never happened. It wasn’t a status symbol.  It was just this awful thing they did to me.  And it is now in my past.  I mention it.  But I am not proud of it.

But this was ten years ago.  I don’t know what I would have done five years ago.  Would I have seen it as a status symbol?  Maybe.  I was the girl who compared herself to the girl sitting next to her in class, who purposefully sat next to here when I could have sat someplace I wouldn’t even have seen her.  Maybe it’s a good thing that the hospital I went to my last two times only use the tube as a last resort.  Maybe I would have given in and let them tube me rather than struggle with the meal plan.  But thankfully, that never happened.

Let me say one very important thing: I do not disapprove of the use of the tube in cases where it is necessary.  And there are cases where it is necessary due to severe malnutrition or patient noncompliance that leads to malnutrition.  I do disapprove of the recent increase of individuals who choose to have a tube rather than take in nutrition orally.  I think in that case a tube delays the inevitable, unless you are going to walk around with one forever, and that is the fact that at some point you will have to eat real food.  And yes, there is a culture now that feels the NG tube or PEG tube is a status symbol.  That worries me.  Because it affects people who are sick but are not yet at the point where they need an NG tube but will now think, “If I keep losing weight, then I will be tubed, and I will be seen as a legitimate eating disorder patient.”

I said this is my introduction on the right hand of the screen in response to the inevitable “how sick were you?” question:

I was sicker than some, not as sick as others.  I’m alive, though, and a lot of people who were not as “visibly sick” as I was, are not.  If the one thing you take away from this page is that you don’t have to be thin to die from an eating disorder, I’ll be happy.

The NG tube should not be used as a status symbol. It should not be promoted.  It should not be made light of.  These things are drawing too many people into the idea that it’s acceptable to have an eating disorder and have a tube.  When I did have my tube, I will be honest, I shouldn’t have.  I wasn’t one of the ones who needed it physiologically (and that is my wise mind talking), and I wasn’t one who was noncompliant.  But it was the treatment center’s protocol.

I mentioned the fact that I had an NG tube during the pictures entries and (I think) the fashion wear entries.  I don’t dwell on mine.  Like I said, it was in the past.  Ten years ago.  I can’t change that past, though.  So I’m not going to avoid discussing it if it is relevant to the topic at hand.



November 15, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. One of the promises in AA, which are basically things you are going to have once you are in recovery are:

    We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

    No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

    Your entry I think can be summarized by those two promises. They are gifts of recovery, things you are rewarded with and I think they are demonstrated very beautifully in your blog.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thank you, Amanda

    Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. Well said! I hate that people glamorize NG tubes. I never took a picture with mine either, I think those that do are showing off, like look at my tube.

    Comment by Cheryl | May 24, 2010 | Reply

  4. I had to have a tube for about 4 days due to my eating disorder many years ago. I hid it very well, didn’t see anyone, and don’t remember a picture that was taken showing it directly (I only have one that you haveto look really hard, and know it was there to see it hanging in the side of my hair). I had a different tube placed shirtly after so no one could see it, and i would not get to such a low point. My jaw would lock on me and I would try my absolute best, at times I thought I was disolving into psychosis Today I do have an NJ tube, which is a little different, but still nasal. I am shocked at the questions I am getting about if I am on “that diet” and responding with, “Do I look like I need to be on ‘that diet’?” Today, a tube used historically to make anorexics (medically or psychologically) stay alive and gain weight is being used to help women shrink away. It is unreal to me that the tube used at this moment to save my life and that i need in order to live sue to something vastly different that anorexia is being placed to allow women to fit into a smaller size wedding gown, and I am now compared to them. In a world that is becoming sicker by the day, I do not feel that we have much hope for the erradication of these disorders that kill men and women of al ages, even children, when doctors are now abdicating their repsponsibilities for the almighty dollar and a woman’s desire for thinness.

    Comment by Kate | June 21, 2012 | Reply

  5. Im sadden to think that you had a tube in place when you didnt 1

    Comment by paradressage | November 24, 2012 | Reply

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