- Using a syringe, pump water into her. Also, a dose of anti-nausea medication in her 6am, noon, and 6pm feedings.
- Using a much larger syringe, inject watered down gooshy food. This has to go very slowly because, despite the anti-nausea meds, she seems to be hyper-prone to getting sick.
- With a third syringe, flush out the feding tube with water to clean it out for her next round.
There are at least three points of failure to this routine. The first round of water can make her sick, as was the case at midnight last night. The round of food is acutely likely to make her sick, and we need to feed her very small doses with very large pauses to keep the food down. And even if parts one and two go well, the cleansing round of water can tip her over the edge, nausea-wise. Another potential point of failure we discovered last night -- the feeding tube somehow got nicked or punctured.
Along with feeding, we have to change the dressing around where the feeding tube was inserted. It needs to be changed every other day or if it becomes dirty or wet, whichever happens first. This involves a pad with anti-bacterial ointment over the insertion site, a layer or three of cotton bandage, a layer of gauze to make the whole mess adhesive for the final layer, alligator tape. A few small pieces of surgical tape are used to hold the tube upright.
Heidi can and has repeatedly pulled some of the dressing out and even gotten her tube almost completely uncovered. We're not sure if Jenny might not be helping Heidi on this count, although Jenny and Sean for the most part seem to be leaving Heidi alone.
Heidi herself is sending mixed signals. Aside from getting sick easily, she seems to be very lethargic, laying in one spot for 12-16 hours and walking very slowly and perhaps dragging somewhat. On the other hand, she will let us know when she is unhappy, and at night she likes to play one of her oldest roles, that of a cave kitty. She burrows under the covers (her cave) and sleeps there. Since coming home from the vet hospital she's also been pointedly making sure part of her is touching either Andy or me when she's in her cave. She hasn't yet snuggled between us like she used to, though.
Right now we're waiting for a callback from the vet to figure out what to do about her feeding tube. Andy has meanwhile deployed a temporary fix involving plastic wrap and surgical tape which seemed to work for the watering he gave her about half hour ago. If we don't hear back within the next five minutes or so (we left messages at 1:30 am and called in at about 10am, and it's now noon:40), we're going to try to feed her and see if the patch holds up.