A Medical Procedure Reminds Me to Thank My Body for Its Endurance

Faced with never-ending health struggles, columnist Alyssa Silva's body fights on

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by Alyssa Silva |

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The other day, I had an appointment at the hospital to change my nasojejunal (NJ) feeding tube. Since the tube is placed in my jejunum, a part of the small intestine, and not my stomach, these procedures have to take place under fluoroscopy at a hospital.

After some time, these tubes become sluggish and need to be swapped. It’s a long and tiring day for me, both physically and mentally. The logistics alone are tiring. Taking time off work, finding someone to check in on my dogs, battling city traffic, making the long drive — I’m tired just typing this.

The procedure is also challenging and uncomfortable. It takes up to 45 minutes, depending on how clogged the tube is, from start to finish. During that time, I’m often dry heaving and gagging. I’m experiencing pain from the tube hitting the insides of my stomach as it tries to twist and turn around my crevices. And I’m praying that every miserable second of this goes smoothly.

There has always been some risk of aspiration involved with this procedure because I dry heave for so long. On two occasions, I’ve developed a minor case of aspiration pneumonia from it. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case this time, although I left feeling a little battered and bruised.

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Nevertheless, I left the hospital, came home, and picked up my workday where I had left off. It was business as usual. I put my stress aside for a couple hours to cross some items off my to-do list.

That’s what you do when living with SMA — you carry on. You press forward. You undergo procedures and surgeries as part of your daily routine and pick yourself right back up to where you left off. For a disease that weakens the muscles, I have learned it builds an inner strength that fuels the fight. Ironic, yes?

I’ve found it incredibly easy to pick at my body over the years. It’s weak. It doesn’t function well. It tires too easily. It puts me through pain and unwanted procedures. The list goes on.

But sometimes there are snippets of clarity in my days when I realize how truly strong my body is for enduring everything it goes through. Sure, it’s easier to write me off as weak and give up. But when I dig a little deeper, when I think about my physical struggles and never-ending health battles, my body still shows up. It fights. We fight together, and I don’t express enough gratitude for it.

It deserves a little more credit.

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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