Pedro Relvas

“My esophagus is outside, yours is in” Pedro Relvas

 

While many might see home tube feeding as a limitation, Pedro sees it as just another aspect of his life—one that won’t hold him back from pursuing his passion for sports.

Pedro has faced his share of obstacles on his tube feeding journey. One surprising obtacle for me to hear about, as a clinician, was his disdain for ENFit! A classic example of what clinicians might think is “best practice”, when it actually doesn’t promote an improved quality of life for people with home feeding tubes trying to live an active life!

Pedro found the ENFit system inconvenient and messy for his dynamic lifestyle. As a solution, he prefers catheter-tipped tubes and equipment, enabling him to feed swiftly and cleanly between his gym sessions.

I’m thinking maybe it’s time the clinical world rethink the ENFit-ended tube feeding equipment for home tube feed-ers and actually have the people who have a home feeding tube involved in the design process?!

 

An unwavering dedication to sports with a feeding tube

 

From swimming to martial arts, soccer to tennis, and even boxing and karate, Pedro has always been deeply involved in physical activities. “I never really looked at myself as different when I got my feeding tube at the age of 24,” he says, emphasizing that his feeding tube is just a part of him, much like someone else’s esophagus.

Pedro argues that individuals with feeding tubes actually have better control over their nutrition and hydration compared to those without. As he puts it, if it were otherwise, he would simply indulge in fast food and look like 80% of Australians!

Pedro’s attitude towards his condition is nothing short of inspirational. Refusing to let his feeding regimen dictate his life, he approaches it with a determined mindset—it will fit into his schedule, not the other way around. 

 

Pedro’s advice for sporty tube feed-ers

 

Prioritise stoma site hygiene without obsession: While maintaining a clean stoma site is crucial, obsessing about it holds you back from life and may even cause irritation at the site. He suggests becoming accustomed to the elements, such as mud and sweat, around the stoma site just like a body piercing. Regular washing and showering of the stoma site but avoiding constant patching, allowing it to remain open to the air. He has never experienced issues with dislodging the tube during sports.

Strengthen your core: Pedro emphasizes the importance of core exercises in promoting overall physical fitness and supporting stoma health. He believes that a well-conditioned stomach with good muscle tension provides better support for the stoma, reducing the likelihood of complications during physical activities.

Chew during feeding sessions: Pedro has developed techniques, such as chewing during bolus feeds, to prevent nausea and promote satiety. This simple practice, while may not work for everyone, may enhance comfort and digestion during mealtime.

Mindset matters: Pedro stresses the significance of having a positive mental state before meals. By approaching mealtime with the right mindset and positive energy, individuals can optimize their feeding experience and overall well-being.

 

Pedro’s advice for clinicians

 

Watch your language: Use clear and empathetic terminology to explain the procedure and its implications to someone’s life. Don’t use negative sorry-filled language.

Provide visual aids: Show pictures of feeding tubes to help individuals understand what to expect before undergoing the procedure.

Normalise tube feeding: Draw parallels to less stigmatized body modifications, like nipple piercings. Pedro says: “Same as having a nipple piercing, do whatever you want and if you’re worried – patch it up and that’s the end of it,”

Empower the person with knowledge and choice: Encourage individuals to customize their approach to tube feeding according to their comfort level, whether that involves covering the stoma site or embracing it openly, using ENFit ended or catheter-tipped equipment, formula or homemade blends. 

 

Ultimately, Pedro’s story (detailed in this excellent podcast) is a testament to the power of determination and self-love. Despite the challenges posed by tube feeding, he continues to pursue his passion for sports with unwavering enthusiasm, proving that with the right mindset and approach, anything is possible.

 

Finally a huge thank you to the brilliant Melanie Dimmitt for introducing me to Pedro! A collaboration I see lots of magic in! Read more about Pedro in the Blend Mag, and make sure you follow him on Instagram.

 

Happy reading and home tube feeding, 

Lina Breik