Melbourne elective surgery ban impact on gastroparesis TikTok patient

Melbourne’s cut back on elective surgeries has put Siobhan Kellaghan-Tasker’s access to her “life saving” nasojejunal tube in jeopardy.

A Melbourne woman hauntingly close to enduring debilitating symptoms due to her medical treatment being deemed non-essential has issued a desperate plea with the public to get vaccinated.

Siobhan Kellaghan-Tasker, 20, recently had a “life saving” nasojejunal (NJ) tube fitted to help alleviate symptoms associated with her gastroparesis – a condition that slows or stops the movement of food from the stomach to small intestine.

But because she won’t die without the tube, she is facing the very real prospect that she won’t be able to have it replaced when she needs to.

Ms Kellaghan-Tasker’s doctor informed her that because her tube replacement fell into the elective surgery category, it was considered non essential.

“Because I won’t die without my tube and instead I just become incredibly unwell, it is considered an elective surgery, and if I don’t get in before the date I won’t have my tube for months,” she said in a TikTok video, uploaded on the weekend.

Ms Kellaghan-Tasker told that without the tube, she suffers with lethargy, nausea, extreme brain fog and fatigue and struggles with “basic daily activities”.

The tube allows her to “receive the appropriate nutrition and hydration” and helps her medication be better absorbed, she said.

“All around I am a different person in the best way possible.”

Hospitals across Victoria have paused elective surgeries for everyone but urgent category one and two patients, who without medical intervention would be at risk of death.

The move comes amid fear Covid cases will skyrocket as the state’s restrictions begin to ease and place immense pressure on the already struggling healthcare system.

The elective surgery waitlist has already ballooned to more than 65,000 people following last year’s outbreak in the state, which delayed or cancelled 30,000 operations.

Ms Kellaghan-Tasker implored her viewers to do everything they could to make sure they didn’t take up crucial hospital space relied on by people with pre-existing conditions.

She has already begun suffering without her tube, which she accidentally rolled onto and pulled out during the night a few weeks ago.

“I tried walking up the street this morning after a week without my NJ tube, and I passed out,” she said.

“I was symptomatic, unwell and spent the rest of the day in bed.”

After initially being told by her doctor last week that she may not be able to have a replacement tube fitted, she received unexpected positive news on Monday.

“I have found out today and am very lucky I have an appointment for my new tube to be replaced next week, but there are many people out there in similar situations that haven’t been quite so lucky,” she said.

“I beg you please, if you are eligible and well, to get your vaccines so that if you are to get Covid, especially in the next few months in Victoria, that you don’t end up in hospital and people like me with pre-existing conditions can get the treatment we need,” she told viewers of her TikTok video.

She decided to share her concerns on TikTok to offer a glimpse into what impact the pandemic was having on people with serious existing medical conditions.

“I have seen a lot of people sharing different sides of the pandemic but none about what a spike in cases and ending up in hospital is doing to the people that use these already exhausted services,” she said.

“Many people don’t realise that when elective procedures are reduced, that doesn’t mean boob jobs and things like that, these procedures include ports and picc lines for people to receive IVIG [intravenous immunoglobulin] and chemo, endoscopy and colonoscopy, and heart monitors to name a few.

“The wait and delay impacts people who already suffer and has a toll on doctors who want the best for their patients.”

Ms Kellaghan-Tasker said her NJ tube saved her life “because before it, I wasn’t living a life worth living”.

“At 20 years old I was constantly feeling sick, missing out and feeling like a burden. My tube has given me my life back because I can enjoy the simple things like waking up feeling fresh and being active. Two things I never thought I’d get. “ contacted the Department of Health and Human Services and was told “decisions about patients and treatment are made on clinical grounds”.

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