I’ve been a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner for over 14 years and have been privileged to be able to treat children for 12 of those years. At age 4 months, I was diagnosed with corrected transposition of the great vessels and third degree heart block. In 1973, the technology and medicine we know today was in its infancy. I was one of the youngest recipients of a cardiac pacemaker ever and its placement saved my life. On December 7, 2013, I turned 40 years old. During my 40 years of life, I’ve had over 40 surgeries and procedures; a majority of them heart and pacemaker related.
You could say that my life experiences paved the way for my career choice. Just as I was cared for my whole life, nursing was a way to give back. In 2002, I began working in Pediatric Surgery and my experience working with gastrostomy tube patients began. As I developed my craft and skill with Gtubes, I realized that one particular problem was harder to treat than others. That problem was excessive hypergranulation tissue.
It is believed that approximately 60% of patients that have enteral feeding tubes will develop hypergranulation tissue at some point. In my practice, I continued to follow the “gold standard” treatment modalities that consisted of the application of silver nitrate or topical steroids. I was amazed at how inconsistent these treatments were and how bad they were for my patients. Some of my patients cried and screamed as I applied silver nitrate to their granulation tissue. I would also receive updates and multiple phone calls from families saying that the steroids either didn’t work, or only helped slightly.
I kept thinking about what I could do to treat this problem more effectively. If burning the tissue with chemicals or shrinking it with steroids didn’t work, then what would work? I read and researched as much as I could about the tissue and why it develops. The more I read, the more I understood its nature, as well as its composition. Granulation tissue contains a high concentration of very small blood vessels. These blood vessels develop in order to carry wound healing components to the stoma site. The tissue is attempting to heal the stoma site and close it off, of course the body was not naturally meant to have a tube coming out of it! I decided that I would come up with a product that would protect the site, help keep the site clean with natural antimicrobials, feel good when applied and include finely micronized electrolyte crystals to shrink the tissue by a process called, “crenation”.
I’m thankful that so many dedicated individuals helped care for me throughout my life…and to still do to this day. Now, it’s my turn to give back and help so many individuals who deal with this problem on a daily basis.
Christopher R. Speaker, APN, FNP-BC