Monday, October 12, 2009

The story of TPN - it saved my life

I had a series of medical problems in 1996, which cascaded into a full-blown crisis that ended with me sacrificing a few of my inner organs in order to stay alive. Thankfully, it all worked out fine and I'm still here today.

The one thing that may have been the most important reason I'm still around to talk about this was something called TPN - (Total Parenteral Nutrition.) It's a way of getting nutrition without using your digestive system. I still have a cool scar on my jugular that I can show you sometime.

I was on TPN until after my surgery, about 4 or 5 weeks in total, I think. It was literally a life-saver, but I never bothered to find out much more about it.

Today, I ran across this interesting post, about the story of TPN and the woman who was the human test subject of it. It's called "Lifeliner: The Judy Taylor Story." Judy Taylor lived for 20 years without eating, thanks to TPN. The book is written by Shireen Jeejeebhoy.

Here's the blurb about it:
Thirty-four-year-old Judy Ellis Taylor relished her simple, happy life. She had a loving husband, three young daughters, and a beautiful home. But Judy’s life changed dramatically in 1970 when intestinal blood clots annihilated her digestive system, leaving her with the certainty of starving to death in a cold Toronto hospital.

Back in 1970, most doctors still considered long-term intravenous feeding, then called alimentation or hyperalimentation, to be science fiction. A radical young immigrant doctor sought to change that through his groundbreaking research on what is now known as TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition). Judy’s surgeons heard of Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy’s work and sent her to him; together Judy and Jeejeebhoy agreed that Judy’s only hope was to become a human test subject for TPN, and even more radically Home TPN.

Judy became the first lifeliner, the first person to live without ever eating one morsel of food. And Jeejeebhoy was the Canadian physician who made it happen. Like Banting and Best before them, this pioneering duo made medical history. For the next twenty years, Judy and Jeejeebhoy, or “Jeej” as Judy called him, worked to develop and hone TPN.

Judy willingly lived with the possibility of death every day, learned to love her TPN lifeline, learned medical terms, and endured medical tests and strange symptoms in spite of her fears so that she could live. But she didn’t just live on TPN, she served as a guinea pig for nutritional research and inspired others to accept TPN into their lives. Fellow lifeliners relied on Judy to give them the courage to live on TPN, to show them that normal life was possible on TPN. Her neighbours and community enjoyed her zest for life, her baking, her singing, and her willingness to help out wherever needed. She did that while raising three girls, cooking dinner for her family nightly, even though she could not touch a bite.
It looks interesting, especially for someone like me, who has a personal connection to the story.

Link to a video about the book
Link to info about the book

1 comment:

talk talk talk / Shireen said...

Thank you for blogging about my book "Lifeliner" and for including links to my vid and website! During the course of my research -- and even growing up -- I met many people on TPN who found Judy a great inspiration. I wanted to bring that inspiration to people who had a personal connection to TPN and to people who may never have heard of it but would be inspired by her story.

As a writer, it's great to hear not only from readers who enjoyed the story for itself, but also from those on TPN (or had been) who felt a greater acceptance of it after reading "Lifeliner." Thanks again!