The Traveling Tubie (aka The Tube DUDE) has this week’s post!

If you’re a huge fan of the tubechic blog and anxiously wait for her weekly dose of tube feeding wisdom, I have bad news for you. This week’s post is written by a man noted only for his lack of wisdom. I’d make a joke about International Women’s Day and what happens to blogs without female input, but the girl who comes up with my more intelligent jokes is on strike.

So, you’re stuck with me. A tubedude. I do, indeed, have a feeding tube, and I’m capable of forming complete sentences, which are all the qualifications I need to write my very own blog post (I can’t promise it’ll be a good post). I’ve been 100% tube fed since April 2009. I have an ungainly, dangling G tube, unlike the elegant button sported by the regular writer of this blog. I also have my own blog, travelingtubie.blogspot.com, where I irregularly post about eating out through a feeding tube (or I sometimes post about things completely unrelated to tube feeding). If you have some idle, morbid curiosity about how I came to be a tubie or how on earth the two lovely ladies in my life (my wife and daughter) can stand to be with me day after day, then feel free to give my blog a read.

Many of my blog posts concern trips I’ve taken and managing travel with my feeding tube, Real Food Blends, and Vitamix blender. In December, 2015, I took my biggest trip to date, but I’ve been avoiding writing about it because I knew the blog post would be so huge and ungainly that no one could possibly want to read it. So, when given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to guest post on the infamous tubechic blog, I knew our family trip to Germany would be the perfect subject!!

We spent about two weeks in Germany, with a couple days spent in Paris. I’ve traveled around quite a bit inside the U.S. with my feeding tube, but I’m extremely nervous about overseas travel for a lot of reasons, most notably the language barrier and the need for a heavy duty 110-220 Voltage converter for the Vitamix (those cute little converters for your iPhone won’t cut it). If I had to choose, Germany would be my number 1 foreign destination choice because my sister and mom live there. More importantly, I convinced my mom to buy a Vitamix compatible with European electric outlets, so I didn’t need to pack my own blender.

Betsy was hesitant about leaving for the holidays because we always spend Christmas at her parents’ house. Plus, the Paris terrorist attacks just happened in November and we were going to Paris a few days before Christmas. Wouldn’t that be an ideal time for terrorists to strike again? Wouldn’t our ultimate destination, the Eiffel Tower, be a primary target? Like any supportive, caring husband, I laughed away her fears, said, “suck it up,” and informed her that, “if you look at it logically, Paris is much safer now than it was the day before the attacks so this is the best time to go!” She’s so lucky to have me, right?

So, we packed our bags, I brushed up on the two years of German I had in high school (“Ich bin ein Berliner!”), and we hopped on a comfortable, 30 minute flight to Nürnberg!

No wait, it was a long, cramped overnight flight and I got no sleep. Now I remember.

Made it to Atlanta and Betsy is already calling to see if she can cancel her flight

Fortunately, I had Real Food Blends to eat for dinner and breakfast on the long trip. If TSA ever gives me grief about bringing liquids through security, I just lift my shirt and show them my dangling feeding tube surrounded by granulation in various stages of crustiness. This normally makes them scream in terror and rush me through the line with no questions asked.

Plunging a Real Food Blend!

We flew Lufthansa, and there were a lot of reasons to like this flight. There was a wide range of TV and movie options (even audio books!). More importantly, you could drink all the alcohol you wanted. Normally, I’d be dumping wine down the tube until the flight attendants had to cut me off, but I was on antibiotics due to illness, so my eight year-old daughter had to drink all my wine. It’s legal in Germany, right?

Not bad for airline food

What did we do as soon as we touched down in Germany? This:

You haven’t really experienced Star Wars until you’re sitting in a tiny theater with a bunch of American expats, popcorn is hand delivered to every patron and the movie doesn’t start until everyone has their food and has gone to the bathroom. If you haven’t read my blog, you should know that I’m a huge geek and I love reading epic fantasy novels (Tad Williams shoutout!). So, of course we had to see The Force Awakens as soon as it came out. Grace is a big Ray fan now.

A couple days later, we took a train to Paris. I love riding trains. One of the items on my bucket list is to take the train that runs across Montana through Glacier National Park (before all the glaciers are gone). Much less stressful than driving a car and the European scenery was beautiful.

She’s all smiles now, but that’s before I dumped a Real Food Blend on her

I must admit I was nervous about being in France because my sister didn’t come along. Though she doesn’t speak French, she’s fluent in German and much more comfortable navigating around Europe than I am. I’d never been to Paris and Betsy only visited once many years ago. I only wanted to stay a couple nights to get a feel for foreign travel with no family support (we eventually want to go to China in a couple years). As you know, or may have heard, hotel rooms in Europe are minuscule.

They’re on my bed. I made them sleep on the floor.

We stayed at the Best Western because it was really close to the Eiffel Tower and that was the main thing we wanted to see. Their hotel rooms were actually pretty big compared to the European standard. The staff there were extremely nice, even when Grace accidentally locked herself in the bathroom. They had a decent continental breakfast. I’d recommend it, if you’re looking for a place in that area.

I did all my eating in the hotel room. It had a small desk I could sit at. We went to a restaurant (I think the Cafe du Trocadero?) for dinner and I got my meal to go, brought it back to the room, and blended it up there with the Vitamix I borrowed from my mom. If I was conversant in French, I would’ve asked if they could blend up my meal at the restaurant. Maybe next time, if we have a guide with us. Anyone read this blog who lives overseas and has tried eating out? Please let me know in the comments. I’m worried about eating in public in China because I’ve heard that people with disabilities are more ‘shunned’ there. Anyone had that experience or am I just being an ignorant American?

We took a guided tour of the Eiffel Tower. It starts at the bottom and includes tickets to the top level of the tower. The first level up had an ice skating rink. It was pretty crowded, but Betsy and Grace had to do it so they could say they skated at the Eiffel Tower. I opted to watch because falling on ice is rather painful. At the next level up, there was a long line for the top floor, and it was freezing cold and windy. Betsy was the only one brave enough to go to the top while Grace and I huddled in the tiny gift shop. When we take a more extended foreign trip, I need to bring more Real Food Blends and we need to be better prepared for the weather. Although it was beautiful, and not too cold during the daytime, we didn’t count on how much the temperature would plummet at night.

We forced her to play until she made enough money for a ticket home

On the Eiffel skating rink

I brought a blender bottle for this trip, which especially came in handy on our trip to Paris, because I could mix up my Real Food blends without worrying about spills. I’ve found that blender bottles are super convenient for travel. Since my left arm is mostly paralyzed, I use a syringe holder to help me eat. When on the road, I frequently use the Jackson PEG tube stand. I also have a homemade syringe holder I made from a cheap clamp lamp (see my blog post about it). My syringe holder is more important than ever now after a Great White Shark bit off my left arm back in September.

Ok, actually my arm was surgically amputated because of a bone infection, but if you share this blog post, please tell people I lost my arm to a shark.  Maybe a shark in a tornado. Way cooler story.

Train ride back to Nürnberg

Next on our agenda of things to do in Europe at christmas time was visit a Weinachtsmarkt, or Christmas Market. Nürnberg has one of the biggest markets in the country and there was loads of Nürnberg sausages and Glühwein to sample. 

Betsy and Oma with their first (of many) steins of Glühwein

Regrettably, I was still on antibiotics, so I had to watch enviously while those around me sipped mulled wine. In the end, it was probably for the best though because my immune system isn’t the greatest and I tend to get sick when I travel.

Even the kids had to drink Glühwein in front of me, the little bastards

My sister, Ginger, lives in Germany because she, along with my brother-in-law, run and own Reebok’s flagship Crossfit gym in Germany, Reebok Crossfit Nürnberg. You could say my whole family is crazy about Crossfit, even my 71 year-old mother does it. Excuse me, I mean my 49 year-old mother does it (sorry, Oma). So, of course, while I was there, I had to do a few punishing WODs (that’s “Workout Of the Day,” to you uninitiated) with my hulk-like brother-in-law and wimpy, downy-soft older (by many years) sister. I can insult her in such a public way because there’s an entire ocean protecting me from her wrath–HA HA HAAAA!!!

Please don’t beat me up, Ginger

Here’s Ginger strapping me into a harness that’s supposed to make pull-ups easier

Still can’t do a pull-up and now I look like an idiot

My brother-in-law is responsibly pouring alcohol down my tube after a workout

And here’s Ginger teaching a class auf Deutsch. She says her German isn’t very good, but I was impressed.

Ginger is very passionate about the importance of our diets to our health. She cooked some amazing meals during our visit, even more impressive given her modestly sized kitchen. 

In Germany, Grace learned that food doesn’t come from a can

The most important holiday of the year also happened while we were in Germany…my birthday. Usually on my birthday, I can count on my cruel wife to maybe give me a scrap of leftover cake from one of the many parties she attends over the holidays. But this year, Ginger made me a gluten-free cookie cake. I answered the age-old question, “If I blend up an entire cookie cake in my Vitamix, will I be able to eat it all in one sitting?”

Yes. Yes I can. Yes I did.

Also enjoyed a few glasses of the local German wine

rnberg is a beautiful city. My mom is friends with a Scottish woman who gives tours of Nürnberg, and she gave us a free tour one day. We learned quite a lot about the city’s history and some of the many famous scientists, artists and musicians who came from this part of Bavaria, like artist Albrecht Durer. Mr. Durer has a couple famous paintings you may recognize. 

The Praying Hands

Young Hare

Don’t feel ashamed if you don’t recognize the drawings though because I think I’ve seen the praying hands once, but I couldn’t pick either one of these out of a lineup. The rabbit-inspired work of art that captured my attention most, though, was this sculpture outside Albrecht Durer’s house called “Der Hase” (The Hare):

And now he’ll be in your nightmares too

Our tour guide explained that this sculpture is meant to warn against mankind’s continued tampering with nature. On the other hand, I’ve heard elsewhere that it was created as a parody of Durer’s “Young Hare” watercolor. The sculptor was frustrated that no rendering of a rabbit could ever be as perfect as Durer’s (other than a picture a 3 year-old could take on a phone) so the monstrous sculpture is shown with the crushed body of Albrecht Durer beneath it. 

We also visited an awesome bookstore where I would live the rest of my life if I could.

The best bookstores are multistory

And we found time to see the Terra Kotta Warrior exhibit, which has been on the road and happened to be in Nürnberg at the same time we were.

Terra Kottra Warriors in Germany are as likely as a Chinese girl with a German last name

Our tour guide even had us over to her house for tea while her husband, a retired German police officer, crushed Grace at Foosball.

Sorry the picture is so dark, but her townhouse was lovely and I’m drinking tea

Although it might feel great on a cold day, hot drinks can do some real damage to my stomach, so I normally cool them down with an ice cube or just wait for them to get to lukewarm temperature. Drinking through a tube, we lack that natural defense system of the feel of a scalding drink on our tongue. My other problem is due to radiation damage to my spinal cord, I can’t feel temperature on my right side, so I have a hard time gauging just how hot, or cold, something is. I typically lift it to my forehead or force my daughter to undergo severe burns before I’ll risk my own delicate features.

We were in Germany, so I thought we would definitely have a white Christmas for the kids to wake up to, but nope. It was a mild winter in Europe and we didn’t get any snow until the day before we left. Grace got to play a little bit in the back yard. Just to rub it in our faces, Ginger took her boys sledding right after we left.

Not much snow, but we took what we could get

In Germany they put rocks in their snowballs

Ginger and Drake had several friends over the night before we left for yet another fantastic meal. It took me a while, but I think I understood one of the jokes they told in German. I laughed uproariously several minutes after everyone else did. I’m the master of all social situations.

Ich spreche gut Deutsch!

My homemade syringe holder in action

As with all good things, our trip eventually came to an end. Drake made loving comments at the end like, “I can’t wait until you’re gone,” or, “I’d prefer it if you didn’t acknowledge me as your brother-in-law,” and, “we’re going to move soon and change our address so you’ll never find us.” It may sound harsh, but that’s just his way of saying he loves us and wishes we were neighbors. 

The flight home was another long one.

Getting some coffee at the Frankfurt airport

Betsy is preparing my Real Food Blend on the return flight

The trip ended on a sour note because we had to wait in line for customs in Atlanta for more than three hours. It was a nightmare; huge crowd of people; we were all tired and cranky. I guess it was just a busy travel day and a bunch of international flights happened to pull in at the same time. Other than that horrible experience that I’m trying to forget, our international trip was a success! Hopefully, more in the future, including China.

If you actually read this far, and you’re not my mom, then you win $1,000, which will be paid to you by the TubeChic!!!!!!!!!!!! No, but thank you very much for reading and thank you, Diane, for letting me post to your blog! If you have questions/comments/critiques, please post them below.

One Response to "The Traveling Tubie (aka The Tube DUDE) has this week’s post!"

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  1. Diane

    Diane

    March 25, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you Brian! It was truly an honor to have you post on Tube Chic! I hope you will consider writing another at some point in the future.

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