I have to say, I love the ER. And NG tubes, like all other procedures allow us to do great things....
I was a young nurse, probably less than a year out of school. I had just gotten to work and heard a yell from one of our rooms. I immediately went in to find two fellow nurses around this pt. It looked like poo was coming out of her mouth.
They told me that she had an obstruction and needed an NG tube placed. They were up to their elbows in it, literally! The NG tube was being placed and up came about 100cc of the brownest, nastiest stuff but her O2 sank immediately and she was gasping for air. I quickly grabbed the tube and pulled it out and her O2 came back up, but so did the poo. mouthful after mouthful.
We realized that we had placed the tube in her lung, but since there was so much aspirated poo in the lung, we actually got over 100cc out of that lung! We knew we had to get a tube into her stomach or she was going to aspirate and die. They handed me the tube and told me to try.
While I was getting ready she was spitting up poo and asked (screamed at us) why we had to do this, one of the other nurses blurted out "because your throwing up ****!". She was barely cooperative as she really didn't want to be there. I later learned she had come in the day before and left AMA.
I put the tube down until I thought it about at the pharynx and waited while the poo came out, knowing that I only had one chance. Then she took a breath, and I timed it just after more poo started to come out, advance, advance, advance, and in it went into the stomach. We got about 1500 out before it slowed down, all brown, all smelly.
She went straight to OR and I figured I wouldn't ever see her again, but about two weeks later she came in for a wound check, seems she had fired or been fired by the home health nurse, never figured out who got sick of whom first. Anyway, she told me that she had been told someone in the ER saved her life. I asked if she remembered us treating her that day and she said she didn't remember anything about the day. I told her a little bit about what her condition was when she came in, and that it took several of us to help her and get her ready for surgery, etc. When we were done, she thanked me and my coworkers for saving her life.
That was the day I realized that even the worst patient is only the worst patient because they are scared, and need you. That was the day when I realized even the messiest, smelliest, nastiest pt and room is where you need to be because that is the patient that needs you the most. And although you may think they hated everything you did for them, they probably are thanking you for saving their life, they just don't know who you are.
Not sure I helped your situation, other than to say, your son may have had miserable experiences with NG tubes, and you may not like them (I still don't particularly like them), but they can be the difference between life and death and like putting that IV in the little kid, or any other procedure we would rather not do, doing them well could help you to save the life of that pt. I recently had a hell day, flew every pt I treated out, didn't get to pee once in the entire shift. Hell, I tell you, total hell on wheels. And when I got home and started telling my wife about it, I realized I probably got to save four or more lives that day! Wow, who else can say that but an ER nurse! What a wonderful day! Miserable to live through, but wonderful to have done!