Words by Smiley Team
A young woman is improving the freedom of feeding tube users by designing specialised backpacks and accessories.
Faye Bingham is the proud founder of Tubie Life, an organisation offering accessories for people using feeding tubes – all designed with accessibility, inclusivity and creativity in mind.
Faye is a feeding tube user herself. "[As a] university student and being active, being attached to an IV pole was not my idea of fun," she says. "The tube was literally always on my face and was very obvious. I got so many stares that it made me insecure, nervous, and anxious.”
She knew she wanted to change the way feeding tubes were presented, and to make life a little more accessible for herself and her fellow what she calls "tubies".
Faye spent the majority of her teen years in and out of psychiatric hospitals and eating disorder clinics after being misdiagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa.
She had been using Nasogastric Tubes for her food on and off for over ten years. However, when she visited an adult eating disorder unit in Glasgow, things took a turn for the better when it was discovered that she had actually been suffering from AFRID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder).
Since her corrected diagnosis, Faye continued to thrive, but the struggles of living with her feeding tubes were ever-present.
“Tubie Life was officially founded in July 2019 from my hospital bed," she says. "I was sat in bed wanting to go with some of my visitors down to the hospital café. It was always such a pain, as I would have to drag my IV pole around with me.
“So, I grabbed my backpack, a needle, fishing wire and ribbon and sewed the ribbon into the top of the backpack to hold my feeding tube and pump. And it worked!”
Faye knew there just had to be many other ‘tubies’ like her who were desperate for a stylish and accessible backpack, and suddenly she felt inspired. After dozens of different models and prototypes, Faye fine tuned her backpacks to perfection and has now built a self-made business around them.
“For me, Tubie Life began by being totally centred around the problems I faced being a feeding tube user," she says. "If I wasn’t a Tubie I just don’t believe I could do my business justice.
“The experience of living with a feeding tube is so individual, but for me, my feeding tube literally saved my life.”
SPREAD THE MESSAGE: You can share Faye's products to help get the word out to other feeding tube users.
SUPPORT: To learn more about feeding tube awareness and support available in the UK, visit the Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation.