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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Out with the Old, In with the New (Part II)

I had my trach (tracheostomy) tube changed last night. Unlike my g-tube changes (see post from 10/5/06), trach changes can be done at home, as I lay in bed. Typically, I have it changed every other week. It is easiest to do with two people, usually my mother and a nurse. One person pulls out the old trach and the other person inserts the new one. I have had my tracheostomy (hole in my trachea) for four years, so there is less of a rush to get the new tube in before the hole starts to close, but the tube should be inserted quickly.

Once the new tube is in, the velcro ties are attached and a gauze pad is placed around the trach. (above, right). An adapter (the blue piece seen in the picture) is also connected; my ventilator tubing is hooked to the bottom, while the top (clear part)can be opened for suctioning.

The curved tube (above, left)is 6.5 mm in diameter and about 9 cm long and has a "cuff" or balloon that can be inflated with water by connecting a syringe to the piece with the thin tube attached to the trach, to ensure the maximum amount of air reaches my lungs without escaping through my nose and mouth.

However, I never fully inflate the cuff because if I do, air cannot reach my vocal cords and I am unable to speak. (Imagine me speechless!)

During the day, I keep the cuff fully deflated. At night, I inflate it partially so I am still able to call my nurse when I need assistance.

Changing the trach doesn't hurt as long as the new tube has enough lubricant on it (a little K-Y jelly does the trick). However, changing it tends to stimulate the trachea to produce more secretions (mucus), so I usually need more suctioning afterward.


Amy said...

How would the common man or woman know what "suctioning" is?

Rob said...

Sorry if this is off topic, but Drexel really stuck it to Temple.. Seems we're the best team in the city.. Side note, if the Birds make it to the big game, I'll meet you in Miami...

Anonymous said...

I have a trach too, and when I'm out and about, people tend to stare at me a lot. Does this happen to you as well? How do you deal with it? I've only had my trach for a few months and am still getting used to it. I'm used to a few stares because I've been in a wheelchair for most of my life, but when I got the trach, more people stared...probably because it's not something you see everyday. My nurse says to ignore it, but she just doesn't understand. I'm only 18, and I feel like one of those really old people who live in nursing you have these feelings too? I try and put on a brave face, but it isn't hiding what I feel inside!

Josh Winheld said...

Hi Anonymous,

To be honest, I don't notice as many stares as I thought I would. I think a part of it is that people may be staring, but I am oblivious to it. When I do notice people staring at me, I start talking more loudly to my nurse or whomever is with me, so the people staring at me will realize that I am a person just like they are.

I think that you are correct when you say that people look at you because they don't typically see people with trachs. Putting on a "brave face" as you say, is probably the best thing you can do in many cases. Then you can go and vent your frustration to people like me, who understand.

And don't forget, you have only had your trach for a short while. The longer you have it, the more confident you will grow and you will come up with your own way of dealing with the reaction of people who encounter you. Best of luck to you!