I remember some of the misconceptions I had about tracheostomies before I got one six years ago -- that I would be more prone to infection, unable to speak or eat easily (if at all), that the trach would be painful, that it would drastically alter my way of life.
So as I addressed a group of parents whose children have trachs, today at a conference sponsored by the Pediatric Airway Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), I did my best to allay their concerns as much as possible, although every situation is obviously different from mine. I must admit that, despite the fact that I am still a patient at CHOP (pictured above with me is my otolaryngologist, Dr. Karen Zur), I was worried that my experiences might not translate very well to the experiences of parents with infants or young children with trachs. However, it isn't always possible for such parents to know how things like suctioning or changing a trach feel from their children, who cannot communicate on an adult level. No parent wants to subject her child to pain, so hearing from me that say, changing my trach doesn't hurt, is important.
Look, no one would choose to have a trach if it wasn't necessary. It was never something I really wanted and if there were a realistic option, I would have it taken out. However, I doubt that I would be here today had I never gotten a trach. With it, though, I am able to enjoy a pretty decent quality of life. At the end of the day, that's really all that matters.