What is a tracheostomy? Do you know what it is? Because up until I was actually given one, I had no idea! I’ve learned a lot over the past year and I hope this article can help you further understand what a tracheostomy is.
Understanding a Tracheostomy:
A tracheostomy is a medical procedure that involves creating an incision into the trachea. Exactly 599 days ago was a day that will forever change my life. It was the day I was in an accident and received an emergency tracheostomy. Emergency tracheostomy’s are often performed when the airway is suddenly blocked due to a traumatic injury to the face or neck. One of the main reasons for a tracheostomy is an obstructed airway. That means there is a blockage in the airway preventing air from entering your lungs.
Why I have one:
I have a severe throat injury which caused tracheal stenosis. This means narrowing of the airway causing me to have breathing problems. A trach is the small plastic tube that is inserted into the neck to help the patient breathe easier and safely deliver oxygen to the lungs.
Where is it put?
The opening in the neck, in which a trach is put in place is called a stoma. Stoma’s are very often cleaned everyday. Trach’s are also cleaned and replaced, they call this a “trach change” and depending on your doctor, some have said every week, while others have told me every 3 months. We do a trach tube change every week, to keep it clean and make sure there is no secretion blockage.
What are secretions?
Secretions are pretty much mucus from your lungs, we and many of the nurses call them “goobers”. Very often patients with trach’s produce a lot of secretions and need something called a “suction”. Usually I am able to cough up the secretions, but sometimes it can get very thick and hard to breathe. That is when a suction comes in handy, it is pretty much a small tube that goes down the trach and sucks up the thick mucus. At the beginning, we were suctioning almost every 20 minutes, but luckily we have now narrowed it down to once or twice a day. We have a portable suction machine that we have to take everywhere as well as an emergency trach kit.
Disadvantages with a trach:
Having a trach comes with a lot of disadvantages. It is common to have very little sound or no voice at all. For me, because of the accident my vocal cords were severely damaged causing me with a quiet weak voice. The last time the surgeon went to take a look, he said that there was a part of my voice box missing! There is little to no hope that my voice will ever be the same as it was.
So far, I’ve had 12 surgeries (my thirteenth is today afternoon) and more to come because my airway keeps collapsing, meaning I am solely dependent on the tracheostomy, and have had no improvement in healing during the past year. We’ve gotten to the point where there’s only one option left- a complete airway reconstruction which I had in October. This upcoming surgery on January 15th is to remove a stent, which will then help determine my progress .
Thank you for reading!
I’m so glad to be able to share this with you. I hope I was able to cover the basics of what a tracheostomy is and I will get more in depth about different topics more in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, I would love. to hear from you! Thanks for reading!
Keep Smiling 😉 – Zoe Jena xo