Tracheotomy and PEG

October 2015

After a few days in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and me vomiting nearly every time I was being moved with that long tube irritating my throat, the doctors decided to carry out a tracheotomy procedure. It can be either temporary or permanent, where an opening in the neck is created in order to place a plastic tube into a person’s windpipe. This tube is inserted through a cut in the neck just below the vocal cords, which allows the air to enter the lungs. This decision was made to stop the irritation from the intubation tube (which is quick, life saving and temporary medical procedure that was done straight away in the ambulance to avoid choking). Also to look neater, reducing the amount of tubes that were attached to me at the time, but mainly to minimise the use of respirator, getting me used to breathing by myself again…well trying and praying 🙏

Anaesthesiologist put me to sleep for the tracheotomy procedure, but obviously something went wrong because I actually woke up during it. You might not believe me, I haven’t told this story to many people… I have a feeling they wouldn’t believe me anyway 🤦🏻‍♀️💁🏻‍♀️, thinking I’m crazy or making it up. I know…seems impossible or hard to believe but it really happened-I swear! I woke up and couldn’t feel any pain but I could feel the doctor inserting the plastic tube in my windpipe-very weird feeling. I couldn’t move or say anything, but I remember that I opened my eyes 👀. My face was covered with a cloth, so they couldn’t see that. You would think I was maybe hallucinating again, but how would you explain the fact I remember everything in detail, specifically them talking? (there was 2 doctors present) …“poor girl, so young and something so tragic happened to her…” I can recall that moment, as I remember it very well! I don’t know what happened afterwards…

When I opened my eyes again 👀 I saw one of my favourite nurses 😇 (Ewa) sitting by my bedside. She’s one of the people I’ll probably never forget. As I close my eyes, I can see her clearly. She was special and very passionate about her job-that’s something I really admire in people. She touched my heart, praying and being there with me, as she knew what was coming next. Sometime after the procedure it was time for a breathing test. A test that was crucial, and what I wasn’t really aware of at the time, the next few minutes there and then would determine my quality of life! The main doctor (who by the way told my dad just days before that I’ll always need a respirator🙄) came into my room to unplug me from the respirator. This was just a tryout, that I was expected to fail. The nurse (Ewa) prayed out loud by my bedside🙏, while watching me take each breath. In my head I was thinking, okay I needed the respirator to help me breathe, but now I’ll just start breathing on my own, as normal-didn’t think much of it. Shows how uneducated I was and how unaware of the severity of the situation. I was still breathing after few minutes 👀 and Ewa was smiling at me…😊this meant I wouldn’t need the respirator in my life and looking back today, this was so significant in my journey to recovery. I could easily be transported from A to B, in later days I could do physiotherapy sessions away from my bed, I could get baths, and so much more. Today I’m breathing on my own, of course still working on my breath, trying to constantly improve my lung capacity and core muscles. I say I lost my independence to stroke, but can you imagine how different my life would be if that day things went the other way?! 🙈🙉 Without even realising, in those early days in ICU, I took the first step to gaining back my independence. Breathing…something so simple, that we all take for granted each and everyday…but there’s people who depend on a respirator to be able to breathe. Are you still going to complain because you cannot go out to get your hair or nails done? 💇🏻‍♀️💅🏻

In the coming days in ICU, I had to do multiple inhalations to clear my lungs (as I mentioned before I had aspiration pneumonia) with special treatment to improve my breathing. My father would use his hand on my back 👋 to physically help me cough up, this was necessary as I was laying on my back throughout majority of the day. He and Mr P had to suction me every few minutes also, as saliva would gather in my mouth and/or trachea 🙄🤤.

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG feed) was a much less eventful medical procedure. This was carried out just a few days after tracheotomy. I was put to sleep by anaesthesia and when I opened my eyes everything was as normal except one small, or BIG change. I didn’t have my nasogastric tube but a PEG feed in my stomach. This was a tube that was passed to my stomach through the abdominal wall, which was used for both feeding me food any fluids straight to my stomach, since oral intake wasn’t possible. I was now free from tubes plugged into machines 🤗 I could be transferred to a special “bath”, I’m using that word in inverted commas because it was like another bed, just narrower and deeper, into which I was transferred from bed using a special long board and sliding sheets and then transported into the ICU shower room. I could lay down in water and have my hair washed under running water-a luxury compared to bed baths 🙄🤦🏻‍♀️😂🚿🛀. Again something so simple that wasn’t possible the first few days in ICU…

For any medical procedures that required anaesthesia and also at night time they would still plug me into the respirator, just for safety. My dad didn’t know this, so the morning after I had tracheotomy done, the respirator was still on from the night. When my dad entered the building and heard that sound of the respirator pumping oxygen, coming from my room he got a serious fright. He thought “Oh God”, thinking I deteriorated during the night and the respirator was required again to keep me alive. Thank God that’s not the case! 🙏🦋

🦋 Focus on your breathing. 🦋

🦋 When you are stressed or upset your breathing becomes quick and shallow, which in turn causes other reactions in your body. 🦋

🦋 Some of these reactions are referred to as “fight or flight” syndrome 🦋

🦋 Breathing deeply and slowly instantly calms you down mentally as well as physically 🦋

P.S. Now something on the main subject worldwide today-the virus 🦠 🌍. This lockdown/quarantine is nothing compared to being locked inside your own body 🔒 (trust me, I know…😣🤦🏻‍♀️), so in simple words just get on with it, it won’t last forever and it’s only temporary. You can still eat, talk, use the toilet by yourself etc. Things we take for granted everyday, there’s so many things you can still do that I for example can’t🤷🏻‍♀️🥺…just think about that next time you complain about having to stay home and distance yourself… YOU CAN DO IT! #stayathome #COVID-19 #don’tpanic #staycalm 🤗✌️💋.

Really worth watching…food for thought! 🗣💨 Wasn’t he right back then about year 2020? #breathwork

One thought on “Tracheotomy and PEG

  1. Having to get a tracheotomy and a PEG certainly are scary I’ll agree. At least I haven’t had to deal with the complications from aspiration and hopefully never will. This brought back memories of my early days after my stroke.


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