This is the tenth part in sharing my personal experience of battling ill health.
Continuing on from My Time in Intensive Care.
The more the tracheostomy was mentioned, the more I was getting freaked out about it.
But I wanted to get better.
It had taken me a couple of days to agree to go ahead with it. My physio was trying her hardest to reassure me by saying how much she loved tracheostomies! Alright love, I think that’s going a bit overboard!
The morning of the tracheostomy procedure arrived; I was petrified. I was moved to a different bay and the nurses started to get me ready to go down to theatre. Ewan and India were there with me and they held my hands to comfort me. Then my physio came to see me while the general anaesthetic was being administrated. Ewan told her about my love of superheroes and she started talking about Marvel, but I fell asleep. Not because she bored me but because of the anaesthetic taking effect. That was the last time I ever saw her.
I woke up to find Ewan and India still holding my hands, but this time I didn’t have a breathing tube in. It felt really bizarre to be able to close my mouth. It felt odd not having this big, chunky thing in my mouth – get your mind out of the gutter!
I went to speak, but Ewan told me to rest, I wasn’t able to speak just yet. By this point, I hadn’t spoken for about 2 weeks. Safe to say, I put my voice to good use now, I don’t shut up! I was able to mouth what I wanted to say, but whoever I was speaking to would have to be very close as my voice was a quiet whisper. Ewan said the operation went well and there were no problems.
Apart from my NG tube, there was nothing else in or on my face, just the rest of my body to go!
I was still sleepy from the anaesthetic throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening. Later that night, I was moved to a different bay, which was opposite the original bay I first stayed in. As I’d slept through the majority of the day, I was awake most of the night and during this time, I became really anxious about the tracheostomy.
The tube was connected to a ventilator, quite a few of them if I remember. What I didn’t realise was that the tube could easily detach from the opening of my tracheostomy. I didn’t think it was possible to reach this new level of fear. The first time it happened was when I finally started to fall asleep and the tube disconnected, I instantly panicked thinking, “What’s going to happen now?” or “Am I going to stop breathing?”
The nurse came rushing over and quickly reconnected the tube, and then held my hand to calm me down. She then wrote on my whiteboard, “I know that was scary but it is normal for that to happen””. That did reassure me enough to prevent any further panicking.
Fuck, that was scary.
The next day, I was moved into a side room. I preferred having my own room but at the same time, I hated being on my own. That night was rough, I kept coughing a lot and gagging when they had to clear the tracheostomy tube when it was blocked. The process of it isn’t nice at all, but it’s a lot more comfortable than having the breathing tube in.
Ewan came to see me and I was very teary, I really missed being at home with him. All he could say was, “You’ve got to get a bit stronger first”. To try and cheer me up, he painted my toenails while I nodded off. I think they were purple.
A nurse encouraged me to try and drink some water, I’d forgotten what having a drink was like. I was only allowed some via a syringe to begin with, due to prevent any choking. It was so nice to be able to finally have a drink, but one syringe-full was enough. I’m still not overly happy about what happened later that day, when my mum came to see me. The nurse kept telling me to show Mum that I could take some fluid orally, but I really didn’t feel like having any. I kept shaking my head to get the message across that I didn’t want any.
But the nurse wasn’t having any of it, and put the syringe in my mouth, I didn’t have the strength to keep trying to get my point across. I reluctantly swallowed the water and waved my hand to say ‘No more!’ but she continued with 2 more syringes. Not long after, I threw up. No surprise. Thankfully, that was the last time she looked after me.
A couple of days later, Mum and Jill came to see me. I was feeling really low and anxious that day. A nurse administrated some medication that would, hopefully, calm me down. Within seconds, I suddenly started to feel like I was vibrating, which terrified me. I quickly tried to get it across to everyone that I really didn’t feel right.
But then it was too late.
If you would like to continue reading my story, then please head over to Learning to Breathe Again: Part 1.