Throat Blog — I Find That Hard to Swallow

Well, combination of lots of things happening and boredom puts me back into a more-frequent posting mode. After 2 posts in 3 months, now I’m headed toward multiple posts per day. For a while, anyway.

Before the trach tube went in, I had a moderate swallowing problem. I could eat and drink anything I wanted, but the last little bit (maybe a tablespoon) would not go down…it would stay up around my epiglottis. I could cough it forward before it got too deep into my trachea, so I didn’t really aspirate much of anything.

That hasn’t entirely changed except…with the current trach tube in, I can’t get enough air up into my mouth to do that “cough it forward” action, so that last little bit goes way too far down into my windpipe, making me cough and presenting a danger of aspiration pneumonia. Until that changes, I can’t eat or drink anything.

What needs to change is to have the tube in my neck (cannula) reduced in diameter to allow for full air flow around it so I can make a normal cough, again. But, I have to leave the current configuration in place for 3-5 days, so stuck with IV fluids until then and they will probably put in an NG (naso-gastro) tube (down the nose, into the stomach) to feed me. That is not the hamburger news I was wanting to hear.

Unless something else changes, though, the medium-term swallowing/breathing news isn’t that bad. Once they put in the smaller cannula, I’ll then just cap it off, so I’ll be back to nearly normal breathing and have the ability to uncap if I do have a crisis that closes my airway, but otherwise breath normally. That will cut down a lot on the maintenance and yuk of the trach tube (when the tube is just open for breathing, I tend to also have a lot of mucousy drool dribble out of it).

Still waiting to hear back on the biopsy, so no real feel for a new long-term treatment plan, yet.

So, I’m stuck here at least until this weekend or early next week (they won’t discharge me until they make the cannula adjustment). I will almost certainly move from ICU back to a regular room, today. I’m walking around the room on my own (to the limits of my monitor cords), sitting in the chair, working on work stuff, practicing my guitar a bit. ICU is real overkill for my condition (one nurse, two patients).

And, you’re probably stuck with a couple of updates a day for a while, at least until I’m less bored or things settle down.

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