25 January 2010 - by ~ 0 Comments

What Led Me to Tracheostomy

During the spring of 2001, I went through a period of losing strength. I used to take my wheelchair all over town, loved to go for Sunday strolls and drove my chair 4 miles to and from school. I live about 6 blocks from our local Wal-Mart and the city had redone the sidewalk. One Saturday I heard it was finished so I went to check it out. Well coming back, I got to this drive that leaned to the left, so my hand would lean that way too and I kept going down the drive. I finally got back to the sidewalk and got to the next drive (went into Taco Tico). I wanted to go down but I hit a bump causing me to fall forward and to the left. This forced my right elbow up against the control, pushing the control forward, and I couldn’t get back up. I couldn’t stop until the chair got level, and it stopped a foot away from a parked car. I sat there hunched over, in front of 8 cars parked at Sonic, with people in them. I yelled for help, none of them came. Then someone came out to the dumpster and yelled. Then, a truck turned onto the road next to Taco Tico. I locked eyes with the driver and yelled help. The gal at the dumpster turned, saw me and heard me and was coming, then the truck pulled up by me. They sat me up and called my dad to help me get home.

I was weakened greatly after being hunched over on my left lung. I had trouble sleeping at night; I would wake up gasping for a breath. These were signs of Sleep Apnea, so we scheduled a sleep study at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

On June 25, 2001 I had my sleep study. I figured it would just be overnight. It was far from it. In the morning I was told I had sleep apnea and needed to have a bi-pap for nighttime. I had to stay in the hospital to learn how to use it. They did blood gasses and found out my CO2 (carbon dioxide) level was dangerously high. We had no idea it was like that and didn’t think anything was wrong, because my O2 level was normal. They told me that if I had waited another month I would have died.

They also did a swallow study to see if I aspirated. They discovered that I did aspirate and said I needed a gjtube. That meant, at the time, I could not eat from my mouth again. Needless to say I had to get a ng-tube until I could get the gj-tube in. This is where the troubles started.

I went in to get the gj-tube placed. While it was healing I had to have two ng-tubes in through my nose. Well we could not get a good seal with the mask, so air kept leaking out and we tried every kind of mask there was. My CO2 went up so they put me on the bi-pap 24 hours a day. They were also giving me morphine to keep me comfortable. Both, the leaking mask and the morphine compromised my breathing. The leak had my CO2 up there (96) and the morphine weakened my lungs. I started to slip into a comma. They flushed me with narcon and brought me back. They then suggested getting a trache, took me a day to choose to risk surgery or die. I chose the route that gave me the best chance of life.

About 12 days after that my stomach was healing. We had to do extensive coughing exercises. Well no one was thinking about what that stress was doing to the healing of my stomach. My stomach ripped internally and I passed out and woke up 3 days later with a zipper (stitches) down my belly, a new tube in my belly, and trache.

I had undergone emergency surgery, which landed me in ICU for several days. For the first two days afterwards I was intubated with a large tube down my throat. Then they took me back to surgery and put in the trache. The day of the tracheostomy my blood pressure went below the 50s and I received three units of blood, a rush of egg-white-like stuff and a push of IV fluids to get me stabilized. While I was still in ICU my Grandmother died and obviously I was unable to say good-bye to her properly.

Then while recovering I developed pancreatitis. It was about here where I lost my will to live. Even fighters have their limits. Got put on an antidepressant. About that time Mattie was on CNN recovering and he reminded me of my love of life. It was that and watching “My Left Foot” got me back in the game. 75 days in the hospital.