Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Will tracheal stenosis kill me?

Sorry to sound so cheerful, lol, but I suppose this is a question that must be addressed.  In my case, there is a chance that yes, the stenosis will kill me before anyone has a chance to even know there's something wrong.  There are a few things that can go wrong.  The first time I suffered a major respiratory arrest was shortly after I had laser surgery and a stent change, early on in my treatment.  I came back fine from theatre, but over the course of twelve hours, my vocal cords began to swell up.  As they did so, it got harder and harder to breathe.  At first, it just felt as if I'd been winded, but as the night wore on, it felt as if I were being tortured.  It isn't something I would wish on even my worst enemy.  The body fights lack of oxygen.  It fights tooth and nail to stay alive.  But it's self perpetuating, because as you fight for breath, you increase your need for oxygen.  Which makes you fight more.  You get the idea.  About eighteen hours after my hell began, my surgeon appeared at the foot of my bed.  I looked him in the eye and I begged him to 'just do a tracheostomy.  HELP me.'.  And he said he wanted to hold off on that.  He disappeared, and ten minutes later I almost succeeded in throwing myself out of the window.  I wanted to die quickly.  I just couldn't bear the slow squeeze of life that was happening.  Ten minutes after that, I was in the lift to go up to theatre, where I finally gave up the fight and arrested.  Unsurprisingly, I woke up with a trach.  My vocal cords were so swollen that every time I took a breath it, they blocked the stent, thus explaining my struggle for breath.  So it wasn't in my head after all.  Trauma had erased the memory, so I had to ask later what happened.  And I was told that I had been very, very unwell.  At death's door.

Another time, I suffered a complication in theatre.  My throat went into spasm, and closed down.  There was nothing they could do.  They had to wait for it to release.  But this apparantly took four or five minutes.  It was so close that they told my husband to expect the worst.

Another source of danger is infection.  I've had many of these, including bugs that ate my skin and turned it into liquid.  Gross, and very deadly.  I've even had the dreaded MRSA (thanks to a certain London hospital!), but am now thankfully clear.  I've had infections on two occasions that were bad enough to put me on life support for a month.  Not fun at all.  Contrary to popular belief, not everyone sleeps when under sedation.  Personally, I hallucinate.  Which means that I'm always a bit crazy when they wake me up, and sometimes this doesn't go away.  I feel disturbed just thinking about it.

Another complication in theatre was bleeding.  I started to bleed, and they just couldn't stop it.  I bled and bled and bled.  And I woke up with another tracheostomy.  I didn't speak for a month, I was so depressed.

Another notable life threatening experience involved a T tube.  I was fine.  My surgeon came to see me and I told him, I feel great.  But then I coughed.  And the tube blocked solid.  I tried to suction, but nothing came out.  I tried to spray saline to loosen it, but that didn't work.  I tried to pull the tube out but couldn't.  I pulled back the door and walked to the nursing station to say 'I can't breathe'.  And they told me to stop messing around and get back in bed!  They noticed thankfully that I was going blue, and by that point I remember looking at the clock, and watching the seconds go.  I remembered that it takes on average three minutes without oxygen to die, and I was willing it to go as quickly as possible.  I managed to heave myself back into bed, and with that last exertion, everything went red, then brown and then white.  And I died.

Luckily, my surgeon had been in the room next door.  the last thing I remember is looking into the eyes of the nurses and seeing the blood drain from their faces.  I was in serious danger, and technically dead.  How strange.  But I woke up to find Mr hero surgeon straddling my chest, holding a T tube in one hand and covered in my blood.  I suppose it was more striking because he was wearing a very expensive looking bright white shirt.  And some anaesthetic chap was digging around in my groin for an artery.  It turns out I had pulmonary oedema and pneumonia, which was making me throw out big lumps of mucous, which was what clogged up the tube.  That is the closest I've ever felt to heaven, and I don't want to go back in a hurry.

I guess the moral of my story is that you have to treat tracheal stenosis with respect.  It can and will kill you if you don't.  I'm not trying to scare anybody, but I swore to tell the truth and this is it.  Death is a possibility, and a very real one.  So do the nebulisers, take the medications and look after yourself.  You have to be determined to win this fight because honestly if you aren't, you won't.

Take care y'all.

1 comment:

  1. i have tracheal stenosis as well i would like to talk about what it is doing to me and my life