Once they were finished dismantling me, they said that they wanted me to start trying to swallowing liquids. At first I was excited over this endeavor. Until….
The first thing they brought me was stool softening medication in a small medicine cup. Well, unknown to me, this medicine had a very strong taste. One little sip was all it took!!! It went down the wrong way and I aspirated. I thought I was going to choke to death!!! The nurses just kept standing there looking at me and at my monitors as I choked. Finally I got enough air in to ask for oxygen. I was amazed that I had to ask for something I felt they should have administered immediately!!! The head nurse continued to stand there staring at me and the monitors while thankfully the other nurse ran to set up the oxygen for me. I found out afterwards that my oxygen rate had dropped substantially. This experience was my most frightening one. It took me hours to recover to the point I had started at. My heart rate and blood pressure also rose dramatically. After this I was very afraid to try to drink anything else. It was if I had to learn to swallow for the first time ever. I had to figure out how to direct liquids down my swollen, numb throat!!!
The next day, Tuesday, therapists came in to try and help me. I felt the feeding tube was hindering me from being able to swallow. I felt like if the feeding tube was removed I would be able to swallow enough to sustain myself. They agreed that the feeding tube could very well be hindering my ability to swallow but the dilemma was….If they removed the feeding tube and I still couldn’t swallow, it would have to be reinserted for me to go home. Reinsertion while awake is something they assured me I would not wish to experience. So what to do? I continued to try and swallow, without much success, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday night I prayed continually and asked the Lord to help give the Doctors wisdom in making the decision of whether to remove it or not. I desperately wanted it out, I did not want to come home with it. I asked the Lord to please make his will in this decision known clearly to me and the doctors. As bad as I wanted it out, I did not want to fail at swallowing and have it reinserted. The next morning, as soon as one of the doctors walked in, the first thing he said was, “Dr. Netterville feels as if we can remove the feeding tube today”. I praised the Lord for his clarity!!! I knew I would be able to swallow, the Lord had clearly answered my prayer. I still say, praise the Lord for His goodness!!! The removal of the feeding tube was quick and painless. Slowly that day I began to be able to take very small sips of tea and sprite.
Later that day they informed me that I could go home. I was excited. It took several hours to get everything in order for my discharge. I was scared to death of leaving my suction machine behind. It was the only way I had been able to clear my throat of mucus when it would build up and begin to choke me. Then they informed me that they were having one delivered for home use and it would be there before I was discharged. You can only imagine my relief!!! The suction machine had an adapter for use in the truck. I used it many times on the two and a half hour drive home that night, and frequently for the next five or six days. I know I could not have survived without it. Once my trach hole healed fairly well, I stopped choking and no longer needed the suction machine.
After arriving home, we spent two nights at home and then left for our annual Townsend camping trip. I stayed in the camper and slept for most of this trip not feeling very well. That Friday I woke up to find brown liquid oozing from the incision across my neck. We knew it was infection. It had a bad odor. Wendell called Dr.Netterville’s office and they informed us that it probably wasn’t a bad thing. They told me to keep taking my antibiotics and I should be fine. They were right. It eventually drained and even began to feel a bit better. We came back home the next Saturday after a week of camping.