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Getting Back to Normal: Tracheostomy Removal in a Toddler

Updated on November 26, 2012
Just one day after having the wretched thing removed!
Just one day after having the wretched thing removed!

There is a lot of information about coping with a child who has just had a tracheostomy installed... but what about when it comes out?

It can be very exciting, but scary. Here are a few pointers to help you get back to normality!

Meet Jonah

Jonah is my son, and shortly after his first birthday he suffered bilateral vocal chord palsy (paralysis) which made it difficult for him to breathe.

After paediatric assessment, he was given a tracheostomy to help him breathe - which involved having a hole cut in his throat and a tube put in to bypass his upper airway.

10 months on, and all is repaired - but getting back to normal isn't as plain sailing as you might think...

Getting back to normal

So here are a few tips that will help you to understand what your toddler is going through:

  1. Remember, it's going to feel weird. If your child has been used to having an attachment like this for some time, it's going to feel odd having it taken away all of a sudden. How is a child to understand that what was once there is no longer going to be? If your child becomes distressed, reassure him or her - he or she will soon come round to the idea
  2. Help him or her to practice sounds. Making noise is going to be a brand new concept - especially if the operation was done at an early age. Some children are scared by this new ability, others embrace it. But with patience, you can help your child to experiment with new noises and soon, speech will become second nature
  3. Noisy night times. Usually when a tracheostomy is removed, your child will develop a raspy, noisy method of breathing. This is normal and is because breathing through the mouth and upper airway is new. Sometimes this noise can sound foreign to your child, and may keep him or her awake at night. Is there a musical toy that will soothe your child and help keep him or her distracted from the new noises coming out of his or her mouth?
  4. Replace the routine. Any parent of a child who has a tracheostomy will know that the tapes and dressing that hold it in place need changing daily. For many, this becomes part of the bedtime routine and often lets the child know that stoma-cleaning time is also bedtime. If your child is struggling to sleep with this part of his or her routine removed, try replacing it with something else - such as reading a book or going for a short walk
  5. Enjoy your new-found freedom! All of a sudden, your household machinery, hospital equipment and portable medical devices are no longer needed - enjoy the new space you now have in your home, and most importantly, celebrate!

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