SO Kate was finally decannulated on July 4th, 2008. It really did feel like Independence Day.
My daughter was finally independent of the piece of silicone that had kept her alive.
She was finally independent of a wire on her toe while she slept.
She was free of the stares of strangers who couldn't understand what she'd been through.
Life after the trach was bittersweet too. After a very successful post decann check up with Dr. Jacobs, Kate was released from all equipment, supplies and nursing that were related to being a technology dependent child. I was thrilled to bits with all of this, but I won't lie -- life without nursing was very different. We immediately went from pretty much glorified babysitting 16 hrs a day to no babysitting. Kate's primary nurse was a constant in all our lives, and was missed by all of us right away. It was like having your girlfriend in your house for 8hrs a day for chatting and companionship, and then all of a sudden she's gone. Sigh...
Anyway, Kate made huge strides the first few months trach free. She'd already learned to talk around the trach, but she continued with speech therapy to get her up to par. This didn't last long and Kate was booted from Early Intervention Speech Therapy and Physical Therapy within 6 weeks of decannulation. Once the trach was gone, she had a language explosion. It took about 4 months, but by the winter she was talking clearly in full sentences. And boy can this girl talk!
Another big BIG thing was the feeding tube. I'm sure if you've read enough you get that I abhored the feeding tube with everything in my body. We went back and forth so much with it, but ultimately it served her well and kept her gaining weight while she learned to eat. Her ENT knew we struggled with it, but he asked that we keep it in through the LTP surgery and recovery. We agreed and I used it to pump her weight up in anticipation of the post op period. Of course there wasn't an operation, but I was too tense to just take it out even though the morning of her decannulation she ate her entire breakfast tray and then some. How's that for stupid? After all my whining and complaining about the feeding tube, it was me that insisted it be kept in! So for several weeks after the trach was out, we continued to feed her that 7pm slow gravity tube feeding. One Saturday (the first weekend in August) we took the tube out for a visit to some relatives who'd never met Kate. That night, we decided to jump into the abyss. We didn't put the feeding tube back in that night, or any night. She was eating and she continued to eat. I felt good about it, but I was leaving her weight in her tiny little hands. I encouraged her to eat whenever and wherever she wanted...that caused it's own tiny problem later on, but that's ok.
SO life without the trach meant:
*no nurses in our house
*no supplies, machines or emergency bag next to her bed
* she could finally move up to that cute pink room
*I could take her anywhere I wanted without a GO bag in tow
Ahh freedom...or was it?? We still had an open stoma where that piece of silicone used to be. What were we supposed to do with that??