Is there an alternative to a trach?

Cancerstrikes2 asked...

My mom is in ventilator since May 10th due to aspiration (ulcer from being bedridden too long, ulcer has been under control and began to shrink). She was removed after ten days but put back in last Wednesday after no one could wake her up, due to over-drugged.

Since then she appeared to depending on it. She also produces quite a bit of mucus since she is with the ventilator-aid. Her breathing sound is really good since she is on antibiotic pulmonary breathing treatment. The only problem that during her deep sleep (possibly caused by morphine injection), she forgets to BREATH and the machine has to help her. Now her lung specialist has requested us give her a tracheotomy. We thought it is unreasonable.

Anyway, we now are able to control her deep sleeping by asking the hospital nurses and doctors to stop over-drugged her on pain killers as she is on low G-tube feeding (50ml from 6 am - 10 pm only).

We have asked our mom and she prefers to able to talk (communicate with us instead by writing now) after removing the ventilator. I don't really want her to have this ugly trach on her. That is no quality life period after her cancer is cured/controlled. The risk to put this trach in too much for us to deal with.

Is there any drug or therahy to train her to breath properly again?

Expert Answer

Dan Tobin, M.D. is the author of books and articles focused on the practical and positive aspects of family caregiving.

You are asking an important question during a difficult time for your family. The suggestion for a tracheotomy is usually due to the fact that mechanical ventilation for a long time creates other problems that need to be avoided. Keep in mind that a trach can be reversed and does not have to be permanent.
The best way to get your questions answered is to set an appointment with your Mother’s doctor and write out the 3 questions you want to ask ahead of time. Bring someone along to the meeting with you if the situation is getting stressful who can help understand the options. Most of all, try and get your Mom to understand the options and let her contribute to the decision making if she can. Often a nurse in the doctor’s office can further explain the options you and your family have to face at this time.
Be well.