It was terrifying. I panicked. The first time they tried to get me off the respirator, I felt I couldn’t breathe, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears.
I didn’t think I would survive, the doctors at the previous hospital had told my daughter I might not make it. I woke up in the ICU connected to multiple tubes and trached and on a respirator. They tried to wean me there but it was too sudden.
Thank God they sent me to Barlow.
At Barlow they were gentle with me, their process for weaning from the respirator was slower, and the Respiratory Therapists (RTs) stayed with me through it all. Barlow’s 18-step program, theTherapist-Implemented Patient-Specific “TIPS©” Weaning Protocol was a gradual process. It was hard, but they babied me through it. They would sit with me and breathe through it with me while I watched the seconds tick by on the clock. I was off the respirator for longer and longer periods of time until I was ready to breathe on my own.
It took courage and it took some fight. It was very hard. I don’t think I could have done it without Barlow.
When you’re on a trach you can’t swallow and you can’t cough so they have to suction you. Being suctioned is uncomfortable. I was so weak I couldn’t even roll over in bed on my own. They roll you over every few hours and that was hard. I couldn’t sit up, I couldn’t lift a cup. My phone felt like it weighed fifty pounds. But I am a fighter. Even when I was in bed in the hospital, I was wiggling my toes. I had to learn to breathe on my own again and I had to learn to walk all over again. It was exhausting.
When I was ready, they were going to give me a swallow test. They gave me mashed potatoes and something like baby food. It was so gross, but I wanted to pass the swallow test. So, I would pretend to eat it and wrapped it back up in the tin foil it came in and hid it in my gown until the housekeeper came in later.
The Respiratory Therapists at Barlow were fabulous. My doctor is Dr. Vadgama and he and the nurses and the entire team at Barlow Respiratory Hospital were all very good. I started rehab there. Then, I was transferred to Windsor Terrace where they helped me learn how to walk again. It was a long haul but Barlow helped me recover so I could get back to my life.
I was able to return to work as a High School AP History teacher. I’m retired now and I live on my own in my own home with my rescue dog. I go out to see friends, I drive, I have a full life. It has been more than four years since I was there. Barlow made it possible for me to recover.
Thank you, Barlow.