One of the things we’ve added to our Keep-Mikaere-well line up is a daily nebuliser. It helps loosen any secretions in his chest and with some chest percussions and suction we’re able to remove some of what he isn’t able to do by himself.
This is one of those my-kid-has-low-tone things. Because he’s not upright, because he’s not moving himself about, his body doesn’t manage secretions and mucus the same way. The fight we went through to get the neb + the respiratory care plan was ridiculous. Requesting a referral to the respiratory team was a nightmare. We already have oxygen at home – which came from palliative, not respiratory – but if you have a kid who needs oxygen at home, SURELY it makes sense to be under a respiratory service?! There was months of asking and waiting and justifying and emailing and chasing up. Honestly, the underfunded NHS has a lot to answer for.
But eventually, months and months after requesting we FINALLY got an appointment. We went, and we talked to a big fancy consultant who was very blasé because Mikaere has a metabolic based disorder, and not a respiratory based one. There is nothing wrong with his lungs, per say. Just his tone.
But, with his tone, he’s not always able to cough. And if he can’t cough, and mucus blocks his airway, his body overreacts, he gags and then vomits. This is clear problem (I talk about the daily vomits all the time, so you know this is a problem for us). So, we it talk through with the consultant, and then we’re palmed off to the nursing team. I’m not sad about this, because anyone who has spent time in a hospital setting knows that it’s ALWAYS run by the nurses. The respiratory nurses were amazing and smart and in half the time of the consult we had a plan and things to try.
Thus, this daily nebuliser. It’s not a short, easy add, though. It takes 15 minutes of entertainment in a chair, battling his little fingers as he tries to pull the mask off. Chest percussion is awful, he hates it (firmly ‘clapping’ your child while he cries is not fun for anyone. And before anyone gets on our grill, we have respiratory physios and nurses overseeing this particular bit of care). And then suction. We literally put a thin tube up Mikaere’s nose and down the back of his throat to suck out the secretions there, and then I hope that might cause him to might cough and we’ll catch the mucus and suck it out of his mouth. Sometimes we’re successful and his breathing sounds clear afterwords. Sometimes it’s less so and he sounds like he’s snoring because there is a stubborn mucus plug in his airway that I can’t get to.
But I have to say, I think the added care has helped. It’s not always an easy thing to fit in, but on days that he’s poorly and has a snotty nose – it makes the WORLD of difference. I think it’s just another thing we’re doing to help keep Mikaere as well as we possibly can.
Nebulisers and suctioning mucus plugs. Oh special needs life.