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Spinal Cord Injuries

Using my ventilator

Using my ventilator

When I first sustained my injuries in 2008 after being involved as a pedestrian in a road traffic collision, I was told that I would never be able to breathe again for myself. I was determined to prove the doctors wrong and after 2 years of trials, I was able to be ventilator free during the day, but still used it overnight.

After having had bouts of chest infections, and at times pneumonia over the years, I have needed to use my ventilator more often, sometimes 24/7 for a while.

For the last few years I have spent a few hours on it during the day when resting and although the advice was to be on it all night to give my body a break, I was really scared to do so and have put it off just because I was scared.

After having the ventilator breathe for me for a few hours it’s scary to have it switched off, even though I know I’m fully able to breathe for myself my first reaction is to panic that I can’t breathe and this can bring on a panic attack.

While it might sound so simple to be connected to a machine that breathes for me, it has always really scared me to come off my ventilator. I was scared to be still be on it when I woke in case I become too reliant on it and there was a time they couldn’t switch it off again.

This anxiety was heightened during the Covid lockdowns when for some reason the most simple things, that I have done hundreds of times before, became huge issues to me.

After much encouragement from everyone around me, I was vented overnight, before I went to sleep, for the first time in a long time and I feel really positive about the situation and how it will help improve my health. I have been doing this for the past two weeks.

I started 2024 being admitted to Intensive Care with a chest infection, but in the last few week’s I’ve made a complete recovery and I’m doing my best to feel super positive!

I went to see the respiratory team at St James Hospital in Leeds on Monday for the first time since I had my PEG operation and also increased my use of my ventilator and they were really happy with the progress I have made. My consultant, Dr Gosh, used a TOSCA machine to measure the C02 levels in my body and was pleased the levels had gone down; again that was due to me using my ventilator overnight.

I think since I made the empowering decisions to have a PEG fitted, reducing the risks of aspiration and also going on my vent overnight, these actions have not only had a positive impact on my health, it has been beneficial to my anxiety too, much to my surprise and I wish I hadn’t put it off for the last few years!

As I now go on it once a day and for longer, I am no longer trying to fit the 4 hours here and there on it throughout the day that I had being doing for the last few years. I have found that I don’t feel as anxious and panicky if I was busy and couldn’t find the time.

Strangely I now find the noise of the vent quite comforting and once again I have been reminded that the thought of doing something is always much worse than actually doing it!

The health benefits are so important too and these decisions should hopefully help me lead a long and healthy life. I want to dedicate the rest of 2024 to focusing on having a healthy body and mind and staying positive too.

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