C is for Catheter, Clorox Wipes, and Cranial Band
A catheter is a common medical term, but the specific one I'm talking about is the suction catheter. This is used to suck out the gunk that builds up in a trach that people without lung problems can just cough up on their own. Suction catheters are individually wrapped in sterile packaging, only to be touched with a clean gloved hand (and minimally, even then!) The catheter is connected to the suction tubing and the suction machine is turned on. The size of the trach determines how far you go down with the suction catheter. Going down too far could result in bleeding or permanent trauma to the trachea. Don't do it!! Because Abby is so little, we only go down 4 cm when we suction. As you bring the catheter back up, you create suction by putting your thumb over the little hole and suck up the gunk. (Lovely, isn't it?)
I should buy stock in Clorox wipes, because we go through a whole lot around here. The nurses (are supposed to) clean the hard surfaces in Abby's room with them at the end of each shift. Of course, I also use them at various times around the house to wipe down the bathroom in between cleanings, to wipe the kitchen counters, to clean a spot on the tile, etc.
The Cranial Band is the official name of Abby's helmet. Lots of babies who got trachs early on end of needing the Cranial Band because they were on their backs so much during the time when the cranium is molding. The technician scans the baby's head in something that looks like a Xerox machine. Two weeks later, a custom-fit helmet comes in! The cool part is that a bust is made from the scans, and it looks exactly like Abby--with a round head!!
How long the child needs the Cranial Band depends on the issues, but they usually say it takes about 3-4 months. You have to commit to making the child wear it 23 hours a day, which is difficult at first. Now, Abby doesn't seem to mind at all. We give her quick little breaks when it's really hot, but she's usually good about it. We're about 2/3 of the way there, and we've seen really good results so far. I'm glad it's working!!