Today I went to UCSD Medical Center to have my trach changed. I usually have my trach changed about every three months by my regular pulmonologist at Sharp Hospital. My trach was last changed at the end of August. In October I had two incidents with scar tissue obstructing my trach (see blog posts of 10/15 and 10/17/2007), which led to two E.R. visits. It was suggested that I see a specialist who deals with the removal of scar tissue. At the end of the month I saw Dr. Harrel at UCSD Medical center (see blog post of 10/30/2007) who decided to order a different trach instead of removing the scar tissue. It was supposed to take about six weeks to get it. Six weeks later, there was no trach. My nurse, Ernie called the hospital to inquire about the trach. They said that they hadn't received the trach yet. But, once they got it they would have to send it out to be sterilized. They didn't expect a long wait. December went by and then towards the end of January, Ernie called again to find out what was going on. He kept leaving messages and getting no response or they said they would check it out and call back. They never did. I felt like I was getting the run around. Frustrated, I contacted a patient advocate at UCSD. She said she would look into the matter. An hour later someone from the pulmonary department called to give me an explanation about what was going on. She explained that the trach had to be sent to the VA Hospital in La Jolla to be sterilized, but they didn't have a contract to do that. Once, they made the proper arrangements with the VA, the trach would be sent there via courier to be sterilized.
They finally received the trach at the end of January. After that long wait, I was eager to get the old trach taken out and the new one put in. The new trach was supposed to be an improvement over the other one. The doctor took out my old trach, put down the bronchoscope to check out my trachea, and everything looked good. Then he inserted the new trach. It didn't fit right. The trach tube was too long. The measurements got screwed up somehow. He then tried another trach. It didn't fit. A third trach was inserted. It was too big. It was uncomfortable and I was unable to talk. I was not happy. They were going to keep it in. The nurse said I might be able to talk in a week. This was unacceptable. I made my displeasure known by shaking my head and mouthing to Ernie that I couldn't talk. When they realized that I was very displeased that I couldn't talk, the doctor decided to put in a fourth trach. This fourth trach was exactly like the original trach that they were going to change. I was relieved that I was able to talk. After all this ordeal, I was very anxious to get out of there. They wanted me to stay a while for observation. After a short time I told them I wanted to leave. When I was told I could leave, I zipped out of there in my chair at full speed. Good thing that nobody got in my way. I will come back in two months for the doctor to check things out and maybe put in a new trach.