ABILENE, Texas — Each year there are over 100,000 tracheostomy procedures performed in the United States.
Global Tracheostomy Tube Awareness week is a campaign that is meant to bring awareness to individuals with tracheostomies.
Bianca Ryle watched her son Tibi fight for his life in the NICU for six months. Four of those months he was on the ventilator.
“I felt really hopeless,” Ryle said. “I hated seeing him like that. When you’re intubated you have to stay in a sedated state. It was hard seeing him like that.”
Due to being on the ventilator Ryle had to watch her son through the windows of an incubator. She recalls anxiously waiting for weeks to hold her son for the first time.
“Not being able to hold him for the first five weeks, just looking at him in this bed hooked up to everything was hard,” Ryle explained. “We didn’t have that bond that you have when you first have your kid. Kangaroo care is what they call it. I feel like we missed out on a lot.”
After several failed attempts to take Tibi off the ventilator due to his paralyzed vocal cords his family along with the staff of Cook’s Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth made the decision to put in a tracheostomy tube. A decision Ryle described as life changing.
“Seeing his face clear for the first time without tubing and wires is not something you can explain,” Ryle said.
Two months after the surgery Ryle walked out of the hospital with her son for the first time.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Ryle said. “Honestly for the first couple of weeks being home, I was like there’s a baby in the crib. It didn’t feel real. For the first six months we were traveling to go see him wherever he was. Having him home and not traveling to see him on the weekends was different. It’s the best decision ever. I know a lot of trach families can say the same thing. Seeing your kid home flourishing and thriving, there is nothing that beats that.”