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Zahava Recovery – December 26th 2011

Happy christmas to those who celebrate. I’m writing this on Boxing day here in Brisbane, at the hospital next to Zahava. She is sitting in her oxford chair reading a cosmopolitan magazine Phil bought for her.

Since updating you last October Zahava has slowly and steadily progressed. The improvement curve is very slow, but it is heading in the right direction.

The trachy remains the big goal – to have it removed. Zahava had surgery on her throat a month ago to remove some scar tissue that had built up from having the trachy for a long time. The tissue blocks her airway, which must be cleared in order to breath without the trachy.

Zahava had the surgery under a local anaesthetic. She took about two weeks to heal properly, which was about two weeks ago. Since then her speech pathologists have begun the cuff deflations again, which is where the balloon that protects her airway is deflated so she has to handle protecting it herself.

When the balloon is down a speaking valve can be attached so air passes through Zahava’s vocal cords and she can talk. Her voice is quite “wet”, covered in saliva and gurgling, but she can say understandable words in a deep voice.

The whole process is tasking on her breathing, so sessions last for 30 minutes to an hour. The goal is to get these sessions happening every day and increase how long they go for. When Zahava can tolerate the balloon being down all the time and handle the breathing and swallowing etc by herself, the trachy can come out. At the moment it’s about stability and building endurance.

The rest of her body is improving slowly. Zahava goes for short walks with her physio and a assistant holding her up with a walker with wheels. Her left side is good, her right side is slowly getting better. Her left hand works fine, her right hand is getting better.

We do daily exercises to help Zahava with her swallow/mouth and her right arm, in addition to the treatment she gets from the hospital staff.

In terms of mood, Zahava is relaxed, except during the cuff deflations where she does a lot of coughing. Most of the time she jokes around with us, smiling and laughing, has long naps, watches tv and reads magazines. The nurses have regular treatments for Zahava to keep things stable and for the most part the days follow a similar pattern.

Visitors are welcome to pop in for short visits any time. Zahava can remember all of her long time friends very well and will greet you with a big smile. Her concentration and short term memory isn’t great, but in general she is just as she always has been.

Happy new year from all of us at the hospital.