Awaking After Surgery with Mechanical Ventilation

Imagine heading to the hospital for an expected surgery. You are told that surgery will be a breeze. You’re slightly to very nervous about being cut open. Finally, they give you the sedation and prep you for surgery. They begin the countdown but you don’t even get pass 5 before you are out.

When you finally awake you are unable to speak. It is almost impossible to swallow. Your throat is so sore that it feels as if someone is pouring razorblades into your mouth. You can’t breath, you tense up your fist and want to scream, but you can not make a sound.

Finally you hear a voice, “Calm down, you are okay. Take several deep breaths. You are being mechanically ventilated to help you breath.”

Surgery may have gone as planned with a complete success. The problem that occurred my have been what is called Aspiration Pneumonia. This can be a potentially serious condition. It is also known as bronchopneumonia and occurs when foreign material, such as oral or gastric contents, enter the Lungs.

Such foreign material can be from food, saliva, gastric juices, nasal secretions and more. When this happens during surgery, often the cause is eating something before surgery. But of course, this is not always the case. Vomiting during surgery can happen and gastric juices can then slide into the lungs.

IntubationAspiration pneumonia does not just occur during surgery. Can also be seen after Strokes, seizures, and other conditions where the swallowing reflux is changed or altered.

Respiratory patients with Asthma, COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], respiratory distress or Respiratory Failure and any number of other diseases or conditions can have a similar outcome.

Bacterial infections may result as part of the aspiration and the result could be pneumonia.

An extended hospital stay and powerful antibiotics are often necessary to get through this difficult experience. Sometimes, doing everything perfectly still results in an incident of Aspiration Pneumonia.

Mechanical Ventilation is a method that assists or can replace breathing where a machine takes control of the breathing. When a machine is used, it is more of a long term use. A very short term use can be when a breathing bag is manipulated by nursing or medical staff to provide the acute breathing of someone who otherwise can’t breath on their own.

After a patient awakes and can breath on their own, especially in cases of Aspiration Pneumonia, the breathing tube can be removed and the patient will then breath on his own.

The process of recovery can take a long time. In essence, you will be teaching your lungs how to work again. This is certainly not an easy task.

Things such as walking or running will seem extremely hard at first. It is amazing how the body shuts down to protect itself, yet – the recovery can really depend on your own health, underlying medication conditions, and how hard you work at regaining your own strength.

Things like a smoking history, Asthma, COPD, and other conditions will make recovery harder.


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