If you suction your child, you know how hard the suction catheters and tips can be. Suction catheters are narrow plastic tubes that go in a trach or into the airway through the mouth or nose. When we used these with Casey, she did not have a trach. We would feed them through her mouth and into her throat. We would find whatever it was that we needed to clear for her. She needed suctioning often. When we had to use the catheters, we would often see spotting (small amounts of fresh blood).
Then there is the yanker.
Ugh, that thing is awful! In the hospital, when Casey was a baby, they had these wonderful, soft-tipped oral and nasal suckers. Luckily, the hospital sent us home with a handful. When our Durable Medical Equipment (DME) sent us our monthly suction supplies, I was horrified that they wanted us to use the long hard plastic yanker with the huge claw at the end. No way!!
We found the part number on the soft tips from the hospital. We called the company that makes them. They sent us samples. They worked with our DME to make sure that we could get the soft tips and that insurance would cover them.
Once we got the soft tip issue resolved, we still had to deal with the hard catheters.
Then one day, when Casey had been admitted to the hospital, our nurse did something I had never considered. Our nurse pulled out these soft, flexible, red catheters.
The catheters were not for suctioning. They were general-purpose. These catheters also did not have numbers on the side like the suction catheters or the thumb valve. So at first, I was a little unsure about how she was going to get these to work. The wide end of the catheter slipped perfectly over the end of the soft suction tip. This let us use the sucker as the thumb valve.
Then we fed the catheter down Casey’s airway just as we did with the hard plastic catheters. Since we did that so often we knew how far to go without needing the numbers. These catheters are latex. If your child has a latex allergy this is not an option for them. Casey did not have a latex allergy.
We needed a letter from our doctor explaining why the general-purpose catheters worked better for Casey than the suction catheters. Once that letter was sent to insurance, everything was covered. From then on, all our suction tools were gentle and there was no more spotting.
Here is more information about working with a DME provider and getting supplies.
After making the difficult decision to medicate your child, with time and on occasions, old symptoms return or new ones appear. Once again, you’re faced with what felt like an already-made decision - to medicate higher or more, or not.