Keeping Vader alive

Keeping Vader alive

You know that wonderful sound-effect of Darth Vader breathing? That will be me. I too am going to have a vent-pump breathing for me. Except mine is going to be quieter than his. [It’s called Cyborg Rivalry.]

In the UK, the less than 1% of people with MND that survive longer than they can on a respirator-mask have a tracheostomy – an operation that makes a hole direct into their windpipe. But then they’re at risk of saliva getting into their lungs (what’s called Aspiration) and they often end up dying of Aspiration Pneumonia.

The cause of this comes across as sloppy engineering to me – not so much because of the tracheostomy procedure but because of a fundamental design fault in human anatomy. Think about it. Air goes into one pipe, food goes into another, we combine them together, only to try to split them apart again a few centimetres later. And we wonder why things sometimes go down the wrong way.

The more I considered the matter, the more I concluded I had little desire to die of Aspiration Pneumonia. So, I persuaded a fourth farsighted NHS surgeon to agree to correct the anatomical design fault and completely separate the pipework to my lungs from the pipework connected to my mouth. Once we do that, it will be physically impossible for me to aspirate.

The only major downside is that the operation will require the removal of my voice-box. On the day of the operation, scheduled for October 2019 (six months away as I write this), Peter 1.0 truly will mouth his very last words. That’s when I’m relying on the first research stream to be ready so that Peter 2.0 can seamlessly carry on talking.

No pressure there then.

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