How We Live
- Travel - Near and Far
- Keep Active
- Everyday Living
- Local Support Groups
- Laryngectomee Humor
- Miscellaneous Hints
DIVAS AND DUDES OF DECEPTIONS
Madlyn Walton Class of 98 sent this in hoping to help all WebWhispers friends with choices to: Dress up , feel good and carry on.
The following is an accumulation of information regarding options for covering your stoma, scars, etc and still regain access to clearing the stoma in the most unobtrusive way. This is a summation arrived at from trial and error, and I hope it will save everyone some time , effort and money.Lets start with :
Wigs: turbans and hairpieces for women:
I use a fairly inexpensive company called Paula Young. There you will find colors, wig care products and styles to fit your image as well as your budget. The WHISPER Lite wigs last about 6 months before I find I have to rotate them to a gardening wig versus a dress up wig. They can be washed simply with woolite or the companys products but their wig conditioner is very much worth purchasing. Price ranges from about 39.00 to about 175.00 depending on the fabric in the wig. But they do NOT require resetting; and drip dry in short order, therefore requiring minimal upkeep. It definitely is a shake and go situation which makes all the ladies in Zumba jealous.
I usually keep a few of the old ones to go to exercise class, or gardening ,therefore having about three or four on hand . The company also runs many incentives and promotions and this will keep your costs down. They are quite amenable to a return of a wig if you don’t remove the tags. They will also send you sample swatches if you are unsure of colors in the catalog.
Turtle necks and mock turtle necks :
By now most of you have had experience with these. I like the mock necks more than the longer turtlenecks since they are easier to adjust when clearing the stoma. The best companies that I have found with reasonable prices, variety of style and excellent shape retention at the neck ,to allow many stretches to get to the stoma during the day. Their care is easy and I have worn them both winter and summer. The large sizes are excellent for
men , who want to wear a sleeveless one under a light weight shirt and eliminate the problems of the “Dickie” which creeps up across the chest. These will stay in place and look as though an undershirt is being worn under the lighter shirt. I also use the mocks under v neck sweaters and jackets. Contact Damon and Draper: A little more expensive than the others, but it sometimes is well worth it for the materials and style. A womens mock neck may cost (polycotton) about 22.00 Others with cotton silk will cost more but the materials require more care as well. They have every color imaginable in every size including petites. This is my go to place ( 800-843-1174)
Tog Shop: is the sister shop of Damon and Draper: Their products are excellent and are a little less in price Damon and Draper and tend to be a little less trendy . But definitely a good buy for straight up colors for cotton poly mock and turtlenecks. Theirs tends to run a little heavier in weight vs Damon and Draper.
So they are better for the fall and winter. Contact: (800-367-8647)
NATIONAL Wholesale Co. Inc: is an outlet that sells the above as well , fabric is heavier and less refined. This may even work out better for men since the sizes seem to run larger. But definitely a good bargain. Contact: (800-480-4673
SCARFS: Those things we can”t ever seem to get to sit like the photos and once you try to clear the stoma they are not in the right place anyway. I just discovered two products that are the greatest thing since sliced bread. One , is a magnet with a decorated cover. It is strong enough to hold two ends of a scarf in place over a dress. When you want to clear the stoma, you can get underneath it with minimum effort . The decorative part is hand made and has very simple design . Magnet is too strong to be worn by a pacemaker person. And keep it away from your watches in your drawer. I keep mine on the refrigerator.
Lovely pins , not frilly, and really you only need a couple to cover all color outfits.
Contact: Diane Kline
439 Alden Road, Honesdale, PA 570-785-9421 Diane@DianeKline.com
Hand Made Decorative Scarfs: for that special dress and occasion. These are all hand made , with satins , pearls and whatever you want. They snap on and stay in place. They are very stylish and beautiful and tend to go from 35.00 up to about 85.00 . But they hide the recurrent trips to clear the stoma and are a good substitute for jewery as well. The artist is very able to adjust to your needs and is thoughtful in customer satisfaction. For the guys, there are some which are not frilly and can be worn as an ascot. I am sure the artist will accommodate your requests. Website: http://lilianasterfield.com
Last but not least, another inventive try is using Scungis from the hair department in makeup area. These are usually made for hair ties but they have some elastic, light weight scarfs that can be worn around the neck , instead . They have recently come out with a twist tie scarf which has a light wire running through it. It stays in place easily, easy access to the stoma and don’t bunch up and best of all .......They are really, really inexpensive. So you can afford to buy a few. Great standbye at the beach or pool..
IMPROVISATION: If you only have a T-shirt at hand, try wearing it backwards, after removing the tie. No one really notices and it is just high enough to cover the stoma. This also works with a boat neck shirt. You can also add a short scarf and no one would even guess. For casual wear I sometimes buy teen sized soccer shirt (without the numbers of course) and the neck is higher than the average T- shirt.
In our Library: under Stoma Care
Many choices of types of stoma covers are shown along with instructions on how to make some of them. Also ideas on where to find scarvesand how to tie them.
Smelling and Blowing Your Nose
As a laryngectomy we have no airflow thought our nose to smelling and blowing your nose can be a challenge. There is a technique that can be learned to help with that capability called a Polite Yawn Technique. I involves using your mouth cavity to capture air and force it out you nose by closing our jaw with your mouth closed. The air has to go somewhere so it goes out the nose. The reverse action can be done to draw air into the nose to enable some smell.
This technique is explained at the following link from the Dutch Cancer Society:
There is also a video on YouTube that show the effectiveness of the technique as indicated by the use of a manometer (not necessary to learn the technique).
Another YouTube video shows how the technique looks when being done:
For those that can not perform the Polite Yawn technique here is another method that uses a baby nipple and tubing to create a device to help:
There are a lot of ways to learn how to sniff and smell again. All of them
are related to being able to suck in liquid through a straw. If you can do
that, try blowing bubbles with the straw. Doing these means you can use
your mouth as a bellows - to pull in air or push out air. When you use a
straw, you also have your soft palate closed. That's the connection between
your nasal passages and your mouth. It can take some practice to learn to
open and close it on purpose, but it can start with a clicking, snorting
sound coming from the top back of your mouth. When you do the straw action
with your lips closed, air has to go through that opening in your soft
palate - which means air flow in and out through your nose.
In my experience larys tend to lock down our soft palates. (I don't know
why.) Once you can open it up food will taste better, you can blow your
nose, and taking a sniff of the air is easy.
I am a biologist and taught biology using th human organism for almost all of my examples. I reasoned that if those tissues with the sensory cells were intact, there was NO reason that the sense of smell or taste should be inhibited directly BY THE ACTION OF THE SURGERY. The drinking straw thing--that's is a problem for certain people that have a certain level of radical surgery and a particular form of reconstruction that prevents specific muscular actions from taking place. I was/am not one of those few, so I use a straw quite frequently. In fact, drinking with a straw is easier, if not "cleaner" for me than more normal tipping of the glass, because of how the muscles below my tongue and along the underside of my jaw & thorax now work (I sometimes dribble).
I was able to move air through my nose by the second day after surgery while still in the hospital. I was not able to experiment with taste and flavors for a while because I was not allowed to swallow (at all) for a little over 2 weeks. In the hospital, I quickly noticed the alcohol swabs used on me, the disinfectant in the hand-cleaner my nurses and visitors used on their way in & out of the room, the scent one of my nurses wore and I noticed when I was awakened one of those annoying frequent times in the night.
When I realized I must be doing something to get the air to pass by the sensory area of my nose, I was delighted! I did not have t work at it much, but was pretty quickly able to push and pull air through my head with what I later learned had the name of "polite yawning." When you see a frog do it, it's called 'buccal respiration' ('buccal" meaning 'cheeks'). Frogs pull in air to their cheeks.move it around just a tad, then pump it back out. They are blessed with the ability to diffuse oxygen directly through their skin, including the lining of their mouth, so they can sit quietly and breather with no body/lung effort whatsoever. I mimicked a frog in those early days of experimentation, but now can move mouth air up into the back of the throat and into my nasal area without much (if any) thought and almost no externally observable effort.
When I am at the stove, this act of moving air to smell is more or less automatic--I rarely "think" about doing it anymore and only concentrate on doing it when I am seriously evaluating something I am cooking, altering spicing, or experimenting with. I sometimes stop and consciously make the effort to pay attention when I have a particularly fine cup of coffee from some new coffee I have recently roasted. In this way I am able to better pick up the delicate florals that might be otherwise missed by simply swilling the cup down. (grin)
Regarding taste; I have found that while certain flavors absolutely require the "air connection" that involves the sensory area of the nose, there are far more flavors of which I find myself much more sensitive BECAUSE I am essentially relying only on the tongue to "taste" the flavor.
I can now better pick out specific chemicals from certain items because the nose is not dominating the sensory reactions. Mints, for instance are easier to tell apart one from another. The methyl salicylate that provides the primary taste we associate with wintergreen, as another example, stands out like a loud bullhorn against the background "noise" of the flavors in a candy, beverage, or desert drink. I can much better pick out the
sensation(s) of umami and know better how much I need to moderate that flavor aspect one way or the other. (This, in fact, was a pleasant surprise with respect to my cooking and I have added a number of umami additives to my cooking shelf!)
Many sweet treats, especially hard candies and baked good with fillings or that are covered in reduced sweet sauces, have become too sweet--and often too "chemically" tasting--for me these days, especially when the various sugars are combined with aromatic oils. Orange oil, as an example, is SO intense since the laryngetomy!
The Bottom line for me is that while my sense of taste & smell have been altered to one degree or another and has, indeed, required some adjustments, it has been in no way a loss in my life.
Be encouraged! You will adapt and perhaps discover new abilities that cause your cooking to evolve and improve!
We are all puling for you!
Following the recent discussion on the sense of smell after laryngectomy, and the possibilities for its rehabilitation, I would like to once more draw attention to the website of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, where you can find very useful information and teaching material both for patients and SLPs about the nasal airflow inducing maneuver/polite yawning method, also mentioned by some of you. This is a well-researched and documented rehabilitation method, which enables the majority of laryngectomy patients to remain able to smell: if your sense of smell was normal before the laryngectomy, you still should be able to smell after the surgery. The instruction material contains many videos that make the recovery easier to understand and accomplish. With the help of your SLP this will be even easier. Also the American Cancer Society mentions this rehabilitation method on their website since earlier this year. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer/after-treatment/follow-up.html
All this Netherlands Cancer Institute copyrighted documentation is freely available for teaching purposes and for sharing with your health care provider(s) and your fellow patients.
With kind regards, Frans Hilgers.
Prof. Frans JM Hilgers, MD PhD, Head and Neck Surgeon Chairman-emeritus Department of Head and Neck Oncology and Surgery The Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital Professor-emeritus Institute of Phonetic Sciences (ACLC), University of Amsterdam Plesmanlaan 121, 1066CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
www.hoofdhalskanker.info; www.gpracademy.com; www.franshilgers.nl
- Olfaction regained patient manual: https://www.avl.nl/flipbooks/Polite-yawning_manual%20for%20patients.app/Polite-yawning_manual%20for%20patients.app/Contents/Resources/index.html#p=1
- Olfaction regained SLP manual: https://www.avl.nl/flipbooks/Polite-yawning_manual%20for%20SLPs.app/Polite-yawning_manual%20for%20SLPs.app/Contents/Resources/index.html
- Olfaction regained refrence textbook (for those who want to go into more detail concerning the scientific backgrounds): https://www.avl.nl/flipbooks/Olfaction%20regained_FB-ST/index.html
Access to these and other documentations can also be achieved through the HN department website: https://www.hoofdhalskanker.info/olfaction-rehabilitation-after-total-laryngectomy/
*Text at the ACS website:
Restoring your sense of smell : If you have lost your sense of smell, or are smelling odors that aren't really there, olfactory rehabilitation might be another part of your recovery. Problems with smell (called olfactory disorders) can affect your appetite, sense of taste, food enjoyment, and how much you eat. Nearly all people who have had a laryngectomy will find they cannot smell things the way they did before. This is because air no longer travels through your nose. With olfactory rehabilitation, you can be taught techniques that cause nasal airflow and may help you recover your sense of smell. Examples are the nasal airflow-inducing maneuver (NAIM) and polite yawning. Olfactory rehabilitation (rehab) is available at some large medical centers. Talk to your health care team to learn more.
SHOWERING AFTER LARYNGECTOMY
You will be told by some that you cannot take a shower and by others that you have to be extremely careful or you will drown. In reading these hints, you will notice that many shower without any shield or covering, others use ones manufactured for this purpose and others have homemade devices. Most of us who like showering find a way to keep that as a basic part of our lives and it becomes normal again. We asked WW members to send in their favorite showering hint.
1. I make sure the water falls on my shoulders and do this by bending forward a little bit when I cannot lower the shower head itself. I do have a shower at home which can go up and down. That is a lot easier. I wash my hair by bending forward with head down under the water so it falls on my head and neck and won't go into my stoma. I use this since the day after my surgery. That is almost 14 years now and still counting. (Marianne Peereboom)
2. In order to save a few dollars I have recommended baby bibs which are terry cloth on the inside and plastic on the outer side. Of course this does no good shampooing but one can just bend over to do that. (Martha Reed)
3. I shower without a stoma shield, turn my back to the spray to wash my hair that way and tilt my head back to rinse. A shower spray that can taken down and held in the hand can also be used for rinsing. When I turn to face the spray, I occlude and step right into the shower stream. When I was a new lary, I used a shield every day and then only when I washed my hair until later I quit using it at all. (Pat Sanders)
4. I tried some sort of shower guard early on, but gave it up as too clumsy. Now I just keep a dry clean washcloth handy to cover up while getting that area wet. If I do get a little water down the pipe, well, it's only water and it's good for us to keep the plumbing moist, no? In other words, simple is good. Which is good news for simple folks like me. AND ... conserve water! Shower with someone you love! (Paul Sampson)
5. I haven't seen the showering tip that helps me avoid getting water into my stoma when showering---I leave the foam square on until I'm almost done with the shower. It gets wet, but so far in 4 and ? years it has served me well. One other thing, instead of a standard shower head I found an extension that drops the shower head down about 14 inches with a swivel head and a shut off right before the shower head. I found it at one of the home center stores..
6. I found that if I stand under the shower and bend my head slightly forward when I'm directly under the spray, no water gets in my stoma, and I'm even able to wash my hair, with hardly a cough. Also, a hand held shower attachment (that screws in easily in place of the shower head) is much better. It saves a lot of fancy footwork on a slippery porcelain surface trying to get the right angle of water attack while avoiding direct hits to the stoma. I've tried the shower covers (the tie-on, bib-like things), but for me they were a lot more trouble then they were worth. (Tom Harley)
7. I have long hair -- below my shoulders most of the time, and I have long mutton chops which sometimes touch my chest. So a two handed shower is vital for me -- I need a shower guard. The ones that Lauder sells last forever -- I have one that is about ten years old and it is just fine -- and I have one in each bathroom of each house and one in each vehicle I own --just in case. (Paul Galioni)
8. Of the two types that Inhealth sells, I personally prefer the nylon one because the shape seems to conform better to the neck (and is more watertight), and the velcro strap is larger than the rubber one and lasts longer. It does, however, get dirtier because of the nature of the material on the inside, and eventually cracks at the point above your stoma. To cope with its getting dirtier, I wash my neck with a washcloth before putting it on. (David Blevins)
9. I do use the rubber shower guard and have right along. Because I have a small neck, I clipped off about 1-1/2" of the velcro and had it sewn back onto the collar above where the original velcro began. This allows me to have a snug fit and to stand straight up under the shower head while washing my hair. Since I'm often still waking up while showering, I don't have to think about moving at angles to keep the water out. It works for me. (Libby Fitzgerald)
10. I do not use a shower guard. Never have. If I stick my face full in the shower, then I use one hand to cover my stoma. Other than that, my chin tends to protect it. I occasionally will get a drop or two of water, then cough some, and don't worry about it. (Philip Clemmons)
11. All I do is lean forward under the shower to wash my hair and the water washes down over my chin and not into the stoma. If a little water gets into the stoma, a robust cough clears it , no problem. It took some time to get it perfect but time and patience works every time.
12. In Lauder's "Self Help for the Laryngectomee", he mentions a mirror -- and I did find that useful -- found one cheap in a second had store, plastic frame -- hung it right below the shower head. It helped me visually locate my stoma right after the surgery. Now I have it's location memorized. (smile) Also, a hook in the wall above the shower head -- I hang my shower guard there. I have just discovered the amazing properties of a nice new shower head -- it adjusts much better than most -- I think it was about $20 -- and a lever moves it easily from lots of small jets to three pulsating jets - I can simply reach up, turn the stream to the three large pulsating ones, put my thumb over my stoma, and blast away. I know that showering was an adventure in the beginning -- now I don't even think about it. (Paul Galioni)
13. For people who wear a shower guard and have small necks. The velcroed opening may be too roomy even with adjusting it down as small as it will get, so I cut off about 1-1/4" from the part that hangs off the latex. That cut-off part can then be sewn back by machine onto the same side above the pre-attached velcro and you now have a snug fit. (Libby Fitzgerald)
14. My wife found a 99 cent Foam Sun Visor at the dollar store. It has the shape of the visor like any baseball cap, only it is made out of soft rigid foam, 3/16" thick with an elastic coiled cord in the back to hold it firmly to the back of your neck and is adjustable. I tried it today in the shower and the very light foam kept its shape and preformed as I hoped it would. I could breath very easily, and it is waterproof. [Jack, Michigan]
15. For those of you who use the old style InHealth HME filter holder, I found a cheap solution to the shower guard. The fitting costs 25 cents at Home Depot. It is located in the plumbing aisle, sprinkler fitting section. It fits snuggly into the holder and you can either put the little sponge disk in or leave it out. The fitting information is as follows:
Manufacturer = NIBCO
Item No = 4707-2
Description = CPVC Street Ell
Size = 1/2"
UPC = 0 39923 10776 3
It is not FDA approved and is not patented or guaranteed by me. It just works for me. (Jody Ann Black)
16. Home made shower protector using 2 hard plastic trach tubes. Leave one tube as is but cut 2nd tube to be shorter. Glue the cut off tube into front of complete tube with clear PVC glue to form an open U shape. I also glued light plastic pieces to fill in the holes to the outside. I just hold my chin down when showering. Works great for me.
(Paul Frehner 2009)
17. I took an HME filter, removed the foam and fabricated a new
thing made of silicone tubing cut, shaped and way longer with larger
diameter. I put it all together with fine nylon string on the outside and
hot glue over that so there is no chance of anything getting in my
'pukka'. [McGyver like --the word for hole in Hawaiian is pukka] and the thing works great for me , just plug it in like an HME and have a shower!........ we are all different ....
18. As a newbie, I am scared to take a shower without some cover, so, okay, I am a chicken! I have also tried to shower doing all of those things I have been reading about on this site and my hat is off to those who go stoma naked. I was given one of those vinyl protectors and tried to use it but found it did not conform to my neck tightly and water leaked into my stoma.
I went to our local Ace hardware store and bought some door weather proofing insulation, foam rubber, half inch wide. used gorilla glue in addition to the sticky stuff on the insulation and it works great for me, cost a couple of dollars and no leaking.
(John Summers, Florida)
Below Are Some Assorted Shower Guards
That Are Available From Various Vendors
making your own shower cover
I sew the pieces together because I haven’t found a glue that will hold. The foam glue does not hold well enough. The foam is available at most craft or hobby stores like Joann’s, Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s. There are coupons available often online or in newspapers for these stores except Wal-Mart, so it costs very little to make the guard. The sheets are available in many colors. I think a foam visor with a shoelace or string would also work and require no crafting. They are also available at the same stores.
Jody Ann Black
Joann's Fabrics Foam:
Hints for hair
WASHING YOUR HAIR - Ideas from members
1. When I wrote asking for help with ideas for washing my hair, I received one very good suggestion from 3 different sources and it is the one I have adapted for myself. It really is simple (so simple it didn't occur to me to try it) but just to kneel on the floor on the side of the tub and using the hand held shower head, wash and condition your hair. By bending over the tub your stoma is protected and it has been working very well for me. I changed the action a bit as I wear my shower guard neck piece as a little added protection and I do keep a small hand towel by my side. This little addition in no doubt due to the fact that I am still a "newbie" and a little anxious over many activities which I am sure will become naturally as time goes on. I also was told that the kitchen sink seemed to be a favored spot and worked well for several people. (Marian Smith)
2. I use a wall mounted adjustable slide bar with a shower faucet that can be set at any height. It has three spray settings and you can put your head back like a salon shampoo. It detaches as a hand held one also. Delta makes it. I tried everything but this works great and you don't need help. I don't cover my stoma at all but you could use a foam filter or something till you're comfortable with it. Good luck. (Ginny, Fl)
3. A hand held spray from the shower can help to direct the rinse to rinse your hair away from the spray toward the stoma.
4. Let us put your idea here??
GETTING YOUR HAIR CUT
The girl that cuts my hair puts the cape over me backwards, allowing me to adjust it over my stoma for easy breathing, then folds it over my lap to protect my clothes. Works well.
(Mary Glyn Spivey)
Am I just dreaming or are there pillows that can help us larys get a good nights sleep when so many of us have neck and shoulder problems? What do you use?
Wedge Pillows – There is one with about a 12" rise and another with a 7" rise. When I was first home from the hospital, I used the high one, later the lower one but I raised the head of my bed on wooden blocks.
Bed Wedge. Available in 3 convenient heights: 4", 7 1/2", 12". Complete with one percale fabric zipper cover. Bruce Medical
Ideal for travel, camping, the beach, When fully inflated pillow is 8" high. Washable cover included. Inflated size 8" H x 24" L x 27" W. Bruce Medical
Feather pillows so you can shape them the way you like.
I use the formed pillow - I have always used a foam pillow but since I have a chronic problem with my neck, the dip in the center keeps my neck more stable because my head is kept level. And I travel with it, all the time. We bought a select comfort bed a few years ago and it is great (the air bed). I like my side firmer than my husband does. So now we are both happy.
Best of all are the Sobakawa type pillow filled with buckwheat hulls. You can push them around into any position, pull them up under your neck and they shape to you. I had one of this type pillow that I loved and was given another. It was a heavier one, too thick, so I opened one end slightly (be careful, it can make a mess), and removed about a quarter of the seeds. I used those to make a little neck pillow for travel or to use for my neck when I use a wedge pillow. It works.
I have one for acid reflux that helps me get a good nights sleep. They are not cheap.
The Positional Therapy Pillow Company
There is a blow-up travel pillow that you don't have to blow up. (A little problem we have). It is made by Samsonite and when you open the plug it fills with air.
I bought one of those travel pillows that you don't have to blow up. I found it at Target. They do work quite well. I keep it inflated at home when it is not in use. It seems to help fill it faster after I have to deflate it to take on a trip.
When I travel by car, I use a Samsonite neck pillow which I can blow up. Yes, we can blow up a pillow. People with a TEP can close it after a deep breath and use that air. I use the air that is in my mouth because I don't have a TEP. It just takes a little longer. When I had my operation, my Speech therapist made me blow cotton. To include my kids in my therapy, we also had little Ping-Pong balls, made some goals on each corner of the table and played table soccer by blowing through a straw. Believe me, we have more air in our mouths then we think we do.
Can your choice of bed help you sleep?
Raise the head of your bed with wooden blocks. About 6 inches should give the proper slant to help keep stomach contents from washing up. You'll also breathe better.
Just prior to surgery I splurged and bought an adjustable bed which I think has been a great help from Day 1. Seems like the change of position in elevation of head is very helpful for a good night's sleep.
We bought a waterbed. It is stabilized for 90 % so not soft and since then, I only need one pillow. This because the bed adjust to your body. It kind of curls up around it. Very comfy.
For suggestions, contributions, corrections or questions about this section, please contact: