How We Live







1.Sent in by Bulent Batir

3. Sent in by sandrogeo gianferrari
Received this message (edited) Sandrogeo 2/2013 (Gorduno, Switzerland)
[hello pat several people have written to me to know where you can buy the appliance for swimming. I explained why it is not possible to give any address in compliance with U.S. law.
Unfortunately, water "device" equipment are not allowed in the United States. The authorities too afraid that an accident "could" happened and "lawsits would follow". This risk is too great, so there is no way for us to distribute the SERVO AQUA legally in States]



I believe the key to survival in a potential drowning situations (lary and non lary alike) is to keep your wits about you and do not P A N I C !

Once upon a time I was at the beach in Del Mar, CA and I waded into the surf up to chest height. Suddenly, a rogue wave came over me and knocked me underwater. I was wearing only a foam filter over my stoma. I immediately occluded with fingers from my left hand while I used my right arm and hands in attempt to paddle myself back into an upright position, which I did.

I did learn my lesson to abstain from wading into the water at chest depth while at the beach since the surf is no doubt unpredictable. In a better controlled environment such as a pool, it's certainly safer but please let common sense and patience prevail. We hope to avoid lary drownings. We need not fear the water but do need to treat it with great respect.

~Michael Csapo - 29 Palms, CA - 2000



Wearing an HME might give a small advantage in slowing the water into the lungs but does not prevent it. If you get too much water in your lungs even in shallow water, it is possible to drowd wihile being upright, so as Michael says above treat it with respect.

Ron Mattoon - Seattle 2010





Fun in the pool at the IAL in San Mateo



Laryngectomy & tracheostomy swimming - Aquather Service
Enabling neck breathing patients to re-enter the water

This device is from the UK and I doubt it is available in the USA. The site does have some good information if you are thinking about swimming.

The following link has information:



LARKEL SWIMMING DEVICE [Is not available in US at the present time]

There is a device called a LARKEL (from Laryngectomee and Snorkel), which can be purchased with a doctor's prescription. The LARKEL is a rubber device - a breathing tube inside an inflatable cuff is inserted into the stoma and then inflated with an air syringe, forming a seal. You then clench the mouth piece with your teeth and breathe through your nose. Air then passes through the nose, down through the oral cavity, through the mouth piece, through the tube, into your stoma and finally to your lungs. Inhalation and exhalation, while wearing the LARKEL are through the nose. It has to be fitted correctly and you must have several training sessions by someone who is experienced in teaching how to use it



Federal law required that the LARKEL be provided on a doctor prescription basis only. Also, the law required the manufacturer to inform users of the possible dangers of improper use and to provide at least 2 training sessions, including a minimum of 3 hours dry-land and water instruction, in addition to physician consultation, LARKEL device fitting, and certificate of training.


Question on email list about Larkel:

I have heard of this item before, but was told you could not buy it in
the US and also had to be trained to use it. Where do you live and
where and how did you get your Larkel??? What was the cost?


My larkel was covered by medical insurance but I guess the cost are
about EUR 500. That's not cheap for a swimming device, but considering
it will last for many, many years, implies the costs pro year will be the same as for your bathing suit.

I'm living in the Netherlands and, over here, there are several swimming
clubs for laryngectomee's. These clubs have Larkel swimming instructors (all being larrys themselves, and volunteers). They measure the right size
Larkel for your stoma, and train you in the application, so you can
get safe in the pool.

I don't know about the insurance in the States, and I don't know about
swimming clubs for larry's over there. But if there aren't any, you
should ground some, because it's great for contacts and having fun!!
And also for some physical exercise.






Snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands


Watch the Video here:

How my Lary Snorkel came to be    By Bob Bauer

After watching John Lubelski’s video demoing his Swimming dry suit I got to thinking how could I swim and breath through a tube (I can’t breathe through my nose) without having to wear the dry suit.

One day while on vacation I realized my base plate had to be air tight in order to voice. Well, if it is air tight it must be water tight! So, to test that theory, I put on a new HME, the push button type, pushed the button and jumped into the 4 foot section of the pool (almost gave the wife a heart attack). Stayed under for a few seconds and found it didn’t leak. The next issue was to find a way to connect a breathing tube to the base plate. Since the HME snapped into the base plate I needed to find something that could do the same. I found a connector that snaps into the base plate just like the HME. By using tubing, nylon connectors and wire ties, found at a marine store, I put the snorkel together. After testing it in the sink at home I found that the wire ties weren’t reliable enough for water tight integrity. So, I switched to shrink wrap and that proved to be a better solution.

After trying it on, not in the water, I realized it could easily become dislodged by something or someone hitting it.  That’s when I came up with the safety strap idea. Using nylon strapping and Velcro, also from the marine store, I made the safety strap. By pulling the safety strap tight around the neck it keeps the connector from being jarred loose and also compresses the “O” ring on the connector to the base plate for a water tight seal.

As another precaution, before using the snorkel, I replace the base plate that I currently have on with a new one to be sure of a good water tight seal. So, that’s how my Lary Snorkel came to be.

(Bob, a WebWhispers member, demo'd this unit at IAL Spokane, 2013. WebWhispers members may look up Robert Bauer in our WW Roster for his email address.)










Pat in water

Some of us go in pools and swim again, very carefully, by sealing the stoma and being sure to have the stoma above water level when it's time to breathe! I swam for the first time in over 4 years, and I did it one step at a time. I like to wear a mask that seals my nostrils and allows me to see clearly under the water. This is how I started swimming again.

Start slow. Shallow end of pool. Take a breath, seal your stoma with your thumb or finger while keeping a little air pressure against it blowing outward. Dip under the water past the stoma level. Stand up and breathe.

Repeat until you are comfortable and keep dipping a little deeper in the water. Next, push off to the side of the pool from 8-10 feet away. That way, you can know you will be able to grab the edge with your one free hand. Keep on going and next try across the width of the pool. Be sure it is shallow enough to stand up at any time and keep remembering to keep your hand at your throat till you are above water.

Whatever you do, be careful and stay safe. The only time I got water in my stoma was when I did not stop to think and removed my hand and breathed in too fast. I had a terrific coughing spell but that was all. Swimming with one hand is not as easy as swimming with two and you must pay attention to what you are doing. I always have someone in the pool with me.

One of our members, Elizabeth Finchem, has been swimming for years. The primary emphasis is on neck and shoulder exercises. (Pat Wertz Sanders)









David Blevins mentioned some time ago that he had taken a picture of Bob Herbst jumping into the pool and we asked that he send it.  So here he is... mid-jump!





When summer comes everybody start thinking and finding a way to enjoy the swimming pool. As I have a very large stoma, that would be very difficult to occlude even with two fingers, I have found a way that I do recommend to all larys that want to enjoy a short swim. I occlude my stoma to speak or to swim with a hand exercise ball manufactured by Theraband. The company manufactures these balls in three different colors but I recommend the yellow which is the softest and molds around the stoma protecting the stoma from the water. Wish you all an enjoyable swimming. Web site: Call The Hygenic Corporation for a Dealer near you. In the U.S. or Canada, call: (800) 321-2135  (Jose Cruz)



I have had the Larkel for 8 years now, but don't have as much confidence as I do with a wet bath towel wrapped around my neck, covering my stoma, and held securely by my hands. I use the wet towel when showering and also at the beach playing in the waves. I have full confidence when ducking under waves as long as I can stand up and have a secure hold on the towel. It is virtually impossible for any amount of water to enter the stoma. If a drop or two gets in your stoma, your natural system makes you cough it up. Anyway, that's my experience over many years. (Don Devendorf)




1. I live on the water (New Haven, CT) and I have a cottage on Cape Cod. My biggest loss as a lary is not being able to swim or being put in danger by walking on a shaky dock, or getting in

an unstable canoe or row boat. My wife and I tried to invent something larys could use to be comfortable on a lake or in the ocean. Something like a tube with a harness that would keep our stomas way out of the water, we went to Sports Authority to get ideas and there hanging on the wall in the fishing dept. was what we were trying to invent It was a tube covered in a tent-like fabric with a fabric seat like you would put a toddler in to put in a pool. As you step into it you can pull it up to your waist and walk into a lake or in my case the ocean. Once you walk in past your waist line you will float with your entire chest, neck, and head safely above the water. On the left and right sides of the tube are zippered pockets that can hold soda, beer, food, etc. Behind my head is another inflatable pillow that can be blown up or left flat. I love my tube and strongly recommend it to any one who wants to safely and nicely get back into the water. (Full story and photos in the July 2000 WebWhispers Journal. (Bob Herbst)


2. Float Tubes can usually be found in any good sporting goods store. Especially in an area with lakes. Get a pair of simple swim fins and you can really move out. I used to use one in Utah (Before Laryngectomy) and the only problem I had was trying to walk with fins and holding the tube up until I got into the water. Be careful using them around surf or heavy boat wakes. They are a trifle top heavy when loaded with a body. (Parnell Stratton)

3. I have been Fly Fishing in a float tube since the 70s. I have even fallen asleep in it while on the water. When I set in mine the actual tube is almost chest high. The majority of your weight is below the tube and it would be extremely difficult to tip it over. Possible, but you would have to be trying to tip it over. (Larry Evans)

4. I started bass fishing out of belly boats (tubes) over 40 years ago. I have spent many hours on the lakes and rivers in a tube. I just wanted everyone to realize that they can turn over.

You have to show a little caution when leaning over while in a tube. Also the snap that holds you can come loose or break so you should check the rigidity of the connection each time before you go in the water. Some people use swim fins to move around in the tube but I always preferred the foot paddles they make for them. You can buy a belly boat out of the Bass Pro Shops, online, for about $50.00. They also sell the foot paddles that go with the boat. The foot paddles are hinged and fold when you move your feet forward then engage to propel you through the water. I bought my son a belly boat and paddles from Bass Pro for Christmas. Personally, since I have become a Lary I won’t fish out of a belly boat, too dangerous. I prefer my BassTracker instead. (Bill Hathcock)

For photos of a many different types go to Cabelas. Type "Float Tubes" in Search or go to your favorite search engine to find other companies





Water Survival with a Laryngectomy

Great story of Kyle Bryan with lots of pictures and information from

"Whispers on the Web"



1. BOATING AND SWIMMING I can really identify with concerns about getting out on the water, but I hope I can put your minds at ease. I am a lifelong sailor and small boat person and I had my surgery at age 64.

I was fine until I read one of those books they give us when we are in the hospital that indicated that larys should never go on a boat much smaller than an ocean liner. The fear nagged and grew as I readied my 'fleet' of a 14' catboat, an 11' Boston Whaler and an 8' rowboat for the water. When the day finally came that my beloved 50 odd year old sailboat was launched I actually wished the launch day had been delayed - a real first for me!

But then the miracle happened. I had been praying for guidance and suddenly I found myself on the beach asking myself what the heck that fear had been about. I've been out in small boats all my life and never fallen overboard from any of them so why in the world should I start now! I got into my rowboat, went out to the catboat on her mooring, was VERY careful in going from one to the other and have honestly not worried about it since. I am careful, but I truly don't worry. So my advice to you would be to continue to do the things you love to do, be careful and ENJOY being alive. If you can work all of this into an excuse for getting someone else to mow the lawn more power to you, but I cover my stoma well and mow the lawn and paint with that nasty marine bottom paint and have had no ill effects.

Happy Sailing!

Elinor Ripley from Cape Cod


UPDATE: The Mustang L.I.F.T. Personal Flotation Device described below is no longer available to the public. It is available to the Coastguard and can only be purchesed with a government credit card. I have contacted the manufacture and they know of no other unit that meets our needs by them or any manufacture. They said they will review the concern and may come out with a replacement. I will update the information when I have it. I am leaving the information on the site until we have an alternative in case you might find one.

Ron Mattoon, WW webmaster

2. The L.I.F.T. life vest that I refer to is made by Mustang Survival in the state of Washington and I am still using the one that I bought several years ago. I have never had to pull the cord to inflate it, but it is a real comfort to have and is so (what's the opposite of bulky?) that I forget I have it on. The one I have can be manually inflated and I "blow it up" about 1/3 of the way with a pump and find that I can paddle around "swimming" on my back - which is better than nothing. I got my vest from Landfall Navigation and am sure you will find other sources if you search the Web. If there is still a choice between manual and automatic I'd recommend the manual so that you can partially inflate it for 'swimming'.

I tested my Mustang L.I.F.T. jacket when I first got it and found that it works just as advertised. It was a fairly windy day, and even with waves my stoma was at least 5 inches out of the water at all times. In fact, I was lifted so far out of the water that I had to partially deflate the vest to try a bit of "swimming".
More from Elinor Ripley from Cape Cod


3. QUALITY OF LIFE (with L.I.F.T.)

I've read a few emails on our list that talk about giving up boating after a laryngectomy. I have to put my two cents in about this subject. I have been boating for the past 35 years, and had my operation 8 years ago. I guess I've been very lucky because the only thing I have given up is yelling at my kids. It never even occurred to me to stop going out in my little sport cruiser. My wife and I take overnight cruises using the normal safety precautions we always take while on the boat. When I found out about the floatation device made to hold you higher in the water, I got one (it made my wife feel better).

There are some things it is absolutely necessary to give up, depending on your individual situation. But when the boating season comes along and you get that itch to be out on the water, think back to how many times you have fallen off your boat. And think about how much you want your "quality of life" impacted by your operation.

The L.I.F.T. Vest is made by Mustang Survival. It is available from Landfall Navigation   The Model # is MD0450 Hydrostatic Automatic. The price is $200-300 (check on-line. It's high cost but well worth it). The vest comes with a full set of instructions and the website has all the information about the vest.
When it comes to boating, no matter what type, normal safety precautions, a good set of charts, a good VHF radio, a GPS and a seaworthy craft are the first prerequisite to a fun cruise.
Lou Holtman Poughkeepsie NY class of 2001




I have had the MD0450 PFD, automatic model, for a number of years.
I have tested it as seen in the photos.There is a conversion kit to convert to manual inflation; however, doing so will void the USCG approval.The pump, shown below, is used, since I can't use my mouth, in the event I need to add air to the PFD.

Thanks to Bob Bauer Class '08 for the information and demonstration.



Another Flotation life vest made by Ocean Hammer Ergofit has been purchased by some Laryngectomies. It says it lift the person higher in the water. I would like know more about it and how well it works for us. Here is the link so you can check it out and it is cheaper that the Mustang LIFT vest.


For suggestions, contributions or questions about this section, please contact:

LIbrary Staff