BLA CONNECTIONS | Series 4,   Episode 3 

A patient’s experience of airway stenosis – essential listening for patients and clinicians

In this very special episode, Natalie Watson is joined by Charlie Harper to tell us his personal experience of airway stenosis. Charlie shares his advice to other patients going through similar experiences, as well as his incredibly valuable thoughts on how we as healthcare professionals can do better for our patients.

After experiencing severe symptoms including nosebleeds, deafness and breathing difficulties, Charlie was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA) in 2019. As the benefits of successive dilation surgeries reduced, he required an emergency tracheostomy – an experience which Charlie describes as devastating in its impact on day-to-day life, and perhaps not sufficiently acknowledged as such by healthcare professionals. Charlie was eventually referred to a hospital in London, where, very unusually, he underwent two laryngeal tracheal resections, following a second stenosis after the first procedure, caused by his tracheostomy. Whilst all of this was happening, healthcare services and all our daily lives were changed beyond recognition by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And Charlie’s personal life was also changed forever by the birth of his daughter – an experience which was massively impacted by his health issues, which meant he was unable to be present at the birth in the way he would have wished, or even to hold his newborn daughter.

In his advice to other patients in similar circumstances, Charlie explains the importance of a positive outlook and surrendering oneself to the process. He emphasises the key role of psychological support in adapting to life changing diagnoses and treatments, and believes that professional help in this area should be available to all patients. He also has some excellent suggestions for improving care and support pathways for tracheostomy patients and shares his views on how essential it is for different specialties to work together. Lastly, Charlie gives us clinicians a striking reminder that what is routine to us is often life changing for patients, and we must try to remember this in our interactions.

Charlie leaves us with the lighter side of his story, sharing some funny anecdotes and a heartfelt thanks to his wife for her support and love. This episode is truly essential listening for both patients and clinicians. We hope you enjoy it.

Explore more episodes

Series 1, Episode 1

Prof Martin Birchall on laryngological aspects of COVID-19

Series 1, Episode 2

Yakubu Karagama on further lessons learned from COVID-19 and the next steps on managing surgical services

Series 1, Episode 3

Taran Tatla on Exiting the Pandemic – Final Consensus Guidelines for Laryngology

This show is brought to you by the British Laryngological Association and is  hosted by Natalie Watson @surgeonsinger and produced and directed by Heather Pownall of Heather’s Media Hub Ltd.

The opinions of our host and guests are their own; The BLA does not endorse any individual viewpoints, given products or companies.
If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate, review and subscribe with the podcast provider of your choice.

Enjoying the show?

We’d be delighted if you could leave us a review on your Podcast app of choice