Saturday, June 8, 2013

  • Iced water - successful
  • Slow breathing in and out of plastic bag - successful
  • Teaspoon of sugar - successful
  • Acupressure - yet to be tried but optimistic it will work
Though hiccups are generally just inconvenient and of no concern and dissipate after a few minutes for the average abled person for someone with Robbie's particular cerebral palsy they can continue for some considerable time and become down right dangerous.
It was only a few days into caring for my friend that he had an attack of hiccups. I assumed they'd go away after a short time just like most anyone else. But no. They kept on and on for some minutes until he vomited all over himself and started choking having inhaled a small portion and also filling his nasal cavity. I ripped off his tray that's attached to his electric wheelchair all day as the vomit flowed down its sides and all over my hands but I had to get him to lean as far forward as possible and slap his back with cupped hands. This was when I also found out that Robbie needed encouragement or 'reminding' to cough and instruction on precisely how. Initially he just sat there choking, not breathing with apparently no instinct to cough. I yelled at him to cough as I frantically cupped his back and coughed myself to show him what deep, heavy coughing was like. He weakly coughed and I yelled to do it heavier and not to stop like he kept doing.
After his lungs seemed clear again I set about cleaning all the mess up. But he started hiccupping again. He said he'd heard that drinking ice cold water could stop hiccups. This made sense as hiccups is the process of diaphragm spasm. So a shock of ice water just might work. I filled a two litre jug with all the ice cubes we had and cold water and stirred. Then had Robbie drink as quickly as much as he could without taking a breath. All the while hoping he'd not vomit again with such a large volume of fluid intake. But with a sheet at the ready I was prepared as I wrapped it around him and his wheelchair. He gulped down about a litre and I stood back. IT WORKED!!
So from that point on I made sure we had an ample supply of ice cubes and that as soon as he started hiccupping in the future he'd immediately gulp down as much iced water as he could in one hit. The only draw back with this is if the hiccups returned some minutes later his gut was full of water already and it made it incredibly hard for him to go a second round.
So another option was for him to breath into a plastic bag that I held firmly to his mouth and instructed him to take long deep breaths. This was a long procedure but generally worked and I usually used it after the iced water if the hiccups returned to save him trying to consume another large volume of fluid.
Both of these cures were fantastic but fiddly. But better than nothing and having Robbie choke on his vomit. Robbie didn't need to be hiccupping for long to vomit.
Then a couple of years ago while he was in community care one of the Pilipino staff was around when he had a hiccup attack. I asked for a jug of iced water. She said to instead give him a spoonful of sugar. She returned and shovelled it into his mouth. Incredible!! Instant result. I stood there staring; waiting for the hiccups to return but they didn't. We thanked Celia for imparting us with this vital knowledge that seems something so small to the majority of people but for someone like Robbie it is life saving knowledge and a load off my stressed out mind as a carer always on the alert for the next disaster or challenge that is all part and parcel of caring and living with someone with severe cerebral palsy.
Now I've also been investigating acupressure recently for the treatment of hiccups. After all, it can not be guaranteed that sugar will be handy everywhere we go unless we carry some with us. And that does not guarantee in itself that Robbie would be able to eat it as he increasingly suffers from nervous giggling that totally robs him of any ability to swallow. So discovering that a point directly behind the ears in that indentation just above the jaw bone is a fix for hiccups, nausea, morning sickness and travel sickness it will be the next cure to try when he gets the attack of the hiccups. I've read feed back on websites and it seems to work. I'm a strong believer in acupuncture and acupressure so I am sure it will also be successful for Robbie. When I discussed my findings with him I pressed on this area known as Yi Feng and he said he felt a sensation in the diaphragm region.

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