So where was I? Oh yeah...
I came home from the hospital on June 14th wearing a more comfortable binder/girdle, but would eventually convince my stepmom that I needed a break from it. I also came home with three small incisions ranging from two to four centimeters from the attempted laproscopic surgery, a three-centimeter hole from the wound drain, and a twenty-four centimeter incision from the actual surgery. Along with various staples, drains that looked like rubber bands, and even safety pins. I looked like a victim in a slasher movie.
As I said my first week home was a bit of a shock to me. Not only could I not do things for myself, but the dressing on my wound needed changing every day. For the first two days home, a home health nurse came out to show my stepmom how to do it. Since my stepmom has worked as a nurse's aide for years, she was a very quick study. She has a very gentle touch and a great bedside manner. She was a very skilled nurse's aide, but she would suck as an actress.
Each day she changed the dressing it became increasingly apparent that something wasn't quite right with part of the incision. We began a game of pretend. She pretended it was fine and I pretend to believe her. Of course this game only lasted until my doctor's appointment the following week.
My doc took one look at it and announced it was necrotic and would have to be re-opened. I knew it was necrotic but had no clue that re-opening it was the usual procedure. Imagine my surprise and horror at the idea. On second thought, don't. Just don't go there at all. Let's just say that I now looked like a bad slasher movie.
So with the incision re-opened, I went back to daily nurse visits. The now open wound would need to be cleaned and packed every day until the supplies for our new treatment came in. My doc decided to put on something called a wound-v.a.c.. The description of it and what it would do certainly didn't excite me, but I was willing to try anything to heal. Not to mention that the packing was pretty painful.
On June 28th, the nurse came to install the wound-v.a.c. This involves cutting black foam, inserting it into the wound, and covering it with a clear plastic drape. Once this is done a tube is attached and hooked up to a vacuum machine. It is a truly amazing machine and absolutely the most painful procedure I have ever endured. The next two days were almost as painful from the constant suction on the wound. Unfortunately, it was going to get worse.
Two days later the nurse returned to redress the wound. After removing the drape, we discovered that the foam had adhered to my wound. No matter how much saline she poured onto it, the foam just wouldn't budge. The thought occurred to me to just yank it off like a band-aid, but the slightest pull hurt so badly that I came close to passing out.
We convinced the nurse to go and assured her we would call the doctor first thing Monday morning since it was now after five on a Friday. After she left, I continued to work on the foam using sterile q-tips, tweezers, & scissors. I would work small pieces loose and then cut them off. When that stopped working, we tried covering it with a hot washrag to try and loosen it. After midnight, my stepmom finally convinced me to let her bandage the wound up and get some rest.
The weekend was filled with me trying to work the foam loose and praying. My stepmom & dad prayed. Their church prayed. My siblings prayed. My mom & stepdad prayed. My close friends prayed. And most of all, I prayed. My usual ability to find humor in everything seemed to be failing me, but I could still pray.
Monday morning I called the doctor's office and got his answering service. They were closed since Tuesday was July 4th. I left a message and he called me back within minutes. He told us to keep soaking the foam and surrounding area in SilvaSorb to slow down any infection and to be at his office first thing Wednesday morning. He was in surgery and didn't usually see patients on Wednesdays, but he would rush to his office once I got there.
Knowing we had more waiting ahead of us, I wasn't in any hurry to have the dressing changed. The wound had other ideas. A leak in the dressing caused my stepmom to have to change it before the nurse arrived. This didn't excite me because it had been especially painful since Sunday night.
My stepmom pulled the tape and top dressing off then turned to throw it away. As she turned away from me, I shifted in my chair for some reason and the foam just sort of popped up. I was so shocked that all I could do was yell, "Momma!" She quickly turned around in alarm. Later she would tell me that my tone of voice had frightened her and she thought that an organ or something had fallen out. Nope. Just that pesky foam.
When the nurse arrived I informed her that in no way, shape, or form was that blasted foam being put into me again. The horrible machine that I suspected was a torture device from the Spanish Inquisition was in a box and would remain there until hell froze over as far as I was concerned. Since she was traumatized by the level of pain that I endured the last two times she visited, she readily agreed.
Wednesday I called the doctor's office and told them that the foam had miraculously just popped out and that none would be reinserted. Not willing to torture me, the doctor agreed. So I returned to daily nurse visits and the painful packing of the wound. By comparison the pain seem minimal to me and I tried not to complain.
A few days later the return of my sense of humor would be heralded by my announcement that I had been wounded in a sword fight. That quirky explanation of the wound continues to amuse my family, my friends, my nurses, my doctor, and especially myself. Like I said, if I don't laugh about it then I'll cry about it.
Coming up: How the lack of healing can cause hell to freeze over. Stay tuned.