Saturday, July 9, 2011

Adventures of a Semi Colon: Hannah vs. Edgar

Be ye warned, this is an epic tale about a girl and her WoundVAC.

WoundVAC has been dubbed Edgar (think J. Edgar Hoover... think Hoover as in vacuum... got it?), many thanks to Heidi. Edgar has quickly proven himself to be a high maintenance side kick. Here's a picture of Edgar: (Actually, this is someone else's WoundVAC. Edgar is indistinguishable from this. I just don't own a camera to take a picture of him, so I Google imaged him). On the upper right, you can see a tiny bit of the tubing. That tubing attaches to my wound. You can also see part of the power cord (black plug with big white arrow on the bottom left). This becomes important later in the story.

On Tuesday night, the seal broke, resulting in horrible, nasty messes. That wasn't really Edgar's fault, but we'll blame him anyways.

Wednesday, the wound had to be repacked due to the broken seal. Again, not his fault, but again, I'm blaming him.

Thursday... I arrived at home with my portable Edgar. He gurgled continuously like a coffee percolator when the water is almost gone... you know that sound? To muffle the sound, I put two pillows and a blanket on top of him so I could sleep through the noise.

Friday morning, I woke up, elated that I had slept through the night. The pillows and blanket really did the trick; I couldn't hear Edgar at all. I uncovered him, only to realize that... he was dead. Yes, I had forgotten to plug him in. I'd like to blame him for this, but I really can't.

I quickly dashed across the room for the power cord I'd been given by WoundVAC Guy Who Thought I Was Under 18... forgetting, in my haste, that I am attached to Edgar at the... not hip, but you get the picture. OW. I picked him up, plugged him in, hit the power button... and... nothing happened.

Pictures filled my mind. I had no idea how long Edgar had been dead. And I have no idea what happens if your wound that is supposed to be being VAC'd (parse THAT, if you please) stops being VAC'd. But if it's anything like my mental pictures, it's probably really awful. ;)

I waited another hour, and tried hitting the power button again. And again. Nothing. And again. Black screen. I started pawing through my hospital paperwork, and found the number to the wound care clinic. Unfortunately, they couldn't help me; I needed technical support. Called technical support. It, ahem, turns out that you have to hold the power button down for, um, several seconds, and then the screen turns on. Yeah, definitely can't put that one on you, Edgar.

On Thursday night, I carefully plugged in Edgar, covered him with the requisite pillows and blanket, and drifted off. Friday morning, I awoke to a gurgling Edgar, and the sound was music to my ears. I unplugged Edgar to go to the wound clinic for a dressing change. What's that thing blinking on the screen? Low battery?!? But Edgar, you were plugged in all night! I fiddled with the charger, and turns out that the charger slips effortlessly out of Edgar when it should stay put. Edgar, sorry, buddy, this one's on you.

I waited in the clinic next to an outlet and held the cord in Edgar so that he could charge. Three hours later (I kid you not), the dressing change was complete. My nurses did SUCH an awesome job that Edgar was almost completely silent! Turns out that the noise he makes is directly proportionate to the amount of leak in the vacuum seal. These nurses did a fantastic job, ergo, no sound. Goooo nurses! One of the nurses wished me well and said, "Hopefully you're on the tail end of your health problems." Dunno about that, but SOMETHING is certainly on MY tail end!!

The only downside of the day was the doctor. He was a little old guy who walked in after the nurses had unpacked my wound. I was lying in the fetal position, covered by a sheet, open wound throbbing in a way that's difficult to describe. My bookbag, clothes, and waterbottle were sitting on the lone chair as I lay on the table. He started out by saying, "I'm just going to put your things here on the floor," as he proceeded to sit in the chair.

Those of you who know me, know my compulsion about hospital and doctor's office floors. I've seen what gets on them, and my bare foot will NEVER touch those floors, on pain of death. I walk with shoes on anytime I get out of my bed in the hospital. If there's only one chair in an exam room, I hold all my belongings in my lap. If I have to put on a gown for a procedure, my shoes (which have touched contaminated hospital floors) go in a separate bag from my clothes. So I minorly freaked out and said, "No, no, NO, please don't put them on the floor!!"

So he reached over to set them on top of a big red biohazard trash bin.

"Ah no, no, no, please give them to me, I'll hold them, please don't put them there!!" The nurse saw my consternation, and set my stuff on the table. Whew. My belongings had narrowly escaped a terrible fate and a nasty end. I would have had no choice but to incinerate/autoclave them, and unfortunately, my bookbag contained a library book. Not good for my relationship with the City of Grapevine, especially since I think I have some overdue fines.

The doctor, despite his questionable hygeine, turned out to be nice enough. After measuring my wound (guess what? It's still big and deep! But less big and deep than it was originally, thankfully), he left me with this tidbit: "WoundVACs are a great advance for helping wounds heal. Unfortunately, this is a deep wound in a, ah, challenging area. It'll take several weeks." He looked at my chart. "Oh, wait, so you had colitis? Oh, man, ah, people with colitis tend to not really heal up down there." So on the one hand, woundVACs are great. On the other hand, UC is not. Let's hope Edgar's greatness overrides UC's terribleness. I'm rootin' for ya, Edgar!!

As I was leaving (with a blissfully silent Edgar), I ran into WoundVAC Guy Who Thought I Was Under 18. "How's the VAC workin' for you?" He asked jovially. I related my power cord woes (NOT the user error woe where I forgot to plug him in, the part where the plug wouldn't stay in place), and he said, "That is a complete pain! You shouldn't have to deal with that! Call the number on the back of your VAC, and they will bring you new parts or fix it." W.VAC G.W.T.I.W.U.18, you are the greatest.

I called on the way home from the hospital, and within an hour (I kid you not), a KCI rep was at my door with a replacement Edgar. KCI, allow me to announce in the public domain, your customer service and technical support rocks. My doctor's office should call me back so quickly. The whole Edgar had to get exchanged, and my new Edgar puttered away very quietly.

This morning, I awoke to an occasional gurgle from Edgar, and a fully charged battery. This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Hannah ;)

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