Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leaky Seals

It's been almost a week since I updated... I've been really busy with school and NORMAL life, which is amazing. I like it. I am still having daily headaches, fevers, joint pains and swelling, but I am functioning and more or less passing for normal.

I had some pretty major issues with Edgar after the Friday change. He was just really loud, which means there is not a great seal on the dressing. When there's a bad leak, you can actually hear hissing from the air being sucked into the vacuum tube. On Sunday, I started hearing hissing. I used an entire sheet of tape trying to tape down everywhere I heard hissing. Then it started leaking. Wound juice was oozing everywhere. I used up tons of tape trying to re-seal it.

On Monday, I walked into the building to take a test in my genetics class. I visited the ladies room before the test, and discovered that... my wound was leaking everywhere. Great. I stuffed the dressing with toilet paper, took my test in record-breaking time (racing against the wound juice soaking through), drove home, and tried to patch it up again. It lasted for a little while, but, alas, not long. I tried again to fix it and ended up in a puddle.

I called the Wound clinic, but by then it was 8:30 pm, so I had to explain the situation to the on call receiver, which was, um, interesting. Then she got someone else, and I had to tell the story again. At the end, she said, "I'm actually in training. Let me have a real nurse call you back." Thankfully, the on call nurse quickly called me. I related my story for a third time, and she said, "Well, what you need to do is turn off the WoundVAC, take off the dressing, remove the foam, clean out the wound with sterile saline, pack it with sterile gauze, tape it in place, and go get some adult diapers or something to protect against the drainage."

Ok, but... do you understand WHERE this wound is? I got this awesome mental image of me doing all kinds of contortions to try to take care of this myself. I was envisioning me doing a backbend sort of thing, supporting myself with one hand, while the other hand is removing tape and packing. My head is doing 360s to try to see what's going on. Maybe I'd open the gauze with my toes. Problem is, I can't see what I'm doing, much less get the foam out (which has taken two nurses, with lots of tugging and pain), clean the wound, and repack it. And even if I can do that and tape it, since it's between my legs, the size changes any time I move, and the packing will not stay in and the tape will not hold. She asked if I had a friend I could ask to unpack and repack the wound. I've seen the wound, and it made ME nauseated - and I am not easily grossed out. Even if the wound weren't in such a, um, private area, I wouldn't subject anyone to that.

I was mildly upset at this point. I don't know; maybe all this doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is so very uncomfortable. Here I am, leaking wound juice all over the place. You feel so helpless and dirty and humiliated. It reminded me of when I first got Squirt and I had issues with the seal breaking and poop getting everywhere at MOST inopportune moments. Thankfully, my friend Megan was over, and helped me stay calm. I whined about how much this stinks for exactly 20 seconds, then we moved on. ;)

I ended up calling the wound care lady back. She said she was about to call me back. She remembered me, and the location and size and nature of my wound. On second thought, she figured I had better not try to mess with it or have someone else mess with it. I was supposed to come into wound clinic the following afternoon. I just asked if I could come in first thing in the morning, and she agreed.

I got there at 7, they changed the dressing, and I felt so much better. The foam again was super hard to remove, which confirmed in everyone's mind that it would not have been good for me to try to mess with it. Edgar was quiet, the wound wasn't hissing, I wasn't leaking, and I was as comfortable as you can be with a piece of foam up your rear, taped securely into place. The nurses said they felt terrible for me and were happy they were able to help. They are so sweet. I even was able to make it to the opposite end of the metroplex in time for my lab practical by 8:50.

I should tie this post together with some inspiring story about how we all are leaky seals and need to tape each other down securely or something... but, sorry, I'm out of analogies. I can't think of a clever way to drive home whatever huge spiritual lesson a leaky woundVAC dripping wound juice in my pants represents. ;) I guess I am just thankful for the sweet nurses who call me back at 9:30 at night to help me and come in early to work and never complain about having to stick their hands in yucky places and work for over an hour multiples times a week to help me on my journey to a life without ulcerative colitis.

And I already think that this whole story is slightly funny, which is a good thing.

Hannah ;)

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