Friday’s appointment was going great until I passed out. The CT scan showed no issues with Rebecca’s lungs and stomach. Everything was healing well except for an infection at the site, just under the skin. The surgeon said this was similar in some ways to a pimple and that she was already on the appropriate antibiotics. They would need to remove some staples and “let it heal from the inside outward”.
H explained in order to do that, he would need to leave the wound open, clean with saline, and pack it with gauze twice a day in a technique they called ‘wet to dry’. I did not like the idea but it would help resolve the infection.
I had seen much worse having had front row seats to extubation (where they removed the breathing tube from her throat). I’d watched trach changes close up, helped with feeding tube issues, pulled PICC lines, dealt with ear infections. I’m not squeamish and this was nothing beyond my ability to handle.
Unfortunately, this was beyond my ability to handle. Staple removal went fine, as I stood in front of her watching. Then they went in to open the wound with a scissors…not cutting it open, but pushing it into the wound and opening the scissors to force it open. The surgery was so recent that they could just pull it apart. I could see all of the wires they had used to close up the deeper layers after her surgery so I was glad to see that she was still structurally sound.
As they worked their way down, I felt a weird hum in the back of my head and I was not enjoying the sight. It was almost an inch deep and 4” long, right down the front of her abdomen. Cleverly, I moved around to her head so I could ‘comfort her’ from a conveniently poor vantage point. I tried to play it cool as I spoke with the surgeon but I think he noticed that I was breaking out in a cold sweat. I definitely did not want him to worry that I could not change the dressing because she really wanted to go back home. Then I started to wonder how I was going to do it.
Casually, I meandered over to the chair where I could better sweat in private. That was around the time when my lights started to short out. They blinked a bit, my knees hit the floor, and then it was dark.
Someone quickly helped me back to the seat where the nurse took my vitals. That was the only good part of the whole situation because the blood pressure cuff was too small and she had to get a larger one, for larger arms. Yeah…whassup.
Fortunately, we still got to come home with a plan for Bec’s home healthcare nurse to change the dressing. Ideally it would be changed twice daily but the nurse could only come once each day. So as the nurse changed it the first time yesterday, I watched…mindful to have the bed nearby so I could pass out concussionlessly if necessary. I was determined to do the next change myself but I needed to be sure I could do it.
It was hard to look at but I did not feel the same sensation I had the day before. I figured the reason was that I did not have to watch them mechanically force the wound open. Whatever the cause, my goal was to change the dressing myself that night. I did it. It totally sucked.
If it was ideal to change it twice a day, we were going to change it twice a day. More than that, I could not let a little bloody cut beat me. In the grand scheme of things a few extra dressing changes probably won’t make a difference. But sometimes, even if just for you, it’s important just to ‘rally’.