Thursday, 1 January 2015

Vac Pac Machine

While I'm super frustrated at my giant incision wound, I'm also super fascinated by what they are doing to heal it.

The incision started oozing very slowly and all the nurses attributed it to the Lasix and general drainage. In fact, when I told one of the nurses it turned into an infection, she looked personally offended. As though it could never be infected because otherwise she would have caught it. I don't think anyone would have caught it as there were zero indicators until it was too late. Thankfully, all the cultures have so far come back negative for a bacterial infection so they think it may have been a fungal thing.

How the vacuum dressing works, or at least for me (or from what I've been able to gleen from this process), is that they start by placing a small barrier pad on any exposed bones (for me, that is a small bit of the sternum), pack the wound with black foam (not the white kind as it sticks more, very important!), and tape it up with whatever the medical equivalent of packing tape over everything to make sure no air gets out. Add a suction device to the tape and attach that to a machine and voila! One vac-pac dressing done.
The machine to which I'm now perma-attached.
The machine is on continuous suction mode which means that I constantly have the small pressure and tiny vibrations going through me. I tend to notice it more at night or when I'm laying down. It's like mini-chest physio. Or like being on a boat when you feel the rumbling of the engines at first but after awhile you stop noticing.
Watching the blood-goo go through the line. It's a great way to pass the time.
The dressing itself is changed two or three times a week. The wound care nurse told me it would be painful (I'll be honest, the most painful part was the tape coming off) and to press my happy button a few times ahead of time but she didn't prepare me for the weirdness of it all. It's one thing to be in physical pain, it's another thing to have people poking at what you know is your insides while you try to go to your happy place. Although having the doctor poke at the exposed bone and ask 'does this hurt', was not super pleasant.

As the wound gets smaller, and the amount of black foam I watch them pack into my wound shrinks (it seemed like a lot of foam), I'm sure it will be easier. Having it done three times a week will also get me use to the process. I will most likely go home with this dressing and machine and either followed up by home care or come into the hospital for the change. I shudder at the thought of all that tape being ripped off my skin. Someone needs to invent tape that only sticks when necessary and then a button is pushed and it falls off. I feel as though we have the technology for this, why hasn't it happened yet!?


Anonymous said...

fascinating. truly. its creepy that just when you think youve read the last new information from a cf transplant blog.. theres a new experience to read about.

do you still have the ng tube? do they change that every few days? ive always wondered that. ng's sound unpleasant, but compared to what youve been through, i feel ridiculous even saying that they intimidate me.


Alley said...

I do still have my ng tube, I eat during the day and am given feeds at night. They'll take it out once I'm eatting enough calories during the day. They've only changed mine when they had to take it out for the GI scope and only once did they put it back in while I wasn't completely sedated. It wasn't pleasant but it's not painful in any way. The worst part is when my throat is dry and I feel the tubing and try to cough it up. Thankfully that has been happening way less now.
Don't feel bad about having hang ups about what seems like minor issues. The idea of having a cathedar completely freaked me out beforehand for some reason and now I've had two. I hope that doesn't mean you end up with endless ng tube reinsertions.

Anonymous said...

just writing so you know i checked to see if you wrote me back ;)

thanks for the answers. since that one post i now picture your incredibly busy days, followed by a final slow-down of the parade of doctors when you "play on your phone". sweet dreams and hopefully no drama.

LittleM said...

testing... i have a super old blog that i dont use anymore but ive been trying to hard to comment as "me" and to officially follow you. test complete lol