Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mechanical Leech, Anyone?

Yes, it's been an exciting two weeks here at the Clark household. Continuing with my saga of the never ending ulcer, we have moved on to a new device: the wound vac.
If only they had this gizmo at the time of the Inquisition, what confessions they would have gleaned! Forget pig skin grafts, human tissue grafts and various and sundry ointments, this is a subtle machine of torture.
First, you must clean the wound. Then, you cut a piece of black foam (provided with torture kit) to the size of the wound. Next, tape down the foam to the foot with “drapes”. If you've ever had an IV, this is the super sticky sheet of tape used to hold the needle in place.
Next, cut a wee hole in the drape and attach the end of the tubing into the foam. This end has a terminus that looks like a suction cup. This prevents the tubing end from going TOO far into the foam – or your foot.

Then, drape that down as well. The other end of the tubing is attached to a cannister, which is then attached to the vacuum machine. Turn it on, and you're in business. The vac will remove seepage and put “negative pressure” on the wound to help granulate and heal.
Like I need more negative pressure.
Meanwhile, you are attached to 6 yards of tubing (in case you wish to - eventually – hang yourself), and forced to carry around a 4 lb machine in a handy carrying case. (They even had illustrations showing the various ways this albatross can be toted through your life: around your waste, held like a briefcase, on the shoulder, or as a cross body. How stylist! And what an impression you'll make at your next business meeting: “Good to see you again!. Please ignore the machine on my hip, sucking bloody seepage into a container!”)
In my case, I have to snake the tubing up my leg while wearing a CRO. Just ducky.

Tubing, machine, and handy carrying case

Tube running down into CRO. Ouch!
The first three days went OK. Then, I went back to the doctor's office to change the dressing and tubing. That's when we discovered that the foot didn't smell right. Back on the antibiotics I went. Dressing changed, new tubing applied, new cannister attached, turned the thing on – and it made a noise it never made before.
We checked over everything, and it all looked good – except for “the noise”, a slight little glug sound that wasn't there for the last 3 days. The doctor said to just ignore it.
Hello? Do you know me? I have OCD. “The noise” wasn't just going to be ignored. It didn't belong. It was all I could hear. It haunted my dreams.
Then, the pressure gage on the vacuum started going erratic. I though the battery was low. Recharging helped – but things still didn't seem right...and there was the noise. The noise.....
Finally, on Friday night, I turned in. The vacuum was recharging happily under my bed, 6 yards of tubing gave me the ability to move my leg comfortably. I slept.
At 3am, the devil's hour, the world exploded in alarms, buzzing and sounds not made since a nuclear reactor went critical. While Rufus barked and tried to protect me from the noises under the bed, I retrieved the vacuum, donned my glasses, and check it out via flashlight.
Everything looked good. It was recharged, it seemed happy, but the alarms wouldn't stop. I decided to check the tubing for kinks. I felt down the length from the cannister all the way to the end...which was no where near my foot.
The tubing had broken completely off. There was no way to re-attach. Sadly, I shut off the wound vac, circled up 6 yards of tubing, removed the dressings, drapes and foam, bandaged the foot and when to bed.
Imagine, I won't be dragging the vac throughout my Labor Day weekend. Shucks!
(Sigh). Oh, I know they will re-attach and start over on Tuesday. I know I will once more buggy lug a torture device through the coming days. Hopefully, it does some good. If not, I'm going to take the risk and go for the bone surgery that will allow the doctors to sew up the ulcer.

I'll have to make that decision before the good doctors decide to use stappado to keep me off my feet.

I ran into a fellow Wiccan elder yesterday. She looked at me and said “The Goddess is trying to teach you patience.”

It's going to be a long haul, folks. Oy.

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