What’s that gross sucking noise?

woundvacPatience is something I lack when it comes to certain things. I can wait all year long for my birthday, or Christmas. But when it comes to traffic or, I don’t know…healing from a giant wound I’m less than patient.

Last Monday I pulled up to the Yellow entrance of Mount Vernon Inova for outpatient surgery and waited patiently for my turn to be pulled back.  Nurse Nancy was very kind and took me back for vitals and a urine sample. I won’t go into the details of the urine sample as I have before. Let’s just say that she told me I only needed to fill a test tube and I asked if I had to aim directly into the test tube or could I pee into a cup to be poured into a test tube.  Lol.  She gave me a cup (thank god.) and then I ended up spilling half of that into the toilet. I swear I’m incapable of giving a urine specimen without some incident.

Sent to a patient waiting area, I waited nervously for her to confirm I wasn’t pregnant. Not that I thought I was or even had a snowballs chance in hell but…there’s always the assumption that somehow I got pregnant through some mystery encounter I was roofied for. Don’t ask. It’s much more stupid when I write it than when I think it. So nurse Karen comes back takes me to surgical prep, she gets my stats. I crack jokes. I remind her of a few things. We update my medical records since all my meds changed from my last visit to the hospital. We discuss good looking men (primarily where the hell were they so early in the morning? It was all ladies!) She leaves me alone to change, and then the nurse from my initial hip surgery came in to take blood.  Oh how I wished my cute lab tech was on duty because I would have asked for him.  She managed to only stick me twice and got blood and then started my IV. Yay. Not too too painful. They immediately began fluids and antibiotics.

Very quickly there were assorted nurses, anesthesiologists and so on dropping by. My surgeon popped in and said hi, shook hands with me and dad with his giant baseball mitt hands.  Did I mention he is actually a plastic surgeon? So, if you need a plastic surgeon, apparently he does amazing work…one of my other doctors even told me she had plastic surgery with him! You know that’s got to be a good sign. Anyway he put his initials on my upper thigh/hip and I wrote ‘yes’…just like I’d done 3 times previous at the hospital.  I appreciate them making sure they’re working the right one.

Anyway, the nurse anesthetist informed me she had just put versed into my IV and we were set to go.  Then dad kissed my forehead and one of the surgical nurses and the nurse anesthetist (by the way you know its bad when half the staff recognizes you) pushed me into the OR.  Inside the OR, which BTW FARK…cold cold cold…honestly, I prefer to be knocked out before seeing the OR but whatever.  I know why they give you the relax drugs before they take you in…there’s so much…stuff. So much equipment. Scary. Everyone is so nice and friendly! And I appreciate that and in turn am also nice and friendly while begging for them to put me out.

The nurse anesthetist put the oxygen mask on me, caressed my face and told me the drugs would kick in. I have a horrible fear the anesthesia won’t kick in and I’ll feel/smell/hear everything. However that was not the case this time. I stared at a lamp above, inhaled the oxygen and then I was gone. Next thing I knew there was a nurse asking my pain level. I was frowning because it HURT SO MUCH. Pain level? I said 8 but it was more like a 10.  She shot me up with dilaudid and it took forever to kick in so she gave me another shot.  I should have asked for a third half dose before I left.  But anyway she was not as pain concerned as previous nurses. Perhaps if she had an 8 inch slice in her hip she would be.

Anyway dad took me home after I was done in recovery and my vitals were stable. I was glad to get out of there as fast as possible.  They forced me to drink diet ginger ale and eat saltines before I was allowed to leave…sidenote…I wanted a cup of water but they insisted I drink soda or juice, even if it was diet soda.  Any idea why?

On the way home dad picked up lunch and then I changed into pajamas, reclined on the couch and ate and rested.  He stayed with me all day to keep an eye on me, I was tired but couldn’t sleep. My hip burned like fire. Pain meds did not seem to touch the pain; was beyond painful. Nothing soothed it, and I was so damn uncomfortable. Couldn’t get comfy and I was worried with every noise my wound vac made.

About the wound vac. It’s a smallish machine that is carried around in a black case.  Inside the gaping wound on my hip is this special black foam that is changed out every few days, re-cut so it fits the wound exactly.  There’s clear plastic tubing, one end has a suction type thing on it and fits into the black foam. The other end of the tubing fits into the canister that collects – let’s just say fluids. Icky, gross, yucky fluids.  The therapy is on at all times but every 3 minutes or so the wound vac creates a large amount of suction, collecting fluids.  It is…how best to put this? Totally unsexy. It sounds disgusting. It looks disgusting.

Covering the wound vac foam in my hip is a plastic film called a ‘dressing’ and its to hold everything in tight….however…it only took 2 days for me to pop the damn thing out!  OMG.  I did it getting into bed. The wound is in a weird spot and during surgery they put the vac a little too far back.  It turns out, there’s a learning curve on these things and I didn’t do anything wrong. Although I didn’t help matters by doing some more assertive Physical Therapy right before it happened.  Oops.  Also let me say this: I am damn glad I had black sheets on my bed. I might have had a heart attack had I seen the mess that came out of me.

Anyway I bandaged myself up by feel and then went to bed.  The next day they changed the vac out and did a debridement which hurt like a mother.  I almost threw up from pain…sigh.   Saturday I popped it out again and the next day my dad came over and put it back in.  My niece actually walked him through it (she watched a video on youtube with my mom…lol…she’s 8!!!).

At my appointment this past Monday, my usual doctor and PA were out so two different ones treated me (but they both were in on my surgery). We moved the vac tubing closer to the front of my wound then taped the tubing up my hip so I’d be less likely to knock it out.  The PA suggested I wear spanx and lectured me on nutrition and keeping things tight on my hip. I have this weird thing where I hate stuff touching my hips, like clothing. Lol. Pants are bad enough…partly why I prefer dresses.

Also with all the weight loss, I’ve been having issues with clothing fitting, so dresses are a more flattering option.  I have started threading the tubing up through my dress arm hole…minimizes the amount of ugly tubing and makes it easier on me.

Ok this has gone on far too long. I’ll close for now. Oh I will say I saw my hip surgeon yesterday (the sexy hot Fellow surgeon has moved on to his new job…sniff). He looked me over quickly and sent me on my way to followup in 3 months.  My Infectious disease doctor gave the all clear so I’m infection free!!!  My PICC line will get taken out hopefully today (but looks like tomorrow at this point) and now I go on suppressive oral antibiotics for several months.  My surgeon warned me the moment my wound stops healing or starts to look bad, the PICC line goes in. Oh and another nutrition lecture.

I’ve gotten sloppy on nutrition, not eating, not eating enough etc. I need to be better because I NEED TO HEAL. One last thing…my costs for this so far is up to 188,000$ and change. Can you say OMG?  Bet by the time it’s over and done I’ll be up to 250k.


About limpalongwithme

Quasi geek, social butterfly, information sponge, lover of spas and I spend my days dealing with major chronic back and hip pain. Recently diagnosed with dysplastic hips as a grown woman and I need a place to talk about it as I try to move forward.
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