Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It Sucks, It Really Does

I'm referring, of course, to my wound vac, "vac" being short for Vacuum-Assisted Closure. I got hooked up today. It looks like I have the navel of a space alien, with this big black blob (that's the sponge) compressed by the "negative pressure" (read vacuum) over my more normal human navel. A tube leads out of that and into a canister, and through vacuum pressure the drainage that is keeping the wound from closing is sucked out and deposited in the canister, which is changed when it's full and disposed of as medical waste. At the same time, the vacuum sucks up healthy cells from elsewhere in the body and deposits them into the wound cavity, which speeds up healing (by how much, I'm not entirely sure. Weeks, anyway).

The rest of the machine consists of a large battery pack that has to be charged up twelve hours out of 24, which leaves me with quite a bit of freedom, providing you don't mind toting the battery-pack-cum-canister everywhere you go. I'm most concerned, at this point, with how to manage the drainage tube when I settle down for the night, since I'm still sleeping in a recliner, and I don't want the tubing to get caught up in any of the chair mechanisms -- if it does, I run the risk of breaking the vacuum seal, and I don't want to do that because I'm not sure, yet, how to fix it.

It's not particularly painful, thank goodness, just a definite sense of pressure in the area of my navel, but I guess I'll get used to that. Nor is it especially noisy, which was one of my concerns; however, the noise it does make resembles nothing so much as, well, a quick fart. Do I really want to tote this thing into church with me??? ;-)

The alien-navel sponge gets changed three times a week; the canister is changed whenever it's full of drainage (they think that might happen once a week, with my wound); the whole healing process is supposed to take two months tops, which is just about the time I should be completely healed from the hysterectomy, or, as I've taken to calling it, the "hystericalectomy," because it just gets weirder and weirder. And once the procedure is complete, and I can confidently expect to resume what passes for my own life: