Thursday, January 20, 2011


The hose once it was connected to the sponge which was taped to me, was probably about 7 feet long. Long enough for me to lay the pack on the floor and give my shoulder a break while I moved around a room. Kinda weird being tethered to something 24/7.

The sponge was 3.3cm deep. My wound was 3 cm deep, so it fit perfectly inside.

12.5cm wide. My wound started out at 10cm wide. My nurse had to shave very little off the sides at first, but as it shrunk she would cut more and more off. That was probably the most fun to watch each time she visited.

18cm long. My wound was exactly 18 cm when they first cut it away.

This is the canister that attached to the side of the vac machine. The sponge was constantly sucking drainage (I couldn't really feel it, thank goodness!) which would collect in here. Yeah, kinda yucky. We would put a new canister on almost every time I had a sponge change (3 times a week).

This is the sponge, "tape" (there's a more official name for the tape, but I don't know how to spell it!), and disk with the hose. The sponge would be cut down to fit inside my wound, then taped down, yes, directly onto my skin...that's a lot of tape! Then my nurse would cut a very small hole through the tape on the top of the sponge and the disc was placed over the hole and taped down. This was where the suction entrance was. Then the machine was turned on, which was usually pretty painful. The sponge would shrink and I would be all set until the next vac change. I don't really miss this at all.:)

Sorry, but the pics loaded at the start of my post and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how to move it all around so here's the actual post:

Yes, that's how SMALL my wound is!

I am just in AWE of the human body. And even more, I'm in AWE of our Creator! It's just amazing to have witnessed the change in my body over the last 2 months. No wait, the last 10 months. First, being pregnant is always a reminder of how beautiful life and our bodies really are. How life can exist and grow inside of us, all from such small beginnings. We definitely have an almighty and creative God! Then, after the infections and presence of my wound, how the body has the ability to heal itself in just a matter of time. Now, even though I credit God with the healing of my body (thank you Lord!), I also give huge props to the medical community! Without the knowledge of doctors and nurses and all the other supportive staff out there, I may not be here today. Seriously. I don't say that lightly, but seriously. Even to this day, I sometimes think that I didn't understand the seriousness of the situation. If we talk about it, Kevin just looks at me like, "You still don't get it." I do believe that they kept things from me, and that's OK. I also believe that I was sick, I just down right didn't feel well, and that made things cloudy enough that I didn't understand...again, that's OK. That's where your prayers took over. When Kevin sat in the waiting room as I went through those 4 surgeries, he prayed, but he knew that you were praying too, and by that, we are blessed. What a gift to be part of the family of God! I know...repeat! But I just can't say it enough! I don't know what we would have done if we didn't have you walking beside us, so again, THANK YOU!

Back to the medical community. Whoever thought of a wound vac...another big THANK YOU! As my nurse reminded me 3 days a week, if I had to have this wound dressed with wet to dry dressings (basically damp gauze packed in the wound and then covered with loads of gauze and pads) I would be down a LOT longer than I have been, months, maybe even the rest of the school year, waiting for this wound to shrink. But because of the vac, it was 2 months today since my wound was first cut away, and tomorrow will be 2 months since the vac was put on. I wore it for 40 days and once it came off, my skin has just continued to fill in almost on a visibly daily basis. There have been days that I take the dressing off in the morning and then again at night and think, "Wow! It's smaller tonight than it was this morning!"

It's not completely filled in yet, and I'm not sure how much longer it will be until it does. It really doesn't have much further to go though. When I saw Dr. Hodgson on the 4th, he told me it would be almost closed in 3-4 weeks. Well, it's almost 3 weeks and he was right! I suppose I should trust the wound doctor whose job is specifically to care for wounds. I go back to see him on Tuesday, the 25th, to see what he thinks of it's progress. My energy level is definitely coming back, and I can do basically all of my activities around the house. I can still tell when I do too much though. I can't do too much bending and crazy moving around without feeling a little tender and sore in my wound area, and it may be like that for a while. It's all new tissue and skin and I suppose it will need some time to "toughen up". Just another thing to ask the doc.

I'm including some pics of some pieces of my vac. Of course when I was in the moment of having it on, I never thought of taking a picture of the whole thing. As soon as the vac was ordered to be off, I had to pack it up and send it back to the company the next week. But I did have some opened boxes of the canister that held the drainage and one last sponge pack, so I thought I would share what those pieces looked like to give you an idea of how this thing worked. I'm definitely going to spare you pictures of what my wound itself looked and looks like now. But honestly, if you're interested and have a strong stomach, I don't mind sharing. It's really an amazing transformation to see, but definitely not a pretty one.:)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nearing the end

A week ago was a pivotal point in this healing journey I'm on. I had another visit with
Dr. Hodgson in GR at the wound clinic. I had my vac off for the weekend and it felt so good to have the freedom to sit down, stand up, walk around my house, go places WITHOUT carrying around my black purse and 5 foot hose. It was AMAZING to not have to get out of bed, unplug the bag (had to be charged at bedtime each night), throw the bag over my shoulder, then the hose in order to get out of my room to get Keaton...then everything backwards in order to get back in bed. It's just amazing how many things I took for granted when hindered with this bag, but without it my healing would have taken so much longer and I knew that I was making good on to my visit.

I was fully prepared Tuesday to take all of my vac essentials with me to the doctor. I was expecting to have it back on, but Dr. H had other things to say. When he came in my room, he commented on how great it looked, asked me how it went over the weekend, I told him a few things that I wondered about, and he answered my questions. Then he poked and pushed around it a little, measured it, and said, "Well, I think it's time for you to send it back." WHAT?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I started to cry and said, exactly that, "Are you serious?" He put his hand on my arm and said, "Yes." Yipee!! The tissue has come up and filled in so that it's now flush with my skin, and all that it has left to do is for the skin to come together and voila...healed! Now at that point, he still measured it to be 3.5x12.5x.1. This is still a good sized wound, but because it was no longer deep, the vac had no purpose anymore. Wow. The end is now in site! He then proceeded to tell me that in the next 3-4 weeks, it should be almost completely closed. Seriously? I suppose I shouldn't doubt the wound man because he told me 3 weeks before that, that I would possibly have my vac off in 3 weeks...and he was right. Again, I say wow.

Now today, how big is it? I'm not 100% sure. My nurse is still coming, but now only twice a week and she measures it on Thursday. Last Thursday she said it was 2.5x12.5. So it continues to shrink, and it's shrinking more north and south, rather than east to west (sorry, but it's the best way for me to describe it!). She also told me Thursday, after she took the dressing off, that it's so cute! Ha! Seriously, not cute, BUT it's definitely smaller and I suppose to a nurse who sees a lot of wounds, she definitely has earned the right to call them cute!:) I just love her!:) Now I'm doing my own dressings twice a day. I have to rinse it, either in the shower or with a saline solution, then put a healing gel over the tissue, then put 4x4 sterile gauze pads over it and then an abdominal pad taped down over those. So it's pretty padded, yet if it gets bumped, like by one of my kids, I can definitely tell.

So here I am, still home, not allowed to work just yet due to the nature of my job, but I do have the freedom to drive and do light work as I'm able. For the most part I feel great. The pain is next to nothing, except for the occasional tenderness and stinging (and getting bumped), but I remember that I still have a 5 inch open wound on my stomach that's to be expected. If I do too much, I feel achy at night, almost like I have the flu, and just make sure that I lay down extra early.

I just have to say that I am so thankful for such an amazing husband. Kevin comes home from work, usually 11 hours that he's put in, then he pretty much takes over at home so that I can take it easy. He stays up late with Keaton (if he's up late), so that I can get to bed and get a little rest, then he heads to bed once Keaton seems settled in enough. I'm getting up in the middle of the night with Keaton, which is just fine because Kevin needs to rest too and I'm able to get a nap in if I really feel like I need it while the girls are at school and the sitter. Kevin, you are an amazing husband and daddy! I thank God every day for bringing us together. You are a constant reminder to me that God is in control and his will is perfect!

As far as when will this all be finished? Well, that's still to be determined. I see Dr. H again on January 25, but he commented that I could be ready to go back to school by the beginning of February. I'm just enjoying my time home with my son, watching him grow and change, while taking it easy and taking care of myself. I do look forward to going back to school to see my kids and school family too. Again, I just can't imagine how I could have gone through this without the support and prayers of so many people. What a gift to be part of the family of God. When we give each other our joys and burdens we can rejoice and lift each other up to our Maker. What can be better than that? Thank you for continuing on in this journey with us. We couldn't be happier to be nearing the end. Blessings!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


That's right, the vac is OFF! I walked out of my room (where my nurse changes my vac) and almost started crying. No picking up the black bag and swinging it over my shoulder, no wrapping the long hose and wrapping that around my shoulder too so it doesn't drag on the floor, no constant stinging from the pulling on my feels like freedom! That vac and I have been buddies since November 20 and it feels amazing to have it off. Thank you Lord for the break!

Even though the vac is off right now, I have to remember this may not be permanent. The reason I get it off for the weekend is because the skin around my wound was showing signs of irritation and redness. My nurse thought it was probably just a yeast infection from moisture being trapped under the tape and not getting cleaned out by the sponge. She called the wound doc to see if he would order me some pills to clear it up, but he had different plans. He just feels that my skin needs a break. He did make the comment 3 weeks ago that the skin can get red from irritation from the drainage, and the redness looks kind of like what he saw then, there's just more of it, and it was starting to itch.

So, the vac is off until Tuesday when I go to GR to see him, and boy does it feel good! It's now covered with gauze and it's something that I have to change at least twice (or more if I want) a day. Kinda crazy to do it myself, but it's going well. This is the way they used to dress wounds all of the time, before the wound vac, and it used to take months and months for wounds to heal. I've had the vac on for 40 days and even though it's a pain and was starting to frustrate me, I'm so thankful for how much my wound has healed. Nurse Jodi has to take a picture once a month to show the progress it's making. If you would see the first pic compared to what it looks like from Friday...oh my goodness!! And she just can't say enough at how long it would have taken to even get to this point. So thankful for medical technology!

Yes, it's still tender, but it doesn't hurt as much for obvious reasons. This sponge isn't pulling on the edges of my new skin and it's just able to sit open and be covered. I was so looking forward to my vac changes over the last week because it was hurting more and more, just to be able to lay there and have it open. So thank you Lord for this break in the therapy! Not carrying around a bag is awfully nice too!!

So thank you for your prayers! We're praying that the redness goes away and that my skin can just be healthy and heal. Praying too that Dr. H has good things to say Tuesday about it's progress and can give me an idea of where we're going from here. I may leave the office with the vac back on, but it's awfully fun to be free for now! Blessings!