80. Packing A Wound

Is the infection like kryptonite, and the silver like a K-suit? Why don’t I know more about Superman?

My first medical surgery was the port placement.  The second unfolded as the emergent removal of my lower colon, related lymph system, appendix, and a Fallopian tube.  And a large colon mass.  That too.  DeeDee points out how strange this is, how strange to be facing these surgical firsts, when so many people around me are on their 5th, 7th, 10th surgeries of their lifetimes.  

Surgery is not a life goal for me.  If I dictated my future, I would never do it again.

Post surgery, I’ve been trekkin’ along like Wonder Woman.  Healing like a super hero.

When I went to the appointment, the nurse reminded me of things I don’t want to believe.  “You are vulnerable.  You are immune suppressed.  You need a lot of time to recover.  You will be coming in for post surgical visits for a long time. You are not a super hero.”  Harsh.  She really was NOT that harsh.  She just slipped the information in over time, in little snippets.  I collected them.  But those are counter to any affirmation I would create. 

The visit was for the ostomy, my new colon exit.  And it was for the zipper wound that starts at my belly button and slides down six inches.  The staples that held the surgical wounds came out.  Staple removal is not a pain level ten by any evaluation.  But it is not a two either.

Colostomy bag
Colostomy bag

What I did not expect was “packing the wound”.  Familiar to me from my MRSA experience long ago, when a wound is deep, it has to heal from the inside out.  That means that the exit area needs to stay open and drain.  They had hoped to avoid it.  But alas…

And so there are two spaces along the zipper that are open.  One is inside the belly button.  The other is about half way down the six inches.  I pull out a length of cotton tape.  It is infused with silver to protect me from infection.  Is the infection like kryptonite, and the silver like a K-suit?  Why don’t I know more about Superman?  Why did I have to look that up?

Once the tape is removed, I clean the wound with saline.  I scream just a little, or maybe sometimes it will be audible.  And then the packing goes back in.  Uncomfortable.  More than uncomfortable.  The nurses did it with the MRSA ordeal.  I now understand that there was no way to avoid the pain part, though my mind reeled at their audacity and lack of compassion.  

Now it is me, the one that inflicts pain on the self.  So confusing.  So disorienting.  And it hurts for a long time, not just in the process.  There is a lesson in this, about cutters, about PTSD, about mental illness, about physical realities.  I pray for healing, for all of the healing for the subcategories that ring through my experiences, and beg to be heard… I pray for universal listening, universal understanding, universal healing for all those that bring pain on to themselves as a form of balance.  God does not want anyone to experience any of this.  And yet, God does, because there is so much growth and understanding in it.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

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