122 Installing the Sucky Wound Vac

Most of time, the machine sounds like a gurgling coffee pot. There is a crescendo of bubbling, and then it too (like the ostomy) does an enormous raspberry. The sounds of flatulence. This is my life.

The dastardly wound has been dancing around, playing at healing up and down.  Last week it was back to seven centimeters.  I am not going to lie, it is profoundly aggravating.  I take a cocktail of supplements every day to this goal.  I also eat far more protein than one would ever want to eat, every day.  And there IT is, dancing, playing, acting like it is winning at Survivor.

Dr. Bailey mentioned that this could be ideal, that the body is getting time without chemotherapy, time for other healing, time for building white blood cell counts that fight the cancers (and I will add, we still have Covid-19 floating around the world, so some white blood cells are a great blessing).

Nancy, the wound nurse, jumped through a lot of hoops, and a wound vac was approved for my situation.  Three separate phone calls from Kaiser verified this, unsolicited.  Three seemed excessive.  The company dropped off the four square feet of product at our door personally.  A representative came and handed it to me.  I wonder what the fee is for all of this.  It was all so odd.

I charged the machine.  I charged it for four days.  Then it was time for “the installation”.  I pulled one packet of each type from the huge supply tote, grabbed the machine from its charging station, and headed in for wound care.

A wound vac

A wound vac machine

This is a lot of lead up and drama for something less than dramatic.  Nancy cut a white sponge in a column.  She packed it into the wound a bit, and then cut a round piece of black sponge.  The white, finer texture sponge would keep the more granular black sponge from getting into the wound.  Nancy shaped the black one into a rounded cone, maybe two inches across, one inch tall.  She placed the rounded point down.  If you think about the wound top being a lot like a belly button, the whole works was placed there so that suction would flatten those sponges to even with the skin.

Then a disk with a tube sat atop the stack, and clear sticky sheets, a lot like contact paper, went over the parfait of medical fun.  The machine connected to the tube, power was added, and the vacuum happened, sucking everything flat.  

As far as the wound goes, the wound vac sucks the walls of the wounds tight to one another, and also pulls the fluid out of the wound.  Thus everything is close together and relatively dry, creating the ideal situation for healing.  Brilliant, really.  Who thinks of these things?

Most of the time, the machine sounds like a gurgling coffee pot.  There is a crescendo of bubbling, and then it too (like the ostomy) does an enormous raspberry.  The sounds of flatulence.  This is my life.

The machine goes where I go.  It also likes to be plugged in to a wall socket half the time.  I’ve already pulled it off of tables and countertops twice, because I forget that “we are one”.  There’s no leaving it behind.  I’ve done this “one with the machine” thing before, three days of each chemo cycle.  This one is heavier, louder, and more permanent.  Permanent in the sense that it is here to stay until the wound decides to go. And, in a few days, we will know how the wound reacts.  It will be happy.  I already know that.  But what results are produced when this dancing, playing character meets a vacuum will be illuminating, the light at the “END of the tunnel”.  How is the experience of having a wound vac?  It literally sucks!

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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