Belly Sucker 9000

I got word today that my insurance approved the new wound therapy that my doctor (and the consulting wound care nurse) think will be beneficial. It’s called a Wound Vac (or negative pressure wound therapy) and helps a variety of different wounds heal more quickly. It’s supposed to work especially well on abdominal incisions that reopen (like mine) so I’m very hopeful that this will get me the rest of the way healed up quickly.

We’re calling it the Belly Sucker 9000, because at this point we’ve gone just a little around the bend taking care of something that looks like a raw meat hole straight into darkness where it should just be my belly. Doctor Roommate has taken to singing songs about how professional and awesome her wound packing is. Lyrics include things like:

I’m a professional belly stuffer.

Nobody stuffs bellehs better than me.

Yesterday she declared that I need to get a stop watch and time her while she packs my wound. You know, so there’s a baseline for Sabie Stuffing that can be competed against and improved upon.

I drew a hard line. No wound packing time trials with actual Sabie Belly. While it doesn’t hurt, it feels weird as hell and timing triage is JUST WRONG unless you’re part of actual war games.

Technically, this isn’t triage anymore, but the alleteration appealed to me.

Tomorrow is our last day of wound packing at home. The Belly Sucker 9000 arrives tomorrow and then I go to the Healing Center at Mercy Hospital for a wound care nurse there to apply the first wound vac bandage on Thursday. After that, they’re changed three times a week by a professional trained in wound vac therapy, so neither Doctor Roommate or I have to stare into the wound abyss anymore looking for necrotic tissue or infection.

Yay! So. Much. Yay!

Belly update – the waiting

Today I went to the doctor for another follow-up on The Surgical Incision That Didn’t Close/Reopened. This time a Wound Care Nurse (that’s a real specialty) consulted in and she agreed that healing has progressed enough to move to the next stage of wound care.

The next stage of wound care involves paperwork. There’s a therapy we’d like to move to which is very successful in cases like mine, but it requires approval from the insurance company. We’re waiting for the answer from them.

Until the answer comes back, we’re continuing with the same course: packing and changing bandages twice a day. Once I’m out of the antiseptic, I can move to wetting the packing material with sterile saline solution. If I don’t get approved for the new wound care therapy, this will be my life for the forseeable future.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.” Hopefully I’ll have some answers back tomorrow or Wednesday.

Sunday Thoughts – 20170917

  • I like bean dishes. You can cook them in the crockpot. They taste even better over the next few days, so they make great leftovers for cook ahead lunches. This week’s bean dish was a spicy baked bean pot with chorizo, bacon, onions, green peppers, and two jalapenos from the garden. It will be yummy for lunches this week.
  • The garden has been slower to start this year than usual, but it’s set to go crazy within the next two weeks. We picked tomatoes, eggplant, jalapenos, and the first real green peppers I’ve ever gotten from the garden. The green peppers that are big enough to make stuffed green peppers. I’m planning to stuff them and put them in the freezer tomorrow or Tuesday (depending on my energy level and how long things take at the doctor.
  • I have another appointment on Monday for wound care follow up. I’m hoping that we can finally move to the next stage of care, which I think is saline solution and repacking once a day. The wound care nurse is supposed to be at this appointment, so I’ll learn more then.
  • My endurance is still very uneven from surgery. I’m trying to wean myself off my afternoon nap, but I’m still finding it necessary, which throws off my ability to go straight to sleep at night. I’m writing this on the Sunday side of midnight and I feel very awake. After I finish writing, I’m going to put on Thunderstorm white noise from my tablet, and see if that works to get me to sleep.
  • I miss the way work structures a week. I hope that my return to work appointment in just under two weeks goes well even with my open wound.

Three friends try a triathlon – I watch

Team Splash Flash Dash was briefly in the lead of their heat.

My big activity today was watching The Taming of the Slough, a triathlon event for Kayak, Mountain Bike, and Trail running. Doctor Roommate and two friends made up Team Splash Flash Dash. Splash was the kayaker. Flash was mountain biker (aka:Doctor Roommate). Dash ran the final leg.

They came in second in the three-person women’s teams, which is awesome. They’d never done this before. They came in second among the women’s three-person teams even though Doctor Roommate should have had the codename Crash instead of Flash. (Doctor Roommate has no serious injuries. Just some bruises, a bit of road rash, and she will be replacing her helmet since it took one for the team.)

Spectator this event was one of the most active things I’ve done since my surgery. There was plenty of walking around the park to find a place to settle and knit while waiting for the kayaks to come in and then lots of walking around to cheer people on as friends and new acquaintances came into the relay points.

Also, I made two new doggiefriends. Lincoln was a four-month old labradoodle who looked like my Sophie-doodle-ee-doo when she was that age. He was friendly and still all puppy mouth.

At the other end of the doggo spectrum was Craig the piddy boy, an extremely mellow, beautiful yellow and white piddy, who struck me as the second friendliest and calmest piddy I’ve ever met. The winner for breed (IMO) was a piddy girl named Swee’pea, owned by my friend Worm. Craig the piddy was a close second, though. Craig did the Sophie-dog patented nose nudge under the hand and I spent a good part of the award ceremony giving love to a piddypuddy because Sophie’s taught me that nose nudge means doggo needs love now because doggo is about to die.

While the race itself wasn’t exactly my thing to try for myself, it reminded me how much I miss being able to bike or kayak or take quick steps in succession without being yelled at. Currently I’m allowed to walk and lift nothing heavier than a milk jug. I’m also not allowed to get wet in any kind of submersive fashion.

Showering is okay. Bathing is not. Doing something where I have the potential to go swimming in current is RIGHT OUTTM.

All this before 10:30 AM. Satisfied napping happened all around once we got home. All in all, it was a pretty great way to spend a day.

Belly update – slowly improving

We removed the last bits of the necrotic tissue today. My medical team is impressed with AJ’s skill in packing wounds. I’m so lucky to have her. I return to the doctor on Monday for re-evaluation. Hopefully we can move to packing with saline solution and a wound care nurse to help get things closed back up.

For what it’s worth, everything looks pretty much normal and pink now and Dr. Roommate is no longer making icky-poo-poo face when she’s packing it.

Please, let it stay normal and keep healing so we can move forward on Monday.

I should be more positive about the progress, but I’m very tired of being The Walking Wounded. The wet/dry pack that we’re doing means that I’m always just a little damp. Imagine having spilled just a little on your jeans so you feel marginally clammy, but it’s not enough to go get paper towels to dry it off – it needs to just air dry. Now imagine that it never quite dries, because you’re always spilling just a little on your jeans, so it never dries. The cover dressing helps absorb some of the liquid (read: the solution we soak the packing gauze in), but it’s not enough.

My skin around the wound is covered in tape burns despite our best efforts to minimize it. My goal is now “just make it stick.” If we tear up my skin more, that’ll heal more easily than the surgical wound.

If ever there was a thing to make a person feel like they’re being punished for the sin of glutony, this is it. I have seen my fat. I know that if I were thin, this wound would not be nearly so bad. Fatness didn’t cause this, but it sure as hell doesn’t help it.

I want to cry from shame every time I look into the wound to assess it’s progress.

When I’m healed, there will be lasting lifestyle changes. Body positivity is all well and good, but there is something to be said for being the most healthy I can be, too. I don’t believe my body weight is as healthy as it could be. I just want to be a better me, whatever that turns out to be.

Right now, I’m doing what I’m medically allowed: going for walks and making the most healthy meal choices I can make.

The good news (can we call it that?) is that my old appetite hasn’t come back. I don’t feel hungry nearly as often as I did before the hysterectomy and I find myself satiated with smaller portions. I’ve also found it much easier to avoid soda in general. Once a week, on game night, I indulge in a 12oz ginger beer, but I don’t really want anything like that any other time.

The bad news is that I’m having to learn to plan meals around what I now am willing to eat portionwise. That’s proving something of a challenge. How do I get enough nutrients in the volume of food that I’m willing to consume? I’ve started scouring the internet for new recipes. EatingWell.com has become something of a new favorite. Everything I’ve tried from there works, is nutritionally balanced, and tastes good.

Artisan Dice

I saw it via a share from Artisan Dice. I think it may be originally from WMFC Knights.

Artisan Dice gave it the caption “+1 Masterwork Frying Pan of ____________”

I saw it and all I could think was:

+1 Masterwork Frying Pan of Incredible Seasoning.

  • While this seemingly innocuous skillet can indeed be used as a weapon against creatures only able to be damaged by magic, its greatest use is in the kitchen or over the campfire. Even the most humble ingredients are rendered delicious in this pan.
  • Gift of the Pan: No matter how much or how little food is actually placed in the skillet, portions may continue to be dished out until all at the owner’s ‘table’ (metaphorically or literally) are satiated. Additionally, the Frying Pan of Incredible Seasoning renders even poisonous items edible and nourishing.
  • Once per day, the pan may be used to summon a Heroes’ Feast (as per the spell).
  • This item may be owned by monks with the poverty vow without restriction, so long as the monk freely shares the Gift of the Pan with those in need.

I added that last bit because my friend JB is a great role player and I always wanted to reward him for making me laugh while I’m GMing, but with the Vow of Poverty, I could never give his character treasure. As I was writing the description of the Frying Pan of Incredible Seasoning, I could picture his Monk making the whole party wait because he had to feed every orphan, widow, and down and out person in the city while the rest of the party groaned (and mostly helped out so it would go faster.)

Charlie over at Artisan Dice really liked my response to his prompt and asked for my address to send me a gift. That gift arrived today.

Sorry, JB. I’m going to be selfish and keep this one.

My dad was a master molder at a gray iron foundry so having a prototype cast iron die is hugely sentimental to me. I may play elves and gnomes in D&D games, but I come from a dwarvish people. I pulled the lovely little protective dice cup out of the plastic protecting it and was greeted by the most beautiful D20 I’ve ever seen.

The most beautiful d20 I’ve ever seen.

The picture doesn’t do it justice, of course. It’s weighty, solidly cast. I pulled out our Chessex mat and gave it a few satisfying rolls. As I gently placed the die back into its cup, I wondered, did it have a smell?

There is a smell that I associate with my father when he was working at Iowa Steel, a combination of coke and ash and iron that I can’t quite explain to anyone who hasn’t been around the process. It is a smell that I only can describe as “cast iron” and Dad smelled strongest of it on days he poured.

It smells like cast to me. It smells like my father. Not strongly, but it’s there. Let’s hear it for having a sensitivity of olfactory that my brother in law once described as “nose like a coonhound.”

I put the cap back on to keep the smell in. I can’t wait to use the d20 in game play.

Hopefully, there will be brother and sister dice for this prototype soon. It’s a beautiful prototype and will make a lovely product in the future. I foresee dwarf players digging on it as well as people who play steampunk games.

Mostly, though, thank you to Artisan Dice for sending me one of the best gifts ever.

Belly update (Monday’s appointment)

On Monday I went back to the doctor with my surgical incision, hoping that we would be able to move to the next stage of care: Packing with saline soaked gauze instead of antiseptic gauze. My hopes were for naught. While the doctor did tell me that things were improved, they were not improved enough to move to the next phase and we still ended up debriding the wound.

It’s been very disappointing.

AJ has still been a complete champ about packing the wound for me, because I’m not enough of a contortionist to pack it for myself, but I have shame about the whole situation. This wasn’t what was supposed to happen. Everything was supposed to be 100% smooth sailing, despite the fact that I had a whole organ removed.

I know logically there was nothing I could have done differently. I know that I can’t stand in front of the mirror to pack it because I will bleed on the floor. I can’t get a mirror angled correctly to see to pack it if I’m lying on my back on the floor to keep the blood in the wound.

I’m terrified that I’m going to split open further. I’m terrified that my intestines are going to fall out, despite the fact that the Doctor says that my abdominal wall is healed and there’s no danger of it. Every time I look at the wound, I have these mental images, these sick fantasies, that something terrible is going to happen. Guts fall out. Massive putrification. Cthulhu monster escapes from the dark depths of my belly wound.

All I can do is make sure we repack the wound twice a day and hope that antiseptic and 7 inch cotton swabs are enough to defend against Cthulhu monsters.

I go back on Friday of this week to be re-evaluated again. Hopefully I’ll make better progress this time.

Adventures in wound care: a story in three acts

So, this morning I tried repacking my incision by myself. I should have known it wasn’t going to work, but my starry-eyed optimism said I had to give it a try.

It turned out rather disastrously. Montage sequence of failing to repack my own incision goes here.

In order to see what I was doing, I needed to stand in front of the mirror. Standing in front of the mirror meant that when I removed the old packing, I bled (though not truly profusely) down my front and onto the floor.

It was not going well. I tried lying down to keep the little bit of blood in the wound and not on the floor. With a hand mirror in one hand, I couldn’t wrangle both the packing material and the swab for actually packing. Without the mirror, I couldn’t see what I was doing at all which meant everything was six kinds of sideways.

I wasn’t going to be able to do it alone. I needed the cavalry and quickly because blood was drying on the floor and dried blood is kind of a pain to clean up. Queue the action sequence music.

Doctor Roommate came to my rescue. Yay! Thank you, Doctor Roommate. Doctor Roommate is my hero.

Seriously, AJ was amazing – sucking it up despite the fact that my incision is nasty looking to help me get new antiseptic packing in there so that I can hopefully heal properly now. AJ is amazing and deserves kudos for strength and bravery in the belly of icky not healing.

Fade out here, with many thanks to everyone who have been sending prayers, Reiki healing, and well wishes. I really appreciate it. It’s helping keep my spirits up despite the fact that this surgery has been more challenging than expected every step of the way.

But especially for AJ. You are my hero.

Improved stomach, now with venting

tl:DR – My incision broke open more. I went to the doctor and we’re treating it with antiseptic at the site. No need for antibiotics just yet. I am mostly fine, just more ventilated in the stomach region than planned for at this time. I go back for a recheck on Monday unless I start running a fever or start having strange smells from the area.

The post has details after the jump, but no pictures (duh.) If you are grossed out by medical details, you may want to skip reading today.

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3 weeks after surgery

Three weeks-ish. The actual 3 weeks from surgery date was Tuesday of this week.

A portion of my incision reopened, in what I call my dunlap area, because, yes, I hate the term FUPA. Fuck you and your FUPA, people. Pretty is not the rent I pay to exist and go out in public.
I have a sagging belly that dunlaps over my pubic bone. When I finish losing weight, I’ll probably have to have a tummy tuck to get rid of the loose skin there. Right now, I’m working with what I have.
What I have is a three-inch section on my lower belly area that decided to reopen to a depth of a 1/4 of an inch today after I showered and removed the steri-strips there (per doctor’s instructions from last week.)
Let’s start with the answers to the most common questions:
  • No, I wasn’t doing anything stupid.
  • Yes, I’ve been following doctor’s orders.
  • Yes, I called my doctor and I’ve got instructions.
Sometimes things like this just happen whether you’re fat or not. Sometimes I have weird healing issues on parts of my body that aren’t fat, like my wrists and ankles. Fat probably didn’t help, though. 
More steri-strips have been applied. I’m supposed to keep things dry. I was told not to sweat under my belly because you can control that crap.

If things aren’t significantly better by Monday, I’ll have a trip to Iowa City to have my doctor evaluate things and come up with a better plan than sticking it back together with tape and hoping for the best.