Monday, April 19, 2010

It's What I Do

Sometimes people ask me what, exactly, I do all day. Truth is, right now, what I do all day can be best described by pictures. I go through this process "as often as possible," according to my surgeon's instructions.

First, I take something to take the edge off the pain of the coming procedure... (usually only a half tablet).

Next, I use some sterile saline to wet the dressing that is currently on my leg. This makes it a little less painful when I rip it off. I had been gently peeling things off, trying to reduce or eliminate pain. But yesterday, the surgeon informed me that I need to literally rip the dressing off, so that I am also ripping away the tissue that's stuck to it. Appealing, eh? I still cheat a little though, and at least get it good and wet first.

Once the old dressing is off, I put Bacitracin on any exposed living tissue, so I don't rip that off with the dressing.

It takes a lot of gauze to cover the wound right now - it's about the size of my fist and goes down to the muscle and bone.

I put in a few layers just to "pack" things, and then a couple layers to cover everything up.

And then a couple more layers of packing material.

We go through a lot of this stuff right now... because all actual dressing materials are removed and thrown away three times a day, minimum.

I try to make this the worst that my loved ones have to see - a scarred up leg with gauze wrapped around it.

Once the wound is covered, I take this gel and rub it into my leg below the dressing, all the way down to my toes. It is an anti-inflammatory/pain reliever, and I am SO grateful for it.

It really helps with the swelling. Controlling the swelling is key to avoiding even more tissue death.

Next, I begin wrapping my leg from the foot upward, using an Ace bandage. It starts somewhat tight around my foot, and loosens as it goes up. This is also to help with the swelling, and to hopefully prevent further tissue death.

The trouble with Ace bandages is that they tend to wrinkle as you wear them, and the tension tends to even out. I want to avoid that - I need tension on my foot, and absolutely can not have tension on my shin. So I go over the bandage with Vet Wrap (the animal equivalent to Coban - identical in every way except for price).

Once my leg is wrapped up to the bottom of the dressing, I cut the Vet Wrap. I then use a second piece of Vet Wrap to continue up and over the dressing. This makes it easier to do middle-of-the-day changes and means I don't have to remove everything every time I do a dressing change.

Now I'd like to introduce you to Boot. Boot has been my companion since January, and I'm really not sure when Boot will be leaving. I was on my way to being Boot free when this setback happened.

I put my foot into Boot, like so...

...and then I close it up and secure the straps.

Lastly, I turn this little knob and then use the light colored "pump bump" to inflate the air bladders inside Boot. These help to reduce swelling, which helps to reduce... well, yeah, you get the picture. And then, several hours later, I do it again.

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