After that second surgery, once the doctors knew my plumbing was working properly and that the second ostomy was thriving, the only thing keeping me from discharge was stabilizing the gaping holes that had opened in my abdomen.
I think at first I was oblivious to those holes buried underneath dressings. Just as I didn't want to see my ostomy, I didn't want to see the evidence of how the surgeon's knife had decimated my body. The pain that ravaged it and the exhaustion accompanying the pain were all that I could handle. I left the surgeon and nurses to worry about the rest. As they poked and prodded I looked at the TV only paying enough attention to answer questions if asked. I was just trying to get through each day until I could get out of there. All I thought about were my horses and my family and how each day longer I stayed affected them.
It wasn't until the surgeon ordered a wound vacuum that I realized the state of my incision. There had been nothing alarming in their demeanor when tending to me so my lack of interest in actually seeing what lay beneath the bandages had shielded me from knowing this new complication had been developing. The minute the machine arrived and the nurses told me what it was I knew.
A friend of mine had experienced an extensive visit with a wound vacuum so her story provided me with all I'd ever wanted to know about this modern technology. I understood how it was supposed to work and that it was reserved for only the most difficult of wounds. I also knew it was cumbersome and that being hooked to that machine would make getting around more difficult. I was not looking forward to being tethered to that thing for any length of time.
As luck would have it I didn't have to worry about that. My body evidently didn't think much of the Wound Vac either. Despite the fact it had been only 12 hours since its use began when my surgeon checked me again, the condition of my wounds had deteriorated at an alarming rate, so concerning the surgeon, himself, removed the system's tubes instead of waiting for a nurse to find the time to get it done. He left me muttering about going back to basics and Hail Mary's.
The basics turned out to be flushing the wounds with warm water for a fifteen minutes stretch, three times a day. Considering the location of the wounds the only way to get that done was in the shower. The challenge was accomplishing it without getting my ostomy bag wet, well that and me having the strength to do it because I sure wasn't going to allow some stranger to do it for me.
By this time I had been hospitalized for twenty-four days and I had never seen the inside of a shower. Heck, by now I had only had three sponge baths and no one had ever suggested there might be another option available. While I wasn't looking forward to fifteen minutes worth of dealing with the reality that was my abdomen, I couldn't wait to feel a steady stream of warm water washing over me and having a real shampoo.
To be continued.....