Infection

I woke up from surgery #2 on 17 March very happy with everything.  I was in pain but my incision was fixed from my previous emergency surgery 3 months prior.  Yes, I still had a colostomy bag but the plan is to hopefully do a reversal down the road. 

After a couple of days after surgery I was already eating solids, getting up out of bed on my own and taking walks around the floor without assistance. I couldn't even believe how good I was feeling so soon.
 
I was discharged on 20 Mar, 4 days later. A couple days after discharge it became hard for me to manage the pain, which got worse when I got home. The lower portion of my incision started do have discharge. It was pretty gross. My doctor said to continue to clean and drain the area daily. 

He also gave me a better pain management regime to help. I found myself sleeping a lot and what I thought was just part of my neuropathy turned into uncontrolled body spasms. I had no idea this was the onset of an infection, which led to life threatening sepsis. 

I can barely remember the days leading up going to my doctors office. He and my hisband Josh wanted to ensure that the spasms weren't neurological. In order to get tested quickly I would have to be admitted. Since the spasms were causing me to fall it was urgent. 

Once I saw the look on my oncologist face when he looked at my abdomen I knew it wasn't good. I was so out of it I couldn't even tell him the last day I changed the bandages. No more than 30 minutes later I was admitted. The surgery and everything the next few days were just a blur. 

Post Emergency Surgery #3

What is this?

Its Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), a method of drawing out fluid and infection from a wound to help it heal. A special dressing (bandage) is sealed over the wound and a gentle vacuum pump is attached.

It is not very pleasant to change out at all. It definitely requires some pains meds. I'm not sure how long I will undergo this therapy but I do know my abdominal area will never be the same. 

My handy dandy vacuum pump that follows me everywhere for the next who knows weeks to months 

Going into week 2 of healing and recovery. Looks bad but it will get better 

Yes, this may look gross and painful but it's healing very well. The depth and width has decreased.The pink color is a good thing, and there's lots of pink. It's been 3 weeks since surgery so I'm hoping by end of May it will be closed. I'm told I should only have a thin scar. Also, the small incision is healing and only requires a bandage now. Yay! Another progress pic next week 😊

FYI that stuff around my wound is there to protect my skin 

Progress!

No more Wound VAC therapy! I was so happy when Pam, the wound nurse at BAMC decided to take me off last week, 5 May. Now I have to do daily dressing changes. That's just a matter of cleaning the wound, applying a medicated ointment, and a wet dressing called Mediblue. It's like a piece of cardboard I have to soften with saline, then apply a dry bandage over top. 

My left ostomy that was removed has completely closed now. I'm super happy for that. One less thing to worry about. 

My home nurse, Marie will still come twice a week to ensure no infection. I will also see Pam at BAMC every week. I feel like everything is going well with the healing process. It still looks gross, but surprising it's not painful unless I overdue it. I'm happy for progress. I'm so grateful for Dr. Phippen, my oncologist for taking action and getting that infection out of my body. 

17 May

Well, I got approval to discontinue home care, which has made life a bit easier. I don't have to sit around my house waiting for the nurse to show up anymore twice a week. Pam, the wound nurse at BAMC, said I'm doing a great job changing out my wound dressing so there was no need. Plus I see her once a week and most importantly, Pam can now order me my ostomy supplies that home care never brought to me. And if they did, it was the wrong thing. 

The photos below are 9 days apart. The body is amazing at healing itself. I can't wait to see how much it improves the next 9 days. I may actually get to go in the pool sooner than I expected 😊

19 May

I had my appointment today with Pam, my wound nurse. I was concerned my wound wasn't healing correctly. In my last comparison photo you can see the wound coming together, but it seemed the next day after chemo it went further apart again. 

She decided to change my daily regime to see if it helps. Maybe I'm doing too much, it's hard to know. I'm doing my best to rest and heal but at the same time I always need to be somewhat active in order to keep myself strong. It's a fine line. 

I just want this thing to heal so I can move on. I see Pam and Dr Elliott, the surgeon on 2 June to hopefully get more guidance on what my future holds. Cancer is one thing, it's not the only thing I have going on. Not only this wound, but also my colostomy reversal. Then it's breast cancer screenings and possible mastectomy. Ugh! One thing at a time. One day at a time.

18 June

As much as it is still ugly, it is healing. We changed up my regimen again so hoping the healing process will speed up. 

My oncologist took the stitches out yesterday. He also told me I'm highly likely to end up with a hernia. I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that from happening. Guess my workouts will be more cardio focused in the future. 

28 June

It's getting there but there are a couple areas of concern (see arrows). Top arrow is a sore that I possibly caused by over cleaning and the bottom one started as a bump then turned into a deeper sore. My oncologist said it may be a fistula trying to form but nothing is draining from it. So now we are just monitoring both of them. I swear there's always something. I just kind of freak out a little after having that infection. I've been very meticulous about keeping it clean and changing my dressings daily. Last thing I want is another infection. I see Dr. Hope, my new oncologist on 1 July, so we will see what she says. I really want this thing to completely heal. Dr. Phippen's last day was today. He is getting stationed at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland. 😞

7 July 

13 July

Yeah, I know, I'm a mess. I can't say it is easy to post this at all. I do hope that if someone is going through cancer or something difficult in their life, you're not alone. Yes, the after effects of the surgery has caused me anxiety and depression. And yes, I am on medication to help and I'm not ashamed to admit that. It has helped me tremendously.
These passed 7 months haven't been easy and the emergency surgery that caused this scar surely hasn't been easy to recovery from. My would still healing 3 months later, so all I can hope is when I look back on this photo a year from now hopefully I can post a much different picture.

If you haven't seen a stoma, now you have. Meet Stoma Steve! That's what I call that red thing sticking out of my abdomen. It makes people laugh, so why not just add a little humor to all of this. It's life! My life. 

I'm healing and I'm happy 😊 

It's getting better day by day. I can't ask for any more. 

11 August

Herrs where I'm at today. It's healing slower than I ever anticipated. The would itself is closed for the most part, but it needs to completely come together like the bottom. I'm expecting that to take at least another 6 months if I'm lucky. 

30 Sept

It's not the prettiest, but day-by-day it gets better.

20 Oct

Not much has changed with this wound and it is really starting to bother me. Friday, 22 Oct I go to the Hyperbaric Clinic for my followup and I am hoping they can do something to kickstart the healing process. Six months of this is frustrating 

22 Oct

Disappointing appointment with the Hyperbaric Clinic. Doc feels the wound is healing slowly on its own and doesn't feel I would be a good fit for the chamber. My progress is slow due to my medication. He also stated my wound may not change much from what it is now. The thought of living with this crazy wound and scar kills me. I know over time it may start to look a bit better, but pretty much this is my life now. As always, I have to remember "I'm alive". 

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Comments

Curtiss
5 months ago

In our weakness, we a perfectly situated for God to be our strength. I won’t pretend to know your heart or how incredibly difficult this journey has become, but I can and just did what we all can do for you from where our butts are right now. Pray! Keep fighting friend!!

Zenvi
5 months ago

Continued prayers for your healing ❤️❤️❤️🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

Maren
5 months ago

You are one of the bravest people I know. Thank you for sharing your story. Love and prayers, Maren