Vacuum sealed

By Nancy Black

It all started with a twisted ovary, which led to a massive stomach infection that resulted in four abdominal surgeries and my small intestines herniating out of my surgical incisions! I have a portable wound care vacuum pump connected to my stomach now. 

I consider myself a modern medicine miracle, considering my surgeon said she’d never seen such a case in all her years of practicing. I love to be unique, but not when it comes to medical matters. I’d prefer to hear the doctors says, “No worries. We do this all the time.”

Now I have PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. When you’re in the middle of all these procedures, drugged up in the hospital for 16 days, you don’t really comprehend what is actually going on in and around you. It’s only once you get home, free from all the IV drips, drainage tubes and constant buzz of the hospital’s surroundings that the reality of the situation sinks in. I was really sick. I didn’t do anything to cause it. It just happened. Sometimes the enormity of it all is overwhelming.

I will be forever grateful to my brother and sister for really stepping up to the plate to help me and be my health advocates while I was hospitalized. And to my surgeons, all but one of whom I had never met. Then there are the surgical techs, nurses and support staff. I am thankful to all of them. I counted, and I had more than 32 nurses during my stays in the hospital. All but one were filled with kindness and sympathy for my situation. I am definitely not going to let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch. 

What about the people who kept my life running on the home and work front? They are all rock stars in my book! From my friends who took daily care of all five of my animals, to my teammates here at the newspaper who worked until the wee hours of the morning getting an issue out while I was under the knife, I bow to your brilliance and generosity.

What fun it is to eat again, too! If I never see another bowl of broth, it will be too soon. You should have seen me the first time ordering from the hospital’s regular menu. My mashed potatoes tasted like a filet mignon. I’ve been blessed with other friends who have brought me food now that I am home: roasted chicken, meatloaf, Korean BBQ, Keller’s. It’s all been delicious, and I appreciate every bite.

I guess my biggest thanks would go out to the scientists who developed all the medical devices I have been, and still am, connected to. Who would have thought that a vacuum connected to a wound on the human body would help the surgical incision site heal faster? Some scientist did, that’s who. And then they experimented, probably for years, perfecting their device before it could be approved and put into use for the general population.

I did not do anything to cause all these medical complications. But I feel fortunate to have benefitted from the research and expertise of all the doctors and scientists who were prepared and eager to find solutions to my twisted problems. 

It snaps me out of my PTSD to think about all the wonderful people who cared and are still caring for me. I may be a modern medicine miracle, but maybe the bigger miracle is how we humans can take care of each other.