This is going to be a slightly more graphic than usual post about wet to dry dressings and what necrosis looks like as it develops. So those without strong stomachs are cautioned. I will do my best to inject humor into this as I go. Humor and my support system are really the only way I survived this in the first place.
That, and I rediscovered the analytical part of myself. I mentally separated myself from the situation at hand. I used the phrase “THE breasts” as opposed to “MY breasts” and I never looked at myself in the mirror. So I dissociated to some extent while I was changing the wet to dry bandages.
Initially I didn’t really understand HOW wet the gauze was supposed to be. I was told by the nurse that the gauze should be damp. *I* thought that meant it should be dripping just a little bit. After a couple days I noticed there was little to no progress with the wet to drys. Progress would mean the removal of dead tissue. I was pulling off the occasional fleck here and there but nothing meaningful.
Let me explain a bit more about wet to drys. Once the gauze has been dampened in sterile saline solution, it is laid flat in one or two layers over the area to be debrided. It is molded to the body part so when it dries it is a bit like plaster. A successful pull makes a soft sound akin to velcro being pulled from its fuzzy moorings.
When I went back in for the next check up a couple days later the HiQ complained that there was not enough progress. I explained what I had done and was given the moisture level corrections. It seems that instead of dripping slightly, the gauze should be just slightly damp. Previous to this I had done what is called “packing” where the area is kept moist with wet salined gauze. Thus my confusion, I suppose. We’ll go in to packing later when things have gotten REALLY bad.
Once I had been given better information I was sent home for a couple more days. I was also told that I should only be changing the wet to drys one to two times a day. I HAD been changing them 3-4 times because that was what I had done when I was packing. No one told me to do anything different as far as changing went. Isn’t it amazing how nothing changes when there is no communication?
With the new changes I was getting more dead tissue off. When I pulled off the dried gauze it was definitely pulling away the blackened tissue. The HiQ had me do that for about a week and a half. In that time I still forbade Ken to come in during bandage changes and showering. No one should have to be exposed to that.
I had started crying at least every other day at this point and I was really depressed for obvious reasons. Pulling bits of dead flesh off your own body tends to do that. I was angry because I couldn’t get a straight answer out of the HiQ. The man had all the bedside manner of Dr. Mengele. Which was pretty evident by the “don’t scream” comment when he was sewing cadaver skin onto me and telling me that it was an extremely expensive treatment.
Really folks that all I can manage for today. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you the Valium story.