I got my wound V.A.C. yesterday. It wasn't at all what I was expecting.
My assumption: A tiny little thing that I could wear inconspicuously on (or under) my clothing that would be silent and, well, inconspicuous.
My reality: A purse-sized pump that must be worn across the shoulder that makes periodic noises that sound like farts.
The doctor and nurse who put on the V.A.C. assured me that once patients get used to carrying it around, most of them "love" it (no kidding, they really said that) and just carry on, business as usual.
I had a prescription to fill last night, so I swallowed my pride and made up my mind I would ignore any sideways glances or staring I might get and headed off to Wal-Mart after dinner. As I stood at the pharmacy counter, handing the tech my prescription, Betsy (I figure if it's got to be a part of my life for several weeks, it might as well have a name) decided to start growling and tooting. Not certain whether the guy heard it or not, I figured my best bet was just to raise the volume of my voice and hope that he's familiar enough with medical devices to know one when he hears one.
Almost as bad as the gassy sounds is the fact that this thing is continuously pumping blood and other gack from my incision, and if you happen to look at the wrong time, you're likely to see all manner of nastiness surging through the tubing.
And I'm going to learn to love this thing like a dog loves ticks.
The one positive is that they taped me up so securely yesterday when I got Betsy that I no longer have the creepy sensation that all my innards are about to fall out. That's the thing about open abdominal wounds. You can know in your head that an incision is only 3 cm deep, but there is an irrational fear that it is much deeper, and if you lean in the wrong direction, all kinds of essential body parts are just going to tumble out. It's very disconcerting and a sensation I've tried to control by wrapping my midsection very tightly with an Ace bandage (over all my other dressings).
This is a part of the recovery process I could definitely have done without, but I'm going to give Betsy a real chance today, on this our first full day of partnership, and perhaps this arrangement can be terminated before too long.