So I’m wanting to start writing a blog every week about how my week is going and other thoughts going on in my head as I go through a difficult time dealing with a pressure sore.
Pressure sores are common among spinal cord injuries and can take its toll on someone both physically and mentally. The best way to heal a pressure sore is to relieve pressure on the affected area. It can be difficult to relieve pressure completely depending on where the sore is located. My pressure sore is located on the lower left buttock. These types of sores develop when prolonged pressure is applied to an area so there’s no blood flow to the area and tissue starts breaking down. The amount of skin and tissue breakdown determines the stage of pressure so from I to IV. My sore is a stage IV because the wound is deep enough for the bone to be exposed.
Last week on 12/09 I went to the Rapides wound care clinic instead of the clinic in Cabrini because I was not happy with the lack of progress in healing. The wound has gotten smaller but it’s still really deep. These types of deep wounds have to heal from the inside out to heal correctly. The wound should be shallower and larger than deeper and smaller so that you can see the end of the wound bed. The opening of the wound is very small versus the inside so we can not see the bottom of the wound much. There’s so much that could be going on in the wound itself. The process of getting into the wound care center was fast; we waited maybe ten minutes before bringing us to the back. Once in a room, everything happened at such a fast pace from asking intake questions to getting everything set up for the doctor. There wasn’t any waiting, unlike at the other clinic. This one took in the fact that everything can be done in my wheelchair. It’s more comfortable for me not having to get in and out of my chair into a hospital bed and my chair lays out like a bed so there’s no reason that I have to be moved. The nurses were extremely warm and friendly which was not the case at Cabrini clinic. As soon as the nurses were done the doctor came into the room. My first impression of him was that he was cute, with a friendly smile and beautiful eyes. He introduced himself and asked a few background questions such as how long I’ve had the wound, what has been done to treat the wound, and has there had been any labs performed on the wound. Once he got into the actual wound itself, he agreed that it didn’t look just horrible. It measured out to be about 7.5 cm deep. He took a curate to the inside of the wound to check for infection. That was not the most pleasurable experience to have to deal with only lidocaine for the pain. I asked if he was cutting the wound because of the pain that I was experiencing and the doctor stepped back to look at me with a confused expression. I explained that I didn’t want to have to cut the wound back open because I’ve already been dealing with the wound since September. If he cut the wound open again that would only push back the healing I’ve done already and prolong the healing process. He understood where I was coming from and thought for a minute. Basically, he said that I really had two options with the type of wound and the location; either cut open the wound to make it larger or do a muscle flap surgery to repair and close the wound. He’s seen this type of wound in the past and those are the best options.
A muscle flap surgery is something that I have heard from other people with a spinal cord injury. From what the doctor said, I would have to be taken to New Orleans for a four to six-week stay in a long-term hospital. It would be similar to the floor I stayed twenty-one days in at the Cabrini Hospital. The tissue is going to require special care while it heals so that it doesn’t die. This could mean that I could be completely healed by my birthday or soon afterward. There’s a big process to getting surgery started but he agreed to go ahead with the necessary tests and paperwork for it. The first step is getting bloodwork and a CT scan with contrast to check for infection in the bone. He also changed from a wet to dry packing to a honey-based paste with a smaller strip of packing. He was concerned that the larger type of gauze was keeping the wound open, delaying the healing process, and potentially causing more damage to the inside of the wound bed. After we got done packing the wound, putting my clothes back on, and sitting me back up we were able to leave right away. The staff had already left the office so they said that they would call us to set up another appointment and to get the test done. While I was still in the office the nurses went ahead and drew the blood work. Overall this wound care clinic impressed me more than the other clinic. They seemed to offer more options for getting me healed, as well as had a friendlier atmosphere and listened to my opinion.
Other than the wound care clinic, the only other thing exciting that happened was getting the alternating pressure mattress that I ordered to help relieve the pressure and keep us from having to turn me so frequently. The air mattress is not very comfortable but it’s better than a regular mattress. I’m not so sure that I really like the mattress because I feel like I’m sitting on the hard bed frame. So my butt hurts all the time. I have gotten a couple of people to do what’s called a hand check to see if I’m bottoming out. A hand check is where someone places their hand under the air mattress and sees if a person’s buttocks are hitting the hard surfaces instead of being suspended in the air.
I have a lot of time to think being stuck in bed so, of course, I have so many things that I want to do but I can’t do them in this bed. I’m so ready to be healed. I have been on bed rest since September which is three months. The last time that I had to deal with a pressure sore of this nature I was stuck in bed for a whole year. I was only 17/18 when the last one happened, my mom was still alive and I could just put my life on hold for a year and heal. I don’t exactly have the option to just stop my life to get healed without falling behind on so much. For me, my mental health has a lot to do with the environment. I don’t like clutter or chaos and I’m a very OCD clean person. I like my house to be clean but I have a specific type of cleaning. I haven’t seen many people that clean as I do. If I’m being honest, cleaning is one of my hobbies as sad as that sounds because I don’t feel like I can’t rest or relax while there’s still something to be done. I don’t know why I’m like that, it makes me mad. I tend to notice dirt more than most people so I can tell when something hasn’t been cleaned up correctly. There’s so much I want to do in my house, in my career, and in life. I just have to get healed up first so that I can actually do them. I’m ready to start my classes back up so that I can finish the thirteen or fourteen more classes that I have left of my dual bachelor's degree in graphic design and psychology. It’s taken me longer than I wanted but I’m almost done. I don’t even really know what I want to do with my degree yet. Originally I wanted to become a licensed psychologist but that involves getting my master’s degree and my Ph.D. before I could even take the state test. I just don’t know if I’m up for that many years of more school and then left with a huge debt to repay. I have time to decide what I want to do but don’t think I haven’t thought about it already.
A lot is going on in my head so please just bare with me as I try to get them down on paper. Until next week…