This is the third entry in a four-part series on my perianal disease timeline, including the healing after my proctectomy. Part 2 can be found HERE.
2-4 months following my Proctectomy (Mid-December 2013 – March 2014)
The second month saw more healing, which was very nice to see.
Sitting was becoming more comfortable with the VAC unit, but prolonged sitting was still a challenge.
I purchased a gel seat cushion, like the one’s you’d find for your vehicle, and used that during the day. It was recommended to NEVER use a doughnut cushion.
The VAC dressing changes were getting easier, but my VAC unit was still problematic.
I spoke with the manufacturer and they replaced it with a perfect unit on Dec 11th, but on Dec 18th (6 weeks post-op) I was taken off the VAC.
My surgeon decided to discontinue the VAC because a small tunnel had been forming in the wound, and the VAC would not be appropriate to close it up, so we went back to daily wound packing.
To be honest, it was so liberating to be off the vac. My strength had been up after surgery, and I just wanted to do more, but I always felt restricted while being tethered to the VAC.
The wound was still draining quite a bit of fluid, and in addition to the packing used, I’d also place an absorbent pad (labeled as an abdominal pad) to keep my underwear clean and dry.
By March, I had been using a single 4″x4″gauze pad over the wound. There was still a very small amount of discharge, yellowish and a slightly offensive odor, so I’d change that several times a day. I switched to a smaller 2″x2″ gauze around mid-March.
Showering was never a problem, even with the VAC unit.
With the VAC unit attached, I’d simply place it on the floor beside my shower, and the tubing I was connected to was long enough to reach without any pulling.
Without the VAC attached, I’d wash up normally and used a detachable shower head to spray up around the wound.
I will note that when the wound was being packed, the nurses would want to see the ribbon that they inserted into the wound every time they came to visit, so they know that nothing was being left in there.
At the beginning, the ribbon was long enough that it would stay in place during a shower, but as less ribbon was being used, I’d take it out and save it for the nurse.
I would often time my showers right before they came, so it was easy and convenient.
I had the packing done until the end of January, then we left the wound to close on its own.
Home nursing care was discontinued at the end of February.
By the end of January, sitting was quite a bit easier. And by February, there was no discomfort at all when sitting. I began light exercises, which didn’t interfere at all with the wound.
Some people who’ve had their rectum removed often say that they feel “phantom-pain” in the form of bowel urgency. I’ve never experienced those, but they are not something to worry about.
Stay tuned for PART FOUR.
I will link the timeline file at the end of part four.