I'm home from vacation, and tomorrow we see Dr. Nash. Hopefully, he will tell us that my wound is healed enough to stop packing.
Wound Care 101
To recap: the incision from my laparoscipic right hemicolectomy got infected, so Dr. Nash had to re-open the wound. An open wound needs to be kept open, otherwise the top layers will heal over before the rest of the wound can close - creating a little pocket just ripe for infections.
In order to allow the wound to heal in layers, from the bottom up, you keep it open by packing it with sterile gauze. "Packing" a wound is exactly what it sounds like - you just shove as much gauze into the wound as will fit. This packing helps to fill open space, maintain a warm moist environment, and absorb drainage.
How much packing do you use? That depends on how deep the wound is. Initially, my wound took about 2 feet of packing (picture taken on July 30, 2010).
As the wound healed, it became more shallow and the amount of packing we had to use got less and less. Also, we did everything to accelerate the healing process, including changing the packing twice a day and increasing my protein intake.
Today, less than a month after it was re-opened, we can hardly fit more than a couple of inches of packing into the wound. The body's ability to heal is nothing short of miraculous, and I am grateful that we are almost over this little bump on the road to recovery.
For More HELP in wound care: visit the WOCN.org website.
Founded in 1968, the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN) is a professional, international nursing society of more than 4,600 healthcare professionals who are experts in the care of patients with wound, ostomy and incontinence.