Thursday, August 14, 2008

Removing excessive wound drainage

This is being posted for the benefit of anyone who is experiencing excessive abdominal wound drainage and wants some tips.

My surgery required over a foot of internal stitches in my abdominal muscles and the removal and replacement of several square feet of skin on my belly. It was literally like being skinned alive and even breathing hurt for the first week!

Immediately following my surgery I was outfitted with two lovely drains which managed to take care of most of my drainage and a straightjacket to keep my guts inside while the stitches healed.

I later discovered that the only thing worse than having tubes sticking out of you is not having them! Even though I still had massive internal bleeding, the surgeon had to cut the drains out of me after one month, saying that they could not stay inside me for prolonged periods of time. (In most cases a month is enough, but in cases like mine with large internal damage, the drainage can continue for up to a year! In my case, I was still seeping several ounces (about 170 ml) per day when my tubes were removed.)

It’s funny how squeamish people are. I was not going to become a recluse simply because I had tubes jutting from my gut, but I was surprised at people’s reactions when I drained by bulbs:

Don't do this in public - Some people are too squeamish

So, what do you do when your abdomen fills-up like a water balloon every day? The only way to remove excessive would draining is to go in a get it.

Deep Impact

Remember those rabies shots that they give you right in the middle of your belly? It’s like that, except it’s even more painful because the needle must stay deep inside you for up to 10 minutes!

In my case, my wounds must be drained every 48 hours a very painful deal. The doctor says that the drainage could go on for many months (in his 30 years as a surgeon he says he has never seen anything like my case where a wound drains for so long).

The doctor was planning to teach me to drain myself, so that we don’t have to drive for three long hours to the doctors office every other day.

The perils of Self Immolation

The trouble with draining yourself at home is that there can be no hesitation with the horse needle. You must drive the needle though cleanly, deep into my abdomen. While it’s easy to do this on other people, it ain’t so easy punching yourself in the gut with a horse needle, knowing that it’s gonna hurt like pure sin!

So the doctor is training Janet to do it for me, and Janet took this instructional video which shows the whole process.

Video of the drainage process

1 - First, the skin and abdominal muscles are numbed with Lidocaine and bicarbonate of soda

2 - Then you punch-in the needle, full-force and start filling the syringe.

Janet loves her toys and she filmed this with the new “Flip video” camera an amazing video camera not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes:

For complete details of the procedure for removing internal drainage, here is a video of the whole process for your enjoyment. Janet picked the background music herself and she did a great job! (WARNING: DO NOT view this video while eating).