[Note: for my more gentle readers, you might want to skip this post and enjoy yourself some kittens instead. Seriously.]
Remember that game we played as kids, Operation, where you’d have a pair of tweezers and you’d attempt to pick out a body part from your surgical patient without hitting the sides of the hole? Each time I look at the wound in my leg that game comes to mind.
In order to get out all of the various channels of infection that were in my leg, the surgeons had to cut down deep into the soft tissue–in some places they went down about 5-7cm deep. In doing so they cut through various layers of stuff–dermis, fat, muscle, etc. Then they left the wound totally open so it would heal from the bottom-up rather than from the top-down or from the sides filling in. Leaving it open allows for the wound to be cleaned twice daily to flush out any residual infection. Then the hole is packed with clean wet gauze to absorb any yuck and so prevent it from closing prematurely. It’s also pretty damn painful.
I am no stranger to nasty wounds. Not only have I lived with this festering infection for four months, I’ve also dealt with the healing wound of my amputated right leg, which was pretty nasty-looking for a long time (think Frankenstein).
But for some reason I’ve been completely flummoxed by this one. Looking into the wound makes my head spin and my stomach lurch. I think it’s the cross-sections of each layer that affect me so strongly–they are slick and wet and they move. As my muscle flexes I can see it from the inside. I can see my own nasty fat. The edge of the wound has become sort of hard and dry like the way bologna looks after a few days when you forget to seal the plastic wrapper closed all the way.
When I was discharged from the hospital my docs assumed that I could change my own bandages. What they didn’t know was that I’d only had one slim glimpse of the wound and had refused to look again. Fortunately John was on hand to do learn how to do the cleaning, packing, and bandaging. But this wound is going to take months to heal and I can’t expect to John to always be there to manage this task for me. I feel it’s time for me to be able to dress my own wound.
But the honest truth is that I sucked at the Operation game. When I was a Bio major the only lecture I even walked out on was when were were viewing surgical slides (I went into the parking lot and dryheaved). As much as I am fascinated with the human body and it’s functions, as much as I am not grossed out by blood and poo and just about anything else ooky and bodily-related, this seems beyond me. It’s not just the pain, it’s even bigger than that.
Quite frankly, I am embarrassed about my squeamishness. In an attempt to get more acquainted with my wound, I had John send me some of the digital photos that he’s been snapping daily so we can note any changes in color, shape, discharge, etc. I played with one of the images in photoshop, trying to take control of it and make it be something that I could get used to. No matter what I did–changing colors, saturation, fuzziness, etc, I couldn’t make it into something that I was comfortable with.
It’s my own leg and I’m completely scared of it. Why? I don’t know. It’s not a rational response, for sure. I want to get over this, and I keep telling myself that I am brave and strong and I can do it. Any advice?