Friday, September 25, 2015

Home Health Care, Sunshine, and Vera

When I first heard from the Emergency Room doctor tell me that this seroma needed to be packed and dressed in order to heal, I thought that was cool. Whatever.

When he said that a home nurse would come out to my apartment to do the bandage change, I was like, "wha?"

I mean, I can walk and shit and such, I can crawl up to the hospital to get the dressing changed there. That's what I did in 2005 with an infected pilonoidal cyst. So, what's different about this?

The rules have changed, Vera.

No shit, Dear Reader? I'll be damned.

Apparently, my current insurance covers visits from nurses by a home health care service. And because the severity of the seroma, supposedly, I have to get this dressing package changed daily.

Oh, great, now I get to be hog-tied to my apartment until this random nurse rolls up.  So much for attending Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur at synagogue.
Well, I had emailed the rabbi to see if I had to fast for Kol Nidre/Yom Kippur. He said, "don't worry about it. Stay home and get well." Sweet, I don't have to worry about scheduling conflicts.

So, Wednesday showed up and I got a phone call from a nurse, saying they're on their way.  Now at this point, I'm nervous as fuck; is this person going to be nice? What happens if they fuck up the dressing?
Finally, the nurse shows up. And this nurse is a big dude. Massive hands and build like WWE's The Big Show. He says, "hi!"

I so thought I was going to die, heh.

But the nurse was actually really cool. And the interesting thing was this nurse was also a behavioral counselor. I looked at the nurse, and was like, "but I have a psych team."

"I know," says the nurse. "But I was assigned the case because the hospital notified me that you were hospitalized for mental health issues."

Remind me to send the hospital another thank you card. Fuckers.

The nurse and I chat for about 15 minutes. He gets my vitals to make sure I'm good and functional. Then it's time to get to the bandage.  He started by washing his hands at my bathroom sink, then prepped the area surrounding the wound so it can be worked on.  I lay on the bed, in street clothes, ready for the annoying.

For definition's sake:

A dressing is this big piece of flattened cotton, shaped into a rectangle or a square. The dressing goes over the wound to make sure any drainage doesn't get into clothes and such. The downfall of traditional dressing is that it does not have adhesive to stick itself to the wound area.

A packing is this narrow, thin strip of cotton that goes into the wound (gets "packed" in) to help absorb drainage and dry out the area so the wound can heal properly.  The ugly thing about packing is before the wound, it looks like a shoestring; when packing is removed from the wound, it looks like a headless tapeworm.

First, the nurse removed the dressing, held in place by adhesive tape. Next, the packing was removed. I didn't bother to look; no need to lose my lunch over that. At this point, the wound is exposed. The nurse then filled up the wound with saline solution, to clean out any potential solidified gunk in the seroma. To drain the saline, the nurse pressed down gently on my stomach to have the solution rise up and be absorbed into a paper towel.

Next, the skin surrounding the wound gets prepped (prepared for a new bandage) with some alcohol (and not the drinking kind, either). After that, the packing goes in. The packing went in, soaked with distilled water, by a long cotton swab.

How does a nurse know when to stop the packing?

Like, how deep? The cotton swab will tell the nurse where the wound ends. The nurse can cut the packing strip right where the wound meets the skin's surface.
After that, the dressing gets put on top of the packed wound. Finally, the nurse placed several pieces of adhesive tape over the dressing.

And the process is complete.

The nurse then filled me on this little nugget: "I will be your health advocate while we come out to change your bandage daily. Starting on Friday, a nurse under my direction will come out and change the bandage."

Another advocate? I collect these like Pokémon all of a sudden.

"So, when do you come back?" I asked.

"I will come out once a week at the same time to check up on your overall health."

"Oh, okay."

The nurse then packed up his gear and said his goodbyes.

I still find it weird as fuck that I have a nurse coming out to my apartment.  At least I have a constant time that to expect these folks.

And today, it was no different. The nurses will call to make sure that I'm home, or else they won't come on that day.  And since I was home, today's nurse came out and changed the bandage. This nurse was also friendly, just like the main nurse who came out on Wednesday.

At least it allows me to enjoy the outdoors today, sitting outside on some sectional wicker and cushion sofa, enjoying the gentle autumn breeze, listening to Crate & Barrel's mix of purchasing melodies.


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