Scars and chocolates

Looking ahead at what’s in store this week,we only have one medical appointment scheduled.

Just the one?  Well maybe.  We do have another checkup coming up with Dr P but that’s usually scheduled on the fly because he’s such a busy little bee.  But for now, it’s just the one and it was today.

This morning we headed back out to the hospital clinic to see the plastics nurse.  She had tended to my wounds and scars last week after our checkup with Dr A, my plastic and reconstructive surgeon.  Dr A does the once over and the nurse, D, does the clean up and dispenses advice on what we should be doing at home.

She removed the steri-strips from my neck and inspected my neck dissection scar.  It’s quite pink and healing well.  (She said she was a bit worried about it last week – something she didn’t mention at the time – but it looks much better this week.)  No need to replace the steri-strips, just to clean the stickiness from the old dressings.  That means it’s time to start massaging the scar to help it heal nicely.  You put a little bio-oil on the wound, nurse D said, and rub in a circular motion like you would massage out a knot in a muscle.  Ten minutes each time, two times a day, for three months.  For three months because that is when the scar tissue is forming and the massaging helps the tissue to heal flatter, more attractively.  I can press quite hard on the scar tissue over the bone (or rather titanium plate, as that is what you feel when you press my jaw) but I should press more lightly on the other areas which aren’t so supported.

She also removed the steri-strips from my left leg and inspected my fibulectomy scar.  Some parts of the wound are only now healing over and she had to pull carefully in parts as scab came away with the steri-strip and the wound was a little oozy, to use her word.  With a cotton bud dipped in saline, she cleaned the entire wound, which stretches from close to my knee almost to my ankle.  She applied betadine along the wound and stuck on half a dozen steri-strips to hold it all together.  We can just apply betadine each day, D said, and that will help it heal.

And of course, as expected, she went at my tracheostomy wound again with the silver nitrate (which I think I called liquid nitrogen last time because we couldn’t quite remember the name).  This time it stung.  Very much so.  That’s good because I may be getting more feeling back in my neck but, until the stinging subsided, I would happily have reverted to a bit more numbness.  There is still a fair bit of granulation tissue and that’s not good.  Certainly it’s not what you want aesthetically.  Nurse D gave Darren two sticks of silver nitrate and showed him to prepare them and use them to best effect to torture me with at home.  Did I say torture?  That’s once on Wednesday and once on Friday and then her turn again next Monday when we return to see her and Dr A again.

What does this have to do with chocolates, you ask?  Well, glad you did as I hadn’t worked out quite how to segue into the second part of this post.

After our visit with Nurse D, we took a little trip to my old haunts.  First to Ward 4 and then down to ICU.

It wasn’t so strange to visit Ward 4.  I’d been there while not drugged to the eye balls – for my second biopsy and before and after my surgery – and my memories don’t have that hazy quality.

What was strange was visiting ICU.  I’d entered intensive care under sedation, I was dosed up on fentanyl while there, and I still had the fentanyl on demand when I left.  My memories are fragmented, but some fragments are still quite vivid.  Darren took me through the ICU visitors room, buzzed himself in like a regular, and in we went.  Without Darren’s assistance, I couldn’t even pick out room 108 where I had spent the five days.  Quite disorienting to be on the other side.

I forgot to mention in my recollections the other day that I had framed photos of Alannah at the end of my bed while in ICU.  They were a comfort for me, but also a talking point for the nurses, who all asked me about her.  (Indeed, one photo was of Alannah and me and the nurses would ask if that was me.  How different I must have looked.)

Oh yes, the chocolates.  The nurses had all been so lovely that we went back today to Ward 4 and ICU to drop off some chocolates and a card to say thank you.  The least we could do for how wonderful they had been to me and to my family while I was there.  The head nurse in Ward 4 and two nurses in ICU remembered me, admired my scars and recovery and, of course, asked after Alannah.  Such lovely, lovely people.  It makes all the difference in hospital, it really does.

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