I was thinking about my nine+ years of treatment and the optimism I’ve carried all these years (most of the time). I named my first blog “The Intensive Interferon Experience” because I thought it was the only treatment I’d need to rid the cancer from my body. Granted, I was in remission for a short time after completing that treatment until I had a deep tissue massage. A tumor popped up on my leg less than two months later.
Changing oncology practices and with a new treatment prescribed for me, I started this new blog, once again believing that the Isolated Limb Perfusion would lead me to remission. It obviously didn’t, and I’m a bit wiser and a bit more grounded in reality with each new treatment.
Before I get to the dressing changes, I want to document the week. I had a wound specialist appointment on Tuesday where they photographed and measured the wound. It’s getting a little smaller. She did more debriding and confirmed that my tendon is running through the right side of the wound (she did some debriding there too!). I told her about the continued burning, and she doubled my Gabapentin (Neurontin) dose (take two 300mg capsules every 6 hours). She added a Mesault dressing (sodium chloride).
I saw my wound specialist again on Thursday. She was happy to see some granular tissue popping through and did more debriding. I need to add that before any debriding is done, lidocaine gel is applied and allowed to sit for a good period of time before she starts cutting. Because I have some reddened skin below the wound, she prescribed Cephalexin 500mg because it’s good for soft tissue infections. This could still be pseudomonas.
Also on Thursday I had my needle biopsy of the bulge on my left pectoralis muscle. Bill was allowed to stay in the room. The doctor did three cuts and I left with a bandaid covering the site. The results will come next week. I needed to be off warfarin for 5 days before the procedure and was instructed to begin the following evening.
At physical therapy Monday and Wednesday, I had dynamic tape applied to my weak left leg to help with foot drop and McConnell tape applied to my knee. I haven’t used my brace all week! On Wednesday, I walked .3 mile in 16 minutes with no brace.
I’ve been doing a lot of dressing changes lately, and I want to document them here in case I need to refer back to them later. So, here are the steps for Dressing #1, a wet-to-dry dressing: take a 4×4 gauze and completely unfold it and then fluff it into a ball – I swirl it into my left hand; place fluffed gauze into wound; place 2 4×4 gauze squares on top (I secured these with tape to prevent rubbing); place a combine dressing over that and secure with tape; place elastic stocking over all.
Dressing #2, still wet-to-dry, but with the addition of Dakins (bleach solution) to fight pseudomonas: wet a 4×4 with a few drops of Dakins; squeeze out any excess liquid; fluff and place on wound; place Adaptic dressing; place 2 4x4s; finish as usual. Since I was having SO much trouble with the gauze sticking at the same place where I have exposed nerves, the Adaptic dressing that has vaseline on it should help.
Dressing #3: Unfold Mesault (sodium chloride dressing); cut one of the squares into a circle to fit inside my wound; place Mesault dressing into wound; fluff one 4×4 and place on top; proceed as usual. I’m adding a little extra vaseline on one edge of the Adaptic to stop the little bit of sticking that’s still happening.
My skin is very red and irritated around the wound, so it was suggested to thinly apply Calmoseptine Ointment (available over-the-counter). I can’t tell if it’s helping yet.
This week I had hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments (HBO) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. There was no doctor available Tuesday or Thursday so those treatments had to be cancelled. I wasn’t nervous to begin until I got there – what if I couldn’t pop my ears! The nurse calmed me down reassuring that they would stop the treatment if that happened (and send me to an ENT doc to have tubes placed in my ears!).
I needed to completely undress, including all jewelry, lotions, etc., and put on two cotton hospital gowns and foot coverings. Then I sat on a hospital gurney for the nurse to take my vital signs and the doctor to check my ears and lungs. Then I laid back and tried to get comfy enough for the next two hours. the nurse gave me a bottle of water in case I needed it to swallow and help pop my ears. She also gave me a mask so I could breathe “room air” for 10 minutes in the middle of treatment. She slipped a band around my arm and asked me to press a big silver button that told us whether I was grounded. My foot covers were slipped off, I was covered up, and asked what I wanted to watch – choices are Direct TV, a movie from their library or yours, or your music. Although I took in several CDs of music, the nurse recommended something more distracting for my first time. I decided on “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” The gurney is raised, slid into the HBO chamber, the chamber is closed and secured. You can hear the air blowing in and the 10-minute dive begins.
I started popping my ears every other second, too worried to allow the pressure to build. Pop…pop…pop…pop…pop…I experimented with ways to pop my ears and became quite efficient. No pain!
After the dive I breathed100% oxygen for 45 minutes, then put the mask on for 10 minutes, then back to the oxygen for the last 45 minutes. It ended by bringing me back up from the dive which lasted 10 minutes and involved more popping of ears. Vital signs were taken – blood pressure goes up during treatment (I was at 177!) and lowers back down to your baseline within an hour after treatment. Then the doctor checks your ears and lungs again. That’s it! You can get dressed and leave.
Busy week to say the least! Next week I’ll have HBO M-F, a wound care visit, physical therapy, and an INR check. I should also learn the results of the needle biopsy.