The following Monday, I was booked in to see the local nurse to have my dressings changed. Some of my best friends are nurses and I am forever in awe of the things they deal with on a daily basis. However, let’s be honest here – some nurses verge more towards tough love rather than an arm round the shoulder. I cannot deny, that might be exactly what the patient needs in lots of circumstances, but I am a signed up member of the wimp anonymous team and I was genuinely nervous about having these dressing changed. This was really based on nothing as I knew she wouldn’t be removing staples (you know, the ones they said weren’t there) but I knew that the PIKO dressing would be unusual.
My partner was delighted to find that my sister in law was more than willing to attend the appointment with me – in fact I think I saw flames coming from his heels as he left us at the surgery.
The nurse was, of course, absolutely lovely. As suspected, she had no previous experience of the PIKO dressing but the hospital had advised a normal dressing would also be fine. I guzzled down some pain killers with a bottle of water – some times a hip flask is not appropriate – told myself to be brave and laid back for the big reveal of the wound site. I know from previous operations that you should never look straight away as everything looks gory. When I had my original melanoma on my left leg the nurse specifically told me not to look. Of course, I did look and had a complete hissy-fit; the gauze was stapled onto the wound site and looked for all the world like a leather chesterfield sofa!! I’ve never fallen for that again.
Actually, the nurse had very little cleaning up to do. The wound was incredibly clean, presumably a testament to the surgical team. Exactly as Katrina (guardian angel nurse) had described, the wound was in the shape of a long, lazy S. There was 18 staples. I am thankful I didn’t a) break the MRI machine and b) get stuck to the magnets in the machine.
The nurse cleaned the wound with a cooling solution and it was a huge relief to have the pressure taken off my inner thigh. I must tell you at this point, she did comment on my white sporty pants – so they hadn’t gone completely to waste.
After the initial relief of the dressings being changed, as the afternoon wore on, I began to be in quite a lot of pain. The PIKO dressing had kept everything tight and compressed. Now, whilst there was no longer the pulling feeling on my thigh, the wound itself was able to stretch out slightly and pain killers were required (without the red wine).
The drain in my thigh was producing approx. 50ml of fluid each day. This is fluid that would normally be dealt with by your lymph nodes, but mine were no longer there. At this point the fluid was still quite bloody looking as a result of the operation. The nurses in the ward had explained that it would eventually look clear and would reduce as time went on. I told myself this was only for two weeks.
Sleeping at night was quite tricky as turning over onto my left side was impossible. Why do we only want to do what we can’t? I will now tell you a story from my previous melanoma experience that one of my friends has held over me for all these years…Whilst still in hospital I had fallen asleep and in my sleep must have leaned over onto my left side. Remember, I was bandaged heavily on both legs due to skin grafts. As I woke up I realised that I had managed to position my head out of the bed and it was actually resting on the inner shelf on the bedside locker. I tried to pull myself back into a normal sleeping position, namely my head on a pillow. I was stuck! Having laid there for what seemed like forever, I eventually had no option but to press my alarm bell which was, luckily, tucked down the left side of the bed. A nurse came to my rescue. Once she stopped laughing, she put me back into bed. It’s a wonder I wanted to sleep on my left ever again.
During the next few days the pain was bad, but held easily at bay by pain killers and binge watching Designated Survivor on Netflix – can highly recommend it.
Only one more week to go to have the drain removed…..