the ass vac challenge

So I have a vacuum attached to my ass. Since it’s making little putting noises right now, my husband is calling me Scooty Puff Junior. It isn’t that big; it looks like I’m addicted to purses until you see the plastic tube running from it into my pants. 😮

KCI’s Activac

Why do I have an ass vac? Last month I had my surgery for a pilonidal cyst. It’s a cyst that develops on your tailbone and can invade a fairly large area with tunneling drainage tracts. Mine first appeared in January. The first plan of attack is antibiotics to target inflammation, but if it recurs then the next stage is having it surgically removed. Some people will deal with cycles of it flaring and going away, but those drainage tracts can keep growing so I just wanted it over with. If I was going to have surgery, do it while it’s as small as it will ever be.

Even getting it early, my wound extends 5cm into my butt. The incision starts at the top of my bum cleft and goes almost to the bottom. The doc sutured me after the surgery since it was a pretty straightforward removal, but I haven’t been healing as well as is expected. Healing in that area can be tricky anyway since there are curves, dips, wipes, sweat, and pulling from sitting, standing, walking, etc. You name it, your butt probably moves during it. My wound was making excess discharge, so it inhibited healing. I have no idea if my hEDS (hypermobility type Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) is contributing to the poor wound healing as I was just diagnosed and have never had external stitches or an excision before. My stitches were in for an extra week. When they were removed, the surface skin had healed but a large pocket was still open underneath, where the cyst had actually been removed.

For a while we tried packing the pocket with a sort of medical ribbon that allowed the drainage to be pulled out similar to a wick. So much drainage. I had to change the top dressing multiple times a day. The channel we were using to reach the pocket started healing after they put me on a week of antibiotics. So then I had a big pocket of fluid in my ass and no way to reach it. Lovely.

After my insurance approved it, the doc ordered a wound vac for me, which is a Vacuum Assisted Closure (VAC) system. Essentially, it’s a small machine I carry around with me that sucks the drainage out of my wound through a foam dressing. Once it arrived, I went back into my surgeon’s office and he sliced open my healed bits right then and there. 😮  He numbed me up locally and it wasn’t that bad. Getting the vac dressing changed (every few days) is more painful than having my wound opened back up was.

And it is pretty painful. Hell, just having it on can be painful. I’m working from home until it’s off, and thank goodness. Sitting on that area makes the entire butt sore with a core of hot pain where the foam is packed into the wound. Right now I’m doing Ibuprofen and Tylenol during off days and Norco (hydrocodone + Tylenol) when my dressing is changed. When I remember. I’m sure it helps that I’ve started Lyrica for my chronic pain. In fact, I better go take today’s pain meds because the home care nurse will be here in about an hour to change it again.

So I guess now you know why I haven’t been posting! I try to lay on my side in bed most of the time. It isn’t as easy to type on the computer, so I have been reserving my attention for work tasks. And even then I’ve been less productive than normal. Yesterday and today I spent time at my home desk getting my site configured and running again (I switched hosts). It has left me so sore. Too much sitting! But my post is finally up. 🙂

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