“Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you “ Erykah Badu, Bag Lady
“Until then I am a red balloon, a balloon tied to an anchor.” Sandra Cisneros
I have been wearing a wound-vac since Tuesday, April 29thor for 25 days. In those 25 days, I have learned how much I miss daily exercise, wearing any clothes I want, and showers that don’t require waterproof tape or plastic wrap. M has named the wound-vac Mr. Backpack. Mr. Backpack is attached to me 24/7, whether I am sleeping, enjoying my weekday Sex and City marathons on E!, or going out to our now-once-a-week family dinner(he gets his own chair.) I even made up a silly Mr. Backpack song to the tune of “Mr. Sandman.” All was going well with the new member of the family until I visited my surgeon for the first time in two weeks. Yesterday, my doctor decided to keep me on the Wound-Vac for two to four more weeks. I didn’t take the news well initially. I cried, raged, and moped. I considered reading the Book of Job again. But today I have accepted the news.
A wound-vac or wound-vacuum is a machine that provides vacuum pressure on a wound within a sealed bandage. Think of it as a Space-Bag to prevent infection and promote healing. (For those of you who don’t know or remember the TV commercials, Space-Bags are gigantic Zip-locs for storing blankets, sweaters, and other bulky items by vacuuming out the air and increasing your storage space.)
As I did throughout my illness, I did Internet research to learn about wound-vac, particularly about others’ personal experiences. My experience has been positive overall. Home health nurses visit me three times a week to change the dressings. Thanks to a prescribed painkiller, which takes effect in a quick twenty minutes, I don’t feel a thing(of course, then I’m really mellow but unable to drive for about three to four hours.) One of the key aspects of a dressing change is the measurements taken. The wound’s length, width, and depth indicate the rate of healing. So centimeters matter. My wound is healing. I am understandably impatient.
I had built my life around keeping busy. Being on the Wound-Vac has made me remember that life happens. While I can do my best to shape and structure my lifestyle, life itself will go on, often times with events and experiences beyond my control. That is why the wound-vac has become my teacher in humility. Take the news from the doctor. I wanted to return to work on schedule. I wanted to parade vac-free in Carnaval this weekend. I wanted to jump in the shower, be in there for ten to fifteen minutes (yes I realize we’re in a drought), and wash and condition my hair. Maybe do a samba step in celebration. Instead I’ll be devising some bling for my vac bag and waving from a parade float. I will continue live my life differently for a few more weeks with my three-pound friend on my shoulder.
Mr. Backpack, bring me a dream.