Being put on a wound VAC (wound assisted closure) is a major hassle. You have to deal with being attached to a tiny machine that must go everywhere you go. You also have to endure painful dressing changes, changing out canisters, smelling funky, and trying not to trip over the cord! I had the unfortunate luck of being stuck on a wound vacuum for several months. Here are a few things I learned that helped me get through it:
Always Make Sure You Have the Tube Wrapped Up
Whenever you stand, make sure the cord is not hanging in front of your legs. (This all may depend on where your wound is located.) I learned how important this was the hard way. I stepped on and tripped on the tubing several times and nearly tore it right off of the wound. That could have been a hazardous situation. Make it second nature to check and wrap the cord up every time you get up to walk; even if it’s just a few feet.
Sleep Near the Bathroom
The healing body needs lots of fluids. Drinking a lot of water means having to go the restroom all the time. Try to position yourself in a room near a bathroom. Or bring the bathroom to you by investing in a portable toilet.
Designate a Caretaker(s)
Sometimes a caretaker (a spouse, friend, or family member) is necessary if some of your dressing changes are put on you to take care of.
Go stay at a loved one’s house or have someone stay with you as much as they can. There are going to be times where you need someone to assist you with your daily activities. And you may not hear your wound VAC beeping at night when the canister is full. Another set of ears comes in handy.
If anything should happen, there will be someone there to call in help. Being wounded leaves you a little or a lot vulnerable. The extra support is good for both your state of mind and your physical well-being.
When It’s Time to Clean Up…
A shower is much more convenient, sometimes even necessary, when you’re on a wound vacuum. Place a chair or a stool next to the shower to put the wound VAC on. Before you get in the shower, unwrap the cord as much as you need to, and set the vacuum on the seat. If you’re not having a dressing change done that day, then refrain from getting the wound site wet as much as possible. Turn that part of your body away from the stream of water. You’re going to want to keep that spot dry so the sealant will remain secure. Consider taping a plastic bag around that area.
A simple sponge bath may work better for you on days that you aren’t having your dressings changed. On the days that you are having them changed; feel free to let that stream of water wash over the plastic seal. Enjoy a long, steamy shower. This will help the tape and sealant come off easier during the dressing change.
The sponges in the wound and the canister get stinky. Have a strong perfume or body spray with you at all times. If you’re super self-conscious about it, just request that people don’t stand too close to you. Don’t be embarrassed. They’ll understand.
Have Patience With Your Body
Healing takes time. Some wounds are more stubborn than others. It’s easy to get frustrated on a wound vacuum, because it puts limits on us. Take it day-by-day. Don’t try to imagine how long you may or may not be on the wound vacuum. Don’t think about those painful dressing changes until that time comes. When that time does come, find your ‘Zen place’, as I like to call it. Close your eyes, breathe slowly, and focus your mind on something peaceful.
Celebrate the Small Victories
Note the measurements your doctor takes when they examine the wound. Every centimeter counts, and every centimeter is worth getting excited about. Those centimeters will turn into inches. And one day, those inches will become a scar. That scar will represent your strength. Cherish it.
WakeHealth.Edu — Vacuum-Assisted Closure (V.A.C.)