Wound vac troubles: Seeking advice

Nov 05, 2022 2:13 pm

I had rectal cancer surgery on 9/6/2022 that required a large surgical incision via my perineum. I am not currently having any problems with my ostomy, but the 3M wound vac I have been on since 9/30 has been a 'pain in the butt'. Anyone out there now on a wound vac?

Nov 05, 2022 3:27 pm

Never had to have one but I was really close. All the nurses said....you don't want one back there if you don't have to. My wound wouldn't heal and I finally did HBO treatments and that pretty much took care of it.

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Nov 05, 2022 5:26 pm

I had a wound vac for 6 weeks in the middle of my abdomen last year. It went from my waist up. I went home from the hospital with a portable one. Home health nurses came and changed the dressing every 3rd day. The location you have it sounds excruciatingly difficult compared to my location. I wish you a very speedy recovery...

Past Member
Nov 06, 2022 12:11 am

Not my most recent surgery but the one before that. I had a wound vac over an abdominal incision that was 28" long by 15" across. I had the vac for 8 weeks, and the incision took 6 months to fully heal. It wasn't fun. I can't imagine having one in the bum area.

Nov 07, 2022 2:14 am

I had a wound vac on until 2 weeks ago. I was told it was never to be off more than 2 hours in an emergency or 1 hour if I was taking a shower. My first 24 hours I got a blockage alarm and had to call home health care. I wish I could say that was the only time. I got really good at unblocking it, and I learned how to seal it better if I was getting a warning over that. The last two days I had the wound vac were sleepless because my wound was so small by that time, that it wasn't able to suck and alarms went off over pressure, over blockage. I was so glad to send it back.

I don't know how big your wound is, but I have to lightly pack mine daily and I have an ointment that I apply. The sticky tape on the right side of my ostomy wafer has to be cut at an angle because it covers part of the wound. I do know the closer it is to your ostomy the more of a headache it is.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Nov 07, 2022 9:29 am
Reply to AlexT

Thanks for the tip. None of my health care people had as yet mentioned that to me. I will read up on it and bring it and if progress with the wound vac slows to nil, start asking questions about hyperbaric.

Nov 07, 2022 9:37 am
Reply to Anonymous

Thank you for responding. Mine is not that large by ‘area', but was 10 cm deep (a tunnel) — now down to 5 cm.

6 months, yikes.

Nov 07, 2022 9:40 am
Reply to Jme

Good luck. They tried all kinds of stuff on me. The HBO treatments are painless unless you have pressure problems in your ears like when you fly. I did and had to get tubes put in. The treatments are time-consuming, I did 40 at first Monday through Friday for 2 hours each day. Watch a movie or sleep, very easy to do. They do affect your eyes but it goes back to what it was prior to treatments.

Nov 07, 2022 9:45 am
Reply to gairdinspreagtha

Mine is 1/2" away from my testicles, so the nurse has a heck of a time taping it so that it lasts 10 minutes without a leak alarm.

By the time she finishes, there is no more tape left from the package. I have to lay immobile on my back until she comes back 2 days later. My big problem right now is that without extra tape, I have to lay here and my muscles are atrophying.

Were you able to buy extra tape somewhere? I have searched and come up blank.

Nov 07, 2022 9:47 am
Reply to AlexT

Your hospital has one of these machines?

Nov 07, 2022 4:32 pm
Reply to Jme

Yes, actually 4 of them.

Past Member
Nov 07, 2022 10:43 pm
Reply to Jme

It sounds like you have almost exactly the same wound I had post-surgery last year. Perineum all sewed up, but a 10cm deep hole that needed healing and keeping clean, so I was on a vac in hospital for a good few weeks before I was released home with a portable unit.

Not gonna lie, it was a total pain. Because of the location, there was just not a way to keep the area still, and even lying in bed for a few weeks I was constantly getting alarms due to broken seals, then having to call in district nurses every couple of days to change the whole thing. Only problem, they had little to zero experience of dealing with the vac, and especially applying the dressings with a view to getting a seal that would last more than a day, or even a few hours.

Turns out having fulsome young ladies stopping by frequently to rummage around my undercarriage was not as sexy as one would hope...

Anyway. The good news for me, and hopefully for you, is that the worst of the wound did heal very quickly (lots of protein in my diet to help the process), and within a month I was cleared to lose the dratted vac and to look after myself - plenty of sterile gauze, antiseptic creams, saline solution etc. Had a week or so of wearing incontinence pants, just for confidence when finally venturing forth outside.

Had all the surgeries over March/April 2021 and back at work (taking it very easy) at the beginning of July.
Hang on in there, it does get better!

Nov 08, 2022 5:07 am

My fulsome young ladies have all been in their mid-sixties to early seventies.

Ah, but their hands!

Thanks for the chuckle. Maybe I'll be done and shoveling snow by Christmas.

Past Member
Nov 08, 2022 10:41 pm

You'll be fine, chap. That whole deal felt like the end of the world at the time, but you figure it out in the end and just get on with it, y'know?

I definitely came out of it with some stories. Definitely not the sort I'd share with someone who didn't know the gig - but there were some appallingly funny moments nonetheless :)

Some of you out there might know what a 'flap' is. I have one, and the bloody thing escaped. Or so I thought (terrified) and so did the attending student nurse (absolutely shitting herself) one busy night on my ward. The culprit? Wash 'n Vac. Basically a vac with a built-in douche and a mind of its own! Dunno what sadist thought that thing up, but I don't miss it one bit.

Nov 09, 2022 12:17 pm

Wash n' vac = a tiny, automated mobile car wash unit?; I think I'll pass on that critter.

My nurse comes in 1 hour to inspect our recent experiment. She decided on Monday to try using only the white foam instead of using white foam in the tunnel and black foam in the flap. Of course, I can't see any of it and have decided after much deliberation to not put huge mirrors on my bedroom ceiling.

Thanks for the encouragement.