As you may remember if you’re a long time reader of my blog (or someone who has delved deep into my past posts), back in 2006, I somehow ended up with a perforated colon.
The day I woke up with that severe stomach pain and the few days that followed were probably some of the worst pain I’ve ever been through. Then…the days that followed were painful too. When the surgeon on call came into my room in the ER and told me what was going to happen…it just didn’t click-I still had no idea what was in store. The pain was so severe and the painkillers were so ineffective; at that point it didn’t matter what he said or what needed to be done. I just hoped to would get done-and fast. And it was. I woke up. I felt amazing. Then it hit me…I’m wearing a colostomy bag.
The fear of not knowing whether or not I’d have to wear this bag on my stomach forever was crippling and real. “I’ll have to wear this forever” I thought. “With my luck…I’ll have to wear this forever”. As I tried to cope with this while in the hospital, the time to remove my staples from the incision the surgeon had to make to remove the damaged part of my colon drew near. My lovely nurse that day removed just one staple and declared that my wound had not healed properly yet-it was too soon. So, she didn’t remove them.
The very next day, a Sunday, another doctor that I hadn’t met before declared that it was time to remove my staples. I told her that the nurse yesterday said that it was too early for me. No-they must come out. Today.
A few hours later, it became painfully clear that yesterday’s nurse was right. It was too early. My wound opened the second the last staple was removed. I didn’t bleed, but I did look down and saw directly into my stomach. I was horrified. The nurse who removed the staples was too. Not knowing what to say, she exclaimed “what did you do?!” to me, her tone accusatory. Yes, I used my two heavily IV’d hands to rip my stomach open, of course. She scurried off to get the same doctor. When the doctor arrived, she looked at my wound from afar. She hid her nerves and distress well. She ordered the nurse to pack the wound with gauze, as re-stapling the wound at this point would create a pocket/empty gap/space in my stomach. This could lead to infection.
So every day, up until discharge and after I was discharged, a nurse would come, clean my wound, repack it, and bandaged it back up. This allowed the wound to heal from the inside out. After 6-7 weeks, the wound had finally healed. A year later, I took a picture of my scar. I hate it. I am actually surprised that I had the courage to share this pic in a post back in 2008.
Why me is what I thought. I was thankful that I didn’t need the colostomy indefinitely-it was reversed 6 months after the initial surgery. But that said, I had to be left with the scars like the one above. The smaller scars here and there I could deal with, but I was very unhappy with the scar from my bellybutton down.
In the years that passed, I saw one plastic surgeon. He said he’d fix my scar once I stopped using prednisone and mmf. Impossible-I have lupus. I need to be on immunosuppressants. I saw another plastic surgeon. Well, the student doctor. She said this was cosmetic and I’d have to pay for it. I told her that this was caused by doctor’s error. The doctor who ordered my staples out should have known that those who are on prednisone heal slowly and my staples should have been in longer.The student doctor said she’d include in the letter that she would send to OHIP asking them to cover the costs that the scar was due to a “complication from surgery”. Right. She advised me that my surgery almost certainly wouldn’t be covered. She didn’t even bother discussing possible pricing, nor did the actual doctor even bother speaking to me or coming in to see me. I got dressed. In tears. And left.
After contacting the hospital expressing my concerns, I was in no certain terms told “Sorry, no dice. Sometimes people who go through medical issues look for someone to blame. We hope we can still provide you care in the future”.
I drafted a response to that email in anger. How dare you try to psychoanalyze me via email?
I still have the angry email. The angry, unsent email.
It became clear to me that if I was going to get this scar fixed, I’d have to pay for it myself. I went to my family doctor and had him refer me to a plastic surgeon. He went to school with a plastic surgeon, so he referred me there.
A few weeks later, I went to see the plastic surgeon. He was very kind. He quoted me a price that I thought was fair, as I expected to pay much, much more.
So, on Saturday September 14, I went back to the plastic surgeon and had my scar revised. The whole thing took maybe 20-25 minutes-not long. There were a few painful bits where sufficient freezing/numbing wasn’t done and I could feel the scalpel cut me open. I didn’t move, but I did yelp out in pain as i stared at the ceiling while the tears streamed out of my eyes, down my face, and past my ears. Other than a few of those occasions-smooth sailing. And those situations were quickly rectified.
It has been 3 days since the scar revision. I’m still pretty sore. I have a tensor bandage wrapped around my stomach. I keep it there all the time except when I’m taking a shower. The bleeding had pretty well stopped when I removed my tensor bandage and the gauze the following day. Now I only have the tensor bandage there, as well as the stitches and the steri strips. My stomach is understandably swollen right now. I expect it to be pretty swollen for a few weeks, and for the swelling to continuously go down over the next few months.
Kinda gross cuz it’s bloody-I know. Sorry.
The stitches are to come out in 2 weeks. I made an appointment to have them come out, but I later realized that I made the appointment 2 days shy of 2 full weeks.
I want my FULL 2 weeks, if not a couple MORE days. Not less. Not going down that road again.
The doctor showed me the scar right after he stitched it up. It looks hugely better. No more division down the middle of my belly button down, leaving bumps of fat on each side. It’s smooth and even. I can’t wait for full healing to take place so I can see the final result. My surgeon said that the left over scar may need some injections in the future. This is probably due to the fact that a keloid-y scar may result. I’m game.
So that’s my scar revision. What sucks is that I can’t go to the gym for a while. But it’s absolutely for the greater good.