This coming Wednesday marks 6 weeks since my husband’s car accident and subsequent calcaneal surgery. This past Wednesday (week 5), he had a quick out-patient surgery to place a wound vac (which, in a haze, I seem to keep calling a “wet vac”) on the incision site.

When we were in the ER, the resident surgeon mentioned that the calcaneal incision is “nasty.” Of course, when you’re facing unplanned surgery and have been in the ER most of the day, you don’t really think much about the incision. You’re just relieved that you or your spouse is basically in one piece and that it’s “just the heel.” Unfortunately, what we’ve learned, is that there’s no such thing as “just the heel.”


At left is a drawing of the nuts & bolts now in the husband’s heel. The incision is right angle-ish. When he came out of surgery, the incision was nicely stitched together. Unfortunately, swelling took over, leading the tissues to spread apart in the center of the horizontal of the “L” (your horizontal axis or 0-degree line). The wound also kept seeping and had necrotic tissue that needed removing.

So, two steps forward and one back: The wound vac. (Wet vac seems appropriate, though). Another thing to deal with–another obstacle to going upstairs.

The purpose of the wound vac is to stimulate growth of “grainy” tissue, rather than the scabby, necrotic tissue the body tosses at a wound. It also promotes the healthy “healing from the inside out.” Here’s a sketch of the foam sponge and what it does:

wound vacHappily, I’m not expected to change this thing. The visiting nurse and the surgeon have that pleasure. Bone and hardware are actually visible when the wound is unpacked. Hopefully it won’t remain that way for long . . .

tricorder case

A tube runs up hubby’s pant leg from the sealed wound to the actual machine, which is in a handy “little” shoulder bag, about the size and looks of a Star Trek tricorder case. My suggestion of putting a Star Trek insignia on the bag was rejected as “too nerdy.” Personally, I think a little levity is in order.

The vac makes a nice snoring noise as it runs, somewhere between a robotic Great Pyrenee snoring and a robotic horse “nicker” (yes, that’s the best “horse” word to describe this low, quiet neigh).

ImageThe surgeon has mentioned this might be attached to David for two weeks. It’s too bad we don’t have a healing wand–like the ones that Dr. Crusher (right) had at her disposal–to heal broken bones.