….To no avail. The antibiotics hardly touched the infection. It all seemed for naught. I was so used to feeling and seeing improvement within only a few days of starting antibiotics, so this was all new territory for me. An infection that wouldn’t heal?
Each day was a lesson in battling discouragement and trusting in God. My questions to Him about why this all happened seemed left unanswered, but I felt His closeness and grace allowing me (and my family, who were also affected by this) to get through each day. Each day I felt led to worship Him and reaffirm my trust in His plan for me. It was not easy, especially at first. But it did get easier.
I reread my earlier post mentioning how on the way to the hospital for surgery, I saw a shooting star and knew He was telling me everything was going to be all right. I’m glad I had written about it, because I forgot it happened in the midst of it all. It was so reassuring to reread it.
So, days and weeks went by without improvement. I would see the doctor once or twice a week and it still looked the same. On my last appointment at the time of this writing, my wound was in noticeably worse condition. I had woken up with increased redness, swelling, and pain that day.
My doc noticed. Then she dropped the bomb on me. She was going to order a CT scan for me. She wanted to see why the infection wasn’t healing, what the source of the infection was. This kind of news set my head spinning again. She told me that if it doesn’t improve, or if the mesh she inserted underneath my stomach muscles is infected, she will have to go in, re-open me up, and take out the mesh.
You mean, I would have to go through surgery and recovery all over again? I bit my lip. I felt the sting of tears making their way out. I asked, isn’t the mesh grown into my skin?
She told me yes, my tissue is grown into the mesh and I would have to go through it all over again. I wanted to scream. There was no way I could do it again. It was not a possibility. My husband had already taken seven(!) weeks off of work. Our family living two states away had already come out for two weeks to help. It was just not possible!
But wait, she urged, don’t get upset. We are not there yet. I’m just going to order this scan, and see what is going on here. Don’t start thinking about everything that could happen; we’re not there yet.
Okay. I won’t go there, because I can’t. I’ll drive myself crazy if I do. She told me that someone would be calling me soon to set up the scan and that she would see me the following week.
So, in light of everything, I sent out a prayer request to my church and they started praying. Believing in God’s goodness. I love my church. I also emailed dear friends asking for prayer.
Update: Three Months Post-Op
Well, a lot has happened since my last update. My wound seemed to go up and down, I would have a promising week with very little drainage and lots of tissue healing, (which eventually led to me canceling the CT scan, thinking it unnecessary) and then it would alternate with a bad week, which meant getting lots of yucky stuff (the technical term) out.
Believe me, I was so over this. I started researching online about infections that are hard to heal. That brought me to a lot of MRSA-related web sites and articles. (MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a very difficult bacteria to treat due to the fact that it has mutated and become resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment. Spooky.) I came across an article that listed a special honey called Manuka honey as a very effective treatment for difficult infections, so naturally I was interested.
Apparently there is a wound dressing called Medi-Honey that is FDA approved, shockingly, and has been proven to be helpful. At my next doctor’s appointment, I asked about the Medi-Honey. She replied that she definitely knew about it, they used it all the time.
Oh really? Well….why hadn’t you mentioned it? I mean, just wondering.
She referred me to the Center for Advanced Wound Care at a local hospital so that my insurance would cover the treatment. I was so pumped about this prospect.
She also informed me at the end of the appointment that she was ready at any moment to re-open me and remove the mesh. She was being patient with the situation, since she knew I had four young children and another surgery would be very difficult for our family. She informed me that if this infection wasn’t healed by the end of the summer, then she was going to be pushing very hard for another surgery. Yikes. Okay.
Angela the PT
The next day, I met my new physical therapist (we’ll call her Angela, not her real name), who drastically improved my life at this point. She was the PT that I was referred to at the Center for Advanced Wound Care. She had all these tricks up her sleeve. She measured the cavity and cleaned the wound. She inserted a tube into the hole and flushed out the cavity with sterile water.
Then for the kicker. She had some gauze woven with silver that is very effective at fighting bacteria. (Silver is very antibacterial.) While she was attempting to pack the cavity with the silver gauze, (remember, we can’t see anything inside, only the hole on the outside) she felt a pop. All of a sudden, very stinky pus started pouring out of me. And blood. We were both shocked. Apparently she had popped some sort of “pimple” that was hiding deep in there, causing the drainage I’d been experiencing for two months.
She took out the silver gauze, and, thinking fast, she mopped up the mess with a gauze pad. She then soaked a long strip of plain gauze in a solution of half Hibiclens and half water and re-packed me with gauze, in an attempt to soak up the pus. Yuck! While she was doing that, I kid you not, she apparently opened another one, and more infection came gushing out and blood. She started to become alarmed. I did too. If she couldn’t get ahold of this, I was going to have to be rushed to the ER for emergency surgery. Uhm, what?!
Thankfully, she quickly got the bleeding and gushing under control. I’m convinced God stopped it Himself. It was amazing. She re-packed me with another soap-soaked gauze strip, washing me out on the inside, and removed it. I was clean again. In goes more silver gauze, and I am ready to be bandaged and on my way. It really did seem that fast, all within a few minutes. She stressed the need for a CT scan to see what is in there, if she got it all. Remember, I had cancelled the first one, thinking I was doing much better.
A few more appointments with Angela, and my wound is now doing SO much better. I am not draining infection any more and it doesn’t have that awful odor it used to have. The silver and the Hibiclens have really helped, along with the constant care from Angela. I am so grateful to God for being referred to her. She has drastically helped me in very little time. I wish my doctor had referred me to her from the get-go, and it frustrates me to think she only referred me because I inquired about the Medi-Honey. (Which by the way, wasn’t the right product for my situation. And no, my wound is not infected with MRSA, thank the Lord.)
So the cavity is remaining clean, but it still is a cavity that needs to close up. I’m supposed to be eating like a pig, especially protein since the body needs this to heal and regrow tissue. I feel a lot better now that I’ve been eating more, and especially knowing that gunk is out of me.
The CT Scan
Today I also underwent the CT scan. I had to drink a large cup of clear liquid, wait for it to go through my system, and then I was hooked up to an IV which flooded me with radioactive contrast dye. Fun. It wasn’t really a big deal….you see those huge machines on TV and it looks very scary and confining, but this machine didn’t look that way at all. It looked like a huge donut in the middle of the freezing cold room with a bed that would slide back and forth during the imaging. Shockingly, they found a vein (I’m not kidding when I say it was cold) and it all turned out okay, after the waiting, the actual scan took just a few minutes.
Tomorrow I am supposed to hear something from them. Let’s hope it’s good news. — Update: It was indeed good news. My CT scan came back normal, just showing an open wound. No infection. I have an appt. soon with the surgeon to discuss it. Thank You God.
All Said And Done…Six Months Post-Op
Well, it’s six months post-op and my wound has finally closed.
I continued on the antibiotics for another month, after the last update, which totaled four months on antibiotics. Finally, a sweet nurse from my surgeon’s office put a stop to the antibiotics, since I didn’t really need them due to the infection clearing up. I started feeling much better quickly after that.
I had problems closing up the cavity. . . it seemed to take forever. The threat of another surgery to remove the mesh loomed over me constantly. The problem was, I couldn’t get enough calories.
Thankfully, I feel like God led me to the perfect supplement that helped me to close up the entire cavity in a matter of weeks. It was astounding to us. The protein powder I took, Raw Protein by Garden of Life, is a dairy-free protein supplement made of sprouted grains, among other things, and even contains natto, a fermented superfood. I highly recommend it for those trying to get in a few more calories. I wish I had known about it during my pregnancies, I feel like it would have helped keep me from feeling so lightheaded and weak during my first trimesters. But now you know!
So anyway, the wound is now closed and I didn’t have to have another surgery. What a relief! What an ordeal! So glad to be able to say: it’s all said and done.
I wanted this series to be a great help to anyone who is dealing with diastasis recti, anyone who is considering the surgery, anyone who wants to have an example of how one played out. Not every story will be like mine, and I really am thankful for that too. My experience has been a pretty rough one. My hope is that it has helped even one person.
If anyone has any questions about this all, I am more than happy to answer them to the best of my ability. You can leave me a comment on any one of these posts, or you can contact me if you would rather ask a private question. I had so many questions before the surgery that went unanswered, and I would love to help others have their concerns addressed.
If anything, this event in our lives has taught me to trust in God – even when it’s hard, even when there looks like no reason to hope. I’m thankful, yes, thankful, for this experience. I learned many new things, and I even got a book written out of it. I’ve always wanted to write a book, so that’s. . . cool.
You can view before, during, and after pictures here.
In good health! 🙂
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