Sterile dressing change.
These three words haunt us every day.
Since Kevin has an LVAD, the caregiver (that's me!) needs to perform a sterile dressing change on his drive-line site on a daily basis. This is to prevent infection. The drive-line site is where the LVAD wire comes out of his belly area and is connected to the system controller which is connected to the batteries. On the inside of Kevin, the drive-line is obviously connected to the LVAD.
In the beginning, it was extremely nerve wrecking learning about the LVAD, its alarms, the what to do's, and on top of it learning how to perform a sterile dressing change. Every nurse had their own method of sterile dressing change. Once I got it down pat, the VAD team shows us the way we were going to do it at home....WAY EASIER!! Love our SUPER VAD Ladies! SUPER VAD Ladies = the VAD team coordinators. They're freaking fantastic! I call them SUPER because they're like super heroes &should have capes attached to their backs.
The actual dressing change takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. You cannot have interruptions and whoever is present in the room while I'm doing the dressing change MUST wear one of those protective masks. And I will emphasize that this needs to be done on a daily basis. I was bent over sick back in December...still had to do his dressing change.
Since Kevin was discharged home, back in November, doing sterile dressing changes was & still is hard to find the "right" time to do it period. We've tried doing it in the morning while our boys are watching TV, doesn't really work. Tried in the afternoon but I've got work, errands to do, a house to keep clean, and Kevin has his schedule to keep too. It usually almost always happens at night after our boys are in bed. And by this time I'm exhausted from the whole day and so these sterile dressing changes have grown to be somewhat of an annoyance for both of us. There are even times when we're going about our day and just before we go to bed, we look at each other, and say "SHIT! we have to do the dressing change!" Our lives are so busy with the boys, preschool, working, doctor appointments, VAD clinic... it really is a balancing act of sorts to keep it all in line. If you ask Kevin he'd agree with me. He even says that if he could do it himself he totally would but his left arm prevents this. So even he is frustrated.
And while I'm on the subject of sterile dressing changes...let me tell you something that is so stupid. There is this specific company that mails us all our VAD supplies for these sterile dressing changes. Our insurance covers this cost. BUT the medical company doesn't supply medical TAPE. We need tape to put over the gauze which is covering Kevin's drive-line. So we have to buy medical tape on our own. I guess they think patients can just walk around with their drive-lines hanging out. Or that the gauze will automatically stick to the patient? So STUPID. Ok, I'm done venting for today...
The pix below are of me during one of the dressing changes...