Monday, April 4, 2011

daily dressing change

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...


  1. I know you have moved on to a different blog but am reading this one first - especially since this is where we are (living with an LVAD). Let me tell you, I AM a nurse and it creates a different set of challenges. The challenege of knowing too much :p. Enjoying your blog!

  2. This post is a little over 3 years old so I hope your husband is doing better as of today. I just got my LVAD back in February of this year and the dressing change isn't as demanding as it was back when this was posted. The supplies used for the dressing change are now advanced enough to prevent infection that you can go without a dressing change for 5 days. My caregiver is still not used to the dressing changes at home, so we are still doing them at the hospital with training from the LVAD team.