One secondary medical issue we may face living with a SCI is pressure sores and wounds. I want to blog about this today because they can become a serious health concern very quickly!
March 2nd marks 17 years of using a wheelchair due to my T4 paralysis from a car accident. It truly amazes me how fast the last 17 years have gone by. I am grateful for the last 17 years because I am still here and breathing. Although I am grateful, it hasn’t been all great.
I have faced some challenges along the way from secondary medical issues due to my spinal cord injury. Like many others I know with spinal cord injuries, I get 3 or 4 urinary tract infections a year which are no fun. On occasion, I might even have a bladder accident because I couldn’t get to a bathroom in time. See, I'm not perfect!
One secondary medical issue we may face while living with a SCI is pressure sores and wounds. I want to blog about this because pressure sores can become a serious health concern very quickly.
I had a wound develop on my sacrum about a month after my injury. It was first noticed by therapist at the rehabilitation center I was at. Apparently, I was not turned back and forth enough while in the hospital. It was a stage 4 wound and was almost to my sacral bone. The wound nurse said she could almost put her fist inside of it.
A wound has different stages; 1 being the easiest to treat to 4 being the most difficult. I was floored because I had no idea this would ever be an issue. Thankfully, the wound nurse started me on a wound vac machine, which can help a wound to heal more quickly. The only downside to the wound vac is that it went everywhere I went. I would be doing physical therapy and there beside me was the wound vac.
After a year using the wound vac, my wound was healed up. It did, however, cause a lot of scar tissue. My skin would easily dry out and in some cases would cause small tears, opening my wound back up.
I went about eleven years without any skin issues. One day I was doing laundry and somehow I slid out of the front of my wheelchair. In the process, I caused some of the scar tissue to tear, which opened my wound back up. I went to a wound care doctor and, again, I was given a wound vac to try and get it to close up. For six months, I went three days a week to the wound clinic, but I had no significant improvement.
I spoke with a wound care specialist and she told me a few options that we could try. One option was having a skin flap to close the wound. I weighed all the options and decided to see a plastic surgeon.
After my consult, I decided to get a skin flap because it would cover up all the scar tissue and would give me a little more protection from breaking down again. I had the skin flap done and stayed in the hospital for five days. Once I returned home, I was in a special bed that was filled with a sand-like substance that basically keeps you weightless. I stayed in bed for eight weeks straight. That was the hardest part of the whole procedure. I thought I was going to go nuts! My wife helped me get through it, though. After eight weeks, my sacrum was completely healed. Thankfully, I have had no more issues since having the skin flap surgery.
I want to encourage you to be sure to do pressure relief and weight shifts every thirty minutes. If you are able to, get a mirror or have someone check over your skin every night to make sure there are no pressure sores.
Finally, if you have some sort of secondary medical issue going on, I know what helped me the most during this ordeal was maintaining a positive attitude and my faith in Jesus.
If you have a pressure sore or wound, get to wound care doctor and go from there. Remember, we will face hard times and will go through some storms in this life. I ask you, my friends, to keep pushing forward!
Thanks and God bless.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0318/0634