Under Pressure

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. 

Jeremy

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