Click the picture for the story of Calypso, the Three Legged Green Sea Turtle, and why she's my symbol

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Phantom Equipment Syndrome

For update on my health, skip to the bottom of the page.

In a past post, I talked about what's been nicknamed Phantom Wheel Syndrome. I was in a wheelchair for 2 years after my accident. I started decreasing the amount I used it but I didn't give it up entirely until this January. I had to transition from the wheelchair to canes, and I found myself constantly reaching for my wheels out of instinct... only to find them not there anymore.

Your brain makes a mental picture of your body, sometimes including certain pieces of equipment, like my wheelchair... until the wheelchair wasn't there anymore! My brain still had a mental wheelchair which it instinctively relied on. Think on that!

I'm now having Phantom Equipment Syndrome. I was equipped with a V.A.C. Pump that I had to carry around in a bag, which was about the size of an Ipad. I'd remove the strap if I was sitting or if I was in a car to relax my much abused back muscles. My first move whenever I sat up was to put the strap back over my shoulder and go. Thankfully, the wound on my back has healed enough so that the pump is no longer necessary. Yesterday when I got off the couch to go outside the first thing I did was reach for my bag... only to find it not there anymore.

The V.A.C. pump that's been traveling with me since May. Until one day... it wasn't. My brain still had a mental V.A.C. pump. Think on THAT!

While not a limb, my equipment is a constant part of my life in one form or anther. It's part of who I am and for few months that bag around my shoulder was part of me. I won't miss it (I named him Cato from The Hunger Games, take what you want from that) but I will remember it. I can't say too much against it, because there's always a possibility that I could end up using it in the future. Hopefully not any time soon but I thought I'd escaped the vacuum pump before. Only time will tell.

My previous post on the possibility of surgery turned out to be unnecessary. The only option at the time was to put a drain into the large fluid engorged tissue above my spinal hardware; we didn't end up doing this. They attempted to use an ultrasound machine on the mound on my back to see if they could find any fluid collections they could drain. They found one, but with barely any pressure the collection fled into the tissue. Unless a major fluid mass forms instead of the current fluid filled tissues, the doctors won't touch it.

There's a great chance that all the fluid will be absorbed by the body eventually. Until then I will have a weird looking hump on my back. To accent this particular feature, below it is where the Wound V.A.C. sucked out all the excess fluid; that skin is now sunken in, leaving my whole back marked with interesting geography.

"You know I'm a rather brilliant surgeon... perhaps I can help you with that hump." "What hump?"

I'm otherwise healing up nicely, though I won't be declaring “Mission Accomplished” again any time soon. I hope I heal up enough to go in a a pool or swim in the bathtub warm waters of the inlet sound that surrounds our house out here in the middle of nowhere. Who knows, these hopes and wishes might even come true.

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