I’ve lived alone for ten-plus years. The only prospect of having spine surgery that was scary for me was trying to figure out how my bandages would be tended to daily. I’ve had someone that’s been willing to help, but it’s been a drain on them. Today, through my hubris of showering after having my wound dressed, I got the bandage wet, it peeled partway off. With a hand mirror, I carefully redressed it myself.
The wound is only a few days away from healing up completely.
When I met with my current spine doctor last week and asked him when I could bathe in a bathtub again, he said around now would be the time, but considering that it is still oozing that serum, I would rather hold off for probably another week. Especially since it looked particularly bad two days ago when we overdressed the wound. There’s a balance, I suppose, between not letting enough air in and letting the drainage get into everything. I had a pair of underwear that was bloodied after a particularly bad evening of drainage. No more stains there, or on the shirts I wore where the wound lightly drained.
I may need to redress the wound once more before bed.
Or, I may leave it undressed overnight, and redress it in the morning. I don’t have a good mirror setup for redressing the wound myself, and I’d rather not be more of a burden on others than I already have, so whenever possible, I try to do as much as I can by myself. This sort of self-reliance tendency is probably why I’ve lived alone for so long. I have no real interest in having roommates or living with others, either, at this point in my life. While I enjoy interacting with people, ultimately, I prefer my own company over the company of others.
This was further solidified through my experiences post-surgery.
Waking up alone, paralyzed, and with no one there to tell me what was going on or – in my most vulnerable state – helping me through the situation burned deep inside of me a resilence for my own self-respect. There were plenty of moments of self-doubt and self-hatred throughout the process, certainly, but no doctor was willing to take even one minute of time to explain to me what was going on. If they were unwilling to help me in my most vulnerable state, why shouldn’t I become as independent as I can? I’ve needed the help I’ve received so far, have greatly appreciated it, and will still need help, so one can’t live fully independently.
However, whenever possible, one should do things on their own.
The bandage is crooked and wouldn’t have worked even a few days ago, but for now, it’s been effective enough for me to sit here and write this essay. I’ve checked the bandage twice now and I haven’t seen any drainage seep through the gauze. It’s not the sort that will be ideal for the situation since the gauze could stick into the wound and reopen it, but I couldn’t find the no-stick kind that we’d been using, so I have to trust in myself that I did the best I could and deal with the results of this tomorrow when I get the wound redressed. If this were any other part of my body, I would do the redressing myself, but I just can’t get to the small of my back where the spine surgery took place.
Well, I can’t get to it reliably enough to do it myself.
If this had happened years ago, I probably would have had to move in with someone during this three-plus-week period to have my wound tended to, but now, I feel like since this has happened to me, I’m not particularly interested in the sorts of things that might be beneficial about being in a relationship or living with others. I suppose everyone is human and I suppose those doctors felt that they didn’t need to tell me what was going on with my health and they only reassured me that they were doing everything they could after I complained about their bed-side manners. In my mind, though, if I’m living life through my subjective experience of it, placing my trust and my life in their hands was probably a mistake.
Were I to need spine surgery again, however… I’d go to a different hospital.
This was the same hospital that gave me Ativan for my spine problems when I went to their emergency room. Their ER doctor ignored the documentation I presented stating that I had spinal problems; they treated me for anxiety since that’s easier to diagnose. I gave their patient advocacy number a call, left a voicemail asking for a call-back, but we both know what they did with that message since they never called me back: delete. I would say, then, that others are only as reliable as they want to be, whereas you can be as reliable as you can to yourself.
If you have a wound that needs dressing, you’re going to figure out how to redress it.
I would hate to say that it takes having a medical staff completely disrespect you for hours on end to gain self-confidence as apparently I have after my experience, but that was a way to gain self-respect. When I told my current spine doctor about how it hurts to sit down for an extended period of time, and he gave me a 30-minute sitting restriction, well, I use a timer to measure how long I sit because it hurts. It could be 20 minutes or 40. I can take the advice from this doctor, other doctors, and still respect people well enough, but if there’s anything I learned through this Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] series, it’s that while you can trust others to help you, you should aim to trust in yourself.
You should always be there for yourself; mentally and physically.
|Sources: My personl experiences.|
|Inspirations: I suppose I’m frustrated that I can’t better tend to myself, but even when we are our most independent, I suppose there are people around that can help. I would probably, otherwise, need to go to an urgent care every day or every few days, or maybe figure out some option like that for daily or near-daily bandage redressings.|
|Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters. I guess I’ll throw this under Applied Self-Confidence, too, even if that feels kind of wrong.|
|Written On: 2020 September 23 [6-somethingpm to 6:59pm; roughly 30 minutes]|
|Last Edited: 2020 September 23 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|