A bleb, my heart pillow, and a better ending

heart-pillow On the Path blog by Cheryl Schatz

I had my second visit with the community health care nurses on Thursday. The nurse that was looking after me carefully took off my dressing and she found an odd looking thing protruding out of my incision. She tried to clean it off thinking it might be a soft piece of tissue, but it was not. It wouldn’t budge, so she called in her supervisor to have a look. The supervising nurse said it was a bleb.

A bleb? I thought she was kidding because it kind of sounded like a blob to me. It was a good sized semi-clear but hardened tissue that was liquid filled but also had a big, white centre. The supervisor thought it contained a lymph node and the node along with a liquid filled sac was protruding through my incision. Technically a bleb is a vesicular out pocketing of a plasma or nuclear membrane. Bet you didn’t know that, eh? Me neither. I thought the bleb should be lanced, but they did not. The nurse put a painting of iodine on it and then patched me back up with dressing and tape to cover it. We would watch it and see what happens.

Since my chest skin tore loose from my chest wall, I had a fair bit of pain and the heart pillow that was given to me on the day of my surgery has become one of my best friends. It is made to slip underneath the arm pit and provide support for the arm without putting pressure on the chest. I love it! When I have pain, I take a couple of pain killers and my heart pillow and go to bed. (At the front of this post is a picture of my special heart pillow sitting on our love seat on our deck)

On Friday night I felt something wet so I pulled apart the dressing and the bleb was gone. It had been at the edge of my incision before it came out and it had apparently held back the fluid although some of it had drained out. The bleb stretched apart the incision further, and with the bleb gone, the entire build up of fluid drained out and it was a sticky mess. Praise God for the bleb that allowed the build up of fluid to completely drain before the incision healed closed. The pocket of fluid that developed after the skin tear is now completely gone and my pain is also completely gone! God can turn around what seems to be a bad thing, and He is able to bring a better ending. It is becoming easier every day to trust God in all things.

Romans 8:28 (NASB)  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

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  1. Cheryl,

    I keep planning on writing something wonderful and meaningful to you, but everything seems inadequate. (I wanted to thank you for signing the FreeCWC petition, too. That meant so much to me, especially with everything you’re going through.) I’ve been praying for you and am challenged by your perseverance. Your fight for wellness encourages me more than you know (especially because I never did write anything to encourage you!). Even this sounds pathetic to me, but I’m going to risk writing anyway.

    A practical consideration if that wound keeps oozing, especially during the night if you’re sleeping straight through: If it’s over the weekend and your nurse is out of contact, buy some cheap baby diapers and use them over top of your regular dressing. Check with your nurse, though, if it’s during the week.

    Much love,

    Cindy

  2. Thank you Cindy K for your words of encouragement! I am grateful that you took the time to comment. I know that I am much more of a reader than a commenter, so for those who post a comment, I am so grateful for that word.

    I think it is a wonderful idea about the baby diaper. I would think it would be very absorbent. There is still oozing coming out which surprises me. The large swelling is gone and where it was is a caved-in spot so I didn’t think it would continue to ooze. The amount is way down since the “birth” of the bleb opened the door to the gush. The nurse did give Richard some extra pads to change every day until we see the nurses again. But if we need to have a fix for over night or another gush, I think there would be a way to attach an absorbent pad to wick away the moisture. Great idea!

  3. Jenny, I never thought I would be glad for a gusher, but I do think that God worked out a way to quickly take care of the pouch of liquid that had accumulated, rather than wait a year or so for my body to figure out a new lymph system that would take care of the liquid. The release of the liquid took care of the pain too, so lots of things to be grateful to God for His care!

  4. Cheryl,

    The diaper trick was one of the first things I learned when I quit working ICU and started in home health. If you have trouble keeping it in place, take an old T-shirt and cut around in a spiral that’s about 3 -4″ wide, so you have one big stretchy strip. You can then wrap that all the way around your torso and just tape the fabric. It’s stretchy, so it gives you some comfort. Then you can wash the strips in the washer (with some bleach) in one of those mesh laundry bags to reuse them. In the hospital, I would use thin, stretchy gauze called Kerlex, but you can go broke fast if you do that at home.

    Depending on you needs, you can also buy a washable, reusable, quilted bed pad at a medical supply store to help keep your sheets dry. They make those plastic lined disposable things, but they cost money and don’t work as well. You can overlap them, but for me, they always seem to leak on the bed, one way or another. These washable things cost about $10-20 each are a nice thing to have around.

    http://www.northshorecare.com/underpadswash1.html?gclid=CPLthN_J3L0CFeMSOgodgVEA6A

  5. Cheryl, my FB prayer group was sure praying for you Friday, though we had no clue. I am attempting to paste their prayers for you!
    Okay, that didn’t work — here is one posted Friday at 7:27 a.m. from Sue Rosselli:
    “Oh Lord, please give wisdom to Cheryl’s doctors in how to correct this problem. I pray that You will touch Cheryl’s body and with divine healing, re-grow her skin and chest muscles properly, release and dry the rest of the drainage, and fill Cheryl with new strength. In Christ’s name.”

    Just imagine the joy our Holy Spirit had inspiring Sue to pray for you!!

  6. Cheryl, i am so glad you leaked so to speak and the pain is majorly reduced. This has been a tough journey for you and Richard. My leg is so miniscule in comparison to what you are dealing with.

  7. Cindy, that was great information and I am sure that others who find this post will appreciate all the information that you have given. A big thanks!

    For me it looks like the flow of liquid is way down. The hole in the incision is now half closed and I expect in the next few days it will be completely closed. The extended and stretched skin is now empty of liquid and where the bulge was is now hollowed in a bit. I get the dressing changed again tomorrow, but it doesn’t look like much if any has come out since the new dressing was put on this morning. It is a good sign and I am pretty excited. A few weeks ago I wondered if I was ever going to heal. It was pretty nasty looking.

  8. Ruth, I would not have wanted the incision to break open, but in hindsight, nothing could have been better. It was the major thing that got rid of the pain and the build up of juices that came from the tear. We all have challenges to deal with I am not sure I would want to deal with a bone break. I have heard that it is so painful. But I am amazed at how God created the body to heal itself after the doctors do all that they can, so that we are not left broken and torn for life. We are both good examples of what modern medicine and the power of the body finding a way to heal itself. I hope that both of us are finished with these challenges and we can move on to better things!

  9. Just an update…we saw the community nurse on Monday and the incision is now completely healed! There has been a little bit extra fluid that has collected since the incision was healed, but she is confident that my body will absorb the liquid. it isn’t a lot this time so nothing that will require the incision to open up again. I am feeling great and so blessed that the pain is gone and no more dressings are needed. As things stand right now, I am on my way to being back to normal and no more treatments are needed other than the anti-estrogen pills that I will be on for five years.