Monday, September 23, 2013

The Dark Side of Ranchsitting, a.k.a. As the Stomach Turns

In addition to animal feeding, hay moving, and general ranch chores, the 7MSN Ranchsitter job description includes 
"accompanying Carson to doctor appointments and paying attention and looking at gross stuff so she doesn't have to."

Ranchsitter #4 hauled me to a follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Friday and, of course, 
exceeded all expectations in her assigned duties. She let me use her iPad in the waiting room
so I could read all your comments/hugs on the blog.

The medical group staff could tell they were dealing with a couple of bad-ass cowgirls by the caked-on mud on our boots. 
We tried not to leave a trail. Anyway, the appointment went very well; the infected wound is healing nicely,
and we should be able to stop packing it in another three weeks.

I haven't told you this before because it's so gross, but when I was readmitted to the hospital
with the mysterious infection, the doctors sliced open about 2" of the original healed-over incision to let the infection out. Basically I have this gaping hole in my gut that now needs to heal from the inside out. The hole needs to be repacked daily with a very long piece of gauze (think 1 inch wide by 3 feet long). Just before I left the hospital, the nurses showed me the proper packing technique and I was able to do it myself. However, I am so grossed out by the process that I've shown Ranchsitters #3 and #4 how to do it so I can just close my eyes and pretend it's not happening. 

After the appointment, we rewarded ourselves with burritos at a dive in Albuquerque's South Valley.
I'm certain Walter White and Jesse Pinkman once sat at this very table. Danni had something spicy and scrumptious; 
I stuck with the mashed potato burrito. All of which is to say I'm working my way up to real food 
and all systems are working just fine.

The rest of this post is not for the squeamish, as I will attempt to demonstrate what goes on during 
the daily wound repacking sessions. (Ranchsitters #5 and #6, this is what you've got to look forward to.)

First we close Smooch out of the room, which she does not appreciate one bit
but we don't want her to hop on the bed and assist during "the procedure."

Then the ranchsitter prepares all the necessary equipment.

I take my place on the bed and peel off the sticky tape and 4x4 gauze covering the wound.
Then I close my eyes very, very tightly because this next part is beyond gross.
The ranchsitter removes the packing tape from the hole, inch by inch by inch.
It doesn't hurt a stinkin' bit, but Danni mentioned it looks like a giant tapeworm, and ever since then 
I just pretend I'm somewhere else. 

What comes out must go back in, so then another 3 feet of packing tape gets stuffed back in the hole,
layer by layer with a sterile cotton swab. But first a teaspoon of honey goes in the hole. Go figure! 
It's supposed to make the wound close up faster. Then the hole gets covered with a couple of 4x4 gauze pads 
and lots of sticky tape. 

Then I return from my out-of-body experience, safe in the knowledge that I've got another 24 hours
before having to go through this again. Mercifully, Ranchsitters #3 and #4 have been creepily fascinated by the whole process and seem to enjoy it. Now that I've described it in such detail, I can only hope Ranchsitters #5 and #6 don't cancel their plane reservations.


  1. I am hoping 5 and 6 are not reading this because i am not sure i could do it.. YUCK and YIKES... you did a fantastic job of showing it without grossing us out.
    you are blessed with Angel Ranch Sitters.. honey in there blows my mind..

  2. A "dive" in upstate New York is quite a lot diveier than one in Albuquerque.
    People who can take good, thorough care of four-footed animals can do appalling stuff with humans too. I can understand, though, your wish not to look inside your own gut.

    I am pleased to know that the medical community sees the value of good ol' honey. Everything old (REALLLLLY old) is new again.

  3. My dear, you did not get the joy of the C-Section, but you are enjoying the Mock C-Section now. Having had three of them, I have had my fair share of packing material. At least there are no leeches involved. I am very glad that someone else is there to do the packing. It is a tedious process to let the body heal from the inside out, but it is essential. Please be patient and be a good patient. You will end up with a pliable incision site and you will be MUCH happier with that. I never thought I would want to be pliable, but having been on the other side, I'll take it!

    Enjoy the day!

  4. There's a lot of love going on seven miles from the middle of nowhere. It's a great place for all of us to start our mornings.

    Honey is a little miracle substance! I'm pleased to know the medical community agrees!

  5. Wow, oh Wow oh Wow. Danni is priceless. I couldn't even read your description. I suck as a nurse. I'm sending a big, huge, cyber hug out to you, and praying you never have to go through this again.

  6. Give me a call if ranchsitters #5 and/or #6 want to cancel, I'll hop on over in a second! Been there, done that, very successfully: to the love of my life, my dog. ;)

  7. I wondered what the honey was for when I read the list of packing materials. Good to know.

    Laughed at the tapeworm comment. It really does sound like that. ;)

    You are blessed to have such good caretakers, but I'm sure you've already figured that one out. :)

  8. OMG, I just about lost it looking at the reenactment! I would be on the floor and you'd be scrapping me up Carson ... bless all your ranch sitters for their bravery!

  9. I really wish I lived closer and didnt have a job with no paid I have experience in the care of both horses and humans, and stuffing things!! My first get Paid job was stable girl, then I moved up to groom, then exercise girl..then one of my more recent jobs was NYC Paramedic! I didnt have to stuff wounds, but some of things I did do was much worse, and my current job even better, Upholsterer!! I stuff couches and glad you are healing up and it will all be a good story to tell one day!

  10. Glad you can still laugh, coz that is a brilliant sign.

    I'm pretty good at gross nursing duties, so would happily be ranchsitter no 7. Travel costs from Scotland make that impossible, so you'll just have to make do with virtual hugs & good wishes instead! xx

  11. Hate that you are going through all of this....but on the upside, how wonderful to see what amazing friends you have! You obliviously have cultivated great friendships. Bonus points in heaven for those that have to unpack and repack the icky stuff. So glad you get to be at home for this final phase of healing.
    So just how did the whole thing start? Why the necrotic tissue?
    Lisa G in TN

  12. I HAD to find out what the honey is really for! So I Googled it and here's the deal:
    "Feature: Antimicrobial action
    High osmolality Honey is a saturated or supersaturated solution of sugars that has strong interaction with water molecules. The lack of ‘free’ water inhibits the growth of microorganisms.
    Hydrogen peroxide When honey is diluted by wound exudates, hydrogen peroxide is produced via a glucose oxidase enzyme reaction. This is released slowly to provide antibacterial activity but does not damage tissue.
    Antibacterial phytochemicals Some honeys still have antimicrobial activity even when hydrogen peroxide activity has been removed. The honey from Manuka trees (Leptospermum scoparium) has been found to have high levels of this antibacterial phytochemical.
    In addition to its antimicrobial properties, honey also appears to stimulate lymphocytic and phagocytic activity. These are key body immune responses in the battle against infection." How cool is THAT!
    I too am ready and able to take a shift but you'd have to tolerate my saying "Ewwww" and "Yuck" as I worked. I had to do wound care (without honey) for my mom a few times and my commentary was mostly to keep myself calm and to make my mother laugh, which it did.

  13. I'm not surprised that even in your darkest hour u girls find the way to keep it light and very amusing. Carson, your drawing skills oh my! Lmao!
    Sure hope u are almost through with all the doctor visits and packing supplies, but it sure makes for some interesting blog fodder!
    I have to say it again:
    Sending u both great big hugs!
    Deb in Viola, Ks

  14. Thank goodness Danni didn't try to stick some Ivermectin in your mouth. LOL
    Just say the word if #5 or #6 cancel. I can do all the ranch chores with a smile too. And as far as wound care, it can't be much different than bandaging a horses leg, right?

  15. Being a ramchsitter is a tough job. And Danni seems ever-smiling. I'm glad you have such dear friends with such strong stomachs. Sounds like you need to be surrounded by strong stomachness.

  16. I'm sitting thankful right now, for your continued healing, and for the wonderful friends you have that have stepped up to help out. It is the truest form of friendship, to love one and help out with the 'gross' stuff of life. God bless all your hearts.

  17. Humor is the best thing.
    In now time, this will be over and you'll be just remembering when.
    I've had two nasty surgeries this year and believe me, I know what six weeks of healing is all about.

    So glad that you have friends to come over and help you. Give them very nice parting gifts .. just saying.

    JC and The Purr and Fur Gang

  18. I am thinking that maybe I'm not fit for ranch sitting! However, the honey thing is fascinating!
    I'm glad you got a good bill of health. Keep being healthy.

  19. Sounds like standard for cat abscesses except bigger. Icky but heal from the inside sounds good. You will get over this and that's the main part-- that and having such wonderful friends. Country people are the best.

  20. Thank goodness for kind ranchsitters. With booboos it is always easier to treat others but not yourself.
    Hey Danni-I just found the bit of Kai's fur clippings you sent me ages ago. Will try to hand spin it this month.

  21. Just in the last week or so I read an article (SmithsonianMag? I think so....) about all the ways honey is bad for germs. I bet that's why you are having honey on your hurt bits......

    I'm sympathizing with you being grossed out -- when I had a ruptured appendix, I didn't realize they'd closed me up with staples. When I accidentally discovered the staples -- in my very own flesh!!!, I about lost my lunch. Well, not literally, I hadn't had any lunch in days, but I'm sure you know what I mean....

    Sending good thoughts that the magic of bees (and human-made antibiotics!), and your own strong constitution, get you back to 100% soonest.

  22. Hey, how in Sweet Hannah's nightdress do you make even the most disgusting things funny? I think you have one of the quirkiest and most amazing sense of humor and to have found a cohort like Danni a who is also such a fun one as well as the other ranchsitter society..... It must be that you attract good folks to you because you are.
    We love you LC and wish you honey good get well wishes, The Cuckoos at the Casa.

  23. I think Sondra above should be your next ranchsitter. If she can upholster furniture, she should be able to upholster you! Same idea, right? Put the stuffing in, take the old stuffing out. Love the cartoon re-enactment. Poor Stick Figure Linda :( Hugs from somebody who just had a sebaceous cyst removed and whose son removed the sutures yesterday with nailclippers and tweezers at the kitchen table!

  24. *ahem* My surgery is tomorrow. Gee, Linda, that was a lovely story. Thank goodness I get little tubes for drainage.

    BTW...I will go back to a 36-C or B or maybe look as flat as Kelly Rippa. Sounds fine to me. (looks embarrassed)

  25. You're definitely in loving, capable hands, Carson. I was surprised then remembered reading some of the things Danni did to take care of her animal friends. She didn't know she was getting prepared to take it to a new level! I'm really impressed that your surgeon is using an ancient remedy like honey. Your life is never dull! I'll add my virtual hugs to the others. You take care of your dear self, Carson.

  26. Wound care I have done. No honey involved here, except the one getting wound care. Finally used up the last pair of gloves for hair coloring last month.Had some other cool stuff too.

    Ranch chores and potential snake pole and relocation, not exactly up my alley.

    Making good progress there.

  27. Rock on! The honey thing is beyond cool. Thanks for sharing the details, Anne Bolelyn!

    Love the addition of the medic symbol on Danni Nightengale's cap.

  28. Ewwwww.... Just kidding! Have had three C-sections and a caregiver for my Mom, I can handle this :-)

  29. Even your descriptions and drawing-enhanced photos of "gross" make me laugh. Thanks for my morning chuckle!
    BTW, we've been using honey for dog wounds for ages. Some types are better than others - generally Manuka honey is considered the best to use for this purpose.

  30. I've had to do a lot of gross things with animals - clean out and treat an abcess on a cat, use a large plastic syringe of warm water to clean out a hamster's pouch when he couldn't do it himself, put neosporin on a turtle's swollen penis until he could retract it, and a few other things. Never had to stuff a human wound, though. Your drawing, as always, very talented and ick-inspiring! You cowgirls sure know how to have fun!

    Nancy in Iowa

  31. Being one of those "weird" medical people, I have packed and re-packed many a wound. Some of which definitely would turn your stomach as they even turned mine a little. That being said, I am really glad you are on the road to recovery and that there are "gross" people out there to help with the wound.

  32. Honey and gauze? Isn't that how the Egyptians used to make mummies?

  33. I am glad you are feeling better and I am interested to see that you are using honey to treat the wound. If you can find it, Manuka honey might get that wound healed up much faster, it has much higher amounts of the healing substance than any other type of honey. It is often used to treat severe burns because it stimulates healthy tissue growth:

  34. Am I the only one who feels like you are making amazing progress after such a major surgery? I'm sure it feels like healing is taking forever to you, but to me it looks like you are up and about the ranch and as perky as ever! It's probably helping that you are recovering at home.

    I loved that skinny stick figure Linda. You must have lost an awful lot of weight!

    Glad you're doing better -- from one of your anonymous fans -- Min

  35. What a team!!! I hope you have some sort of skin barrier to protect it from the tape when you're doing/having your dressing changes. that's my 2 cents. But i have total faith in your system! take care y'all.

  36. This post was so funny and interesting. It is great news you are healing well with the support of friends and family. Lucky you and lucky them as you must be a wonderful friend yourself to have so much love coming back to you.

  37. Just so glad you are doing better. I am sure it bothers you that you cannot do all of the things you are used to doing.

  38. I love Smooch toy not medically necessary!! your doctors must be beekeepers!

  39. I love the illustration! Fabulous, I like to think of the snake- stuck- in -the -grill - incident more than a tapeworm, the tapeworm idea is where the gross-out comes in.
    I am with you Carson, such a wimp when it comes to my own stuff. I once had a surgically removed toenail thing (that was due to the-dresser-drawer-crashing-onto-toe-incident) - I would sit on the edge of the tub with the shower curtain covering my eyes while my husband changed the dressing!
    lots of love

  40. I'm glad you are progressing and have such a wonderful nurse. But as I read your blog, I was wondering if you are sure you had only mud on your boots. Hmmmmm....

    Keep up the beautiful smiles like those in yesterday's pictures. Try to avoid the frowns your stick figure shows. Having smiles and avoiding frowns will help the healing process.

  41. Interesting about the honey. I might rub it on my next wound just to experiment! LOL~
    So lucky/happy/glad for you that you have ranchsitters/helpers that are loving the "care" part of the process. Another three weeks (!!!!) of wound packing! Yikes! Glad you are on the mend!

    (Can you believe only more episode of Breaking Bad??)

  42. Jeez Louise! Gahhrrrross me out as we used to say my ancient "tween"hood! Actually I may be doing something like this in coming months for a good friend. Thanks for your updates--proves love is all.Hugs to all especially Nurse Smooch. Ann from Maine

  43. You guys are so silly! Sometimes if you don't laugh, you'll cry. Love the idea of honey. Antibacterial and viscous.

  44. WOW! You have very good friends eh! May you be eating real food soon.

  45. I doubt there is anything about the "procedure" that your ranch sitters haven't done in one way or another, though that being said, it probably involved a four-footed creature. But you never know.
    I had a hunch things were (are?) worse than you posted but a girl has a right to at least 3 feet of privacy.
    Prayers your health and strength returns soon.
    Hats off to your girly ranch sitters!

  46. Any idea(s) as to what caused this colic issue in the first place?? Just wondering if there are any words of wisdom for a 'prevention' focus for this nasty problem?

  47. You're going to miss having ranch-sitters when this is all over. Maybe you could keep a couple of them. I think you're recovering quickly because laughter is the best medicine, and we know you two are laughing alot!

  48. I think I just saw a couple of ranchsitters heading for the very high, very distant hills...oh, man... you make it interesting for them that's for sure. Eveeryyyybody ...stay sterile... er...sterilized!!

    oh, and...I think the Egyptians used to use honey and egg whites or something ..mixed up as a pretty good temporary glue....

  49. Oh my Lord. You have some kickass Ranchsitters there.

  50. My husband had a similar wound dressing but it was on his lower back... all I can say is thank goodness for Home Care nurses! lol

    And oddly enough, I had to dress a wound in a very similar fashion on my mare. Although I didn't have to pull out the whole thing every day, I just had to pull out a few inches at a time and snip it off.
    (her withers abcessed, the cotton was to draw out infection)