Sorry ‘bout that

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that I keep encountering activities or situations I don’t understand – that make no sense to me. Perhaps it’s just old age catching up with me or maybe the world is simply evolving faster than I, but I find these matters disconcerting. Anyway, here are some recent examples for your consideration.

My Sweetheart-for-Life recently developed an abscess requiring surgery. The surgeon opened and drained the abscess; “packed” the resulting cavity with a sterile cord, which kinda looks like a skinny white shoe lace, leaving a small piece sticking out; and covered the wound with a sterile pad. (The packing is to provide drainage and allow the incision to heal from the inside out.)

My written and oral post-op instructions were to uncover the incision daily; remove and replace the packing; and cover the area again with a gauze pad. I was familiar with these instructions because our son had had a similar abscess and surgery and we followed the same procedures of replacing the packing with a “cord.”. It was a different hospital but the same parent organization so I figured things would be the same.

The day after the surgery I removed the pad covering the incision and pulled about a 10 – 12 inch strip of “packing” from the cavity. The hospital had given me a packet of medical supplies which I assumed contained both the “packing cord” material and gauze pads. I was surprised to find no packing cord – only 4 x 4 gauze pads and the tail end of a roll of adhesive.

I called the surgeon’s office to ask about the lack of packing cord and was told it was not sent home with the patient. I reminded the office staff that I was instructed to repack the cavity daily and asked what I should do. To my great surprise I was told to take one of the 4 x 4 gauze pads and, using a Q-tip, stuff as much of the pad into the cavity as I could, leaving the remainder hanging out, then cover the area with another 4 x 4 pad. I thought they must be kidding. Nowhere in my oral or written post-op instructions was any mention of using a 4 x 4 to pack the wound. Sorry ‘bout that.

As I was attempting to follow these instructions – efforts that were dramatically unsuccessful and painful for her – I got one of those “post-op follow up” phone calls from the hospital. I explained my problem of not having any wound packing material, but was informed that hospital procedures do not provide this material to patients, and that stuffing a 4 x 4 into the cavity was the proper procedure. Sorry ‘bout that, but that’s the way it is. How about them apples!

I tried to find a pharmacy that might have that packing cord, but discovered that particular item is apparently available only to hospitals and clinics. I tried several alternatives including using 2 x 2 pads I purchased, but to no avail. I finally hit on a procedure to provide the necessary drainage – which I won’t go into because it wouldn’t be an “approved” method – but I had to do something.

What I don’t understand is why my instructions didn’t mention using a 4 x 4 for packing and why the “appropriate and approved ” medical procedures won’t supply the patient’s home caregiver with that special wound packing material. I’m not a physician or medically trained, but it just doesn’t make sense – why I was forced to jury-rig an alternative way of packing the wound.

Okay, moving on. For a number of years I have subscribed to three newspapers: a local paper, one from a nearby big city, and The Wall Street Journal – all of which are delivered by newspaper carrier. The local paper carrier is absolutely great – never missing an issue and placing the paper next to the garage door out of the rain and snow. On the other hand, both the big city paper and the Journal are delivered by one carrier.

Although I almost always get the big city paper, I am repeatedly missing the Journal or getting USA Today instead – which is not a suitable substitute. I have reported this problem over and over again but get only “Sorry ‘bout that” responses. I don’t understand why I can get reliable delivery of the big city paper, but can’t get the same for the Journal which is delivered by the same carrier. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Well, I’m running out of space to go into how the “handicap” entrance to a medical facility is nearly impossible to navigate with a wheelchair – it requires three people to accomplish. Just another “Sorry ‘bout that” situation. One thing for sure – bellyaching about stuff like this doesn’t do much good. About all it does is to elicit the standard “Sorry ‘bout that” reaction – nothing else. At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a regular Greene County Daily columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]

Bill Taylor, a regular Greene County Daily columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]