It’s been a long journey, a very long journey. But I’ve arrived. I’ve arrived at the point in my recovery where my Ken Butt wound has finally healed. This is another milestone in my recovery that I can tick off.

639 days ago I had My New Bum fitted and as already mentioned in past posts, I thought that after a couple of weeks I would be back up and running but some things aren’t so straightforward and can be littered with complications.

Due to an infection post-surgery stitches in the newly formed Ken Butt had to be removed in order to assist with resolving the infection and as a result a perineal wound was formed. To cut a long story short, this didn’t heal, a pre-existing pilonidal sinus complicated matters and on September 20th I underwent further surgery to reopen the Ken Butt and form a new wound. The aim was to eliminate the pilonidal sinus and create a fresh wound that would hopefully heal without complications.

A VAC dressing was fitted to assist with healing and by October 10th this was removed. It did a marvellous job assisting healing a deep wound but it would still take some time to completely heal. And boy did it take time to heal.

The VAC machine accompanying me to the pub.

On November 22nd during an appointment with my surgeon, stoma nurse and a surgical practitioner, the practitioner estimated that it would be another 4 weeks to heal, my surgeon wasn’t so sure. It’s taken a lot longer than 4 weeks.

As each week and month passed I was always thinking that it wouldn’t be much longer, that I wouldn’t go far into January, wouldn’t go into February, wouldn’t go into March but the weeks passed and sure enough I did go through January and February. Then during February I made the error of doing a bit of running on the treadmill which caused a bit of a setback by opening the wound, not much but enough for the practice nurse to notice the very next day. I thought this would set me back by quite a few weeks but surprisingly the wound suddenly closed up and by March 2nd, the practice nurse estimated that I really could be on the final stretch.

On March 3rd the nurse was debating whether the tiny pinhole of a wound needed a dressing but dressed it anyway and then on March 5th it had healed completely!

Thinking that the wound had healed I went all out with the chocolate and a thank you card.

And Then It Reopened, Again

Just a couple of days after almost being signed off, the wound reopened, again and this time I hadn’t done anything to cause it to reappear. Like when I went on the treadmill it had reopened a similar amount and would likely mean another couple of weeks of healing. That couple of weeks turned into another six months.

The Perineal Wound Healing Collage

For those that are curious, below is a collage of the complete perineal wound healing process from 9 days after surgery to the day I was signed off and then signed off again. The daily visits to the nurse continued but due to Covid-19 it was looking unlikely that they would continue and with the wound almost healed I was discharged on March 20th to continue dressing it at home. After such a long time observing nurses and dressing the wound myself on weekends, this wouldn’t be a problem.

Two weeks after it had reopened, the wound was getting a lot smaller and by March 5th it had healed completely. Finally! This time I wouldn’t be taking any chance and would wait a little while before lacing up the trainers for a run. With the healed skin being so fragile I was worried about reopening the wound, and it did, just a few days later.

The wound continued to persist for many months and it wasn’t until October that the wound healed over enough to be discharged.

Key Dates

  • October 1st – Taken after 9 days of using the VAC and 12 days after surgery. The wound still looks large but apparently was a lot deeper immediately after surgery so the VAC has been doing a good job.
  • October 10th – This is the day that the VAC was removed.
  • October 26th – Experienced some wound overgranulation which was resolved relatively quickly with some hydrocortisone cream.
  • February 18th – Up until now I had been pretty good at resisting running but on the day this photo was taken I did some on a treadmill.
  • February 19th – Due to running on the treadmill the wound had reopened. I never did confess to my nurses the reason why.
  • February 28th – Despite thinking that the wound would take a few weeks longer to heal due to the treadmill incident it suddenly closed up.
  • March 5th – I thought it had healed.
  • March 10th – The wound had reopened, again.
  • March 20th – Based on a combination of my wound almost being healed and Covid-19 risks I was told not to continue seeing nurses at the surgery and to dress the wound myself. Was disappointed that it had ended so abruptly as was hoping to have a chance to thank all of my nurses.
  • April 20th – The wound is not getting any better so I make a return to the surgery to start seeing my team of nurses again.
  • April 28th – Tried an application of silver nitrate to close the wound but made it bigger.
  • May 1st – A decision was made to start running again. It didn’t affect the wound.
  • June 13th – Tried another application of silver nitrate but still no luck.
  • July, August, September – The wound continued to persist but was gradually getting smaller.
  • October 13th – The wound had finally healed over and the skin seemed strong enough that it may not break again like in the past.
The Perineal Wound Collage
One final gift for my nurses.

The Stats

  • 639 days / 21 months since first surgery
  • 302 visits to the practice nurses
  • 45 visits from district nurse
  • 1 VAC dressing fitted
  • Numerous infections post-surgery
  • Copious amounts of Hotel Chocolat delivered to my crack-team of nurses to reward their hard work.

What’s Next?

It’s going to seem so strange not going to see a nurse daily and I’m really going to miss them. I’m still going to see them occasionally when I have to have a routine blood test to monitor the effects of the Azathioprine medication for Crohn’s but after creating this routine over the past 21 months and then suddenly stopping, it’ll seem strange. An end of an era but glad that it’s finally over.

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Diagnosed with IBD in 2002, I have experienced the usual ups and downs of having a chronic disease and tried numerous medications but the time finally came in 2018 to elect to have surgery to improve my life. I had the surgery in 2019 and this is my journey having a 'New Bum'.

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