Zeke's skin grafting may turn out to be the most difficult part of this whole toe to finger transfer. They used a 1 1/2 by 4 inch section of skin on his upper thigh to cover the sides of his new finger. They describe it as shaving up this section of skin. It sounds kind of awful. To be honest, it also looks pretty awful. They apply a clear dressing of Tegaderm which allows the blood to not scab but sit just under the dressing and be reabsorbed back into the skin graft area. This means that there is a pretty bloody mess on Zeke's thigh. I'd take a picture but it is not something anyone wants to see. Without being too graphic, the blood can start leaking around the edges of the dressing so we were instructed to put more Tegaderm on the edges prior to this happening in order to reinforce the dressing. The dressing has to stay on until July 1. Then we are to take it off and if the skin has started to heal, it should look a bit like a sunburn.
It just looks brutal though. It also has completely worn me out today. It started leaking yesterday. I reinforced it with some giant sheets of Tegaderm that the hospital sent us home with. (Which I could have cut into smaller pieces but I didn't know that at the time.) It leaked some more. I added more Tegaderm. By noon today it was clear that I probably shouldn't have reinforced the dressing but should have just changed it instead. Regardless, I was fast running out of Tegaderm. I spent most the my afternoon trying to figure out what to do. Tegaderm is available through medical supply stores but it is about $20 fora 4 inch by 4 inch patch and not covered by insurance. The actually dressing kept looking worse and worse which in turn made Zeke anxious because he could see the blood and because he was worried about us having to take off the sticky dressing.
In the end, we ended up at our local hospital where a nurse changed the dressing. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. I really thought it was going to stick something terrible, which it didn't. I was also really concerned about it being a huge mess of blood when it was removed which it wasn't. Seeing the nurse change the dressing gave me a lot more courage about dealing with it which was good because we only had that dressing on for a few hours before it started lifting off the skin and coming loose. So I ended up taking the new dressing off and reapplying an entirely new Tegaderm. Mayo is supposed to be sending us more and the hospital sent us home with a bit so hopefully we will not run out again. The graft site is also supposed to drain more during the first two days and then let up. So I'm hoping that holds true. Seriously, this silly sticky dressing has stressed me out!