One of the most fearful points in my husband’s battle with Congestive Heart Failure is when they implanted a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) into his body and then said that he would be good to go home. We scrambled to get the necessary training on the device, but also I had to be trained to change the dressing over his driveline entrance into his abdomen.
The medical experts have determined that a loved one is better at changing the dressing than home care nurses, who are not trained in the particulars of this dressing procedure. The objective is to avoid infections that could potentially kill the patient, not a minor detail.
The best advice that I received from the head nurse practitioner, responsible for the LVAD, is to guard the dressing site with your life. Don’t let a doctor convince you to expose the site when it is not dressing time, which is typically twice a week unless there are complications. Ensure that all people in the room wear a surgical mask. Make sure to maintain a sterile field and please, put on your sterile gloves correctly!
As a person who squirms at the site of blood, cuts, or injuries, the driveline site, at first glance, can be quite unnerving. So what I learned quickly is that you need to immediately say to yourself, “Get over it!” It’s time to grow up, your spouse or loved one needs you. This is not something they can do on their own.
This most difficult aspect of the dressing change is putting on those sterile gloves. It takes practice, training, and watching someone else do it. Ask you trainer to give you extra packets of sterile gloves, so that you can practice before your loved one comes home. Also, here’s a great video from a CPNE Workshop showing how to put on sterile gloves.