** Warning: close up photos of bits of metal going into my leg! **
I just did my dressings. Probably the most important thing with external fixation is to keep the pin sites clean - if they get infected the infection can travel down the pin into the bone and that is not good :( At the moment this means I'll need to be doing the following every day. Hopefully when the sites are more healed up it will get a bit easier.
First, I made sure I've got everything nearby - at the moment I'm using this little lot - Mepore dressings, Inadine dressings, tweezers, scissors, saline solution, gauzes, tape, antibacterial hand gel. Later on this ingredient list will no doubt change. I have heard that there is a spray on dressing called Opsite - I will try to get my hands on some of this next time I'm at the hospital - but I probably will only be able to use it when the wounds have healed more anyway, so for now we're good.
After cleaning my hands, I took all the old dressings off and cleaned everything up with the saline solution and gauzes.
There are 10 points where metal enters my leg: 2 big pins near my knee, 2 big pins near my ankle, 4 little wires near my knee, 2 little wires near my ankle.
Here's a close-up of the 2 big pins nearest my knee. You can see that the wounds are still a bit open but there is no discharge - so far, so good. This area of my leg is all graft - muscle from my back and skin from my thigh. Remember that? Seems like ages ago now...
First I put Inadine around the pins. Inadine is a mesh-like dressing which is soaked with iodine which helps prevent infection. I'll only use it for the first few weeks until the wounds are healed more. It's a bit fiddly because it's sticky and I have to try to get it in the right place working around the metal rings..
Then I used the Mepore dressings to cover over. You can be creative and cut little slits into the dressing to get them in the right place. The tweezers and scissors help to get things under the rings.
I also used Mepore to cover the incision wounds left and right, and did the same Inadine + Mepore job with the 2 pins near my ankle. I covered over 2 of the little wire sites because they still look a bit open, but the other 4 seem to be fine and so I have left those open to the air.
Here's the final product.
It took me about 30 minutes this time, but I'll probably get faster. I had a lot of experience with pin sites before - I did my own dressings for the 4 months I was in external fixation from Aug - Dec 2010. In all honesty I prefer doing my own dressings - nobody will take as much care as me! It's my leg!