Chronic wounds were making life miserable for Evelyn. But then she met Melanie and an expert, sensitive treatment changed her life again.
At just 35 years old, Evelyn* was younger than the average chronic wound patient. For a year, she had been suffering from acne inversa, a condition that left her with abscesses all over her body, some measuring more than four centimetres across.
Her legs were badly affected and every step she took brought pain. Each bandage change was excruciating. It was difficult for her to shower since her wound dressings were not waterproof.
She was relying heavily on her husband and son. Being in severe pain and having to attend frequent medical appointments meant Evelyn was frequently absent from work. Ultimately, she lost her job – as well as her confidence and sense of self.
In the frontline
That’s where Melanie Näf came in. As a wound expert for a Swiss organisation that provides nursing care to people in their homes, Melanie is on the frontline in the battle against chronic wounds.
Her role demands diagnostic accuracy and attention to the needs of every patient. “We learn every crease and contour of their skin to make sure we find the best way to heal their wound,” she says.
And, as Melanie points out, the stakes are high: “Two days with the wrong treatment plan and you’ve lost a patient’s trust, wasted a product and squandered scarce financial resources.”
Freedom from pain
Melanie changed Evelyn’s treatment by using a hydro-responsive wound dressing from HARTMANN. This removes and absorbs damaged tissue – a gentler option than the weekly debridement treatments Evelyn had been enduring when tissue was removed with a scalpel.
Melanie recalls: “Evelyn’s demeanour changed immediately. She was free from the pain, and from a life dictated by her dressing changes, which were now only happening every third day.”
After just a few weeks of this new regime, Evelyn was able to enjoy the first swim of the summer season at her local swimming pool. A year on, she was back to her old self – with a new job.
“Evelyn reclaimed her life,” says Melanie. “In these moments, I have a sense of pride as a caregiver.”
Rising to the challenge
Millions of us will experience a chronic wound at some time during our lives. Beyond the difficulties of living with this condition, there can be long-term consequences. Possible complications include cellulitis, gangrene, haemorrhage and amputations.
The burden of this condition will only increase by the rapid ageing of populations in developed countries – and will affect patients, families, healthcare systems and societies. This is something Melanie has seen in her own experience. In her work in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, she says she’s seen the number of wound patients increase rapidly – as much as 30 percent year on year.
“It’s a challenge that’s constantly evolving,” says Melanie. “But it’s rewarding and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
* patient name adapted