Surgical site infections that develop after vascular and cardiac surgery are often treated with Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT). Due to the severity of the infection and risk of bleeding, this NPWT often requires hospitalisation. Fourteen patients were selected for qualitative interviews to investigate their experiences and the meaning of patient participation during hospitalisation with NPWT. Results show that hospitalisation induces tension between an intrusion of privacy and being part of a community. Patients do not feel ill nor are considered ill. They feel minimised, lack participation and miss continuity, yet they still accept their circumstances by adjusting to hospital routines and treatment. The hospital's organisational framework compromises patient participation, yet patients still participate in supporting their own wound healing. They worry, are bored, lack a clear time horizon, and appear to be in an apathetic mood despite having significant time on their hands. In conclusion, the tension between a patient's privacy and sense of community, as well as involuntary participation in other patients' lives, compromises dignity and increases stress. Wound healing appears to be prolonged due to fasting, inactivity and stress. Self-reliant patients are at risk of being minimised and lack adequate emotional care, and the hospital's organisational framework hampers patient feelings of involvement and participation.