After all my appointments and posting on Friday, we had a change when we emptied my drains. Drain #1 which is on my right (non-cancer) side had green fluid. Everything I read about green fluid was not good so I called the doctor on call to see if we needed to do anything. I didn’t have any other signs of infection so he didn’t seem too worried and told me that it can be protein build up. As long as I felt good and the skin looked good over the weekend I should call my plastic surgeon on Monday. So, I called today and he had me read him all of my drain outputs (we’ve been logging everything twice a day) and he said to come over and get all my drains out! Surprise! Hooray! So I went over this afternoon for that adventure. I was pretty nervous about how it would feel, but mostly excited to have them out.
The nurse told me the worst part would be the tape which I of course thought was a complete lie, but it turned out to be true. Cutting the stitches wasn’t great either – she said I had scabbed a good bit and kind of had skin growing around them so they were tough to get to. However, pulling the drains out didn’t feel like much honestly. I’m guessing because the nerves are mostly gone. I could feel the ones that went up my sides under my arms just a bit – I could feel the movement but no pain. It was just kind of an uncomfortable take some deep breaths kind of feeling and then they were out. They were really in there too – probably about a foot of tubing came out and you know I took pictures. You can see where the tape and stitches are on the tubing – that is where it entered my skin so everything above that was inside.
Once the tubes were out, she covered the holes with a lot of antibiotic ointment and gauze pads and taped everything in place. I have to change the dressings twice a day and can’t shower for 48 hours or until they’ve sealed up. Here’s what they look like (sorry for the gross factor):
You can really see how irritated my skin is from the tape being there for two and a half weeks. I had a lot of itching too which will hopefully get better now. At least I can put ointment on it now.
I’ve also looked back at what I wrote during my time in the hospital and am surprised that I missed a couple of the biggest things that went on while I was there. First was the itching – it was like I had poison ivy all over my body for several days. Apparently it was a reaction to the anesthesia and was why they were giving me Benedryl. It was bad enough that they had to lift me up in post-op recovery to scratch my back and I kept having to ask them to scratch me for days. My sister was a saint and spent hours just scratching me. The other big issue was with breathing and my O2 saturation. First I kept forgetting to breathe. Like seriously forgetting. They had to put a special kind of oxygen tubing on me that went over my mouth as well as up my nose so that it would record my carbon dioxide as well and make sure that I was breathing properly. When my reps got below a certain amount I had a machine on my right that would alarm to prompt me to breathe. This machine would go off I think 4 times and if I wasn’t breathing better than another machine on my left would alarm which would signal the nurses and a respiration specialist. The big machine went off a lot unfortunately so it was a pretty big issue. But it did finally improve. The other problem was my O2 which would plummet into the 70’s anytime they took me off oxygen. That lasted most of the week and I was only able to be off oxygen for a day or so before they discharged me. My low blood pressure didn’t help anything either. There were times when it was about 70/40 so it was pretty bad. I had a really hard time with dizziness, etc. as you can imagine. Anyway, I’m happy to report those are all memories and everything is better at this point.
I’m still on the pain meds and these tissue expanders really suck. But, at least I’m making progress. I keep reminding myself that when my port was put in I never thought it would feel normal but after about 5 weeks it started feeling better. I know the tissue expanders will be different since they will keep changing with fills – but at least I have some hope that at some point they will feel better. Right now I am just constantly being stabbed in the ribs. At least I can put my arms down finally without the drains in and I am thankful for whatever I can get.