Monday, April 30, 2012

JP Drains-TMI Again

This is another TMI entry. I'm warning you!  If I have to live this disgusting crap, then I'm dragging you down with me.  If you don't want to see the nastiness, or do not want to deal with my current reality, click here instead.

Today I'll explain the biggest current pain in my neck...the JP drains.  These drains are a necessary evil, because they carry the post-op fluids out of my body.  If the drain is pulled to early, it could cause a seroma (sp) that would need constantly drained with a needle frequently, because my body would not be able to absorb all of the extra fluids.   So yes, I get why it must stay.  Yes, I understand that it's for the best.  And yes, I now feel that I've typed enough that the squeamish folks could have clicked away without accidentally seeing anything.

Four times per day, I deal with these stupid things.  There are two long tubes that come out of my body from my left side, and the long tubes each end in a bulb.  The bulb is to be squeezed tightly and then capped, which keeps constant, gentle suction on the drain.  Four times per day, I uncap the bulb, drain the fluid into a cup with measuring lines on the side, and strip the hose from where it exits my body down to the tube.

This last step is to make sure there are no clogs.  It's difficult to strip it without pulling, and pulling HURTS.  I'm learning to pinch with one hand and use the other hand to strip the hose.  Whatever.  Since I already showed a picture of the drains leaving my body, I didn't do that again today.  It's the second image on this entry, although the coloring of my skin looks better now.

So I head into the restroom and get the drains ready.  As usual, drain one is nearly empty and drain two is full.  It hates me.

There are some variances in the color of the fluid, but the main difference with these two today is an optical illusion due to volume.  You can see that the bulbs are squeezed like I mentioned, to keep gentle suction going at all times.  If it is bulb shaped, meaning not squeezed at all, it's not drawing and I have to fix it.  I haven't had to do that since leaving the hospital.

Next, I get my lovely measuring cups out (don't worry if you ever come here for dinner...I don't use THOSE measuring cups,) and empty the contents from the bulbs into the cups.  I could empty drain #1 only once per day since it's so slow, but I always do it when I do the other.  Heck, I'm in there anyway.

Then, as you can see by the above image, I've squeezed the air out again (and stripped the hoses, see how empty they are?) and it's time to read the amounts from the sides of the cup.  Then, I can tuck them away in these discreet little pouches, which Velcro to the bottom of my bra.  Yes, very discreet.  That's not obvious at ALL!  Here they are:

The only way these aren't obvious is if I'm wearing a big ol' sweatshirt over my T shirt, and even then they aren't completely hidden.  This is the reason that, even if I felt amazing (I do NOT) I wouldn't return to work until the drains are gone.  Walking around with extra lumps, stopping to measure and log fluids, etc, etc.  No thanks.

Finally I log the drain amounts on the document in hopes of seeing the amounts drop (they are NOT dropping.)  When drain two gets below 30 cc per day, it can come out.  It put out 50 cc this morning (I slept longer than usual, but still!) so it's not coming out any time soon.  See?

So this is currently my life.  Tomorrow afternoon I have a follow-up appointment with my surgeon (the demo guy.)  He'll probably want to check this portocath, among other things.  (Don't worry, my chest is NOT as hairy as the one in the picture at that link.)  Then, on Thursday I have a follow-up with my oncologist.  I really want to know what the plan is.

I want with ALL of my being to NOT do radiation.  That would delay my reconstruction by as much as a year.  Chemo only slows it down a bit.  Whatever the plan is, let's get it moving.


Forty Pound Sack said...

I wish I had some words of comfort to offer, but I don't. Still, I'm cheering for you all the way. Hope that dang drain starts playing nice soon ~


I know it's not the same thing. But I had a drain in my side from Gall Bladder surgery 30 years ago, draining fluid. So I can understand your frustration with TWO. My biggest complaint about the whole thing was when they PULLED the drain out. No way to describe it. It feels so weird. You'll feel better once you've met with the oncologist to see what the plan forward is. HANG IN THERE. You're in my prayers. Take care.

Anonymous said...
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Donna said...

And who knew, back then, that your daddy would have to have the same kind of stupid drains a few years later.