Tag Archives: Surgical drain

Happy ending?

WARNING: NSFW / graphic content below.

One week after exchange surgery, during which my right tissue expander was replaced with an implant, I am feeling fantastic! My recovery has been going very well and I like what I see. The surgery took a few hours; I was home by 2pm. I left the hospital in a bra and with a drain exiting my right armpit. I suspected I would have one, so while still a big bummer, it was not a surprise. The pain level was low overall (maybe a 3). The following days were uneventful. I spent the weekend home alone, mostly reading and sleeping.

Pain Scale

Drain tubeAlthough my level of activity was low, drain output was 80mL for the first couple of days, so it had to stay in a bit longer. During my second follow up appointment, on Monday, the drain was removed. About a foot of tubing, which was placed in the pocket around the implant, was pulled out (see pic on right: from the black stitch just under the hand, all the way down!). This is usually not painful, just weird. Good riddance! Feeling so much better with that thing out of me. Dr. M declared that things were looking good and ordered a follow up a week later.

So, how are things looking? You tell me!

2015_7_30

Mentor round, smooth, high profile, silicone in 450ccs. Left in pic: 1 week, right: 10 months.

IMG_3901I am still swollen and bruised (Arnica helped), but the result is pretty darn good, considering the circumstances. I’m hesitant to celebrate, however. With my history, I have a few more weeks to go until I can breathe a little easier. The issues I experienced after my last two exchange surgeries (see: Houston, we have a problem and Déjà vu) both happened about a month out. So, fingers crossed that this is my happy ending! I can’t wait to move on with my life.

Advertisements

Buh bye, drain

10/10 people who have had major surgery will list having drains at the top of the list of “things that suck about this.” Today, I said tata to my ninth drain thus far. I hate those suckers (pun intended). Buh bye, drain. I will NOT miss you at all.

Tard on drains

Anti ode to the surgical drain

A week after my revision surgery, I am happy to say that the drain is finally gone! Out of eight drains that I’ve had to endure, only two have caused me pain when being pulled out. This one was brutal. Tears-in-my-eyes, screaming-on-the-inside, get-this-thing-out-of-me type of pain. I felt every inch of it coming out. The pain was about an 11. Good riddance!

Pain Scale

Things are healing well and looking great. I am very happy with my right side and the volume we ended up with. Also glad to say that there is no necrosis in sight and bruising is at a minimum. I will keep an eye out for a seroma, now that the drain is gone, but don’t expect an issue. Antibiotics have been refilled for another week and my first expansion appointment is scheduled for May 14. I leave you today with my anti ode to the drain:

Surgical drain, o surgical drain
You are a necessary evil
But you cause much pain
Like a device that’s primeval

Waking up with you attached
Is more than a disappointment
You truly were a nuisance
Your level of awkwardness unmatched
I hated all the discomfort
I felt like a mutant

Your home was my armpit
You stayed way too long
You were my hate’s target
You really just din’t belong

You caused me much anger
And a lot of disgust
Anxious to rid of you
You felt like a dagger
You, I have freely cussed
Very happy to say adieu

Attitude is everything

Attitude

Yes, THIS. I have hit a  pretty huge speed bump on my road to being finished. A major setback that’ll add at least three more months to this process. When I had my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy in January, I expected to be finished by mid-summer. HA! It’s almost January again! Yes, I’m devastated and angry, but there really isn’t anything I can do about it now except focus on recovery and what’s ahead of me.

Attitude really is everything. While you cannot always control what happens to you or around you, you have complete control over your reaction to it. I have chosen to continue to be positive, because the alternative won’t help anyone or improve my situation.

Good news x 3

I saw Dr. M for a follow up on Friday.

  1. The Lone Drainger is out! Whoop whoop! I was producing less than 15 mL/day.
  2. Culture results are good and show no signs of infection. This doesn’t mean I didn’t have one, it means that the antibiotics I have been on since Monday are working.
  3. TESSAI might not have to have a tissue expander!!! Dr. M thinks the tissue won’t retract so much that I would have to start all over. If all looks good in a few months, he will place the implant via a small hole in my armpit using the TESSA technique (Transaxillary Endoscopic Subpectoral Smooth Augmentation). This was the best news! It also means that we will NOT have to mess with the incision/scar again.

Shower time

Taking a shower after a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy can be a challenge. For the first few days after the procedure, it is not a good idea, because of limits on mobility/range of motion, weakness, and the presence of surgical drains. Some doctors instruct their patients not to shower until the drains have been removed. Until that time, sponge baths are the way to go. I got clearance from my doctor to take a shower four days after my procedure. I almost hugged him when he uttered those words.

The magical day was Saturday (surgery was Tuesday). I waited until about 30 minutes after taking a dose of pain meds, so they had a chance to work their magic. My equipment:

  • Someone to help
  • Shower chair or a small cooler with a towel draped over it
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Regular pouf
  • Back brush/pouf

The whole process took somewhere around 30 minutes, with most of it spent on undressing and then putting clothing back on in what seemed like slow motion. I wore my underpants and clipped my drains to them (washed my butt last:)). An alternative is to wear a shoestring or a lanyard around the neck and clip the drains to that.

Yoshi

Yoshi: my fav t-rex

I sat on the cooler facing away from the shower head and let the water run down my back rather than directly onto my incision sites and boobies. I insisted on doing the washing, including my hair. It was tough to reach up and scrub – taking it slow and noting when it was too much was the key. The back bush helped with the hard-to-reach places. It was a much needed extension of my t-rex arms. I put antibac soap directly on my hands and gently washed the incision sites, the armpits where the drains exited, and the rest of the chest. After showering, I patted the chest dry with a clean, sanitized towel. This was a much needed refresher!

Sasquatch xing

Sasquatch xing

In one week, I progressed from the sit-down shower or a bath (water level below the chest) to my first real, solo, stand-up shower. The day I wrote this post, nine days post-op, I felt limber enough to shave my legs. Someone release the marching band! My armpits are still a bit sasqutch-esque, because the drain tube holes haven’t completely healed, so I’ll hold off shaving them.

Day 3 of recovery, infinity, and beyond!

Drain removal

This day (Friday; surgery was Tuesday) was one of the first post-mastectomy happy days. Had the first follow up appointment with my plastic surgeon. I was up on my feet by this day, but not yet running laps around the neighborhood. We pulled up to the hospital and a nurse came out to get me with a wheelchair. I wore my beautiful Pink Passion recovery gown.

Drain in right armpit

Drain in right armpit

Dr. M noted that I was recovering nicely thus far. My drain output was very low on the two anterior drains (20ml/day each), so it was time to remove them. The sensation of the tube being pulled out was odd, but not very painful. The little pain I experienced was from the stretching of the hole in my armpit through which the tube passed. [Side note: I know the pic on the right is gnarly, but I gave you fair warning (top right of every page) that I include content that is NSFW/graphic, so deal with it.] The two posterior drain tubes were still kicking out about 60ml/day, so they were left in for a few more days.

The tubes serve a very important role during the recovery process: they remove the extra fluids your body produces as it heals itself around the incision and surgery sites. If those fluids are not taken away, seromas or hematomas can develop.

A seroma is a pocket of clear serous fluid that sometimes develops in the body after surgery. When small blood vessels are ruptured, blood plasma can seep out; inflammation caused by dying injured cells also contributes to the fluid.

Seromas are different from hematomas, which contain red blood cells, and form abscesses, which contain pus and result from an infection. – Wikipedia

Sleeping

Roses from a dear friend

Roses from a dear friend

I was expecting to be doing a lot of snoozing because of the narcotics, but was very surprised by how awake, alert, and active I was immediately after my return home from the hospital. I spent a lot of time online – most often in one of the FaceBook groups (See: Resources), keeping friends up-to-date, writing thank you cards, walking around the house, and general random stuff. I found that if I settled in on the recliner and forced myself to calm down and close my eyes, I didn’t have any trouble sleeping, but overall I was not beat by any means.

Exercises

I did post-op exercises from Casey Eischen’s program a few times per day. Each day it was a bit easier and I could do more.

2/1: Check out a more recent post about exercise and nutrition: Foobie Fitness

I was excited about Saturday, because I got clearance from Dr. M to take a shower! He even told me to wash my own hair. Who would’ve thought I’d be that ecstatic about bathing. More on that next.