Last week (how time flies!) I went back to the surgeon for my 2-week update. My hope was that the nasty surgical drains would be removed, but I knew going in that it wasn’t likely. In fact, when he asked me how I was feeling, I said “Physically much better. Emotionally, pretty crabby since I know I will leave with drains.”
He ended up removing two and leaving me with the ones that have been draining the most. The normal rule is that you keep the drains until the total daily output is no more than 30cc of fluid for two consecutive days. Unfortunately I have one that generates almost 90cc in the course of a day which makes me annoyed, plus it’s literally a pain in the butt.
One reason for the annoyance are the limited clothing options (hello, red moleskin shirt!). I know that when the drains are gone, I will finally start to really see the results of the surgery. I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything I should be eating (or not eating), or increasing or decreasing kinds of movement and even sleep to speed things along. At the same time, I also know that having the fluid removed from my insides is good for my healing and I should just shut up about it and let things go at their own speed.
My boss and I talked last week about coming back to work. After she heard about what the surgical drains actually involved, she said I should stay home until they’re gone. But what if I go back on Wednesday and still have one? I can’t stay here forever. Maybe I need a note from the doctor saying it’s okay for me to deal with them at work without increased risk of infection.
Because that’s another possible complication: the longer you have the things in, the greater the risk of infection. It’s hard to change the dressings when they’re on your butt and you can’t actually see what you’re doing.
Now let’s whine about the arms. I hate the ace bandages that are the compression gear for the upper arms. I’m using the self-stick kind with the ends taped together to try and make it stay put. I’m not so good at wrapping, though I’m getting lots of practice. I would really like to graduate to “wear 12 hours, leave off 12 hours” but don’t know if my doctor is likely to go for it. He’s pretty conservative.
The upper arm incision still has stitches that need to be removed, hopefully this week (I know, I’m terribly optimistic about this week’s visit). It runs from my elbow along the bottom of the arm up across the armpit and wrapping slightly under the arm to my back. I wear dressings on the “around the armpit” stitches and the only way to hold them in place (at least with my Wikipedia medical degree) is to wrap the whole thing across the shoulder with 2″ medical paper tape. I have lots of sticky residue in some complicated to reach places.
And I want a shower. I really really want a shower, which I can’t have until the drains are out. So I’m back to them again. Blech.
On the plus side, I’m completely off of pain meds (and have been for about 10 days) and cleared to drive. I’ve been out in the car twice and it felt so good to not have to depend on neighbors, friends, and cabs to get places. The big incision seems to be healing nicely and I can actually lift both legs up on the bed without using my scarf as a sling. This is huge. My abs are not totally happy about it but I feel very accomplished. And my ankles and calves are no longer swollen with edema.
So that’s where I am at almost 3 weeks post-op. I don’t regret doing this but wish I’d had better idea of how much it would take out of me and how long certain things were going to go (think drains). Much of it, though, can’t be just set in stone. It depends on the body and how it wants to heal. And it IS healing.
Thanks so much, everyone, for your kind thoughts.