When I began blogging about my journey with breast cancer, I wanted to make certain that I was real. My feelings and emotions expressed through my writing are real, and I don't want to sugar-coat the experience. This is as real as it gets...I can't just pick the days that I want to have breast cancer, nor can I just pick the parts of surgery, recovery or treatment that I want to experience.
As I asked other survivors, patients who had breast surgery, and researched on the Internet, everyone and every article mentioned the dreaded "surgical drains", and how they were the worst part of the entire experience. You may think this is too graphic, too much information, or that I shouldn't include this, but as my goal has been all along...this is real. Drainage tubes are a very real part of my recovery...and therefore my blog.
A drain was inserted underneath my arm. It is secured with a stitch, and apparently ropes through my breast area, underneath the skin. The drain helps release blood and lymphatic fluids that could build-up up in my breast area, causing swelling, discomfort and possible infection. You can read more about mastectomy surgical drains here. The empty drain looks like a grenade, and the suction pulls down fluid through the drain.
The drain has to be emptied, and the contents recorded. The color will change from dark red (Wednesday and Thursday) to a more light color; right now it's turning orange-red. There may also be solid bits of clots or tissue mixed in the fluid. Each time the drain is emptied, the amount and time must be recorded. The drainage tube usually remains in one-two weeks, so I hope that it will be removed at Thursday's appointment.
It has been a family effort to empty the drains. I find that I like them emptied every 2-3 hours, as the weight tends to start pulling a bit on the stitch. We've attempted several different things today, and have discovered that a piece of gauze cut around the point of insertion helps distribute weight evenly.
After each empty, the amount is measured in a specimen cup, recorded on the log and then discarded. Arleigh has taken it upon herself to be the official "disposer"...and tells everyone it's "her job" to pour the contents into the toilet and flush!
I am very fortunate that my parents have been able to be with us during my recovery. Mom and Dad were able to attend the "Grandparent's Day" breakfast with Griffen yesterday, and then watch Adelia perform with the "Marching Greyhounds" last night at the home football game. Arleigh is enjoying having full access to Nana's jewelry and perfume, too! Many of you know how Jeff's work schedule is, so having him home 24/7 is a great treat for the children. Spending time with my family are sprinkles on my day, as are the prayers, cards, messages, emails, flowers and homemade goodies that friends have gifted us with. Thank you!
As with most pain medications and surgery, I'm a little "behind" schedule in certain areas. So far, no amount of Colace, watermelon, mixed green salad or raisin bran has helped. Please pray that this will be remedied soon!