Around 7.30pm, a nurse came into the room to check my vital signs and examine my Jackson Pratt (JP) drain. Much more of a blessing than a hindrance, the JP drain is a soft perforated rubber tube which snakes around The Area Formerly Known As My Right Breast (TAFKAMRB) just under the skin, exits my body through an incision under my armpit, and terminates after about 2 feet of nonperforated exterior tubing in a squeezable bulb. It functions somewhat like the French drain surrounding the basement walls of our house. Continuous compression of the bulb creates a suction which pulls liquid through the drain perforations from TAFKAMRB, down through the tube, and into the bulb where it’s stored and then emptied periodically. The desired result is a reduction in swelling, risk of infection, and discomfort. My drain will be in place until its output falls below 30ml/day, maybe in another week or two.
Once she’d finished with my drain and blood pressure check, the nurse helped me make my way over to use the bathroom. I was lightheaded, a bit unsteady on my feet, a touch nauseated, and, when finished, anxious to return to my hospital bed. The nurse then plugged my iv machine back into the electrical outlet and revelcroed my calves into cuffs attached to the Prophylactic Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) machine, which alternated between inflating the left and right cuff to prevent blood clots from forming in my legs. One might hope that it could also simulate a lower leg massage, but perhaps that can be designed into a later model.
Next, having happily graduated from ice chips, I downed some water and child-sized boxes of juice. And although my ravenous appetite from the afternoon had not yet returned, I ordered a dinner tray before falling asleep yet again.
Around 9.30pm, I attempted to consume a few bites from my dinner tray, but didn’t find the soggy vegetables or peculiar quiche imposter to be terribly appetizing. Plus, every time I stood up to make the trek to the bathroom, I experienced gentle but increasing waves of nausea. Finally, at 1.30am the next morning, the nausea peaked, I returned my few bites of dinner to sender, and felt much better.
The true turning point arrived at 5am. After having slept through most of the previous 14 hours, I awoke alert and realized that my brain fog had cleared, I had no pain, no more dizziness, no more nausea, and I was famished.
BTW, in case you’re interested, the total copayment for my breast surgeon, anesthesiologist, attending OR personnel, all medication, overzealous waiting room volunteer, use of OR and private hospital room with private bath, pathology work, soggy vegetables, and cheerful 24 hour attention came to a whopping $200.
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