Drainage tubes. The bane of my existence. They have to be milked and drained several times a day and the amount of fluid from each drain has to be recorded. Yes, you read right…milked and drained. Sounds like I’m a dairy cow….without teets!
Let me try to explain how these things work. One end of the tube is like a set of weeping tiles. It is a long piece with several holes running along the area. This part is deep inside my chest just below the crease under what used to be my breast. There is one on each side and you can feel them gurgling as fluid seeps into the holes and enters the rest of the tube. The tubes come out of the side of my chest through an incision and have been sutured in place. Problem is that the sutures pull and get stuck in the dressings causing much distress on my part. The tubes come out about 20 inches and finish with what looks like a hand grenade. This is where the fluid accumulates and has to be drained. It’s gross. There’s no other way to describe it. Milking the drains involves sliding a pencil along the tubes, stretching them as you roll the pencil to help create suction and move the fluid down to the grenade. They have to be ‘milked’ as clots and other stringy bits of yuck form in the drains and can clog them. You DON’T want that to happen. If the fluid can’t escape then a blockage can cause swelling, lymphedema, pain and infection. That may then require more surgery…and nobody wants that. In my case, the suture on the left side of my chest is leaking. That can happen as the skin isn’t closed tightly and every time I move my arm it pulls. Unfortunately, leaking requires dressing changes. Dressing changes require removal of old bandages and tape, and removing them requires me to bite down on a leather strap to keep from screaming when everything is pulled off.
Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but only slight. My entire chest is black and blue, swollen and extremely tender. So any tugging, pulling, pressure or manipulation is very painful. Hopefully we will get it under control and I can breathe a little easier. Until then, the milking and draining continues every few hours. How moo-velleous!
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.