Since it's insertion, my JP drain had been steadily declining in efficiency. In fact, the drain's lackluster performance is what extended my original hospital stay from one overnight to two and included a few tense moments when a not-my-surgeon-rounds-doctor put me on an NPO (Nothing Per Orem) order the morning after surgery and threatened a return trip to the OR.
Thankfully my fandamntastic I-don't-have-time-for-BS-and-don't-give-any-either surgeon showed up an hour later.
"So, we could have a bleeder and we could take you back in there but, honestly, I tend to defer to my patients. So? How do you feel?" Her eyes met mine. Direct. Sincere. No nonsense.
You answer women like this (especially your doctors) with the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
"Fine. Sore. Tired. And I want to go home, " I answered honestly and succinctly.
"So you don't feel like you're bleeding out?"
"Nope." (Seconds later I wondered if I'd even know what that felt like but c'est la vie)
"Great! Then let's keep you one more night just to be safe and you can go home in the morning. I won't be upstairs until the afternoon so either the rounds doc can release you or you can wait for me and go home in the afternoon."
"Here," I said stretching out my right arm and making a good effort with the sorer left side. "Then let me hug you know because I won't be here in the afternoon!"
At 6:56am the next morning (6/19), I sent the following text to my still sleeping husband:
I can go home whenever you come get me. Please bring coffee! XO
(Twenty seconds later, I called just to make sure he was awake, not wanting to spend any extra minutes attached to needles, confined to wards or dressed in hospital gownage - although I'd added yoga pants to the mix shortly after surgery so I could walk around).
On Thursday 6/20, I walked 1.74 miles and began weening myself off the narcos. Being home was wonderful for my recovery but the drain didn't perform any better on my home turf. And yet the seroma I'd developed had not continued to grow. So, this morning my rationalization for asking for drain removal involved the increased risk of infection for what was amounting to ~7-10ml of fluid drainage per 24 hours.
On the drive over, I'd admitted to my husband that the breakfast I'd eaten wasn't based on normal morning hunger or routine but was simply insurance. A full belly insured no one could drag my ass back into the OR anytime soon! A childish move but sometimes you do what you have to do.
As Dr. Z (a wildcard doc I'd never met) entered the room, I quickly started to plead my case.
"So the drain's not working. It's really never worked. I just really want it out," I explained, simple and to the point.
"It's not working?" her interest piqued.
"Well since leaving the hospital I have only gotten between 7 and 10 ml of fluid a day."
"So it IS working."
"Well. Not WELL," I replied nervously. "It's never worked well. They kept me an extra day because it didn't work well."
"But it IS working," she smiled sweetly.
"Well it's far under the 30ml a day production level so I just want it out," I stammered, desperate to come up with the right words to have the damn thing removed.
"Oh. Yes. I'm here to take it out. See? All the drawers are unlocked so I can get to the supplies to remove it," the sweet smile sincere, a twinkle of amusement in her eye. "I just wanted to confirm that it wasn't NOT working at all. THEN we'd have a problem."
All I could do was exhale.
"Oh," I breathed as I tossed my head back in what was surely a display of mental exhaustion. "Thank you."
If you've ever had a JP drain removed, I need not explain the process. If you haven't, you probably don't want to know the details. Suffice it to say the amount of tube-age pulled out of my left side was staggering and the sensation of having said tube-age pulled out manually was... well... uncomfortably weird.
And immediately I felt better. Way better.
For a few blissful moments.
In that tiny room, in the span of fewer than 30 minutes, I not only had the drain removed, I also had my first look at the diagonal incision that has replaced my left breast.
And discovered the pathology results have come back.
And both of those topics are subjects of other posts.