A Long Attachment

Read no further if you are squeamish, read on if you are going to have an operation or look after an operatee.

Torrential rain immediately after my operation meant helpers did not have to water the garden and I wasn’t missing much in the outside world. I wasn’t as incapacitated as I expected, but for nearly two weeks I was attached to a long tube which led to the wound drainage bottle – a contraption the district nurse said she hadn’t seen before, patients often have bags that are changed daily. A green concertina device showed if the vacuum was still intact, the same principle as syphoning petrol.

In the days when people spent a good few days in hospital after an operation they would be attached to all sorts of tubes putting fluids in and taking other fluids out; people who managed to avoid hospitals would know little about such mysteries. One of the the district nurse’s daily tasks was to measure output and replace a bottle if the suction went. Carrying this bottle, even with the handy bag sewn by a kind patient who had invented them, was like never being able to put your shopping bag down. I was also constantly forgetting it was attached. If I had known that the amount of tube inside me was about a foot long I would not have worried so much about pulling it out. Family and visitors wondered what was going into the bottle to make the ‘strawberry smoothie’ – some blood plus a lot of lymph fluid that wasn’t sure where to go after all the lymph nodes were removed. We all know about blood circulating and kidneys etc, but the lymphatic system is unfairly ignored by most of us!

This long attachment precluded any serious attempt to get dressed or try on the surgical bra and foam falsie, but haven’t half of us lived in our dressing gowns since Covid started? So what to do except sit and receive visitors, cards and flowers? I soon got bored with resting; thank goodness for the back garden, I could sneak out and do some dead heading when the rain stopped. I tried to avoid the kitchen; family were great with meals and coffee and tea for visitors, but there was a relaxed attitude to washing up and tidying the kitchen!  

The wound was sewn up with dissolvable stitches, sealed with ‘superglue’ and a hundred steri strips and to my relief the dressing stayed put for the required two weeks. The super glue allowed showering, though soaking in the bath was not recommended. The whole area stayed numb for ages and I felt like a first stage Cyborg, half my rib cage replaced by a steel plate. There are exercises to do from day one, then more after the drain is taken out and continued for ever… Lifting is forbidden to start with and reaching up for things catches you out.

I was glad to get out for walks once the bottle had gone, now there was another week to wait before going back to the hospital for pathology results.

33 thoughts on “A Long Attachment

  1. You’ve coped well! I had blood transfusion, drips and drains + catheter after having my firstborn and remember it all very well. I was literally bed-bound and it’s great when it’s all gone! I am on the long, long list for an op myself, though Heaven knows when it will be, as it’s to remove a bone in my wrist. Let’s hope all continues well for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Grace, yes I am grateful that my sort of op seems to have escaped the long waiting list. What an ordeal with your first born and when you have a caesarean they expect you to look after a baby as well! I seem to recall saying at the time I would like to have an operation and be pampered without a baby to look after – be careful what you wish for!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really glad things have gone so well. It sounds like you’ve coped with the drain very well even though you found the no-no’s too like stretching. I’m hoping you’ve been for the pathology results and had good news. It’s nigh on 50 years since I had the lymph nodes removed from the top of my inside right leg after finding a growth there. Like you I had a drainage line but at least I didn’t need a falsie which would have brought the visitors flooding in.
    Anyway, here I still am. with no sign of Covid taking me either. Nor you.
    Good Luck and Massive Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Not so much gory bits but the bits they miss out when they say the patient is recovering; a bit like ‘in one bound Janet was free’. Hopefully this is educational for us and therapeutic for you. I’d say hang in there but with the bags and drips and all, I’ll settle for keep being you.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Goodness me, Janet, I didn’t know anything about your health problems and need for surgery. I only took a few weeks’ blogging break and return to mayhem! Glad you seem to be on the road to recovery.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Mary; rather like social media where people post out of the blue ‘the life saving surgery went well and I’m managing fine with one leg’ – then all their friends and followers feel guilty for not knowing and have to post gushing good wishes.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I think I’ve read that superglue was invented in WW1 to help our wounded soldiers or was it WW2. I swear by super glue for miner burns and cuts. Takes the sting away immediately. Of course that’s minor compared to what you have been through. I wish you well

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I had one of those drainage bags hanging off my throat after my thyroid surgery. It gives one a whole new appreciation of how effective our skin is at keeping all that gloopy liquid-y stuff on the inside. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had a bag on a pole when I was in hospital recently, but was able to get to the loo on my own. For some reason the pole was always the wrong side, so I had to do a little dance round it before I could sit down. Perhaps the original idea came from dancing round the Maypole. 😀
    Wishing you a speedy recovery and good results, Janet.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t find this squeamish at all, but amazed at how well you can view it and write about it. I suppose a sense of humor helps us get through the tough stuff. I hope you share with us what was excised and how your pathology report goes. We’re all hoping it’s the best news…

    Liked by 1 person

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