I was released before Christmas with a big bottle of oxycodone
and a huge sack of 4x4 gauze pads and 4x7 microfoam pads
The drainage tube incision just would not stop gushing. This caused a small battle between the nursing staff and the attending physician. Head nurse says I can't/shouldn't be released with that much drainage. AP says "she's healthy as a horse... it'll taper off and she'll be fine." Head nurse calls in pain management team to help her case, but I'm not in major pain so no help there. She then calls in wound care team, but before they can get there the AP has signed my release papers. (Cleaning staff is probably sighing with relief since I've literally depleted the supply of clean gowns, sheets, and blankets on the 15th floor
I take a taxi to my apartment and start an endless cycle of bandage changes. Every 1-2 hours I soak through five 4x4 8-ply gauze pads. The output is so heavy that I "float" the microfoam coverings right off my skin. I don't dare sleep in my bed (since I don't have a cleaning staff to do my laundry like at MSK). I seriously think about wrapping myself in plastic and sleeping on the floor. In the end, I decide to sleep on the couch and set an alarm for every 2 hours to change the bandage. Once in awhile it only takes an hour to soak through and soon my pajama top is covered in yellow slime.
After 2 days of this, I am tired, cranky, and "slimed-out." My skin, which hates tape anyway, has big, red, bloody lesions from the 8-10 times daily bandage changes. My right side looks like I've been in a fight with a slimy alien and lost the battle. The rate of drainage is not decreasing a bit. I reread the discharge instructions and laugh when I get to the part about "cover the drainage tube wound with a small band aid if you like."
I head to ER. Of course I forget I'm officially registered as "infectious" until pathology finishes analyzing the excised tissue. I put on the mask and they run a bunch of tests. I'm running a slight fever and am dehydrated, but everything else checks out fine. They call the AP and he comes in full of apologies. He raises my gown, sees the bloody lesions and visibly winces. He says my skin can't handle anymore bandage changes (Duh!) and he is going to stitch the wound shut. He promises he will do his "cosmetic surgeon" stitches. He stitches away, once in awhile making me cough, which makes yellow slime ooze out between the stitches. Then I lay still for a few hours while they give me saline and we both pray the stitches hold.
I left ER around 4 pm last night, just as a nor'easter was working its way into the city. I stood in ankle-deep water to hail a taxi, got to my apartment, and belly-flopped onto the bed. Even the wind howling outside my 32nd floor apartment windows didn't keep me awake and I had 8 glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep.
I guess if I learned anything from this, it's that no two surgeries are the same, even for the same person. While the drainage problem was annoying rather than medically dangerous, it felt wrong
-- mainly because nothing like that happened after my other two lung resections. Not only is each person's surgery experience unique, but even for the same
person having the same
surgery, each experience is unique.