Any fluid that accumulates in your abdomen (blood, pus, saline solution that was used to irrigate during surgery, etc) goes out through the tubes and into the bulbs. It was my job to record how much fluid came out (there are measuring lines on the bulbs) and empty the bulbs by removing the little cap and squeezing them into the toilet. I had to do this a few times a day. It's not as gross as it sounds, honest.
The drains aren't really painful, but they are VERY annoying to lug around with me everywhere. Especially in the shower. I can get totally naked in the shower, but I have four tubes coming out of my groin and hip areas. Jerry (or my mom) has to stand there while I shower and hold the tubes so that my hands are free to wash myself.
You'll notice that the color and amount of drainage varies in each drain. That's normal. The one on my left hip hasn't drained anything since about two days after surgery.
The compression garment I have to wear is bothersome sometimes, but it actually feels good to have everything feel like it's being held together. Sometimes I worry that one little sneeze or cough will make my whole incision pop open. Or it'll make this new "girdle" of skin pop open and my stomach will look like what it used to (not that it's possible for that to happen).
Even with the compression garment off, it feels like I'm wearing some sort of girdle. Everything feels so tight and compressed. I have to wear the compression garment 24/7 for at least 6 weeks. To give you an idea of how tight it's supposed to fit...
|Yes, Dilaudid was flowing through my veins, thankyouverymuch|
The point of wearing the compression garment is to help the skin adhere back to the muscle wall and keep it in shape, which can take 5-6 weeks. Like I said, I like it because it holds everything together. When I'm really swollen, it can be hard to take a deep breath though, because it is so constricting! My abdomen feels SO WEIRD all the time--it's completely numb, but when I press on it, I can see the fluid retention underneath, so it looks "puffy". The doctor said this is normal until the skin adheres back to the muscle.
As far as dressings for the incision go, it totally depends on the surgeon. My surgeon didn't have me use any dressings, which was FANTASTIC. There weren't any stitches on the surface skin--she used internal stitches that my body will absorb, and then she used some sort of glue for the surface. I didn't have any dressing to change, I just have to wear the compression garment at all times (except showering). I actually haven't had any problems at all with the incision (thank goodness!) and it's healing really well. I've been following my surgeon's instructions to the letter for everything, and it's definitely working.
So about the drain removal...
I was terrified. I've read from some sources that it doesn't hurt and just feels "weird" but from other sources that it was excruciating. For the past couple of days, my hips have been hurting, and I think it was from the drains in my hips. They passed right over the bone, which was a very weird feeling and very achy.
Anyway, my appointment was a 3:15, and Jerry drove me. It was about 40 minutes away, which is much closer than the hospital or the Detroit clinic. They had me undress from the waist down, including my compression garment. It was so uncomfortable while waiting for the doctor to come in--I hated sitting there without the garment on, because it felt very tight and weird.
When the doctor came in, she said, "Let's remove some drains!" and I was so excited that she was going to remove all four of them. She looked over the record of the drainage output, and decided to leave one drain in (my left groin) until it puts out less than 30 cc's in a 24 hour period. She said probably Thursday or Friday.
She did my most annoying drain first, my left hip. I was the most nervous for this one, because my hip bones have been so touchy--just weird feeling--lately. She told me to take a deep breath and then blow out hard. While I was exhaling, she pulled it out. Honestly, it didn't hurt at all--just felt VERY VERY strange. Next, she took out the one in my right hip, and same thing--very strange, but no pain. Then she did my right groin, which was the weirdest one of all, because it was SO LONG. I exhaled and it was still coming out, so I took another breath and exhaled again. Finally it was over. I felt so relieved after that!
She checked out my incision all the way around and said it's healing just as expected, so that's good. She told me two more days of lying down or standing (no sitting up). She also cleared me for exercise! She said I can even run if I feel like running--just for the record, I DON'T. She just said no ab-work for a couple more weeks. I've never done ab-work in my life, because there was no real reason to. She said I can sleep on my stomach, if I'm comfortable--hopefully that will cure my insomnia! I hate sleeping any way other than on my stomach. She again stressed the importance of eating a lot of protein for at least the next 5 weeks.
I came home and had a pumpkin brownie that I baked earlier--NOT from scratch ;)
So Robin, one of my readers (she doesn't have a website to link to, otherwise I would), is a graphic designer, and she very generously offered to make me a blog title banner for my page. I sent her a bunch of pictures, and she sent me 3 different banners to choose from. So if you visit my blog, you'll see that I have a new look up top :) I think it turned out GREAT. Can you tell I'm getting bored with all this time on my hands?!