Okay, let’s get the fun part of the news out of the way first. Last night my chest drain tube was clamped at 20.00h to see whether I can function okay without it, prior to a good x-ray and then to remove it before going home. Almost from the get go I could feel a build up on my right side, like I was being inflated. When I pressed the area I could again feel the snow field of air in the muscle.
When I laid down on my back it felt like I had a pillow propping me up on my right side. The night passed fine, perfectly good drug aided sleep (though fewer drugs now as the pain is lessening with healing) interrupted only by nurses for their data collection.
The morning brought the therapist, the mobile x-ray and breakfast early to my door. I did not realise just how tech the mobile x-ray machines are. Not only do you is it portable now, the process is wifi connected so your picture goes straight to a computer for viewing. Marvellous. After those three came Dr B., which meant the x-ray looked good. He unclamped the tube and saw there were few bubbles, which he sort of like but when I mentioned how quickly I ballooned up with air in the muscle he said that’s not good. The problem, he thinks, is firstly there is lung all around the end of the tube and some air is not managing to get to the tube to disperse out. In addition, because the system for the laproscopic thoracotomy has an automated grafting process for the remaining lung sections, it copes less well with a lung that is diseased, destroyed by smoking. The seals are not tight on the grafts and air is escaping and settling in muscle. The solution is logical but irritating. He has changed the dressing for ones with packing and compression bandages and I am now bound tighter than a Chinese foot, tighter than Barbra Streisand in Yentl. And, guess what? We wait. Two days he thinks and then we try the clamping again, perhaps Monday night, and if that’s good the tube will come out and I’ll be out by the end of the week. So, all in all the minimum is another week inside. Dr B tells me this happens in about 10-15% of cases is not exceptional. The alternative to binding me is going back in and that’s something neither of us want. Going back in to find the leaks and plug them means a standard thoracotomy with the the big entry wound, rib spreaders and a long, slow, painful recovery period. On top of that not only might not be successful, it might also make things worse. So, we wait. I keep a brave face because the logic is fine and to be honest with you, I’d rather have delays and irritations while he’s making sure everything is all right and I’m in tip top condition to go home than a quick exit and a return with all kinds of extra invasive measures. So, chin up, chaps!