There's a chink in my armor (no, that's not a racial slur)

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There's a chink in my armor (no, that's not a racial slur)

Written Oct 25, 2013 5:04pm

I have to admit that the ol' emotional gas tank is running a little low these days. My latest and greatest drama has set me back a bit.

Blame it on the drain! (Yes, that is a Milli Vanilli reference and yes, I apologize for it).

I seriously blame it ALL on Drain A, Right Side. I should have just let it stay a few more days. I knew this, yet I still enjoy tempting fate.

In all actuality I don't think that waiting a few more days would have changed the outcome, but the purpose of my story it does.

I was dying to get that final drain out. I was obsessed. I was going to ask nicely, then resort to begging. I was a little nervous my surgeon was going to say he wouldn't take it out since there was still more than the suggested 35ml daily serving size filling up Drain A, Right Side. I was tempted to fudge the numbers in my favor (yes I had to bring an actual paper tracking sheet in to show my progress),but ultimately decided it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do.

I've caught the tubing from Drain A, Right Side on my bedroom doorknob more times than I care to admit. Thankfully I move at the pace of an aging slug chasing a sloth these days, so I didn't do any damage. I was fairly confident that the one time I did exert effort and make a mad dash for whatever reason, I was going to yank that drain out via the doorknob.

So I go in to the surgeon's office on Thursday and ask him to take it out. He said it's really on the fence based upon the numbers on my chart (Dammit!) but if it was really bugging me he would remove it. It's been three weeks, yank that damn thing out!

After here moves it he looks at me and says "Well, if you get any fluid buildup we will just have to take a needle to it". He said this in the same manner and tone of voice one might reserve for having to purchase more toilet paper if we happen to run out.

I gave his comment brief consideration before foolishly writing it off. Why? I don't know. I usually don't write off any sentence containing the word "needle." I guess that is how badly I wanted Drain A, Right Side out.

Apparently my body interpreted his statement as a personal challenge: "I will see your possible drainage and raise you a severe infection/chest wound requiring a hospital visit."

For the record, I did not notice fluid buildup. What I did notice is that my former right boob felt like it was on fire. It also had the bright red color to match.

Friday rolls around.

Fire is the only word to describe it. I left a message for my nurse asking if a fire sensation might be normal for a person in my situation.

Then I realized how completely idiotic my message must have sounded. I laughed and tried to think of a scenario where my nurse might call back a say "Oh sure, perfectly fine. Please go about your day." I know there is no scenario but I had to ask just in case.

My nurse happened to be off for the day, but she didn't like my use of the word "fire" in conjunction with my non-boobs, so she had the surgeon's nurse call me.

After I try to explain the boob fire I was experiencing to her, she says she needs to tell the surgeon about it and he'll call me later.

A few hours later the surgeon calls me and I tell him about my predicament. He asks me if I think it's fluid buildup or an infection.

I am wondering if it's a trick question and he knows I acted prematurely to get my drain out. I confidently exclaim "Infection!" He says ok and calls in a prescription.

Little did I know it was both!

I spend most of Saturday poking and pushing it, asking Dennis if it looked any redder. Way back in the deep depths of my chest, I feel a bit of pressure start to build. I am not yet ready to call it fluid buildup.

Sunday morning rolls around. I open my eyes and immediately sense that something is off. I feel a little too good. At that moment my body takes its cue and kicks in some chills for me.

I have one of those huge body pillows, which I push over to the side so I can get out of bed and I notice the body pillow is a tad heavier than usual. I get out of bed and turn around to make some witty comment to Dennis, when I realize I am staring at a complete outline of my body on the sheets. Sorry to gross you out but there is no way around it. That non-existent fluid buildup? It was no longer built up. Instead it was laid out on the bed before me. At this point I am not sure how the fluids escaped. That part doesn't seem important. I do know that I am still completely grossed out and now short one body pillow.

I sigh as I realize another ER trip is on the horizon. I take my temp so I am armed with the necessary info. 101.3. Fluid buildup, leakage, boob fire, plus fever. Jealous?

Dennis and I get to the ER and I explain my symptoms. I am pretty sure they already had my room prepped and waiting for me. It was Sunday after all.

Unfortunately, I get the ER doctor that reminds me of the dad in Beetlejuice and principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. His resemblance to these two immediately make me question his competence. I really don't recall the sequence of events from that point on, but I am thinking Ed Rooney doesn't believe the full extent of leakage I am describing.

I do recall the moment I heard a weird gurgle sound as I bent over to get more comfortable on the hospital bed. At this point a stream of "fluid buildup" takes this moment to make an escape. I pushed the call button and told the nurses I was leaking and making a mess. I need a new clean, sexy gown ASAP. Dr. Ed comes in and asks what is happening. It is all I can do to not spit out something totally sarcastic. Thankfully my options are so many that it overwhelms me into non-action.

He takes two cotton swabs and mumbles something about getting a sample to the lab. It's fire fluid. I could have saved him a lot of time if he had just asked.

One of the surgeons comes in and starts to break down my situation for me.

I don't believe the words "chest wound" were used at this point, but I had a huge infection on the right side of my chest that would require immediate surgery.

Don't worry, they will just get in there and get the infection out, then leave the wound open. I am sure there were more words but that is where my hearing of them shut off.

He said surgery and I immediately start processing this. OK, there are worse things. Ass blisters. That would be worse. Let's see... what else? WAIT, what? There is no way I heard that correctly. Are we in ancient medieval times? You don't leave wounds open. Do you?

Before I could finish processing this last fact, I was off to surgery. Thankfully the nurses were there when I woke up to explain it all to me.

I knew I was in trouble when everyone kept starting their sentences with "Well, without this your wound would take three times longer to heal!" It felt like I was supposed to drink the Kool Aid and repeat their mantra.

Ok, have a wound. Got it. Drain it (I already got started on that for you) patch me up and let's move on.

Nope. WOUND VAC. It is exactly what it sounds like. (Sorry, if it sounds like I'm bitching. It's only because I am).

Should I have a chest wound? I am not a soldier, or a gangster in a drive by. I most certainly shouldn't have a vacuum in my former boob area. Seems like overkill.

I am sharing this with you as factual content, not to complain or embellish my story. I am really not. Mainly because I couldn't make shit like this up.

Here is my 10/20 through 12/2 (potentially 12/16)

10/20- Surgery: cleaned out my infection and packed me with 35 pounds of gauze.

10/21- They installed me with my very own wound vac system. I now have a sponge in my chest which is attached to this vacuum. A vacuum that will operate constantly for the NEXT SIX TO EIGHT weeks. It's sucking figuratively and literally.

The highlight of this procedure was seeing the nurse's aide getting ready to lose her lunch while the nurse cleaned and repacked my wound. She a unique shade of yellowish-green and is sitting on a chair with a garbage can very close. She leans forward and quietly asks if she can throw up. I am pretty sure the three of us yelled "NO!!" in unison. I've heard if you make a nursing student puke with your awesome wound you get your picture on a wall in the break room at the hospital.

10/22-Hung out in the hospital. Pretty sure there was a conspiracy to not let me sleep. Do vitals really change that rapidly?!

10/23- They swap out the 35 pounds of gauze in my chest and ordered me my very own portable chest vac. I learn that I will be able to enjoy having my chest wound packaging changed three days a week.

10/24 through 12/2 (potentially 12/16)-At home, hanging out, changing my vacuum. I feel like I am being grounded! No travel, no Sevendust, no nothing!

I just want to head off on a tangent for a brief moment because this is the point where my medical and work world collide.

For those of you who may have been following along on a few sparse status updates, I had until 10/21 to return to work. If I was not back in my desk on the 21st,I would be terminated.

Well, looks like my decision had been made for me because my ass was in a hospital bed attached to a vacuum cleaner. Ok, my ass wasn't but my chest was.

So there we have it, I was terminated Monday. I am not really sure what to make of it at this point, but I am confident that another door will open for me soon.

Radiation is postponed until I get this chest wound cleared up (works better for me if I make it seem like the common cold). I am so very bummed about that.

I am also homebound for the next six to eight weeks. I can go to church, and to get my hair did. Well I don't have any hair, and we all know my attendance record at church, so I am homebound.

Thankfully my parents are here to help alleviate the boredom. My dad is always a source of entertainment.

So there is the latest and greatest. My goal is to not use the words "emergency room", "infection", or "fluids" in my next few journal entries. Wish me luck!


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Lori - This is the first story of yours i have read and I have to say I greatly admire your strength and perseverance!!! I also have to tell you that your writing and delivery style are down right hysterical ... Anyone who can tell such a difficult story with the comic delivery style of Tina Fay definitely has the strength to get through Anything!!!!! Sending you my thoughts and prayers!! - Beth

Nov 18, 2013 - 8:15 PM by Beth E

Hi Beth. Thank you so much for your comment! And your thoughts and prayers. Writing these stories is definitely my coping method. I am beyond flattered to be compared to Tina Fey. I am newer to this website and need to remember to check it more often. Take care!

Nov 25, 2013 - 2:17 AM by Lori R

Lori - We are all hear to wish you luck through this journey. You are a fighter and I am sure you will get through this just fine. It is so good to hear you have a solid support group around you with your parents there to help and Dads always have a way of saying and doing just the right thing! I have to find a way to get you a healtheo360 T-Shirt and wrist band so you know we are thinking of you every day. Keep up the good fight and please keep me posted on your progress. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Dave

Nov 04, 2013 - 8:21 AM by David D

Hi Dave! I apologize for the delay in responding to you, I need to get better at checking in here. I would love to have a healtheo360 T-shirt and wristband! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers, they honestly give me the push I need in order to continue to face this crap with a positive attitude. :) Take care!

Nov 25, 2013 - 2:19 AM by Lori R

Keep on fighting the fight Lori! You got this...

Nov 04, 2013 - 6:58 AM by Scott D

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