In this consumer culture that is the United States, I know a lot of people who collect things.  Antiques, cars, motorcycles, thimbles, samplers, bookends, dishes, books–the sky’s the limit!  I collect pottery.  And when I see sugar/creamer pairs its like hearing the Siren’s Song.   Some collections are smarter than others.  Remember the Beanie Baby craze in the 1990s?  I worked with a woman whose boyfriend’s sister collected hundreds of Beanie Babies.  She insisted they were an investment.  I swear, on my darkest days that one can make me laugh out loud.

Today my friend Crystal sent me a picture.  Seems she’s got a new collection going: drains.

“I Had a Bilateral Mastectomy and All I Got Were These Stupid Drains.”

I’ve never had surgery that necessitated drains, so I can’t imagine what this is like.  I’ve read blogs wherein women have talked about them and it doesn’t sound pleasant.

They need to be emptied everyday.  She carts them around in a special camisole with pockets.  She needs help to shower so she can maneuver these things.  They also need to be aspirated in the surgeon’s office–and the pain in one during that process was so overwhelming that she passed out on the spot!

And today she learned that when they’re no longer needed they’ll just be pulled out during a visit to the surgeon’s office.

Wow.  Save the best for last, eh?

Here’s the thing: Poor Crystal can’t even display these things like war trophies.   I mean, when you break a leg, an arm, a wrist, or an ankle you at least have a cast someone can see.  Casts are the scars of war.  Anyone wearing a cast looks like a hero.  Some old broad with a walker looks like a warrior if something is casted.  But what’s Crystal going to do?  Go for a walk in the mall with her drains hanging out?

“Dude, check it out.  That bitch must be carrying over 120 ccs of fluid!”
“Dayum!  Respect.”

When someone is sporting an ace bandage or a cast it’s an instant conversation opener.  “Too bad about that wrist.”  “How did your break your leg?”  “I’ll bet that itches something awful, huh?”  But drains following a mastectomy?

“You don’t got no boobs?  You got drains?”  “Hey can I see your drains?”  “I knew this woman at work that would get like a gallon out of one drain every day.”

Sign my drain. Really. Sign it.

I think that Crystal could start a whole new trend in drain signing.  Why not?  Your kid’s friends come over for video games, just whip one out and ask them to sign it!  While at the surgeon’s office, get the staff to sign some.  And with four drains you could group signatures.  One drain for the medical professionals, another for the kids, maybe another for your friends who visit.

Once the nightmare of having them is over, then you bleach ’em and save ’em.  Crystal makes beautiful cards so I can see some serious scrapbooking potential with these things.  Hell, they’re plastic so you know they’re going to last 500 years.  Instant family heirloom.

Once Crystal starts this trend she’d probably get really good aerobic exercise too.  “Scorchy, want to sign my drain?  No really, I want you to.  Here’s a pen, sign it!  Hey where are you going?  Come back here!   [running]   SIGN MY DRAIN!”

Get well soon, Crystal.

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12 Responses to Drained

  1. I had 4 drains after my bilateral mastectomy and 6 after my DIEP and hated every single second of it. Every.single.second. I stashed mine in a cute little Vera Bradley cross-body bag instead of trying to pin them inside my shirt. Still hated every.single.second. Having them removed didn’t really hurt but it was bizarre to see the tubing literally snaking under my skin as it was yanked out, and seeing just how long that tubing was freaked me out. I envisioned a whole team of folks cramming them inside me in the OR. *shudder*

    • Scorchy says:

      Thank the gods for anesthesia! Poor Crystal passed out when they suctioned one of her drains on her first visit to the docs after surgery. She said that the docs thought it might have settled on a nerve. It was fine the second time, but I can’t imagine the fear. ACK!.

  2. CinVT says:

    ALSO…having the drains pulled? (bilateral mastectomy, then lymph node dissection 3 weeks later) NOTHING. The drains killed while in, stripping them as ordered every few hours hurt like hell, but as soon as they pulled the first 2, instant relief. The last surgery was just one drain, but it was under my arm, between 2 ribs, really big, and “in deep” per the surgeon. Having it pulled was fine. Later that day, I felt as though someone had pulled a firehouse out of my ribs BECAUSE THEY HAD! I am 5 ft 6in, 120 lbs soaking wet…my previous bra size was a 32B…they had put in the largest drain of that type they make. I gotta have a word with my surgeon about that. Or find out what make/model of car she drives. And where she parks.

    So, I needed an extra ouchie pill for a day or so with that one, but otherwise not so bad.

  3. CinVT says:

    Dammit. And here I am drain free for the first time in a MONTH. You couldn’t have whipped out this post 2 weeks ago?! I would have been all over that shit. I already HAVE multicolored sharpies! (I have a 7 year old,we also own 5 stuffed unicorns, don’t judge me…I have cancer!)

    My children are total freaks who enjoyed checking the output for color and volume. By my second surgery, the weird unicorn, sharpie loving 7 year old was like, “Um, Momma, I think that drain is ready to be pulled…the fluid is all yellow and it is a lot less”. Which is topped only by my 5 year old repeatedly asking to see my breasts…oh, wait “the boo boo on your boober”. I know he is just s typical male. He doesn’t fool me. My husband has tried lines like that for years!

  4. I’ve been anxious to respond to this all day! LOL!! Hope this finds Crystal feeling better, but Scorchy … consider yourself cheated from a defining BC experience! ; )

    My drains weren’t so bad (I only had two) but AHEM!!! We received detailed instruction as to how to empty and manage our drains. Self-Service, baby!! I simply MUST ask what facility is offering FULL-SERVICE! Do they wash the car and check the tire pressure too? Hmm… better check the itemized bill — they’re probably making a buck off this somewhere! ; ) ; )

    The other novelty was finding shirts that could be worn without looking like a terrorist. I remember coming home from the hospital and insisting to go to my salon to have my hair washed (via bending at the waist, of course) and my mother and I doubled over as it looked like I’d be a prime target for the TSA. (Ultimately, we discovered a boxy front-zip sweatshirt or oversized button down denim shirt worked best).

    On a serious note, I don’t remember the removal being so bad. It was definitely a relief to get them out and I think I was focused more on that.

    Wishing you a “Swiffer” recovery, Crystal!

    • Scorchy says:

      hahahaha A defining BC experience.

    • Crystal says:

      Dear Blonde Ambition,

      Don’t worry, I haven’t been deprived of the whole drain experience! Every day I get to empty each of the four, measure the output in cc, record it on a lovely chart and add it all up at the end of the night when I am tired and have taken pain meds… I sometimes selfishly get my 17-year-old daughter to do the math since at this point I can’t read the teeny tiny numbers on those little cups! 😉

      My problem is the tubes keep getting clogged so on my twice weekly visits to the Plastic surgeon, the nurses use a syringe to aspirate the tubes.. Quite painful, really. I am lucky that I have the most fabulous PS and nurse team ever, and after the first horrific experience when I was lying on a table hooked into oxygen, with the windows open looking like an idiot they wrote “drain C really hurts! Don’t aspirate” on my chart.

      You are right, Scorchy is being denied one of BCs most “fun” experiences… I do hope my recovery is “swiff” but the nurse just gave me two more weeks of antibiotics. Don’t think the buggers are coming out anytime soon! :-p

  5. Crystal says:

    I’m laughing so hard, the drains, hurt! Seriously, Scorchy, have you ever thought of writing (specifically humor) as another career? You can make the most absurd and horrible topics screamers!

    I did a lot of research on the discussion boards last night about how they feel to be taken out, and everything I read says ” they only hurt (burn, sting, itch, etc.) for a little while after they’re out, but you’ll be so happy to have them out, you won’t mind.” Oh gee, how comforting! Only one woman was honest enough to say they hurt like hell.

    Speaking of sign my drain, my nieces can’t even look at them. Before i had the cami, I had to keep them covered lest I clear the room. Hey kids, auntie’s got something to show you….

  6. Make sure you carry several colors of sharpies.

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