Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Insomnia and Pain

It's 2am and I can't sleep.

I'm in a weird place where I'm up late at night, watching endless reruns of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Intervention and ridiculously stupid horror movies on Encore and Showtime.

On Monday, the doctor pulled my drains. As I've previously described, I had two sets of tubing that entered a couple inches below my chest incisions. The tubes were connected externally to two quart sized jugs that I had pinned to my shirt for over a week and a half. These little jugs were my nemesis.

What I didn't realize was that pa large part of my pain was a result of the other ends of the drainage tubes. The tubes entered my chest below my armpits. One drainage tube ran up my side and across the top of my chest, while the other ran under my incision to the underside of where my moobs used to be.

The tubes were a vaccuum system and the constant pressurization caused me pain and discomfort. The tubes were made of surgical rubber, were about twice the size of a straw, and caused me pain simply because they were under my skin.

Worse, the tubing was clear and you could plainly see fluid, blood, and clots moving through them as they made their way to the clear jugs.

The jugs were the bane of my existence.

So you can imagine my relief when the doctor called and said it was time to pull them. So I went to the McDonald Center and she pulled them, which may sound horrible, but it wasn't as bad as one might think.

Because I was not allowed to remove my dressings, I didn't know they were stitched to my side. Kind of creepy...

Anyway, she cut the stitches and told me that she wanted me to breath in, and then to exhale as she counted to three. I inhaled, she counted, I exhaled, and she pulled. And pulled. And pulled.

I was under the impression that the inside tubes were the same as the outside. Boy, was I fucking wrong.

Imagine a standard, twelve inch ruler. That's, say, what... an inch and a half wide? Much like a paint stirrer, right? Well, the drains inside my chest were nearly that size.

Unbelievably, it didn't hurt to pull them out. It felt odd as hell, but it didn't hurt. (Well, maybe the right side stung a little bit). What was far more disturbing was the four, quarter-sized holes they left in my chest.

Finally rid of the jugs and the painful tubes, and as I was leaving, the doctor mentioned that I might still have some drainage and, if it gets too bad or painful, she may need to aspirate it.

Which leads us to where we are right now. Too uncomfortable to sleep, dreading to lie down, I'm watching really bad late night TV.

Immediately after the drains were pulled, the rest of Monday, and yesterday I felt great. I didn't realize how much pain the drains were causing me. I have an unnaturally high tolerance for pain and I truthfully didn't even realize I was in pain until the drains were pulled. In fact, I started moving around the house, unloaded the dishwasher much to my wife's dismay and consterantion, and went out to a movie with the family (without the indignity of my pus and blood clot-filled jugs). We even went for a long walk after dinner last night.

I was enjoying the relief of not having the jugs and was even able to take a shower as my chest incisions are healing over nicely.

And then this afternoon, after my shower, I realized that I was getting sore again. Within a couple hours, my right side had swollen and become painful and part of my left side as well. It was so fluid filled that simply tapping on my incision on the right side would cause a visible cavitation wave under my skin.

So I called the doctor and she called me back around 8:30 this evening. She made an appointment to see my on Friday. Soooo... on Friday, I'll be going downtown yet again, where the surgical oncologist will numb me and use a soft catheter to drain the fluid from my chest.

In the meantime, the pressure has been slowly building and I now can't sleep. I wouldn't classify it as pain (although I'm quite certain most normal people would. Like I said, I feel pain differently than a lot of people. Right now, it's just discomfort. If I was using that stupid 0-10 pain scale doctors ask you to quantify your pain with... I'd say 1. A normal, non-sociopath would probably say 5.)

How am I feeling about this? Honestly, I'm really frustrated at this point... I was feeling so well, the doctor said my cancer looked like it was gone, and I was ready to move on. In fact, I was contacted by the Ireland Cancer Center just yesterday and had set up an appointment with my new, follow up oncologist for the end of the month. The oncologist I've been using to this point even said that chemo was probably not needed and that I would simply need to do a couple year course of Tamoxifen (an estrogen reducing drug that, in men, can raise remission rates in serious breast cancer cases by 20-30%)

Instead of moving on, I'm sitting here with the skin of my chest stretched tight... like a sausage cooked too long in the microwave. Additionally, the pain wraps around my chest like a cilice, or a torturous girdle.

Like I said, I'm frustrated.

Frustrated and tired... and totally sick of Glenn Beck, Dog the Bounty Hunter, The Dog Whisperer, and infomercials that promise to make me $9000 a week working part time from home.

Although I'm still totally going to call on the PX90 Home Fitness system. that looks TOTALLY cool...


glittergirl said...

dude, give your wife the credit cards if you're going to be up all night watching those infomercials. you'll end up with an upside-down tomato grower and a jerky machine!

i have sort of been where you are. not cancer, but major surgery and the drains. oh, how i hated the drains. they were disgusting, and i could see where they were stitched in. i couldn't wait to get the wretched things out.

and yeah, you feel great at first. you feel free, and you feel better. but then as with any major recovery (and yours is "major" to the nth degree) you go back a step or 2.

and then you get pissed, and you get tired of it. it's good to have an outlet (like a blog, understanding friends and family, etc...)

you'll get through it. i know you don't need me to tell you that. but i want to tell you that.

plus you're a writer and there's a lot to be written about your journey.

and do you ever draw? maybe one of those nights when you get sick of dog the bounty hunter (as if that's possible) you should get out paper and crayons and draw some screwed up pics.

i hope "the draining" on friday helps and then no more fluid. tell that fluid to go to hell!

Dr. Zombie said...

I can TOTALLY control myself with the credit cards.

That Carlton Sheets Real Estate fiasco was an abberation... an anomoly.


Won't happen again. Seriously.

(Dude! A Sham-wow with a FREE Slap-n-chop!!! Where's that card at?!?!)