Today – January 25, 2017 is a good day! Reason? My chest tube (aka pleurex drain) got pulled!!! The initial chest tube was inserted one year, 3 months and 24 days ago! Yup, I have gone 482 days without swimming or taking a bath. I have had at least 142 ‘pleurex drain’ related appointments and over 10 gallons of fluid drained from the pleural space. Read that paragraph again SLOWLY to understand my excitement at finally having the tube out!
Having a pleural effusion has been one of the most difficult aspects of having a recurrence. Extreme chest pains, pain from my left lung after EACH drain (draining has been an average of three times a week), infection of the pleural fluid, 3 weeks hospital stay, shortness of breath are a few of the not so fun part of having a pleural effusion. Don’t get me started on how my heart got pushed to the right side due to the volume of the fluid at some point or how I’ve been tachycardic for more than a year. We came close to having the tube out in October but the dang infection put a halt to that – shame on you infection!
To be completely honest, I had a few reservations about taking the tube out because a part of me wondered if I would need to have it put back again at some point. Let me explain what I mean by that. You see, technically I still have a pleural effusion. As you can remember, my left lung is pretty much collapsed from having the pleural effusion for so long. As the body cannot have vacuum and until the lung fully re-expands, the space will always be filled with either fluid or air. In my case, the air is resolved (hence why I can fly again) so I’ve ‘only’ got fluid in the space.
In order to make a decision on whether to leave the tube in or not, three main things were considered:
- What would happen if the fluid wasn’t drained for a couple of weeks?
- What are the risks of having another infection?
- Will my quality of life improve if the tube is taken out?
Well, I wasn’t symptomatic from not having the fluid drained in two weeks and the chest Xray showed there was no significant change in the volume of the fluid. The pulmonologist explained that leaving the tube in would increase my risk of having another infection. Leaving the tube in without being drained wasn’t a good option as it would mean the nurses would still have to come to the house to do a dressing change twice a week – errhm no thanks. The question of quality of life was the easiest to answer – of course YES!
I know there is a possibility that the tube might have to go back in if my current treatment stops working but I’m hoping and praying that doesn’t become my reality. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy every single day I don’t have the tube in. I can’t wait for the site to heal so I can finally have a nice, long bubble bath. Hubby and I are thinking of going somewhere warm next month so I can spend all day every day in the pool – okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea 🙂 🙂 🙂