Today is November 14. I was admitted on November 5. You do the math. Things were going well, until they weren’t. Monday night, I began coughing and choking so hard that I sprung another air leak, potentially undoing all of the surgeries. I was placed back on suction. I decided at that point to accept the offer of pain meds and slept as much as possible on Tuesday.
Wednesday morning they took me off of suction, again. I had a decent day. Then around 5pm something went wrong with my Atrium water seal unit. There is still debate between nurses and doctors as to the problem with the machine. They put in an order for a new one.
During this time (roughly 3.5 hours) I began having tightness across the right side of my chest. Not knowing if the water seal unit was working correctly, it was assumed that if no air is passing properly through the tube, it is as though it had been clamped. Since September, every time they clamp the tube my lung would collapse again. I began to have a panic attack.
Well, that’s putting it mildly. I went off on a ‘short-coat’ effectively telling him that if he couldn’t get me an xray like I wanted, he could page a doctor that would, else I would “own this place”. I yelled. I cried. A lot. I was terrified.
They already had an order in for an xray this morning and felt I was risking too much radiation having another scan last night. Their thoughts: “Your vitals are good.” “You look good.” “We’re sure it’s nothing.” My thoughts: “My vitals are always good, check your records. I’ve never had shortness of breath associated with pneumothorax, only pain. Check your records. And, just because I look good on the outside doesn’t mean something isn’t wrong on the inside.”
The nurses agreed with me. G agreed with me, though not with my behavior, which caused an entirely different fight. Not to worry. High stress was getting to us. We know we’re on the same team. I didn’t want to risk 10 hours. IF a tube had shifted, IF a pneumo was beginning, IF anything…waiting until 5am to find out is that many hours of treatment time wasted. I needed peace of mind. I’ve earned peace of mind.
In the end, I won, though the price paid was my reputation with staff. They all think that I’m “that” patient now, difficult and emotionally compromised. Whatever.
They did the xray. No news is good news, I suppose. This morning, bright and early, they removed both chest tubes. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I’m nit breathing well, but that could be adjustment to my ribs moving back into place. I am physically and emotionally spent.
They have already done another xray. I am being kept for 24 hour observation. They’ll repeat the xray tomorrow to be sure my lung stays up. If the lung stays in place and no leaks appear, I can go home. If anything has changed on the xray, or god forbid an air leak appears, I will go back under the knife.
So, we watch and we wait. And I sleep and take pain pills.