procedure to drain lung cavity

Justin: Mom had her surgery today.  She just got home 15 minutes ago and is sore and tired.

They called her today and said her surgery is tomorrow.  Then they called a bit later and said it’s been bumped up to today at 12:45PM.  It’s now 4:00PM, and she’s resting in her armchair.

The ‘procedure’, they call it, was to take fluids out from between the lung and the rib cage.  They poked a hole in through the right side of her back while she leaned forward over a pillow.  They anaesthetized her twice, but it was still apparently painful.  She hollered out loud and even, at one point, cried.  Not a painless experience.  The device expanded outward like an accordion while inside her to a length of about a foot (30 cm).  It contained holes for the fluids to drain through, like a sprinkler hose.  Just under one litre of fluid drained out the tube in her back and into a bottle.  Apparently 1~1.5 litres is average.  While draining, it was apparently painless.  Mom apparently almost fell asleep while it was draining.  What came out was dark red.  The doctor said everyone’s fluids are different colours depending on how much ‘crap’ they have floating around in it.  The whole thing took about 15 minutes.  She might have to have this done several times during her life.


Justin: Mom’s been coughing a lot lately.  I’ve spooned up cough medicine (3 different types) over the past several weeks.  It sure puts a lot of strain on her and tires her out coughing like that.  Sometimes she coughs for 15 minutes straight.  It’s usually worse in the morning.

Mom’s check-up was last week.  She missed it because she was feeling pretty dizzy and sick the day after the clinic took the blood.  She was rescheduled for the next week.  That was yesterday.  Today was the talk with the doc.  Here’s Mom’s words as she speaks them to me to type out.

Annette: Went to see Doctor Brigham today, and he looked over the CAT scan and the blood test.  The blood was good – he always says it’s good – but he said the cancer starting growing again.  “So I thought I’d put you on Tarceva again.  And I said, “Is it full strength or half?  ‘Cause I don’t want full.”  And he said, “It’s half.”  So I’ll be on it for a month.  Then I said, “Okay, I’ll take it.”  So we went out … he said, “Go and have some coffee or breakfast while I get the pills ready, and come back in about a half an hour.”  We did.  And when we got there, another nurse she was was talking to the doctor again, and he said I have to have day surgery.  What they’ll do is put a pipe in my right side between the ribs and the lung to take out the fluids.  That way, if they do that, I would breathe better.  At first I wasn’t sure.  But when he said I’d breathe better, I said “Yes!”

I came home, got a phone call from the nurse to get a chest X-ray.

The operation will be within two weeks.