Drain lyf

I appreciated my ward friends at the time, so much. But it’s only after that I realise just how much they helped me in that time. I woke up every day excited to see them, we went to sleep chatting, curtains around us but open just so we could see each other from our beds. It felt like a sleepover. I was happy to get home, but I was legitimately sad to leave this. And having them there helped to give me distraction from the pain and from what I was going through, and support through it too. I think it’s only after that you can look back on that and see just how much it saved you. I think it’s only after that you realise how much harder it would have been without them. Just how much harder it would have been to see light in the darkness.


Let’s talk drains. I think we’re up to Thursday now. Yes, we must be. So it’s early days friendship with the girls. A wasn’t even there yet so just C and V. My Registrar came in and said ‘the drains are coming out’.

Who doesn’t love being disconnected from their drains! It means you’re more easily mobile and you don’t have to drag them around in a cute green NHS plastic bag. And for me, they were both in the back of my head. So it meant sleeping was painful because the bed put pressure on them. And that hurt.

I wasn’t prepared for what removing the drains actually meant this time. It was a whole different thing to any other drain experience I had ever had.

Firstly, he de-vacced the drain. Basically, drains are vacuum sealed so they slowly suck all the gunk out into a little bottle. Nifty. One bottle for each drain. The nurses note how much the volume has changed each day and when it stops going up it means there’s no more to come out. Sounds logical. Cool.

Well it appears de-vaccing it broke the pressure across my whole head. I’ve been trying to think of a way to describe the feeling and I’m not sure I accurately can. It felt like water rushing across my head. Or perhaps air through water. Like when you squeeze an empty bottle of washing up liquid and put it under water and let the water rush in. Kind of. I felt it across my whole head for a whole and then I felt it just above my opposite ear for a significant time after. It was so loud. And it hurt. It was a terrifying feeling. I didn’t understand what was happening. I started sobbing. ‘What is happening’ I kept repeating through my tears.

Then he pulled the drain out. The pain was immense. First a pulling feeling and then just pain. So much pain. ‘Oh, push your morphine button’ he told me. I mean… I did. But I think we all realised it was too late. I was still sobbing. I’m not sure I’ve ever sobbed like that before. The pain, the feeling, the terror, yet again not feeling prepared for what was happening…

A pattern perhaps?

He decided he wasn’t going to do the other one at the same time. I think he was slightly traumatised by the experience too. He said the next one would be done with pre prepared oramorph and morphine pump pushing. I agreed.

After they had finished and left, the girls came to check I was ok. C said she was on the verge of breaking in to save me. I think my sobbing hit her in her core too. We are one and the same in these moments.

Drain contents. What a nice colour.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Carole Tapp says:

    Oh Jen, why oh why are you not being properly prepared for these experiences, is the question I ask myself over and over again.
    As an ex Nursing Tutor, this kind of behavior apalls me, it is so unnecessary.
    Communication, adequate preparation, can make the world of difference, to these painful procedures. And of course you should of had some preparatory pain relief 30 mins prior.

    This all aplies to the medical staff as well. The attending Nurse as your advocate should try to ensure this is done.


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