I kid the chest tube, of course. It allowed me to breathe again, sped up my convalescence by orders of magnitude, may have even saved my life. But what is a chest tube, exactly? Well, gentle reader, I'm here to tell you. A chest tube is literally a tube inserted into the pleural cavity, which is the space between your lungs and the pleurae, which are a pair of membranes that cover the lungs during development, then expand away from the lungs and press against the ribcage to form a lining (airtight) for the chest cavity.
When I fractured my ribs (turns out it was THREE ribs, not two), the pleura in the left chest was punctured, allowing the pleural cavity to fill with air and with fluids. The chest tube, over the past eight days, was sucking out the air and fluids to prevent the left lung from collapsing.
The chest tube is inserted by making an incision in the skin and underlying tissue, then using a pair of forceps the surgeon creates a channel though which the tube can be inserted. The surgeon slide the tube in so the tip lands in the right spot. I don't know exactly what the right spot is, but apparently that varies according to the type of trauma the chest has suffered.
The tube is then sutured into place.
The other end of the tube is connected to a device that uses either gravity or active suction in a closed system to slowly remove whatever air and fluids the chest tube encounters. Think: the little spit suctioners the dentist hangs in yuour mouth—something like that only far more gentle and subtle.
And tonight? They removed it. Finally! They had to wait until the fluids were gone from my chest and the rate at which fluids were being drained was below a certain threshold point (but over the past 8 days, the device had recorded well over 2 liters of fluid removed. zoinks!). That, it turns out, was today.
I was all geared up to have it removed. I heard it was painful, but frankly, after all the tape that's been yanked off of my hairy body, how bad could it be, really? Sssssriussssly.
My good friend Vincey sat with me for a while, had been here for a while, when the doc came in to remove the tube. If I had turned into a pain pig (which, no one would blame me for at this point), I would have been utterly disappointed. He tore off the dressing (with all the painful tape pulling), then snipped at the sutures. He said, “take a deep breath and then hum for me”. So there I was,“mmmmmmmmmmmmm”, and he said, “1...2...3...” and he pulled. “It's out,” he said.
“It is?” I asked. It was. Anticlimactic...but he patched me up and put a new dressing on the space (future tape-pulling pain). I'll have to wear the dressing til Monday.
So they took a chest xray again, and they'll take another tomorrow. If both look good (and how can I not look good in a picture?—wait, shut up) then I'll get to go home. Hurrah!
I suppose it's time to call it done....and hope for the best tomorrow..the trailing edge of the last morphini is catching up with me.