Can you hold my balls for a second? - The Funny Thing About Cancer
 
I can honestly say that the above sentence isn't one that I thought I'd say to my husband... ever.

It never even entered my mind that I would utter those words to anyone. 

But, about a week and a half ago, those words entered into my marriage.  It turns out when you have had surgery, and have drains and other tubes hanging out of your body (which end in bulbs/balls) AND you want to shower/clean up/change clothes... those words WILL come out of your mouth.  Chris was wonderful and didn't even cringe when I said it... but I chuckled quite heartily at my little unintended pun.

So what balls might I be referring to?  Well I had 2 different types, drains and something called an On-Q pump.

First, the drains.  Having had a mastectomy, they put in drains to help drain fluid away from the surgery site.  So I have one drain on each side.  Here is what a drain looks like.  First where it comes out of your body (it's bandaged so I don't think the picture is particularly gross).
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The tube you see coming out of my side ends in a bulb.  To keep the drain going, you squeeze it flat after emptying it and the fluid drains into it over the course of the day.  At first, I had to empty it twice a day, but now I'm down to once.  I had a drain on each side, but I've already had my left side drain removed.  Here is what the bulb looks like.
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If you're curious as to how I carry the balls around, this can be achieved in a variety of ways.  I think I've tried them all.  First, they make camisoles that have pouches for the drains.  I tried this, but the strip where the drains velcroed was right on top of where the tubes came out of my skin, and that was uncomfortable, so I didn't use my camisole more than twice.  Another option is pinning the bulbs to your clothing.  I did this for awhile, but it puts those bulbs right at eye level for curious 2 year olds.  So I used a little nylon bag to put my bulbs in.  I wear it like a messenger bag and I just tuck my drains into it.  I can wear it low enough that it's even with the bottom of my shirt so there is little tugging or pulling and little to no tubing showing.  This has been the most comfortable option for me.

This is a picture of what I look like on a regular day.  I've been wearing camisoles that have no bra top in them (so nothing squeezing my drain sites).  My little black nylon bulb bag peeks out from below my jacket or hoodie.  It might be the middle of summer, but the hoodie keeps the bag close to the body and no one really notices it.
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Those were two of my balls.

I had a third ball too.  And it was my favorite ball.

This ball was filled with a local anesthetic and it was connected to two little tubes that went into my body (like 1mm in size apiece, so teensy tiny).  These little tubes were kind of like the seeper hoses you'd use in a garden, only instead of letting water seep out, they distribute this local anesthetic along your incision lines.  Can I get a "THAT'S FREAKING GENIUS!!!"?

I mean seriously, why didn't anyone think this up sooner?  My pain was very limited/non-existent.  I attribute this largely to this On-Q pump (what the device is called).  So over the course of 5 days, this system pumped out 4ml of local anesthetic per hour.  I used Tylenol with codine for about 3 days, then transitioned to regular tylenol for about 2 days and I was off painkillers completely.  I don't like lots of painkillers, so I'm excited that I managed my pain so easily.

I don't have a picture of this ball because I wasn't smart enough to document it, but here is a picture from their website.
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So this is what post op looks like from my perspective.  Lots of balls hanging out of my body.  I will feel much more like me when I can get the last drain removed, which I hope is next Tuesday at the latest.  And THEN, I just have to get back to a point when I can lift up objects that weigh more than 5 pounds and I will be a happy, happy person, but that's a topic for a whole 'nother blog.

In summary, if you ever get a mastectomy, be prepared to juggle some balls :)
Carol
7/14/2011 04:26:29 pm

I had balls too I called my on-q my party ball..: )

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Mary
7/15/2011 08:03:05 am

You will feel like a new gal when those drains are OUT. You are young and strong - your ability to lift will come back fast. I am glad Chris is there to help you. He is so like Joe - very kind and sweet. I wouldn't wish a mastectomy on anyone but you are getting to see your husband's true blue character. It will be no time and "the girls will be back" and "the hair will be back".

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Marilyn 1956
12/21/2012 08:45:48 pm

Love, love, love the ball humor. When I had my mastectomy, nobody ever told me about the OnQ ball. How very cool! Thanks for the link on MyBCTeam!

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