I have now been back home for four weeks and am slowly recovering from my run-in with the little lumps of ickyness that my body has decided to keep in its internal pocketses. (“Nasssty little gallbladders! We hates it! We hates it forever!!”)
For the first couple of weeks, I was being visited every day by the wonderful staff of the local community nursing team (i.e. the district nurses as they used to be known). Each day, they dutifully emptied St Bagnes (as I’ve taken to calling it), measured the volume of liquid horribleness that came out of it (the doctors and surgeons want to know) and then squirted 10ml of sterile saline solution back into the drain to make sure that my new external plumbing wasn’t getting all blocked up with gunge. Once a week they would also change the bag itself, as well as changing the dressing on my side.
However, since the community nursing team – like much of the NHS – is run off its feet at the moment, their visits tended to happen at fairly random times of the day and without advance notice. Usually, they’d be here towards the end of the morning but sometimes it could be later in the afternoon or even as late as 6 p.m. This was, of course, a bit tying for me (since I couldn’t just swan off out until they had called) and, no doubt, a bit of a hassle for them given that we’re right at the south end of their patch and they’ve got a lot of ground to cover. So, after a bit of discussion and training, I have now been doing most of the daily maintenance myself for the last couple of weeks. Glenda has also been trained up so, between us and with a suitable stock of appropriate medical bits and pieces all provided, we handle the day-to-day stuff of measurements, flushing the pipework and changing the bag when needed.
Next week, I have an appointment at the local doctor’s surgery where the nurses will see about changing the dressing and give me a quick check-up to make sure things look OK. And, the following week, I shall be back at the hospital for some tests to work out whether the drain can come out. I won’t know until the actual day (or maybe sometime later) whether or not it can be removed, but I really hope that it can. I’ve always had a huge amount of sympathy for anyone who has any kind of permanent surgical drain such as a colostomy but it’s only when you’ve had something like that yourself that you really appreciate how much of a hassle it can be. In my case, it can be a little painful sometimes but that’s not really the issue. It’s more just the practical day-to-day stuff – having to be aware of it, making sure you don’t get it caught or hung up on anything, being a little more careful in how you move around or twist or bend your body, etc. Nothing desperately serious but just enough that you get a bit sick of it sometimes.
Of course, I’m still grateful that they could (and did) do it, as I think it was the thing that really helped me turn the corner and put a stop to all the nasty stuff my body was doing to itself a few weeks ago. But, speaking as a non-religious, Godless heathen type, I’ll be profoundly glad when I can finally cease my daily devotions to St Bagnes the Bilious.