'This Ain't A Scene, It's A Goddamn Seroma!'

08/02/2013 12:16

I have a drain in. What's that, a drain? No problemo. Well, actually I no likey the drain. It is a long tube, which is full of blood and fluid, coming out from under my arm like an alien tentacle. It fills into a bag, which I hook over my shoulder. 

The drain needs to stay in for about a week after the operation. The drain fails. This is not good. The fluid is not going into the bag, just leaking all over me. I have to go back up to the hospital. My sister is with me. She is mad that the drain has failed and I am in discomfort. So am I. 

We see a doctor and a registrar. He says, in a knowledgable way "The drain has failed." Shit. That's bad. He nods. "We have to take it out. Right here. Right now." "OOO-KKKAY. What about pain relief?". I can see the smile forming. "You won't need pain relief". He was wrong. I did. But I didn't get it.

In a solemn tone, he advises "You will get a seroma." Right, I have no idea what a seroma is. Perhaps it a lucky prize, you know like full house in bingo? Perhaps it is an arcane secret which will unlock immortality? Perhaps it is designer shoes? No. Wrong answer. None of the above.

Two days later I found out what a seroma is. "It is a collection of clear serous fluid that may form at a site after surgery" - in my case in my armpit where I had all my lymph nodes cleared. It is like having a tennis ball sewn into your armpit. It is uncomfortable. I cannot sleep. I go to the hospital to get it drained. Unfortunately, it is the weekend, so no-one can drain it - it has to be done by one of the Breast Cancer Care nurses who only work Monday-Friday.

Eventually,  I get it drained. A long syringe goes in. It is the kind of syringe I expect you would need to use if you wanted to tranquilise a horse. It does not hurt, however, as my underarm is still numb from surgery. The fluid is drawn off and dispensed into a plastic jug. I am advised it is a good colour (it is yellowish) and all is well.

That's easy for you to say. You haven't got one.