Chest tube status change

Dec 22

Today’s chest x-ray: largely unchanged from yesterday.

And the day before that.

And the day before that.

So, the good news about this is that my lung is stable.  It’s not really improving, but it’s also not deteriorating further.  Today, stable is great news.  Stable means that the doctor ordered my chest tube removed!  Hallelujah!!!

In case anyone doesn’t remember, a chest tube is a garden-hose sized tube that is sutured to the skin through an incision under the arm.  It squeezes between muscle and rib bones and about twenty inches of tube coils inside the chest cavity with about six feet draining to a sterile box on the floor.  The chest tube allows both air and fluid to drain out of the chest cavity.  Chest tubes, frankly, hurt like hell.

To control the pain from the chest tube, I had a pain pump (a trigger button where I could release narcotics on demand), a pain ball (an epidural-type pain block that wrapped around my ribcage), heavy duty muscle relaxers, and big time anti-inflammatory meds.  Even after all of that, I still wanted to smack the doctors when they asked me to cough so they could check for air leaks.

To make sure my body could tolerate all of that pain medication and still maintain normal functions, I had to wear a wire to monitor my oxygen saturation, a heart monitor with five leads, oxygen via cannula, and a saline drip via my port.

With the removal of the chest tube, I’m now only wearing the heart monitor/leads and the port access tubing.  It’s a “If you give a mouse a cookie/If you give Jen a chest tube” kind of story.  I am THRILLED I’m no longer carrying/rolling fifty pounds of equipment with me every time I leave the bed.  We’re down to six wires/cords.  Totally do-able!

I’ll follow up on the lung status over the next few weeks.  One doctor estimated that I’m leaving with 60% of the lung capacity in my right lung that I came in with, but we expected to lose a significant percentage by removing the upper lobe.  Folks can live normal lives with only one lung, so I’m certainly not stressing percentages here.  Mission NED accomplished.  Pending one more “normal/unchanged/positive” chest x-ray tomorrow morning, I’m outta here!

Thanks so much for your prayers and well-wishes.  I hope to be home tomorrow and looking forward to lots of snuggles with my family.  I’ve missed them!


  1. I know outta there is where you need to be!

  2. Sheila Los /

    Thrilled to read of your positive push forward! Jen, you are an inspiration. Sending good thoughts as you transition back home.

  3. ohiofishergirl /

    Glad those Christmas cords are vanishing! Hoping you’re home soon and recovering on the couch by the Christmas tree! Thanks for your posts while on your hospital vacation! You are definitely doing the hospital “well”!!! 🙂 Sending our love and hugs to all of you!

  4. Kim Rourke /

    Yea! Christmastime snuggles are surely extra magical.

  5. God is So Good!!!! Home for the Holidays is the BEST Place to be

    • If you need your hair trimmed before Santa’s visit, let me know and I will be happy to stop by with my scissors and comb.

  6. Jim Reitman /

    Jen – you are such a beautiful young woman! We love you dearly! We look forward to your return to your family and home to celebrate Christmas. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Brad and the girls.

    Love Always,

    Jim & Michele

  7. Again, so sorry to hear about all of the pain you’ve been enduring, but SO thrilled to know you’ll likely be home and snuggling in the arms of your adorable family tomorrow!
    Merry, Merry Christmas to all of you!! 🙂

  8. Praise God for the removal of the garden hose chest tube! I count that as HUGE progress.
    Home for Christmas, home for Christmas, home for Christmas… that is still my prayer. Rest and heal, sweet friend.

  9. Lori6NV /

    You are a warrior, my friend. My cousin has only one lung and is doing great, so I know you’ll be just fine. Fingers crossed you get outta there tomorrow!

  10. Margaret /

    I am finding it difficult to get everything ready for Christmas because I have all of my fingers crossed –
    hoping that you will be home for Christmas and that you have a wonderful Christmas with your gorgeous family.
    (Rick and Kiki arrive in Sydney at 6:30 AM on Christmas morning.)

  11. Hillary not DE now CA /

    Garden type hoses belong outside and not inside anyone. SO happy for you that you are free of that beast!!! You never complain, so I know it was miserable. Heavy prayers that you are out of there! You have done your hospital time well, I am sure. Nothing like home though and just in time! Continue to take good care of yourself. Sending you sunshine from CA!

  12. Newbyfriend /

    Peace to you and your family this week. What an awesome Christmas gift NED!!

  13. Merry Christmas Jen.

  14. Christin /

    Yay! Go home! 🙂 love you!

  15. Bonnie J /

    Now that’s what I call answered prayer !!! Now for the Release and HOME to family’s gentle snuggles and hugs. So excited – Merry Christmas Jen !!!!