November 11, 2009 Update. I am now totally devastated by the complications of this barbaric surgery. There are no words to describe this horrific post surgery pain and worsening complications, none at all. If you are considering surgery and you're not gonna die or lose an arm, remember to think past the here and now and know that you can get better without some surgeon cutting out your body parts. Bitter? No. Angry? Yes? Scared? You bet. I dont want to leave me family, especially my daughter. Despite how some surgeons try to portray this surgery, it IS a major surgery and you can die from it or be seriously and forever injured by it. In this the 21st century, why are they are still carving our ribs from our bodies? I mean when are they gonna stop this nonsense and find something less invasive? Geesh! I have attached more photos.
When I woke up from surgery the pain was far beyond anything I experienced with childbirth. Every time I moved I had this popping sound in my chest, almost as if two bones were catching then snapping as they released.
The first picture is of my chest and neck about 4 days after my first rib resection. I was sent home with a drain in the front of my chest and advised that my regular physician should remove it when the drainage dropped below 50cc's. It never dropped below 180-200cc's. I'm not sure if this standard practice after TOS surgery. I did NOT see this surgeon at all after the initial surgery nor during my hospital stay. The surgeon finally called me exactly one week after surgery and told me to remove the sutures holding the drain in place and then remove the drain.( And once again, I don't know if this is standard TOS surgical practice.) I removed the sutures then the drain and it was relatively painless. From about 8 inches down the front of my chest, I could feel the long tube crawling it's way up the inside of my chest as I removed it. It felt like it was tickling the inside of my chest cavity and made me cough as I was removing it. It really seemed like no big deal. Immediately following the removal of this drain, I had pink fluid and air sucking and squirting in and out of my chest with every breath.
I obviously knew this wasn't good so I immediately called the surgeon and he was able to hear the air rushing and told me to go the emergency room because I had "pneumo." I already knew this and was attempting to take emergency action as I was speaking with him. (By the way, having a pneumothorax immediately after TOS surgery isn't unheard of but developing one a week later immediately after a drain is removed isn't too common.)
Things deteriorated very quickly as I was unable to breath and had a lot of pain in the left side of my chest. I knew what the procedure was for this type of emergency however, because I have no feeling in my left chest I had to feel the air escaping with the palm of my right hand then trace the air and fluid back to the hole and try to plug the hole with my fingers.(I was not physically able to get to a mirror at that time) I was unsuccessful because of obvious physical reasons and my level of consciousness began to deteriorate. Paramedics were called and they were able to place an occlusive dressing on the hole. I remained short of breath for quite some time after this initial incident and remained in the local hospital for an additional 5 days.
After a few months, I noticed that the indentation in my chest began to deepen and widen. Almost over night it was twice the size it had been. Today, the indentation has at least quadrupled in size and the pain and pressure is great . In addition, there still remains a popping or grating sound in my chest and neck when I swallow and now when I yawn or raise my left arm. The second picture is what my chest looks like today. As you can see, the indentation is deep and abnormal for TOS surgery. A small indentation may be normal because after all you are missing the anterior head of your first rib but not a depression/indentation like this. The indentation appears to be increasing in depth and width and most likely causing a lot of my continued surgical complications. In the third picture, you can see that the muscles in my left chest are now abnormally shaped and very painful. There is also quite a bit of tissue loss and questionable clavicilar head subluxation as well. There are no words to adequately express how painful this is.
I would NEVER return to Miami or Jackson Memorial hosptial for my TOS surgical needs. If your situation is life threatening, get it taken care of immediately and then see where you stand as far as needing your rib removed but certainly don't go to Miami for this procedure. Just my opinion from a very bad life changing experience with both Jackson Memorial and my surgeon.