Dear Ask The Doctor: My mother-in-law is 56 years old and has diagnosed Lupus and is apparently considered obese, but not grossly. Over 3 months ago, she had hernia surgery that was fairly extensive from my understanding. She was sent home with a drainage tube, which stayed in until just a couple a weeks ago. She is swollen all over her body, though the nurse practitioner told her last week that she is not retaining fluid any longer. She is experiencing trouble breathing from the swelling in her stomach, she is uncomfortable and just wants to get on with her life and back to normal activities, which she is unable to do still even after over 3 months have passed since the surgery. Her family doctor, the nurse practitioner for the surgeon, and the surgeon have all show to be very impatient and have basically shut down all questions she's asked. I'm afraid that something is very wrong and they know it and aren't wanting to admit to it. Is it normal to still be experiencing so much pain and discomfort and to have a drainage tube in for 3 months, constantly producing fluids? Thank you very much.
Dear Patient: It is unusual to still be experiencing pain and discomfort that long after surgery. However, individuals differ considerable in how they respond to surgery and how they heal. therefore I cannot confirm your suspicion that something is wrong. While I understand her frustration, I urge her to be a little more patient and allow herself more time to recover from the procedure
A drainage tube is placed during surgery if it is expected that there is potential for fluid collection. The tube is removed when the daily out put from the drain is minimal. The drainage tube was probably left in place because of her weight and the size of the hernia.