Sunday evening as Julia was sleeping, the nurse was able to slowly lower the level of oxygen that Julia was getting until it was no longer being used. During the day, they continued to monitor Julia to ensure that her oxygen level stayed within the limits.
Julia woke with a screech of pain on Monday morning. Her back and the chest tube were hurting and she had slept through vitals at 4 AM and did not get her pain meds (the down side of not having an IV and having to wake to swallow pills). The nurse was prepared and quickly gave Julia her medication, slowly the pain subsided.
X-ray came in a little before 7 to take a new picture of Julia’s lungs so it would be ready for the surgical rounds. About 30 minutes later the general surgery team came in for rounds and said they would discuss with Julia’s surgeon the removal of the chest tube. Julia was quiet during morning and later said she was scared of getting the “big tube taken out” even though it hurt her being in her side.
We got word that the chest tube would be taken out about 11:30. The nurses would prep Julia with pain meds ½ hour before and Dr. Mattei would be in to see us soon after. Right on time, Dr. Mattei came to check out our girl and was amazed at how well Julia was doing. With the delivery of some Dermabond to the room and a little prep, Dr. Mattei explained to Julia what would happen to take out the chest tube. Julia was scared and slowly we got her to breathe, concentrating on our counting. Dr. Mattei snipped the stitch holding the tube in place and counting 1, 2, 3, he pulled it out. Julia was a bit startled at first, and as Dr. Mattei held her skin together and used the Dermabond, Julia said “that wasn’t so bad”. Finally lying back, Julia felt the relief of not having the chest tube.
Dr. Mattei felt that Julia was able to head home and as long as the radiation team (who was set to visit at 4:30 PM) did not need her to stay, Julia would be discharged later in the day. Julia felt the freedom of not having the chest tube and spent the afternoon taking a few long walks and going to the playroom for Arts and Crafts.
At 4:00 she came back to rest for a bit and shortly after, Dr. Tockner (Julia’s radiologist) came to visit. Julia lit up when she saw him, but it was clear that she was tired. He explained the plan for radiation. Julia would have her simulation visit next Thursday. This is where they complete a CT Scan and give her the tattoos to line up the treatment. Radiation would start the next Monday. After spending a few minutes talking to Julia, Dr. Tockner left. We were heading home!
We waited for Julia’s discharge instructions, got her prescription filled and then we were on our way home. Julia was so happy to get home. She wanted to surprise Pop Pop and had to walk in the door first. Gentle hugs – but oh what a smile! After a late dinner, we went up to bed. Julia would not go to sleep until she read all the cards that were sent from her friends at school. Sitting in bed, she read each one – “I can’t wait to get back to school. Maybe we can make a card tomorrow for all my friends so they know I am ok. It’s good to be home.”