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Hannah’s recovery from heart surgery | Day 14 | Here we go again…

Two steps forward, one step back…

Back in Birmingham

Hannah woke up with a massive lump at the top of her sternotomy wound, similar to when she’d had surgical emphysema, which had appeared to have gone. She doesn’t have the crackles (crepitations) that usually go with surgical emphysema this time though.

heart surgery recovery | strange lump near sternotomy

Strange lump – photo taken this morning around 9am

I measured (8cm long by 7cm wide) and photographed the lump then phoned the ward.  They agreed for us to bring Hannah in again.  Then, when she had a shower, she told me that the oozing at the bottom of the wound was worse than yesterday (and I found it a little smelly).  When we got to the hospital  (around 12.30pm), she also started feeling pain under her right armpit when breathing in.

Tracey, the Ward Sister, welcomed us to the ward (she said she’d only just pressed ‘send’ on her response to Simon’s comments on the hospital feedback App – the comment in which he said that, “barring any unforeseen circumstances, we may have had our last stay on Ward 12” – when we phoned this morning!).

I said I’d like, just once, for one of our daughters to have heart surgery and be discharged to home without having to come back in for any complications or weird occurrences! They obviously like it too much on Ward 12 😉

Then one of the junior cardiologists saw her.  He asked for an x-ray to be done and for a surgical Registrar to take a look.  He didn’t seem overly concerned though.  Hannah’s observations were fine, though her heart rate was slightly elevated.  Tracey said she wasn’t worried about that as it was probably just a bit of anxiety over coming in.  O2 Saturations were 100%, blood pressure excellent and temperature normal.

Hannah feels and looks otherwise well, so that’s good.

Two steps forward, one step back….is still moving forward.

We waited quite a long time to see the Registrar as he was tied up in Intensive Care a lot of the time.  In that time, Tracey kept us updated and mentioned that she’d swab the wound where it was oozing at the bottom when the Registrar came in and that the cardiologist had said the x-ray was fine.  I asked what that meant and she said that he’d just said it was ‘fine’.  She said that we may be sent home with anti-biotics as a precaution for the oozing but that we’d wait and see what the surgeon said.

My big worry was being sent home without an answer with this big lump that has appeared overnight.  I miss my home and my bed, as does Hannah, and we were just getting a taste of normality again after 2 nights at home, but going home and being worried would not help any of us.  I’d rather stay here and get it resolved or at least have a clear understanding of what it is and that it’s not dangerous, rather than “it’ll probably re-absorb over time” when we don’t have a clear idea of what it actually is.

Before we left the house this morning, we’d re-packed the bags (we’d not unpacked completely…maybe I’d felt in my bones that we’d be back?…or maybe I was just being lazy and flaking out for a day or so to recuperate from the exhaustion of being in hospital before getting myself organised) and I left Charlie doing some bits of washing & drying to add to the suitcase, just in case… Simon will bring all our stuff (and himself and Charlie) down tonight if we’re staying.


The bottom of the wound has stopped oozing and scabbed up nicely so maybe it just needed the extra thick breathable gauze padding we put on this morning to protect it from the bra. The pain under the armpit has gone for now.

The big lump is still there. Big and lumpy. The surgeon said it’s definitely NOT air.

He said he thinks it’s just tissue swelling from where they cut and sewed the muscles but agreed it was ‘a bit’ bigger than when he examined a tiny lump a few days ago. Trust me, it was TINY when he saw it a few days ago, just under the very top of the sternotomy wound.  Today, it’s massive!

He said the only way to exclude some kind of fluid build-up is to do a scan, which will be tomorrow.

He then asked if we minded staying and I stressed we’d rather stay and get to the bottom of this than go home worried.

I could understand it being surgical swelling if it had happened/appeared straight away and even the bit of swelling we’d queried before going home and that the surgical Registrar had looked at and reassured us about, but for this massive lump  to appear so quickly, overnight, 2 weeks after surgery, seems odd.

There’s no redness or heat to indicate infection or inflammation, but something’s not right.

Hannah and I went out for a bit – to a cash point, which isn’t very far but the walk wore her out, then to the lovely Caribbean place around the corner for a ‘Curry Goat’.  Hannah had already had a sandwich in the afternoon and an early hospital dinner of a generous portion of fish fingers, chips &  salad, so she wasn’t hungry, but was at least able to taste the Curry Goat.

We came back and tried to catch up on Dragons’ Den on BBC iPlayer, but she was too tired.  Then it was nurse shift change, observations, paracetamol for the pain in her chest and Simon and Charlie arrived with our bags.  Hannah got changed and went to bed around 9pm.

I was offered a folding bed, but as I have the fully reclining armchair and the room (fab single room, en-suite) is an odd shape, I declined the bed as it would make the room really cramped overnight.  Besides, the chair is probably more comfortable and kind on my back.  It can’t be worse than those folding beds, surely?

Let’s hope Hannah has a good night and things don’t get worse.  Although the lump doesn’t appear to have grown any further, it seems to be higher up, giving her a feeling of pressure (but not difficulty swallowing or breathing, thank goodness!) around the throat/neck area.  I am a little bit worried that this will cause problems overnight and we’re in a quiet room, a long way from the nurses’ station, and Hannah’s not attached to any monitors.  I’m sure I won’t sleep that deeply and I’ve told her a million times to wake me up straight away if she doesn’t feel well or anything’s worrying her.

Let’s hope we get answers tomorrow!

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