Removing my mascectomy drain, with a little help from my waitress

December, 2015

In Cape May, NJ, with a drain protruding from my right side after a single, prophylactic mastectomy less than two weeks ago, I'm here to recuperate; it's been a long year and a half! I barely slept last night, the site where the plastic tube exits my side burns. Before it's too late, I text my plastic surgeon a photo of the site and he tells me it's time for the drain to be removed. It's 8:30 pm and I'm three hours from his office on the tail-end of December, how is how this infected drain going to be removed so I can get some sleep tonight? He texts: cut the suture and pull the drain out. Deep breath: I can do this, I've served as an EMT for 4 years, I've seen worse. I find a small pair of scissors and race to CVS just before it closes to pick up bandaids. Housesitting for a friend, I sit topless on the kitchen sink close to the mirror, arm raised. I'm right-handed. The drain is on my right side, three inches from my armpit. I can't reach with my right hand and can't cut with my left. The ends of the scissors aren't pointy enough. I try for a while to no avail. None of my local friends are around. It's snowing out. I start to panic. 

I'm desperate.

I cover up, run across the street with scissors and band aid in hand, praying that my favorite waitress is working; I have a feeling Flossie has thick skin. The stars align, and there's Flossie with her angelic cheery face topped with a blonde halo. Just in time, Flossie delivered the check to her last table when I approach her, "I'm going to ask you for a favor, it's something weird - are you grossed out by blood?" "No," matter-of-factly. I explain my pain and urgency, and she doesn't think twice. A big sigh of relief, we run downstairs to the handicap stall.

In that short time Flossie had as her table is paying their bill, she accurately snips the stitch and slowly pulls the long drain out, making sure she's not hurting me; I don't feel a thing. Once the drain is out, she wipes the puss at the exit site and washes her hands. 

I'm so happy that I'm free of that LAST DRAIN that I jump up and down with joy, hugging Flossie, and because she's so awesome, she's jumping up and down too! And there we were, celebrating my health and her fierceness, together, as women, in the basement of The Blue Pig Tavern, the last remains of that life-altering surgery in the trash. 

Flossie rushed back to her table, while I bandaged myself up and gracefully climbed the stairs, feeling much lighter. I slept soundly, so grateful for the kindness of people; smiling, knowing there are angels everywhere.