{{Heads up!  CW for discussion of medicine, surgery, and bodily fluids.}}




Now is as good a time as any to share a personal update on TDAA!  I’m home from the hospital after having a procedure to remove a cyst from near my tailbone.  I like to call it #CeaseAndDecyst.  Or just #Recyst for short.  Truth be told, there’s a rear endless (#punintended) number jokes to be made about the situation.  Butt, what’s not funny at all is how it’s been causing me so much discomfort for the past 3 months or so.  The recovery will take a few weeks of no sitting, and I’m taking time off of work while my skin heals.  This whole ordeal gives new meaning to “pain in the ass!”

I spent a lot of time in “worst case scenario zone” and the surgery element that made me the most nervous was a “surgical drain.”  On one hand, I feared that guts and goo were going to be oozing out of me.  On the other, I pictured complicated medical technology, IV bags, and other hardware that were going to need to be managed, replaced, etc.  These fantasies revealed a couple of insights to me.  First, I don’t know very much about surgery, which is a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because I haven’t had much personal experience.  A curse because it makes my experiences much scarier, while realizing how disconnected I must be from people in my life with medical challenges more complex than mine.  I think we should talk about this stuff more, so I’m using my blog (and tiny platform) to do just that!

But this is a blog about spreadsheets and I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring it back home to talk about data.  Fortunately for me, the discharge nurses sent me home with some instructions, including…. a spreadsheet!  I was directed to empty my surgical drain 3x per day, assess the volume in a graduated cylinder, and then log the occurrence in the attached form.

Not to be a Debby Downer but I have some significant critiques of this worksheet.  First of all, the columns don’t make any sense at all.  What’s the point of marking AM/PM when you can just record the time of day itself?  Why not have a bigger cell that would allow for a more descriptive report back, rather than color, smell and temp?  It would be REALLY helpful for them to indicate what’s a normal range, and when you should call in help.  Plus, I would assume it’s a best practice to sign off on who emptied the drain each time, in case any questions emerge.

I did a little more research on JP drains and I found a much better worksheet over here.

If you’re measuring output per day, it makes WAY more sense to have one row per day, with multiple columns that indicate time. Then you can have a “total” column which helps you see trends over time.

The real difference between these spreadsheets is about nuance and attributes.  In the first one, the spreadsheet is set up to capture detailed information about each drain attempt.  In the second one, that info is much more condensed, and the emphasis is on number of drains and total fluid.  In other words, each row is one DRAINAGE versus each row is a WHOLE DAY of drain monitoring.  I think total fluid is the most important metric to capture, since when the wound leaks 20 mL or less two days in a row, I can get the drain removed, which will be a big milestone in my recovery.

Hungry for more?  

I wrote more about spreadsheet structure and standardization here and here.  Deciding what’s a column and what’s a row can make all the difference in the world!  I also want to emphasize that how you design a spreadsheet can have a big impact on user experience!  I really liked discussing that in this post.  It’s been really interesting to be collecting data ON MYSELF and trying to make meaning out of it, especially when I am so impatient to feel better.

I want to end by thanking friends and family near and far who have been so generous in offering acystance while I’ve been going through this medical ordeal.  It’s hard to be vulnerable and ask for help, especially when we are living under cystems of oppression and domination, where I have internalized a strong desire to be self-sufficient and independent.  While I am trying to not act like a princyst, I’ve definitely been self indulgent these last few days.  Your support means the world to me.  I’m going to be percystant and 2-4 weeks from now, I hope I’ll be back to my old self.

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