I agreed the apron helped. But the canvas construction was stiff and certainly would not work when bathing. The dilemma took me to a Dollar Store. I am a fan of dollar stores. I’ve often discovered gems there, such as the fine lingerie washing bags, right next to the sewing notions. These were soft mesh bags with a zipper closure. Three for a dollar!

My nephew is a talented seamstress. Really, he is. He has fabricated car interiors, soft pillows for kids, and now he was going to produce drain carriers for postsurgery patients. After testing a couple of different models, we came up with a prototype. We had trimmed the lingerie bags to approximately 11 inches long and 7 inches high, a more convenient size. I had purchased double-fold bias tape at the fabric store, and we stitched it along the upper edge, leaving 18-inch extensions on each side for waist ties.

I laundered the bags, and offered to provide them free to patients at UC Davis Medical Center’s plastic surgery office. Almost immediately, patient feedback was very positive.

“I did not take it off for the whole time I had the drains. We showered, lounged, walked (a bit gingerly), and slept together,” said Suzi from Folsom, California. “It was so easy to wash in the shower, allowing me to also wash the drains. It was a great gift and blessing at a very difficult time. Thank you so much!”

Over the next couple of months, the carrier was improved. I found a vendor who could meet my specifications and individually wrap each carrier in sealed cellophane bags. The UC Davis Med Center PACU Nurse Manager, Gary Kurtz, ordered 100 carriers, and they were issued to each patient who underwent a procedure that included a drain. His medical team said the carriers helped them do their jobs, allowing them to see drains easily and keep them organized around the patient’s torso area.

More patients provided positive feedback. “(I) was dreading going to work and out in public with the drain. Now you’ve given me my life back!” said Barb in Sacramento, California.

I am happy because now there is a solution for keeping the drains attached comfortably. There may be a better solution, but I think this is a good start.

My mission statement is: To meet the needs of postsurgery patients—providing safe and easy management of tubes and medical drains installed during surgery.

Now, I feel I am getting closer to achieving that mission. Patients can purchase medical drain carriers (patent pending) online at www.MedicalDrainCarrier.com.

A random twist of fate brought an opportunity for those with limited resources to benefit from the drain carrier. A dear friend started a funding campaign to provide the carriers to low-income patients at no cost to them. More details are available by emailing us at MedicalDrainCarrier@gmail.com. Hospitals can purchase the carriers in quantities of 25 or more.

The experience of having cancer made a huge impact on my life. The world’s best medical providers, especially the oncology nursing team, cared for me. My respect for the nursing profession multiplied exponentially with each diagnosis. I hope developing the medical drain carrier can be a token of my appreciation, dedicated to an exceptional community of health care professionals.