13 days post opp.
My surgery went well. The breast surgeon was able to remove breast tissue, the plastic surgeon was able to place the implant over the muscle, which minimizes the recovery time. My husband was told that everything went as well as could be expected. Textbook baby, Yay! It’s done!
I have spent just about 10 years of my life gathering information, planning, and preparing for this moment. I have to thank my God that all has gone well, let it be to His glory. I’m still on the road to recovery and often have to remind myself to take it easy, especially on the days where I have gotten a good nights rest, and I am feeling restless with all the resting.
Reader, this particular post is mainly to provide information to someone who may be a few steps behind me in their journey preparing for their own mastectomy. This post may even help a family member or a friend know in what ways they may be able to lend a hand or offer support. May it be a blessing to someone somewhere….
“She watches over the affairs of her home.”
I am a mom and a wife and my very first concern was making sure my family was taken care of while I was down. I’m a huge planner and like to look at things from all angles, so I waited to have surgery until my children were a bit older, intentionally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, one of the great perks to knowing you have this gene is you can plan to be proactive in your quest to fight. I am 41 and my children are 10 and 12, they are able to do a lot for themselves especially with some momma guidance and instruction. Food wise they are able to pour a bowl of cereal, put frozen waffles in a toaster, make a bagel, eat yogurt with granola, and cook instant oatmeal. For lunch they know how to make sandwiches, (peanut butter & jelly, tuna, lunch meat) and I taught them how to do grilled cheese. I’ve stocked the pantry and fridge with snacks.
We have done laundry together and I have taught them to sort their clothes, how to start the washer and how much detergent to put in. We have gone over how to use the clothes dryer. We’ve sat and practiced folding. We started all this months before surgery. I also have a mother-in-law who is more than happy to take her grandkids laundry and bring it back nice and clean and folded. So we also have practiced putting clothes away. They are kids and they need to be taught these things anyway.
I bought a white board and wrote daily chores for them. Things they are able to do to help with the up-keep of our home. We’ve practiced these too. On the white board I have given them each something different to do and we rotate chores so one doesn’t get stuck with the same thing all the time. I have even written in times to read, practice math, and practice instruments. I see this as a great opportunity for them to learn to be responsible as well as help. Here are the things I have on their chore list:
*Please note that these chores are thought to be age related for each child.
stock bathrooms with TP
sweep and vacuum
wipe down bathroom
clean cat liter
put laundry away
empty trash cans
take big trash cans to street on trash day
straighten out bedroom/game room
“She can laugh at the days to come.”
I am blessed that I have a surviving aunt that shares this journey with me. She is a warrior, has battled breast cancer, and has gone through the mastectomy process. She has willingly given me three whole weeks of her time, energy, and love. (I am extremely grateful) The first week she was here we made a point to go do something fun, we went on a little road trip! I would recommend do something fun before hand. And if you have an aunt, a mom, a mother-in-law, a friend, a cousin, anyone who is willing to be there for you, embrace their helping hand.
The night before I had surgery was rough emotionally. I am so grateful for my friends. Five of my closest friends got together and we spent time. The greatest moment of that evening for me was when one of them asked what I was most afraid of and I was given the opportunity to share everything. From the fear of complications, and pain, to not being able to wipe my own butt. We laughed, cried, and prayed. That moment was so important for me to have.
I also believe it gave my closest friends an opportunity to hear me and boy have they really come through. Bringing meals a few nights a week. Running errands, picking up milk and bread and yummy chocolate treats. One of my girlfriends came and did my make up for me. What a treat that was, I enjoyed her touch, her company, and loved how pretty I felt for the rest of the day. I’ve enjoyed those who have sat and watched a TV program with me, or stayed a bit longer after dropping off a meal and played a game of uno with my family. I love the flowers and the cards and the sweet little “thinking of you” texts. I am grateful for to those who have not forgotten my kids and have invited them to spend time at their homes, or have taken them to see a movie with their families. Thank you mi amigas!
“Her husband is respected…”
My husbands job is fairly new so taking time off is a bit more difficult, but he’s been right there with me. He’s my muscle man both in statue and in heart. I appreciate that he takes time to make our lawn look pretty, and changes the sheets on our bed. He walks with me and we pray. He was by my side before they took me into the OR and held my hand and cried with me because, well I just needed to cry. There’s been rough nights where it’s been just him and I, I’m in pain and he sits with me. I know he must feel so helpless but it would be so much worse for me if he wasn’t around. I need him and I love that he is ready to do whatever it is I think I might need to bring me comfort. My husband has been amazing.
“Faithful instruction is on her lips…”
My sweet friend, let me turn my attention now to you. Here’s what I think you can do for you….
I said this up above….do something fun before surgery! And on top of that get your toes done, get your hair done, wax those brows, get a facial like two days before surgery so you’ll glow as you sit in your hospital bed. Something that I did a few days before surgery, that made me feel good but I would highly recommend you talk with your doctor about is cleaning out your bowels. Yep I took a laxative and got all of that out of there….TMI??? It just might be, but sister, I have no regrets.
That leads me to my next point, “Don’t stuff to look tough”. But I’m not talking about your bowels anymore, I am encouraging you to share your fears and concerns. Put it out there especially with those that are close to you and might be able to help with some of the things you are concerned about. Let them love you. Sharing what woes you helps others to know how to help you.
So, what are you going to need? Here’s some helpful tips and a few links to ease your planning…..
Go shopping for some button down jammies, and loose fitting bottoms. By a couple of button down tops a size larger to wear to dr appts. Don’t think yoga pants are your best options for bottoms. I did and I was wrong. Your best bet is lose fitting pants or shorts to go out in public in. Yoga pants were too tight and not very easy to get up and down when I had to use the restroom. Buy loose bottoms with no buttons or zippers ok? Trust me.
Pack your bag
I went and bought a button down, loose fitting dress and wore that with a rockin necklace to the hospital. Although I knew no jewelry would be allowed, dressing up a bit before surgery helped my confidence a little bit as I walked into that scary place and the dress was perfect when it was time to go home.
Something that helped my nerves a ton was a special playlist of inspirational music I put together, and my ear buds. The music helped to calm me and comfort me as I waited to be taken into the OR.
As they are prepping you for surgery remember this……Request naseua meds prior to surgery. I suffer from motion sickness and that was enough info for the doctor to put that glorious little patch behind my ear. What you are trying to avoid is waking up from major surgery and heaving because your are nauseous. The pre patch helps so ask for it!
In my hospital bag I had a little make up bag filled goodies:
- gum or mints
- a little mirror
- toothbrush/toothpaste (but I didn’t use)
- and facial wipes; aka make up removal wipes (I did use these)
- phone charger
This little bag was nice to have on hand while in the hospital and again bed side at home. Also bedside at home, I asked for a tray to place on the bed, and on the tray a cup with a lid and straw for water, my little breathing machine thing they send home with you (use that thing! 10 times every hour you are awake. I didn’t and paid the price about 9 days after surgery with a painful “lung stitch”), and the remotes to the TV. I also had on hand and an extension cord near by to plug in the phone charger and anything else I might need to charge.
I didn’t do any fancy wedge pillows, but I did use a lot of pillows. Pillows to prop up my back, and pillows to rest my arms. I also enjoyed pillows tucked under my knees, I swear they helped keep me from sliding down in bed. A little stool by the bed helped me climb into our elevated bed. I realized the closer I could get my bum to my back pillows the more comfortable I was.
- Buy a long handle Loofah & dry shampoo
I didn’t want to shower although I was told I could. I used the make up wipes the first few days to wipe down and used my dry shampoo to freshen my hair. When I was finally ready to brave a shower (3 days after surgery) here’s how I handled that mess.
My aunt, from her mastectomy experience, had discovered cling wrap to help with the shower (yes, the see through plastic stuff you use to cover food bowls), well you get this and you have someone help you wrap your chest. I don’t know exactly how this helped other than mentally I believe it made me feel secure. This first shower was also the frist time I took off the bandages, so wrapping that area made me feel safe. It also helped lessen the sensation of the water pressure hitting my chest. I used surgical tape and taped my drains to the wrap, I also found that you can use a lanyard to hang the drains on. We took the shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel and placed them outside of shower. The long handle loofah came in handy to whomever was helping me wash, and has been super handy for me now that I have more mobility of the arms and can wash myself. Washing the hair hasn’t been easy and I still need help. I haven’t found a genius way to accomplish this so I’m only doing it once a week and using the dry shampoo in between. (shh, don’t tell anyone I go that long!)
Document your meds and stay on top of the pain by taking your pain meds as prescribed for the first few days. I was able to ditch the Norco after 4 or 5 days and only did a muscle relaxer at night, before bed. Don’t neglect those bowels…drink plenty of fluids and eat light.
For those darn drains. All I can say is deal with it sister. They are more of a bother then anything. I still have mine and really don’t have any cool drain tricks. I do have the drain aprons and those have been awesome, especially the first week. More recently I’ve just been pinning them to my front closer sports bra (which I bought in XL and large to accommodate for the decrease swelling). Draining once in the morning and before bed. I use cotton balls soaked with alcohol to move the yucky stuff into the bulbs and then I wipe the bulbs down to keep them clean. I’m hoping they come out this week. I must admit I am bit afraid of what that may be like…..I’ll let you know how that goes.
It’s day 14 now and I had some MAJOR accomplishments today. I took a shower all by myself from start to finish, even washing my hair! I also drove. I’m still not comfortable with sharp turns and didn’t go very far but I drove!
You’ll get through this! We’ll get through this! Just keep moving forward…..