Come join others currently navigating treatment in our weekly Zoom Meetup! Register here: Tuesdays, 1pm ET.
New Feature: Fill out your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

new and future flat sister, with questions

bobogirl
bobogirl Member Posts: 2,083

Dear ones:

Facing my own double MX (no date yet; BS Monday).  I have some questions, but I get different answers. I knew I could come to you for help.  I'm not having reconstruction, so I'm hesitant to post these Qs where others might answer based on their SX with reconstruction or TEs.

- How long before I can go back to work?  I teach.

- How long until I can wash my hair?

- How about driving?

- When would I be comfortable going to the hairdresser to have it washed?

- Where should I sleep?  Bed with pillows? Bed with wedge?  Recliner?  Rent hospital bed?  Don't have a recliner; hospital bed seems like so much hassle.

- How should I manage my drains?  There seem to be one million different ways to do this.  Unnecessarily worried about this.

- When can I take a shower?  As you can see, I'm worried about this too.  Hate feeling dirty and sweaty.

- When after surgery can I manage alone in the house?  Can I be left to my own devices right away?  Really don't want my mother around that much :)

- What will I not be able to do?  Will I be able to open the oven door?  The sliding glass door?  Twist tops?  Work a can opener?

- Am vegetarian.  Any thoughts on healing, protein, etc?  Still possible to be vegetarian?  Or will it delay recovery?  Am being told terrible things.  Really don't want to eat meat.

Many thanks for all your help.  I'm so glad I have people I can turn to.  Not talking about any of this too much at home -- I have two six-year-olds.

xxx bobogirl

«134567308

Comments

  • grammietofour
    grammietofour Member Posts: 7
    edited March 2013

    Holy cow girl!  Lots of questions.  If you go to the thread about preparing for surgery, surgery and postop care, a lot of your questions will get answered there.  But some of the highlights are that everyone recovers differently.  I have seen most woman going back to work between 4-6 weeks and some out longer.  I am 3 weeks out from surgery and could not even think about returning to work yet but a week may mean a lot of difference.  As far as hair, you can wash right away say in a sink but no showering until drains come out usually but some docs say differently.  The drains are very easy to take care of, just a pain to lug around!  The nurses will show you how to do this.  You can buy camisoles, shirts, etc. that have pockets in them for the drains to fit into.  However, I just clipped a safety pin on them and hooked to my pants at the waist or inside of shirt.  My doc said no driving for 3-4 weeks.  I drove last week at the 3 week mark and was very uncomfortable.  The seatbelt is sore on the chest and it is hard to turn around to back up, etc.  I could shower after all drains were out but got some diaper wipes - yep - and used them for "sponge bathing" and stuck my head in the sink for a good washing.  You definitely do not want to be home alone for as long as possible.  I thought I would be perfectly able to take care of myself after a few days but was wrong, maybe more emotionally than physically.  I wanted someone there in case something happened - like "help I've fallen and I can't get up!  Take all the care you can and hopefully some people will deliver meals to you which really helps.  Lifting above counter level is hard, bending over, pulling on pants, things like that.  I slept in a recliner for a long time.  Much more comfortable than bed and easier to get up, etc., and it is on the first floor of house.  The biggest thing is to get your rest, accept all help offered and go day by day.  Also, a lot of people comment about feeling pretty good for the first two weeks and then whammy, week three things seem to catch up with you and you start to get different pain with the body healing.  There are lots of ways to get your protein without having to eat meat - do a google search on that.  Anyway, check out the threat on Surgery and preparing before and after and that has tons of info.  Good luck!  Grammie

  • Erica
    Erica Member Posts: 237
    edited March 2013

    Hi bobogirl,

    Sorry you're going through this. Hopefully, you'll be like many of us and find that the surgery and recovery really are pretty easy. I didn't require painkillers for very long and the drains, while uncomfortable, weren't horrible. After my experience with breast cancer, I started a non-profit website, BreastFree.org, specifically to help women choosing mastectomy without reconstruction. You might find the Preparing for Surgery section especially helpful. I'm sure others will be along with specific answers to some of your questions.

  • indenial
    indenial Member Posts: 125
    edited March 2013

    I will post my answers but realize please that everyone is different & you might have different timetables and different side effects than I did. My BMX (no recon) was almost 4 weeks ago. Also, I did end up rehospitalized for a couple days 1 week post-op, so my recovery was affected by that.

    - How long before I can go back to work?  I'm not working but by the third week I was able to take care of my 4-year-old all day without help. It's easy to overdo it & I need to devote the entire evening every night to resting. If you can't sit down, take breaks, etc. throughout the day, you may need an extra week or two.

    - How long until I can wash my hair? By the second week I could manage well enough, but it wasn't pretty, and was very exhausting. 

    - How about driving? I started driving after 2 weeks but only short distances. I still have my husband drive if he's around, because driving is tiring & makes me sore. Also had to tilt the steering wheel down as much as possible.

    - When would I be comfortable going to the hairdresser to have it washed? Probably by the 3rd or 4th day? 

    - Where should I sleep?  Bed with pillows? Bed with wedge?  Recliner?  Rent hospital bed?  Recliner is OK but hard to get up from (mine is not a push-button so I had to leave it open all the time because I couldn't pull the handle). I have back issues and the bed was unbearable no matter how many pillows I piled up. If I had to do it all again, I'd probably rent a hospital bed, or at least try a wedge. 

    - How should I manage my drains?  Drains aren't enjoyable but I wouldn't worry about them too much. You need to milk them several times a day -- someone else can do this for you, and it's easier if you use an alcohol pad to help your fingers slide down the tube. I ended up wearing a lot of hoodies with pockets (or my husband's button-down shirts) and just stuck the drains in the pockets. Or I'd wear a stretchy band around my chest/stomach (belly band the hospital gave me) and tucked them in wherever they were comfortable. You could also use a simple tool belt kind of thing, or an apron with pockets, or hook them onto a lanyard around your neck.

    - When can I take a shower?  I was allowed to as soon as I was able to get out of bed, but I wasn't really up to it for the first week. I used washcloths and wet wipes to clean up until I felt able to shower, around week 2.

    - When after surgery can I manage alone in the house?  The first couple days you'll probably want/need someone with you to get you your meds, food, etc. By 5 days post-op I was staying home alone with my preschooler, but we had friends come over for a long stretch each day for a week or two to help entertain him & help do household stuff & bring us meals.

    - What will I not be able to do? First week I couldn't do much of anything with my arms! I even needed disposable cups because our large glass cups were too heavy. Twist tops were tough but not impossible if they'd been previously opened. Oven door wouldn't be too bad but I sure wasn't cooking, sliding door would depend how easily it slides, not sure on can opener but probably not. I could open light-weight doors but not heavy ones. I couldn't squeeze shampoo out but I could twist the cap off and get some out. Couldn't pull shirts over my head, wipe a counter, open child-proof meds, etc. By the end of the second week I could start to do a lot of these things and now at 3.5 weeks I can do most things as long as they don't invovle anything heavy (actually I *can* pick up my 35-lb son when I need to, but I pay for it later!) and I can't really vacuum quite yet, and many things still wear me out or make me sore.

    - Still possible to be vegetarian?  I'm a former long-time vegan and have only been reluctantly eating small amounts of meat for the last year. And I definitely haven't come even close to that "100 grams of protein" recommendation. Actually I ate nearly nothing for the first 2 weeks because I was too nauseous (I don't think this is typical -- I had a bad reaction to pain meds and then caught a stomach bug on top of it). I think I'm recovering just fine, and I've only eaten very small portions of meat a couple times a week, and only because I don't eat grains & legumes. If you're worried about protein, you can do beans, nuts, quinoa, dairy & eggs if you eat them... just stock up on things and maybe stock your freezer with protein-rich veggie meals if your friends & family aren't used to cooking veg food.

    As to your 6-year-olds, can I recommend this website? http://www.someoneiloveissick.com/talking-to-your-children-about-cancer/explaining-cancer-to-kids/ Good ideas on how to talk to your kids about cancer. They will know something is wrong even if you don't talk about it -- it's better that they know the facts. I know you didn't specifically ask about this issue so I'll leave it at that, but let me know if you want to talk about it more with someone, I'd be happy to. :)

  • Linda-n3
    Linda-n3 Member Posts: 1,713
    edited March 2013

    Bobogirl, I am also vegetarian, and am pretty sure I didn't get enough protein throughout treatment, but I did and still do try. If you do dairy, Greek yogurt is an excellent source - 23 grams for a cup; mixing that with fruit, thin it with a bit of milk, add cinnamon or chocolate syrup, blend thoroughly - lots of variations for your own taste for a decent smoothie.  I really detest the store-bought smoothies.

    I made puddings from boxed mixes, using 2 cups milk as instructed, then added a package of dried milk powder for protein boost. I also did that with pumpkin pie filling (I like pumpkin pie minus the crust, it is a great "vegetable", has good fiber, vitamin A, etc....), making a pumpkin custard, and again, boosting it with the extra dried milk powder.  That dried milk has a different flavor, and I don't really love it, but it doubled the protein so that a serving of pudding was 15 grams of protein.

    Lentils and spit peas have some of the highest protein content. A half cup of split peas gives you about 20 grams of protein, but it is a HUGE serving!

    Cottage cheese gives you 12 grams of protein for half a cup, so I would eat 1 cup along with vegetable soup or fruit such as peaches or pineapple.

    Whole grain cereals like oatmeal, barley, wheat berries will give you about 5 grams protein per serving, which can be boosted by adding milk or yogurt.

    A simple cheese sandwich with 2 slices of bread and 2 slices of cheese gives you about 16 grams of protein.

    Frozen processed foods can provide protein also - I love the sausage patties from Morning Star Farms, each has 10 grams protein, so I often have 2 of them with toast and tomato juice for breakfast or even lunch.

    I really tried to pack the protein into the snacks and desserts because those were the foods that appealed to me, and it is relatively easy to do as long as you are using dairy and eggs.

    BTW, I was told I needed 1 gram of protein per kilogram or 1/2 gram protein per pound of body weight for a regular diet, but 1.5 - 2 times that for healing, so about 2 grams protein per pound of body weight is a good target. 

    Best wishes, and you can PM me anytime for any other suggestions.  My sister was a great lookout for great-tasting high-protein vegetarian options for me.

  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158
    edited March 2013

    bobogirl-I went back to work after 4 weeks. I'm a nurse & work 12hr shifts. I probably could have gone back sooner. I enjoyed my time off work & my BS wouldn't release me back to work.

    I was told not to drive for 1 week after my BMX. I took 4-5mile walks everyday starting the day after surgery. Just make sure the drains are secured to your chest so they don't wag like a dog's tail.

    I was going to get a ride to the hairdresser to have my hair washed & but figured out away to wash it in my kitchen sink. It went really well, I rested my elbows in the bottom of the sink & just hosed off my head. My hair was long(middle of my back).

    In the kitchen, I remember it being hard to push buttons(microwave, oven, etc) the first week. I left all the dishes I use on the counter because I couldn't reach up & get them out of the cabinet. My husband put up with this because he knows I hate to ask for help.

    As for the car, shoulderbelts were annoying for sometime. I slipped it off & behind my back. Not very safe but it took care of the problem. Bumpy roads were also a problem. My husband took me for a ride to the nearby mountains to check out the wildflowers. Every bump in the road cause my drain sites to hurt. Hope you live where the roads are good.

    I think I had an easier time than most. Wishing you the same.

  • Outfield
    Outfield Member Posts: 235
    edited March 2013

    Bobogirl, we all have different stories because surgeons have different preferences - some are way more conservative than others - and we all heal differently depending on our underlying health.  

    I went back to work just short of 2 weeks later, but my job has minimal physical demands.  I still had a drain in, which I hid.

    My surgeon let me shower within the first few days, but I wasn't supposed to lift my arms over 90 degrees for a few weeks.  I can't remember how I washed my hair (maybe the sink?) or if someone did it for me while I stood in the shower.  I would have been fine getting it washed at a salon a day or two after surgery.

    I definitely drove myself to work, so that had to have been no more than 2 weeks.  

    To sleep, I went to a big-box store about bought I think 6 of the cheapest pillows to augment our supply, then build myself a throne in the middle of our double bed.  It propped me up sitting with elevated armrests.  I found that a lot more comfortable than the hospital beds I've been in.  

    Someone from your surgical team will give you advice about the drains.  I think that's one of those surgeon preference things.  Drains are a pain, but you get through that part.  My surgery was in summer, so I went to that big-box store and bought 3 cheap light-weight zip hoodies - same general cut as a zip hoodie sweatshirt with the front pockets - then tucked the drain bulbs in the pockets.  

    Showering was a within the first few days.  Some surgeons wait a lot longer.

    You can be left to your own devices in the house pretty quickly if you're basically healthy, but you may not be allowed to reach up overhead.  I had a 2 and a 3 year old, and couldn't be home alone with them because I couldn't lift or grab them, which basically meant I couldn't be left alone for about 2 weeks until I was released to lift what I wanted.  I had been told beforehand it would be longer, but my healing was very speedy.

    I would say yes to the oven (but no to heaving anything as heavy as a baking dish full of wet vegetables in and out of the oven), maybe to the sliding glass door depending on how sticky it is, yes to twist tops that aren't new and stuck on, yes to the can opener.  

    I eat fish and eggs from our neighbor's happy chickens, but otherwise no animal products, including no dairy.  I healed very fast: my surgeon's words were "as best as is possible."  I don't remember exactly what I ate back then, and it probably wasn't very much because I was pretty freaked out.  Then I started chemo not quite 3 weeks after surgery and eating became a horrible challenge.  So I don't have much specific advice, but honestly, I think if you pay attention to protein sources with a good nutritional reference, you should be able to get what you need.  

    My daughter is 6 now.  It seems so young, but there are such deep currents of worry that go through their heads.  Even at 3 that was true.  She really benefitted then from the "mom has cancer" genre of children's books mainly written by women with breast cancer.  Gave her the opportunity to ask a lot of questions.  '

    One thing about having little kids - think about getting set up in a chair with a pillow or two over your chest for padding so you can hug and cuddle them (if that's what you all do) right away without worrying they may hurt you.  Not as good as holding them close, but better than warning them to be careful over and over.

    Good luck.

  • badger
    badger Member Posts: 24,938
    edited March 2013

    hi bobogirl, I had BMX no recon three years ago.  I don't use prosthetics and am comfortable going flat.  We're all different but here's my experience.

    I have a desk job and took two weeks off work.  Did nothing the first week and very little the second.  Went back to work after two weeks but got a ride with someone.  Didn't drive for a month.  Brought a small pillow and put it between me and the seat belt.  Not much to do about bumpy roads but hug the pillow.

    Made sure everything needed for daily life - toothbrush, coffee pot, etc - was at or below shoulder height.  Got the OK to shower the next day and washed hair while all hunched over.  Had two drains and hung them around my neck with some ribbon so I had hands free.  First shower was heavenly!

    Was not instructed to do anything with drains other than measure fluid output so did not "milk" or "strip" them.  I purchased two mast camis with no inside seams and pockets for drains and that was money well-spent.  Couldn't wear anything but cotton or silk for several months after surgery because of chest sensitivity.  Lightly touching your chest can help with that sensitivity.

    It's common to feel "zaps" or "lightning bolts" for several months as nerves regenerate.

    I slept in a recliner for a good six weeks.  We needed a new one anyway so took the opportunity to get one with a push-button control as I couldn't have managed that long wooden arm.

    Bumped a thread for you called Diary of a Bilateral Mastectomy, in the Surgery forum.  Very helpful and hopeful.  Good luck and do check out breastfree.org, it's a great resource.  ((hugs))

  • bobogirl
    bobogirl Member Posts: 2,083
    edited March 2013

    Such great advice.  I'm so grateful for all of the point-by-point answers.  I have been lurking on the surgery threads, but so much of it dealt with different kinds of surgeries, so I thought I'd ask the experts. :)

    Erica, thank you for the website.  Indenial, thank you for the child-specific advice about lifting and cleaning! Mine were 2 and 3 with my first surgery; now they are 7 and 8.  Your advice was very welcome.  Linda, your vegetarian food suggestions -- I am so grateful for them!  Already not hungry, and I wish someone here would suggest a bunch of things for me to eat.  I eat eggs from happy chickens too, but no dairy -- I'm allergic.

    Coraleliz, your walks inspire me!  I was afraid I couldn't do that.  Wow.  I feel more hopeful.  Looking at wildflowers?  So impressed, and... more hopeful.

    Outfield -- thank you so much for your thoughtful advice.  I have been worrying about not being able to give enough cuddling.  I will get books.  Good thought about 'heavy wet pan of vegetables.'  I'm so grateful.

    Thank you Grammie!  Thanks to all of you.

  • Outfield
    Outfield Member Posts: 235
    edited March 2013

    Bobogirl, forgot something.  Bragg's Amino Acids.  Kind of yummy.  Nutritional yeast.  Very yummy.  

  • bobogirl
    bobogirl Member Posts: 2,083
    edited March 2013

    Have some bragg's in cabinet, but never use it!  Thanks for reminding me.

  • indenial
    indenial Member Posts: 125
    edited March 2013

    Bragg's is made from soybeans -- may or may not be a concern if you are ER+...

  • Outfield
    Outfield Member Posts: 235
    edited March 2013

    indenial, thanks, didn't know that about Bragg's.  

  • cinnamonsmiles
    cinnamonsmiles Member Posts: 67
    edited March 2013
    • Then maybe we should put our heads together on what we think should be added. Make a bullet point list (thanks Kira for helping me learn this when making points) and submit it to the moderators. The simpler and clearer we list what we want, the better it will be right?
    • x point
    • y point 
    • z point

    I did make a point awhile back in this discussion that there seems to be more to discuss with breast reconstruction, as there are many types of which to have. But I see a few things that could be added to the Mastectomy without reoncstruction part in the bc.org in the informational pages. But I think getting together a bullet point list to let the mods know what we want added would be a good idea.

  • indenial
    indenial Member Posts: 125
    edited March 2013

    Benefits of no reconstruction might be good to add. Like easier recovery from surgery and fewer surgeries overall... and being able to get clear echocardiograms (just learned recently that this can be hard with implants!)... things like that. 

  • BikerLee
    BikerLee Member Posts: 78
    edited March 2013

    Sorry you have to have this surgery... I have lots of answers for you! So many good ones above.

    A little about me:  I'm an athlete, a mom of an 11 year old (just turned 10 at time of surgery), chemistry professor, the not-better half of our relationship, and bicycle commuter.

    - How long before I can go back to work?  I teach.

    I had surgery on Monday... needed to attend a meeting on Friday - was at work for like 2 hours. No problem.  Week after surgery - I was at work approx 2/3 time...  Then full time after that - no problems.  During that first week, I did ask students to help me carry things (computer, demos etc...) to my classroom....  They were happy to do this.

    - How long until I can wash my hair?

    Unlike recon, the challenges of lifting one's arms above should height are not so severe. I didn't have much hair at 3 weeks post-chemo... so washing my scalp was pretty easy breezy....  Now that I think about it, it's yet another advantage of having chemo before surgery...  Will you also have to do chemo?  

    - How about driving?

    I rode my bike on day six, and it was AWESOME....  Ok - not totally awesome, but I was totally fine and very happy to be riding a little bit.

    Driving was fine - no problems. Pulling the car door shut was a little bit more difficult.

    - When would I be comfortable going to the hairdresser to have it washed?

    Depends on the chair, but I'd figure within a couple of days.

    - Where should I sleep?  Bed with pillows? Bed with wedge?  Recliner?  Rent hospital bed?  Don't have a recliner; hospital bed seems like so much hassle.

    Bed with pillows did me just fine....  I did have a lot of pillows...  Probably like 5 or something...  

    - How should I manage my drains?  There seem to be one million different ways to do this.  Unnecessarily worried about this.

    It was cold out, so I wore a hoodie and just stuffed them in my pants pockets (hoodie was long enough to cover the tops of the pockets, so no tubing nor drain was visible). I lost a bunch of weight from chemo, so I was thin going into surgery. So, fitting the drains into my pants pockets was easy. No big deal.  Easy breezy. I don't think buying extra stuff is necessary.  I had the drains out on day 9 or 10....  OK - that kind of sucked... doable... manageable... but kind of sucky, the drain removal.

    - When can I take a shower?  As you can see, I'm worried about this too.  Hate feeling dirty and sweaty.

    I was GLUED - highly recommend this...  As a result, I was able to shower after 48 hours....

    - When after surgery can I manage alone in the house?  Can I be left to my own devices right away?  Really don't want my mother around that much :)

    It really depends on you.  If you are able to reach snag what you wanna eat... lift around 5 pounds or so... then you'll be solid.  I didn't have any problems to speak of.  I was left to my own devices early on - not by my better half's choice, however...  by my choice.

    - What will I not be able to do?  Will I be able to open the oven door?  The sliding glass door?  Twist tops?  Work a can opener?

    It was hard to pull the car door closed after getting in...  I didn't wear a back-pack of any kind for a bit.  Otherwise, there wasn't much I couldn't do at the end of one week.  With the double mastectomy, you'll probalby not have any muscle tissue cut at all (depending on the details of your surgery)... If you do too much, your scars will thicken...  Plus, your body will let you know when you need to ease back a bit.

    - Am vegetarian.  Any thoughts on healing, protein, etc?  Still possible to be vegetarian?  Or will it delay recovery?  Am being told terrible things.  Really don't want to eat meat.

    I'm dairy-free vegetarian, and I healed up just fine.  Sure - focus a bit on some protein...  But most importantly, eat balanced foods...  keep processed foods to a minimum...  eat things that taste yummy...  eat balanced proteins by including things like green peas, lentls, nuts, etc...  All I did was increase the amount of eat of those by a bit for the first couple of months.  I needed to do that anyway cuz I'd dropped weight during chemo....  

    Many thanks for all your help.  I'm so glad I have people I can turn too.  Not talking about any of this too much at home -- I have two six-year-olds.

    Regarding talking to your six year olds... My child was surprisingly cool about all of it.  I asked him about his thoughts regarding the surgery... his only question was - will they grow back?  Good question, once I thought about it for a minute. Makes sense he'd ask that.  Anyway, he was pretty good about everything. I did have to remind him about hugging me with care (his head was exactly scar level) and so on.  But with gentle reminders, he was great.

    The cool thing - we had him stay with a friend the night before surgery. That made Monday morning go more smoothly because we were not also worried about his getting to school and where he would be etc...

    OK - one thought.  So, my chest did not like the feeling of fabric moving over the fresh scar tissue.  So, I wore a form fitting but not tight undershirt.  This simply kept fabric from moving across my skin.  Does that make sense?  I also wore these super light sports style bras or a thin undershirt for the first couple of months after surgery.  I somehow felt more vulnerable without a bra or some kind of undershirt between me and my outershirt.  Now, I just wear a shirt, and that's pretty much awesome.  

    I did have a revision. I had little bumps to either side of my sternum, and I did not like that at all.  I called them my little mini-boobs.  So, my final piece of advice is to talk to the surgeon very explicitly about what you want from the surgery. I understand that they sometimes do leave miniboobs behind in case of a later decision to do recon.  I've heard this called dog ears and a few other names.  If you want to keep your options open, be explicit about that. If you are 100% sure that this is it - you're going flat - then I recommend being explicit about that as well. I was 100% adamant, and my surgeon told me that he did his best to give me as flat a result as possible, but my left side definitely had a bit of a mini-boob...  I thought I'd get used to it, but, in the end, I just couldn't get used to it and had to have the revision.  I am SHOCKED by how much happier I am with my body sans left-hand miniboob.  The right-hand miniboob was much smaller, but since I was there... I had them both done.

    Hmmm - that's all I've got.

    Best wishes - I hope everything goes smoothly and without complications.

  • bobogirl
    bobogirl Member Posts: 2,083
    edited March 2013

    BikerLee:

    This was such an excellent review.  Many, many thanks for this.  So many good suggestions.  And I'm so glad you've come through this as well as it sounds you  have!

    Great advice regarding the miniboobs.  I fear the dog tags.  I'm going to work on this.

    Meantime --- because I'm young (42) -- they're doing excisional biopsy first.  Insurance dictates they won't do MX without biopsy, and since mine is rare (and growing fast) they want to get the whole thing out.

    This thread is a lifesaver.  I'm so grateful to you guys for taking the time to tell me about how your life worked with this surgery.  Thank you a thousand times!

  • BikerLee
    BikerLee Member Posts: 78
    edited March 2013

    hey bobogirl - sounds like you and i are quite similar... i was 41 at diagnosis...

    keep the questions coming, if you've got them....  hugs hugs hugs.

  • bobogirl
    bobogirl Member Posts: 2,083
    edited March 2013

    Hugs to you back! {{{{BIKER}}}}

  • ldesim
    ldesim Member Posts: 1,193
    edited April 2013

    Its so comforting to get an idea of what to expect after surgery... thank you Bobogirl for asking what I was wondering and thank you to everybody for taking the time to share your experiences.  I feel so much better prepared and thus feel a lot more in control calmer!

  • ldesim
    ldesim Member Posts: 1,193
    edited April 2013

    Its so comforting to get an idea of what to expect after surgery... thank you Bobgirl for asking what I was wondering and thank you to everybody for taking the time to share your experiences.  I feel so much better prepared and thus feel a lot more in control calmer!

  • Alynne61
    Alynne61 Member Posts: 3
    edited April 2013

    Dear Bobogirl, maybe you are not crazy about having your mom around a lot... but please do get someone to help you.  you will be sent home with bandages and drains.  it is not easy to milk and empty the drains yourself -- especially if you have had the bilat mastectomy.  also, when you are to the point that you are changing your bandages... you will likely need some help.  trust me... I refused any help and regretted it quite soon.  be kind to yourself and get someone to help you out with meals and all for at least a week or two.  you will get through it and life as a "flatty" is not bad at all.  there are a heckuva lot of us out here.  ;)

  • Alynne61
    Alynne61 Member Posts: 3
    edited April 2013

    BTW, immediately after the surgery, there is some swelling over the chest, under the arm, etc.  and the end of the scar nearest to your breastbone may stick up and look like a little lump.  the scar itself may look red and lumpy at first.  with time, it will flatten, get lighter, etc. and look better.  so don't panic.  the range of motion excercises really help with the swelling, too.  

  • rockermom66
    rockermom66 Member Posts: 23
    edited April 2013

    Bobogirl, I just went through this on March 19th.

    - How long before I can go back to work?  
    I had my first day back to work this past Friday the 6th. I could have started earlier but took a few extra days. I do hair extensions and I was perfectly fine using my hands and arms repetitively for 4-6 hours each day.

    - How long until I can wash my hair?
    I was glued so 48 hours till my first shower. The first time was a bit awkward raising my arms up so I bent over with the water spraying at the top/back of my head. It was so awesome to do that!

    - How about driving?
    I waited a week. Wide turns are difficult so I babystepped them. Opening and closing the door is a little iffy but doable. A small pillow under the seat belt strap will help. 

    - When would I be comfortable going to the hairdresser to have it washed?
    If you have someone take you I would say a few days. Just make sure they are gentle and slow with maneuvering you around.

    - Where should I sleep?  
    I slept in a recliner for a week. Laying flat and sleeping with cats right away would have been difficult.

    - How should I manage my drains?  
    One of my friends gave me a waitress apron, I put them in the pockets.

    - When can I take a shower?  
    48 hours with glue.

    - When after surgery can I manage alone in the house?  
    I was on my own other than my son the first night back home. My friend hung out all day and watched movies with me and was willing to sleep over.. I just didn't need her. I was fine doing most things but I definitely took it easy. Get one of those "grabber" things, they help!

    - What will I not be able to do?  
    Opening bottles will be tough, child proof caps are difficult.. raising arms up will gradually come back and right away you won't be able to do much. Every day gets better. I used my feet for some things :)
    Anything that requires reaching or uses your pectoral muscles will be tricky for a little while.

    - Am vegetarian.  
    Keep it up! I don't see a problem. Maybe up your proteins. I juice like a maniac and I think that really helps.

  • ldesim
    ldesim Member Posts: 1,193
    edited April 2013

    I have surgery tomorrow and reading everybody's experiences has helped so much, so thank you for sharing it has really made me feel so much better going into this as I feel prepared!  You are all such amazing ladies!

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited April 2013

    Idesim, I hope your surgery goes smoothly and you have an easy recovery.

  • Karen3
    Karen3 Member Posts: 37
    edited April 2013

    Hi Bobogirls,

    Just adding my ideas! I had a bilateral mastectomy last year after my second diagnosis of TN BC (in opposite breast). I had lumpectomy first of all but when it appeared in my opposite breast so soon after treatment, I was recommended to have both my breasts removed. I am also a teacher! I gather that you too are having a bilateral and please be careful about returning to teaching too soon. A bilateral is very different from a single mastectomy because you are compromised on BOTH sides which will limit your mobility initially and you will need longer to recover. I went back to work after a month but even then I found it very difficult to reach up and write on the white board. Of course, recovery will vary woman to woman. But, please accept that you operation is different from a mastectomy.

    Best wishes to you and if you have had surgery, I hope it all went well.

  • bobogirl
    bobogirl Member Posts: 2,083
    edited April 2013

    Dear Rockermom: You are the best!  Thank you Karen, for your kind words.  I can't tell you how useful (and touching) it is to have everyone's experiences here.  I am so proud that you guys managed on your own so soon!  I know I can do the same.

    Waiting for pathology reports.  But not sweating it too badly, at the moment.  :)

  • Ariom
    Ariom Member Posts: 4,027
    edited April 2013

    Idesim, Hoping all went well and you are feeling ok.

    Take care!

    Bobogirl, I hope you don't have too long to wait for your results, Take care!

  • ldesim
    ldesim Member Posts: 1,193
    edited April 2013

    Hi Ariom. thank you for thinking of me, I am doing fantastic.  Surgery was yesterday and I was up and around almost immediately and am experiencing very little pain, it's more like a soreness the type you'd get from overdoing a workout  I have great mobility, so far so good.

    So relieved to have that over with.. I hope everybody else is healnig up nicely.

  • Ariom
    Ariom Member Posts: 4,027
    edited April 2013

    WooHoo! Idesim, I am so happy for you.

    I was that same, I could not believe how well I felt, and I was out of the Hospital 16 hours later. I didn't take a single pain med for it, but I had a broken toe at the time, that gave me grief, so I had a couple of paracetamol for that.

    My surgeon had told me that it wasn't a painful operation, but I had my doubts. I would have to call it a surgery of "strange sensations".

    The only advice I would give you, now that I am almost a whole 4 months out, LOL Is try not to overdo it because you feel well. I found I'd "hit the wall" in the afternoon, so I would take a nap.  It did wonders for me, and I did the exercises religiously, and always in the shower too.

    I wish you all the very best for your recovery, I hope it is swift and uneventful!

    Take care, and be kind to yourself, I know that amazing sense of relief, it is all consuming isn't it?