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Flying after surgery

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okletsdothis
okletsdothis Member Posts: 3

Hello friends, I am flying to MD Anderson in Houston in a few days for a double mastectomy (without reconstruction) and I had a few questions about post operative recovery.

  1. How long do you think I will need before I am able to to handle a 3 hour flight? Our surgeon said the next day, but that seems way too soon for me. I will be traveling with my son who can help me with my luggage.
  2. How long were the drains in place? Would this be a complicated issue on the plane?
  3. Is there anything I should bring with me to help with post op recovery? I will have to sleep upright after the surgery, right? I'm assuming I should bring garments that zip up/button up instead of ones that I have to pull over my head, correct?

As far my medical background, I am 65 years old and have Parkinson's but am generally healthy otherwise.

Pretty nervous about the whole experience, any thoughts would be sincerely appreciated.

Comments

  • wondering44
    wondering44 Member Posts: 252
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    Hi,

    I recently flew to and from at MD Anderson with the BMX and TE replacement surgeries. I was easily able to travel the day after the BMX and the same day for the TE replacement. I did take my pain medication right before travel and put it in my carry-on in case I needed it. I have a couple of tips. Hope this helps.

    1. Notify the airline when you check your luggage that you require medical assistance and a wheelchair. Your son can easily push you to get you through TSA and eliminate the wait for the airport to get you assistance (my son pushed me). It helps to have TSA see you have medical needs during the security check. This will also get you seated on the flight ahead of others to give you more time to get comfortable.

    2. You will want to let the the TSA officers at security check know you have medical devices (drains and gauze pads) on your body for the TSA check. They did a bomb-test on me due to my drains.

    3. If you are carrying ice packs you must give them a heads up. I didn't know to do that on the first go round and had to go through a private search with two female TSA officers. That took a while because I had additional icepacks in my carry on that had to get scanned. It made since after I was done since I guess I could be smuggling stuff (it didn't cross my mind until I had to get searched). Luckily, I got to the airport early that day.

    4. Be polite. I thanked the TSA for doing the searches and bomb check. After all, they were doing their jobs. I wasn't offended in the least bit.

    5. Houston airport has a lot of MD Anderson travelers. The TSA and flight attendants are familiar with people traveling to and from MD Anderson. The flight attendants helped me on the plane and to my seat even with me having my caregiver with me to help.


    I had the drains removed after sixteen days (thankfully). I let the TSA officers know ahead of time when I flew back to get them removed that I had medical equipment from surgery. Same scenario for checks. I tucked my drains in on the front sides of my yoga pants. I tried jeans but wasn't comfortable. MD Anderson should give you a velcro belt to help keep them in place too. That velcro belt really helped.

    I was told to bring open front/button up shirts for after surgeries. I brought medium sized (typically wear a small) t-shirts and did not have any problems.

    I stayed overnight for the BMX. I was glad I did. It helped to the nurses manage the pain the first night. I started walking all over the recovery area a few hours after surgery. I was glad to start walking there in case I managed to fall or mess up the drains.

    The BMX or drains were not painful. I assume that is due to the expertise of the surgeons at MD Anderson that specialize in only those surgeries (I could assume incorrectly). My first mastectomy and drains at my local facility caused excruciating pain (yuck). Honestly, the drains the second time were simply a hassle due to limitations on my movement and washing my hair. :-)

    I wish you a speedy recovery and successful surgery.

  • wondering44
    wondering44 Member Posts: 252
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    Hi,

    I recently flew to and from at MD Anderson with the BMX and TE replacement surgeries. I was easily able to travel the day after the BMX and the same day for the TE replacement. I did take my pain medication right before travel and put it in my carry-on in case I needed it. I have a couple of tips. Hope this helps.

    1. Notify the airline when you check your luggage that you require medical assistance and a wheelchair. Your son can easily push you to get you through TSA and eliminate the wait for the airport to get you assistance (my son pushed me). It helps to have TSA see you have medical needs during the security check. This will also get you seated on the flight ahead of others to give you more time to get comfortable.

    2. You will want to let the the TSA officers at security check know you have medical devices (drains and gauze pads) on your body for the TSA check. They did a bomb-test on me due to my drains.

    3. If you are carrying ice packs you must give them a heads up. I didn't know to do that on the first go round and had to go through a private search with two female TSA officers. That took a while because I had additional icepacks in my carry on that had to get scanned. It made since after I was done since I guess I could be smuggling stuff (it didn't cross my mind until I had to get searched). Luckily, I got to the airport early that day.

    4. Be polite. I thanked the TSA for doing the searches and bomb check. After all, they were doing their jobs. I wasn't offended in the least bit.

    5. Houston airport has a lot of MD Anderson travelers. The TSA and flight attendants are familiar with people traveling to and from MD Anderson. The flight attendants helped me on the plane and to my seat even with me having my caregiver with me to help.


    I had the drains removed after sixteen days (thankfully). I let the TSA officers know ahead of time when I flew back to get them removed that I had medical equipment from surgery. Same scenario for checks. I tucked my drains in on the front sides of my yoga pants. I tried jeans but wasn't comfortable. MD Anderson should give you a velcro belt to help keep them in place too. That velcro belt really helped.

    I was told to bring open front/button up shirts for after surgeries. I brought medium sized (typically wear a small) t-shirts and did not have any problems.

    I stayed overnight for the BMX. I was glad I did. It helped to the nurses manage the pain the first night. I started walking all over the recovery area a few hours after surgery. I was glad to start walking there in case I managed to fall or mess up the drains.

    The BMX or drains were not painful. I assume that is due to the expertise of the surgeons at MD Anderson that specialize in only those surgeries (I could assume incorrectly). My first mastectomy and drains at my local facility caused excruciating pain (yuck). Honestly, the drains the second time were simply a hassle due to limitations on my movement and washing my hair. :-)

    I wish you a speedy recovery and successful surgery.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
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    I agree with wondering44. Many people are surprised to find that surgery, especially without recon, is far less painful than they imagined. Drains? More of an annoyance than pain and easily managed. My one point of disagreement? MD Anderson docs are not doing anything different than those who perform mastectomy surgeries at any other US hospital. A bmx is pretty straightforward and the surgery is quite standardized. Unless an unforeseen complication arises, it's a relatively uncomplicated surgery. Take care.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
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    I agree with wondering44. Many people are surprised to find that surgery, especially without recon, is far less painful than they imagined. Drains? More of an annoyance than pain and easily managed. My one point of disagreement? MD Anderson docs are not doing anything different than those who perform mastectomy surgeries at any other US hospital. A bmx is pretty straightforward and the surgery is quite standardized. Unless an unforeseen complication arises, it's a relatively uncomplicated surgery. Take care.

  • okletsdothis
    okletsdothis Member Posts: 3
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    Thank you SO MUCH. May I ask, are you of a similar age to me?

  • okletsdothis
    okletsdothis Member Posts: 3
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    Thank you SO MUCH. May I ask, are you of a similar age to me?

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
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    okletsdothis,

    I am 66 now but was 55 at the time of surgery. Yup, I have been stage IV for 11 years. Unusual but true!

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,747
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    okletsdothis,

    I am 66 now but was 55 at the time of surgery. Yup, I have been stage IV for 11 years. Unusual but true!

  • wondering44
    wondering44 Member Posts: 252
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    exbrnxgrl is much more knowledgeable than me on this stuff. She is a great go to person for questions. I appreciate that she corrected me on my opinion of surgeons. :-) I was glad to have an easy recovery this time. It made it much more manageable.

    I did have an infection (ER visit with antibiotics) and an opening of the scar line/incision after my first mastectomy. It took a long time to heal. That may have contributed to the pain on that one.

    I did do reconstruction after the second mastectomy. All of it was simple and uneventful minus the annoying drains.

    I am twenty years younger than you and I do not have nor have I had any other other heath concerns.

  • wondering44
    wondering44 Member Posts: 252
    Options

    exbrnxgrl is much more knowledgeable than me on this stuff. She is a great go to person for questions. I appreciate that she corrected me on my opinion of surgeons. :-) I was glad to have an easy recovery this time. It made it much more manageable.

    I did have an infection (ER visit with antibiotics) and an opening of the scar line/incision after my first mastectomy. It took a long time to heal. That may have contributed to the pain on that one.

    I did do reconstruction after the second mastectomy. All of it was simple and uneventful minus the annoying drains.

    I am twenty years younger than you and I do not have nor have I had any other other heath concerns.

  • devoinaz
    devoinaz Member Posts: 40
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    In case anyone is looking at this thread again, I'll share my very recent BMX experience. I had this surgery just 2 days ago. I didn't have to travel, but it would have been a disaster for me to fly yesterday. I unfortunately had a bad vomiting spell overnight after the surgery (a reaction to the anesthesia, I think), and was extremely weak the next day. They told me this is not uncommon. Today (day 2), I feel much better, but I guess I'd suggest staying in a hotel for a day or two if you can afford the time and expense. Travel will be less stressful if you just wait a couple of days.