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

Nearly passed out in shower after mastectomy... what next?


I had a unilateral mastectomy several days ago, and my surgeon cleared me for showering after 48 hours. I was so excited for my shower, but not to see my surgical site—I didn't even look, but apparently the whole experience was too much for me because just 30 seconds into the shower I started to feel like I was going to pass out. Thank goodness my husband was there—he was able to help me get stabilized until the feeling passed. I never finished my shower, and now I'm terrified to take one because I feel like it'll just happen again.

I've never been great with medical stuff—I've gotten lightheaded at the sight of a bad skinned knee. How am I going to shower without passing out?? Or even bathe? The thought of actually washing myself near my incision, and over the bruises, makes me a little sick just thinking about it. It's not my body I'm uncomfortable with (although I'm not delighted either), it's literally just the medical site. Did anyone else have this trouble?? Was it better the second time? Any tips for not being traumatized at the site of your own chest?


  • jhl
    jhl Member Posts: 174

    You may have had a vasovagal response which caused you to be light headed. I'm glad your husband was there to help. Not sure how much of a rinse you had but you might want to take it easy or a few days. In the meantime, do a bit of a spit bath or sit on the edge of the tub, with your husband nearby. He can help you get your feet washed and you can clean up your perineum and torso without having the additional risk of warm water carrying the blood away from your head, which makes you dizzy. As far as the incision site, with time you will feel brave enough to feel and look at it. Perhaps in a few days you can look at it in a mirror with your husband standing by. It really does get better with time.

    I will keep you in my thoughts.

  • kotchaj
    kotchaj Member Posts: 211


    You have my complete sympathy. When I had my mastectomy, I was completely fine with everything UNTIL I saw my own surgical site after surgery. My visiting nurse was there changing my bandages and I almost fell off the stool I was sitting on. I worked in a hospital setting for 15 years and saw all types of wounds, etc. on others, but it being my own, about did me in. I got a shower chair and used it. You can sit in the shower and still clean up that way. You might want to consider getting one. It truly did help me. Hugs.

  • readerwriter5
    readerwriter5 Member Posts: 2

    Thank you, all! You've made me feel so much better, and not alone, plus you have great suggestions for helping me get used to my incision and surgery site, and making it through a shower.

    JHL—I didn't know what a vasovagal response was until I looked it up, and that could've been why I responded that way. It's nice to know it might not just have been my weak nerves!

    Obsolete, that's a great idea to watch videos, or just look at pictures, to get myself ready. And good to know that I'm okay waiting a while. I don't love not showering, but it's not like I have much hair after chemo, and sponge baths/shallow bath should get the job mostly done. A shower is a big part of feeling normal for me, but I'd rather wait and be ready than have that experience again.

    Kotchaj, good to know that even after working in a hospital, you still reacted! I react to others' wounds, too, so naturally I would react strongly to my own. I will also look into shower chairs—at least I would feel a lot safer!

    All the best, ladies!