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All TopicsForum: DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) → Topic: After surgery, how long to recover

Topic: After surgery, how long to recover

Forum: DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) — Just diagnosed, in treatment, or finished treatment for DCIS.

Posted on: Dec 24, 2008 06:45PM

lkelledge1 wrote:

Hello and an early Merry Christmas

I had my double mastectomy two weeks ago tomorrow and I still feel wiped out by mid day. I do try to walk around the house as much as possible just to get the exercise. I used to kickbox 3 days a week and was in great shape. I'm 47 years young. So, I was wondering how long it has taken you to feel like yourself again? Plus having these 4 drain tubes in have not been great, they irritate a little bit so I take my vicodin when they feel uncomfortable. I'm going to have two removed next Tuesday.

Thank you

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Posts 1 - 20 (20 total)

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Dec 24, 2008 06:52PM car wrote:

Hi, Lisa.

I had a unilateral matectomy w/an expander and what you're reporting sounds absolutely normal. I also was very active preop (and still am) w/3-4 hours of cardio and another 3-4 hours of Pilates every week. Still, it took a good month before I felt better, much longer to feel like myself. I don't think that I was released to exercise for more than gentle walking for a good 4-6 weeks.

You'll feel much better once the drains are gone. I vote for taking naps. That really helped me. I just realized that I needed to lie down midday--and also needed to during my recon surgeries. You've gone through a lot, so just listen to your body.


Unilateral mx 1/17/07, exchange 6/4/07, DIEP 4/25/08 Dx 8/8/2006, DCIS, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Dec 24, 2008 10:00PM GryffinSong wrote:

I'm only a week post surgery, and am really looking forward to getting these darn drains out! They've been the most uncomfortable part. I can stay awake all day, but definately am hit with exhaustion if I do too much. I don't know how similar this will be to my hysterectomy, six years ago, but I recall that even after being out of work for six weeks I was easily tired.

Hugs to you, and best of luck paving the way ... I'm right behind you. ;)

bmx, no recon - December 16, 2008, AC/T, rads Dx 11/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 3/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 24, 2008 11:13PM dlb823 wrote:

Hi, Lisa ~  You will feel a huge improvement when those drains come out.  Another milestone is getting cleared to drive, which was @ 4 wks. for me.  (I had a mast + Diep flap.)  As far as how long it takes to feel like yourself again, it sounds like you were very fit pre-surgery, so that should really help you bounce back.  But, I was told by several docs that recovery takes a good month for every hour of surgery and a month for every month of chemo, which I think is pretty accurate.   Deanna  
"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears" Native American proverb Dx 2/1/2008, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/3/2014, Stage IV
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Dec 25, 2008 01:11AM rockwell_girl wrote:

I remember when I was 5 weeks out I was able to go for a 20 mile bike ride with one of my friends but couldn't start running till I was about 8 weeks out.  I remember the 1st 4 weeks being the worst than slowly things got better.  Hang in there every day it will get a little better : - )

Sandy/Sunshine : ) Dx 3/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 25, 2008 09:53AM mac_chuckles wrote:

Hi there! Merry Christmas! I was wondering if any of you have any swelling or pain between the underarm and masectomy surgery site. I am 6 days out of my masectomy and having this painful, heavy, puffy feeling probably where those those lymph nodes were removed (I had two taken out). I can't tell if I am doing too much or not enough at this point. The drain is uncomfortable too, but I don't think that is the cause of this. Any advice before I overreact and call the doctor here on Christmas? Thanks. 

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Dec 25, 2008 10:31AM , edited Dec 25, 2008 10:32AM by barbe1958

Not to worry! I have a home nurse every two days and she has been checking my under arm swelling too. I can't put my arm any where near to being down, but the nurse says the swelling is fine and no where near anything to be alarmed about. I am worse on my node side as well, the sutures go around much further. That side still has it's drain in as well and I don't think I'll be getting it out tomorrow as I drained 75 cc's overnight....sigh.

I tried to do more at the beginning and had to take pain meds. Then I did absolutely NOTHING yesterday and I was fine! Even had that large drain going on. So I am trying not to be the perfect patient. Why do we do that?

As for being fit, I am alarmed by what I read above. I never even exercise and have recovered amazingly well and even went out shopping a week from surgery, still with my drains in. I had thought that if I had been in better shape I would feel better. Is this your first experience at surgery for those of you who think you're not doing well? I have had quite a few surgeries and found my hysterectomy the most painful one to recover from. I hope  you all feel better and know that of course, it only gets better.

I am not celebrating Christmas until New Years so that took some pressure off as there is no way I could have wanted anyone around.  I still have my great sense of humour, which I think has been my saving grace, but some days, especially when ITCHY or in pain, I get kind of cranky.

I know you know what I mean! 

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Dec 25, 2008 12:08PM mac_chuckles wrote:

HI Barbe1958- Thanks for responding. You put my mind at ease for the moment. I too feel like I have recovered very well with this surgery. The first few days were fine. Today, day 6 has thrown me for a loop. Not sure if I have been overdoing it and that has caused this painful swelling or if I am taking it too easy. Regardless, I am a mess.  I see that you joined in Nov. I wonder if we have been down the same road these last few months.  Anyway thanks for responding. I appreciate it. You were smart to postpone the holidays.

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Dec 25, 2008 02:29PM , edited Dec 25, 2008 02:30PM by GryffinSong

I am 9 nine days post-surgery, and have the same awkward swelling, and a large amount of drainage from one of the drains on my node side. I sort of feel like I have a small boob under the back side of my arm pit! LOL I can walk around plenty, and stood for quite awhile yesterday while helping a friend cook and wrap presents. I feel pretty good, actually, but the drain site is irritating, especially on the node side, where I have two drains in.

Hugs to all of you, and best wishes in this holiday season.

I can't WAIT to get my drains out. One of them is finally at a low enough output to come out. Now if only the surgeon's office is open tomorrow ... if not, I have to wait until monday!!!

bmx, no recon - December 16, 2008, AC/T, rads Dx 11/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 3/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 25, 2008 02:35PM barbe1958 wrote:

Gryffin I got one of my drains out two days ago and switched that container (not tube) to my left side where the original one was blocked by blood clots (sorry to be so graphic). I found it has spent the last couple days catching up! Bad thing is that I won't be getting it out tomorrow as it is still draining too much.

Mac Chuckles, I went down hill at about the same time as you. I think your body stops producing adrenaline as much now that the fight is over. Also, the nerve endings are starting to come back alive. I used more pain meds this week than I did last week! I also have fibromyalgia and I think my body finally said "What the f%*k!". After the core biopsy, lumpectomy and then quick mastectomy (double!) I am actually impressed that my body has kept up.

Merry Christmas! 

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation) Dx 12/10/2008
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Dec 25, 2008 02:46PM Linora wrote:

You are clearly desperate if one of your first posts is on Christmas Eve.  Surgery is definitely the most traumatic and quickly recoverable aspects of breast cancer.  I found it was not so much what they do to the breast (which after all is a lump of fairly insensitive fat tissue), but what they did to the arm pit and the lymph nodes.  It could take you a month to two to physically recover.  Reconstruction should not be quite so bad because they don't fool around with your lymph nodes again.
Recovery will happen, it just takes a little patience.  Hope you're feeling better soon. 
"Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable." George Bernard Shaw. Dx 10/27/2006, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/11 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Dec 25, 2008 04:42PM mac_chuckles wrote:

Ladies- Thank you for writing today. Your comments really calmed me down. It's been strange trying to find post-op info. If you have any other thoughts or advice for a gal 6 days out, I would appreciate it. I feel like I am just fumbling thru this recovery stage. Home with four kids/ the holidays and everyone saying "don't over do it"--I just can't gauge that. I would say pain would be my guide, but it seems as if pain is going to be around no matter what.  Sorry, I can't believe I am preaching to the choir eh? Well, be pleased that you wrote today and I hope you too found some comfort in this thread as well. Good luck to all of you. I just can't beleive that most of you are just the same, diagnosis in Oct. and surgery here in Dec. It's unbelieveable. Do take care.

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Dec 26, 2008 06:38PM NancyNJ wrote:

If I had a buck for everytime someone says, "Just take it easy" I could pay for my whole surgery two weeks ago today. Week one was a breeze. Second week, not so lucky. Getting the drains out was a relief but then the swelling began its migration. Been back to the surgeon to have fluid removed that gave some temporary relief but right backl where I started. I already want my life back.

Dx 12/1/2008, DCIS, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Dec 26, 2008 06:53PM PuddinTame wrote:

I was just feeling sorry for myself that I'm having to keep this stupid drain for 2 weeks, but I guess that's a better alternative than having to go back for swelling after the drain is removed earlier.  Guess I'll just be grateful to have the drains still in place.

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Dec 26, 2008 09:16PM lkelledge1 wrote:

Thanks Car

We have had a lot of snow here the past week so I haven't been able to go outside except when I go for a car ride with my husband. I have been taking naps here and there and that does help alot since I don't get much sleep at night. Just uncomfortable from the tube things. I tell all my friends who have kids that I look like Suidward from Spongebob. This is my first major surgery so I guess I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Like you I want to get back into action NOW.  

Thank you for your kind and encouraging response.

Happy New Year


Lisa Dx 10/5/2008, DCIS, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Dec 26, 2008 10:47PM rockwell_girl wrote:

Lisa I'm not sure if you sleep in a recliner or bed.  I didn't even try our bed until at least 4 weeks after my surgery.  I was a very active person and got my game back it's possible.

Here's part of our Christmas letter I sent out this year:

As you all know finding out I had cancer in January was a total shock but now looking back at everything I was still able to do it was quite an amazing year.  Just 3 days before my surgery I did the 6 hour Snowgaines orienteering race @ Palisades with some of my teammates. If someone would have told me I was going to recover and actually be able to do more than I did last year I would have thought they would of been crazy. June 14thI ran in the race for the cure in Moline. I hung out for a while after the race and than went biking with a friend. I knew my time wasn't real fast that I didn't expect to win anything. The next weekend when I was out biking with one of my best friends Rebecca, Kelsey called me so excited to tell me I had a 1st place trophy showed up in the mail from the race. I didn't realize they had a special category for breast cancer survivors. Kelsey thought that was so cool. June 28th my teammate and I did the Timber City Adventure Race and got 1stplace again this year. The cool thing is we were even faster this year than last year : ). August 16 my team competed in the GMRAS 12-16 hour adventure race and finished only 3 minutes behind the 1stplace team. Labor day weekend I did the Colesburg 40 mile gravel grinder and was the 1st one done out of my team and was about 15 minutes faster than my time last year. The following weekend my teammates and I did the Thunders Rolls 24 hour adventure race and did very well again this year. Two weeks later my team and I competed in the Fever River Adventure Triathlon in Galena and we got 1st place again. I did the 13 mile bike portion for the team and was the first biker done. I was so nervous I won't do well enough because the fever river team has gotten 1stplace at this race for the last 5 or 6 years and our other teammate that usually does the bike portion is a lot faster than me. My biggest accomplishment of all was doing the 36 hour Berryman Adventure Race. We were able to complete the whole race with 4 minutes and 4 seconds to spare. Plus we got every checkpoint out on the course. They call this race a real ass kicker. Only about half of the racers can even finish it. The amazing thing is my teammate Hana and I both just got into adventure racing last year. On top of all that we had a family vacation to the Dells and a couple of days before one of my appointments in Iowa City we went on a mini vacation.  We went to Adventureland for 2 days than spent another day at Coraville.  Jared and I went ice skating which he just learned last year and we had a really good time.  WhiIe Jared & I was doing that Kelsey actually got Rick to do a little shopping with her.  The pix on the card is from the hotel we stayed at in Coralville.  I could have had my exchange surgery in August but decided to wait till 3 days after the Berryman Race so I could really enjoy another year of racing. The day after my surgery my plastic surgeon shared she was moving to CA since her husband moved their in July. So I would have to find someone else to do the rest of my surgeries/procedures. It actually turned for best because I was nervous about her doing my next surgery. I actually wish she would have told me this sooner and had my awesome 2nd PS do my 1st exchange because my 2ndPS had to re-do most of what she tried to do. I had a scare after my exchange they thought they saw something on my MRI but my mamo and ultrasound looked good so I got the green light to have my new PS do my next surgery Dec 11th. I'm still sore, this surgery took a little more out of me than I expected. I'm hoping to feel better so I can return to work Jan 5th when everyone else comes back from our holiday break. Plus I can't wait to get back to biking and running again. I haven't been very active since Oct 1st. I can't wait to get my energy level back again. There is a race in Jan & Feb but I might just have to volunteer at those but that will be fun also.

I'm still having some discomfort from my lift side the the 2 times I had the exchange that side was a breeze and a very easy surgery

Sandy/Sunshine : ) Dx 3/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 26, 2008 11:33PM Katalin wrote:

Hiya, I'll pipe in with my experience to say that I had one mastectomy and it seems liked for sure, 3 weeks before I even remotely felt better, and even then, not really great. My breast surgeon said at 2 weeks that he thought I could go back to work.  I said that would be insane!!!  It was months before I could go back to my physical job as a technician in a theatre. I think it's not just surgery we deal with,and the  healing etc.  Maybe it's a reaction to the stress leading up to it:  I did a lot to get ready for surgery:  I'd just moved and wanted my apartment to look and feel right as I went through treatment, so I painted my bedroom and fixed up my bathroom...it was all just too much stress. Running around getting all those tests!  Biopsies!  Blood tests!  Scans!  More stress! Let alone consider that we have cancer, for heaven's sake...that takes a lot out of us:  our immune systems are working overtime, we're worn out.  I wish we could stop comparing ourselves to the norm and just LISTEN to our bodies.  If you're tired, rest.  If you need to sleep longer, Sleep.  You feel antsy and want to walk around, take a walk, then rest some more.  I've since had chemo, followed by a prophylactic contralateral mastectomy, and it's two years now, and I'm finally feeling better.  That's just me!  But as I look back, I wish I hadn't pushed myself to do more, because my good body just took its sweet time to repair.  I'd always been very physical, very active, tennis, physical work, dancing, etc.  This is a new me...a different me, and I'm not reacting to things as I did before BC.  But it's okay.

 Best thoughts for your recuperation!   

Dx 7/1/2006, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 26, 2008 11:46PM rockwell_girl wrote:

I was suppose to return to work I think 6 weeks after my surgery.  I was so stressed those 6 weeks wondering if I would or would not need chemo.  They had to do the onco type test twice since the 1st time they didn't send away a large enough sample.  I asked my doctor if I could get another  week off and go back 1/2 days for the 1st week.  She was more than happy to do that for me.  So if your not feeling up to it don't be afraid to ask your doctor for more time off.

Sandy/Sunshine : ) Dx 3/4/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 3, 2009 02:51PM Nana7 wrote:

I am set for doubl mastectomy January 19th and found this forum looking for information on recovery. I am glad you all posted your information...it gives me an idea of what to expect. So thank you for sharing.

Dx 10/2008, DCIS, 5cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 3, 2009 03:28PM dlb823 wrote:

Hi, Nana7 ~  Welcome to these boards, where you'll not only find great information, but tons of support.  Since the above is your first post, I wanted to let you know that there are individual threads here for women going through the various steps of treatment at the same time.  If you haven't already found it, here's a link for the one for surgery in January:


Just thought you might like to know about it, if you don't already. 

Take care, and good luck on the 19th ~    Deanna

"The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears" Native American proverb Dx 2/1/2008, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 1/3/2014, Stage IV
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Jan 3, 2009 03:38PM Nana7 wrote:

Thank you. I am going to check it out.

Dx 10/2008, DCIS, 5cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-