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Apr 3, 2019 10:07AM
Apr 3, 2019 10:10AM
I had a unilateral mastectomy without reconstruction. The first couple of weeks were tiring and inconvenient, but not as painful as I expected. I'd categorize the pain as "discomfort" (vs. the head-throbbing pain of the flu or something like that), and Tylenol took the edge off. I also had gabapentin/neurontin for nerve pain, and hardly felt any of that. Many people, including myself, forget about the discomfort quickly, as you start to heal.
I opted for non-recon because I'd already had 2 surgeries and getting back on my feet quickly was important to me. I just didn't need any more complications than what was required to try to get me better. I also felt better about my ability to engineer a solution for myself, knowing I could tweak it as much as I wanted. I'm picky, easily distracted, and allergic to things. I felt a lot of pressure to do implants, but I knew I could live without them. Now when I feel how chilly my silicone prosthetic can get on the outside, I'm comforted that I can put it back in the cradle at night.
My one recommendation would be to just get a couple of bras to start (and make sure they're on the loose side, zip up the front, and are as soft as you can find). For the first couple of months post-surgery, I found my needs changed about every week or two. I used the mastectomy recovery bra my doctor gave me for the first two weeks. I needed front close bras/tops and easy-on pants (couldn't lift my arms much or pull anything tight up). Then after the drain came out, I switched to a light Ana Ono camisole for another couple of weeks. Then I tried sports bras (those just ended up in the garbage). At about 4 weeks, I felt like I needed more support but could not tolerate a bra, so I went with an Amoena pocket camisole (which I had been unable to pull up in the first few weeks after surgery). At about 6 weeks, I started to try different bras, but they weren't comfortable - until about 8 weeks. So, one thing to keep in mind is that you'll be recovering fast, and every week, you'll have different sensations, sensitivities and needs. If you're a perfectionist/preparationist like me, it helps if you tell yourself to chill out and go with the flow for a while. For me, I was feeling a lot better by 4-5 weeks (less sensitivity, good range of motion), and mostly like myself around 8 weeks (no super heavy lifting, and can't do pushups yet!). Personally, I think you can come up with a beautiful and comfortable solution with all the camisoles and bras out there, or just go flat and comfy.
My other piece of advice would be to have patience in the first few weeks. You'll feel hazy and weak, but it won't stay that way. Your brain amazingly adjusts, your head learns to accept it, and your body springs back. Every few days my body was healing in some different way, with different sensations (ouchies, pricklies, tightness, pulling, weakness, itchies!), but they didn't stick around long.
Diagnosed at 42. Had symptoms of Paget's for years prior to positive biopsy. No Tamox because low% ER.
11/2/2018, Paget's, Right, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (IHC)
11/11/2018 Lumpectomy: Right
11/29/2018, DCIS/Paget's, Right, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, ER-/PR-
12/19/2018 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Sentinel
12/21/2018, DCIS, Right, 2cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-
1/16/2019 Mastectomy: Right