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Aug 23, 2006 12:53PM
Hi, Dee, and welcome,
Gee, you've got enough on your plate this week without having to apologize for asking questions! They're all good questions, and I'll try to answer what I can and trust others will be along too.
The drains are longish tubes with bulbs on the end that draw out the accumulating fluid following surgery. You'll be taught to empty it, measure the drainage, and keep the fluid moving in it. Everybody agrees they're pesty and obnoxious, but try to think of them as your good friends, because they prevent even more obnoxious (and sometimes painful) fluid buildup that can lead to other troubles. They're a GOOD thing, and however you may feel about them after a couple of days or a couple of weeks, you definitely don't want them pulled early.
You can find out about the exercises from your doctor or the nurse at the hospital, but you probably won't unless you ask them specifically. I believe the American Cancer Society also has a booklet about post-surg exercises, so call them up and ask for one (or ask your Reach to Recovery volunteer, if you have one).
I don't know about going back to work -- do ask your surgeon. It will depend somewhat on YOU, since we're all different. Within a week after my surgery I would probably have been fine with it, though driving can be a trial.
Small soft pillow for under the seat belt; a fanny pack to hold the drain bulbs; plenty of pillows to arrange around you when you get home; a long shoe lace or fabric bathrobe belt to tie around your neck when you shower to hang the drains on (if your surgeon lets you shower -- some don't); a couple of meals in the freezer; some good books or videos for while you're resting up afterward. It'll be good!
And in the meantime, here's the web address of the National Lyphedema Network, where you'll find some guidelines for those of us who are now at risk for lymphedema (click on "Position Papers"):www.lymphnet.org
Lots of great information there and, just like with bc, the more you know the quicker you regain control of your life.
We'll be thinking of you on Friday, so let us know how it goes!