After the operation

Now the most difficult part..

 I was in hospital for 2 nights after my surgery. You are then sent home with drains, exercises, pain relief, and in some cases antibiotics.



I went down to theatre about 11.30 and didn’t get back to the ward until 5.30. Everyone knew I was ok because I was demanding my lip balm!

It is really useful to have somebody at home who can help you. I am so lucky to have friends who have helped look after me in such an amazing way to help me recover.

Getting up out of chairs and bed is very difficult. Obviously the hospital bed rises so that helps a lot. My friends had one of these “old people” chairs in the cellar which was absolutely fantastic it put no stress on me getting up at all, and reclined right back for my afternoon snooze!!

V pillows are also very comfy.

Pyjama Time

Get used to spending a lot of time in your pyjamas, lots of pyjamas/comfy clothes are needed!! Tops can’t be too tight around the neck and must be stretchy on the arms as arm mobility is very limited at first.

Now it is important to eat well in order to heal nicely, but my treat that night was a well deserved curry with special friends.


  
Visitors Vs rest

It is important to have plenty of rest when recovering from such major surgery and it is lovely to spend time with the ones you love. However you mustn’t let yourself get tired out whilst entertaining people. Do not be surprised if you slip off into a snooze during various parts of the day, that is quite normal!




  
  

Measuring the drains

Usually you/ the district nurse will empty the drains in the morning and record the output. You are told what to expect to come out of the drains. The nurses before you are discharged show you how to empty them properly, so don’t worry about that.

I don’t know how I would of coped without my Drain dollies I used to carry them Drain dollies link — lots of pretty designs I have done

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Once you have recorded the output of each drain on a piece of paper they can be emptied. I empty mine into the toilet. I was worried about some white bits in the tubes which the nurses informed me were fatty globules. The specialist nurses are fantastic, always on the other end of the phone if you have any concerns or to simply check your ok. As time passes output will decrease and they will be taken out, mine are planned to be in for 12 days. You do not want to rush the drains to come out as you may then end up with pockets of fluid building up inside the tissues (seromas)


Washing & dressing.

With drains and dressings I found it best with the help of someone else initially to have a wash in front of the sink with warm water, soap and a flannel. Do not push yourself when washing, a wash by the sink is quite adequate when you’re in pain. You are not going to the ball!

Another way to wash is a shallow bath where the water doesn’t reach your drain ports. I tended not to do this because I found it painful getting in and out of the bath and it was also too tempting to just lie back and relax, which you obviously cannot do.

Dry shampoo played a heavy part in the hair regime and when it needed a wash I sat on a stool in the shower. A friend wrapped my chest in cling film and then a towel on top of this proved a good waterproof barrier,with a good old washing peg to fasten. It is amazing how much simply washing your hair makes you feel better, you obviously cannot dry it yourself due to the arm movement. The physio told me to not lift anything heavier than a bag of sugar, so no housework, damn!

  

I mainly wore baggy t shirts and pyjama bottoms around the house, wear anything that you are comfy in.

Sleeping !!  Sleeping for me is proving very difficult as I am a front sleeper. Obviously the only position to lie at the moment is on my back. If you have a partner it is a good idea to barricade yourself in! Put a row of pillows down the middle of the bed to protect yourself from that flying arm in the middle of the night! I am hoping it won’t be long before I can sleep on my front or even my side. Last night I got to sleep at 4.30am and woke up at 6.30am! I am pooped!!
Bra or no bra?

For the first 2 days I didn’t wear anything, I then started to wear a post surgical bra from M&S which cost £18 but they take the vat off post mastectomy bras which is a nice touch so £15.My breasts are actually taped up so I haven’t seen them properly yet! The tape will probably come off on wednesday when I see the surgeon again and hopefully have my drains removed.


It is a good idea and advised at the hospital to have some sort of support , no wiring as this is often where the incision is made. I also bought a front fastening bra, this was less comfy in the end but the front fastening is ideal because of your limited movement.

Exercises

You will be seen by a physio or given an exercise sheet post op….
Obviously with the pain you tend to tense up and restrict your movement so as not to hurt yourself. The exercises are very clear and specific to your stage of recovery. When I saw the physio on day 6 she told me to let my shoulders go, I developed right shoulder pain and this was because I was walking around all tensed up. This is perfectly normal because its not everyday you wander around with two bags of blood, so you may find you tense up due to being cautious with your drains. The ultimate fear with drains is catching them on something or dropping them, I haven’t done it yet but there it’s still time!

The best time to do exercises is when visitors are around, get them involved!

 


 


Dressing check


6 days after surgery I had a dressing check and physio appointment. Here the nurses check the dressings are ok, any signs of infection, how the drains are doing and how you generally are in yourself. They also reassured me the operation went to plan, as the only time I saw the surgeons was when I was in recovery a bit out of it. An appointment is then made to see the surgeon and for drain removal the following week (wednesday.)

I still haven’t seen my new boobs properly as they are taped up. The shape is good and the nurse said today remember “they are sisters not twins !”


First time out the house in 8 days!!

8 days post op I went for a meal with my friends. Dropped off at the door and collected 2 hours later, perfect! Baring in mind I still have my drains in I had a lovely time. Baby steps! Don’t do too much at once.


Follow up and drain removal

This will be on wednesday ………………………………….

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29 thoughts on “After the operation

  1. Charlie…. Your blog is absolutely fab, you have been honest about your feelings and have showed emence courage and determination to overcome this stage in your life, you mum would be proud of you and your sisters ❤️

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  2. Hi Charlotte, great blog! , lots of good info to help other people in your position. The support of you friends is very apparent and must be a great help , brave girl! John

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  3. To Charley, So very impressed with your courage and kindness to others by writing about your journey. I hope you have a good recovery and wish you well for the future. Love Gina

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  4. You’re a very brave lady! Your blog is really interesting and also written from the heart xx
    Hope you recover well and fulfil all your dreams in the future xx

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  5. Saw this on my cousin’s wall and I had to read it. I’m a guy but the information here is priceless for men and women to know. You’re incredibly brave not only to go through what you have but also to share your experiences here so openly. I hope once this is done you will be a hundred times stronger and happier, x

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  6. Hi i had the same operation done 17 yrs ago I was 36 after losing my mother to it we are a family of 5 sisters two of my sisters have been through breast cancer as they chose not to have preventive surgery I’ve never looked backed you to will look back in years to come as you won’t have that cloud hanging over you best of luck ❤️Xx

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  7. Hi Charley, Loved the video of all of you doing your exercises. My daughter had me doing mine to music, Up Town Funk was my favourite, but the beat was a bit fast! Lol
    Hope you are continuing to do well. You look great.

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  8. Wow reading this has just made me feel so much better…thank you.
    I am having this procedure tomo and I’ve been so emotional having second thoughts etc, worrying about the pain and how they will look… I know it’s worth it as thats what I knew I’d do all along its just scarey.
    Thank you and we’ll done you xxx

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  9. Hi Charley,
    I found your blog by accident as I was searching through sites, it has been the best thing I have read leading up to my surgery.
    My best friend has ordered 2 sets of your Drain Dollies for me 🙂
    Thank you for all of the post op tips!
    You’re an inspiration! X

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    • Hi Claire thanks so much I’m so happy it’s helping others ! And yay u will find the dollies so useful . Any other questions etc just ask me or if u want to see any pics of results etc xx

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      • I can’t explain to you how helpful Your blog has been!! I feel I can really relate to you as I’m 28 and having the surgery for the same reasons. I’ve also decided to go ahead with IVF and a hysterectomy when it’s time. I have many questions for you but don’t want to bombard you with them all at once. I am wondering how long it took you to return to work after the surgery?

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      • Thanks for your reply! I can’t explain to you how much your blog has helped!! I feel I can really relate to you as I’m 28 and I’m having the same surgery done this Thursday. I’ve also decided on IVF and hysterectomy when it’s time. How long after the surgery did you return to work?? Xx

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  10. Thanks for replying!
    I can’t explain to you how helpful your blog has been. It has answered a lot of my questions.
    I feel I can really relate to you as I’m 28 and having the same surgery done on Thursday. I will also do IVF and have a hysterectomy when it’s time.
    How long after your op did you return to work? Xx

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  11. Thank you Charley

    I have my op 12th September 2016 and found your link coz I was searching for what to take into hospital with me. I can machine and I was going to make something like the dolly bag so it has given me some good advise. I hope you are doing fine now once again thanks xx

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  12. Hi Charley
    I had my op Tuesday this week and purchased my dollies from you prior. They are a godsend. I’m 49 and a lot older than you but taking each day as it comes. Can’t even face having my hair washed. Wearing my support bra now. A bit emotional but it’s early days and my surgeons are pleased with the way everything went. Good luck to you too and thank you for this wonderful accessory. Julie xx

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