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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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)
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.
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!
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 !”
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.
This will be on wednesday ………………………………….