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Cindy D.

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post-surgery tips - Thursday, May 14, 2009 7:43 PM
I just read the thread started by pebblesm. She is having surgery and was asking about what to expect afterwards.
And suddenly it dawned on me that we don't have a "sticky" thread for post surgery tips!!!  We have a "sticky" thread for radiation tips, and for chemo tips, so why not post-surgery tips?!
So, what say you, Deb and Tricia? Can we have a "sticky" thread for post-surgery tips?
My surgery was almost two years ago, but here is what I remember:
1. bring your own slippers to the hospital (I hate those slipper socks!)
2. have a button front shirt to wear home
3. have button front pajamas to wear at home
4. in the kitchen, move things you use frequently to lower levels so you can reach them without having to raise your arm(s) too high
5. discuss physical therapy with your surgeon
6. discuss when your surgeon likes to take out the drain(s). My surgeon took it out after 5 days, when it was draining less than 100 cc's in a day, but then I had to go to the office 3 or 4 times over the next 2 weeks to have more fluid drained. Luckily I live only 10 minutes from his office.
7. have pillows for support when you are sleeping
8. If you are going to be using prosthesis, meet with the fitter before the surgery and she can give you a soft, foam prosthetic to use until the swelling goes down.  I had to wait about 5-6 weeks before she fit me for the real deal.
that's all I can think of at the moment, but I know that there are plenty more ideas and tips out there!!
take care,
cindy d.
56 yrs old
dx 1/10/07
Stage IIIa
ER/PR +,Her2 -
chemo: 4ac/4 taxol  5/24/07
lump: 6/18/07
mast: 7/16/07
tamoxifen: 7/25/07-2/9/09
rads:  10/25/07
clinical trial: avastin and xeloda, 12/07-11/08
arimidex/lupron: 2/09/09-12/28/11
clinical trial: femara 1/1/12 9 months on, 3 months off
Deb Allen

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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, May 15, 2009 4:55 AM
Cindy, sometimes I'm slow, but keep on prodding.  Suggestions like this is what we all need.  I just "pinned" this to the top, and am now adding some of my own suggestions for post-surgery...

Take a robe, preferably one with simple wrap/belt at the waist so you can adjust as needed.  I got one in a very light weight, almost satin, chocolate brown, and felt so much better just putting it on over the hospital garb when going for my walks in the hall. 

Likewise, comfy slippers.  I'm a goof, so I took my big "kitty cat" houseshoes, more people were looking at my feet, than at my face!!

Lip balm.

For the ride home, take a pillow to cushion the shoulder part of the seat belt. 

Fill your pain meds BEFORE leaving the hospital, and ask for that last shot just prior to discharge.

I know there are more, but this is all I can remember at this time of morning!!
Deb/aka Mimi
Dx '03, ER/PR+, Her2+, Grade II, Stage III
SNB, 18 wks chemo  36 rads; 
Rec in 07,
Bi-mast/DIEP 08/29/07; MRSA in abd incision w/resulting hernia, difficult healing
Still alive and kicking and ornery as ever...butterfly kisses to all


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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, May 15, 2009 8:48 AM
1.  Someone recommended plastic cups and straws for home.  Lighter and easier to lift than glass, and no cleanup.  Sorry environment :-( 
2.  A shower stool and hand held shower head enabled me to bathe, with help, before the drains came out.  Not ideal, but it sure beat a sponge bath!

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Re:post-surgery tips - Saturday, May 16, 2009 9:21 PM
1. One of those little neck roll pillows was great to nestle under implant (I just can't sleep on my back).

2. Books/ magazines / DVDs or you'll go nuts just sitting on the couch.

3. Clothes that have rough textures & even some seams seemed uncomfortable resting near stitches.  Use pull on pants- zippers, snaps... are difficult.

4. Setup a phone near the bed, chair you will sit in.   

5. I cooked & froze foods prior to surgery -pasta sauce... I prepaid bills. I knew my brain would be fried & not think straight.

6. If anyone asks what they can do for you say thank you & accept !!! 

7. I picked up thank you cards before surgery.  People will understand,but it gives you something to do when you can't do much more.

8. Be sure to pick up dog food & treats. Our dog would not leave my side when I was on the couch, he was great.

9. Before my husband's surgery we bought a new mattress... we were due for one... we got the Select Comfort mattress. Fantastic

10. Arrange w/ priest/rabbi to visit you in hospital & home.

11. Have some of those healthy drinks on hand in event you can't eat. Anesthesia made me very sleepy for days & an upset stomach.

12. The razor with the shaving cream is great. I did get the electric razor as a gift, never liked it.  Now I know this seems silly but love the electric toothbrush.

13. Last year I bought a refurbished roomba online, price was incredible. Highly recommend them.  Seeing that little guy vacuum is so cool. This is absolutely my best suggestion !!!!

14. If you have a garden, arrange for someone to take care of it. Set up a chair outside for the times you feel up to sitting outside. 

15. Most important is know that this is the road back to you, sure you may be different but you mind & heart are still YOU !!!!!!!

All the best of luck -
Marie R

<message edited by MarieR on Saturday, May 16, 2009 9:27 PM>
Joined 1.04

1953 Amputation below knee.  1995 Intraductial Carcinoma Biopsy (in-situ).  8.95 to 10.95 Radiation.  6.00 Rt breast Mastectomy.  6.26.00 to 9.14.00 Expansion injections.  9.00 Saline Implant.  12.28.00 Rt nipple & left lift. 1.01 Tattoo. 2002 Hasimoto's Thyroiditis.  7.02 Ablation for palpitations.  4.03 Osteoporsis. 2008 Cataracts. 

Deb Allen

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Re:post-surgery tips - Saturday, May 16, 2009 9:30 PM
These are fantastic tips, and let's keep them coming.  For those who are facing any surgery, this is a place to find the practical side of some difficult stuff.

Hugs, luv, and just bumping again...

Deb/aka Mimi
Deb/aka Mimi
Dx '03, ER/PR+, Her2+, Grade II, Stage III
SNB, 18 wks chemo  36 rads; 
Rec in 07,
Bi-mast/DIEP 08/29/07; MRSA in abd incision w/resulting hernia, difficult healing
Still alive and kicking and ornery as ever...butterfly kisses to all


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Re:post-surgery tips - Monday, May 18, 2009 7:51 PM
Hi all, this is what I did for my surgery, Cindy D. asked me to post it here...

First, before surgery and right after I was diagnosed I went to and set up a webpage, its super easy and FREE! Its a great way to update everyone, you have an online journal and the best part everyone can sign your guestbook and leave messages, I still read them several times a week...

So what I took with me to the hospital:
1. Lightweight robe so that I had something that could be open in the front but cover me as well.
2. Soft cami tops I started wearing about day 3 when the binder started hurting, get the ones with shelf bras in them, I wear them still.  They had me in a binder when I woke up.
3.Cute PJs...they will make you feel better than walking around in the hospital gown.  
4. Cute slipper socks to replace the hospital issue, something else to make you feel a little better.
5. Bath and Body works lotion, had to have something to make me feel girly.  My own face care stuff too.  I cleaned up everyday best I could until I was allowed to shower (showered on post of day 3).
6. Eye drops and chapstick, just a couple things I can't live without.
7. Ipod
Other tips:
Don't shave any sooner than 2 days before surgery or it will increase your risk of infection.
Make sure they have something written for nausea, most patients coming out of anesthesia have nausea (I'm a nurse on a cardiac surgery unit, so I know).  Phenergan works best for me, Zofran works for a lot of people and Reglan also helps.  Tell them IV form not oral, when your nauseated the last thing you want is a pill.
Don't forget your pillow to sleep on, hospital pillows are the worst and take a small one to support your chest and keep the seatbelt off.
Most important!  Make sure your pain meds are scheduled and not as needed!  Stress that one with your surgeon and anesthesiologist.
Good luck and remember your not alone!
Paula, age 46, diagnosed at age 45, er/pr+, Her2-      
2/26/09 DX IDC multifocal, solid and cribriform type, 6 masses total, largest 2.0 cm
4/15/09 Bilateral skin sparring mastectomy with TE, 3 nodes removed, clear, Grade 1, Stage IIa
5/22/09 DIEP   5/26/09 Removal of failed left flap, TE replaced
7/2/09 Left Lat Flap with silicone implant
8/10/09-11/23/09 6 rounds chemo Cytoxan/Taxotere
3/5/10 More reconstruction
6/20/11 Final big reconstruction sur

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Re:post-surgery tips - Monday, May 18, 2009 10:13 PM
**A suggestion I got from someone here was to begin stool softeners a few days prior to your surgery...pain meds are great but cause problems...

** when I went to the hospital for my pre-surgery lab work/ ekg the breast cancer care nurse gave me a kit with drain bag holders and little pillows to use under my arms, and some other information... a great book with good info on what to expect after surgery.... Sharon here on the board had sent me a care package with the drain holders and a pillow also and they are a MUST...

**be sure to ask your plastic surgeon EXACTLY what you are allowed to do after surgery .... mine did not want any arm movement or as little as possible... until the drains came out..(was 2 weeks in my case).no writing thank you notes, no typing on the computer, ... he said elbows by my side, I could brush my teeth, and eat but that is  about all he wanted me to do... also had to stay at a 30 degree angle for the most part... after the drains had been out for 5 days he sent me to PT.. just completed 2 weeks of PT and I am almost  back at my full range of motion... I do get sore and tight after each expansion... but after a few days that goes away... just had another expansion and he wants me in PT for 2 more weeks at least... I feel great but will admit after the expansion those muscles are tight and sore again for a few days so he is right I do still need it...

** button up/snap up pjs....

** you will need someone with you at the hospital who can go get you some real food if they serve you calf liver like they did me...YUCK...

**I got a bluetooth thingy for my cell phone because my PS said not to hold a phone for very long...that was a good thing until it fell into the toilet... a clean toilet... after using clorox wipes to clean it and using the blow dryer to dry it out.. it worked again... until I left in in my pj top pocket and it went thru the wash... it did not survive that... I gave up after that....

** see if your hairdresser can work you in for a hair wash when you get home  and go for it... having clean hair can make your outlook on life improve vastly! Yes, it can be done at home but it's not easy , esp if you can't use either sister in law washed mine for me several times..I had a shower seat but it is not easy ...but once a week I got a friend to take me, pj bottoms and oversized shirt, slippers and all... ( I live in a small town and I know everyone at the hairdresser so I was not concerned about how I looked) felt good to get a really good wash...I even stopped on my way home from the hospital...Ok so I am a wimp... the surgery was not bad, the pain was not bad, even the first time the bandage was removed did not bother me.. but greasy hair I can not take!! :)

**don't forget your phone charger... oh, and if you like to read a lot like I do and want to give yourself a wonderful present for having to go thru this I recommend a Kindle 2 from Amazon... I love mine and if your PS does not want you doing much of anything with your arms for 2 weeks then this a great way to read but not have to hold a book for a long will prop up easily on a pillow... OK...ok. yes, I know  it's a weak excuse for such a splurge but hey hopefully I will only get breast cancer once!!! I had been wanting one but could not really justify the expense... until the C word was introduced to me and the bi-lat surgery was decided upon... then I decided I deserved it.... I do also admit that  unlike many of you I am single and have no kids so it's easier for me to buy such a gift for myself...

**I took my own pillow to the hospital and my sister in law brought 2 light weight down throws... one for me and one for her...she stayed with me the entire time... that throw was so light but was so nice and comfortable... until my internal thermostat went crazy I was hot more than cold...

** I was not in any kind of binding, or bandage really... they had one small piece of gauze just over the incisions and it was only taped at the top... and just so my clothes didn't rub the stitches.. there was no discomfort because it's all numb...isn't it funny how differently each place or physician has of doing breast surgeon had told me that basically after he did the mastectomy part the PS became my primary ... I did not see my breast surgeon until 4 weeks after my PS became the one calling the shots on what to do and not to do etc....

Sorry so long...if I think of anything else I will let post..feel free to send me a message if you have any thing else...I am happy to talk about it....

**oh as Cindy said be sure to take someone when you see the PS...and breast surgeon..... I took a dear friend who wrote everything down for me at the PS office... get someone who will actually speak up and ask the questions for you.. that was helpful to me..... oh, she also "borrowed" the show and tell expander and silicone implant they brought in to show me what they looked like...said my sister and sister in law would want to know what they looked like!! I was amazed when she pulled them out of her purse!!... I did return them on my next visit :)
<message edited by bnells on Monday, May 18, 2009 10:47 PM>

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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:10 PM
For the Hospital
Take an eye mask, ear plugs and an Ipod, mp3 player.  The hospital had no private rooms so I had a roommate.  Nurses are in all day and night so if you have your eyes and ears covered, you may be able to get a bit of sleep.
Buy all the bulky or heavy stuff that you will need in advance (paper towels, TP, dog food, ect..) so you don't have to worry about that for a while.
Have some prunes and stool softeners at home.  Pain meds are constipating.
Don't look at the dust bunnies when you get home-  they will wait. 
Pm me with your name/address and I'll send you a "comfort pillow" for cushioning the seatbelt or for some extra support under your arm,  and drain pouches if you will need them
dx ILC/dcis excisional biopsy 5/30/08
r segmental mast (partial) snb 6/4
node neg stage1 gr ll
er+/pr- Her2 - Oncotype Dx 11
R mast 9/22/08 w DIEP
tamox,now AI 
BRCA 1 & 2 NEG
davinci hyst/bso,  

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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, May 21, 2009 6:08 PM
I was very fortunate to have a birthing suite at the hospital ... huge room with a sleeper sofa that my sister in law slept in...she stayed with me the whole time...

One other thing girls... when  your friends aslk "what can I do?" they mean it... give them a task..if it's vacuum the floor... or get a few things from the grocery... or whatever...they really do want to help... do not hesitate to let them help you...some of them will just step in and do what they see but others will want guidance...


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Re:post-surgery tips - Tuesday, July 14, 2009 8:44 AM
Having just had surgery, I feel qualified to answer!  :o)
My best tip ...... if you like a private room, request a private room.   I am told if the doctor orders it, ins. will cover the expense.  If you request it, you'll be billed the diff. ($100 day in my case).
I did not req. a pvt. room, & I think now that was a mistake.  When I got back for my reconstruction, I'm going to ask the doctor to req. pvt. for me.
I was brought back to my room to recover, shortly after 4 pm.  About 5 pm, I received a roommate (who would have surgery the next morning).  I'm telling ya, from 5 'til 8, or whenever visiting hours were over, she & her visitors were so loud!  Visiting, laughing, etc.  Just obnoxiously loud!  I don't know why dh didn't tell them to silence it.  I was able to sleep thru most of it but really, when I was awake, it was very unsettling for me (I barely remember, but I do remember feeling annoyed & too out-of-it to do anything about it).  Won't make that same mistake twice.
"Pee" as soon as you're able if you have the sentinel node biopsy.  I didn't want to get out of bed & waited 'til
I could wait no more.  When I went I realized I'd had that radio active dye in me for 12 hrs.  Didn't like that!!  Didn't bother me but I didn't like knowing that.  Now that I have a cancer dx I'm going into conscientious overdrive.
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