post-surgery tips

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bnells
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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, September 17, 2009 8:14 AM
Erika, you may even want to start the colace a couple of days before surgery.... it is just a stool softener and doesn't work immediately ..takes a few days...

Also be sure to ask your surgeon specifically what your post op restrictions are...I know it is different for every doctor and every situation...I had bi-lat with expanders .. my ps was calling the shots and I was not allowed to do ANYTHING until after the drains had been out for at least 4 to 5 days... he said I could use my arms to brush my teeth and eat...that's it ( well, and go to the bathroom)... I asked about using my laptop and he and his staff said NO... nothing... not even hold the phone for long periods of time...no writing thank you notes no nothing..I did not move my upper arms until almost 3 weeks after surgery... and barely moved my lower..he was very clear on his instructions and the discharge nurse stressed them also...as did his office nurses... also had to be at a 30 degree angle most of the time....he scheduled me for pt after he began allowing movement and I didn't have any problems regaining my range of motion... and no other complications so far...surgery April 14th.. exchange July 8th.. nips Sept 9 and Tats Nov 9th...


Bobbie

pshelton
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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, September 17, 2009 10:11 AM
Hi Bnells,

Our doctors were so different, my PS wanted me doing range of motion right away and when I went home I was on a 5 lb per arm lifting restriction but the more I moved and the more overhead movement the better is what I was told to do...I was showering in the hospital and at home and used my computer, I even had it in the hospital with me.  My drains came home with me too...that was the worst part of it and they were pulled one by one over the next 3.5 weeks...

Its funny how the different surgeons have their own way...but yes, you should always follow their instructions post-op...oh, I had bilat. mast. and TEs also...

Hugs,
Paula
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

smarssygirl76
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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, September 17, 2009 2:37 PM
Thank you Bobbie, I won't be having any plastic surgery at this time. I know my breast surgeon talked about movement and daily activities but to be careful. She said she would see how I was doing and IF I needed PT or not?

bnells
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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, September 18, 2009 8:23 AM
My ps said he likes for the "pocket" to have time to completely heal before any movements...however my range of motion was not as affected because I did not have a lat flap....   I asked him when I was there last time why he didn't do a lat flap on me and he said if it had been just 1 he would have but he doesn't like to do lat flaps with bi-laterals... he used dermamatrix I think he called it...cadaver tissue....anyway I am very thankful that so far I have not had any complications....
Yes it is funny how so many doctors have different ways of handling things but all work...thanks goodness... and I think that it is so important to realize that every person has a unique set of circumstances... so that also means different ways of treatment/recovery etc ...all based on your situation....

Bobbie

susan448
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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, November 20, 2009 9:05 PM
Before surgery, get a pedicure with outragous bright polish..festive toes lifted my spirits in the hospital.
Plan to wear some comfortable stretchy pants home from the hospital, because they will have pumped you so full of fluids that you will have a lot of water weight for a few days.
Take your pain medicine before you need it. There are no awards for toughing it out, and the stress of pain slows your body's ability to heal.

everydaysagift
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Re:post-surgery tips - Wednesday, December 09, 2009 11:29 PM
Hi, bumping to the top....
 
My bilat. mast. is December 18th......just read all messages here, as well as the "take to the hospital" tips.....many thanks to all of you........any new thoughts?  Your insight is enormously helpful......you've brought up a number of things that never crossed my mind.
 
....best wishes and thanks again........my countdown continues.......take care...
...have a happy....Diane
09/08 Excis biop R breast - Dx LCIS
12/08 Hyster & Oopherectomy (endometrial hyperplasia)
06/09 Clear bilat. mammo & ultrasound
08/09 Bilat. breast MRI - "suspicious" area on L
10/09 L breast lumpectomy - Dx hi grade DCIS  
DVT hist R/O hormone therapy
Bilat. mast. w/expanders on Dec 18, 2009 
 Reconstruct date & type 2B determined

leesmith
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Re:post-surgery tips - Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:21 AM
Hey guys,

Today I had my gyno surgery. I finally stepped up to the plate and did it. This is my story about how it went.

I have had this gyno since I first hit puberty. I was always pretty skinny buy I had a pointy chest, this stopped me from going to the beach with my shirt off when I got a little older, I never went to the pools etc. It really bothered me. I thought at first I must have had fat around my chest because I was just unlucky and this is where my fat was stored. I started working out when I was around 22 and went to the gym 5 days a week. I toned up and got to be very skinny but the fat around my chest never seemed to get any lower. I searched on Google and came across many sites and that’s when I first thought that I might have had gyno. I didn’t do anything about it until I was 24 because I was scared of going under the knife. Well finally I decided that something had to be done.

I started searching the net for surgeons who could do the surgery and ended up deciding to use Dr. Ashley Granot from the Ashley Centre in Melbourne. I went to see him for a consultation and had all the blood tests. It turns out that all my blood work was perfectly normal for a guy my age. They didn’t have a reason why I had gyno; it was just one of those things. Anyway the surgery set me back $4500 all up including EVERYTHING.

On the day that I was going into surgery I wasn’t allowed to eat anything for 6 hours before operation. I went in and I was nervous as anything. They got me to strip down into a surgical gown and the nurse gave me an intramuscular injection into my glute, it was pain killer and relaxants. I thought it was going to hurt but it didn’t hurt that much at all. After that another nurse put a drip into my arm, I thought it was going to hurt again, but it didn’t, they put heaps of saline into the drip.

After about 15 minutes of waiting for the drugs to kick in the doctor came into the room and cut an incision into my armpit. He inserted a clear plastic tube into the incision and started to pump me full of muscle relaxants, pain killer and something to dilute the fat. He put about 800mls into my chest. After that we waited another 15 minutes for the pain killer and fat diluting solution to start working. The inserting of the clear plastic tube was the most painful part of the surgery. I think painful is a bit harsh of a word. I would say it was VERY uncomfortable. As he was pushing in the tube I could feel the fat ripping away from the muscle below it.

After that he got the liposuction canula and started sucking out the fat. This took a fair while and didn’t hurt for the most part. A few times he hit a hard part of fat which would hurt very slightly but it was bearable. When he finished sucking out all the fat there was still a bit of breast tissue which he could not get out through the canula because it was too hard. So he made an incision around my nipple and pulled it out with some tweezer looking things and he just cut it. This was uncomfortable as I could feel the tissues being ripped out of my chest. But it didn’t hurt. After this was done he sewed me up and I could sit up and put on my compression vest.

Throughout the entire procedure I was awake and could see what was going on. I was sedated but not fully knocked out. The doctor said he did not want to give me general anesthetic and knock me out fully because that was too risky for a minor procedure. He said something like 1 in 10,000 people die from an allergic reaction to general anesthetic or something like that. Plus I wanted to be awake because I didn’t want anything to stuff up and I had heard some horror stories about doctors cutting out chest muscles and stuff like that. I was talking throughout the whole procedure, probably a lot of jibberish cause of all the relaxants but yea.

All in all I am happy that I finally have my gyno gone and I have a flat chest. I only did the surgery this morning and I am already up and about. It doesn’t hurt much at all, it just feels like a really hard gym workout session and I can’t lift my arms over my head. Other than that I got some pain killers but I don’t even need them. If you are thinking about doing this, just DO IT. Don’t be scared of the surgery it’s not that bad.

If you have any questions ill be happy to answer them. Tomorrow I have to go back to the surgery for a post op check up.

My chest is FLAT!!!!!!!


Hope I have helped someone out there!


pilgrim37
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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, January 22, 2010 11:04 AM
Loved these tips.  I just had surgery a couple of weeks ago so here are my additions.
 
Camisoles after surgery (note -- I had bilateral mastectomy and axillary node dissection -- no reconstruction).  For just after surgery I had camisoles with the pockets to hold the drains -- for the first week I used the kind that velcroed in the front.  They were fabulous -- easy on and easy off, very soft.  After the drains were out and the bandages came off, I switched to another kind that you could pull up over your hips.  Probably would have been more difficult immediately after surgery, but after bandages were off these were better because the seams on the side were on the outside, so much nicer against fresh stitches.  I can't remember the website where I found them but if you go to the "breast free" website (google it), you will get there.  (Excellent site). 
 
Be sure not to get your surgery scheduled on Friday if you have a choice.  The weekend staff are not the usual staff, and sometimes care can suffer.  I have had this experience once 20 years ago, forgot about it, and so had the experience again.  :(
 
I got the big wedge pillow also found thru the breast free site which has helped me sleep on my back comfortably (something I used to hate).  I also got 4 big down pillows to put around my side -- one for each arm, and one under each knee.  I feel very pampered when I go to sleep!
 
To wear home I wore the velcro in the front cami, black stretchy pants, and a big comfortable flannel shirt that buttoned in the front.  At home I have been wearing big LL Bean pink button in the front pajamas -- very comfortable. 
 
I brought a suitcase with all kinds of things but didn't really need it.  I was in the hospital 2 nights. 
 
My experience with a bilateral mastectomy is that it really helps if you have someone lined up to help with the "milking" of the drains at home.  I think it would be very hard to do on one's own in terms of reaching and arm strength.  My husband did it for me, God bless him.
 
Hope these tips help :)
married 19 years to my hubbie
mom to 3 kiddos (5, 7 & 8)
diag. inv. ductal carcinoma, stage IIB/IIIA, her2+
Phase I: 12 wks neoadjuvant herceptin/taxol (DONE!)
Phase II: bilateral mast. on 1/8/2010 (DONE!) Path report:  total tumor evaporation from Phase I!
Phase III: 12 wks a/c chemo starting 1/29/2010 (DONE!)
Phase IV: 5 wks rads (DONE!) 
Phase V: herceptin thru Dec. 2010
Phase VI: arimidex thru July 2015
NED since Jan. 20

HJC
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Re:post-surgery tips - Saturday, February 06, 2010 12:48 AM
Post-mastectomy tips for the first few weeks (in addition to all the others already posted...):

--buy super soft pajama tops and/or tank tops that have a wide neckline that you can step into. (My skin was very sensitive for weeks following bilateral mastectomy.)

--bikini panties are easier to pull up than briefs

--hand sanitizer is more comfortable than pumping soap and leaning over bathroom sink to wash hands

--slip-on shoes a must for a couple weeks (or have someone tie your shoes)

--pull hair off face to avoid getting hair oily

--sleep in a recliner for a week or so (getting out of bed is difficult)

--use straws for drinks

--just want to repeat: stool softners 2-3/day while on pain meds and lots of water :)

--tell your kids what's going on in terms they can understand. Kids aren't dumb and if you tell them nothing, they'll be scared.
I told my kids, 5 and 7, that my breast had something in it called cancer and it wasn't supposed to be there so the doctor was taking it out. I told them my chest might look funny when I come home, but I'm still the same mommy. I told them that I could give kisses but not hugs for awhile and that I was going to be okay. They did great. And so have I, 2.5 months post-op.

--arrange for a friendly adult to come play with your kids at your house. My sister-in-law brought over a basket of arts and crafts to do with the kids. They loved it and I loved watching them.
<message edited by HJC on Saturday, February 06, 2010 12:51 AM>
diagnosed age 39
DCIS

Joshua 1:9
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

LiftLikeAGirl
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Re:post-surgery tips - Sunday, March 07, 2010 7:16 PM
Thank you for all the tips!  I live alone and have three dogs, so after-surgery advice is very important to me.  (yes I am the canine equivalent of the crazy cat lady).

I am wondering one thing though.  I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene and I am seriously considering bilateral prophylactic mastectomy with saline implants.  Is that surgery a bit easier than if you have a positive diagnosis?  The surgeon says no lymph node dissection will likely be needed, that I'll be going home the next day, and I should be back to my beloved weight lifting in about three weeks.  Maybe only the pink dumbbells instead of the squat rack....but back.  :)

Are my expectations too high?  I expect the first week will be very difficult, and I have friends who will stop by.  I'm pretty type A organized, and was planning on making frozen light 1 meal units to eat, and stock up on sugary small light bottled drinks.  I'm also in pretty good shape physically....although I realize this will knock me back a bit.

I guess, based on your advice, I now have permission to get a bunch of guy's flannel shirts to wear -- I forced myself to give those up at 35 but now I can indulge my weakness for grunge wear with impunity.

Jazz
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Re:post-surgery tips - Monday, May 30, 2011 12:58 PM
Lucky are the ones that get to stay overnight or longer. Mine is a day surgery...you wake up and you are out and mine is double mastectomy. I live alone so have no clue what to expect or do.

scootersmom
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Re:post-surgery tips - Monday, May 30, 2011 3:11 PM
Here are a couple of things that I picked up from this website:
 
1)  Take a candy dish to the hospital with you for your overnight stay.  Keep it stocked.  Make sure the dish is small.  This will keep the nurses coming in and then you don't have to wait for your meds.  When I had my surgery, my sister decided to hook me up with the candy.  She brought a large vase filled with all types of candy.  Six pounds to be exact.  This approach backfired and everyone who worked the floor was in there constantly and it did not allow any time to rest.
 
2) Take your favorite slippers.
 
3) I was in the hospital for two days.  I had a double mastectomy with expanders.  I wore the hosptial gowns the whole time.
 
4)  Do not allow any family member to bring in the game "operation".  My family brought it into preop and told my general surgeon that he had to prove that he could master the game before he could operate on me.  He didn't know what to think.
 
5)  Follow the doctor's orders.  Do not try to "brave it out" buy not taking the pain meds.
 
6) If you have overly affectionate pets, you might want to keep them in another room. 
 
7) Make sure that you have someone who can take you to your followup visits.  After the first week of surgery I had four doctor appointments all in the same week.  Primary, general surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologist.
 
8)  Anytime you have more than one doctor involved, make sure they know about the other(s).  They need to coordinate as well otherwise you will be the messenger service.
 
These are just some of the things that I recall.  It has been almost five weeks since my surgery.  I have not begun the fill up of the expanders yet as I am dealing still with an infection that developed less than two weeks after surgery.
Tina    
dx 2/1/11 DCIS
Lumpectomy 2/27 results DCIS/LCIS Stage 0 ER+ PR+
Bi-lateral Mastectomy 4/26 with expanders 
6/3 Surgery to remove contaminated expander due to infection.
7/22/11 Surgery to reinsert the expander. 
10/11/2011 Surgery to replace tissue expanders with implants.
 
 




sunshyne377
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Re:post-surgery tips - Friday, June 03, 2011 1:03 PM
Great post ladies! my surgery is June 20th. Bilateral mastectomy with left lymph nodes. This was really helpful info!

I especially like the post about the candy dish! ;-)
Diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma on 5/4/2011. In both breasts and 3 left lymph nodes and 2 right.

Estrogen positive, progesterone positive, her2 negative.

stage 2b bilateral disease.

Bialateral Mastectomy 6/20/11;
4 rounds of AC, 4 rounds of T - chemo
radiation 28 rounds (to comelete 1/12/12 
Tamoxifen started 11/11

SKalsta
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Re:post-surgery tips - Sunday, September 11, 2011 6:04 AM
Hi, I had a bilateral Mast July 28, 2011.  First, the surgeon told me to be prepared to go home that day but plan for an overnight visit.  Yeah - insurance companies are driving the fact that this type of surgery should be same day.  I ended up staying overnight. 
 
All the things mentioned here were good:
        button up pj's
        slippers from home
        ipod
        kindle for reading
        own pillow
        
 
Once at home, I blocked myself in when sleeping.  I normally do not sleep on my back so I was elevated, but had pillows on both sides of me.  This prevented me from rolling over.  And also had a pillow on top of me.  I have a little dog that loves to give me kisses.  If she jumped up to try to give me a kiss, the pillow helped cushion the impact. 
 
I was able to shower a few days post surgery - and the best thing was to have my husband shower with me.  That was great.  I was told no baths at all.  I agree with some of the postings, dirty hair is the worse thing.
 
I had someone stay home with me for 5 days - so mainly everything was done for me.  Meals, dog care, etc.
 
The after taste of the anesthesia was horrible.  Very metal tin taste (I hear chemo has that same taste).  So mouthwash, mints, etc were a  must.  I would suck on one every half hour or so.
 
I had 4 drains.  And the first one came out after a week, but the last one took a month.  I needed to have 30cc or less for 2 consective days.  Neosporin worked great on the drain incisions.  They would itch, and the stiches would poke me.  And also while talking drains.  I had to go back to get a drain milked because it was clogged.  They tell you how to milk them, but they don't really tell you to pull them like a rubber band, stretch them as much as you can.  The better you milk them, the better off you are.  My husband and I thought we were doing it right, but we were not pulling and stretching them enough.
 
Take the pain meds and also the stool softener.  I did not have any fore warning about that.
 
A little extra protein is not a bad thing either. 
 
Set up a website on Caringbridge.org.  It is free and becomes a great source of strength from  your supporters. 
 
Accept any help and assistance people offer.  It is nice before hand to ask each of your friends/supporters what their favorite thing to do is and least favorite thing concerning household chores.  Then keep a list.  When you need extra shopping done, ask the friend/supporter that enjoys shopping.  Laundry etc.  Most want to help and offer but don't want to step in.  And we have issues asking for help.  So, it is nice for both.  You don't mind asking someone that enjoys that task, and they feel needed and glad they can help.  This is the biggest piece of advice I can give.
 
 
Sue K
Invasive Ductal Carcinona
Diagnosed 7/1/2011
Stage III Grade 2
Tumor Size 6cm
2+/18 nodes
ER+/PR+
HER2 Negative
7/28/2011 - Right Modified Mastectomy w/ lymph nodes removed.  Left Prophylactic Mastectomy
Not a candidate for reconstructive surgery. 
Chemo 5 out 8 completed.
Radiation completed.
Lymphedema and scar tissue issues

cdicapua
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Re:post-surgery tips/I am really slow - Thursday, November 17, 2011 7:21 AM
 
It is almost 1 month since my surgery
These are the things important to me now
T shirts to protect you after you can lift your arms to put them on.
If you are having recon with skin expanders take off the camisole, don't wear anything but cotton hanes t shirts excuse the expression (wife beaters) the tee 's with no sleeve, under your blouse
drink as much fluid as possible it helps with dehydration from pain killers
eat yogurt so you don't get infection from anti  biotics
it is ok to be tired, sleep when you need it
Be careful to eat something with all meds, meds can kill your stomache
 
Cathy DiCapua
mammogram 8/19
dx 9/4
DCIS
Mucinous carcenoma stage 1 a, bilateral mas/w recon 10/19 , Letrozole for 5 yrs

happynewyorker
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Re:post-surgery tips - Monday, January 19, 2015 8:47 AM
Thank you Cindy for the information about what to have available. This information will help me when I have my surgery in February 2015. Best regards, Lee

Tricia Keegan
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Re:post-surgery tips - Monday, January 19, 2015 11:54 AM
Good luck with your surgery Lee and hope all goes well for you!
Tricia Keegan...From Ireland Dx July '05 IDC 3/9 nodes pos..triple positive..a/c x 4..Taxol/herceptin x 12
Herceptin 1yr ..rads x35 oophorectomy Aug '06
Currently taking Arimidex /Zometa 1 x yearly
Carepage- survivortricia

Sadie Rose
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Re:post-surgery tips - Tuesday, May 12, 2015 11:35 PM
Hello Everyone,
I have a question.  I had my bilateral mastectomy 4 weeks ago.  Last week I developed a rash mainly between my breasts.  I saw my plastic surgeon on Monday.  She seemed concerned.  She put me on antibiotics and a hydrocortisone cream.  The rash isn't getting better yet.  She said if the rash doesn't go away I will have to have surgery to remove the expanders.  Has anyone had an infection that cleared without removing the expanders.  I feel like this will be quite a set back time wise.  I am supposed to go back to work on Monday.

Tricia Keegan
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Re:post-surgery tips - Wednesday, May 13, 2015 1:37 AM
I'm sorry I can't help with your question Sadie, maybe try asking on the Pink sister page on FB?
Tricia Keegan...From Ireland Dx July '05 IDC 3/9 nodes pos..triple positive..a/c x 4..Taxol/herceptin x 12
Herceptin 1yr ..rads x35 oophorectomy Aug '06
Currently taking Arimidex /Zometa 1 x yearly
Carepage- survivortricia

Sadie Rose
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Re:post-surgery tips - Thursday, May 14, 2015 8:40 PM
Thank you Tricia.  I will try that.

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