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What kind of help will I need after bilateral mastectomy, SNB and reconstruction?

jennifer101
Posts: 26
Joined: Oct 2012

I live alone and am very independent. However I care for two loving big dogs and have been told that I will need help the first few weeks. I have rides to and from hospital but what else will I need?

CypressCynthia's picture
CypressCynthia
Posts: 4011
Joined: Oct 2009

Mainly, I think you will need someone to stay with you for the first few days. You might need someone to prepare and bring you your meals and fluids. You may also need help with ambulation, showering and pain management.

I feel strongly that you should have someone there at least a day or two to make sure that you are doing ok. Your dogs will need someone to help take care of them too. Is there anyone who can come and stay with you for a few days?

I have had many, many surgeries over the years. Some have gone very smoothly and some have hit me hard. I had a left mastectomy in 1987 and reconstruction in 1988. Then I had a right mastectomy with reconstruction at the same time in about 1995. I have sometimes been hit hard with nausea and had problems with pain, but have mostly done well.

If you absolutely won't or don't have someone, try and plan for every contingency. Ask your physician for nausea meds to take home just in case (better yet have them prescribed and filled before you go home). Stock your home with soups and beverages easy on your stomach.

And good luck! Please let us know how you are doing.

sdukowitz
Posts: 250
Joined: Nov 2011

I would suggest help with dog walking for sure, help with meal preparations, cleaning and laundry the first couple of weeks .... and moral support! This is one time it is okay to ask for help and if people ask what they can do , please give them a specific request ... in general, people often want to help and just need your suggestions to how ...best wishes for a good recovery! Sue D
....... And try to relax and find a few good movies, books and take the pain meds .... they really help!

sdukowitz
Posts: 250
Joined: Nov 2011

I would suggest help with dog walking for sure, help with meal preparations, cleaning and laundry the first couple of weeks .... and moral support! This is one time it is okay to ask for help and if people ask what they can do , please give them a specific request ... in general, people often want to help and just need your suggestions to how ...best wishes for a good recovery! Sue D
.p.s....... And try to relax and find a few good movies, books and take the pain meds .... they really help! If possible, someone to be with you the first week at least ...

lintx's picture
lintx
Posts: 456
Joined: Sep 2012

I had the same in May and also live alone but no pets. My son flew here to stay for 2 wks, which I wasn't expecting. It was great! I got around fine but wasn't released to drive until the drains were removed. It was nice to have someone to do the grocery store and pharmacy shopping. I didn't take pain pills at all but still slept a lot. I was never hungry, so cooking was no big deal. I ate breakfast foods and forced that. Nothing sounded good or tasted good after all those hrs under anesthesia. I did heavy cleaning and preparing before surgery and could wash light loads of clothes after the first week home. I was dizzy the first few days getting in and out of the shower. It's good to have someone at least near your shower area in case of a fall. Walk in the house from the start. The DR's and nurses said to take 15 min of every hour to just stroll inside. I really did listen to what they said I should do, and it helped get me back on track, quickly. I'm with Sue in that you'll need help w/the dog walking. I am not someone who can ask for favors, so that was a determining factor in my son's visit! If you are better at it than me, do ask for help. You will need it. I wish you well:) Linda

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

Like CC I think you should have someone stay with you for a while. If you don't have someone, call the ACS (the 800 number is on the home page at cancer.org), they may be able to set up daily visitors who can help.

I didn't do reconstruction, but I had a bilateral and axillary dissection. Here's my advice...

You'll want pajamas/clothing that buttons/zips up the front, your range of motion will be limited for a while and you won't be able to reach over your head. You'll want to move anything you have to reach for (low or high) to mid level.

For sleeping you'll want several pillows. I had a wedge pillow and smaller ones to support my arms. Even with the wedge pillow, my husband helped me out of bed for a few days. Others here have slept in a recliner.

I needed help with the drains for the first week or so. After that I was able to manage them myself. When showering, I tied a shoestring around my neck, and pinned the drains to that.

Follow your doc's orders about exercises to recover your range of motion. My doc said that initially I shouldn't lift anything over 2 pounds. She then raised my limit to 10 pounds, and eventually no limit at all. I was also told not to do anything involving repetitive motion (vacuuming, raking leaves, cleaning windows) for 6 months (that one surprised me).

I can't think of anything else right now. But I hope this helps. Please come back and let us know how you are doing.

Hugs,

Linda

jennifer101
Posts: 26
Joined: Oct 2012

It has been awhile since I posted.  After my surgeries at the end of 2012 I seemed to withdraw into a shell. Now I am ready to get back online.

First of all I want to thank all of the dear ladies who replied to my posts back in November - your advice was spot on and really helped me.  I was lucky after all to have a family friend fly in to stay with me for a week and a half to get over the worso of my recovery.

I did need to sleep on my back for nearly two months and felt like I just couldn't get the right kind of sleep.  My right side reconstruction needed a revision a month after mastectomy and reconstruction because the alloderm/muscle pocket had come undone. Hated to have the drains in again.  The worst was that I was told no lifting more then 10 lbs for 6 months.  This means no dog walking (they pull) no weight bearing yoga excercises, no ocean swimming etc.  i feel lost without my old past times.

the other big surprize I got, and was totally unprepared for was the numbness of by breasts.  They feel like two alien blobs on my chest.  After a month or so, I started feeling intense itching along the sides and then weird twinges of pain from somewhere inside.  I also have a difficult time wearing a bra (I need to dress professionally for work) even though I invested in soft, very stretchy non-wire bras.  After a couple of hours, the sking along my sides is sensitive and uncomfortable.

I am forever grateful however that I had the mastectormy and was told that the SEN  node was negative.  However, I recentely read some posts where invasive cancer can return even after bilateral mastectomy.  Now I am getting paranoid.

jennifer101
Posts: 26
Joined: Oct 2012

It has been awhile since I posted.  After my surgeries at the end of 2012 I seemed to withdraw into a shell. Now I am ready to get back online.

First of all I want to thank all of the dear ladies who replied to my posts back in November - your advice was spot on and really helped me.  I was lucky after all to have a family friend fly in to stay with me for a week and a half to get over the worso of my recovery.

I did need to sleep on my back for nearly two months and felt like I just couldn't get the right kind of sleep.  My right side reconstruction needed a revision a month after mastectomy and reconstruction because the alloderm/muscle pocket had come undone. Hated to have the drains in again.  The worst was that I was told no lifting more then 10 lbs for 6 months.  This means no dog walking (they pull) no weight bearing yoga excercises, no ocean swimming etc.  i feel lost without my old past times.

the other big surprize I got, and was totally unprepared for was the numbness of by breasts.  They feel like two alien blobs on my chest.  After a month or so, I started feeling intense itching along the sides and then weird twinges of pain from somewhere inside.  I also have a difficult time wearing a bra (I need to dress professionally for work) even though I invested in soft, very stretchy non-wire bras.  After a couple of hours, the sking along my sides is sensitive and uncomfortable.

I am forever grateful however that I had the mastectormy and was told that the SEN  node was negative.  However, I recentely read some posts where invasive cancer can return even after bilateral mastectomy.  Now I am getting paranoid.

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