Needs advise before surgery!

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Hi I'm new to all of this. But I was wondering if anyone would help me out. I will be having surgery on Jan.5th. I will be having a double mastectomy with a TRAM flap...Is there anything I can do before or tips I should know for after the surgery..I cant help freaking out a little bit..I have 5 kids and 3 of them are under 10 I just need to know how long I will be down for the count..lol thanks so much:)

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  • Frankie Shannon
    Frankie Shannon Member Posts: 457
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    Hi misscee sorry you had to
    Hi misscee sorry you had to come to this site but welcome,i had a double mastectomy i don't know what a TRAM flap is but i had the drains in for a week fluid build up in arm pit a week later so they drained it had a little bit of nerve damage on right side from taking out two lymph nodes under arm but not to bad.I also had message therapy to loosen the skin around the scares as the skin tightens up.there is some scare tissue on each side by arm pits but not bad.I was up an around with in a week but had a lot of help as my children are all grown but every one heels at different levels thats just how i heeled.I was also scared to death but it was not as bad as i thought it would be.Do you have help and support from family members.Keep a positive attitude.Strength,courage and hope.Hugs Frankie
  • laughs_a_lot
    laughs_a_lot Member Posts: 1,368 Member
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    Hints
    Get your heavy stuff like laundry soap down lower. Lifting arms up high is a problem. I did not have a masectomy and this was in order for even a lumpectomy. Can you get someone to put some pockets in your nightgowns? There will be drains that have a bulb that needs to go in that pocket. Some others will have other suggestions.
  • Frankie Shannon
    Frankie Shannon Member Posts: 457
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    Hints
    Get your heavy stuff like laundry soap down lower. Lifting arms up high is a problem. I did not have a masectomy and this was in order for even a lumpectomy. Can you get someone to put some pockets in your nightgowns? There will be drains that have a bulb that needs to go in that pocket. Some others will have other suggestions.

    One of my girl friends got
    One of my girl friends got me P.J.s with pockets up top and that worked really well.
  • Gabe N Abby Mom
    Gabe N Abby Mom Member Posts: 2,413
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    Hi misscee,
    I had a

    Hi misscee,

    I had a bilateral, no reconstruction so I'm not able to speak to that part of your question. But some things I recommend...

    Your reach and the range of motion in your arms will be limited for a while, so anything where you might stretch to get to it should be moved. You won't be able to put clothes on over your head, get some things that button or zip up the front. I wore post mastectomy camisoles (mine were covered by insurance and provided at the surgeon's office), they zipped up the front and had pockets for the drains.

    The drains are a pain, you'll probably want help with them at first. After about a week I was able to manage them myself. Be sure you are clear about their care.

    Talk with your doc about what exercises you should do when to get your range of motion back. I was told I wouldn't be able to do any repetitive motions (pulling weeds, vacuuming) for six months. But I was able to do lots of simple movements (without weight) in a week to two weeks.

    When your doc explains the care of the drains and your exercises would be a good time to have someone else listening with you, just to be sure nothing is missed.

    When I was in the hospital, the nurse escorted me (and my IV pole) to the toilet for the first time after surgery. She wanted to be sure I wouldn't fall. I was a little wobbly when it came to sitting on the toilet, so I reached for the support bar along the wall and held on to it as I bent my knees. DON'T DO THAT!!! The pain from moving my arm that direction was horrible!! I stayed an extra day in the hospital just to get that pain under control.

    I hope your surgery goes smoothly and you get the results you want with the reconstruction. Please come back and let us know how you do.

    Hugs,

    Linda
  • Megan M
    Megan M Member Posts: 3,000
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    Hi misscee,
    I had a

    Hi misscee,

    I had a bilateral, no reconstruction so I'm not able to speak to that part of your question. But some things I recommend...

    Your reach and the range of motion in your arms will be limited for a while, so anything where you might stretch to get to it should be moved. You won't be able to put clothes on over your head, get some things that button or zip up the front. I wore post mastectomy camisoles (mine were covered by insurance and provided at the surgeon's office), they zipped up the front and had pockets for the drains.

    The drains are a pain, you'll probably want help with them at first. After about a week I was able to manage them myself. Be sure you are clear about their care.

    Talk with your doc about what exercises you should do when to get your range of motion back. I was told I wouldn't be able to do any repetitive motions (pulling weeds, vacuuming) for six months. But I was able to do lots of simple movements (without weight) in a week to two weeks.

    When your doc explains the care of the drains and your exercises would be a good time to have someone else listening with you, just to be sure nothing is missed.

    When I was in the hospital, the nurse escorted me (and my IV pole) to the toilet for the first time after surgery. She wanted to be sure I wouldn't fall. I was a little wobbly when it came to sitting on the toilet, so I reached for the support bar along the wall and held on to it as I bent my knees. DON'T DO THAT!!! The pain from moving my arm that direction was horrible!! I stayed an extra day in the hospital just to get that pain under control.

    I hope your surgery goes smoothly and you get the results you want with the reconstruction. Please come back and let us know how you do.

    Hugs,

    Linda

    Praying for a successful
    Praying for a successful surgery and a speedy recovery for you!
  • cabbott
    cabbott Member Posts: 1,039 Member
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    Things to buy now
    I had a single mastectomy and so had day surgery. Your surgery involves the tram flap and you will probably be in the hospital for 3 to 5 days and then home to recover for a few weeks. Go get some hard candies for the sore throat. The general anesthia often causes a sore throat for a few days and I did not expect this. Ice chips help too.

    Buy the Phillips Milk of Magnesia, a box of prunes, some prune juice, and maybe whatever other laxitive you like to have in the house now. The pain meds stop more than the pain. You will need all of the above for about a week or two after you come home. Once you get off the major meds you will be able to stop with the prunes and such!

    Call every friend and supportive organization you know and tell them what you need for the next month. Kids need rides everywhere. Meals need to be delivered. Forget the flowers(after the first bunch of course) and ask for gift cards to the local restaurants and fast food spots. Someone else will have to drive you around for at least two weeks after you come home. You don't get driving privileges until you are off pain meds and the drains are out. Laundry needs washing and drying.You can't lift though you can sort the clothes. Someone needs to run the vacuum and mop and it shouldn't be you for a month. Get someone to take you walking daily and be your cheerleader when you work on your stretching exercises after surgery. Kids can do a lot of this with some supervision. Tell the schools where your children attend so they can provide support to them as needed.

    My nurse also recommended that I buy some Palmer's Shea Butter with vitamin E found in the African hair treatment section of the local department store like Walmart or Target. It is useful for putting on the surgery site after the stitches are out. Do not put anything on the site until the doctors give the okay and they may prefer another lotion, ointment, or cream. But the Palmer's was cheap, nice smelling, and I still use it for moisturizing hands, chest, legs, and everything else. It has more shea butter than regular lotions and creams. It is also cheaper and works. A moisturizing soap in the shower helps too. Avoid hot showers and baths to prevent skin problems and lymphadema. No hot tubs. (I hate the list of restrictions but I read the list and try to follow them to the best of my unmotivated ability. Good luck!)

    Also ask the doctors or nurses for a set of exercises to promote flexibility after you leave the hospital. There are some listed on the internet if they have no clue, but it would be better for them to tell you what will work best for your situation so that you do not over do things. Remember, if it causes pain, it is not good to do. I tried pulling up a weed after a single mastectomy. I immediately knew to stop.OUCH!!! A month later, I could manage most weeds with few problems. Avoiding scratches while weeding though is a constant challenge. My operation was back in 2002 and I know I still have to be careful of injuries. Ugh.

    Buying an electric razor is not a bad idea either. Regular razors can nick the skin and cause infections that lead to lymphadema, so most doctors tell you to stop shaving with them. Permanently. This is for under your arms, not your legs. Also, use bug sprays to avoid insect bits, avoid chapped skin by using moisturizers, and avoid all arm injuries for the same reasons after surgery. I am very accident prone and found this to be difficult. Learning to wear gloves when I wash dishes is also a pain to me. But staying well is important to me so I try to follow precautions.

    Take it one day at a time and know that your body will recover from surgery.
  • Angie2U
    Angie2U Member Posts: 2,991
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    Hi misscee sorry you had to
    Hi misscee sorry you had to come to this site but welcome,i had a double mastectomy i don't know what a TRAM flap is but i had the drains in for a week fluid build up in arm pit a week later so they drained it had a little bit of nerve damage on right side from taking out two lymph nodes under arm but not to bad.I also had message therapy to loosen the skin around the scares as the skin tightens up.there is some scare tissue on each side by arm pits but not bad.I was up an around with in a week but had a lot of help as my children are all grown but every one heels at different levels thats just how i heeled.I was also scared to death but it was not as bad as i thought it would be.Do you have help and support from family members.Keep a positive attitude.Strength,courage and hope.Hugs Frankie

    I had a lumpectomy, but,
    I had a lumpectomy, but, wanted to wish you the best of luck with your surgery!
  • atiredparent
    atiredparent Member Posts: 45
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    It was very helpful for me
    It was very helpful for me to have baby wipes in the bathroom. I used them to freshen up. It saved on laundry of towels and helped me feel fresher in the week that I couldn't shower because of the drains.

    Pill wedge or recliner was a life saver.

    Button down or zip shirts necessity. Get couple size larger because it is hard to get your arms in if too tight.

    Ask Doctor when you can start excercising your arms after surgery. I had a frozen shoulder and not fun to recover from.

    I was driving after 1 week (after drains out) and back to work 3 weeks later. I had a double mastectomy with 3-4 lymph nodes on right side and no flap. I did not do much lifting though for about 4=5 weeks.

    Stock up on easy to make foods for you and reading material to distract you.