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Modified radical mastectomy and general anesthesia

Sun Whitey
Posts: 36
Joined: Jan 2013

Tuesday is the day.  I hate this.  I don't wan't anyone cutting part of my body off.  That being said,  can someone tell me how I will feel after surgery?  I've been "under" before for small things...but never had a surgery like this, or to this extent. Will I feel awake the rest of the day?  My family and friends want to visit me in the hospital (have to stay overnight). I want them to.  I don't want to be there by myself.  I am hoping I will be fully awake and my "jokester" self.  Some of my friends have laughed at this.  I just don't know.  I am a strong, young woman.  I could really use some feedback on what to expect.  Thank you my friends. 

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

Good luck with your surgery 

unfortunaty it is not a joke it is a major surgery


Snowkitty's picture
Posts: 295
Joined: Jun 2010

Good luck on Tuesday.

Regardless of how you will feel after surgery, you are under no obligation to "entertain" your visitors.  You will, I think, be quite busy with nurses attending to you afterwards and will probably just want to rest and sleep.

I would just say no visitors.

Take care, Cindy

Posts: 66
Joined: Jan 2013

I brought my husband and my mother.  I was on painkillers, and I kept dozing off.  I'd wake up for a little while, chat a bit, and then fall asleep.  Then, I'd wake up and apologize for not being entertaining enough.  And my husband and my mother would tell me to stop being ridiculous.

So, I would expectation set.  If you have a friend or two come, I would tell them that you need them there to help you -- you're not there to amuse them.  They can get you ginger ale and crackers, grab a nurse if you need assistance, help you to the bathroom while you get your bearings, and help you ask questions.  If they're up for that, I'd thank them for their support and welcome them.  If they're not up for that, then I would say that they could visit you at home after a couple of days have passed, and you can discern for yourself if you're up for visitors.

Also, don't expect to be in your room right away.  My surgery was scheduled for 10, and I did not get into my room until very late afternoon/early evening.  My surgery (which was different) took four hours.  Then, I was in recovery for a long time because they were preparing my room (another patient left later than expected).  So, you can't predict when you'll get into your room.

I will say that I entertained my nurses.  In the recovery room, I kept putting my hands on the top of my head and saying, "Look what I can do!"  I don't remember what I said to the nurses in my room, but I do recall them being amused.  So, your real self may shine through, but you're there to rest, not put on a show.

cathyp's picture
Posts: 365
Joined: Dec 2009

Good Luck with your surgery.  I have had many major surgeries, including a thoracotomy and hysterectomy.  My double  mastectomy was the easiest for me.  I was alert and talkative.  Visited with family.  Took 1 painkiller that day, none after that.

Hoping the same for you,


SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi sun,

No one wants a body part removed but if it needs to be done, it's not the worse body part to remove.  It will be buy you peace of mind knowing that the part with cancer is gone.

I have had a lot of surgeries, today will be my 21st surgical procedure (2nd port a cath).  Some were worst than others.  I worried about the mastectomy as I wondered how I would feel without my breast, what the area would look like and etc.  Over the years, I have come to believe the lady who told me before my own surgery (1994) that there would be times, I wouldn't think about it at all.  Indeed it was true.  

I have learned the hard way and now ask people not to visit with me in the hospital.  One), I don't look my best, two), there is a real reason why I'm there and it's not to entertain, three),  I need the time to adjust, to pick up my strength and to rest.

Your husband and mother should see you to help relieve their anxiety.  Friends, well there are other days.

One usually recovers in some room where you are closely monitored.  If it is day surgery, they sometimes give you something to eat and then you go home.  If overnight, you are in the recovery room until they believe you are in good shape to go to your room and that there is a room available to you.  I don't remember to much of that night, I slept a lot.  Don't eat right away, that is something I learned.  Sip water.

Wishing you the best as you begin another phase of the journey,



camul's picture
Posts: 2541
Joined: Dec 2010

come to see me.  I really didn't feel much like company, but I loved knowing that they were there.  Fortunately, all but my mom left to get something to eat and the only thing I remember is her saying just to sleep and not worry about visiting.  Then it was the next morning and I was going home.  I had many major surgeries up to this point, and this was physically one of the easiest.  Pain med through the IV and never needed anything after that.  Just make sure you walk the walls as it will make the recovery of movement much easier. 

Forget about being the jokester for a day or so.  Like so many have said, take the time you are there to rest so you have the energy for the next part of your journey/ 

Best to you,


Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2013

I had my mastectomy a year ago (I'm now 42) and I opted to go for a bilateral mastectomy and oopherectomy because I am BRCA2 positive.  While it was certainly no picnic and I slept quite a bit, I was glad when my husband came to visit me for a while. I was also glad when he left. :)  My MIL and FIL, I could have done without.  Like others have commented, I felt obligated to keep up appearances and be entertaining when they came by, and they seemed to want to talk A LOT.  

For me, the worst part was the catheter, although the drains were a close second.  People would occasionally hit my urine bag and that sent a twanging sensation straight to my bladder, but really, you're only in for one night so you will be able to handle it.  Yes, I was sore.  No, I didn't really want to have to lose a part of my body - although I miss my lymph nodes more than my breasts - but I decided that I wanted to be around for a few more years, and I didn't want to have to worry constantly that I'd made the right decision.  My only regret is agreeing to radiation as part of my follow up care, but I try hard not to play the game of second guessing myself.  

As for being fully awake and your jokester self, part of that will just depend on how you handle the anesthesia, but the other part will depend on how you decide to make it.  I went in with the positive attitude that everything was going to be okay, and I made sure that I kept my attitude focused in that direction.  They will be filling you full of fluids so you may be puffy, but you won't necessarily feel like it.  Others will notice, though, and it might worry them.  My husband trained as a chemist and is very scientifically minded, so for him, it was not a big deal, but I wanted to mention this because you might not want to have friends visit and worry unnecessarily.  

Ignore how your friends have laughed at your idea of being your usual self.  Yes, you are going to need help with sitting up (they have the special beds for that!), yes, you will need help getting to the restroom (they pay people to do that for you!) and yes, you may be tired.  But I promise, the best thing you can do for yourself is to make peace with losing a part of yourself, and to keep your sense of humor.  To me, it's the most important part of healing.  I know that's easier said than done because I've been in your shoes, but it will be okay - I say this because I am a year out and am here to tell about it.  This may be you, next year, offering up your experience to someone else who needs encouragement.

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

I had a left modified radical, left axilla dissection, and right simple mastectomy (prophylactic).  This was in Jan of 2011.

Here's my story...surgery goes smoothly, recovery goes well, I'm in the room settling in for the night, it's time to use the toilet.  Being the first time after surgery the nurse goes with me.  That's fine, I'm not shy and I am a little wobbly on my legs.  Since I'm wobbly and not thinking straight because of pain meds, I reach on the left side for the handicap bar to steady myself as I sit.  Turns out, that was a big mistake!  It caused my arm to bend in a way it shouldn't have a few hours post mastectomy...and the pain was horrible!  So don't do that!  I ended up staying in the hospital an extra night just to get the pain in my arm under control.

Best wishes for an uneventful surgery, and a quick, painless recovery.  Come back and let us know how you are doing.



Posts: 653
Joined: Oct 2012

I had bi-lateral surgery a year ago.  My left side had more work done on it than on the right; but because it was two sides, the surgery took much of the day.  (Plus I am a bit resistant to anesthesia, and it apparently took them a little longer to get me under deep enough that that made the time in the OR even longer.)  I was taken to surgery at 7:30 am; I was returned to my room about 5:00 pm.

The anesthesia did not make me feel bad.  I had some supper when I got back to the room.  I forget how long my husband stayed, but the friends/family who waited with him in the waiting room all left when they knew things were done.

I had no guests that first night -- and was glad, as it had been a long day. 

My grown step-daughter stopped by to see me late the next morning, and that was fine.  I also had two other people stop in, and would have been as glad had they not . . . but they did not stay long.  They had had to come to the hospital for the husband to have some med test, and they thought they would stop by.  I think I spent most of the day just dozing.  I could not focus on reading anything, and so the tv was on in the room.  Aside from my husband's being with me most of the day, that was it. 

I had been told beforehand that I could be going home the day after my surgery; but as the day progressed, I knew I just was not yet ready to head home.  Part of that might be because I had gotten out of surgery so late in the day, that I had not had all that much time to be shown things I would need to know, such as care for the drains.  Actually, the following day, I was ready to head home. 

I don't think it hurts to discourage visitors while you are at the hospital.  People can come see you at home as you heal (and get bored being stuck home and not up to doing much).  You are right -- there is that sense "we" have of trying to be accommodating to these people and to give them a sense that things are going well. 

Hope things go smoothly for  you.


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