Post-Surgery Emotional and Physical Support

I’m nine days post implant surgery.  I’m healing up nicely in spite of the nagging pain under my left breast.  Due to this pain, I’ve returned to lazy mode and my laptop.  In my research,  I stumbled upon a Facebook group mentioned on someone else’s blog and have already fallen in love.

Post surgery: finding emotional support

You need emotional support during recovery.  While family and friends are important, they cannot empathize with you.  If you want empathy, turn to the Facebook group “My Destiny: Prophylactic Mastectomy.”  It’s a closed group, so you have to be approved to join; send a request.  From what I’ve seen, this is a great group of ladies.

I’ve already done some responding to others’ questions and asked some advice for myself.  For example, how weird is it that there is a spot I can touch on my sternum and then have phantom feeling in my arms?  Doesn’t work backwards, though.  I can’t touch my arms and feel it in my sternum.  It’s a one-way nerve circuit.  Weirdo foobs (fake boobs, for those of you not up on the slang).  Unless you have been through this process, you have no idea what I mean!  Don’t isolate yourself.  You aren’t alone.

Finding a sense of community has been fantastic given that I’m stuck at home and don’t want to pester my doctor with non-emergency questions.  Protect your mental health during your healing time just as you care for your body.

support under it all…post-surgery fashion

"Ice Cream Break," 1944
“Ice Cream Break,” 1944
Taken from:

Let’s talk about physical support in the literal sense.  Did you know I’m a 1940’s pinup girl wannabe?  Truly, if I changed out the fabric for polkadots and curled my hair, I could seriously play the part.  Everyone I see comments how good I look.  Well, yeah….I’m tucked in like a pig in a blanket.  Though, seriously, those bathing suit models had some serious guts to wear a bathing suit cut like that.  It’s not a look I would sport, especially given its lack of comfort.

compression garments
Mastectomy Pinup Girl?
Compression Finery

These Maidenform Control Hi-Waist Boyshorts aren’t the most comfortable bottoms nor are they particularly flattering to the thighs (I’ll spare you that image).  It’s hard to sit comfortably since they go almost all the way up to the foobs.  Then, I have to wear this lovely front-close post-surgical bra because it’s the only thing I’ve found with a wide enough band to be even tolerably comfortable given the under foob pain I’m experiencing.  This particular bra is made by YIANNA and retails on Amazon  for $18.99.

There are many types of post-surgical bras and compression bottoms out there, if you need them.  Your doctor should hook you up with a surgical bra and your insurance should cover it.  I wanted an extra so I turned to Amazon because I have a Prime membership and at that price, it couldn’t be beat.

What’s squishy, swollen, and yellow all over?

IV Bruising
IV Bruising

Yes, me.  You guessed right.  If you don’t look too closely, you couldn’t tell I ever had surgery.  I do look so much better than what I did just two days ago, but I still have some swelling (probably will for several weeks) and lovely bruising.  The bruises are fading, though.  I bruise really easily, so take my status with that thought in mind.  You may heal much faster!  Whenever I try to do too much, like I did on Monday and Tuesday of this week, I remind myself that I’m not healed by looking at the back of my right hand; on that hand lies the evidence of my IV.  If I can still look this nasty from a simple IV, what must my body look like inside?  Yes, that question is rhetorical. I don’t really want to know….

From the outside, my chest, hip, and liposuction scars are healing really well.  I only hurt if pressure is applied to any of those areas.  Just sitting around, I don’t have any pain.  Truly, it’s just the left under-foob pocket that hurts, and even that goes away when I take off the surgical bra.  If I could spend all of my time in the shower, I would, since it’s the only way I get to experience the relief of being braless.  I can’t wait for that burning pain to go away; it’s not pleasant.

Healing 9 Days Post Surgery
Healing 9 Days Post Surgery: Chest, Hip, and Liposuction Incision Site

Post-surgery reflection: I’m lucky

Since I joined that Facebook group for Prophylactic Mastectomy, I have a new appreciation for the simplicity of my experience.  Not all women have had these surgeries free of complication. These women spoke of infection, necrosis, multiple surgeries, etc.  I have been very blessed with my limited pain experience and my textbook healing.  My heart goes out to these women.  I hope they find strength in the community, just as I hope my voice helps my readers realize that they are also never alone.  There is always someone out there who understands.  You are never alone.

Mastectomy Bag

hospital bag
What’s Going In My Bag

My bag is all packed up for the hospital.  Yes, I am an “early packer.”  I like to make sure everything is all ready to go at least 24hrs ahead of departure…except last-minute things like a hairbrush and medicine.

I will be admitted to the hospital for one night.  I know I won’t be able to shower at the hospital, but I’m still bringing a Norwex washcloth so someone can at least wipe my face and neck off for me so I feel a little more human, some minimal toiletries (lotion, chapstick, toothpaste), and some extra comfy clothes for the ride home.

items in hospital bag
The Bare Necessities

Want to know what other items I have loaded up?  Check my handy list below!

Hospital bag Checklist

  • comfy clothes for going home (tank top I can step into, sweats, and underwear)
  • slippers
  • slipper socks
  • robe
  • drain belt (attached pockets to a race belt I had from running)
  • lanyard (just in case, to hold the drains)
  • Norwex washcloth
  • glasses case
  • a headband to keep my hair out of my face
  • toiletries: body lotion, chapstick, toothpaste
  • hairbrush
  • a kids’ battery-powered toothbrush in case I hurt too much to brush the manual way!
  • phone charger
  • earbuds (with my noise machine app installed to help me sleep)
  • fruit snacks (for my scratchy throat after the breathing tube is removed)
  • my recycled car pillow
  • a blanket

What would you take to the hospital?  Feel free to chime in through the comments section!

Mastectomy Series Part 4: Pre-op

I had my pre-op appointment today. I  should have written this post earlier this afternoon when I had the energy, but I procrastinated in favor of running errands.  Now, I blinked and it’s almost 10pm, and I turn into a pumpkin at 10.  So, long story short, there will be no images in this post and I’m going to type fast and furiously.

Here is what I learned from my visits with my breast surgeon and my plastic surgeon.

  1.  I will be in the hospital for only one night.
  2. I will be in operating room for about 6 hours.
  3. The docs will be removing the nipples so they’ll be going in through those incisions for the removal of the breast tissue and the placement of the expanders.
  4. The expander will be placed under the muscle.
  5. I will have a spinal block to help dull the post-surgery pain and reduce the amount of narcotics needed to control said pain.
  6. I can shower after 48hrs.
  7. Don’t even think about wearing a bra for at least two weeks after surgery.  No compression bra advised.
  8. Be wary of those drains.  Don’t do anything where I could catch them on something.  Be alert to my surroundings.
  9. I will have an appointment to follow-up with the plastic surgeon 48hrs after surgery.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Nothing too dramatic.  Now, I’m going to bed.  This girl is tired!!!