Friday, 11 September 2015

Things they never told you about post op double mx

Right, I'm not claiming to know in the ins and outs of all breast surgery, this is my perspective of having a double mastectomy, and the actual surgery wasn't half as bad as I'd built it up to be..well after chemo, you can do anything.

Prep
Having just finished chemo I was still bald, everywhere and so no need to shave/wax (bonus), I did however have to draw on my brows. Rhian sent me a gorgeous package of old school PJ's (button down front to get on and off without having to lift my arms), big baggy vest tops, slip on slippers (no backs = no bending down to put on), and a white waffle dressing gown (get in, have always wanted one but could never find one).




I was due to stay in for 1 night, they did say that had I have not just had chemo I might have been in and out in one day. 

Overnight essentials
Clean pants (I wasn't catheterised and was terrified about peeing myself - I didn't thank god).
Face wipes
Eyebrow pencil (looks like mine got smudged during the op-not a good look)
Lip salve 
Tissues
Phone charger
Throat sweets / mints
Heart shaped pillow -for under your arm pit **must buy**
All current meds you're taking
For tea lovers -take a big mug in with you as you only get 2 mouthfuls from hospital cups....

I think that's it, to be honest it wasn't that bad, I think a pain wise it's worse if you have reconstruction. Although saying that don't let them fob you off with paracetamol get something A bit stronger like codiene.

Not sure what was so funny, maybe I'd just looked in the mirror....



Discharge
I spent the first few days in bed and so I kept my gorgeous stockings on, don't let the hospital throw them away if you're anything like me you'll be laid up for at least a week and not really doing much and certainly not moving around. My ankles started to swell so I would recommend a foot stall or a poof see below-champagne optional but Highly recommended


And Who knew that the stockings now come in a dark blue colour, who ever said that cancer isn't sexy…


Me and my boyfriend decided that post op it would be better for us to stay at my parents as there would be more people around to help look after me. There are also a few spare beds and I would recommend that unless you have two double beds together you sleep on your own. 

I did ALOT of lying around watching TV, invest in Netflix -money well spent 

I would also recommend investing in a Bolster pillow, mine cost under £10 from eBay but to be honest I would've paid five times that, if like me you like to sleep on your side you can forget it, sorry, but having 50-100 pillows on your bed certainly helps...


What your left with 
Not sure if it's been a nurse or just that I'm weird but I was actually pleased with how it looked, especially the pen marks, I will let you decide what the T stands for…


The dressings stayed on for a few weeks until I went back to the hospital. Yep this means but you can't really have a shower and definitely not a bath so invest in some nice flannels and baby wipes, thank god I didn't have any hair to wash ...every cloud and all....


The drains
Okay so they're not great bit of a pain especially if you're clumsy like me, and I have a boyfriend who likes to lean on them and therefore tries to accidentally remove them, ouch.

And a little tip is to get some gift bags and carry them around in them, my sister got me these little beauts

Hospitals vary but I had a district nurse come out most days and check that they were training okay and would replace the bottle if needed.

Try not to get them mixed up with a red berry cooler.... Can't imagine it would taste very nice


Having them removed isn't as bad as you think partly because your still pretty numb, again I'm weird, I quite liked it, you can sort of feel it a little bit coming out, not painful, but I won't go on about that too much. And once that out it feels amazing, you're free!


I had a little bit of Seroma which you can see above but I found that the more mobile I was it soon went. And I finally managed to get all the pen mark off with help from Rhian and some nail varnish remover. The picture below is about 10 days post op, healing nicely.



I got given a book of exercises to do very hard at first but keep going it does get easier and don't give up on your end up with limited movement in your arm and even Cording, which lets face it isn't attractive and god knows we don't need that on top of everything else...

To begin with I was completely numb to my cancer/node removal side, which is pretty strange, think going to the dentist numb but on the top of your arm and across your chest. To be fair they did explain this to me and also said that it will feel like pins and needles once the nerves  start knitting back together, it's more annoying than anything else, as is the itching which is hard to describe because your arm is numb and so scratching doesn't help  - very strange. 

Lifting is a big no-no which basically means that everybody else has to do everything for you - bonus. My very thoughtful boyfriend got me these little milk bottles to save me lifting a big jug of milk for my 15 cups of tea a day 

I think that I healed quite well and my scars aren't half as bad as I thought they would be but then again you don't really see such things very often, One thing I wasn't prepared for was that my chest actually goes inwards now.


The picture above was taken last week and so is eight months post surgery, ignore the fake tan wearing off, and you can see that where my skin is darker that's from radiotherapy, but all in all not too bad. Actually I feel a bit thinner now!

Shopping
I used to love shopping, it could've been put down on my CV as a hobby, not so much any more. For the first few months after surgery it was a massive pain in the arse. Having limited movement in your arm teamed with a small changing room plus a wig and hot sweats oh and of course no tits, does not make for a nice day out shopping. 

Then there's the post op bras on offer.... Not very nice on the eye, especially not for someone in their early 30's, and I didn't get given one from the hospital either, guess I look like the kind of Person who can blow £20 -£30 on a bra.... And £60 on a swimming costume/bikini.


I think these marketing teams needs a re-vamp, SOME OF US ARE STILL IN OUR PRIME. Who knew that you could even buy nightwear ?? They certainly didn't tell me that I had to bloody sleep with my softies/prosthesis in place.....

Sorry, I take it back, of course they're more expensive, it's the EXTRA material ....

It's my birthday at the end of this month, I think I'll add this one to my list...

I did get given a set of softies on discharge, the nurse couldn't believe that I wanted the smallest ones, and thought I should go larger now that I had the opportunity. I was a 34A and perfectly happy with my little ones, well until they turned on me and tried to kill me. I remember looking at her and thinking, I have no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes,  I still have a steroid moon face and now my boobs have been chopped off, I couldn't feel less like myself if I tried, so why would I want to change my cup size? Plus non of my clothes would fit!! 

Once healed I was given my prosthesis, the A cup didn't sit right, just looked awful, and so I took the B. Not a great move, far too big for me, and personally the prosthesis are too heavy and get too hot against my skin -plus I feel like Mrs Doubtfire in them. I think I've worn them twice. 




Actually the ones I wear the most are my air boobies which were donated by Kaz (awesome thank you). Can't even feel them -hard to believe I know been as they contain nothing but air....






I also "like" my softies, pretty small, light and perky! These are what were given to me on the ward after the op,



Grams also knitted me some knockers, they're amazing, so soft and comfortable, probably the only ones i can wear all day and night, think I need a smaller cup size though #pam. But when I wear these bad boys there's no doubt that I look like a woman!



And I think that's all I can really say about that!

Next up, radiotherapy.....