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How long after mastectomy before you could drive?

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Julia View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 12:24pm
I'll be having surgery in about two weeks, and my husband doesn't drive.  I'm just wondering how long we'll have to juggle buses and taxis before I can leap back behind the wheel of the car.
 
How long was it for you, if you had a mastectomy?  One breast or bi-lateral?  (I'm only having one side).
 
Thanks for your help.
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Lillie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2009 at 3:42pm
Julia,

It was 3 weeks before I could drive. I had a mastectomy on left side with sentinel node. 1 node was positive so 7 days after mastectomy I had 9 more nodes surgically removed and my porta cath was put in on right side. All 9 nodes were negative. The surgeon said no driving until you are off the pain pills. I took pain pills for a couple of days after each surgery.

The seat belt was my biggest problem when I began to drive again. I had the mastectomy on the left and the "brand new port" on the right. I had to drive with a small pillow under the seal belt for awhile. Needless to say I wasn't up for any lengthy trips at that time.

Someone told me I could have gotten a prescription from the surgeon allowing me to drive without my seat belt for a certain amount of time. You could look into that.

Hope this helps.

Lillie
Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
StIIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. Dis-9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 08/2013 NED
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Julia View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Julia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2009 at 2:32pm
Thanks, Lillie, for both the info and the suggestion.  I'll ask about that.
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alene View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote alene Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2009 at 4:17pm

Hi Julia

I think the length of time largely depends on how well you're doing.  If you have a lot of pain..you'll be on pain medication.  You can't drive while taking pain medications. 
 
My drains were in for almost a month...There is no way I could drive with drains.  I was wrapped up in big bandages for 3 weeks...It's difficult to put clothes on over it all..I wore a robe and pj bottoms the whole time..plus showering is a big issue...so you don't really feel like you look your best to be out and about...
 
If you're going straight from surgery into chemo or radiation..you may be taking again..more medications...
 
Speaking of pain...my friend went with me into surgery pre-op and talked a mile a minute to my surgeon about the "lack of adequate pain control"...and he prescribed 7 days of the stuff in the drip at the hospital.  After that I moved to vicodin. Don't underestimate the amount of trauma that is happening to you. You can make things far worse if you plan on jumping right back into the grind.  You can pull the internal stitches and not even know it...except for the pain...Be kind to yourself...and you'll heal faster.
 
Before my mastectomy..I cooked and froze about 2 weeks of casseroles, spaghetti, macaroni cheese, porkchops & dressing, meatloaf, made mashed potatoes and froze them....I bought those disposable aluminum tins and filled up my freezer.  Take a run through your cabinets & fridge for those staples that are running low..get them now.
 
Contact your friends and family and ask for help....Assign a day to a friend for her to bring over dinner and help around the house.  You may need someone to assist you with showering and re-bandaging you.
 
It's ok to ask for help..really...
You don't have to be superwoman....
When you look for the best in those around you...You'll usually find it.
 
Lots of hugs
Alene
 
And Lillie...you're one tough cookie!  Kudos for your quick rebound.
 


Edited by alene - 23 Jul 2009 at 4:21pm
DX 5/21/2008 TN 8cm TAC
Mast 12/08
Extensive Residual Lymphatic Invasion
Inop node clavicle
68 Rads
Stage IIIc
Recur 11/09 Her2+
Surgery 68 RADS
4/10 Biopsy Skin Mets TN
28 RADS
Stage IV
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Lillie View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lillie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Jul 2009 at 10:56am
Hi Julia and Alene,

Alene, in reviewing your signature it looks like you had several months of chemo before your surgery. I'm sure that made a big difference in how fast you bounced back from surgery. Those drainage bags are a challenge aren't they? I kept mine 5 days after each of my surgeries. I was lucky in that respect.

I had my surgeries a couple of weeks after my diagnosis and then my chemo. Surgeries June 15 & 22, 2006. Chemo (adromician and cytoxin began August 8, 2006) This gave me a few weeks between surgery and treatments.

I did not drive for about 3 months after I started my chemo. I had dose dense chemo every 2 weeks for 4 months. My oncologist explained that the chemo was all I would have and I needed to stay as strong as possible so I wouldn't have to miss a treatment or get one of lesser strength. I stayed pretty confined during my treatments because i did not want to get a virus or pick up an unwanted "bug". A couple of times my counts were low, but not too low for my regular treatment.

I was lucky that my husband and son were available to take me for treatments, lab work, etc. I shopped for hats and some pieces of clothing out of the TLC catalog. I bought a wig a few weeks after I found out I would have to have chemo. My church friends and people from my work place were so generous with food.

I know ladies that played cards, went shopping, went out to eat, etc throughout their treatment. I would see them at the support group meetings and they though I was crazy. All of them knew that there was tamaxofin and herceptin or some other drugs for them after treatment. I know these drugs are not the answer to everything, but it sounded better than knowing there was nothing beyond my chemo.

I guess you can call this being strong, but believe me I didn't feel strong. I just want to live. I have found out that virtually none of my acquaintenances know "squat" about trip-negative. I was so excited on July 9, 2009 when my oncologist told me there was still very little out there for us trip-negatives, but he knew about the tnbcfoundation.org site. For three years I feel as though I have been in the dark, but now I can see the light. I have read so many of the posts on this site and no longer feel so alone.

Julie, I'm sorry if my first post mislead you about driving, but this truly is NOT a "one size fits all" disease. I'm also glad you can ask for guidance at the beginning of this journey, instead of three years later, as was my experience.

Love and may God hold both of you in the palm of His hand.

Lillie

Dx 6/06 age 65,IDC-TNBC
StIIb,Gr3,2cm,BRCA-
6/06 L/Mast/w/SNB,1of3 Nodes+
6/06 Axl. Dis-9 nodes-
8/8 thru 11/15 Chemo (Clin-Trial) DD A/Cx4 -- DD taxol+gemzar x4
No Rads.
No RECON - 08/2013 NED
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ruth View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ruth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 2009 at 6:55am
I was able to drive after my masectomy quite soon.  I also had it on my left side and had 21 nodes removed.  Two were positive. I used a small pillow under the seat blelt to make it more comfortable-it worked very well.  I also used the pillow when I was being driven.  Smile
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musette green View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote musette green Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2009 at 7:14pm
I didn't drive for about 8 weeks after my left mastectomy. Had considerable weakness and limited motion in left arm.  My car was at the mechanics, so had to use my son's car- it had a manual transmission and no power steering.
DX 10/08. IIB,gr 3, 2.5cm. TNBC, BRAC1&2-, nodes+(left axillary, supraclavicular, ant. mediastinal & IM). Neoadjuv. chemo 4x C/T. Left mast.3/09,completed 40 rads 9/09. Reconstruction pending.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HolliBeri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2009 at 10:47am
I had a double mastectomy and I drove after my 10 day follow-up doctors appt. You need your doctors okay based on your recovery progress.
 
I had to wear the shoulder strap of my seat belt behind my back for a few weeks becasue it bothered me when it was across my chest.
 
Best wishes!
DX age 45:12/08 IDC & DCIS TNBC. 2/09:lumpectomy, 2 cm, grade 3, -nodes, stage IIa, BRCA- Chemo:Taxotere/Cytoxan x4.Double mastectomy 6/09. Zometa   http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/hollisimpsongough
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