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"THE AFTER SURGERY TIPS"

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    Posted: Mar 10 2009 at 9:37am

AFTER SURGERY TIPS

Arrange for help before surgery, make a plan, and reach out to others to run errands for a few days or help with the kids.

Before surgery, have that “Woman’s Cave” ready, where you will be recovering. Having a recliner in the “Woman’s Cave”, is a must. Have it stocked with all the items you will need. Books, paper & pencil, note cards, the remote by your side.

Have someone drive you home from the hospital, do not try driving yourself. Some places will not release you unless you have a ride.

One gal says…no disrespect to our health care professionals, but you should have somebody with you at the hospital at all times! With the nursing shortage and overstressed employees, it can be a huge comfort to have a truly caring face there to advocate for you, or even just to get you water or some healthy food when you need it.

Follow your doctor’s recovery program. There is a reason why they set it up the way they do. Don’t overdo!!

Do not hesitate to call your doctor’s office if something doesn’t feel right, look right, or you are running a temperature. Follow their instructions closely.

Do the exercises your doctor has given you to loosen back up.

There are very nice post mastectomy cammis one can buy that have the pockets to hold the drain bulbs.

If you are having a lumpectomy, you should purchase at least 2 cotton sports bras w/o under wires, the kind that fasten in the front. This will provide support after surgery. You need a bra that fastens in the front if you are having a sentinel node biopsy or an axillary dissection, because you will unable to reach around your back because of the incision in your armpit.

Note: One gal said that they put a surgical bra on her, which kept everything in place, but some say that the hospitals they went to do not provide the bra.

Check to see if your insurance will pay for a home nurse to come and change the dressings, and drain the bulbs for maybe a week after surgery.

Have them use mepitac tape if you are allergic to adhesive tape for dressings/incisions post op. It is from Molnlycke health care made in Finland. They have a lot of other dressings as well. It is a non-adhesive tape, silicone based. The website will give you phone numbers to find out where you can get it in your area. Most medical supply stores carry it as well. http://www.molnlycke,com .

The toll free number for the tape is: 1-800-882-4582 for the US and in Canada 1800-494-5134

Another tape to use is the from the Beekley Corporation. www.beekley.com.

This relates to a double mastectomy, w/temporary expanders: On the drain bulbs, one gal thought that most people start with 4 or 6, and when they appear to be draining less than a certain amount per day; they take out one or two at a time over the next week or so. Warning: it is kind of gross, as at first there is liquid and blood, then liquid and fatty “stuff” floating around. As she remembered, you may want to pop a pain pill before they pull these out, as it can be quite “uncomfortable” to put it mildly.

One gal said that it took her a month or so before she could sleep normally, if you are used to sleeping on your stomach. That is why it is a good idea to sleep in a recliner.

Buy a small travel size pillow. It's just the right size to tuck under your arm, or behind you to help get comfortable, as the first couple of weeks it's hard to sleep much.

One gal pinned the drains to the inside of her shirt when she had to go out of the house.

In the shower attach a string to the drains, and put it around your neck. It will keep the drains from pulling while you are showering.

Immediately after a total or modified mastectomy or axillary node sampling, the surgeon may place soft plastic tubes, or “drains”, under the skin where the incision is closed up. The purpose is to channel away fluids that build up while the wound is healing. There might be some blood in this fluid at first, but it will soon run pale yellow, collecting in a small bulb at the end of each tube. Draining this fluid away from the wound helps prevent discomfort and infection. The drains are removed painlessly when the fluid diminishes usually after 5 to 7 days.

You may have 2 tubes. One draining excess fluid from the mastectomy/SNB sight, and one pumping pain meds right into the sight. The pain ball was about the size of a small tennis ball, and the pouch holding the draining fluid was about the size of the palm of your hand. Sometimes the tubes are longer than they need to be, but one gal tied them up like a lasso and pinned them together. She stated that taking a shower is a little tricky, but manageable.

Sometimes the worst part of post surgery was those darn tubes coming out of her. Some found it much easier to get around after they had securely tucked them in a fanny pack, (opening placed in front). One gal said that she could shop and even sleep with the little fanny pack and they were secure and hidden!

Some have said that her drain tubes were in for 7 days to drain the fluid, since she had lymph nodes removed.

You will not be able to drive for a few days. The doctor should tell you after you have had your procedure how many days to wait.

Call the doctor if you have increased pain, loss of appetite or weight, changes in menstrual periods or blurred vision. Also, report dizziness, coughing or hoarseness, headaches, or digestive problems that seem unusual or that don’t go away. The incision should be kept clean and dry for one week after surgery. Sponge baths are preferred to showers. You can take a bath if you keep your surgical sight dry. You will be given pain medication after the procedure. DO NOT TAKE ASPIRIN FOR THE FIRST THREE DAYS!! Ask your doctor if there is something you can take for pain that you can buy over the counter, if you prefer.

The area may be black and blue, but this will go away in a few days. You may feel numbness, tingling or discomfort on the inner part of your upper arm or in your armpit. This is normal.

When shaving under your arm, look in the mirror to avoid irritating the incision.

As the incision heals, it may feel thick and tough. You may massage the area with a mild lotion, Vitamin E or pure lanolin. Avoid highly perfumed lotions. After several weeks, the scar will soften.

One woman says that since her most critical time was fighting a MRSA infection after her mastectomies. She emphasizes how important it is to do everything possible to keep ALL incisions involved as sterile as possible! This includes all drain sites, catheters, and IV sites as well as the primary incisions. Become OBSESSIVE about anyone touching you, washing their hands with antibacterial soap before they touch you, or anything you touch. Make sure all towels and linens touching you are clean. This is a VERY important job for anyone who stays with you in the hospital…..watching out for you! Make sure your own hands are kept as sterile as possible. Ask the person staying with you to wash the side rails on your bed several times a day with antibacterial soap or gel. The risk is not so high once you’re home, but continue to be very careful until ALL incisions have completely healed.

After you go home, take your temperature every day for a month or so and call your surgeon if you have any fever at all or if you notice any sign of inflammation. This may sound paranoid, but you can’t be too careful in the hospital. Those nasty and very dangerous “SUPER BUG” staph buggers are in all hospitals. This is not meant to frighten anyone, but it could save your life!

Do not perform unprotected work with the hand/arm on side of surgery, since these activities have been shown to increase the chances of Lymphedema (chronic swelling) of the arm.

Avoid blood pressures measurements taken on the affected side.

Pain Meds;

Take laxatives and stool softeners while on pain medications.

Eat something every couple of hours while on pain medication. If nausea won’t go away, take a half tablet of melamine/Dramamine.

Clothing:

Definitely buy 2 no-wire bras that open in the front for lumpectomies. Wear the bra 24/7.

Ice packs?

No one told Jessie to put ice packs on the lumpectomy/port/lymph node incisions. She developed a large hematoma on the breast and the port area had significant bruising approximately 6” around it. Four days after surgery, the surgery resident in the ER asked her if she was putting ice on them. Nope, but it sure did help her!



Edited by Nancy - Mar 11 2009 at 7:08am
Nancy
DD Lori dx TNBC June 13,2007
Lumpectomy due to incorrect dx of a cyst
mastectomy July 6 2007
chemo ACT all 3 every 3 weeks 6 tx Aug-Nov
28 rads ended Jan 2008
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