"I'm a Jack of all trades but man I gotta say that's one book I didn't write"... Morgan Wallen
Jack of all trades master of none is what I joke about being, I have a varied background there's not much I haven't dipped my toes in. I can sit at most tables and find conversation to engage in.
The one blog I didn't think I'd have to write is what you need before and after a mastectomy but here we are.
I've been open and honest about this journey not in an attention-seeking manner. My hope is to empower other women to feel comfortable and optimal as they navigate this path. As much as health care tries to give you resources they seem archaic and dull. The best information I could garner was from talking with others who had gone through it or blogs such as this.
1. Mastectomy Pillow: boom this was magic. Let's be clear I do not sew even a bit hence why you have family or friends who can. My mother-in-law made me this and what a game changer especially when driving. I also used it to sleep for the first couple of nights. A healing heart pillow was also useful as well.
2. Button-Up Shirt: this was good for going home from the hospital, after the first night I wore scoop neck t-shirts.
3. Wedge Memory Pillow: this 7.5" depth pillow from Amazon was a great recovery tool. Laying flat doesn't feel great with drains and I still sleep on this two weeks later.
4. Bras: as someone who doesn't need much support in this area I've been able to get by with cheap sports bras. Needless to say, it was a shock to spend $75 on a mastectomy bra. However, when I walked into Winners I found two front-closing sports bras for $30 ($15 each) and they were better than the one I bought at the specialty store. Front closing is needed after surgery mostly to access your drains. And after surgery, if you need a prosthetic you can cut the slits larger in the cheap sports bra to accommodate it. (Pro tip from the mastectomy store).
5. Fluffy: if you need the soft filler for your bra after the healing has occurred but before you can get fitted for a prosthetic then be sure to ask The Comprehensive Breast Clinic for one for free! They don't tell you who provides this and I had to ask. Or have a crafty crochet friend knit you a knocker!
6. Reach For The Stars: The best advice the surgeon gave me was to immediately lift my arms after surgery to maintain my range of motion. Do not be afraid to move and move in all directions. It helps with healing. The faster you can move normally the less time your body has to know something drastic has occurred.
7. Reclining Chair: consider a recliner if you're having a double mastectomy. With a single, I was able to sleep on one side but it was too painful with the drain to sleep on the other. A recliner might be important for sleep.
8. Protein: the nurse discharging me mentioned starting with fluids after surgery. I had already had anti-nausea medication and was hungry. Mentally I was planning to eat scrambled eggs and toast. Personally for me, the faster I get back on food the better I feel. Fluids don't cut it. Doubling my protein intake to 3-4g/kg of body weight to help support repairing after surgery was important for healing. Although it feels like a lot of food it's imperative!
9. Shower: The pamphlet says you can shower after 48 hours however the thought of getting my dressing and drain wet to me was not appealing. I did a combination of baths up to my waist and washing my hair in the sink. I am two weeks post surgery tomorrow, I will shower completely to help remove the steri-strips on my incision. All the healthcare professionals are impressed with how well it's healing. It's personal preference but that's what I felt best with.
10. Normal Life: there are limits placed on your lifting capacity after surgery however they are fairly low limits. I was well past them on Day 3. If there was no pain I was using my arm. I've stayed away from really heavy lifting but I was walking a 1/2 mile by Day 2 after surgery. It is so important to feel normal physically and mentally for healing. Even ice bathing I've continued doing after surgery only up to my waist.
We all walk this path our own way but I hope a few things here will help you find your path that makes this journey as easy as possible.
I avoided online support groups and only searched for specific information I wanted. That is how I discovered the mastectomy pillow.
Please share this will family or friends going through this and reach out if you have questions.
Sending You Love N SUP!