Double mast plus Beckers, what practical help needed afterwards?

Hi all
I’m booked for double mastectomy plus hybrid implants in July, and I understand I get ‘blown up’, in a nice way hopefully (!), in mid to late August. This is all a mystery to me and a steep learning curve. I live in my own, my boyfriend lives miles away and my family don’t want to know. When I’ve had surgery before i’ve had to muddle through (I have a joint condition so have had major surgery before), but when I did that after my lumpectomy and my oophorectomy, I ended up damaging the scars both times and then getting infections, which has left me with scars that don’t look good. Unfortunate my tissues are naturally more fragile which doesn’t help. My surgery is on a Tuesday , and my surgeon wants to send me home on Friday,even though I live on my own and I have abother medical condition to handlealready. I only know one person who’s had a mast, and she has v strongly advised that I refuse to leave until the Monday and then get friends to come to stay. So, after all that preamble, my questions are how long do I need to get people to come and stay the night? I was thinking maybe for first week at home, so that would give me a clear two weeks after surgery, or is that too little or too much?! Also, after the initial fortnight or so, how long am I likely to need to get friends andneighbours to pop round and help with things like washing, changing the bed etc? I need to prime them in advance… And, two specific questions: I’m obviously having both sides done and will have two drains in probably when I am sent home, is it possible to managOno empty these on my own? Any tips for coping? And, secondly and this is really bothering me, how long before I can wash my own hair?!

loads of questions, sorry ladies, am a complete ignoramus on all this and well out of my comfort zone (literally ;-). Any replies or any other post mast coping advicewould be v gratefully received. Thank you.
Ps really sorry for terrible typing, iPad in bed and it won’t let me edit… Xx

Not sure I am going to be much help as my circumstances were very different but wanted to give you some support. I had a right side mastectomy in March, so only half the surgery. I was in for 2 and a half days but did have a hubby to come home to. I came home with two drains in as I also had the start of recon with tissue expander. I didn’t have to empty drains as I came home with reasonable size bottles. Did have to go back to hosp one day as the vacuum had blown and needed bottle changed. I had my drains in for a week and then went back to hosp to have them removed once they had reached a certain level, sorry cant remember the actual figure now. I was given a little bag by the hospital to carry them about with , which was really useful.
With regards recovery time it is all very individual but you will need help when you come home, emotionally and physically. I didn’t have any problems at night except for being in a bit of pain and not being able to sleep very easily on my back, but i wasn’t up to cooking meals and didn’t have to think about housework or changing beds. If you have friends who have offered you really need to take them up on their offers of help. It maybe that they don’t need to stay over except for the initial days just to get yourconfidence and to see how you feel. Also take pain killers as needed, don’t suffer.
Again I didn’t have too many problems with lifting arm as I thought I would but was told not to start exercises for a week due to expander. I also had had my hair cut shorter as blowing straight I thought would be a bit of a nightmare. But again you will have had surgery on both sides and it will inevitably be more difficult. I probably washed my hair after a week or so in the shower, wrapped in cling film to stop wound getting wet! But I did have one arm to do it, you’ll prob need some help.
Not sure this will be of much help, but all the very best and I’m sure if you plan ahead your friends will come up trumps. Can the boyfriend come and stay for at least the first weekend?
Thinking of you, Gingerbiscuit,
Gaynor xx

Hi Gingerbiscuit,
I had a bilateral mastectomy and lymph nodes removed in October 2010. I also live on my own - in Spain and there is no such thing as BCN or any extra help here! My parents came to stay with me after my op and I was really pleased they did. I was in hospital for one night and came home with 2 drains. I found the movement in both my arms was very restricted and had to have help with washing and dressing, my mum washed my hair for me the first couple of times and I think it was nearly 2 weeks before I could do it myself. It was very difficult to reach up to things so i used a small stool to stand on to get to kitchen cupboard etc. It felt like it was taking forever to regain the arm movement and i found it very frustrating as I am a very independant person normally and to have to ask people for help all the time was hard but I did regain full movement after about 3 months. My parents stayed with me for about 8 weeks and i could manage fine on my own by then, taking things slowly and resting alot.
I had to empty my drains every day until they were removed and this was easy enough to do by myself. I had a small canvas hanbag that I would put the drains into that made it easy to go out and about with because if the tubes get pulled they hurt! I found getting comfortable in bed hard as I always used to sleep on my tummy! I have a V shaped pillow which i found very useful and used to sleep sitting up! It was very hard to lie down flat and even harder to get up out of bed the first few days, especially with the drains. Things did get easier and it is only the first few weeks that are hard so i would say to take up all the offers of help you can and get as much rest as you can so you recover faster!
Hope all goes well for you, x
P.S. Forgot to mention, I had delayed reconstruction with expanders so not sure how that will affect your situation. The skin felt very tight after this procedure but it felt tight after the mastectomy too so I imagine you will be the same.

I have just had single mastectomy with immediate DIEP reconstruction (using tummy fat) - I can tell you that within two weeks I could use the arm the side of my operation for most things - including washing my hair - provided I was not expected to lift anything heavier than about half a kilo.

I can also tell you that they like the drain to produce no more than 30ml in 24 hours (so you take a reading at the same time every day) before they take it out but they sometimes do take it out before then. It is also very important to check that the vacuum is still working (make sure you know how to check this) as one of mine was left for nearly 24 hours with no vacuum and the drain dried out before (in my opinion) it should have.

I know that I could not have coped without help but I am not a very independent person, I have a hip to hip wound across my stomach and I did not react well to the anasthetic. I was in hospital for over a week and spent 3 nights at the patient hotel on the same site as the hospital. I do know that everybody is different - the others on my ward recovered much quicker than I did!

I hope all this is helpful - best of luck - hope you get as much help as you need :slight_smile:

thank you so much to all of you for posting and such good advice - have found a friend who can initially stay with me for a couple of nights, and am trying to find another who could do the same maybe… guess i’ll have to see how it goes and hope that the local friends who have said they will help will actually do so! thanks again, xx