I am due for a lumpectomy sometime soon (a date has not fixed yet but should be before the 10th of June).
I live alone – well, with two feisty cats – and I’ve been recommended to have someone staying over for the first days after surgery. This is a bit difficult for me, because I have little in terms of family, and my close friends mostly live elsewhere. Plus, and this is a big plus, in fact when I am sick/debilitated I much, much want to be alone. I could possibly ask a cousin to come round but I’d much rather not to.
What should I expect, and how should I provide in practical terms? I am thinking of hiring a cleaner for a few weeks and a cat sitter for a few days. Will I be able to go downstairs to open the door or may I expect to be bedridden? Should I stock the fridge? Buy a ton of painkillers? I hope these don’t sound as silly questions; all the info I’ve found over the internet refer only to recovery times to go back to work (usually put at one to two weeks) and there’s little info about menial survival tasks. I’ve never ever had surgery so for me it’s all a big unknown.
Just ensure you have paracetomol in…you will continue to be mobile,use stairs,open doors.The hospital would like some one with you as you would have had an anaesthetic and may feel a bit wobbly.
Get food in,by all means,but maybe get an agency carer in for 24 hours.If you are old enough,AgeUK may be able to help as well.
How are you getting home from the hospital?
You won’t be bed ridden…in fact,you are encouraged to move around as much as possible.
You will be given advice re:dos and donts from the Breast Care Nurses.A cleaner is a good idea,and again,someone to keep an eye on you and your cats.
You will be surprised how well you will feel…I have had several operations on the breast,each time I am out the same day.I am lucky,my husband looks after me.
No point saying don’t worry,you do…but am sure you will be fine…just get lots of chocolate in…a nice treat.
Hope goes alright for you.
The main thing will be to have someone to take you home and stay overnight at least the first night with you. Most lumpectomies are done as day cases but they wouldn’t want you to be alone straight after an anaesthetic in the very unlikely event that you are unwell.
I do have my husband but he’s the world’s worst cook and I didn’t want to live on takeaway so I cooked and froze meals in advance although actually, as long as I’d had the ingredients, I think I could have cooked from fresh from the first day. I was driving from day 4 without a problem.
We have 4 crazy cats and there was no part of looking after them that I couldn’t have managed. My armpit was quite sore (SNB done through the same wound as lumpectomy so a bit swollen from the rummaging around!) - was sent home with co-codamol and diclofenac which I took regularly for the first couple of days then just paracetamol for another few. Can’t say I’d have fancied doing much housework for the first few days but it was ok just taken gently after that.
You definitely shouldn’t be bed-ridden but you will be tired and will probably find that regular short walks will help your recovery.
I hope it all goes as well as mine did and do ask anything else you’re not sure about.
Don’t underestimate the possible effects of an anaesthetic… the hospital won’t. They will want to know you are keeping food and drink down and I really don’t think they’d let you home alone so best just accept you might need someone with you that night. It’s the lesser of 2 evils compared to a night in hospital if you have the option?.
I also had a lumpectomy and SNB, live on my own and have a cat who uses my boobs as a pillow :womanlol: I asked to stay overnight at the hospital as I’d never had surgery before and didn’t know how I would react to the anaesthetic or how I would feel. In fact I could easily have come home the same day as I was absolutely fine and up and about just a couple of hours after the surgery. It’s much less debilitating than you would imagine and I had no pain at all, just a bit of discomfort after a few days and nothing more than I get when I’ve been a bit over-zealous with the exercise DVD (and I’m by no means an exercise freak, more a reluctant occasional mover)
I stocked the fridge with ready meals and moved the essential things (fresh coffee, chocolate supplies) down from shelves to kitchen counter level so that I wouldn’t have to reach up at all because I thought that might be a problem and it did help, but other than that there were no special preparations that I made. I did run round with a vacuum cleaner and change the bedlinen the day before I went into hospital but I decided everything else could wait until I felt well enough to tackle it post-surgery. I was able to do everything I normally would within a few days. I know it is much harder for people who have longer/more complex surgery and the anaesthetic can affect people in different ways but just wanted to reassure you that it isn’t as bad as you probably imagine. A few days snoozing on the couch with a good boxset and a supply of chocolate seemed to help the healing.
Hope all goes well
Having had 2 previous shoulder surgeries, I already had my sleeping position figured out - normal flattish pillow under my head and 2 fairly fat ones vertically down the bed. I can’t sleep on my back so I was then able to lie on my left (right boob surgery) resting my arm across the pillow instead of across my boob. The pillow behind my back then stopped me from rolling onto my sore side in the night.
I doubt you’ll feel comfortable right over on your tummy for a wee while.
I couldn’t sleep on the treated side for several weeks afterwards so slept on my back or the other side. I don’t think sleeping on your tummy would be possible either as it would squash your boob which will be a bit tender. It’s not so much that it’s painful, just uncomfortable and I worried about it pulling on the incisions which were stuck together with surgical glue for a fortnight. You’ve reminded me that I bought one of those ‘V’ shaped pillow that nursing mums use and that was helpful for sleeping/just lazing around as it meant I could rest the arm on the treated side on it. I got it via Amazon, with a pillowcase included and it wasn’t expensive so that might be something to think about.
My surgery was done fairly late in the afternoon and my sister was going to meet me at 11ish at the hospital the next morning to travel home with me but I was able to leave at 7ish so travelled home on my own on the London tube without any problems. I was seriously astonished at how well I felt and my Breast Care Nurse had said that it would have been safe to travel home on the tube even if I’d left on the same day as the surgery.
Just thought of something else Mael that I wish I’d known before surgery. I had almost no dressings on my incisions (just some of those paper steristrips and surgical glue) so I had a peek at the damage a couple of hours after the surgery and totally freaked out - it looked AWFUL, like someone had chopped a huge slice out of a pie leaving an enormous dent! I wish I’d been told to expect that and that it heals within a few days because I thought that it was a permanent thing and spent the night in hospital sobbing. Now, 3 months post-surgery, it looks like a normal boob again so all that angst was for nothing!
I’m assuming that your BCN has advised you to get some decent compression bras to help keep everything together while it heals?
Thanks Kitt and Sharon! As an essentially anxious person, I’ve managed to go places and doing daunting things only by researching stuff and thoughtfully planning ahead, and you’ve no idea how knowing this details makes me feel empowered and reassured. I am a trooper but I am not going to take the tube home tho! Just after surgery, that takes guts, kudos!
My history is somewhat tube-related already, as I was punched or elbowed really bad at rush hour in Westminster Stn, and after a few days I went to an UCC to be seen, because I was in pain, supposedly for the trauma. Little I knew they were going to discover a dodgy lump I think a cab will suffice to go home…
I am going to follow Kitt’s strategy. If sleeping on my stomach is a no-no, then, building a frame of pillows to sleep on the non-op side should do. I’ll probably need a few more than I own, but it’s still less expense and bulk than buying a recliner, and once covered with a pillowcase they will lose their identity of “pillows I bought because of the cancer op” and will be good for normal, unencumbered-by-bad-memories service.
I can’t wait. I’ve already a ton o’books and boxsets in storage, to prevent my mind from wandering while I recover. I am sure I will feel much more calm and in control once the lump is gone. Or at least I hope so.
d Mael im giving you advice again, As i said previously i live alone and after my lumpdectomy i stayed round a friends for first night, her and her husband looked after me well, and next day another friend took me home, stayed evening, said could have gone and stayed at hers, but i said no i was fine, I had district nurse pop in and check my dressing i still had a drain that was a pain but had it couple days, Another friend came round on the sat following and spent all day with me,cooked me meals etc. and would have stayed the night too but i said fine, I was then by myself, did go to evening meal tea at friends on the sun but after that they all kept careful eye on me and i knew could contact anytime if neeed them. My local surgery took out my stitches and removed dressings, I would say you do need someone to keep an eye out for you, i think id have felt a bit lost and down without my friends attentions. You might be feeling a bit down so definitely let the cousin pop round if she will, june
Just shows how different we can be - my internal stitches were steristripped then a large dressing which I took off to shower the next day. The steristrips were removed by my surgeon at clinic the following week and although multicoloured bruises, my scar was very neat and no dent. I just wore non-wired sports bras, nothing special. I do wish I’d put it on when I first changed into my pyjamas post op - I was back and forward to the loo (take it you’ve been warned about the bright blue pee?!??) supporting myself and didn’t put my bra on until I was changing into normal clothes to go home - instantly more comfortable!
I did have a really good blub in recovery … first thing I did on waking up was to feel my boob and the normality of it was just such a relief!
You sound very much like me - information is king! When it came time for my radiotherapy I found a couple of ladies on here who were a few weeks ahead of me at the same centre and I found that so helpful to know exactly what to expect.
Thank you Kitt and June… no, nobody mentioned me blue pee… lol. What else am I missing? White of the eye turning green? Magnetic hands? Superpowers? Now, that would be a nice side effect xD
All this is so unknown to me. I am pleased that, despite the variety of experiences related, no one seems to have suffered in the extreme. I am pretty sure I am still lacking some important details – the bra thing, for example, I had vaguely sussed it out but I didn’t know it was recommended, till now. I am going for a compression bra so I can chuck it away without remorse when it’s all over. I don’t want to keep objects related to this period of my life.
June, thank you for relating your story (and for the responses about Tamoxifen in the other thread). You’ve been taken care of rather wonderfully; sadly I can’t afford such luxury, nor I have the social fabric in place. To put it curtly, I would have no one available to come and stay over for more than a night or two, and I would grow tired of my cousin pretty soon (he’s a he, and we shared a flat when we emigrated, and think we’ve both had enough).
I shall pack my boob in bra and t-shirt as soon as I can after the operation, and avoid looking at it at all costs. Maybe I should consider something in this style.
love, mael xxxx
Ha ha! I can see this being a profitable sideline for you, Mael! Boob-blinkers!!!
ps - and since you ask … blue poo too!?
Just as long as there’s a pocket for a small piece of very good chocolate, I’d be happy!
I’m fully recovered from surgery and radiation now and I’d STILL like one of those collars, they’re the business! :womanlol:
Other bits that the lovely ladies on here told me about that were helpful immediately after surgery:
-lip balm & throat sweets as throat/lips can be a bit sore from the intubation during surgery
-support stockings which you are supposed to wear for at least a fortnight after surgery. Hospital provided one pair but a spare is useful for when they are in the wash
-electric razor so that when your underarm is healed you can shave it always assuming you want to (mustn’t use creams or normal razor again)
- wet wipes and/or ultra soft flannels with Simple soap or equivalent for washing around incision areas
Again, lots of differences - I took my stockings off when I got dressed to go home and only advice was that I kept them to wear on long flights due to slight risk of blood clots on Tamoxifen. Apart from during radiotherapy, not told to not use razors although 3 months after finishing rads that armpit is virtually hairless anyway. Well that’s 5 seconds saved in the shower of a morning! ?
Yup, the advice is to avoid hair removal cream/manual razor on the treated side for ever more to avoid the risk of lymphodema (not entirely sure how to spell that, oops!) but I know some people use a manual razor and are just very careful. Worth reading the guidance on lymphodema that’s on this site too as it seems lots of ladies aren’t made aware of the lifetime risk and how to protect themselves and, like you and KittKatt, I think there is no such thing as being too well informed :womanwink:
EDIT: Just checked the advice on this website (leaflet called Reducing the risk of Lymphodema) and it says electric razor is recommended, depilatory cream is OK with caution, but not waxing. I attended a BCC course recently which included managing lymphodema thing and how to avoid it and was surprised that lots of other women in the group hadn’t been told of the potential risk. Not trying to frighten you or anything but every little bit of information helps.
Thank you Kitt and Sharon – I will have to check carefully the informations available. I don’t want lymphoedema, or whatever it’s spelt… Annoying to have snb, but I can’t quite avoid it. I care more about my lymph nodes than my boob tbh. I’ve asked my nurse if there were long term consequences to snb and she said no, that I would have been just a bit stiff and in need of exercise in the affected arm (which, even more annoyingly, it’s on my dominant side, the left, so it’d better stay in good shape). Maybe she didn’t want to scare me? I hope she hasn’t omitted any more scary stuff… O_O
Thank you Jojo and Jillybee xxx
Do they put drains in place after a lumpectomy + snb? O_o
I thought it was reserved for the mastectomies?
As for the groceries, it’s a very good point – I have to say anyway that I am having them delivered anyway, because London, and no car of my own since I’ve been living here. I am piqued by this driving thing tho: other posters in other threads say that they were driving almost immediately and without problems. While, tbh, I’d rather not have a safety belt anywhere near me, post-op…
All considered, and from the inputs I’ve had from this thread, I don’t need to hire a cleaner, nor a cat sitter; while instead I need pillows, chocolate, boxsets and a compression bra (and a spare sets of nerves, but that sadly can’t be bought).
Thank you ladies, an experience shared it’s a mistake less made by the n00bies
hugs and love, xxx