when I had my lumpectomy a few years ago, I bought some button-front nighties. A bit granny-ish but a lot easier for wound access, and also to get on and off in future weeks until I could move my arm better.
Now looking for more when I go in for mastectomy this time.
My ace BCN said bring in a hand held fan as I will be kept hot post recon, to keep the blood vessels dilated but can use a fan. I'm also going to take a water spray which is my constant companion since having had me HRT wrenched out of my mits. And think I'm going to have a short hair cut to keep cool.
Also... I think I'm going to make individual packs of clothes/undies for each day I expect to be in, so my dear chap doesn't have to ponder over what to bring...
Then of course there's the chocolate, gin and whatever other illicit substances I can smuggle in.
This obsessing about my baggage is becoming a calming ritualistic thingy to distract me from the purpose of this hospital stay, you'd never believe the lists I've made, well you probably would.
So that's all for now.
I have read in different threads that there are items which have been particularly helpful to individuals when in hospital undergoing surger for breast cancer. I thought it would be really helpful to all those who are going into hospital for surgery to read and note what people have and have not found helpful.
Please share your tips and suggestions on what you found most helpful so that others can benefit from those who have already been there. Please do also include anything you found particularly unhelpful as well.
EG what sort of nightwear did you find most comfortable when connected to drips and drains?
First time using this site.
I have my 2nd operation on the 8th , was dreading it , but after reading all your blogs I feel not so much on my own , the advice I know is going to be helpful, already re - packed by bag ! Thank you.
Living on my own its nice to know I have online support in the middle of the night over the next 8 months should I need it.
Hi Everyone ,
Hope you all well.
I'm back home now , surgery was last week , I was looked after in hospital for 4 days , just waiting for results in a couple of weeks grrrr dont you just love this waiting !!!!
Feeling tired but each day getting less tired , even mangaged a drink of red wine in the local last night , tasted amazing ....
Being a good girl doing my exercises , helping doing them outside in the fresh air to power music wearning earphones, even though its freezing 🙂
ooops forgotton to mention a friend recommended tanning before hospital , I came out looking far to good !
Drain came home with me for a few days , easy to use , was told it would be painful when removed , but I had no problem , but did ache next day , but after a ibuprofen it subsided.
Staying positive , out with my buddy tomorrow afternoon for sale shopping , coffee and gossip.Soon be back to normal.
Bye for now ladies .
I recommend these for those dredded drains http://www.draindollies.co.uk/collections/all
I used them and they came in handy after the drains were removed for storing my medication in. They are made by a young girl, aged 26, who went through a prophylatic bilateral mastectomy. A percentage of the money goes to a cancer charity.
Hurray - drain out after 7 days. Hope it stays away. Can feel discomfort around surgery scar now I don't have to worry about drain ! lol x
Did take earplugs too but did not need them. There were only two of us on the short stay ward.
Still have drain in unfortunately - will feel better when it is out. x
Had mastectomy Monday and stayed on short stay ward overnight. Sooo .. pleased I took in an eye mask as advised on here somewhere. Didn't get a lot of sleep but would have had none without it.
Would really recommend it. x
I had a single mastectomy on 22nd April and like you was dreading what it would look like as i am quite well endowed. It took me a little time but you soon get used to it - A reconstruction at the same time wasn't an option for me but the fact that the cancer has been taken away is some consolation and am now moving on to chemo followed by radiotherapy. Staying positive is difficult but important and one step at a time.
What you are going thrugh is perfectly normal. I had a single mastectomy November 2013 - and first of all the shock of the diagnosis was enormous - as it does not mean anything but worse case scenario! Then you get told you have to have this op - and it is a big op - and then you have to allow for the healing time.
Everyone, including yourself wants everything better asap.
I was lucky enough to have a reconstruction at the same time, and from the outside, sort of look the same. But it still feels different. I am still learning!
So give yourself time - and remember what the Maggies Nurse said to me - the boob is only a small part of your body - start to consider the other bits! It does work.
i have just been told i will be having a single mastectomy next week...can anyone help i am so scared as i feel it will be worse having one breast than none ..is this normal ? the thought of seeing one bust what i had to me fills me with dread
Wow, Morrisbird, thank you so much for having taken the time to write all this 🙂 As I said in the other thread, I am due to be operated in Charing Cross next Wednesday, and seeing that it wasn't too awful it's hugely reassuring. Pleased you're recovering well! I will definitely bring some snacks since anyway I am a fussy eater, and as you say you were in a gown all the time, I will pass on the pajamas. Thank you again!! xxxx
Sorry for delay and hope this is still in time to be useful! Overall, my experience of Charing Cross was good - some admin problems, but quality of care was good. I haven't had many problems, especially compared with others who have posted on this forum.
There was a delay on the day of admission so I didn't get into theatre until midday (after arriving at 7.30am!) and then because my surgery was unusually long at 11 hours, I didn't get onto the ward until nearly midnight that night. But that is all a bit of a blur because of the effects of the anaesthetic! I was a bit surprised at having to walk up to the operating theatre or rather the anaesthetists room (I have no recollection of going into theatre!!) from the Riverside wing, through various corridors, and up in the lift.
Anyway, there were 4 people who had the DIEP the same week as I did, so they have lots of experience in doing this procedure. They do make you get up quickly - in my case on day 2 although the surgeon wanted me up on day 1, mainly because of the DVT potential. We were all on ward 10 which has the most spectacular view in London - I could see all the main landmarks from my bed or rather the chair next to the bed. Just as well as I couldn't concentrate on anything for the first few days. So didn't read anything on Kindle or even managed to play games. I was relieved that people brought me Hello magazine and also the Evening Standard as that was all I felt up to.
At Charing Cross they leave you in your gown throughout, so I didn't need the pyjamas or even the dressing gown I took in. They give you non-slip socks to wear so you don't need slippers either. And I only put the bra and Bridgets on to go home. I had taken dry shampoo but on day 4 one of the health workers washed my hair for me, so I didn't need that either.
What I found really useful were the eye mask and ear plugs. For the first night it was me keeping everyone awake with my hourly flap checks, but after that it was someone else. Also the wards are mixed healthwise (female only) so there were people with all sorts of ailments and some of them were up and about at night. Eye mask also helps if you want to doze during the day, assuming nurses have let you go back to bed!
Food was dire!! The menu looks good but the reality is different. It was the main reason I wanted to go home. So, have people bring you some snacks that you like - in my case cherries and grapes, as well as nuts. They also seem to have overlooked the laxatives in the first few days, so I ended up pretty uncomfortable as the pain killers give you constipation! A friend brought me prune juice which helped and then they started on the laxatives.
A physio will visit you with the BCC exercises and I was also told to do deep breaths to help with the tummy. For the first couple of weeks, the tummy was really tight like a drum and you have to be careful getting in and out of bed. One the nurses rolled up a towel for me and secured it with micro tape and that was really helpful. The breast was just a lump on my chest at the beginning, though once the pain killers wear off, I agree with someone else on this forum that it feels like a bowling ball strapped to your chest!
The nurses, as with anything in the NHS, were really mixed. The was very experienced in mastectomy care - she gave me lots of tips and also did the towel thing for me. First couple of days I had Nimco (?) who was also good. But there were agency nurses at different stages and some of them had no experience of looking after the flap so that was a bit worrying.
I had a friend stay for the first week, then have been fending for myself since then. Friends have helped with shopping and also taking me out. Recovery has been pretty good - all the consultants seem very pleased with the healing. I take vitamin C and zinc anyway, but that has been attributed with helping the healing process. Have also done the exercises religiously and have been massaging the scars with bio-oil. Physically, it is going well. Though I was a bit disconcerted to find that I have a 2 inch bald patch on the back of my head - I cannot see it, but others can! Turns out it is the result of lying in one position for 11 hours of surgery and I am assured the hair will grow back eventually! I have also had problems with my ankles, again because of the length of surgery. And last week the tummy scar bled a tiny bit. I was advised to stop massaging it for a while and to cover it with gauze so that the scab isn't rubbed off repeatedly by my underwear.
Speaking of which I am still wearing the bridgets and bras 24/7!
Main problem has been fatigue. For the first few weeks I took naps every afternoon and have spent quite a few mornings in bed, but then found it disrupting my night sleep. So am trying to stay up through the day. I still get up around 9am and potter. Seems ot vary a lot - I was quite exhausted last week, but have been more energetic this week (perhaps the sunshine helps!). However, I went into town yesterday on the tube for the first time, and did get rather light-headed later in the day. So am trying to be more realistic about what I can do.
Sorry, have a rambled on a bit, but I hope this was helpful. Overall I rate Charing Cross highly.
Do send me any other questions you might have and I will try to answer. Good luck! xx
morrisbird, I am due to be operated in Charing Cross as well. How was your experience of the place? How are you doing now? How's your recovering going? Take care, xxxx
I had immediate reconstruction by DIEP, though I fell into the one percent who have to have a vein taken out of the arm to supplement what is available in the tummy, so my surgery was longer (11 hours) and this may have affected how long I stayed in. I was in for 5 nights and as soon as they took the drains out (what a relief!) they let me go home. All the time I was in hospital they kept me doped up on pain killers. I had the button morphine but only used it once. As others have found, the tummy was worse than the breast to begin with, though it is now the other way round. At home I took paracetomol for a week, mainly at night. But I didn't find the pain particularly bad, more discomfort. Now, 5 weeks on, as it is healing, it sometimes feels a bit sore or itchy, but again nothing that needs any medication. I see it more as the body healing itself. All in all, it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be - just need to stay positive and trust the hospital staff. Good luck x
did you have the reconstruction after the mastectomy or at a later stage?
Was it painful?
How long did stay in hospital?
Like JillyBee I have been following this thread and found it very useful preparation. I go in on Monday and have my bag just about completed, so thank you to all the ladies who have posted here!
Ive just got home and this list was great.
I felt much more in control just packing these bits and pieces.
The lip balm was my vital item. And ear plugs.
And a kiwi fruit drink for post op functioning bowels. Those drugs really jam you up.
The only thing I needed was tea bags. At my hospital they lock up the tea so the visitors dont drink it all and I was positively gasping on mealtime rations.
Its a comforting thing a nice hot cup of tea.
The cancer society provided a lovely heart shaped pillow, bliss and a wee shoulder bag to carry my drain in. So thoughtful.
Tucked a pillow in between me and the seat belt and car ride home was fine too.
Thanks to those who shared, really was so helpful
Welcome to the forums.
As well as the forums we also have a support helpline where the staff can offer emotional support as well as practical information. The free phone number is 0808 800 6000 and the lines are open Monday to Friday 9.00 to 5.00 and Saturday 10.00 to 2.00.
My hospital gave me an over the shoulder fabric bag to carry my drain in - I asked about them as it was so very helpful and beautifully made and was told they are made by former patients. I guess they have been through it and know how much they help.
The best piece of advice I got from this thread was when you are going home, get someone to bring a pillow in. If you hold it close against your chest during the drive home it really stops you feeling the bumps and knocks - I took mine everywhere for the first couple of weeks!
i have found out before i go in for my masectomy, yo buy some kiddie socks and large safety pins
for the drains. use the socks to put each drain in and attach under clothing with a safety pin.
im told it makes them so much more comfy if thats possible
I'm also just through my max and DIEP recon. I had two hospital bags - one for going in initially and another ready for my husband to bring in. I never used the second bag.
I didn't need
pants until I went home because of the drain site. This is upsetting so be prepared.
Any clothes at all - they check the flap and the drains all the time so gowns are better
Deodrant - as someone has said
I did use - alot
Ear plugs on one night (Notting Hill Carnival the ward was really busy)
I phone with some tv and radio programmes downloaded onto it. (You do need someone to charge it for you as you can't initially get out of bed to do that).
Toothbrush and toothpaste - day 2 I got into the bathroom by myself and this gave me such a feeling of freshness
Flannels - I felt I wanted a clean one every day.
Fruit - they kept blueberries in the fridge for me and they really helped me eat at breakfast time.
Food can be an issue - they tell you to eat to recover but I found eating really difficult for a few days after the long op. If you fancy someone get a friend or partner to bring it in.