Although getting in and out of bed got easier, I was still unable to manage a trip to the bathroom in under 15 minutes. A nurse was called in each time I had to go. The feel-good button, the call nurse/TV remote, the oxygen tube, and the finger pulse oximeter clamp had to be removed before I even sat up. The IV bag was attached to the stand, we gathered up all four drains, hubby made sure my naked ass wasn’t completely bare and off we went. By about noon, we were able to do it without a nurse.
I started doing range of motion exercises while still at the hospital. If you haven’t already seen the video from Casey Eischen in my Post-op exercises post, make sure you check it out.
2/1: Check out a more recent post about exercise and nutrition: Foobie Fitness
On the day of surgery and day 1 of recovery nurses emptied my drains. They weren’t the typical JP bulb-type ones, but oval hemovac spring evacuators. Each reservoir was labeled left/right and anterior/posterior. The fluid collected was measured and then recorded. Emptying them was not difficult; keeping them untangled was. Rather than coming out of my sides, the tubes exited my armpits. This placement made for a lot of discomfort anytime my arms were moving (= all the time).
There was gauze and tape in the armpits for the drain tube sites; the incisions were covered by sterile strips; and the whole chest was wrapped in an ace bandage. Due to the meds, I didn’t feel much pain, but did feel discomfort and pressure – like an elephant sitting on my chest.
On the day of surgery I was on a liquid diet, but it wasn’t even relevant as I was not hungry at all. I downed crackers and a lot of water. Hall’s Vitamin C cough drops helped with the dry mouth and throat. There was a menu in my room and food service staff came around collecting orders. I was worried about constipation, so I focused on high-fiber snacks and meals. Breakfast of choice was plain, bland, tasteless oatmeal. Lunch: dressing-less garden salad. Dinner: mushroom soup.
In-between meals and trips to the bathroom, I did breathing exercises using the spirometer. It is a plastic box with a tube attached to it, used to get the lungs back up to full capacity and to prevent pneumonia. You inhale through the tube and try to keep the ball in the air. This gizmo came home with me to continue the exercises.
Pain management and discharge
Typically patients return home after one night’s stay in the hospital. The throngs of nurses, residents, coordinators, and doctors (I really lost count) make their rounds in the morning to see how things are going. My breast surgeon determined I was in great shape and ready to go. The nurses started the process to ween me off the morphine and transition to my prescribed narcotics (Demerol). Don’t know who or why the call was made to give me something different than what I would have at home, but they started me on Norco. Pepcid AC and Colace joined the party too. This is about when the morphine itch started. The back scratcher was my best friend.
I just needed to see the plastic surgeon for his blessing to head home. He ended up with a couple of emergency patients and did not make it to see me. After we spoke via telephone I had the option to go home and start on the Demerol or stay another night and get a prescription for Norco filled when the pharmacy opened. I opted to say and not risk being in pain without access to a remedy.
That night was uneventful. On to Day 2 of recovery.