Total hospital stay after my prophylactic bilateral mastectomy was just a tad over two days. I was not up to or interested in any friends/other family visiting while I was there. Sitting up in bed was challenging and exhausting enough.
The morning of discharge, I saw both surgeons, had a few more hospital staff visitors, and got the discharge paperwork. Prior to surgery I made a list of questions we had to get answered before leaving the hospital, so we gathered the info:
- How and when do I empty the drains? A nurse demonstrated how to do this properly. The drains need to be emptied at least twice per day.
- Do I need to change the dressings? No, leave as is until the follow up appointment and further instructions from the plastic surgeon.
- When is my follow up appointment? Friday morning (3 days post-op).
- Can I shower? Not right away. Take a sponge bath or use baby wipes, until told otherwise.
- Who do I contact in case of emergency or if I have questions after-hours? Call the plastic surgeon’s office. If after-hours, the answering service knows how to reach him.
- When do I get the pathology results? They will be available in about a week. Make an appointment with the breast surgeon.
I put on the super-awesome gown that was dropped off by the local Pink Passion Breast Cancer Support Group coordinator. It opens in the front, has flaps on each side of the chest for easy access, and has huge inside pockets to hold the drains. The hubby got the car warmed up and brought it to the front door, where I was taken in a wheelchair by one of the nurses.
Borrowing a recliner is the best thing I did to prep for the recovery. It is an electric one, so I don’t have to pull the lever to use it. It is set up downstairs in the living room, with a bunch of the stuff from my checklist spread out around it. I could rest and sleep comfortably without worrying about turning over in the middle of the night.
Getting the medication dosage and timing right took a couple of tries, but once I got it nailed down, I was doing great. The trips to the bathroom decreased since I was off the IV, but I made it a point to try to go every four hours when I woke up for meds. I was conscious of the fact that I hadn’t gone #2 yet, but not freaking out. Since the stool softener (Colace) was the only thing that got me nauseous, I stopped taking it and started downing Sunsweet Prune Juice. This worked! Also, each time I got up, I took at least two laps around the house to get the blood flowing.
Emptying the drains was a bit overwhelming at first, but became just a normal thing we had to do. Hubby and I did this two times per day. Gear: rubber gloves, alcohol swabs, measuring cups, note pad, and pen. Each reservoir was emptied, the volume recorded, the port/hole wiped with an alcohol swab, the drain “charged,” and the fluid flushed down the toilet. The drain tubes were interesting (one might also use the word “gross”) to look at. There were clots visible in the lines, but not a problem. The fluids kept draining, so everything was good.
More fun stuff coming next, but first, an important announcement from Grumpy Cat, a.k.a. Tardar Sauce.