Tag Archives: Narcotics

Day 3 of recovery, infinity, and beyond!

Drain removal

This day (Friday; surgery was Tuesday) was one of the first post-mastectomy happy days. Had the first follow up appointment with my plastic surgeon. I was up on my feet by this day, but not yet running laps around the neighborhood. We pulled up to the hospital and a nurse came out to get me with a wheelchair. I wore my beautiful Pink Passion recovery gown.

Drain in right armpit

Drain in right armpit

Dr. M noted that I was recovering nicely thus far. My drain output was very low on the two anterior drains (20ml/day each), so it was time to remove them. The sensation of the tube being pulled out was odd, but not very painful. The little pain I experienced was from the stretching of the hole in my armpit through which the tube passed. [Side note: I know the pic on the right is gnarly, but I gave you fair warning (top right of every page) that I include content that is NSFW/graphic, so deal with it.] The two posterior drain tubes were still kicking out about 60ml/day, so they were left in for a few more days.

The tubes serve a very important role during the recovery process: they remove the extra fluids your body produces as it heals itself around the incision and surgery sites. If those fluids are not taken away, seromas or hematomas can develop.

A seroma is a pocket of clear serous fluid that sometimes develops in the body after surgery. When small blood vessels are ruptured, blood plasma can seep out; inflammation caused by dying injured cells also contributes to the fluid.

Seromas are different from hematomas, which contain red blood cells, and form abscesses, which contain pus and result from an infection. – Wikipedia


Roses from a dear friend

Roses from a dear friend

I was expecting to be doing a lot of snoozing because of the narcotics, but was very surprised by how awake, alert, and active I was immediately after my return home from the hospital. I spent a lot of time online – most often in one of the FaceBook groups (See: Resources), keeping friends up-to-date, writing thank you cards, walking around the house, and general random stuff. I found that if I settled in on the recliner and forced myself to calm down and close my eyes, I didn’t have any trouble sleeping, but overall I was not beat by any means.


I did post-op exercises from Casey Eischen’s program a few times per day. Each day it was a bit easier and I could do more.

2/1: Check out a more recent post about exercise and nutrition: Foobie Fitness

I was excited about Saturday, because I got clearance from Dr. M to take a shower! He even told me to wash my own hair. Who would’ve thought I’d be that ecstatic about bathing. More on that next.

Day 1 of recovery


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).

Wound dressing

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.




DOsOn 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.