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Life After Bilateral Mastectomy: Coping with Post-Surgery Challenges and Embracing Small Victories

Post mastectomy surgery challenges

December 20, 2013

Journal Dump #012

Today, it has been 11 days since my surgery (bilateral mastectomy).  It’s 6:35am and I woke up about an hour ago, due to the terrible nightmares again.  As I lay in bed, I began thinking of how much I miss some of the simple things I used to take for granted. 

I miss being able to sleep on my side and/or my stomach.  Because of these drain tubes that are still connected to the inside of my chest and peering out of the sides of my body, I must lie on my back and can’t move an inch.

I miss taking a shower.  It has been 11 days since my last shower.  Thankfully, I have enough movement in my left arm so I am now able to wash my hair in the sink, but I still feel ‘dirty’ all the time.  Wet wipes don’t really cut it.  I want my loofa and bar of soap!  I am so completely embarrassed when I have to open the door at home and wonder who has stopped by to visit, because I don’t want anyone to see me like this.

I never really enjoyed sitting on the toilet, but I sure would like to excrete some waste!  It has been 13 days since my last ‘poop’.  Yes, this is a raw diary for everyone to read and we might as well just put it all out there.  The side effect of pain pills is constipation.  Well, I have been taking a stool softener, along with the many other medications since I left the hospital.  I have also taken a laxative or two.  And yesterday, I inserted a suppository, which was a bit uncomfortable – to put it mildly.  All this, for nothing.  Still waiting to poop.  The good news is I am only taking the pain pills about 3 times a day now, instead of a constant every 4 hours on the dot.

Yesterday was the first time I cooked for my family since the surgery.  I made my simple kielbasa, onion & pasta with parmesan cheese dish and my daughter had 2 helpings!  Maybe she was just hungry, but I prefer to think she just misses her mom’s cooking.  Thankfully, my sister had stopped by in the middle of my cooking, because I needed help getting the cooked pasta into the strainer.  I am not sure that it weighed over 5 lbs (which is my restricted limit at this time), but my right arm is the side that had the 18 lymph nodes removed and is taking a bit longer to heal and hurts quite a bit if I lift anything.

Today I have my appointment with the oncologist to review my case and give me the recommendations for treatment after surgery, including chemo and any possible radiation.  The surgeon told me that radiation was pretty much off the table, but I found out yesterday that he isn’t the doctor who makes that final decision.  All involved players will review my case and then my course of treatment will be decided.  Either way, I am thankful that nothing will happen for about a month, which will give me some time to get my life back to normal.



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