It’s going to be a rough ride but you’ve got this and planning ahead, as well as packing right can almost certainly help.
Here at #TheNOODist we sympathise because choosing to have surgery isn’t an easy decision. Like every surgery, a mastectomy – which involves the removal of a breast to treat or prevent cancer – comes with a whole host of challenges, along with a giant added pile of emotional stress and uncertainty. While your doctor is the best person to answer all your questions about the medical process, we advise reaching out to friends, family and even total strangers who are happy to share their experiences. Here are a few ways to prepare yourself for your post-op hospital stay, from friends of ours who have been there and done it.
1) Mentally prepare yourself for the recovery time
Depending on the extent of your surgery (whether you’ll be having your lymph nodes removed or breast reconstruction done at the same time), you can expect to stay in the hospital for anywhere from one to three nights. Your doctor will tell you what your recovery time will look like.
2) Have a hospital bag checklist
Create a list of the essentials you may need to pack such as toiletries, a toothbrush, wet wipes, slippers, socks (preferably those with grips) and clothes that are loose, comfortable and have a zipper or buttons in the front.
3) Pack additional items for your comfort
Other things you can include in your hospital bag to make you feel at home are ear plugs (to block out sounds of medical devices), ear phones to listen to your favourite tracks or soothing tunes or perhaps even a book to distract yourself from the pain or stress.
4) Don’t feel shy to ask for help
Whether it’s grocery shopping or meal prep, let family or friends handle those tasks for you. Forget about your to-do list and focus on your recovery instead.
5) Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside
Information or instructions, it’s always good to write down what the doctors or nurses tell you. Similarly, you can also list your questions and concerns, especially things you don’t understand so you won’t have to look it up later.
6) Get a driver
Your doctor will let you know when it is safe for you to drive, but it is best to have someone drive you home as anesthesia and certain medications can slow your responses.
7) Have a family member or your BFF pop into the pharmacy
This is to ensure the medicines prescribed by the surgeon are available before you get home.
8) Prepare for the drive home
Keep a few small pillows or a lap blanket in the car. These can be used under the seatbelt strap that goes across your chest so your journey is smooth and comfortable.
9) Give yourself time
Choosing to have a mastectomy is a courageous decision and it can be hard – physically and mentally – to adapt to the changes. Do not be alarmed if you experience any complications or emotional effects as your body may need time to adjust to the surgery.
The Mastectomy Support Group is an open social media platform for anyone going through any part of the process, from diagnosis to post-op recovery and even coping with PTSD. The sharing of physical, emotional, mental and financial experience is encouraged at www.facebook.com/MastectomySupportGroup/. Lean on anyone you can, because thats how we cope. As a community of badass women, in it together.