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2 Weeks Post Op {Bye Bye Drains}

It’s been two weeks since my double mastectomy and honestly, I feel great throughout the day! Waking up is still a little rough until my medications kick in and by evening I’m exhausted, but as each day passes I feel stronger and better. The hardest part so far has been recovering from my mom leaving on Sunday (5 days later than planned). That same day Thomas returned home from Grandmom’s house too so we’re operating in survival mode right now with one parent down. So needless to say, the laundry has since piled up, every dish in the kitchen is dirty, we’ve been out of milk for a week, our dog hates us and both kids seem to always need something at the exact same time. Oh, and Matt returned to work. But we are hanging in there, kind of.

Truthfully, it’s been a really tough time for us but we are so blessed to have such amazing friends. It seems like right when we’re about to hit a breaking point a casserole appears on our doorstep, a best friend crawls into my bed to keep me company, a gorgeous bouquet of flowers or edible arrangement shows up, an offer to pick up our kiddos from daycare and keep them for dinner comes through, a thoughtfully curated basket full of recovery items is dropped by, a girlfriend pops in with Starbucks and a blow dryer, or I receive an encouraging text message reminding me that someone is praying for us. Even though we are so bad at asking for (and accepting) help, so many people near and afar have shown up unasked and been there for us in the most surprising ways. And for that we are eternally grateful.

We also received some really great news. My doctor sent some tissue collected during surgery for testing and the pathology report came back completely free and clear of cancer. While we didn’t anticipate them finding anything you just never know, so we were elated for a healthy report card.

In other recovery news…

My drains have been removed! I practically ripped off my surgical tank top and cartwheeled out of my doctor’s office yesterday. I cannot describe my happiness to finally have these suckers OUT of my body. I started with four drains, got two removed one week post op and had the last set removed right at two weeks post op. Each night we had to empty the drains, clean them and measure the fluid in a spreadsheet. My doctor told me he wouldn’t even consider removing my last set of drains (the most important ones) until I was consistently logging less than 20 cc’s per side each day for several days in a row. He informed me that activity would increase my output and rest would decrease it. So I promptly returned home and confined myself to my bed for a week to slow the draining and it worked! I got my last set of drains out a week early!!!

I was nervous for the drain removal process but to my surprise I didn’t even feel the doctor remove either of the drains on my right side. For some reason the skin on my left side has been so sensitive so it stung quite a bit when both of those drains were removed, but that side has been giving me pain problems throughout my entire recovery. I thought it would be  much more complicated, but the drain removal process consisted of taking a deep breath while the doctor literally pulls them right out and applies a bandage over the hole. That simple. Crazy.

Pain medication. Currently, every two hours around the clock I take a combination of pills which include pain killers, muscle relaxers, antibiotics, etc. Each morning Dr. Matt carefully sorts all of my pills out and sets reminders on my phone for which pills to take and when. Now that my drains are gone I am going to slowly scale back on the pain medications to hopefully feel less drowsy, loopy and itchy. Once I’m completely done with the pain meds I’ll be able to drink alcohol again and be cleared to drive (not together, obviously!). 

Phantom itching. Probably one of the worst medication side effects ever, I uncontrollably itch all day and all night and feel like I have the worst case of chicken pox. The worst itches are
actually the ones on my chest because there is absolutely no way to satisfy it since I’ve lost all feeling in the skin over my breasts and (temporarily, I think) under my arms.

Mobility. I am constantly reminded by everyone who knows me well “not to over do it!” I promise I’m resting as much as possible but there have been a few days that I’ve pushed my limit and paid big time for it. One particular day last week after a doctors appointment I took mom to lunch and we ran a few errands before returning home. I felt fine! But in the middle of the night I woke up to the most horrific muscle spasms that had me bawling and screaming in pain for two hours. Soooo, I’ve learned my lesson.

BUT! I’ve made huge improvements in mobility this week which has made me a teeny bit more self sufficient and even a little helpful. I still have a lot of restrictions, including no lifting over 10 pounds, but can open and close some light doors (like the fridge, but not the car), feed Thomas if he’s placed in my lap, change diapers on the floor, shower without washing my hair, etc. However, I’m quickly (and often) reminded throughout the day that I cannot push or pull things (no vacuuming!), apply pressure to turn things (like unscrewing  prescription bottles lids), overextend my reach (like when the remote is two inches too far away) or reach for anything above my head (including blow drying my hair). One morning earlier this week Matt brewed a pot of coffee for me before he left for work. I was able to open the fridge, grab the creamer and rip the tops of the sugar packets open…only to realize I couldn’t reach the coffee mugs. Fail.

When he’s home, Matt literally follows me around the house to police my every move. If it even looks like I’m considering picking Caroline up he yells at me. I’ve gotten really clever with how I do things though. One morning I snuck in to get Caroline out of bed by squatting with my back against the crib while she grabbed around my neck like a piggy back ride. I stood up and quickly squatted back down to put her feet on the floor. No pain at all, but I got in big trouble for that one.  

Incisions & Nipples. My incisions under my breasts are healing really well and my nipples are here to stay! They made it past the scary window for nipple necrosis so I get to keep ’em! Yay! 

Expanders. The expanders are so dang uncomfortable. It constantly feels like I’m wearing a huge rock in my bra. The only comfortable way to sleep is straight up which is awful because I am such a tummy sleeper. Also, I get my first “fill” of saline in my expanders next week!

And that’s a wrap on week 2! Stay tuned for another update after next week’s “fill!”

 Other Mastectomy Posts:
 1 Week Post Op
 Ta-Ta to the TATAS party
 The Double Mastectomy Surgery Details
 The Double Mastectomy Decision

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Carolina Charm

Saturday 28th of November 2015

Hi Leah! Yes, I received all sorts of useful things! First, pillows of ALL shapes and sizes. I received two heart shaped pillows and they really helped prop my arms up. Also, teeny pillows were nice to wedge into areas where I just needed a little support! Headbands, snacks (to take with medications), offer to blow dry her hair (alternatively, get her a gift card to a blow dry bar), MEALS (she won't be able to cook), clean her house (or go in with someone to have her house cleaned a few times!), button up pajamas, a tumbler with a STRAW, magazines, rent some movies for her (or a show series). Also, I'll be thinking of your aunt on Monday. Your support will truly mean so much to her! email me with any questions! [email protected]

Leah Garry

Friday 27th of November 2015

My Aunt is having done on Monday. Can you please give me ideas of what would be a nice gift to receive following the surgery? Something helpful and useful? I know she'll be off work until after January 1. Didn't know if she can lift arms to adequately read books or not? Any advice would be extremely helpful. Thank you. - Leah Garry [email protected]

Lauren {at} Life.Love.Lauren

Friday 20th of November 2015

You are truly doing this with a jaw dropping amount of courage and positive attitude! Keep it up! Ugh and I hear you about phantom itching. When I tore three ligaments in my knee, taking the pain medication yielded that side effect to me too and it was terrible! xo!

Sara Elizabeth

Friday 20th of November 2015

So every time I read this... my stomach turns a little bit... YOU ARE THE BRAVEST PERSON I KNOW.

Emily Clark

Wednesday 18th of November 2015

You're so brave! Wish there was a way for those of us far away to help!