Of all the things the resident said, this was the one that stuck – no coffee or chocolate (more specifically, no caffeine) for a month after surgery. You see, caffeine is a vessel constrictor (it makes your blood vessels smaller). Microsurgery involves reattaching things at the vascular level – and as such, you want the vessels to be as plump as possible. (not sure I’m getting the medical speak completely right).
Of course, I’ve learned that when a resident says something that I don’t like, to check with the doctor. The doctor said it was best to avoid caffeine for the first two weeks, but if I REALLY needed coffee, a little would be OK … the nurse said to start avoiding caffeine the week before surgery to help ensure the vessels are plump and to continue avoiding a least a week while things are healing.
And so, as of today, I’m drinking less coffee and eating less chocolate. My goal is to wean off the caffeinated coffee by mixing in larger portions of decaf … so as to avoid caffeine headaches. Hopefully, by the middle of next week I’ll be off coffee. We will try and stop by David’s Teas after my toenail removal appointment, and buy some kind of decaf sampler kit which should keep me happy until I can go back on coffee (cause I really enjoy my morning cup of coffee).
What we also learned was that I will not be in ICU after my surgery. Stanford does enough flap surgeries (not just breast reconstruction, other types too) that they actually have a flap unit in the hospital. Here is the description: “G2S (second floor of the main hospital) is the “flap unit.” This specific ward manages the post-op free flap patients for extremity cases, breast cases, and other non-ICU cases. The nurses here are trained specifically on taking care of the free flaps.” This is good news, as it means I’ll have top notch post surgery care, and I won’t be spending two days in the ICU.
This next surgery will be challenging. I’ll wake up with an additional incision that goes from one hip bone to the other (right across my abdomen at the bikini line). With any luck, they won’t need to take away any muscle (extra motivation for me to avoid caffeine). They will also re-open my nice clean breast incisions in order to do the mastectomy and the breast reconstruction. I’ll have four drains (one in each breast and two in the abdomen). I’ll need to keep them until they are producing less than 25mL of fluid over two consecutive 24 hr periods (this is usually about 8-10 days). I also cannot lift more than 5 lbs for 4-6 weeks (that will definitely be a challenge).
If you live in the area, in January I’ll be looking for walking buddies. I’d like to do some short walks from home at first … but hopefully will start to work on longer walks. If you are interested and able, please let me know … thanks.