No chocolate or coffee for a month??

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.


  • Becky


  • Wish i were close enough to be your walking buddy. I could go off caffeine and chocolate for a month, tho 🙂 Not as hard for me coz i am not addicted but still… In solidarity

  • It’s too bad but I have to second the coffee thing. Needed an IV to infuse an image enhancing fluid for an echo-cardiogram and I hadn’t had anything to drink for 12 hours before the procedure but a cup of coffee and a bit of water. Probably because I also take diuretics to lower my blood pressure my veins were virtually collapsed (they used the echo image portable want to see them and they were very flat and sickly looking). Ended up with 10 to 12 countable holes in my arm until the doctor switched to a smaller needle.

    I can’t even imagine no chocolate but promise not to mention it again.

    Some surgeries here get their own ward and some just the ICU zoo. The specialist nurses in the cardio only ward were very skilled and this gave them space for compassion. Watch their movements too, fluid like dancers which made me feel better sooner. Very healing environment. With practice a person can learn to draw from this resource as a form of reflecting on the “other” and giving compassion back. A gift of accepting our vulnerability? Maybe it’s a form of fearlessness that some see as the foolishness of being defensive? As the open person you are, I think you are going to do fine at tuning into the healing. Responding to your blogs is doing it for me. Thank You.

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