Healing Notes

I had my surgery follow up appointment with my surgeon Tuesday. Unfortunately, I’m still producing too much fluid for my drain to be removed. This means that I still cannot shower. However, they did remove the dressings over the incision except the steristrips. I now have the magic number – 30mL – when my drain gets to below that amount in 24 hours I can call the doctor’s office and they will book an appointment for me to see the nurse in ambulatory care who can remove the drain. At the same time, she will remove the steristrips and clean everything up.

I also talked to the nurse about the nice flannel drain pouch they gave me after surgery. I can return it, but also, I can make more and give them to her. She will send them into the hospital laundry and they will be given out to the next person that needs them. It was such a nice gesture that helped me feel like I was being cared for. I’m going to try and sew up a few of them to give to the nurse when she pulls my drain.

I decided to pull out my shower chair (glad I still have it), and use it to help me “shower”. I was able to sit in the chair, lean forward, and use my hand shower to wash my hair. Then I could stand up and wash all my body parts below the incision. Everything else got a sponge bath. I felt so so much better after washing my hair and my body.

One tip that I failed to mention from when I returned from surgery – a friend who is living with us right now lent me her breast feeding pillow. It is long U shaped tube, where the stuffing (feels like little styrofoam beads), can be moved around to make some parts thicker than others. This in combination with my 10 inch wedge pillow was brilliant. It meant I could easily adjust it to sit and read and use the other side of the pillow to support my arm. It gave me enough options for support that I could find a comfortable position for both watching TV and for sleeping.

At the drain appointment I asked about radiation. The surgeon said not before 6-weeks after surgery. She said that it would be coordinated with my oncologist. If chemo is needed that typically happens first. So the treatment order would be: (1) surgery, (2) chemo if needed, (3) radiation, (4) hormone therapy. Zometa is actually a bone treatment and it is unclear to me whether that would start in line with hormone therapy or if the first dose might happen before radiation. I won’t know anything further until I see my oncologist – which won’t be until the third week of September.

Biopsy results take 2-3 weeks, so there is no information yet – although I’m meeting with my family doctor today and we will discuss the quickest and best way for me to get my hands on results. My oncologist is on vacation the first two weeks of September, so I will likely have an appointment to see him sometime the week of September 20 – where the remaining treatment plan will be made. The earliest radiation could start would be the first week of October.

I’m healing well. I’ve not been taking pain killers since the day after surgery. Mostly I have decent range of motion – but I need to be careful not to pull anything while it is still healing. I’ve been using my arm enough that my shoulder is moving well (one of the biggest post surgery concerns is frozen shoulder).

If the weather permits, I’m going to try and take a day in September to go camping. August weather has been pretty horrible, with at least one torrential downpour each week (where we get over a month’s rain in a 24-hour period). Things then dry out just in time for the next deluge of rain. Hopefully September weather will be kinder.

One curiosity I’ve had is what to wear during and post radiation. I didn’t do radiation first time around, so I really have no idea what to wear. The day before surgery I went out and bought a couple of short sleeve shirts that button up, as I remember having difficulty getting things over my head from my last surgery – that turned out to be less of an issue, but useful for getting home on surgery day. Since it is only the one side, I can easily maneuver to put a T-shirt on.

Any tips on the types of clothing that would make sense to wear during radiation treatment?

  • Becky

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