• Double Mastectomy - what to take to hospital & daughter's house?

    Asked by Sharlie on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    Double Mastectomy - what to take to hospital & daughter's house?

    Well, I've made my decision and I'm so confident that it's the right one for me. I'll have a double mastectomy probably around April 8th. My surgeon is on vacation this week and the 3rd was the earliest appt. I could get with her to talk again before surgery. So now I'm down to finalizing paperwork and focusing on the nitty gritty details. I'll probably be in the hospital at least 1 night and then with my daughter for a day or 2. Any unique suggestions on what I should take with me? Something you forgot to take that you absolutely were lost without? It might seem like a silly question, but under the circumstances I don't believe it is. They both have little time to spare, so I don't want to have to send them back to pick something up for me. And I believe that there are no silly questions. Again, that you all for your wonderful support and your honest responses to my questions. Your responses truly helped me come to the right decision for me. Much love, Sharlie

    22 Answers from the Community

    22 answers
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      At home and daughter's, have shampoo & soap low enough in shower so you don't have to reach. You'll need a lanyard or something to fasten drains to while you shower. Maybe safety pins if you need to pin drains to clothing. In the kitchen, paper plates, cups or glasses on counter. Whatever you use often should be reachable without stretching your arms up. Have milk, juice poured into half gallon containers so you will be able to lift them. You'll need some tops that open in the front. A place to keep your meds & drain supplies (you'll get those from surgeon's office at your pre-op visit, probably). Can't think of anything else right now. It helps to relieve some of the anxiety when you have made your decision and feel it is the right one. God bless.

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      I forgot: get something to take so you avoid getting constipated from pain meds. Start on it right away. Can ask for something while you are in the hospital.

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      What youll need for the hospital is a button down blouse. You won't be able to raise your arms so that's important. Also at home make sure you have soft button down PJs also. Your skin will be sensitive for awhile. I used a lanyard to hang the drains on when I was able to shower and it worked great. Make sure things are close so you don't have to reach. You'll need lots of pillows for when you sleep and for under your arms (I got mine at walmart for $3). I didn't have a recliner so I basically slept sitting up against pillows for a couple weeks. A neck pillow was a help also. You will feel so much better once the drains come out. It's very important to do your arm exercises when you're able, to get your full range of motion back. Drink lots of fluids and walk around the house as much as you can. Also you'll need to write down when you take your pain meds so you remember. The hospital will give you a chart to keep track of how much fluid is draining. You'll have to empty the drains 3 or 4 times a day. Best of luck on your surgery and big hugs to you.

      over 6 years ago
    • happydyad's Avatar
      happydyad

      Sharlie, I am so glad that you have arrived at a decision you feel good about! Because I had my surgery in another city and had to stay at a hotel during my presurgical and post surgical period, I took a lot of stuff with me. In fact, I took too much… LOL! Following is the list of things that were actually useful: foam wedge to sleep on; hydrogen peroxide for wound cleansing; alcohol for sterilizing things; a small pair of scissors to trim bandages and especially for making bandages that would easily slide around the drain tubes; a few safety pins for securing drains to your nightgown; button front nightgowns and other clothing with loose armholes; medium nonstick gauze pads; large regular gauze pads; Neosporin or mupirocin; boiled eggs for convenient protein; stool softeners or a mild laxative; latex gloves are handy; a light blanket that you can also use as a shawl if needed. I'm sure there are plenty of other items that are useful but they are just not coming to my mind right now… I'm sure that our What Next sisters will probably have some good ideas to modify the list! Good luck and congratulations on soon being rid of the nasty cancer! Judy in Ky

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      Sharlie, so glad you made your decision and you have peace about it. Each surgeon has their own set of instructions they want you to follow. Mine did not want me doing anything to my incisions: no Neosporin, no peroxide or anything. So ask your surgeon or his/her nurse what specific instructions he/she wants you to follow regarding care of your incisions.

      Sounds like the previous posts listed just about everything you will need. I would add lotion (in case your hands are dry), lip chap, and Emory boards.

      Praying for your surgery to go well and for a quick and easy recuperation.

      over 6 years ago
    • Lorijoy812's Avatar
      Lorijoy812

      Glad you made your decision. I wore over-sized zip up sweatshirts, even took one to the hospital to wear home. Easy to change and easy to attach drains. Extra pillows. I slept in a recliner for a while, too painful to go to a flat postion. Let people help you. Between pain meds & all that you will go through, the week following will be cloudy. I did not have bandages and did not have to do anything to the surgical cuts, I had tissue sparing surgery with immediate reconstruction with tissue expanders and had only glue on the scars. I will tell you, it was not as bad as I expected. Best of luck to you!

      over 6 years ago
    • fallsbs' Avatar
      fallsbs

      The doctor sent me home in a bra that hooked in the front with instructions to wear it 24/7. What about laundering? They sell comparable bras at Walmart for $10. I had to go up a size for approximately 6 weeks. Definitely agree with the suggestion to avoid constipation

      over 6 years ago
    • Ratbike's Avatar
      Ratbike

      Have your surgeon write an order for a post-surgical camisole. A wonderful thing – it's a step-in garment that provides light compression (especially good for riding in the car). It has pockets for your drains, and bra pockets that can be stuffed with fiberfill. The fiberfill made the car seatbelt quite tolerable. Otherwise you will need a pillow between you and the seatbelt. I got 2 camisoles (insurance pays if doc prescribes).

      I opted for no reconstruction, so I think I had an easier time with regards to pain and discomfort. Previous post have things pretty well covered; you will find what works for you.
      Walk as much as you can, and do the exercises the doc recommends. You will do well!

      over 6 years ago
    • maylonie's Avatar
      maylonie

      When I had my double mastectomy, I too knew it was the right decision. I bought a post-mastectomy vest that zippered down the front. I ended up using safety pins to hook up the drains to my vest because the holes provided for the drains were too high. Gravity helps to empty the drains so they shouldn't be too high or compressed. To shower, I used a shower bench and a hand held shower head so I could keep the bandages dry. I found ice packs helpful to place against the still sore areas after the bandages were off. I agree with the others, that it is important to avoid constipation. I used a stool softener called Senokot-S. I rented a hospital bed which allowed me to sleep in an elevated position, used pillows under my arms.

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      One more thing, I used a thin belt around my waist and used safety pins to pin the drains to the belt. Worked for me. Like the others said, stool softener is a must. Your lips will be dry after surgery so lip balm is what I wished I had taken to the hospital.

      over 6 years ago
    • suzyq's Avatar
      suzyq

      Find out what the hospital will send you home in...I had a compression "tube top" that closed with Velcro--it was very comfortable. After a few days I switched to a special compression cami that I purchased (and my insurance covered) from a healthcare supply store. I got 2 of them, one to wash and one to wear, and they were wonderful. They have little pouches for the drains, and they zip up the front. Before my surgery, I bought several inexpensive plus size shirts that button down the front, and took one with me to the hospital. They worked great. Getting a little pillow is a really good idea, and a lanyard for the shower. My doctor prescribed a stool softener before I even left the hospital, but I wasn't to put anything on the wound at all. After it healed I used Bio-Oil on the scar, and now it is barely visible.
      Let us know how everything goes for you. Good luck!

      over 6 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar
      CAL

      I had a lumpectomy and was home the same day with only discomfort--no pain, but I take care of post-surgical patients frequently. The lip gloss is a frequent request because ones mouth and lips are often dry. As far as constipation, plan ahead in terms of foods as well. If you like spinach or deep leafy greens purchase ahead and have them washed up for quick salads. Having other vegetables chopped up and in containers in the fridge will also make it easier to reach for a salad. Same with fruit i.e peel the oranges and have them in a sealed container. Salsa and whole grain chips is also an easy snack but nutritious. I like regular oatmeal microwaved for one minute with cinnamon and almond milk and sometimes raisins. It adds fiber. Try the sprouted breads like Ezekiel bread (they have a cinnamon raisin one too) as it also adds fiber along with nutrition. You could make up or get some whole grain oatmeal cookies or muffins to have for quick snacks as well. And drink, drink, drink plenty of water. There is nothing wrong with stool softeners like Colace or Miralax or Senokot but adding the fresh vegetables and fruits gives you some nutrition to help with healing as well. I am not a big fan of smoothies only because I don't like to drink my food, but my sons make up some great green smoothies with kale and/or spinach, bananas, carrots, oranges, coconut oil, nuts, and hemp seeds that also add some fiber as well as nutrition. Don't overdo the milk/yogurt/cheese products just because they are a little harder to digest and in combination with the narcotic pain medication, can add to the constipation. And last but not least, stay as active as you can, even if it is just walking in the house. Hopefully the weather where you live is improving and you could get out and get some sunshine while you walk.

      Good luck.

      over 6 years ago
    • PinkyPromise's Avatar
      PinkyPromise

      I bought a foam wedge at Bed Bath & Beyond for less than $30. I also bought an inexpensive bed tray (at Aldi), which helped when I was eating, doing paperwork, etc. It had pockets/cubbies for my mail, cell phone, whatever. The other item I found at Aldi was a rolling duffel. I use one for work, so I don't have to carry my heavy laptop, and one for whatever I want to drag to chemo appointments. I spent $12 or $13 on each, and they've been very useful for me. My only other suggestion would be to get easy-open caps on your Rx. You won't have much grip strength for a while. Best of luck to you!! You can do this!!!

      over 6 years ago
    • Debdawn64's Avatar
      Debdawn64

      It sounds like these ladies have pretty much said everything, I will reiterate with the pillows and the stuff for constipation. While in the hospital, they should already have what you need, if not, ask for it. You'll do great! Sending you hugs!

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      Eat more protein, starting now. It helps with healing. I found some tops at a resale shop, so I didn't have to spend very much. Don't put your drains in your pants pockets. I had one pop open from the pressure. I did have to change the tape where the drain tube came out. Ask what you will need for that, if you need to do it. Some Drs let you shower the next day, others have you wait awhile. Don't forget the charger for your cell phone.

      over 6 years ago
    • mofields' Avatar
      mofields

      If you don't want something around your neck with the drains when you shower, I found a canvas nail holder from any hardware store is both inexpensive and handy. It has large enough pockets to hold the drains and since they are canvas they can be washed. We bought two.

      over 6 years ago
    • ld_105's Avatar
      ld_105

      Dry shampoo, you may need help because it is impossible to lift your arms above your head. A small pillow or two to cushion the armpit...there may be swelling if the surgeon removes the lymph nodes. A kindle to keep in touch on line, and ideally netflix to stream tv shows and movies. A plastic water bottle because glass is slippery and a few plastic bags to transport food or anything else back and forth between rooms.

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      I washed my hair in the kitchen sink.

      over 6 years ago
    • Sharlie's Avatar
      Sharlie

      Wow, that you all so much. I've written these things down on my to do and to buy list and will check with the surgeon before buying anything for the dressings. You've given me some great ideas that I hadn't thought of and that's why 2 or 20 heads are better than one..lol. I'm feeling better prepared, but I guess more anxious now that I have an actual surgical date. Funny thing is it's a week later than I had hoped it would be. I'm doing more anxiety eating and want that to stop ;) I just can't thank you all enough for all that you share and for being such a great support and so inspirational. I'll be sure to keep you posted as I go along.

      over 6 years ago
    • ld_105's Avatar
      ld_105

      Hook front sports bras from Wal-Mart two sizes larger than normal. I hooked the drains to the band around the bottom. Surgical pads and fabric tape to control the tissue expander and cover the incision. A notepad to keep track of your medications. Eat whatever you want now as you may not be hungry taking all the medications after surgery.

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      You're very welcome, Sharlie. We all remember the anxiety we felt going through this and hope we can help someone in some small way. Praying for a quick recovery for you. Please keep us informed.

      over 6 years ago
    • mofields' Avatar
      mofields

      The time prior to your first surgery is the worst part of the process. Try to keep yourself busy (it's almost like preparing for a baby). Ready your house - do all the spring cleaning you can do ahead of time. Depending what your surgery brings, you won't be able to vacuum, lift or move furniture, carry laundry baskets, etc. for several weeks. If you want to deep clean your house, now would be the time to do it while you are feeling decent. You might not have the strength, or desire, to do that after your surgery.

      over 6 years ago

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