• How do I prepare to make my wife comfortable after surgery?

    Asked by justoneman on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    How do I prepare to make my wife comfortable after surgery?

    We will be getting a date next week for my when my wife will have her surgery. Can I please ask what i should do besides the obvious getting her button down shirts? I am reading on line a lot that it is impossible to sleep laying down. We have reclining couches but I want her to have privacy in our bedroom. Should I get a recliner? Will a hospital bed be necessary? I am taking off work for 2 weeks and then her family will be here also to help. How long before my wife can move about, drive, bathe herself? The drains in her breasts will require special care I would think. What is involved with that? The doctors no doubt will advise me but i want to hear this from the real victims of this dreadful disease. I hope I can repay the kindness I have received from all of you. I am "just one man" we need each other. I will speak for myself, I need you all and thank you. I haven't cried today!! Wooohoo!!!

    42 Answers from the Community

    42 answers
    • annemarie's Avatar
      annemarie

      For me, a recliner was the BEST comfort item after surgery. If you have built in recliners in a sofa, that will be a good place for her to stay when there are visitors. Also, even during the day when she wants a break from the bedroom, those will work. My dearest friend in the world had her son deliver her recliner to my home the night before my surgery. Yes, to the recliner. As for the drains, they will teach you how to do that in the hospital. At some point, I was doing my own (drains stayed in for almost 2 weeks). The one thing I will say, there are items on the market to hold the drains. Keeping the weight off of them is key. I tried doing all sorts of things (none worked). Long after surgery found items to act as "pockets" for the drains. I know of some inexpensive options but if you google surgical drain holders, you should come up with a few options. Don't know if it's appropriate to toss out brands in this forum.... No driving while the drains are still in..... Showering: Important to keep water from the drains. I have a hand shower in my bathroom which was a life saver. I was able to "shower" from upper abdominal area. I bought boxes of unscented baby wipes to use on the areas I couldn't shower. You may be surprised at how quickly she will be able to move around. It depends upon the type of surgery (and forgive me for not reading further to see if you mentioned). If it's a "flap" surgery the recovery is longer than if it's a mastectomy (with or w/out implant reconstruction). Yes, to the button down shirts-loose fitting. Sorry this is all over the place, I'm just blurting out my thoughts so you have as much info as I have in my head. Hope this helped even a little bit! Hang in there..... AM

      over 6 years ago
    • My3Ksmom's Avatar
      My3Ksmom

      I can say from experience a few thing that really helped me. Get a wedge from a hospital supply store. Make it a 2 piece wedge so it is comfortable. It is worth the price. Also 4 pillows. 2 for each side of the wedge to prop her arms on. If you want to go all out for her get a leg wedge too as it helps her to not slide down in bed while sleeping and helps the back because of the time for the first possible 2 to 3 weeks or maybe more in bed.

      As far as the tubes I don't remember the frequency. I think It is 3 to 4 times a day you will need to drain the fluid. And strip the tubes of any fliuds for clogs. It is a process. You wash your hands strip fluids from the tubes. Measure the amount of fluids that are in the first bottle and write down the amount of fluid in the bottle. Then open the stopper on the bottle and dump the waste into the toilet. Wipe the stopper and top of the bottle with a alcohol wipe and put the stopper back in and then lather rinse repeat on the other side.

      It is very important that your wife not lay on and not kink the tubing. And not lay on her side or on her stomach until she is healed. She may feel well in spurts it is important that she not over do it as if she does she can put her recovery back.

      I hope this helps you.

      over 6 years ago
    • HearMeRoar's Avatar
      HearMeRoar

      Justoneman - please know that everyone is different. The drains are a pain but once she knows what she is doing it won't be a big deal. My mother came to town and stayed 3 weeks. Turns out I only really needed her help for the first two or three days. You are a sweetheart for trying to do all you can to help her be prepared. The best thing you can do in my opinion is love on her :). My husband was wonderful, only think he "goofed" on is when I lost my hair (hopefully your wife doesn't need chemo). My husband said "well you knew it was going to happen" no matter what a gal just can't be prepared for that!! Good luck!

      over 6 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar
      cllinda

      I'm so glad that you are thinking ahead about your wife's comfort. A recliner would be a nice thing to have during the healing time. Comfortable pajama pants and button down shirts are good to have. Warm comfy socks, and slippers would keep her comfy too. Soft fleece blanket in the recliner would keep her warm and comfortable.
      When she comes home, make sure she has water in a glass at all times. I used a mug with a lid on it so that it wouldn't spill out. A coffee mug with a lid that has an opening in it helps so much.
      Be patient with her when she's not feeling well. And do the chores around the house so she doesn't feel like the place is falling apart around her.
      A good book to read is called The Silver Lining by Hollye Jacobs. It really helped me understand what I was going through.
      I pray that your wife heals quickly. Blessings for you both.

      over 6 years ago
    • Jeanette1960's Avatar
      Jeanette1960

      I agree with all the comments here, especially my3ksmom. I had a wedge pillow which I layered with two or three pillows, the pillows under each arm, and the special shaped pillow to put under my knees. It was in adventure getting in and out of bed at first, but I found the pillow under my knees kept me in the right position and helped to stop me from rolling over in my sleep.

      Caring for the drains is not a problem, but they do become quite painful and bothersome as the days go by. I had mine in for about 2 1/2 weeks. I had a double mastectomy with immediate DIEP flap reconstruction.

      Also my doctor scheduled me with a physical therapist before surgery to show me how to do things like get in and out of bed, what stretching exercises to do after surgery, etc. this was very helpful.

      All the best to your wife and to you.

      over 6 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      I did not have drains, but what helped me was (a) a body pillow for my surgical side. It keeps my arm elevated and prevents me from rolling onto it; and (b) a bed lounge pillow, which helped me mainly through chemo because sometimes I couldn't just lie on my back and needed some upper body elevation.

      The ACS resource center pointed me to this guide for post-surgical exercises, once the surgeon gives the okay:
      http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/moreinformation/exercises-after-breast-surgery

      I would also move anything your wife wants to access to a location where she does not have to raise her arms. Bless you for your foresight and your care, and blessings to you both!

      over 6 years ago
    • annemarie's Avatar
      annemarie (Best Answer!)

      Yes, the cup with the lid! I think this is a great basis for a List of Essentials. Also, a bunch of DVD's although with streaming video which was not really available in 2006 when I was recovering, the DVD's may not be such a big deal. I liked having TV series, silly movies, anything to distract me in between naps. One other important thing, follow the instructions regarding pain meds. I always took mine "on a clock" for the first 24-48 hours after surgeries (yes, there have been several). Much easier to manage the pain if you stay ahead of it. I subscribe to the belief that all of my body energy is needed for healing and not for fighting through pain, especially those first couple of days. Again, just my two cents-as they say in other groups, take what works and leave the rest!! All the best to you. Sounds like she will be in good hands. Holding you in my thoughts.

      over 6 years ago
    • KLC's Avatar
      KLC

      I think it very prudent of you to research what you can do to prepare ahead of time. The surgery is very difficult for some people as it's not just a typical procedure; there's an emotional component involved as well as the obvious fear factor when dealing with cancer. Check out the website tlcdirect.org. They have little camis with front pockets for the drains that she may find helpful.

      over 6 years ago
    • debsweb18's Avatar
      debsweb18

      In addition to what everyone else said
      For drains- the last time I had them I had a zippered bag with a shoulder strap that had timed medicine with tubes going to my incisions. As the medicine decreased, there was room to put my drains in. Something that would be similar is a belt bag or fanny pouch. That worked well for me.

      When I had my flap surgery I lived in my recliner. I had a table on each side so I could easily reach everything- my kindle, medicines, kleenix, wipes etc. The best thing my husband did was put a long pcv pipe on the recliner lever and attach a rope. I had very limited range after my flap surgery- much worse than I did after my mastectomy, so this really helped me to get in and out of the chair.

      Hope this helps!

      over 6 years ago
    • MoveIt2012's Avatar
      MoveIt2012

      I was given, from the cancer center boutique a camisole that has Velcro pockets to hold the drains. It also has removable foam breast forms. My first thought was I would use it all the time but the first week it's not comfy for that. However, it does help when going out so I'm not as self conscious. When not wearing that I have them hanging on a shoelace around my neck. I am also using tanks at home. My surgeon had me in the shower the next day. For me, that was great but I didn't do a huge amount of bathing more standing under the water to get familiar with the sensation on the actual incision.
      Eat lots of protein and like Annemarie said take the meds on schedule for the first few days, along with a stool softener. And move around as possible. Not housework, just some movement. For me opening and closing the car door was uncomfortable the first couple of days. The recliner is a lifesaver just make sure she can use the lever easily. Reach might be a problem.

      over 6 years ago
    • Pate4321's Avatar
      Pate4321

      I had a mastectomy 5/1/13 I was in the hospital one night. Before my surgery, my surgeon gave me a prescription for 2 camisoles. They held the drain lines in place. I also bought flip flops and 2 front opening cotton robes. The flip flops were helpful because I could just slip them on. The robes, well I literally lived in them for the first 2 weeks. The camisoles I wore the entire time I had the drains. My first drain came out after about a week, the second one took 8 weeks. I didn't have any pain. This is because as part of the surgery, the nerves were cut. I was very tired for the first weeks.

      As long as I had a drain, I was very limited in what I could do. No driving, no laundry, no reaching higher than my shoulder. I was also given some exercises to keep my shoulder from freezing.

      Drains are each removed when the respective daily output gets below a certain level. There was absolutely NO PAIN whatsoever when the drains were removed. They are not attached to anything internal. They are held in place at separate incision site by a couple of stitches. Make sure the drain tube is taped at the incision site to keep them from pulling. Pulling does cause pain.

      I was not allowed to shower for the first 2 weeks. Yuck. I washed myself daily with a washcloth. At two weeks, I was given waterproof bandages. Oh that was a happy day! I could wash my hair and shower. I felt human.

      I was told by my surgeon to walk every day starting the day home from the hospital. He didn't give me a distance or a time, just told me to walk. For balance, I did use a cane the first few days.

      I slept the first night home in my recliner. From there on I slept in the bed on my left side. (my right breast was removed) I slept with a small hard pillow under my right arm. I should mention we have a temprapedic mattress. Its like sleeping in sand, So I didn't really move or turn in my sleep. I don't think a hospital bed is needed.

      We stocked the freezer ahead of time with frozen meals.

      Thats about all I can think of for now, hope it helps.

      over 6 years ago
    • Julie99's Avatar
      Julie99

      First, your wife is so lucky to have you. Just remember to take care of yourself during this time too.
      Second, you've gotten some wonderful answers her!
      I slept on the sofa recliner for a few weeks. It was just easier. I had pillows yoder each arm to prop them up on all the time.
      The canger center I was at gave me a Jacki Jacket http://www.alittleeasierrecovery.org
      But I made a couple more. Plus bathrobes with pockets inside out worked too.
      I was set up with a visiting nurse to help clean me up & do the drains.
      Otherwise, I had a small table next to the sofa, everything in easy reach. My water bottle was large with a straw and handle. Plates, bowls, mugs, glasses... If they weren't left in the dishwasher clean, they were on the counter so I wouldn't have to reach.
      Oh. And one more thing that was a help, toilet flushable wipes. Twisting, turning and reaching isn't easy. The wipes made it easier.
      And for the few weeks I had the drains, my boyfriend washed my hair in the sink and we got a hand held shower so I could do my waist down.
      Wishing you both lots of luck!!!

      over 6 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      Though I didn't have any drains, I do know if you get a C shaped pillow to wedge under her affected arm, that helps. After my lumpectomy, I practically adopted that little but very important pillow as a part of my body. I like the suggestions for a recliner for your wife, but also if she wants to be in the bed, please talk to your surgeon about what kinds of pillows she will need to prop herself into the right positions as she sleeps. HUGS and God bless!

      over 6 years ago
    • suemartin's Avatar
      suemartin

      Yes, c-shaped pillow was great. I had single mastectomy, was only off work one week. Make sure she does her arm exercises, hurts at the time but we'll worth it when she gets normal range of motion later. You'll be surprised how quick she recovers. I found most of what you hear is worst-case, wasn't as bad as I had expected. But I did spend much time on couch recliner. Get one that's easy to get out of, hard to push off to get up.

      over 6 years ago
    • Jbro's Avatar
      Jbro

      A wedge with pillows on the sides while in bed was comfortable. My surgeon gave me a fabric
      "belt" with two large pockets (it tied in the back) which held my four drains. When I was able to shower I had a lanyard with a clip that would hold the drains. The drains were the worst part - they were in for 2 weeks. Some dry spray shampoo made me feel a little fresher and a friend took me to a salon to get my hair washed when I couldn't shower. Stay ahead of the pain with pain meds. As they told me, pain doesn't make you heal any faster. Best wishes to you both!

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      She will need pjs that button down also. I pinned my drains to a belt around my waist. When I showered (I had a hand held shower) I pinned my drains to a lanyard around my neck. I could only shower from the waist down. I slept in bed almost sitting up with tons of pillows (walmart $2.50) bc we didn't have a recliner. Put things she will need close to her so she doesn't have to reach. The drains are the worse part but they will come out probably within 2 weeks maybe sooner. Once they're out she'll feel 100% better. I also used u shaped headrests. I used straws for my drinks. Make sure she drinks a lot and walks even if its around the house.....helps healing. After the drains are out, it's VERY important to do the arm exercises so she doesn't get frozen shoulders. Eat lightly the first week and lots of protein. You will be surprised how soon she's feeling better. Hugs and prayers for a speedy recovery.

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      First of all, what surgery is she having? I've had unilateral mastectomy, then prophylactic Mx and DIEP flaps. Drains are bothersome to lug around, but not that bad to care for. Mostly did them by myself, except when my son insisted after reconstruction. I learned to tape around them and fasten them to something so there would not be any pulling. Was ALWAYS allowed to shower after getting home from my many surgeries. Just need a lanyard or bag from pain meds after DIEP. I did find out that you shouldn't put the drains in your pants pockets, popped them open. Oops! LOL. The Dr. office or nurses at the hospital should train you on drains and give you a chart to record amount and color, plus some little cups to measure with.
      Looking at the incision after Mx is difficult. I did better than I thought I would. Ask for a puff to put in a sports bra or camisole, especially if she is having a unilateral Mx.
      Always slept in my bed after surgeries. Used pillows to prop myself up. Finding a place for the drains was the biggest hassle.
      Feed her lots of protein now and after surgery. Helps with healing. Start on Miralax as soon as she gets out of hospital. Stay ahead of the pain, altho I was shocked at how little there was and switched to Tylenol right away. She will be very numb in that area. There are not very many nerves in the breast and those will be cut. She will have phantom pains afterwards and even feel itching, etc, where her nipple was. So weird! Drink lots of water and walk as often as possible. Most likely, she will have a weight limit for awhile.
      I hope your wife realizes how lucky she is to have you. You are an amazing man! How are the kids doing with this? I live alone and have always managed most things by myself after help for a few days. Wonderful family and friends are tremendous!
      As I prepare for surgery on Nov 3 to fix my ab bulge, result of DIEP, these things are all in my plans, too. Was told I would have big bulbs on my drain this time. Yuck!
      Prayers continue for your family.

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      I also ask what surgery she is having, unilateral or bilateral mastectomy? with or without immediate reconstruction? Her recuperation to a certain extent depends on what she is having done.

      After surgery she will probably have a binder or surgical bra. The drains have a tag on them that will probably have a safety pin that is pinned on to the binder or bra. It is important not to let the drains dangle (it is also painful to have them dangle). The hospital gave me a camisole to wear at home that has pockets to put the drains in. They also gave me a lanyard that grasps the pins on the drains so when I showered, they would not dangle. The drains come out when the fluid out put is less than 30cc for 24 or 48 hours. It is normal to be able to have one drain that can come out in a week and have one that needs to stay in for a few weeks. She will not be allowed to drive until the drains are out and even then, only when she is doing well and has a good range of motion. My husband emptied my drains for me. They usually have to be emptied more often the first few days just because there is more fluid.

      She will have restrictions on the amount of weight she can lift, usually it is no heavier than a gallon of milk for 4 to 6 weeks. I was allowed to shower the day after I got home from the hospital and I was allowed to get my incision wet, even the drains. Every surgeon has his/her own set of instructions so make sure to follow his/her instructions. A lot of it depends on what he uses to close the incision. Range of motion will be limited, especially until the drains are out. I washed my hair in the kitchen sink.

      For my mastectomy I slept in the bed with my arms propped up on pillows. It was fine for me. Everyone is different so it will depend on what she thinks is comfortable. When I had my diep flap reconstruction, I could not lay with my legs flat because your skin is pulled so tightly, you cannot stretch out. I had a wedge for under my legs and one for my back and head. This is why I say it depends on what surgery she is having done as to what she will need and what her recuperation may be like.

      It is normal to be upset when seeing the scar for the first time and to cry over it. However with today's methods of closing incisions, they are not horrible looking as in the days when they used staples or stitches. Nowadays they use either surgical glue, or tape that just fall off on their own. No stitches have to be removed. My husband told me he was preparing himself to see a horrible incision and he was presently surprised; so was I. I was just upset at seeing my breast gone for the first time and mourning that loss.

      over 6 years ago
    • smishik's Avatar
      smishik

      I think just the idea of you wanting to help is a big thing. I have no mate so I was on my own through out my whole ordeal. Still am. My kids helped out as much as they could but after a while they just stopped. I ended up getting Lymphedema from the cancer so please make sure she is careful with that side of her body. This is a life long curse and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Just let her know you love her and are there for her. Don't let her get you down when she gets down. Just try to bring her up.

      Wish I had someone when I was going through this.

      over 6 years ago
    • smishik's Avatar
      smishik

      I almost forgot. My sister did come up from 6 1/2 hrs away and stayed with me for a while. I will never be able to repay her for being there. She was my lifeline you could say.

      over 6 years ago
    • justoneman's Avatar
      justoneman

      Sorry I neglected to give enough info. My wife is losing one breast. Still waiting for the bracha test to come back but are optimistic she will only lose the one. The cancer is in lymph nodes and the nipple so the entire breast has to come off.

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      Please get educated on Lymphedema since nodes will be removed. Some Dr are becoming more aggressive and having the patient wear a compression sleeve right away. Would have been nice to avoid having the lymphedema. Report any swelling in the arm right away.

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      With lymph nodes excision you must do everything you can to avoid lymphedema. I was told not to have B/P taken on that arm, no shots or giving blood on that side either. Pressure sleeve when flying, don't sleep on that side, careful of sunburns, cuts, etc. no tight clothing or jewelry on that side. Use electric razor to shave. I was told you could even get it 30 years later! I know this is a lot of information for you to absorb but we will be here for you if you need us.

      over 6 years ago
    • ChildOfGod4570's Avatar
      ChildOfGod4570

      Not only should you look out for lymphedema, but you might want to get her a medical alert bracelet or dog tag that instructs no needles or BP on the affected side. This is something that she will have to deal with for the rest of her life. I had one lymph node removed and now have a dog tag that says RIGHT ARM NO NEEDLES OR BP. I can never allow them to take BP or do anything with a needle in that arm for the rest of my life because of the risk of lymphedema. HUGS and God bless!

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      justoneman, thanks for the additional information. As others have mentioned, read all you can about Lymphedema. I don't know how many nodes the surgeon will remove from your wife. The more nodes that are removed, the greater the risk for lyphedema. My sentinel node was cancerous so my surgeon took out 18 nodes. I have lymphedema in my hand, arm and side. For the rest of my life I have to be cautious of repetitive movements with that arm and hand and have to wear compression garments when doing anything repetitive or when it is bothering me. There are two lymhedema organizations that you might find helpful. National lymphedema Network (lymphnet) and LANA (Lymphology Association of North America). (I'm not including web address because they get edited out but you should be able to do a search for the names).

      over 6 years ago
    • justoneman's Avatar
      justoneman

      I need to find a store that sells this stuff! i don't want to buy on the internet without seeing it first. The dog tag idea is great. thank you so much. I am reading about lymphedema now...
      Dang it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the breast pain isn't enough!! I need to worry about this %$#! now!!??

      My wife is a delicate angel. This is breaking me and I cant let her see. Crying at work has to stop also. I swear to God I wish i had the cancer not her. Having real difficulty with anger against God. What is so crazy is my wife and everyone else thinks I am so tough and call me "amazing". There is nothing amazing here. This whole thing sucks.

      I got a therapist for my kids now. Not sure what to do but need to cover all bases. God knows I am over my head. My 9 year old daughter looked in my eye and asked me to make sure Mommy does not die. i said of course and hugged her. She grabbed my face and said" You really promise Dad?" Really?? Breaks my heart

      My son is 13. He gets the same long story and details about hair loss and what to expect. He asks me if this will be expensive. huh???!!!!! Then he says if Mom is bald can I take him to soccer instead becaseu it will be embarrassing. I am speechless.

      over 6 years ago
    • KLC's Avatar
      KLC

      I'm not sure where in New Jersey you live. I live in SaddleBrook. I had a lumpectomy followed by an axillary node dissection because I too had positive lymph nodes. I then had eight rounds of chemo followed by 33 radiation treatments. If it would bring comfort to you or your wife to talk face-to-face with someone who just recently went through it and we live close to each other I'm happy to help in anyway I can. Karen

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      Justoneman, I'm so sorry for your pain. I just want to share what got my husband and me through my breast cancer. I don't know if you attend a church, but my husband and I had much love and support from our church family. They brought food over after my surgery, they prayed for us and with us, they sent cards, gave me a huge basket of items that would be helpful as I went through chemo. I understand your anger and frustration, none of this is easy. You can tell God how angry you are, He can take it. I personally had peace about everything I went through because I gave God permission to control my life. I knew He would get me through it somehow, no matter the outcome, and He did. I refused to let negative thoughts stay in my mind because they would just get me more upset and there was nothing I could change anyway. I know it was probably easier for me to endure all that I have than for my husband because it is harder for me to watch someone I love go through struggles than for me to go through them. Even if you don't belong to a church, I would encourage you to talk with a pastor or counselor, you need support at this time too.

      My 15 year old son (13 at my first diagnosis) was also seemingly very uncaring and selfish about it all. It can be a positive experience for your son in that he may begin to realize life is not all about him and what he wants. My 13 year old surprised me in that when I've had limitations as to how much weight I can pick up from my various surgeries, he actually asks if I am allowed to carry something and will jump in and do it for me......totally not him because he hardly ever thinks of anyone but himself. Ask your wife's surgeon's office if there is a breast cancer support center or something that may give you access to free counseling, support groups, information, etc. Before I had breast cancer, I did not even know such places existed and found my city has a breast center with incredible resources and support.

      I'm so glad that you are reaching out for help. I think it helps a lot to talk about it and to be honest about your feelings. You will be much stronger when this is all behind you.

      over 6 years ago
    • MelanieIIB's Avatar
      MelanieIIB

      Oh I forgot to mention, you say you want to find somewhere to buy some of the stuff that has been mentioned, the compression garments have to be fitted for your wife by a lymphedema therapist so you can wait on that and ask her doctor.

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      Justoneman take one day at a time. I got a Rx for Xanax when i was first diagnosed and it helped TREMENDOUSLY. You may want to look into it. It's been 2 months since my surgery and sometimes I think the emotional roller coaster I went through when I was diagnosed was worse than my bilateral mastectomy! Also, don't be upset by what your son said. Teenagers get embarrassed by everything!! And YES you are right.....CANCER DOES SUCK!!! You and your wife need to keep telling yourself that it's getting rid of the cancer in her body! Wish I could be there to help you & your wife get through this rough road. You are stronger than you think. This will soon be behind you. Hugs and hugs to you and your wife.

      over 6 years ago
    • Judytjab's Avatar
      Judytjab

      Oh, and you can probably get most of the things you need at walmart, such as pillows, lanyard (which your kids might have), straws etc. I found nice button down pajamas at Marshall's.

      over 6 years ago
    • mofields' Avatar
      mofields

      Go to your local hardware store and get a couple of canvas nail holders - fantastic to hold the drains, especially for showering (I had two drains after my surgery and could shower the day after I got home). A notebook to write down all the different prescriptions to keep track of what they are, dosages, and when take them (keeps from over medicating), a nice basket to hold all the medical gear - notebook, pens, alcohol wipes, bandages, ointments, etc. that you'll get from your surgeon or hospital (keeps everything in one place).

      If you have close friends or pals at work, maybe they can have some make ahead prepared meals. I teach and my teacher colleagues each brought a dinner home for my family for almost 2 weeks after my surgery. Do some grocery shopping prior to surgery and get some other snack essentials - quick things to make for breakfast, lunch.

      You will need to do a LOT of the household chores or hire someone - she won't be able to lift anything more than 5lbs. for at least two weeks, or more. If you've got family coming they could help with that part.

      I know there's a lot. The most important items to have are Patience, a Good Sense of Humor, and Faith. These will get you through the most trying times.

      over 6 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      Peninsula Medical offers patients a free lymphedema alert band. It took me about two weeks to get mine after I filled out their form online:
      http://reidsleeve.com/alertband.htm

      I have a photo of it in this blog entry:
      http://csn.cancer.org/node/275069

      I am also a caregiver (my partner has MS) and have benefited from these online support sites:

      http://www.caregiving.com -- very active grassroots network. Holds #carechat tweet chats on alternate Sunday nights. Has podcasts, webinars, forums, groups, chats, and other resources.

      http://thecaregiverspace.org/ -- another excellent grassroots network. Also has webinars, forums, etc.

      http://www.caregiver.com -- more corporate than the other two but also a good source of support. Sponsors one-day Fearless Caregiver Conferences across the US, free to family caregivers.

      You are not alone. Also, some hospitals and cancer centers have support groups for caregivers. Caregivers are also welcome at most if not all BC support groups.

      over 6 years ago
    • Pate4321's Avatar
      Pate4321

      Oops forgot, yes lymphedema is a life long concern. As the others have said there are life long restrictions on that side. No iv, no bp, no blood draws. No lifting over 15 pounds.

      I wear the sleeve for long drives, air travel. I also wear gloves when gardening or anything that could cause a cut or blister...

      I was given a prescription for the sleeve by my surgeon. I got it filled at medical supply store. They measured my arm and hand to make sure I got the right ones. My prescription was for 2 sets, this way you can wash one and wear one. My surgeon gave me a booklet of information about lymphedema. He also gave me information about local support groups as well as information about American Cancer Society. Infact that was one of the reasons I felt good about him was that of all the people I saw that day at his office, he was the one who gave me support info. I took my partner with me to the appointment, she took a notebook listing all my questions, and she took notes during the appointment.

      Also, another website I found extremely helpful is www.livestrong.com.

      over 6 years ago
    • Pate4321's Avatar
      Pate4321

      One more thing, researching is good, over researching is very bad. Only read what pertains to your wife's diagnoses.

      over 6 years ago
    • sueoop's Avatar
      sueoop

      My best to all of you who are responding. No one has ever described me as delicate and perhaps that's why my husband had me back at work 5 days after the bilateral mastectomy. I slept on in the recliner ends of our sofa, used safety pins to attach the drains to a lanyard around my neck in shower and pinned them to my belt loops when I was out. I was driving to work on day 6 and never got out of the laundry although I did "give up" vacuuming for a while. I resented having cancer and being dependent, (upon the doctors). I wasn't about to let anyone else do something for me that I could take care of on my own. I was never one to ask for help, and I wasn't about to start now. Having breast cancer doesn't make me special and I didn't want anyone treating me like an invalid, that was just a reminder of how broken my body was, I couldn't allow my spirit to be broken as well. 2.5 years and 11 cancer related surgeries later, my husband and I now joke about doing the surgeries by drive by. He drives by the hospital drops me off with an I love you and a kiss and he comes back to pick me up when I ready to go. I hate the fact that this cancer has taken up so much of our time and energy.........3 months of chemo, 28 days of radiation treatments while working full time and part time jobs, You do what you have to do. I have another surgery, I hope the last, on Friday 11/7 and I'll be back to work on Monday.

      You and your wife will get through this, There is nothing fun or easy about it but everyday the sun rises and you'll get up and move on. We all find a way.

      over 6 years ago
    • tweety's Avatar
      tweety

      As for shirts I wore alot of button night gowns and sweets so I would be comfortably I slept in a recliner for about a week than I slept propet up the dranes are pretty easy to take care of will need drained a couple times a day and amount recorded for the dr good luck and god bless you both give her hugs from a fellow survivor

      over 6 years ago
    • annemarie's Avatar
      annemarie

      You are overwhelmed and understandably so. Remember this: Take Care of YOU. There is quite a burden that goes along with being the caregiver AND being dad to two kids who are still quite young. I think you are doing a great thing by talking here to get some answers to your questions. Getting a therapist for the kids is an excellent idea. I know there are books (age appropriate) available that may help. Breast Cancer Husband is one book my husband found to be helpful. (It was a gift to him from a friend of mine who realized he could use a little support) My mom is also a breast cancer patient so I know a little about both sides of this. I can tell you it's easier to be the one in the gown. Keep talking and we'll keep listening and help in whatever way we can.

      over 6 years ago
    • allison1134's Avatar
      allison1134

      The surgeon/hospital gave me a special top to hold the drains. When I showered I used one of those keychains that go around your neck to hold the drain bottles. I could sleep on my back. The top held the drain bottles in place. Make sure to strip the drain lines daily!

      over 6 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      Although I have Lymphedema, it is pretty well controlled now. Use the sleeve when I feel tightness in my upper arm. Also have a nighttime sleeve and a compression pump that I use as needed. I don't have blood draws, IVs or blood pressures in that arm. But I do all my normal lifting as I live alone, take care of a big yard and a pool, and have grandchildren. Broke my wrists and had surgery with no problems. Just have to be cautious and aware of any changes. I have not altered my life due to this.

      over 6 years ago
    • HeidiJo's Avatar
      HeidiJo

      First of all, let me just say what a wonderful husband you are! It sounds like you are very much putting her needs first. But when things calm down a bit ( I know, that is relative) take some time for yourself, maybe when her family comes in.
      I didn't have breast surgery, I had Lymphoma, and had 4 surgeries on my upper chest area, so I could not turn over.( I like to sleep on my side.) I would build myself a little cocoon on the couch. We have a sectional, so I would use the corner, then put a couple of body pillows on the other side. It was quite comfortable. It may be a matter of trial and error and whatever makes her most comfortable. Best wishes to you and your wife.

      over 6 years ago
    • melanomamama's Avatar
      melanomamama

      I have just browsed these greatly detailed answers, and you are in good hands here. And your wife is in good hands with you at her side.
      Meals: If you post updates on your wife's condition at www.caringbridge.org, I believe they have a place for calendering people's volunteer chores. Then you can put the word out to family, friends, people in your church or whatever, and people can sign up for a night that they will bring a casserole or soup or whatever you might need. I like to ask friends to stop on the way to visit, and pick up ready made food somewhere, even at those prepared food deli sections inside grocery stores. Then I invite them to sit down and eat with me.

      over 6 years ago

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