• Is it realistic to have modesty while having help emptying the drains post op bilateral mastectomy?

    Asked by Grandy on Monday, April 22, 2013

    Is it realistic to have modesty while having help emptying the drains post op bilateral mastectomy?

    My dad's wife wishes to help me with the drains in the beginning. I don't relish the idea of sitting there topless while the drains are being emptied.

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • Nancebeth's Avatar

      I was never topless while my drains were being milked. They were cmoing out my sides, under my armpits and pinned to my shirt. We just unpinned them, emptied and pinned them back to the shirt again. Are your tubes too short that the drains can't be outside your shirt? Or can you just open a button or two for drains to be emptied?

      over 5 years ago
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Grandy,

      Hi. I'm Aliza, a BC patient and Med Librarian. I offer answers (usually non med) to all sorts of questions, referrals to docs, hospitals, institutions, agencies, books, media, etc. as well as research when requested or required.

      You ask a very good and reasonable question. I think however that unfortunately the world of cancer is an invasive one, not just on a physical (body) level, but on a privacy level as well. You've found if you had your mastectomy in a teaching hospital that your breast surgeon and/or plastic surgeon had rounds (came to visit you in the hospital) and probably brought along a Fellow or two (this Fellow could be a man or woman, the word Fellow simply implies someone who's studying surgery or plastic surgery on the post-graduate [after they've received their M.D.) level and you've had to bare your chest for them to see (it's one of their ways of studying). It's no big deal to them-they've seen hundreds of surgeries before. There is nothing sexual and certainly nothing to be ashamed of here.

      My feelings are the same for someone who is as kind as your Dad's wife who would offer to do such a thing. But if modesty pervades, you can always drape a towel or sheet around you as best you can as long as it doesn't prevent her from the task at hand. I really wouldn't make too much of this. The most important thing here is your health and this woman is offering to take care of you. No one thinks any the less of you because you have breast cancer and eventually you will most likely be reconstructed (don't know your plans), so let her do what needs to be done for your health. It's very important.

      You have my best wishes for a speedy recovery!

      Warm Wishes,

      over 5 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      are you having reconstruction? if the answer is no, then you will probably be able to handle this task yourself. even if you are having reconstruction, the task does not require you to lift your hands above your head or anything like that. i was able to do it myself without problems. i went into the bathroom, pulled the stopper out of the drain bulb, squirted it into my measuring device (you have to keep track of fluid production), squeezed it, re-stoppered it, and stuffed it back into my pockets or re-pinned it to the inside of my sweather. the tubing is long enough that the drains are right at your hip bones.

      when you're about to take a shower, get a lanyard or something similar to hang around your neck - clip the drains onto the lanyard... shower... if you are having reconstruction, then you might need help with hair... but you can probably ask your husband for help with that.

      my last comment is just be honest with your SM - if you're feeling shy about something, ask her to help you stay covered when you ask for her help. i cannot think of any reason why you cannot have modesty while handling the drains. but, even better, ask the nurses to teach you / help you learn how to do it yourself while you are still at the hospital... they are wonderful sources of advice and help!

      good luck!

      over 5 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I was the caregiver for my Mom who had Lung Cancer, as well as my Dad, who had prostate cancer. We (my wife, myself, brothers 2, and their wives,) took turns staying with them during their last months. From my point of view I can tell you I was terribly uncomfortable doing whatever had to be done. It's just human nature I guess. But at the same time, I was determined that we were going to do whatever it took to make their time easier, and we did.

      As a patient, I have had 3 rounds with cancer, I have gotten to the point that I'm numb to the whole situation. Doesn't bother me to get naked If I have to. They have seen it before, I just act like Im a animal running through the process, it's not really me. I understand it's still not comfortable for some.

      over 5 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      I did not have to undress at all to empty my drains. As Nancebeth says, you just unpin them and take care of it.

      Having said this, if you are not comfortable having your father's wife assist you with your drains you should say so. Make sure you get a complete understanding of how to take care of the drains before you leave the hospital. Then, thank your father's wife for her offer but tell her you feel comfortable managing the drains yourself. Period. If she really wants to help suggest something else you'd rather have her do: make meals, do laundry, just keep you company, whatever.

      over 5 years ago
    • Grandy's Avatar

      Thanks all! I have little hair (already had chemo), and the DM is ahead of me.

      Your comments are encouraging. I think I'll be pretty happy doing it myself! Again, thanks!

      over 5 years ago

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