Running Girl tells me that it’s Day 5 since my mastectomy — that’s it???  Why do I feel like this has been going on for weeks??


Only 5 days since my mastectomy, each day has been a little different than the previous one. There was one whole day (was it Day 3?) when I was up and awake the whole time, surprised by my energy and non-drowsy reaction to the codeine. Day 4 was different — I slept nearly the entire day. Day 5, I anticipate will be in-and-out. Though it’s only 9:05am, I’ve already been  back to bed twice since I woke up, getting out of bed first to get some coffee, then back to bed; got up to pour some milk for the two little ones, then back to bed; then, finished packing the big girl’s lunch, then back to bed. I’m worn out quickly but also recharged fast, too.


Yesterday was a huge milestone in being able to shower by myself, but I’m finding a tough time doing tasks that involve fine motor skills. Writing “Thank You” notes today nearly sent me into a pain flurry and strained muscles that just didn’t feel right. I can reach above my head for a roll of toilet paper, but I find it difficult to get it onto the actual toilet paper dispenser, squeezing that little roll holder and getting into the contraption is comical! Brushing my teeth is comfortable, yet pushing on the soap dispenser takes every ounce of energy I have in my body.


I am able to pour a 1/2 gallon carton of milk, carefully and with 2 hands, and not strain or spill. I am able to zip up my daughter’s jacket, lift my laptop (with 2 hands) onto the bed, and even manage to plug the laptop into the outlet. Granted, all of this take 10x longer to get done, but I’m physically able.


This time has also been an excellent lesson in multitasking. Usually, in the morning, I’m pouring milk cups, washing dishes, packing a lunch, yelling for kids to get dressed, feeding the dog, and answering questions from “Why is the sun yellow, Mom?” to “Why do I have to wear a jacket today??” Today, I could only do 1 thing. As I was rinsing out my daughter’s sandwich container (which took about 3 minutes as opposed to 3 seconds), I was unable to turn my head to “Look, Mom! Look!” nor get to the dog who was begging to be let outside. One thing at a time. One thing at a time.


Some Drain Info:

For anyone finding this blog searching for drain information, I wanted to write a little bit here about the J-P Drains.

Five days later, I still have my original 4 J-P drains. They aren’t as bad as a I thought, actually hanging off of my own body. When my two sisters had their drains, I couldn’t bear to look at them; it just was too painful to imagine. But, the truth is, there is very little feeling in my chest area. So, I don’t feel the drains IN me. I do, however, feel pain at times at the actual insertion site. It’s a quick pain, but the drains occasionally like to remind me they are there.


I’ve experimented with drain positioning, and still haven’t figured out what works best. In the hospital, I was moving so little that it really didn’t matter. I had them pinned to my hospital gown on the side/front. When I came home, I pinned them to my button down night shirt (a MUST HAVE!!!) more towards the front of my shirt. I did try using a rope/lanyard, but that wasn’t comfortable for me — I felt like it was pulling at my neck too much. The lanyard, though, was VERY useful in the shower as a way to keep my drains out of my way. Some people have posted that they worry about the pins coming undone — not me, they’ve been just fine.


At Day 5, the drain sites look fine. No redness (I am on an antibiotic until they come out), but they do feel itchy sometimes. And, depending on how I’m sitting, they sometimes feel uncomfortable. I hear that once the drains come out, the real “healing” can begin. Looking forward to that day!


The compression bra is probably one of the more annoying parts of the healing. It’s a velcro bra that holds everything in place — very tightly. The bottom of the compression bra digs into my rib cage area, so I got all MacGuyver, took some really thin pads (yes, menstruation pads) and tucked them in with the soft side facing my skin. Heh, it worked 🙂


An unexpected thankful expense:

Since the 3rd grade, I’ve worn glasses. And, thankfully, as the daughter of an eye doctor, I was able to wear contact lenses by junior high school. For nearly 24 years, I have been a faithful contact lens wearer, using my glasses only to see from the bathroom to my bedroom. I’ve never been one for glasses.


Two days before surgery, I reviewed the instructions for arriving at the hospital. “No contact lenses allowed.” Gasp! No contact lenses?? I began searching for my glasses, which I knew were more than 5 years old (I got glasses in solidarity with Joli when she was required to wear them for protection). Those glasses were also 5 prescriptions ago, and my eye sight was completely different now.


“We’ve gotta get glasses, Jorge. Quick!”


Thanks to some connections (thanks, Dad), we got to see the eye doctor, got prescriptions, and headed to the nearest 1-hour glasses place. Thanks to donations, paying for new  glasses was possible (no, I  didn’t buy expensive, fancy glasses –  my prescription is just so awful that I need to order to the featherweight lenses). If you’ve ever had to buy glasses, you know that even the cheapest you’ll walk away with is in the hundreds of dollars…. sigh.


As soon as I could, after surgery, I reached for my contact lenses and put them on. I hate glasses. They make me feel disoriented, disconnected, and well, dizzy. But, because my eye sight went through some weird changes (due to medication? exhaustion? who knows!), contact lenses weren’t working for me. I only could wear glasses. Even now, at Day 5, I’m still unable to put on my contact lenses.


I can’t imagine these past 5 days without glasses, now. I have been able to see. Seeing has helped me to look at my drainage sites, find the small pin holes in my drain bags, and move around safely. Seeing has helped me to write, type, read medicine labels, and directions. Seeing has allowed me to focus on the physical needs of my mastectomy.


So, if you’re wondering what some of the funds have been used for, it has been towards buying much needed glasses. It has helped with the costs of driving into Boston, paying for parking, paying for the various medication that I’ve needed at home, and grocery items such as milk and bread. It’s paid for meals for Jorge while he was staying at the hospital with me. Early gifts helped to purchase the body pillow that has been so helpful (it’s a big nest that keeps my arms supported and my back elevated at just the right angle).  An iTunes gift card also purchased a movie for the girls on the night that I came home. It was good to hear them laughing in the living room!


Thanks everyone. I’ve appreciated the notes, emails, comments and support these past few days. As I mentioned before, I really, really tried to do some proper “Thank You” notes but might have to wait until I gain some fine motor strength back. Sorry for the delay! Please know that your gifts have been appreciated!


Peace, love, and noticing the little things,




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