Double Mastectomy: 3 Week Update

The past week had some ups and downs.  After three days of walking for 25 to 35 minutes a day and beginning to push myself to become more active, that regimen was shut right back down by my breast surgeon on Wednesday, who said I was doing way too much. So, I spent the rest of the week sulking and sitting and doing more resting.  

She was right, and I know it.  But it sucks.

Having my right drain out since last Monday has definitely been an improvement.  It allows me greater mobility with my right arm.  I can reach above my head with that arm (to about 60 degrees before it starts to pull and hurt).  I haven't had to worry about accidentally yanking on that drain tube, and the drain site incision has been slowly healing.  It's still very tender to the touch, but is much better than having a tube coming out of it!

The left drain continues to be an annoyance, limits my arm mobility, and protecting it from getting pulled makes me hunch my shoulders forward way more than I should, which makes my back hurt.  Unfortunately, it's still producing a decent amount of fluid and hasn't changed colors like it should, so it's sticking around until after Thanksgiving.  That means I have another week to carry it with me.

Showering and getting dressed continues to be very difficult.  Not impossible, and I'm able to do it myself, but I have to be very slow and methodical about it, and make sure I don't reach too far or pull on the drain tube.  Generally, once I'm dressed, I'm in better shape, but the process of getting there is pretty exhausting and uncomfortable.

While my incisions are healing well, I'm still very bruised and tender across my entire chest and down my left side, so even the slightest touch can be painful and sensitive.  Some people talk about their entire chest being numb after a mastectomy -- not the case for me.  I have spots that are numb, but the rest of it is constantly tingling, burning, throbbing and extremely sensitive to touch or fabric, almost like the thin skin that is raw and sensitive after a burn.  That seems to be getting more prominent, not less, and is probably the most uncomfortable and painful feeling so far.  When it's constant, it's just so difficult to focus on anything else.  Medications haven't seemed to help much to make it go away.  Mindless distraction seems to be the best medicine for that ailment.  I asked the nurse about it, and she said, unfortunately, it's common.  I was afraid to ask if it's temporary or permanent...I'm not sure I want to know the answer.  Maybe it means I will have feeling in most of my chest when this is all over, and it's ultimately a good thing.  

I am still spending a lot of my time sitting in a recliner or laying in bed on my wedge pillow so that the pressure on my chest is slightly lessened. I want to wear the softest, stretchiest, most comfortable clothes I can find, because my skin is so extremely sensitive to anything that touches it.  I'm still taking tylenol or ibuprophen a couple of times a day and a muscle relaxer and pain pill most evenings to release the tension and muscle tightness that has built up from protecting it all day long, and to help me fall asleep.  Thankfully, I'm still sleeping well.

I usually have a couple hours of energy in the mornings (after two cups of coffee) where I can think pretty clearly, feel mostly ok, and am able to do something productive (but not physical).  Sometimes that's a little bit of work, or catching up with emails or text messages, or reading or writing.  Usually it's sitting at my desk or in the dining room or outside for some variety.  But, by about 1pm, I'm fading fast, and spend the rest of the day in a recliner, on the couch or in bed. 

I did start driving to run short errands in the middle of last week, and that has gone okay, but my limit is two stops on any outing, and nothing that takes very long to do.  Parking lot spaces are a little hard for me to twist and turn and get out of safely.  I went got my nails done on Friday, but being out for over an hour and sitting straight up in a chair was pretty taxing.

Mainly I'm waiting.  Waiting for the drain to slow down so it can come out. Waiting for the bruising to go down so it hopefully doesn't hurt so badly.  Waiting to be allowed to increase my activity.  Waiting to switch from air-filled foobs to saline-filled foobs and see what kind of challenges that brings.  Waiting to have enough mental and physical energy to go back to work.  Waiting....

I had really hoped to be in better shape this week than I am.  I'm still trying to stay the course and allow my body to heal properly, but it's been extremely tough mentally when I'm physically so uncomfortable.  I kind of want to just sleep until I can wake up and feel better. 

Honestly, I'm tired of hearing myself complain!

Ben has been a saint, taking care of EVERYTHING around the house and with the kids, and empathizing with all my sad sack whining.  If he's complained about it, it hasn't been louder than me, so I couldn't hear it...

Hopefully by 4 weeks out, I'll have more progress to report.



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