Advice on Taking Care of a Spouse after a Mastectomy

Posted by Sirref @sirref, Mar 8, 2022

My wife is considering double Mastectomy and I need to know what I need to prepare/learn/read/understand before and after the surgery? We live in the DFW metro. Do not know if this ?? Goes at this site or the caregiver site.
Appreciate any info.

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I had a double mastectomy with tissue expander placement last December. I scoured the internet for preparation tips, so I feel the need to help others prepare!
Here is a list of the things that did and didn’t work for me:
1. My husband (who helped me with my drains) and I really liked the Brobe. It kept all of the drains and tubes tucked away so that they never fell out or got caught on anything. I wore this day and night for 2 weeks. The fabric is thin, so I would tuck it up in my jackets to go for walks and to even go to my first post-op doctor’s appointment. I went for walks daily with my husband which were quite tiring at first, but really felt great to get fresh air! He would drive me to a park where we would go for walks. I wasn’t interested in parading around my neighborhood post surgery. (Nice to be in a place where we wouldn’t run into anyone.) I may need to wear the robe again at my next surgery when I have my expanders swapped for implants.
2. Seatbelt cover. Never bought one. I just used a towel. Glad that I did not waste money on this item.
3. Breast pillow with arm cutouts. I never felt comfortable putting anything on top of my chest that would add any pressure to my surgical wounds. I have used it after I was allowed to lay on my side but never really used it for it’s intended purpose. I do feel like it was a waste of money.
4. Super soft throw blankets. I was given a few of these as gifts and they really were great for sleeping and bunching up under arms and along side of my abdomen.
5. Roll pillow. I have never been a back sleeper and actually have a lot of pain sleeping on my back. I used this to put under my legs at different times to adjust the pressure on my spine.
6. Have the post-recovery resting area in your home all ready to go. My husband bought a remote controlled adjustable bed that raises the feet and head. It came with a mattress as well. This was the most important purchase that we made in preparation for my surgery. Having the ability to raise the head of the bed allowed me to get out without assistance. Because it was a twin xl, I could put items on a stand on each side of the bed. This was very helpful as you need a lot of things easily accessible for those hours that you are awake waiting for time to pass by. We also put a standing lamp with a cord switch near the bed. The switch was taped to night stand so that I could easily get to it in the middle of the night, if I needed to drink water or eat crackers.
7. My hairdresser offered to wash my hair, but my husband enjoyed doing it. It was the best thing ever to have my hair washed and dried. Just having my husband massage my head felt good and kept my mind off my chest for a bit!
8. Have saltine crackers by your bedside to take with the pain medication. This really helped with the nausea and tummy aches. I am not a big snacker, but let me tell you, I went through a lot of crackers!
9. Have stool softeners ready and maybe some prune juice. The constipation was incredibly uncomfortable especially be cause you had to lay on your back. It certainly motivated me to get off the pain medicine as soon as possible!
10. For the first two weeks post surgery, I slept a lot, read books, texted friends and watched a little tv. My husband made dinners or served ones that were given to us by our sweet friends.
11. I think one of the most important things that my husband helped me with was pain management. I was very fuzzy minded for the first week, and it would have been hard to effectively manage my pain on my own. The key is to keep up with your meds. We alternated Tylenol and Oxycontin. (I would take Tylenol half way through my dosage time for the pain med.) My husband had a notebook in the bedroom to write down times and doses of medication as well as a separate sheet for drainage amounts.
12. For the first 3 days, I could not pick up a cup, so I used the hospital cup with the straw which was awkward. I think a water bladder like the kind that you put in hiking and biking backpacks would have been ideal. It is so important to drink lots of water!
13. Have your cell phone nearby in the house so that your wife can call you when she needs something. My vocal cords were stressed from the intubation, so I did not have much of a voice. With that said, have soup and ice cream ready for your wife for the first couple of days after surgery.
14. I have really liked a couple of bras that I purchased prior to surgery from AnaOno. Styles: Rora: most comfortable and stretchy. It comes with inserts./ Bianca: cuter but not as comfortable. These can be covered by insurance but the whole process takes a while as it requires a prescription from your surgeon. The quality is outstanding and I wore them for 2.5 months.
15. Have A&D ointment ready for your nipples if you have a nipple sparing mastectomy. This keeps the skin healthy and keeps it from getting more irritated. I also used this on my incision sites once the tape fell off.
16. A wipe board or small chalkboard for counting the days would have been fun. Passing each day was an accomplishment early on. At the end of each day, I would say okay I made it past day number….. I stopped counting at day 26, so that must have been when I started feeling better!

After writing all of this down, I am reliving my mastectomy experience. I am so very grateful that I had someone help me post-surgery. My heart goes out to those living alone and having to deal with this on their own. You are truly the strongest women! For women the have husbands, let them help you as it is a positive experience for all. They can feel so helpless and by allowing them to help, you can make feel better.

Good Luck with your wife’s surgery! This too shall pass and you will both be stronger because of this experience!

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Brilliant. Nice "giving back, paying it forward" gift to @sirref, Suzan.

Frankly, this whole thread is a gift for anyone getting ready for surgery. What a team.


@sirref Ferris, How are you doing? How's your wife doing post surgery?


@sirref Ferris, How are you doing? How's your wife doing post surgery?

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I really hope we hear from him soon. Love that you are staying in touch.


Hello Ferris,

How is your wife feeling? How are you feeling?

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