Two Weeks Post-Op — My DIEP Recovery Essentials

I’ve officially made it to two weeks post-op! Overall I’m feeling good. I still have quite a bit of swelling but it seems to be going down…albeit slowly. My pain is minimal, controlled with regular ol’ Advil a few times per day and I’ve been able to do normal human things like driving (short distances), dressing myself, taking walks around the neighborhood, and preparing some simple meals. And as of today I am cleared to go without my cumbersome abdominal binder! My doc’s office said it’s up to me if I wear anything on my midsection now…but I’m not feeling ready to go without any support so I’m wearing some classic high rise Spanx.

I still get tired out very easily and I’m moving slowly when I’m up and about. My range of motion is pretty good so I can reach overhead without help, but bending over to pick things up is uncomfortable (my toddler has been endlessly amused watching me pick up his toys with my feet). I can’t believe I still have a month before I go back to work! Resting and being sedentary is so far from my norm that I get antsy sometimes, but I try to remind myself that even though I’m feeling good I shouldn’t push it because there’s a lot of internal healing still going on.

Now that I’m (hopefully) through the worst part of recovery I’ve been reflecting on what things have been most essential for me in this healing journey. I know some people reading this blog are preparing for surgery of their own, so I figured I’d share my “Recovery Essentials”. Hopefully it’s helpful to someone out there!

To wear:

  • Large button down shirts, loose comfy pants, and slip on shoes
  • Front close surgical bras in a variety of sizes including larger than you think you’ll need due to swelling + drains. I bought size L bras before my surgery but ended up needing 2XL for the first week or so! I’m in L/XL now.
  • An extra abdominal binder so you can swap out while one is getting washed
  • A variety of drain management options (because you don’t know what you’ll like best). I used a drain belt, Pink Pockets, and a cute sweatshirt with built in drain pockets that I found on Etsy.

For hygiene:

  • A loofah on a stick for cleaning those hard to reach places as you’re getting your range of motion back
  • Something to hold your drains while you shower. I used a mesh shower belt (“The Brobe” brand) that I wore around my neck
  • Shower caps because even though I was instructed to shower every day after discharge from the hospital, I did not want to wash my hair every day
  • Face wipes. I used Burt’s Bees brand. It’s easier and more comfortable than washing your face.

For comfort/independence:

  • Power lift recliner (I rented one for a month). I’ve basically lived in this thing since coming home. I sleep in it at night and chill in it during the day.
  • An array of pillows. I’ve been using my “mastectomy pillow” when I ride in the car and to put a barrier between me and the kiddo when we’re sitting together reading books. I also use a soft roll pillow to support my lower back when I’m in my recliner.
  • Maternity pants. Most of the time I’ve just been living 24/7 in sweats and PJ pants, but when I want to feel a little more put together I’ve been enjoying my old maternity shorts and jeans. The soft stretchy maternity band is perfect on my swollen and sensitive tummy.
  • A reacher/grabber. This feels like my silliest purchase…a big claw on a stick. But in those early days home from the hospital it really helped me function independently (eg. getting something from a high shelf in the fridge or picking up the remote I dropped).

Miscellaneous:

  • Sleep aid (with your doctors ok). It has been hard for me to get a good night of sleep since surgery and I’ve noticed that I feel like absolute crap if I don’t sleep well. My doc gave me the ok to use an OTC sleep aid and it really makes all the difference in the world.
  • Sleep mask if the room you’ll be sleeping in (in the recliner presumably) is not dark
  • Various entertainment options that don’t require much brain power…Movies and shows queued up on Netflix, books to read, crossword puzzles, crafts, whatever floats your boat. If you’re anything like me sitting on your ass all day gets super boring. You’ll want a lot of variety to entertain you.
  • High protein snacks. I’ve been having smoothies with protein powder most days to make sure I’m getting my healing protein in.

And most importantly – HELP! Having loving, caring, supportive people around me to keep me company (when I’m up for it) and to help out with tasks I can’t quite manage alone (laundry, child care, etc.) is absolutely essential. I’m so grateful for my incredible support network that has allowed me to make it through these first 2 weeks post surgery!

 

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