Post Op R & R – if only one of those stood for reading.

Emily Dickinson quote

By the time you read this I will be relaxing on the West Coast of Ireland, putting the past few weeks behind me and not thinking about the results that I’ll be coming home to.

Having left you last time with my late night hospital discharge I’ll bring you up to date. I feel I should also warn you, this post will be relatively dull as even I can’t find much fun in sitting around doing nothing.

It wasn’t a particularly easy, first night at home, largely due to the after effects of the anaesthetic. I spent the night elegantly propped up in bed trying to ignore, the nausea, sore throat and heartburn. This wasn’t conducive to sleep so I was a bit like a zombie the next day. After the previous nights nausea I made a quick decision not to maintain the Codeine which makes me not only drowsy but nausea and enough was enough. I felt remarkably pain-free just topping up the Paracetamol, so that formed the mainstay of my pain relief over the next week. I did give in to one Codeine tablet at night to help me sleep, but even one tablet had side effects which I could have done without. Be warned dear friends, if you’re ever prescribed this you run the very real danger of severe constipation. Let’s just say, that even with the additional help of Senna tablets and Dulcolax 6 days felt a long time (especially when you’ve been curious to know whether that too would be blue – it was!)

The much sought after comfort bra, came into play on the second night and I’ve been virtually welded to it. I am a convert to these wonderful things and have since bought 2 more pairs (and yes I will still be stepping in and stepping out).

There’s no danger of lounging around in bed too much, as with the threat of an embolism ringing in your ears, getting up and about is the order of the day. In addition there are also prescribed exercises to help maintain arm and shoulder movement and prevent another hideous list of complications. If I’m honest, I was less bothered by the surgery and more scared of the myriad things that could go wrong:-

  • seroma or fluid build up – seromas can appear about 7 to 10 days after surgery. The breast area involved in the surgery may have a spot that’s swollen and feels like there is liquid under the skin. Most seromas are reabsorbed back into your body in about a month, but in some cases it can take up to a year.
  • cording or axillary web syndrome – you’ll often be able to see and/or feel a web of thick, ropelike structures under the skin of your inner arm. You may first notice them when you’re doing something that involves raising your arm to shoulder level or above your head. If it happens, cording typically occurs anywhere from several days to several weeks after your surgery, although there have been individual cases where it appears many months later. The cords tend to be painful and tight, making it difficult for you to lift your arm any higher than your shoulder or extend the elbow fully. This pain and limited range of motion can have a major impact on your day-to-day life.
  • Lymphoedema – is swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid in the surface tissues of the body. This may happen as a result of damage to the lymphatic system because of surgery or radiotherapy to the lymph nodes under the arm (axilla) and surrounding area.

As I am still breathing and showing no symptoms at this stage, I’m assuming I’m safe, only another few days before I can safely dispense with the compression stockings, though the exercises have to carry on a bit longer. I had my first shower after a week which was a vast improvement on getting washed in the sink, and struggling with a jug to wash my hair. Having been banned from using perfumed soap and deodorant on the offending side, I never realised how much you can take such niceties for granted. My OH was very good about it, but I noticed he stayed down wind! I have, thankfully, now had the chance to venture into a town that boasts a Boots and a Holland & Barratt, so I can avail myself of some natural crystal deodorant that should safely do the trick.

After the first few days, I felt remarkably well – as I have done all through this process. It is ironic that in this instance the cancer doesn’t cause the problems as much as the treatment to eradicate it. Sadly, I am fully aware that this is the easy bit and it will get worse further down the line. But I’ll deal with that when I get there – one step at a time.

Right now, I’m feeling fine, just not doing any heavy lifting, driving or anything too strenuous until everything is fully healed inside and out. My only gripe is, that I’ve had two weeks of free time and haven’t read a book (apart from one on Breast Cancer). My concentration seems to have done a runner with Boris, so while I’m pleased to see the back of him, if you spot my mojo can you send it back please.

 

 

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46 thoughts on “Post Op R & R – if only one of those stood for reading.

  1. The wonders of a good wash goes so much for recovery I reckon. Just the thought of a “proper” wash usually perks me up if I’ve been really ill (was like heaven after my c section). Glad to hear you’re taking things easy & treading gently, don’t want to over do things.

    Take care my lovely & avoid codiene like the plague! Xxx

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  2. I hope your enjoying your vacation and feel motivated to read again soon! When I’m stressed, it’s very difficult for me. Reading is a fantastic escape for me when all’s well but when I really need to escape, the ability to concentrate escapes me. I’m sure this has been all-consuming. And then there is the interwebs where you can spend all your time reading about all of the things that can go wrong. And God forbid you get on those boards where everyone posts their experiences… That can be one deep rabbit hole. I know this from personal experience. As for the codeine, I’m with you. It is not fun to be in pain, loopy, and constipated!! But sometimes the need for rest is so great it can’t be avoided. Thanks for keeping us up-to-date. xx

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    • Location is fabulous Ann Marie, currently enjoying seafood chowder and soda bread overlooking the Atlantic. Taking things easy and have left the codiene at home. Don’t have a WiFi signal unless I’m out so less time spent wasted on social media. Reading looks set to make a come back! xx

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  3. Jill my well wishes and thoughts are with you on this journey. While everyone’s journey is different, might I share a big of advice from my mom? (She also has BC) “Take that one positive moment from your day, whether it being able to get your butt out of the bed, or wash what hair you have… and use it to make another bright moment. All those little bright moments turn into a pretty good day” I try to remember this every day… Hopefully that helps.. just rest, read if you can, if you can’t maybe binge watch a show 😀

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    • Your mum sounds very wise Debby. There is saying I love which echoes her philosophy – “every day may not be good but there is something good in every day”. A great thought to live by whatever your circumstances. Give your mum my best wishes for theher ongoing good health x

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  4. So glad to hear your recovery is going smoothly (or at least as smoothly as can be expected). I hope Ireland is just the balm you need to get your reading mojo back! Take care, Jill.

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  5. Pleased you’re doing well Jill.
    Oh I can sympathise with you over the effects of codeine!
    Enjoy your lovely holiday and the healing Atlantic air. We’re on the Atlantic as you know. The air is just so good. The weather can certainly be dramatic though but hope you have a calm period there.
    Enjoy your books again. Look forward to hearing about your choices.

    Caryl x

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    • Thanks Caryl, it’s beautiful here so can’t help but feel better and the air is definitely fresh. I don’t mind dramatic weather (as long as I’m not out in it) it’s great to watch from the comfort of being inside with a culpa. Delighted to report I read a whole book in a day – long time since that happened. I suspect not having WiFi on tap also helped. Can’t promise I’ll review them all, don’t need the pressure – but I’ll certainly give them all a shout out. xx

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  6. Your posts are just wonderful Jill – although I was without wifi on my holiday too, I thought of you often. Delighted to hear that you’re reading again – it’s certainly what sustained me in my darkest days! Much love xx

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  7. You may have lost your reading mojo temporarily but you have certainly not lost any of your spirit and humour. Recuperation unfortunately is exceptionally dull and frustrating because you want to do everything you could pre op but your body is telling you no, not yet, I’m not ready. Eventually it will be willing to co-operate.
    If codeine is bad, don’t try a liquid painkiller called Oromorph. It made me feel spaced out though it did the trick of helping me to sleep. Then I found out its morphine – essentially pure poppy juice. Back in the cupboard with that!

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