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Patient care post double mastectomy and reconstruction

Med-Surg   (138 Views 3 Comments)

MHDNURSE has 21 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN, NP and specializes in Pediatrics, Community, and School Health.

12,727 Profile Views; 1,307 Posts

Hi,

I am heading down to care for my stepmom this Friday to help her after her double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery.  If all goes well (surgery is happening as I type this) she will go home Thursday, but I am really hoping they keep her until Friday.  I do not have a lot of information about what to expect, other than what I have researched online. I am guessing my main concerns will be measuring drain output, monitoring for fever/signs of infection, making sure she is staying ahead of her pain, making sure she is eating/drinking...anything else you can tell me?  I am trying not to be too much of a nurse when I go 😉 I am planning on grocery shopping and prepping a bunch of meals for her (I am only there until Monday), laundry, etc.  I know I should also be prepared for the emotions that she will undoubtedly have. My dad who was her soulmate died two years ago unexpectedly and I know there will be feelings about that, in addition to her grieving the loss of her breasts and her identity as a woman.  I am trying to just support her however she needs but would love any advice from a care giver standpoint that you learned from having BTDT.  Thanks!

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romantic has 9 years experience and specializes in Med-surgical; telemetry; STROKE.

182 Posts; 6,163 Profile Views

Hi. She is very lucky to have you. 

I took care of the patients after mastectomy. 

You are right-- pain will be the main issue. But as a nurse you are an expert in this area. In addition to the medications, ask her not to raise her arms above her head for a week-- let the wound/wounds heal. So, no hair brushing for her 🙂

Another important thing to watch as you said-- drains for output and developing of hematoma. Watch for hematoma, a bad and dangerous thing.  Too much bloody output, too much pain-- bring her back to the hospital.

What does define us as women? Our breasts? or there is something else, much deeper within us...

Here is a small abstract from New York Times:

Twenty to 30 years ago, women with breast cancer worried that even if they survived the disease, the loss of a breast would somehow diminish their femininity and sexual attractiveness. Many women hid their mastectomies, disguising their single-breasted figures with cumbersome prostheses even around family members.

Today, women are less likely to perceive breast cancer as an attack on their innate feminine nature. For one thing, more and more women are having surgery that removes the malignancy but spares the breast. When a mastectomy is necessary, more and more women are having reconstructive surgery using an implant or their own fatty tissue.

And while breasts are still viewed in many societies and cultures as a symbol of womanhood, nurturing and sexuality, many men no longer consider the loss of a woman's breast as having lessened her physical attributes or sexual desirability. 'We Are What We Are'

"When it comes to self-image, you can't let cancer dictate who and what you are," said Jean Ettesvold, a 60-year-old retired social worker from Grand Rapids, Mich. who had a mastectomy just over a year ago. "We are what we are, in spite of the trauma we have suffered."

 

 

I wish your stepmom fast recovery. 

 

 

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MHDNURSE has 21 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN, NP and specializes in Pediatrics, Community, and School Health.

1,307 Posts; 12,727 Profile Views

Thank you @romantic interesting article!

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