Tips and Tricks to Get Through Surgery
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Hey, Hey! As I type this I am just about 6 1/2 weeks post op from having my prophylactic mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction. You can read more about why I had this surgery here.
I want to share some of the things that I used or did to help me get through a very stressful time in my life and help me to recover from a 12- hour surgery. This is part 1. These are things that worked for me and may not work for you. ** Always follow your own Dr's advice and protocol first.**
Part 1 Stress Relief and Prepping
The first thing I did after making the decision to have surgery was to look for a Facebook group. I am not a big FB fan but one thing that book of many faces does right is offering FB Groups. There are groups for everything including one for this specific surgery. I really encourage you to find a group whether in face to face or FB. Your family loves you but only someone walking the same path will truly get what you're going through. Plus it can be a great resource. I constantly asked these remarkable women questions and shared my fears. I felt very prepared going into my surgery based on many of the recommendations of these women.
Next, I went into planning mode. Planning is my thing and I find having a plan to be very calming. I printed out a blank calendar and filled the month of my surgery with things like a pre-surgery exercise plan which included butt loads of squats. Squats are necessary if you want to get your own ass out of bed or a chair since you can't use your arms in the first weeks after a mastectomy. Squat like your life depends on it! It also included deep cleaning my house and filling my freezer with homemade meals. I found it very helpful to see the calendar on my fridge and know I was doing things to get me ready instead of just spending my days in an anxiety spiral.
I also spent my days with the intention to stay calm and positive. This isn't always easy to do or sometimes even practical since we're humans living in the real world but I did my damnedest to protect my mental state. I have said before that I protect my mental health like it is one of my children. Falling into a depression was a real, true concern for me.
Some of what this looked like for me:
Meditation - I use the app called Insight Timer but use whatever app works for you
Journaling - My journaling practice is spotty at best but I did try to capture some of what I was going through as a way to remember and to process my many emotions.
Positive TV & movies - I refused to watch anything that seemed stressful to me. My husband was so patient with me about this one. I used any time watching TV as a time to laugh, be inspired or get lost in a story not to have a mini panic attack
Positive music - I love music and I love making playlists. So naturally, I made a Healing playlist for the hospital. I included songs that meant something to me and made me feel good. I didn't watch any TV in the hospital. I only listened to my own playlist and the one my sister made for me. One of the nurses said she loved my room and wished she could always have a soundtrack while putting in a catheter. Yeah, sadly she was putting my cath in at the time : (
CBD oil....sigh... I hesitated to add this one for fear or a little miss judgy pants showing up wagging a finger at me but ya know what, this post isn't for you it's for the Girl who is barking at everyone she loves, full of anxiety that she can't sleep or keep a string of thoughts together. You can read more about CBD oil on your own, you're a big smart girl but I did try it for myself after speaking with my surgeon first of course and I found it helpful. Not like a fix all, end all kind of helpful but just one more tool in my kit combined with other healthy habits kind of helpful.
Pilates & yoga - these two practices are everything to me. I could go on and on but I won't. If pilates and yoga are not your thing that's cool, just find your thing and do it! make it a practice. You will find so many more benefits other than getting physically fit. I follow The Balanced Life for Pilates and Yoga with Adrian for yoga
Healthy eating - I could do a whole series of blog posts on how I feel about healthy eating! For me, I gave up all sugar for an entire month leading up to my surgery. I don't want to come off as too preachy so all I will say is this: your life is a gift don't waste it and don't abuse it. Please don't take your health for granted. Ok, that's all I will say. You're a big smart girl and I know you know how to live your life. ;)
Boob Voyage party!
The last thing I did to prepare was to have a party! My husband threw me a Boob Voyage party. Yep, he really did. We had a boob cake(covered in a purple bra made of frosting of course & made by the wonderful Sweet Treats by Lisa), lots of breast puns like "thanks for the mammaries" and my whole family even wore my fave color, purple. We had pink drinks had listened to you guessed it a party playlist that I put together. It was so nice to have my family around me helping me to laugh and enjoy myself. I also used this time to honor and remember my family members who unfortunately didn't know about our cancer gene of Chek2 and as such weren't
given the opportunity to do anything provocatively or preventative. This party was the best form of self care. It helped me to celebrate my life, to re-frame what I was going through and reminded me that I am surrounded with Love & Light.
We came for family We came for all that's good that's how we'll walk away We came to break the bad We came to cheer the sad We came to leave behind the world a better way - From Salvation Sing by Avett Brothers
I will share more soon about specific items that helped while in the hospital and while recovering at home. **Read part 2 here
Are there any go to's that you have in place for dealing with a stressful time and/or surgery prep? I would love for you to share! Send me a message or comment below.
Thanks for listening!