The Days Before Breast Reconstruction Surgery
The days before Phase 1 of DIEP flap or any breast reconstruction surgery puts most women I’ve spoken with through mental gymnastics , present company included. You have arranged for child-care if you have children at home. If you are traveling for your reconstruction surgery and your children will be traveling with you, chances are you’ve scoped out child-friendly venues that their care-taker can keep them occupied with for the week while you recover in hospital. You have packed your bags. You probably thoroughly cleaned your home knowing that will not be done, at least by you, for a bit. All of the incidentals are what keeps you busy and occupied before you leave. That’s a good thing.
Mental Clearance Sale ~ Everything Must Go!
Whether traveling out of town for your surgery or having it done in the same town you live in I suggest getting those “ducks in a row” a few days in advance because the day or two before your surgery should be a time you set aside, if at all possible, to regroup. My mantra is this, “Mental clearance sale! Everything must go!” Don’t cram last minute planning into the day or two before surgery.
Arrange for Comfort While Recovering
That is harder said than done but it is my personal advice. We arrived on a Friday afternoon in the town I had surgery. We traveled by plane over 800 miles to our reconstruction destination. I had my surgery bright and early Monday morning. What that allowed us to do over the weekend was to purchase necessary groceries and sundries before the day of surgery. We stayed at a vacation rental so I was able to arrange all my clothing, prescriptions, and comfort items so they would be easy to retrieve once I left the hospital and came back to the rental for a week of recovery.
Routes and Parking Garages
We also mapped out our route to the hospital. The morning of surgery, the last thing you want is to get lost on the way to the hospital. Know what parking garage you will be parking at. Ask about the fees for parking. In my case, I found out that it was cheaper to purchase a pass for a week rather than to purchase them each day. The reason was that each time my husband entered and exited the hospital the rates started over. By purchasing a week pass he could come and go as he pleased to visit me in the hospital and go back to our lodging to rest.
Allow for R & R and Distraction
We took time to enjoy some of the sites around town. It was good to get out and be among people, shop and explore some restaurants. Just be sure you stay away from smokers if you are out and about. Don’t hang around in places that are wall to wall people to avoid germs. Enjoy some fresh air and good food and stay hydrated. The distraction of being out helped pass the time. It took my mind off of the long surgical procedure that was about to take place.
The Last Supper… for a While
I enjoyed a delicious Greek meal the day before my surgery. My husband actually couldn’t believe how much I ate at that day. It is some of my favorite cuisine and I knew I wouldn’t have any solid food for at least a couple of days. But, I made sure I ate that big meal at noon. The evening before surgery I went really light eating a piece of fruit and some yogurt. I didn’t want to see anything I ate the day before surgery when I woke up after surgery!!
Go Ahead ~ Cry ’til your Dry
The night before can be nerve racking. It’s normal. I cried the night before, quietly and to myself, but I cried. I needed to. It helped cleanse me of the fear that overcomes you. The concerns of anesthesia, the length of the surgery, the immediate time in recovery, the success of surgery are all thoughts that run through your head. Don’t think you’re losing it or weak because you cry or are nervous. It’s normal. I really didn’t sleep that well the night before but I convinced myself it was not an issue because I was in for a nice long nap the next day and lots of rest for the remainder of the week.
Music and Meditation
Take some soft music on your chosen electronic device to help you relax. Do some mind-full meditation. Whatever anyone tells you about focusing on your breathing is worth a try. There is truly some magic in breathing deep, slowly, in and out, as you lie in bed to oxygenate your body and help it to relax.
I took a shower the night before and cleansed with the prescribed anti-bacterial cleanser, Hibiclens. I washed my hair the night before. The morning of surgery I showered again and styled my hair but using no product or hairspray. You want to go in to surgery pristine clean! I thought I’d at least do my hair one more time because I knew by day 2 it would be sticking to my head. ARGH! No deodorant or lotion either. Clear nail polish for your fingers and toes is ok but nothing they can’t see through. They will be squeezing your finger to watch for the capillary refill to make sure you have good blood flow and are hydrated. Squeaky clean body, ladies.
Shut your eyes. Lay back and relax. Tomorrow is go time.