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DIEP Flap Survival
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JulieNewSurvivor posted:
Sept 7, 2012: Bilateral Mastectomy and immediate DIEP Flap reconstruction. I live in Washington, DC, area and have great insurance and access to some of the best surgeons and doctors in the country and for this I am v. thankful. Dr. Cocilovo, Medical Director for Inova's Breast Care Institute performed the bilateral mastectomy and Drs. Venturi and Mesbahi performed the DIEP Flap. I am 49 y.o., 140 lbs, 5'5", active adult: swing dancing, running with dog, heavy yard work, clean my own house.

Five days at Fairfax Hospital and I was most thankful to go home. Nurses ran the gamut from saints and saviors to the other end of the spectrum. A friend who is an administrator within INOVA was appalled by nurses and lack of protocol in ICU when she came to visit me as a visitor. She apologized, took notes and plans to take action.

My doctors told me at two weeks I would be feeling better. Indeed, I do feel better. I am off narcotics but taking 4 ibuprofen every 6 hours for pain. The pain does wake me up in the middle of night right at the six hour time frame.

Just a few days ago I was finally able to get myself in an out of bed. I am walking around the block 1-3x/day with a friend at a glacial pace. It is a big and hilly block. Sometimes I walk a little stooped, but I'm trying to straighten up. Scars are healing. I have one scar, low on my abdomen, from hip to hip that is healing nicely. A new belly button, also healing nicely. Left breast requires antibiotic ointment and is tender and sore. Right side is also a little sore.

I put on 22 lbs of water weight which is finally gone today. I brought loose fitting clothes to the hospital and none of them fit when it was time to go home. My sis ran out to Kmart and bought me a small wardrobe two sizes larger than I usually wear to accommodate my extra weight, swollen belly and breasts, and the four drains. I was given a lot of saline every time my BP dropped. My Oncologist said this amount of weight gain happens all the time.

Pillows, pillows, pillows. The squishy pillows are awesome in the car across my lap because the seat belt runs straight across the belly scar. Silky PJ's make it easy to get in and out of bed. A "Grabber" is essential. Relocate everything at a lower level prior to hospital stay. T-shirt dresses are now my most comfortable clothing option. Pants are binding on the belly and I no longer am required to wear a restrictive bra 24/7. Thankfully, the weather is cooperating with the t-shirt dresses and flip flops. My sis stayed with me the first week at home and took care of all the little things, parenting my kids, screening calls, etc and it was nice to have her here to help me get up in the middle of the night when the pain meds wore off. I had to step up and do more after she left but it felt good to let my body heal the first week and let the pain meds work while I slept a lot.

My doctors and Breast Navigator told me that as a rule, the first 72 hours are the worst for this procedure and I agree with this. They also said that two weeks is a turning point for most patients. I agree, as I am writing this at exactly the two week point.

I'm tired by about 5 p.m. I get up at 6 a.m. with my daughter to see her off to school. A few walks per day, light housework, thank you letters, insurance paperwork, phone calls, emails, bills keeps me busy at this point. Evenings are dinner and a movie.

I hope this helps you with your recovery. I wish you the best!
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