What I wish I'd had or known

Even nearly 4 years of research cannot fully prepare a person for a surgery like a mastectomy. As many lists as I read and experiences I pored through, each person's needs and experiences are unique. But it can't hurt to share them either. Maybe what I did right or what I missed will help someone else.

Lists I read: 

For me, it came down to a couple categories: Mental Health, Physical Health and the Tools.

Mentally, I did pretty well.
  • Set my plan (see previous blog post)
  • Be open with my husband, kids, friends about what I wanted and what I needed
  • Reach out to the people caring for my kids so they would not be taken by surprise
  • Planned my Bye Bye Boobs party, complete with ridiculously amazing t-shirts and even more amazing friends
  • Pre-surgical mental health vacation to Disney World
Mentally, the only thing I wish I had done is given myself a real pre-surgery grieving night and maybe had a photoshoot with my pre-surgical body.

Physically, I did ok.
  • I breastfed my last baby for 6 months, stopping approximately 6 months before my surgery. I ended up going for my annual MRI 4 weeks after I weaned and had a biopsy
  • Joined ilovekickboxing.com and upped my game in the months prior to surgery. I'm now jealous I won't be back there for a bit.
  • Chopped off all my hair. This isn't necessary, but it helped mentally (donating to women who don't get the choice I had) and I did not have to rely on my loving husband to do my hair.
  • I also had to have a preop workup. Passed everything with flying colors other than the mammo. ::sigh:: I ended up getting a repeat mammo (from a high school friend -- thanks for not making that weird, Jen!!), further affirming the choice I was making. I was in Disney World when I found out the benign results. 
Physically, I do wish I had done the mammo earlier so I wasn't so crunched for time. I also wish I realized no matter how much I worked that core, I would still need my husband to help me sit up for the first week.

The Tools were mostly covered.
  • The BFFL bra (given to me by the hospital and my surgeons) -- many women will tell you awesome things like Drain Dollies or drain holders are a necessity, but knowing my surgeons gave me this option made those unnecessary for me.
  • The BFFL bag: This has come in handy so many random times over the past few weeks, but the heart pillows in it were invaluable for the first few.
  • Button-down pajamas 
  • Softest zip-up hoodie everrrr 
  • Easy-to-put-on pants:  This isn't something I thought about until close to my surgery. I live in yoga pants and skinny jeans, which would have been too hard to put on. These pants and my old-school Juicy terry cloth pants were lifesavers.
  • Button-down shirts for leaving the house/hotel 
  • A recliner: We moved mine from the baby's nursery into our room and it was by far the most comfortable place for me to sleep once we got home. A month out, I'm still sleeping slightly elevated, but the recliner moved back in with the baby.
  • Food: If you don't have an amazing village like me, make some freezer meals or slow cooker packets so you don't have to think or work your first few weeks home. I cried on a Disney bus when my friends texted me and said I wouldn't need to cook for at least 2 weeks. Cause I suck and totally did NOT prepare ;)
  • Slippers. I had these and these 
The only thing I was majorly missing was a back scratcher! It sounds so random, but the medications made me itch and there is no way I could get the middle of my back when I needed to. (I already told BFFL Co. that they should add one to their bags).

I made a wish list on Amazon so you can check out some of the products and add them to your own list: http://a.co/6LenyxR 

Make your list public and you can share with friends and family when they ask that dreaded question: "What can I do?" Here you go, here are some things I need before my surgery. Remember to accept the help. If they ask, let them help.

Best of luck to everyone who comes after me. I hope this list helps you find a bit of comfort before/during/after your surgical journey.