Most women said they recovered well and quickly after surgery, though some were a little tired the first few days back at home. Many said that they were careful with lifting at first but were soon as active as before, several returning to full-time work a week or two afterwards. One woman, who stayed with a friend for the first few days, praised the support she was given until she could manage completely on her own again.
Sandy is a divorced administrator.
Ethnic background / nationality' White British
When I went into hospital for the first operation, I needed support. I live on my own. And I thought, “Oh, a general anaesthetic, what’s going to happen when I come out? How am I, you know, am I going to be move? Am I going to be tired?” And my friend insisted that I stayed with her for a couple or three days. Which was just what I needed, she did everything for me. I couldn’t have come home on my own.
One woman said she would have liked more information about looking after her breast when she was discharged. She realised back at home that she was allergic to the adhesive on the dressings. Later, she also had a blood clot. Another woman said her recovery was slower than she’d expected because of the reaction she’d had to general anaesthetic. Most women had all the drains removed before going home, though one woman said that, after discharge, she had to go back as an outpatient and then had them removed.
Agnes is a married homemaker with two children.
Ethnic background / nationality' White European
Since the dressings got changed a number of times, we discovered that I’m allergic to some of the adhesives. So I started to blister underneath, so we’re starting different kinds of dressings. And the wound couldn’t heal properly because, after the operation, it wasn’t stitched together the right way. So out of the, around twelve cm cut, two cm was still a bit dodgy, so I’m still having the dressings changed every two days. The weekend before Easter, I discovered that a different kind of pain started to appear around the wound. So I went back to check with the nurse. And she asked the doctor and he said I’ve probably got a haematoma, which is basically a blood clot that will eventually be absorbed by the body. So at the moment I’m getting antibiotics for it.
I came home with the dressing that I had after the operation. And I wasn’t told of any more information about how soon you can have a shower. Or what kind of pain management you’re supposed to do. Or maybe you’re going to react badly to some of the dressings. So I found it out all at my own cost later on when the dressings started to stretch a bit and took the top the layer of my skin with it. So that was another discomfort that would’ve been solved differently but… I’m sort of self-educating on this front.
Yeah. So you came home and you didn’t have any information about …
I wasn’t given any information apart from take some painkillers. Pretty much that was it verbally.
Age at interview:
Age at diagnosis:
Marital status' Carol is a single carer and student.
Ethnic background / nationality' White British
It didn't take me long after the actual surgery to be driving again, I've got to say. The recovery from the actual surgery physically was really quite quick.
And it was more the emotional side plus the effects of the anaesthetic?
Yeah, that was just unfortunate to me. I mean if I hadn't have had that bad a reaction to the anaesthetic, it would have been a breeze really [laughs].
Was that time you were, you know, getting over the anaesthetic also a time where you reflected on what happened because things happen quite quickly from diagnosis to surgery?
Yeah. I was just pleased it was over and done with. I was just concentrating on getting back to normal. That was my biggest thing, to get my life back to normal. And that was my motivation as well I suppose for getting through the whole nightmare. Because it was like a nightmare looking back. Yeah, it was just, that’s my only word to describe it. Both emotions, physically, the whole thing, was a nightmare.
Do you feel things are completely back to normal now? Or is there is a bit of distance or?
No, I think it’s now, as I said, initially when I got the good results following the, from pathology following the operation, it did take a considerable while to actually sink in that I was OK now. But that's just a result of, you know, a couple months of worry, that you can’t just go like that [snaps fingers] and everything’s fine. But, yeah, I’m completely back to normal. As I say, probably with a better outlook on things.
Women who had no further treatment were usually able to get on with life as normal. With hindsight, some said that their surgery had been an ‘interruption’ but they had got back to their routine soon afterwards.
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