One of Sverid's first challenges after surgery was dealing with her drain, a contraption she was sent home with after the mastectomy that snaked out of a small incision under her arm. "As everything's healing, there's excess fluid so instead of having [the area] swell, it drains off into a clear hose," she explains. Sverid was worried at first that she might accidentally pull the drain out, but after watching her doctor remove itand noting that it snaked inside her body a good six inchesshe realized that it was unlikely she'd pull it out by mistake.
After the drain was removed, Sverid made two trips to the doctor to get rid of excess fluid with a syringe. "It was uncomfortableplus for two or three days after I would deal with some minor aches and pains on that side." But the procedure itself didn't hurt.
As for the area where her breast was removed, "for a few months after the mastectomy it itched but you couldn't scratch it out because it was coming from inside." On the other hand, "I thought I'd have less range of motion in my arm," she says. "I thought I'd have to rent one of those electric recliners to help me get up."
What she would have done differently: Slow down
Sverid says that if she had to do it all over again, she would wait longer to get fitted for post-mastectomy clothing. "I went in like three weeks out from surgery and you should really wait about three months," she recalls. "I was still swollen. So now I have all these expensive mastectomy bras and camis I don't wear because they don't fit right.
It will be at least January 2009 before Sverid is finished with Herceptin treatment (not to mention the five-year tamoxifen regimen she'll be starting in July 2008). She always planned on having reconstruction, but with some radiation treatment still to gocoming on the heels of months of Adriamycin, Cytoxan, and Taxolall that's up in the air.