Jamie, Two Sided DIEP Flap

Friends of the Feather: Jamie, Cincinnati

Age: 43

Reason for Mastectomy:  DCIS

Type of Reconstruction (if applicable): 

Two Sided DIEP Flap

One thing I wish I would have known about  surgery:

How in-depth of a procedure the DIEP flap is. The long term benefit of not having to maintain implants was an attractive option, but the DIEP surgery is a bigger surgery than anticipated.

One thing I wish I would have known about recovery:

The drains were very cumbersome, and the drains by my abdominal incisions stayed in longer than the 1-2 weeks I was quoted. 

What brought me joy during my recovery (comfort foods, beverages, shows, books, support community, etc.):

Little treats from friends, a few good books and my support system taking care of the usual household tasks.

What was a trigger for me during my recovery:

Not being able to do little things independently that once were so easy. I knew this was temporary, but it was still difficult to navigate.  

Why did I choose my reconstruction pathway? 

I chose the DIEP flap because I didn’t want to deal with the potential complications and long term maintenance that implants require. 

Biggest hurdle I faced and how I overcame it:

Getting around the house and to/from doctors appointments the first few weeks after surgery. The incision on my abdomen was really tight. I used a walker to help offload some of the tension and that was helpful.  

Share any wisdom or advice you have for post-surgery appointments and doctor’s visits:

Take notes of questions as they pop up so you don’t have to think of all your questions when the doctor feels rushed in your appointment.

Utilize your hospital system’s communication portal if they offer it. The ability to send a quick message with a question was really great.  

The product(s) that saved me during recovery:

  1. Walker (borrowed from a family friend)
  2. Drain holders
  3. Comfortable but functional clothes

My best piece of advice for anyone about to undergo their mastectomy

Do as much research and preparation as possible! I wish I would have been a little more prepared, but thankfully I had a wonderful support system around to help fill in the gaps.  

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