For the Post-op Curious

I haven’t posted too many pictures here on the blog, mainly because of lack of energy and/or time. I know heading into my surgery I was curious about what this was going to be like. I knew I would have drains and these things that would slowly release pain med over a few days. I had no idea what that would be or look like.

It hasn’t been as bad as I expected.  I have more range of motion that I anticipated having, that’s not to say I’m anywhere near normal but I could wash my hair if I needed to but showers are a no-go for now, I’m hoping my plastic surgeon will clear me for careful showers today.  There’s quite a bit of pain, especially if I haven’t moved much, getting in and out of bed is tricky though it is made easier by our bed being very high off the floor.  The stairs in our home haven’t been awful, but the meds I’m on mean I need to “proceed with caution”  Matt generally tries to chaperone me.

Now for the appearance side of things.  My plastic surgeon was almost like a child on Christmas, he was very pleased with how the incisions look and how my “breasts” appear.  I’ve seen the incisions and I didn’t pass out which is noteworthy given my experience with my first informed consent of this entire process.  I have some pictures below (NOT of the incisions) that show my super haute fashion surgical bra, the drains (we call them blood grenades), and the OnQ pain pump.  I’m sharing these because I was curious and that’s normal and healthy.  Breast cancer is a big deal and it affects thousands of women, many of whom we know personally.  Any women that has a mastectomy (single or double) will have a similar set-up to me.  This is about information and sharing what this experience has been and is like for me.  My hope is that this is a help to someone, just as sharing this is a way for me to process through all these changes.

NOTE: if you are sqeamish and don’t do well with medical stuff or blood, feel free to skip the pics. 🙂


So this is it! Part of what my surgeon was so excited about is that I am not 100% flat. When he inserted the tissue expanders he was able to begin the expansion process (at least thats how I understand it). Those bulb-y things are the drains. The tiny tubes lead to the OnQ pump which is in the black bag/fanny pack thing. The surgical “bra” kind of redefines compression wear. I mean I love compression leggings for working out but this is to tight that I have breathing exercises to do each hour.


Initially when I came home from the hospital the OnQ pump (black bag/fanny pack-type thing) was pinned to one of the drains. Wearing it like a fanny pack is much more comfortable.


I have two drains (one on each side) they connect into my side and are pretty basic, they help drain excess fluid which helps to prevent infection and speed healing. Matt empties them 3x a day and records how much fluid is in each “grenade”. I mean really don’t they look like little blood grenades? But don’t worry most of the fluid in the drain is not blood, it’s a mix of water and other fluids with a bit of blood. These drains will probably come out in a week or so.

So that’s it.  I hope this has been or will be a help and encouragement to someone.

Love, Hope, and Laughter!!


7 thoughts on “For the Post-op Curious

  1. I know what you mean about the drains. I just had mine taken out on Monday and you are right, it does look like a grenade. I would not wait to get it out. The doctor has been on a low to no fat diet due to a chyl leak. The good part is that I have lost some much needed weight so this will help tremendously. I have been eating much more healthier since having cancer. I have not gone through half as much as you are, but again you have inspired me tremendously with your courage and all the pics you have posted. But whatever happens, we know that we have a great God to thank for everything. God Bless Carey.

  2. Heather Martineau says:

    First of all, a fanny pack has never looked so good!! Secondly, you amaze me and inspire me with your strength and beauty!!! You look phenomenal!! I’m absolutely amazed!!

  3. Chris Bartley says:

    Carey – thank you for being so generous and for opening and sharing of yourself with us the way you have. I don’t know that I would characterize myself as post-op ‘curious’, so much as post-op ‘concerned’. Seeing you looking so great makes me happy beyond words and I must tell you, you are not just beautiful; you are gorgeous. All my absolute very best to you, to Matt (who, by the way, is the first angel I’ve ever known to sport a beard and a mustache, but hey – I guess there’s a first time for everything!) and your family.

    With much love to you all,

    Chris Bartley

  4. Robin Ives says:

    Carey you are such a positive inspiration. Look at you keeping all of us informed and educated….. love it and love your strength and most of all your smiles!!!! Xxooo

  5. Sandra Harrison says:

    Carey so happy to know that you are home, that helps with the healing process,”there’s no place like home” and your own bed and pillow and your family all around. God Bless and may your healing go well and be totally uneventful.!!!

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