Home Health Care Advice Post Mastectomy
Breast cancer runs in your family, and your mom’s doctor found a mass during her latest mammogram. They’ve discussed options, and she wants a double mastectomy given the family history. When she gets home, what is her recovery going to entail? Is home health care a good option?
For several days, your mom is going to experience some pain. She may be able to manage it with over-the-counter medications, but her surgeon may prescribe medications to help ease the pain. A home health care nurse helps with medications, especially if any are given via an IV or injection.
Your mom’s incisions are going to have drains in place to let the fluid drain as the incisions heal. A nurse can check the drains and ensure the incisions are healing correctly. Around 5% to 12% of surgeries do lead to infections, so they’re not common, but they can happen. The risk is higher if reconstructive surgery takes place at the same time.
If an infection occurs, having a nurse who is trained in incision care is helpful. The earlier treatment of the infection occurs, the better it is. If there’s an infection, your mom’s nurse can get her started on antibiotics immediately and eliminate the need to return to the hospital.
Generally, your mom will return to her surgeon’s office to have the bandages and drains removed. There is a chance that the nurse will be allowed to do this due to the training nurses receive in wound and incision care. The nurse will consult with the doctor to determine if your mom can travel to the surgeon’s office or not.
For several weeks, your mom will have to be careful when picking up items, reaching for things, or using her arms. It may be recommended that she work with a physical therapist to rebuild strength in her chest and shoulder muscles. A physical therapist helps her improve range of motion and strength over the next weeks, which also eases pain.
What Steps Should You Take Before Your Mom’s Surgery Day?
Before the surgery, talk to your mom’s oncologist and surgical team to determine your mom’s care needs once she’s home. She may feel better having a nurse at her home, and a chance to recover at home and not in a busy, noisy hospital room.
On the surgery day, your mom will be allowed to have someone with her for the initial procedures, such as having IV lines set in, surgical compression boots put on, and vital signs measured. It’s a good way to help her stay calm before the actual surgery.
Talk to a home health care specialist after talking to your mom’s medical team. You’ll work out a care plan and determine how long she’ll need a nurse’s help and what services are most important.