Most people probably don’t understand how freaking MONUMENTAL it is that I, Rachel Joy Horn, at approximately 11:40 am on Wednesday, March 21st, took a SHOWER. (This day is also awesome because it’s my best friend Danielle’s 22nd birthday…happy birthday Danielle! Now back to the shower.)
After I got my hair washed last Friday at a salon, I posted a Facebook status about how happy I was. My cousin Robbie responded with: “Next great feeling is a shower!” Boy was she right!
There are two camps on showering with drains in: shower, and don’t shower. I don’t think one particular group is right; it is really a decision that needs to be made with the individual in mind. I’ve done a lot of Internet research on the topic, but I wanted to get specific approval from my medical team before I did it. I emailed my plastic surgeon’s office about it, and received approval along with some tips for showering safely:
- Make sure the drain sites are covered with plastic completely.
- Safety pin the drains to a shoelace and wear the shoelace around your neck so you can use your hands freely.
- Keep the water on relatively low pressure.
With that approval, I was off! My drain sites are already protected with a plastic adhesive dressing, but Mom helped me to wrap that part of my torso in plastic wrap. This was a fail. When I got into the shower, the plastic wrap filled with water in all the loose crevices, essentially weighing everything down. I ended up taking the plastic wrap off halfway through because I was afraid water would pool up around my drain sites.
I had no trouble lifting my arms to wash my hair, which was a relief.
After the shower we decided it would be the safest idea to change the dressings around my drain sites. They seemed fine–there was no water around them–but we wanted to be sure anyway.
I feel soooooooo much better now that I’ve finally showered. Seriously awesome.
I do have to stress though that I’m glad I talked to my plastic surgeon’s office. Any potential infections in drain sites can be lethal. Getting the approval and advice for how to shower safely took away anxiety about it. If you’re in doubt about whether you can or should shower after your mastectomy, ask your doctor!