Princess Palazzo Pants, or How To Convalesce Beautifully

I have a new, unbridled passion for palazzo pants. Sweet baby Jesus! Praise the lawd and all ye gods and goddessess! I can sing their praises with the intensity of a gospel choir on Sunday morning! The feel good, they look good, and sisters and brothers, you will feel beautiful in them! Hallelujah!
I’m serious, y’all. 

I’ve been asked to share more about the ugly side of breast surgery, like JP drains and nitro cream. I will, but first, let me tell you about how perfect palazzo pants are for convalescing! Throw on a big, button-up shirt and voila! You can access your drains and attend to wound care, you’re insanely comfy, and best of all, you look fabulous *without resorting to jammies*! I bought some over-sized button-ups at the Goodwill Boutique (hello, $5 brand new Banana Republic silk shirt!), but since it’s summer in SWFL, USA I also got a couple of sleeveless shirts at Target. The looser and blousier, the better. You need buttons because you can’t raise your arms over your head, and loose & blousy is best for the drains and for your overall comfort. This is important. Looking good is important to recovery. When you look good, you feel good.

So, JP drains. I have tubes coming out my sides that drain blood and lymphatic fluid so that I don’t swell painfully.

I drain them 2-3 times per day, recording the fluid volume each time. The tubes are stitched into my sides and, yes, it stings if the tubes accidentally get pulled, so the drain bulbs that collect the fluid (it just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?) are either pinned or held by small pockets to prevent them from dropping and yanking the tubes.

Close-up of the drain. It isn't as uncomfortable as I'd feared, but is pretty gross nonetheless.
Close-up of the drain. It isn’t as uncomfortable as I’d feared, but is pretty gross nonetheless.

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After draining the bulbs, the air gets squeezed out to create suction, which pulls the fluid out. We won’t discuss milking them, except that it involves clots and is painful.

I’m also on LOTS of muscle relaxers and some pain meds. Generally, all movement hurts. You use your chest all of the time and mine are off-limits. No pushing, pulling, lifting, stretching, or bending allowed. Im-freaking-possible.

Things that have made my life better, and the nitty-gritty reasons why they are awesome.


Get some Biotene for any surgery! You’ll wake up with your mouth as dry as the Sahara. You need this. The dry shampoo is  also important. When was the last time you went 3, 4, or 5 days without washing your hair? Eeeexactly. Just remember that someone else has to do it for you. Makeup remover & facial cleansing cloths. And, finally, baby wipes. Think about it: do you want someone helping you wipe? No? Exactly.

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Germ control is no joke. And gloves prevent the nitroglycerin from going anywhere it isn’t supposed to go.
Nitroglycerin cream, cotton swab, and gauze. Save The Nipples!
Wearing gloves, clean the nipples with a gauze pad. Using the cotton swab, apply cream. Repeat every 6 hours
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Cover with non-stick gauze pads, fasten bra, take nap. This is more exhausting than it looks.
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Woo! Drugs! It can get a bit hard to remember what to take and when.

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On a significantly more positive note, yesterday also saw the delivery of two care packages and 2 additional cards. I spent about half an hour sobbing at how generous my friends are, and at how powerful our connections are. I was so overwhelmed at the simple act of writing a note and telling someone that you are thinking of them. Over the last few weeks, I have received a handful of sweet gifts and notes, each a reminder of all that is so good in people. I have never felt so very loved as I have since being diagnosed. It envelops me, renders me speechless, brings me to tears. Not to sound cliche, but I think cancer has given me my life back.

A few of the sweet, funny, thoughtful things I’ve been sent. Not included are the Biotene & dry shampoo, 2 mastectomy camisoles, 2 bags of coffee beans, notes, and a gift card to Starbucks. The thoughtfulness of my friends reminds me why I love them.

I am convelscing beautifully.

If you want some palazzo pants, go see

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