Upon leaving the hospital, we were worried about how we would manage at home. It seemed that everyone I talked to, and everywhere we looked on the internet people professed at the need for an electric recliner – for both lounging but also for sleeping.
We were so convinced that we tried to rent one, but unfortunately there were none available. We were forced to make do with what we had. For sleeping I was pretty sure I’d be OK. The physical therapist at the hospital taught me how to get into and out of bed on my own. At home, we had two different sized wedge pillows (12 inch and 7.5 inch). After my first surgery I slept using the 12 inch wedge pillow with additional pillows to prop up my arms (the sentinel node biopsy meant that I had painful incisions in my armpits, which needed to be elevated). I found after a few weeks I wanted to be lower but we didn’t yet have the 7.5 inch wedge, so I worked my way down the 12 inch one.
For this surgery (bilateral mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction – but NO underarm surgery), I found that I liked to sleep with the 12 inch pillow. During the day, I like to use both pillows stacked, so that I can easily watch TV on my iPad or read. Since I didn’t need to elevate my arms, it has meant that my husband can sleep in the same bed (I’m not taking up the entire bed). I feel much more comfortable, as it means that if I get stuck in the night he is there to help. So, as far as sleeping goes, I’m doing just fine without the recliner.
I was also worried about what we would do during the day. I didn’t want to be spending all my time in bed, as that wouldn’t be healthy. Our couch is a little too low, such that it is difficult to get into and out of (and frankly isn’t that comfortable). The other two chairs we have are desk chairs with wheels, which wouldn’t work out so well (our apartment is pretty small, so we don’t have a lot of excess – except perhaps if you could bikes!).
For daytime when I want to be seated, we ended up moving one of our outdoor rocking patio chairs (see pictures), inside. Fortunately, this chair turned out to be just the right height, so that it is easy for me to get into and out of. It rocks, but the spring is pretty hard, so it doesn’t rock too easily, so I don’t find myself being flung back, but also, it means that I can use the rocking motion to help me get out of the chair. This was really handy early on.
So, overall, I can say that yes you can survive this surgery without the need for a recliner. I also attribute not have a recliner to how soon I was able to get out walking. If I were too comfortable in a recliner, I might be inclined to spend more of the day lounging in it. Of course, may not actually have been the case, as I’m pretty good at self-motivation to get exercise.