How to use a personal lubricant

Owning a business can be interesting in so many ways I never considered.  The other Saturday night around 9:30, I got a call from a customer.  I was asleep (own my business… tired…) and suddenly was being asked how to use Sylk, a natural, water-based personal lubricant I sell.  I was stunned into silence and then realized that one of my customers needed help.  It had never occurred to me that people really don’t know how to put on a personal lubricant, so here goes –

First, make sure you use enough – it’s better to use too much than not enough. Play around with it before you need it so you know what it feels like.  If it’s in a tube, squirt it into the palm of your hand the same way you would with suntan oil, shaving cream or skin cream.  If it’s in a  jar, such as our oil-based Yoni Cream, use your fingers to scoop out the amount you want.  How much depends on your individual situation. If you are using it for masturbation: for women, use enough to cover the labia (the two “side flaps” leading into the vaginal canal) and the entrance to the vagina.  For men, use enough to cover the penis so the friction is comfortable.  If you are using it for intercourse, cover the man’s penis and the outside and entrance to the woman’s vagina.  It’s fun to make the application part of your foreplay.

If you are using a condom, use water based lubricants only – oil based lubricants might make the condom break.  Put the condom on unrolling it up the penis with your fingers – sort of like pulling on a sock. Starting at the tip of the condom-covered penis, spread it down all over the condom.  Make sure the condom is covered so there are not spots where friction can create discomfort. Make sure you use enough!

I hope this helps.  If you have never used a personal lubricant before, rest assured that you will be able to practice until you know exactly how much you need.

Someone came up with a better idea for post breast cancer surgery clothing!

Check this out – http://www.alittleeasierrecovery.org/ I give it five stars.

Radio broadcast on vaginal dryness

Okay, another thing your doctor won’t tell you is that after you lose estrogen either because of tamoxifen or aromasin (or any of those drugs that shut down your estrogen) or because your breast cancer has happened after menopause, you will most likely experience vaginal dryness.  This is no joke.  No one talks about it!  So I am shouting as loud as I can about it…

I feel so strongly about this that I started my business because of it.  This radio broadcast has really good information and so I share it with you and hope that it provides you with some good hope.

Taking naps – long ones!

If you are recovering from surgery take long naps in the morning and again the afternoon lying down in your bed so you are not disturbed.  If you wake up during the night because of this, get yourself some hot milk or hot water (I can’t believe how nicely it works!) to sooth you and read something bland (you don’t want your mind to speed up) until you feel sleepy again.  Your body needs rest to heal.  I found I slept for an hour or two during the morning and again in the afternoon, went to bed around 8 or 9, woke up anywhere between 1 and 4 am, read for awhile and then slept some more.  The first week is when you do a ton of healing and it also when you (hopefully!) can stay home from work, sleep a lot and just pay attention to yourself.

In everyday life, my sister and I swear by little naps, we are sure they keep us sane.  Take 10 minutes around 4:30 or 5, put your feet up on your desk, close your eyes and just try to go blank.  I set a timer so I am not afraid of falling deeply asleep.  That little bit of time relaxes and rests our minds and bodies. It helps wonderfully to make the rest of the day and the evenings activities more pleasant.  Let your children, neighbors, loved ones, work associates, unless they are Attila the Hun types in which case you have my sympathy, know that you take a break this way, it is your time and they are not allowed to interrupt you. Most people will respect that request.  Your kids might resent it at first, but when they see that Mom is so much happier after her nap, they’ll probably protect your time for you…  maybe?

Dressings or bandages – they can be called either.

Dressings and any ointments need to be changed twice a day along with emptying the drains.  You will probably need two dressings –one over your incision and one over the drain site.  They are probably going to be gauze with a non-stick surface, 2″ x 3″ or possibly larger.  You may be told to put a antibacterial ointment on yourself and that helps to hold the dressing while you get your bra back on.  Getting them to lay flat is initially the only challenge here.  Sometimes it’s hard to see under your boob/replacement prosthesis and it is unlikely that you will be able to feel it as you will be numb.  Your bra will hold the dressings in place once they are in the right spot.  You may need a little tape, but the nurse (the visiting nurse the insurance will pay for and the hospital/clinic provides if you ask for one) can determine that. Visiting nurses are a wonderful help here as you may still be a bit groggy from the anesthesia and they will make sure everything is the way it should be.  If a nurse isn’t helpful, gentle and generally nice – call the hospital/clinic and ask for  another one.  This is your health we are talking about here, not a popularity contest.  Once you get the hang of it after 3 or 4 or 5 or more days, you can change the dressings by yourself.  If after the nurses are no longer visiting and your wounds look really red and/or pus-y, there may be an infection so do not tough that out.  You need to call your doctor right away.  A washcloth soaked in an Epsom’s solution can be used after a week or so for a light cleaning compress – check with your doctor for when it’s okay.  I had trouble healing with a petroleum based ointment as it sat on top of my skin and kept the incision from closing.  You may want to try our Jen’s Gift instead.  It was made for radiation burns, but it works really nicely for healing incisions also.

Getting ready for surgery – suggestions from one who didn’t plan…

Get into an “I’m the patient who needs help” mode.  Tell your family you won’t be available to physically help them for a while – yes, really.

EVERYTHING needs a prescription from your doctor – drugs of course, visiting nurses, physical therapists, anything that happens outside your doctor’s office needs one.

“They” don’t tell you that you won’t be able to lift anything heavier than “a five pound bag of sugar” for several weeks or months, depending on the extent of your surgery and your general health.  You may feel awful from anesthesia or morphine or whatever pain medications you are given.  Please be sure to line up someone (mate, parent, friend, upper-teens-aged child) to check in on you once you get home. Don’t forget that they want you to be well, too.

If you have insurance, line up some visiting nurses.  Ask your doctor for a prescription now which you will need.  Changing dressings and dealing with drain(s) – more on that later – can be challenging the first few days you are home.  If you have no insurance, line up a friend or two, other Mom’s or people from church to help you with the initial changing of the dressings.   Don’t forget to line up help for your children’s activities – you won’t be able to drive at first.  Most people are very generous when we need help.  Don’t forget to give it back when they need your help.  We all need help sometime, even if we don’t normally admit it.

Make sure you have your antibiotics and pain medications available at home before you go in for surgery.  Believe me, you won’t feel like a quick trip to the drug store!   The same goes for icebags (bags of frozen peas or corn are great also), heating pads, gauze pads, ask your doctor what else you should have.  If they give you a petroleum-based cream/gel etc and you want something natural, we carry Jen’s Gift, which was made for radiation recovery, however it works wonders for healing incisions and preventing infection.

Get some good paperback books lined up.  Your laptop will be too heavy and you need to be able to fall asleep without worrying about dropping it.

If you can afford them, get a couple of zip front jogging bras which are easy to put on and give great support while you are recovering.  And yes, you will be sleeping in them for a while.  Department stores like Macy’s or Saks 5th Avenue or good sports stores will have heavy-duty ones for around $35 – $40.  Stores like JC Penny’s has lighter weight ones for around $20.  Check around the internet if you have time.  Your doctor will put a hospital version on you after surgery so you will have something to support and protect you.  I never tried to get a prescription for one, but you might be able to, depending on your insurance.

Make sure your button-up-the-front shirts/blouses are fresh and ready to wear.  You won’t be able to reach up to pull clothes over your head.  Pull on pants/sweatpants will make getting dressed a lot easier.  Don’t forget your pajamas or nightgowns – button up the front.

Oh, laundry… putting the laundry in the washer/dryer is not a problem – picking up the huge bottle/box of detergent is.   Put some in a light weight container now.

If you have important-to-your-life things on top shelves, put them on easy to reach shelves or counters now so you don’t have to keep asking everyone else to get something down for you.  Your kitchen may be cluttered for a while, but your life will be so much easier.  If all your cooking pans are heavy ones, get frozen microwaveable or oven-heatable dinners now.

Physical therapy.  If someone had told me how unbelievably important this is, I would have thought they were being dramatic – not so.  If you have insurance, get the prescription before surgery so you can just go as soon as possible.  These trained therapists will make your recovery much more comfortable and quicker because they know how to stimulate your cells into faster recovery mode.  If you don’t have insurance, check with the hospital to see if they have any free programs or if they can suggest one.

More later on eating to heal!

You may find our site www.breastcancerbuddy.com useful.