My Friend Wendy -- An Amazing Support After My Nipple Reconstruction Surgery

Laura Zigman Health Guide
  • Everyone should have a Wendy.


    My Wendy -- Wendy Hurwitz -- is one of those amazing friends who is pathologically helpful. But in a good way. Always there for the emergency school pick-up and playdate (luckily we have boys the same age at the same school, which is how we met). Always there with the information about the field trip you forgot about or the early dismissal day you claim no one ever told you about. Always there to get you through any crisis, minor or major.


    Wendy and I were friends back when I had my initial gigantic surgery, and yet I was so flummoxed by the whole thing at the earliest stages of the recovery -- coming home with all those drains and barely able to get out of bed and to the bathroom and back -- that I never thought to ask her for nursing help. After all, who would think that anyone -- any friend -- would actually want to see your drains and incisions and would want to help you change your dressings?

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    I'm writing about Wendy now because a few weeks ago, when I had my nipple reconstuction surgery, Wendy offered to help me with my dressings and this time I took her up on it. Two days after my surgery, she came over, deciphered my surgeon's post-op instructions and removed the gauze dressings on both breasts and set to work on changing them. This was not as easy as it sounds, since one of the most important instructions is to "protect" the new nipples from getting flattened which requires a special technique: to stack up several layers of gauze and cut a whole in the middle of the stack so that the nipple will not get squished down. That and the antibiotic ointment over the incisions and stitches.


    She came back three or four more times -- every few days to change the gauze and then reapply the antibiotic ointment -- sometimes with a turkey sandwich from Whole Foods even -- and besides simply changing the dressings which was already a huge favor she gave me something even more than that: a few weeks to prepare myself to look at my latest surgical sites which I just wasn't ready to face yet.


    Throughout the reconstruction process, I've had a hard time taking those first looks, even though when I finally take them things are never anywhere as bad as I think they'll be.  That was the case this time.  Weeks later after this latest surgery, when the stitches were out and I was dressing-free and finally able to look down at my new nipples (though not head-on in the mirror yet), I can't help feeling incredibly lucky to have had Wendy to help me over this latest hurdle.


    So for all those other Wendys out there -- girlfriends who come and help friends like me through difficult post-operative times -- let's say a huge heartfelt and collective THANK YOU. And feel free to share your Wendy stories here, too.

Published On: April 01, 2008