Tummy Tuck after 115lb weight loss

Here we go. My pregnancy with my last daughter did...

Here we go. My pregnancy with my last daughter did me in....I started at 135, and 9 months later....ended up leaving the hospital at 238. I somehow managed to gain all that weight while throwing up almost every day during the pregnancy. I really think it was a hormonal thing. My body just gains weight SO quickly! But on the plus side, it seems to loose it fairly quickly. 2 years later, I am back down to 126, and have been saving for this surgery ever since I had my precious one haha.

I will post a couple of before photos, and then update you all as I go along! Hopefully I won't die from complications, but if I do someone please make sure to put me in my red bikini with an open casket. Haha just kidding. Not really.

So surgery scheduled for next Wednesday January 9th. It is fully paid for, and I am very confident in the surgeon I have chosen. He is in Folsom, CA Dr. David Kauffman. He used to be a Navy Seal, and now is a plastic surgeon and has been for quite some time. His wife is a nurse in his operating room which I find very sweet that they work together :)

I have all of my prescriptions filled and ready to roll!

Also forgot to say, I have 2 daughters, age 5 and...

Also forgot to say, I have 2 daughters, age 5 and 2 and a half. A wonderful husband who is so incredibly helpful and supportive. I am 26 years old, 5'4", not having any more biological children and my husband is fixed!

4 more days until my surgery! Making final...

4 more days until my surgery! Making final preparations, getting kids set, meals planned, house cleaned, recliner rental locked in, etc. I'm actually doing pretty well emotionally. I'm excited. The only thing I'm actually really truly dreading is not being able to drink water for a full 8 hours prior to surgery. I am addicted and married to water (next to my husband of course). And I cannot imagine going 10 minutes, let alone 8 hours without at least a sip of water! Has anyone else had a hard time with this? Do you know if it's allowed to swish water in your mouth and then spit it out? haha. With my sleeping pills, one of the side of effects is dry mouth, so either I deal with awful dry mouth the night before, or don't take the sleeping pills and don't sleep. I don't know which is worse lol.

The only other thing I'm concerned about is getting sick. Flu, colds, they are going around and I am taking extra precautions: taking my probiotics like my doctor suggested, vitamin C, daily vitamins, and juicing fresh juice and vegetables twice a day. Hopefully I, or anyone else in my household won't get sick in the next few weeks (gosh I can't even imagine getting the flu after the surgery while recovering....how awful would that be).

Ok, it's coming up so quickly! Very excited.

I am 2 days away from surgery. Didn't sleep well...

I am 2 days away from surgery. Didn't sleep well last night, I guess some nerves are setting in. But I did a little more research on the type of anesthesia my doctor uses and am put to ease a little more. He uses what's called a LMA (Laryngeal mask airway). So I won't be fully intibated, as with general anesthesia, and it's not like IV sedation either. Basically the anesthesiologist will put a small pliable tube down my throat and instead of releasing the medication that make me fall asleep through an IV, he releases gases directly down my throat so I'm breathing them in on my own. Thus, when they take the tube out, I am no longer breathing in the gases and it's not circulating through my body like IV medication would. The complications are much less with the LMA, rarely do people ever throw up after this, and they have a minimal sore throat afterward, if any. Also the risk of aspiration is reduced with this technique as well. So I am glad my doctor uses this means.

I am wondering about the Stryker Pain Pump that will be in place for 3 days after surgery. It's suppose to numb me and make the recovery easier. Has anyone had this? How difficult is the recovery with the pain pump in place? Supposedly they walk my husband through taking it out on the third day.....yikes.....haha. I think I might have my mom do it instead (she's a nurse :)

I am back to work today after a lovely couple weeks of Christmas break (I am a piano teacher). I teach Mondays and Tuesdays (so today and tomorrow) and then my surgery is on Wednesday. Trying to make last minute preparations....need to go out and get a bag of kiwis-as I've been told eating 2-3 a day after recovery will help prevent blood clots...so I'm all for trying that.

I'm thinking about taping a goodbye video to my girls and husband. Silly I know, but just in case? I don't know....I don't even know if I could get through a taping I love them so much. But I know fully and completely that my life is in God's hands. My mother used to have this quote printed on her checks and I always loved it: "A man of God, in the will of God, is immortal until his work on earth is finished". I trust the Lord. He has been so good to me and my family, and blessed us with so much. So whether I die or live I trust Him.

Ok off to get ready for work.

Wow I can't believe how well I'm doing (must be...

Wow I can't believe how well I'm doing (must be the pain pump and pain meds :) So I got through last night without drinking my water, which so far, has been the worse part of this whole thing haha. We got to the surgery center at 6:00AM (It is currently 3:00PM as I'm writing this). Got me checked in, changed into a gown, got my IV in and fluids going. I loved my nurse, Julie. She was so kind and great. She kept laughing at all my death jokes. She gave me an antibiotic in my IV, and told me that some patients feel a burning in their groin with this antibiotic but thankfully I didn't. Then the anesthesiologist came to talk with me. My first words to him were "please don't kill me". He goes, "Awww dangit". Hahaha. Told me about how things were going to go down, I would finish his sentences about everything to which he asked me if I worked in the medical field. Haha I said no I just researched this type of anesthesia a lot (LMA). Then my surgeon came in, he asked me how I was, and I said "oh I'm fine....how are YOU? Did you get good rest last night? Have your coffee yet? Are you focused?" haha just wanted to make sure he wasn't distracted from an argument he may have had with his wife the night before, or who knows what. He's still a person just like us and has to focus on what he's doing, so I wanted to make sure HE was doing good lol.

So then he marks me, scar should be pretty low (haven't seen it yet though). Then I get back in the bed, the anesthesiologist comes back in and shoots a relaxer in my IV which made me feel like I'd had 2.5 glasses of wine within 5 seconds it was wonderful. Then he walks me over to the OR and asks me to get on the bed. He then says "here is an oxygen mask", and the next thing I remember is waking up. It was SO fast. Well, actually yes the surgery in reality was quite fast-an hour and a half. He repaired a 1.5 inch muscle separation, and took off about 1.5 pounds of skin. Yay!!! No lipo needed.

I remember first waking up in the recovery room and the first thing I said was "I'm alive!" haha. I was in pain, lots of pain though. It was very tight....I'm flat as a board, but still very tight. I asked for a sip of water about 30 times. I saw my mom and husband and said "oh you guys are here! I'm so glad" haha (they didn't go anywhere, although my husband did ask if he could run to the gym for a quick workout while I was being cut open lol). I guess he loves his new Christmas present (a gym membership)....and I love mine! My tummy tuck! Let's see, I remember the nurse telling my mom and husband and me that there was a nursing school student in the room observing my surgery and she had to leave like 10 times because she couldn't handle it. Then a few more minutes pass (I was in the recovery room 1 hour). Then the nurse helps me stand up, and then get into a wheelchair and head home! I wasn't feeling any nausea at this point (thank you Emend), but she warned me that as the car ride got going I could become very nauseous. And she was right. We had to stop 2 times on the way home, first time I quickly jammed a suppository up the back end, waited a few minutes and it helped. Got back on the road, then 5 minutes later the nasseau came back worse. I started to throw up (didn't), but dry heaved one time and yeah it was pretty painful. My husband pulled over and I asked for a cracker. I had a feeling I needed something in my stomach, and that did the trick! Made it home in about 45, sat in the car a little while longer....wasn't ready to get out yet. My husband brought me a piece of bread and I ate half. Also brought me some sparkling water which helped a lot. My husband (Tass, pronounced "Toss") got the walker out and I SLOWLY made my way inside the house (took me 20 minutes to walk from the car to inside our bedroom). It was difficult and painful. Got in my rented recliner (what a God send, definitely worth the 80 bucks. Hey guess what I never knew before?....You use your stomach muscles to TALK. Yup, well at least I do. The first couple of hours at home from about 10:00-1:00PM were the most painful, which is weird because I'm supposedly numb from the localized stuff they gave me as well during surgery. But I was in a lot of pain (but I would rather deal with awful pain ANY time over nausea). Then about 1:00 came and I turned a corner. My mom came over, I got up to pee, and felt and still feel pretty good (it's not 4:00PM). I don't know if the internal pain pump "kicked in" or what but I feel pretty good. I've taken Percocet twice, 4 hours in between, 1.5 capsule each time (my doc said I could take 2 capsules if I wanted). I also have been taking stool softeners with each does of pain meds. Now I am drinking my wonderful tea Smooth Move! Hopefully won't get too backed up. Got up to pee another time and this time was even easier than the time before. Oh I also have squeezers on my legs.....that squeeze my legs every 30 seconds or so to keep the flood flowing. It actually feels pretty good. Since I was concerned about blood clots, my surgeon asked if I wanted to be sent home with them :) So in addition to having them on during the surgery, I have them at home too :) I have only 1 drain which is nice, not bothersome yet, but I'm anticipating it will be as time goes on.

I'm feeling pretty good! Much better than I expected. Although I've heard tomorrow will probably be the worst day so I'm bracing myself for that. My mom picked up the kids from school, brought them by real quick to see me and now they are headed out to spend the rest of the week with her and my dad :)

I will update more as time goes on :)

1 day Post Op. Last night I slept....alright. I...

1 day Post Op. Last night I slept....alright. I woke up about every hour. This morning the pain seemed to be more intense....the anesthesia has definitely left my body. Last night I could start to feel my incision sight....out of no where it just started burning...like it was on fire. Lasted about 2 minutes, then went away. Then came back an hour later, then went away. Off and on. No bowl movement yet, I'm hoping I have one today. We'll see. I go in for my first post op appointment today and Dr. will take of my compression garment and let me see everything. I had a dream last night that nothing was different, all the sagging skin was still there haha. I'll tell you what...this binder...compression garment thing hurts like hell. It feels like my ribs are being crushed. I can't wait for him to take it off even just for a few minutes. I imagine I'll be bruised from it-it's that tight. But my mom (who's a nurse) said it needs to be, I need the support. Also, since pain was definitely worse today than yesterday, the doctor said I could stagger Motrin in between my Percocet, which I've done and it's helped. Although it's a little alarming to me that Motrin is on the banned list 2 weeks prior to surgery, and then suddenly the day after surgery it's ok to take. Thoughts anyone on that ??

Well, that was a miserable FAIL at my first post...

Well, that was a miserable FAIL at my first post op. Rode the 40 minute car ride there, walked in with my walker looking like an old lady, pain was pretty bad. Got into the room and the nurse started taking off my compression garment. Because it has been so tight these last 36 hours, when she loosened it something happened with my body and I felt dizzy, my blood pressure dropped and I started shaking uncontrollably. She had me lie down in a recliner, my whole body still shaking. She proceeds to start taking off the tape and gauze and I scream in pain. She says "You're suppose to be numb there!" and I said "Well, I'm not!". She tries to take off tape and gauze in a different section and I sqirm in pain. She said ok let's get you some water and a cold towel for your head. I'm thinking, ok that's not really going to help but I appreciate the gesture. She does that, and then we try again.....nope.....no can do misses. So she says I'm going to get the doctor. lol. He comes in and asks me how I'm doing. I say "I don't really know....I was fine until I got here and then she took off my CG". He asked if I was shaking because I was cold or nervous and I said "I don't know". He then gently tries his hand and removing some of the dressings. Nope. Then he looks me over really carefully and says "Well, we CAN leave this on, instead of putting you through a ton of pain....there's not too much blood and soiled gauze....we can leave it on". At that point, although I wanted to see my new tummy, I opted to leave it put. I then ask him why I'm not numb like I'm suppose to be. I had called the office yesterday and was wondering about the pain pump...because it didn't seem like it was doing anything. They assured me that it was working (which it is). So we concluded that my body just metabolizes pain medication rather quickly. He was able to take the gauze off of my drain site and put a new one on (my only drain is coming out of my left hip....kinda weird, I can feel it now). Then they stand me up and squeeze me back into this awful compression garment which I absolutely hate. Hate. Now that it's back on, I can tell that everything is different.....the pain pump is sitting a new way, tugging and pinching more than it did before, I can feel the drain site....I wish they had never taken the damn CG off. He then proceeds to tell me about showering, which I can do in 2 more days....and I can pull the pain pump out at the point, which I'm terrified of and will likely have my mom do (the nurse). The pain pump is inserted low in my pubic area. There's gauze and tape covering it, so that has to be ripped off first before the tubes can be pulled out. I cringe just thinking about it. I make my way back to the car very slowly. Take my Percocet because it was time, and my husband starts to drive home. I started crying. Don't really know why. Because I was doing pretty well for most of the day, and great the day before, but as soon as they CG came off it's like it all changed. Everything shifted, changed and started hurting somehow. I can't explain it. But the way everything was set up and put into place directly after my surgery must have been working really well for me. And now it's all ruined and doesn't feel the same anymore. Dr. suggested I take some Valium tonight to help relax me. I guess I'll give it another try even though the first time I took it it gave me an awful headache. I'm sad, bummed out, disappointed, pissed off, you name it. :( So, no new photos to add yet.

2 Days Post Op Now. I should title this post "Why...

2 Days Post Op Now. I should title this post "Why In God's Name Did I Do This To Myself??!!! lol. Ok, last night was rough. I didn't want to fall asleep for fear of stiffening my legs and getting a blood clot, but I also know that sleeping is part of the healing process! I did finally fall asleep around 5:00am, slept til 8:00am, fell back asleep around 9:00AM and slept again til 10:00AM which is actually the most sleep I've gotten in a few days. I feel pretty good this morning. Swelling isn't too bad today, I guess by comparison of yesterday yesterday was REALLY bad with swelling. But I head that's to be expected at the end of days. My antibiotics cause diaherra so even though I'm taking my pain pills regularly I've already gone poo maybe 4 or 5 times (which again I would prefer over constipation).

I SO enjoy this recliner. Was worried I wouldn't be able to sleep in it, but I don't know how I would have slept in my bed without it! I love this thing. When I do sleep, I sleep pretty well, which is saying something for an insomniac.

I have been eating mostly fruit and crackers. Had a little bit of a quesadilla last night from Chipotle.....that's probably been the most solid thing I've had. I tolerated it pretty well.

Now let's talk about my husband. Who is normally the sweetest and almost perfect man in every way. Man is he grumpy! I want a new nurse lol. I think I've been a pretty good patient, and he thinks he's been a pretty good nurse, but we both disagree.

My pain pump medication is almost out, which means it'll have to come out tomorrow. My drain isn't really bugging me...it's fine. I'm pretty tired still. When I went to the bathroom this morning, I noticed I was standing much straighter. I wasn't even trying to....I just was. It actually hurt to hunch over like I've been doing.

I'm sleepy, I'm going to go back to sleep. I'll update more later.

2 Days Post Op it's 2:30PM as I write this. I...

2 Days Post Op it's 2:30PM as I write this. I called the doctor's office around 11:00 and told them I felt a small hard ball forming on my upper abdomen. They wanted to see me right away (my doc wasn't in today, but the other one was....Dr. Clark). I dreaded the long drive again, but off we went. Got there.....got my garment off SLOWLY, and the same nurse that was there last night said "Wanna give this another try?"....and I said "yes"....so she proceeds to take off the tape and gauze. It didn't hurt nearly as bad this time as it did last night. We discovered that I am numb on my left side, but not on the right side of my stomach. Funny....same thing that happened when I got an epideral with my first daughter. Anyway....we get everything off, looks good, take a picture. Dr. Clark comes in a feels what I think may be a seroma forming, and she says "Oh no, that is a stitch...a suture....sometimes on thinner people you can feel them more easily". And that was that. I felt around.....she took my finger and showed me other ones she could feel as well. So.....that's good news I guess. I'm hoping that once the swelling goes down, I won't be able to feel them so easily. Nurse took off old dressings and I got to see my belly button which I think looks pretty good. It's small! I'm pretty swollen and I can see stretch marks still, but overall I'm very happy that I'm just flat and nothing is hanging down anymore :) Doc told me I could take Motrin tonight which I just did and am happy about. Overall I am doing much better than yesterday! Happy I went back to the doc today unexpected. My next visit back is next Thursday to remove my drain :)

Wow, what a difference just a day makes. Last...

Wow, what a difference just a day makes. Last night got the most sleep I've gotten in a while, 4 hours at a time which was great. My body woke up every 4 hours on the dot....must be trained for those pain pills ;) Although after going back to sleep at 6:00am after a dose of percocet, I didn't wake until 10:45 and was definitely in pain. Major BACK pain from all this hunching over while walking and sleeping in a recliner that doesn't have good back support to begin with. I had also missed my alarm to take my antibiotics so I took those around 11:00am. Had a very hard time walking to the bathroom this morning because of all the back pain. Still haven't had much of an appetite at all, but I continue to eat fresh fruit, my protein shakes, and crackers when I need to take medicine. My mom came over around 1:00PM and it was time to take the pain pump out. I got my compression garment off which was just SO nice to be able to breathe. We waited a little while, then I laid back in the recliner, put a pillow over my tummy, took a deep breath, and she went really slow pulling out the pump. Didn't hurt at all really, just felt pressure and pulling. But no pain which was nice. We then threw my compression garment in the wash and headed to the shower. My husband got it all ready, got a hand held shower holder thingy for me, got a shower chair in there which we borrowed from a friend, my mom undressed me and helped me into the shower. I sat, rinsed off, my mom washed my hair, I shaved my legs carefully and slowly. The shower wasn't so incredible and nice as everyone has described...it was more so AFTER the shower that I felt like a new woman haha. My mom got the towel warmer out that she had gotten me for Christmas and plugged that in. She helped me out the shower, dried me off, put some Biofreeze on my back muscles, got me dressed, blow dried my hair, and helped me back to my recliner. I feel AMAZING. It is SO MUCH easier to move around without that damn compression garment on. It feels wonderful. I know I had to fully enjoy the hour and a half it took to wash and dry it-which I did. But now it is back on, and my organs are back to being squished haha. Supposedly this is the LARGE one (stage 1 garment) for the first week to accommodate for extra swelling. The next garment they give me (stage 2) in 5 more days will be even smaller. Can't imagine, but whatever. It's ok. I'm just so glad those first 48 hours are behind me. They truly are the worst.

Let's see....I know a lot of people have complained about the drains, but to be completely honest my drain hasn't bothered me at all. Not one bit. Doesn't hurt. Isn't sore. The drain site is directly in my incision site, on my left hip. I don't know if it's numb or something, but it really truly hasn't been bothersome. I've got 5 more days with it in, but shouldn't be too big of a deal. It's really not that gross either. I was prepared for way worse, but have been pleasantly surprised.

Swelling is usually pretty bad at night, I have to loosen the CG a little bit every night for about an hour. I'm also going to borrow a boppy pillow from a friend to see if that helps with all the back pain I've been having. Might ask the doctor to prescribe me some Flexoril (a muscle relaxant...which I've taken before for migraines).

I'm down to 1/2 Percocet every 4 hours, as well as 600mg of Motrin every 8 hours. The Motrin really helps the tummy. I actually am not too sore in my stomach at all. Can't wait for the back pain to stop though. I've got a heating pad on it, but not sure what else to do. It hurts so bad.

I took a half of Valium last night and that helped me sleep I think. I think I'll take another one tonight. So far so good! Kids come home Monday from my mother in laws. Our families have been SO great. My dad brought us Claim Jumper last night (which I was SO full after 4 bites of my blueberry muffin). I get full so easily now.....as there's probably not a lot of room down there now anyway. Oh one thing that kept happening last night was in my upper left part of my stomach it kept feeling like someone was kicking me from the inside. Like a baby or something lol. A spasm of some sort, poking, moving....probably nerves trying to reconnect or something....but it was a weird and slightly painful sensation (I never liked it when my kids moved in the womb....I'm not the mom that found it adorable and endearing.....it hurt and was annoying lol).

Ok I'm about to catch up on some shows. Oh I'm also taking EmergenC 3 times a day which I think has benefited me SO MUCH. It has electrolytes in it as well as vitamins. I feel so good after I have a glass of it. No constipation yet either! I've had BM's every single day which is great. Other than all the swelling above my incision I'm a pretty happy camper!

4 Days Post Op, which means I had my surgery 5...

4 Days Post Op, which means I had my surgery 5 days ago. Tt is true what they say: every day you feel A LITTLE bit better. Today is the day I have felt the most normal, although I'm fore sure hiring a house keeper....enough is enough.

My biggest complaint still is the back pain and the compression garment. Any body have any thoughts on the CG? One gal said on here that her surgeon advised AGAINST wearing a CG, which of course is music to my ears. But most surgeons recommend them, otherwise you might "compromise your asthetic goal" whatever that means. So I will obey my doctor. I didn't pay him $8,000 to disobey him, so I will keep this CG on.

Let's see, girls will be home tomorrow. Golden globes are on tonight which I am excited to watch that. Time has actually gone by rather quickly. My one drain is actually putting out less than 25cc in 24 hours, which is the requirement to get it out....but I'm not scheduled to get it out for another 4 days and I don't think they'll do it early. I'd rather leave it in and be safe than take it out and end up with a seroma.

My hubby is having breakfast with Francis Chan tomorrow morning which I'm also excited about. Anyone in the Christian circles knows who he is....an amazing man, leader, speaker, beyond humble....goggle him if you don't know who he is. So he is speaking at a local church this weekend and then having a small breakfast for pastors in the area tomorrow. So I'm excited for my husband.

Let's see....I don't think I'll be able to pick up the girls from school this week. My hubby may have to do it. I don't know...we'll see. I put on a normal shirt just now to see how my drain looks under it and it looks like I'm packin'.....lol....so i think I'll stay out of public until I get this thing removed :)

I'm still swelling a lot, mostly at night, and mostly in my upper abs, waist, and right above the incision line. I can't wait to see what my tummy will look like without all this swelling (which I know won't be for at least several weeks). Overall I'm doing really well!

Ughhh. Today was a hard one. I'm not even quite...

Ughhh. Today was a hard one. I'm not even quite sure why. Yesterday was fantastic. Laid in bed and watched the golden globes. Did minimal walking. Today though....it's like the energy has been completely zapped out of me. My chest hurts and is tight. I have no strength. It's so weird. I took my CG to take a shower, and still haven't put it back on. I really need a break from that thing. It was cutting off my circulation and my feet were going completely numb. My CG has been off for about 2 hours now (it's 3:30PM getting on into the evening) and my swelling has actually gone DOWN since this morning. Another weird thing.

I called my doctor and asked for Flexoril for my muscle spasms, back pain, and to just relax my whole body. I spoke with his wife, a nurse in his operating room, and she is concerned because apparently that's a strong drug which they don't typically prescribe. She says they prescribe is about once every 2 years. I had no idea it was apparently so strong. I've been prescribed it before for my migraines a few years ago. She suggested 800mg of Motrin and I told I can't take too much of that because my ulcer will flare up. She goes "wow you're quite a mess!" haha. So she said she'd speak with him and get back with me (he's in surgery). I'd prefer not to keep taking my percocet but I have a feeling that's what they're going to call back with and suggest. She was surprised when I told her Valium didn't work for me and that it gave me a horrible headache (both times that I took it).

I haven't taken a percocet all day (my last one was a half of one at 4:00am this morning). Since then I've only taken extra strength tylenol.

Ughhhh.....I'm just exhausted. I guess that's my body's way of telling me to rest. I just feel so useless lying here while my husband is cleaning, cooking, busing our kids to and from school AND taking care of me. Poor guy.

I'm thinking about extending my rental time for my rocker. I'm suppose to give it up tomorrow, but I'm not quite sure that I'm ready. I tried to lay down in my bed this afternoon and it took a long time to get comfortable but once I did it was nice....it was nice on my back.

Oh the swelling....I hate it. I don't even want to post any new pictures because the swelling is so bad (people keep saying I don't look swollen....but you know your own body and I'm a swollen MESS). The nurse on the phone today said that the swelling is at it's peak and worst on days 3-7. But I will post photos because this is "REAL self" isn't it haha.

Well the last 2 days have been pretty good. Gave...

Well the last 2 days have been pretty good. Gave the recliner back and I have been sleeping in my bed alright. Still on the pain meds, but not very much of them. Taking flexeril at night, although last night I could not fall asleep until 2:00am. Woke up this morning, stood up and blood gushed everywhere. My wonderful period decided to show up a few days early. I soaked my newly clean compression garment, got blood all over the floor, and then the door bell rings and my new housekeeper is here to start cleaning lol. Then my daughter's teacher text's me and tell me that my 2 year old spiked a fever of 101 and needs to be picked up. I hadn't even had my first cup of coffee yet and all this was happening lol. My husband goes to pick up our daughter (fevers are serious with her because if they get too high, she has seizures). So cleaning lady introduces herself and starts cleaning. I sit and tell her where everything goes as she's emptying the dishwasher. My husband pulls up with my daughter, we put a movie on for her and she lays in bed next to me (great....fever germs lol). I take another dose of my probiotics. I look at my drain and what was light yellow all night has now turned to red again, and looks like a long thin clot is coming out. I read that the appearance of clot is normal in drains as it makes it's way out. I don't know...what do you guys think? Should I be concerned that it was yellow all night and then went back to red? My output still isn't very much (still less than 25 cc a day, which it has been for the last couple of days). I posted some new pics. I'm still a swollen cow, and that makes me bummed, but I know it'll be like this for the next few months. Just trying to mentally prepare myself that my teeny tiny tummy won't be visible for another 3 months. I'm so puffy. Especially my love handles. Oh well.

I'm still walking hunched over a bit. I took another shower yesterday and same thing happened with my drain-after standing for so long....more red blood came out instead of the yellowish stuff. Is this normal? I think I'll call my doctor. I'm suppose to get this drain out tomorrow.

8 Days PO and drain is out! Was laying down on the...

8 Days PO and drain is out! Was laying down on the doctor's table recliner thing when the nurse started removing the tape from my scar. I felt some pulling and and tugging, and felt it way more on the right side (what is up with my right side???), but not too bad. She then had to remove the stitches that were holding my drain in place. A little painful....but brief. She then asked if I was ready to have her pull the drain out (which she had already done at that point and I hadn't felt it....she was just trying to trick me lol). I said "Yes I'm ready", and by that time she was behind me putting the drain in the sink she goes "Oh it's done". Hahaha. Nice technique. Didn't even feel a thing. It took less than a second, and I didn't even feel it. Supposedly my surgeon buys the super expensive drains that are made really well and slide out very easily, and painlessly. He said when he had had knee surgery and had a drain in place, it was so painful when they pulled it out-so from then on he bought the expensive drains for his patients. Thanks man. :)

Let's see....we talked about the swelling. There's no way around it other than letting time go by and my body do it's thing. He did say something that was very interesting and in fact the exact opposite of what I've read from nearly everyone on here: he said that if you want to swell less, you can't be gulping down the water. Yes it flushes out toxins, etc.... but ultimately it is more fluid for your body to try to get rid of and it WILL make the swelling much worse. Interesting. Makes sense though. I drink a lot of water as it is, so we'll just see as the weeks go on if he's right.

All in all I've felt relatively good today. Still not sleeping great....I wish I could sleep on my side but I just can't yet. Still walking hunched over....oh that's another surprising thing my surgeon said he said "it's time for you to be standing up straight now". I said I can't it hurts. He goes "you need to start trying....you won't rip the stitches. Your back will feel much better once you start standing up straight." I guess I've just gotten in the habit of walking hunched over, I have to actively remind myself to try to stand up straight and once I remember, I can almost do it 100% but doesn't last long before I forget again.

I am off the hard narcotics, although still taking flexeril (muscle relaxer) as needed. I'm managing on just Motrin every 8 hours, and tylenol every 4-6 hours. I've also been drinking this tea (just Dandelion Root tea)....it's a liver detoxifier. My liver is probably shot will all of these narcotics....so I've been drinking at least one cup a day to help cleanse it. It's also a natural dieretic :) Which again won't stop the swelling....only time will do that....but at least it might make it go faster? Who knows.

If this back pain would just go away I think I would pretty good! Here's hoping that happens soon...

9 Days Post op, last night I was FINALLY able to...

9 Days Post op, last night I was FINALLY able to sleep on my side. It was almost as wonderful as the day I got married. lol. So nice to take the pressure off my back. I felt a little pulling inside my stomach, but not too bad. I had to switch sides in the middle of the night because my incision was getting a little irritated. But overall, best night sleep in awhile. I'm also completely off narcotics, so I'm back to my usual over the counter sleep aid-so I think that helped too.

I'm posting a new photo of my scar....without the tape on it. It's pretty thin I'm surprised. I wish I didn't go up all the way to my hipbone, but that's just how it is. I know it'll fade. The swelling isn't too bad in this picture. But I know I can tell I'm still swollen because I can't see my rib cage. Before, not in an anorexic way but a trim fit way...I could also see my ribcage. Now they are way hidden in there somewhere lol. Oh well, 11 more weeks right? haha

I am 12 Days PO, and probably have some blues. I...

I am 12 Days PO, and probably have some blues. I am down about all the swelling (I know it's temporary, but still....3-4 months a long time to look down and not recognize or even like your own stomach after you stomach thousands of dollars to like it again). And then secondly, I'm finding that as good as the doctors are, even mine, they will tell us what we want to hear, not necessarily what is absolutely true :/ I've already found that with my doctor TWICE now. And he is once of the most reputable and expensive guys in the area. At my initial consultation with him (before I paid him the big bucks) I asked him EXACTLY where my scar would be...and he showed me.......top/center of my thigh....to the other top center of my thigh (no hip bone to hip bone). Tiny. Minimal. And I exclaimed "oh! that's it?!...that's not a big at all!". Other surgeons I had met and showed me the hip bone to hip bone thing. Well, low and behold on the day of my surgery he marked me hip bone to hip bone and I was a little too out of it and nervous to question him. But I definitely will at my next appointment now that I am completely off of pain pills and can think clearly. Second misleading by him: at my pre-op appointment I raised a concern about something I had read: I read that one gal after a tummy tuck could feel her stitches inside of her....that one stitch had flipped around and started poking her from the inside out. To which he replied, "Yes that happened one time awhile ago with one of my patients too, but since then I've revised the way I suture the stitches inside and the way I place them, and now there's no way you could ever feel them". So I asked again "So I won't be able to feel the stitches at all?" And he said "No". Well, low and behold I go in 2Days PO for what I think feels like a seroma forming. My doctor was not working that day, but his partner, a lady doctor, was. She feels it and goes "Oh no, that's one of your stitches. See.....here feel all along here"....to which she takes my hand and I can feel every one of my stitches inside my abdominal wall. She said "you can usually feel them more on thinner people, like you". Great. Lol. So again, not that I don't trust my surgeon with his skills and abilities, but I think they tend to exaggerate how "minimal" this surgery is. The day of surgery, I brought two of my bikini bottoms in with me to get marked in, but the nurse told me to take everything off-and that he needs to mark me naked. And again I have authority issues, so I didn't challenge his blue pen markings at the time, moments before surgery started. Next time I go in, I am going to discuss a scar revision with him. All this to say....I tried my bikinis on yesterday and was so disappointed....I could see my entire scar in every.single.one.of.them. Not hidden at all. The style of bikini I wear is not the high waisted kind that the 45-year old moms wear. I'm 26. I expected I'd maybe see a little bit of the scar....but not the entire thing! And mind you, these are slutty over the top skimpy bathing suits. They are the regular kind. Like low rise jeans. My incision is ridiculously high (I think). And I am just bummed. Bummed that I didn't have the balls to say on the day of surgery "hey....can we make it more horizontal instead of so curved?". I've seen others' scars who are more of just a straight line, and I would love that. Like I said, I will be discussing a scar revision with him. It would have been a straight line if he had actually done what he said he could have done in my initial consult. My only hesitation in doing a scar revision is all the down time again, and severing those lymphic channels again and having to deal with 3-4 more months of swelling (scar revisions usually don't take place until a year after surgery, once you're fully healed, and you can see there is still need for a revision). I'm just bummed. I don't even want to post pictures it looks so awful, but I will.

*Not, these are *not* the slutty over the top...

*Not, these are *not* the slutty over the top skimpy bathing suits, just regular ones.

Oooops, I guess I'm 12 Days Post Op, yesterday's...

Oooops, I guess I'm 12 Days Post Op, yesterday's post was technically 11 Days PO. I took some pictures in the morning when the swelling is the least amount it will be all day. But still, I have lots of swelling....you can definitely tell from the side picture.

I went back to work today, I am a piano teacher.....only had 3 lessons and I scheduled them back to back so all I had to do was sit and teach which was great. My hubby drove me and picked me up. Tomorrow will be more difficult as I have 8 lessons to give and they are all over tonight, so he'll drive me to all of those as well.

With pain meds I've been managing with just Motrin 800 every 8 hours, sometimes Tylenol once or twice a day, and then usually a flexeril (muscle relaxer) around 2:00 or 3:00, but tonight I made it until 7:00 before I felt like I needed to take one. Still not able to stand up straight at all. It's like I have to thrust my pelvis and hips forward in order to stand up straighter, it's weird. My husband said "you've gotta stop walking hunched over or else your muscles are going to heal in that position and then you'll walk like that the rest of your life". That's not possible is it? Totally freaked me out. Let me tell ya....I'm really trying to stand up straight but it just hurts and pulls. And of course, just like everyone else says, it's worse by the end of the day, I'm looking like my 92 year old Grandma Muriel again.

Ughhh. I'm not as blue as I was yesterday. I think getting out of the house and teaching helped. My friend brought over some beautiful flowers for me after that and also made my entire family dinner which was such a blessing. My husband has definitely been on the grumpy side lately so it was a wonderful treat for him to walk in the house from a good workout at the gym with dinner on the table. Poor guy has been doing SO much these past 2 weeks. I mean literally everything. Managing the kids, packing lunches, busing them to and from school, making every meal, taking care of ME the patient, working, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, bathing the kids (all you moms know how HORRIBLE this part of the day is....right before bed it takes 1200 hours to get them ready for bed and then IN bed, and then finally asleep). Poor guy. He's not a good multitasker and gets overwhelmed pretty easily. I can't wait to be able to do more though. I feel useless. But I know my body needs this time to rest. I'm jealous of my husband that gets to go to the gym lol.

Oh well, I've posted some updated photos. Nighty night!

14 Days PO. I feel so much better than I did last...

14 Days PO. I feel so much better than I did last week. I returned to work yesterday, gave 8 lessons....wasn't too bad. My husband drove me to and from each house so that was nice. I've cut back on the Motrin and Tylenol and I have my 2 week PO tomorrow. I sneezed just now and man that was painful. Ouch. Let's see, swelling is bad at night still. Oh well. But I'm happy that I'm starting to feel normal again. My housekeeper came again today to clean and she does a wonderful job, so I actually think I will keep her even after I'm feeling 100% again lol.

15 Days PO, had my 2 week checkup today. The nurse...

15 Days PO, had my 2 week checkup today. The nurse took a few stitches out, and one out on my belly button. Doc came in and asked me what I thought of my results (wonder if he read my review lol). I asked him if there was any way he could have made the incision more straight, and he said no....he explained why although I wasn't quite tracking with him. But that's ok....the incision is pretty darn thin.....I do think it will fade nicely over time, it just requires patience on my end. He said I could take a bath now! Yay....I love taking baths....especially in the winter. He said there's no risk of infection, everything is completely closed. I asked him when I could go back to the gym, and he said the most motivated patients he's seen have started running again by 3 weeks. I asked him if I could start walking on the treadmill now and he said yes. And knowing me, I am the most motivated person I know (my friends will attest to this), I will attempt running next week. Of course I'll listen to my body, and if it's not ready, then it's not ready. I'm not stupid. But yesterday I felt like I really turned a corner. I felt almost completely back to normal. There's still some soreness and hunching over now and then, but for the most part I'm pretty good. Sex.....nurse said to go for it (this was after the doc left the room). I was like "really?? are you sure??", and as I'm walking out I see the doc in the hallway and just to verify, I ask him if sex is ok now. And he cautiously says, "yes, but continue at your own comfort level" or something like that. So thank goodness. 2 weeks is definitely a long time to go and enough is enough. :)

I do have pink eye that's for certain, my girls had it yesterday and I did my best to wash my hands eleven hundred times today, but still got it. At least I've got the antibiotics, but man this thing kills. Ughhh. I guess it's better than puking or coughing up a storm. Thank you Lord for pink eye instead of the stomach flu. No really, I mean it.

Ok I will hopefully attempt the treadmill tomorrow and see how it goes!

16 Days PO. Hey guess what? I'm starting to like...

16 Days PO. Hey guess what? I'm starting to like my new tummy! Swelling was minimal this morning so I snapped a few new photos, and then one before/after photo collage. I've got my new (different size) medical compression garment on and it fits wonderfully. I can breathe in it! I was going to go to the gym today and walk on the treadmill, but I feel too exhausted. My body is trying to fight off this pink eye in addition to recover, so I'm taking it easy today. Tomorrow is my birthday and I hope for my birthday present I'll be able to go back to the gym! It's a bummer though, these past 4 birthdays I have been sick for every single one of them. Then we always say "oh we'll get together with friends and family another time to celebrate" and it somehow never happens. I know I'm an adult now (I'll be 27 tomorrow!) so I should be used to not being celebrated as much as you are when you're a kid.....lol.....but it still is a bummer being so sick every year (and I don't even get sick that often! only on my birthday!).

Ok back to the tummy. Yes I am starting to like it. My scar is SO very thin. I know it's going to fade very very nicely. I've gotta give my surgeon props for including everything I'll need in his cost of surgery. I haven't needed to purchased one single item. They've given me every garment, gauze, luxuriously soft pads lol, and silicone sheets (next apt) for the scar. These things add up to several hundred dollars, and it's nice to not have to worry about them, and just pay for everything all up front. I definitely appreciate that about my surgeon. I love that he uses top of the line stuff (makes sense coming from the gal who carries several LV's haha). Love good quality things.

Ok here are several new photos and here's to tomorrow hoping I feel better and can kick this pink eye :)

21 Days PO, feeling more and more back to normal....

21 Days PO, feeling more and more back to normal. Walking straighter every day. Sleeping pretty great. Swelling is down from where it was last week. I'm not swelling nearly as much as I used to. Eating fresh fruits, veggies, and protein drinks. Scar is still very thin.....I still wish it didn't curve up, when I see myself naked it gives the illusion that I am somehow shorter (probably because it makes my waist look shorter). But I know it will fade.

Overall things are going pretty good. I posted some new photos.

22 Days PO, I went bikini shopping yesterday haha....

22 Days PO, I went bikini shopping yesterday haha. They were fresh off the Target isles and I wanted to snag some before they were all picked over by spring time. Let's see, I did not find any that will cover my scar. BUT, that's ok. I snagged a cute top that I love, and I paired it with bottoms I already have. Yup you can see my scar, but oh well :) These pics are from yesterday at the end of the day, there's a little bit of swelling, and some puckering at the incision line, but it will all flatten out. It's coming along! So my childhood best friend is getting married this summer, and is having a destination wedding in the british virgin islands! We'll be headed to St. Marteen and then Anguilla for a week this summer. I am looking forward to being in our own little villa right on the aqua blue waters, sipping their famous rum punch with my handsome hubby :) Oh and I put up a fat photo of myself today, it had gotten deleted but now it is back up again. In ii...I'm about 225 pounds haha. Good times.

4 weeks PO, had my second to last post op visit...

4 weeks PO, had my second to last post op visit (last one will be in 6 months). My swelling has been very minimal, if any at all. Not sure why, if it's good luck, or the bromelein I've been taking. Not sure, but the last few weeks I have just been in awe of my stomach and how flat it is. Let's see, I weighed myself this morning and I weigh 120 pounds, which is 8 pounds down from the morning of surgery. Weird. I haven't worked out in a month and I've lost that much weight. I have been getting really full very easily, so that probably lends a hand.

Let's see, my apt today was with the MA (medical assistant) and she said everything looks good. Although I do have some small scar tissue right on the edge of my belly button. It's a little red and when you press down you can feel the knot underneath. So she said to massage it a couple times a day, and it should break up. If it's not better in 4 weeks, I can come back in and get steroid injections to help it break up or something. It's tiny....I'm not too worried about it. But I'll keep an eye on it cuz she said it may get worse. But maybe not. She also gave me the silicone sheets to start my scar therapy. I love it...it's a nude/flesh color so blends right in with my tummy. She gave me enough for a month (one strip lasts about 2 weeks). The biggest reason why people do the scar treatment is to speed up time essentially. The silicone takes the color out of the incision (the redness). Time will do that on it's own eventually, and part of how light the scar turns out does depend on your genetics. We'll see how it looks in a month. She said they use the top of the line silicone sheets, and if I want to buy more (a 6 month supply) they will give them to me at cost which is $21. I couldn't believe that lol. They sell for $100 online for each strip. Incredible. But again, even if we all didn't use any sort of scar therapy, it will fade eventually with time anyway. Oh I can also leave it on while I shower which is very convenient.

Let's see, I went shopping yesterday. Had been looking forward to this for quite some time :). Had to buy a size lower than usual because I didn't have any skin to tuck into my jeans haha. Found some amazing Citizens that are so comfy and perfect for spring, and then some cute Free People ones. Two pairs of jeans and nearly $400 later I had to leave Nordstrom haha.

Overall I am very happy with my result. I still haven't returned to the gym since my first try. I'm kinda like "umm, why do I need to go again?" haha. But I do miss the endorphins, runner's high, and of course I know it's good for my heart. But I've been feeling pretty good on my own, not too tired. The last two weeks I've been back to my normal self of running errands, teaching, bathing kids, etc. Some nights I'm more tired than others, but overall I feel pretty good :)

34 Days PO. Hello all. Oooo so this week, guess...

34 Days PO. Hello all. Oooo so this week, guess what? I've been swollen. Can't be sure if it's do to PMS or no CG (maybe a mix of both), but I bought a new smaller and set of spanx to wear throughout the day. Love it. It was $6.99 a Ross (why do I not shop there more? My husband and kids and I left the store with boatloads of things for less than $100). I love a great deal. Let's see, still no working out. Again, in no rush....I have the rest of my life to workout. I've been doing lunges and squats throughout the house though to try to keep at least some muscle tone. Oooo I received a package in the mail yesterday. Opened it up, and it's a gift from my surgeon. A beautiful box of 4 soy smell good candles and a thank you card from him for entrusting my care into his hands, or something like that. Very nice touch. Let's see what else....oh I do like the scar silicone tape thing. I've showered with it on several times and it's still doing great. Will probably take this one off in about 3 more days and replace with another (each sheet lasts 7-10 days). It definitely is making my scar softer, although I don't think enough time has passed for me to tell a difference in color. I uploaded a picture of it so others who were asking can see what it looks like. The tape sometimes puckers, and I flatten it out throughout the day. My posture is still sometimes pretty bad. I have to remind myself throughout the day that I CAN sit up/stand up perfectly straight and that I need to. Overall I am really really happy I did this, got it out of the way, and no longer have to tuck my skin into my pants anymore. It had become this habit the last couple of years, and when I went to teach lessons last week, I went to sit and tuck my skin in, having forgotten there wasn't any lol. Shopping is now more fun. Intimacy is more fun for me. Life is grand!

6 Weeks PO, not a whole lot to say other than I'm...

6 Weeks PO, not a whole lot to say other than I'm exhausted and feel like I've taken a few steps backward even though I haven't changed my activity level at all from 4 weeks PO. I still get a little swollen at night, but by morning it's gone. I've worked out a total of 3 times now since the surgery....5 minutes of cardio and then a few light waits and that's it haha. It was too much for my body the next day and the next day, so I'm still taking it easy. My arms are getting a little flabby but who cares it's still winter. My incision line has been hurting a bit and I've had some pain in the upper abs....had to take a Valium last night. Man that thing put me to sleep. I put 3 new photos up. Hope everyone is doing well!

Still tired. Still swelling at night. Nothing...

Still tired. Still swelling at night. Nothing really new, except I added some recent photos. Found a bikini I like at Target that pretty much covers my scar so happy about that. Going in to see my surgeon next week about the small red scar tissue under my belly button, and he'll possibly inject a steroid into it to break up the scar tissue. Man this recovery is longer than I hoped it would be. Still can't work out. Just utterly exhausted, and even when I try to do 20 lunges around the house or some free weights with just my arms....I am flat on my back by night or the next day in so much pain (not sore, but PAIN in my abdomen). So I'm listening to my body and not pushing it. I think I'll try the gym again next week....

Famous last words haha. No I really do miss it. I think I'm getting a bit depressed actually because I don't have those endorphins running through my veins anymore, and haven't in 7 weeks. Ughhh. Like I said, long recovery.

8 Weeks PO. The only new photos I have added are...

8 Weeks PO. The only new photos I have added are actually completely old ones (pre tummy tuck and pre weight loss). I didn't want any one to think that I am some young thin girl with a super high metabolism. Nope I had to work my butt off and become extremely great at self control. Enjoy the funny photos :)

I'm a little over 3 months PO, 13 weeks PO to be...

I'm a little over 3 months PO, 13 weeks PO to be exact. A lot has gone on, and there are too many details, but here is the jist of it. Still having pain in my pubic area which I believe is nerve related. Gets worse if I run, which has kept me from being able to really get back to running. Went to my surgeon yesterday and he injected lidocaine into the area, but that did not help (weird), so he says it's probably not nerve related. He's willing to do other things, but at this point I'm just going to try to wait it out and hope it resolves itself-instead of taking other measures with possible side effects. Which leads me to my next issue. About 5 weeks ago, I went in to the office for a steroid injection because of some hardening scar tissue on the left side of my belly button. It was a small part, but it was very hard and red. They did a small steroid injection which over time, did resolve the hardening scar tissue. The down side though, is that two of the side effects of a steroid injection are thinning of the skin, and lightening of the skin where the injection took place. I did not know this. So as the weeks have progressed, half of my belly button is lighter and looks like a sad old wrinkled up grape...while the other half is nice and plump looking. I'm disappointed and had I known what the side effects were I would have opted out of the shot and just dealt with the small hardening scar tissue. Oh well. My stomach is very flat. On one other thing I wish I had known though was that when they pull the skin down....it's still your skin. I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before...I don't know if I expected new skin or what haha but when I do sit, or bring my knees to my chest, etc things like that....my skin does wrinkle and I get a glimpse of my former tummy. It wrinkles the most right around the incision line (which is pretty long). So for all those out there still mulling over this procedure, just be informed that you still have your OWN skin lol and it's texture and stretch marks, etc. It's tighter, no doubt, but there are ways that I can move my body to where I can see it wrinkling up and sagging again. I don't know why I didn't expect this and it's news to me. I guess I was just expecting it to all go away-but just be aware that it's not possible.
Ok, off to the gym I go.

13 Weeks PO, and I ran the fastest I've been able...

13 Weeks PO, and I ran the fastest I've been able to run since having the surgery. My husband and I did sprints together and he could hardly keep up with me ;) haha just kidding, he kicked my butt, but I'm happy that I was at least able to sprint. Things are getting better. Abs a little sore today, but I've been working harder at the gym (still no ab work though).

5 months PO...only to have to have my gallbladder removed a few days ago :(

Well guys...I had to have another surgery :( Over the weekend I was experiencing excruciating pain for hours, was in tears it was so bad. Thought it was an ulcer because I'd experienced the same pain before, but not nearly to that degree. Husband took me to the ER and they found that I had several gallstones, and one big one in particular stuck in the neck of my gallbladder. The only way they could get to it was by removing my gallbladder completely. I told the surgeon about my tummy tuck and asked if that would pose a problem. She said no, but that she'd just have to be extra careful of adhesions that may have formed inside. She also said that normally the scar wouldn't be seen because it would be right at the belly button, but since mine was moved up from surgery, that the scar would be very noticeable. I asked if I could have some time to think about it and she said no, you need to decide right now. She said if I didn't have the surgery I could go home but I would be back in less than 3 days with the same excruciating pain and that the gall stone would not pass...it was completely lodged in there. So we went ahead with the surgery. It was laprascopic. But unfortunately when they went to inflate my stomach with air so they could reach the gallbladder....my belly button completely ripped open because she said it had been pulled so tight. I woke up to find my stomach looking completely butchered and I just cried and cried. Yes of course I'm thankful to be alive. Absolutely. But I had worked so hard to lose the 115 pounds, and then saved up for so long to afford the tummy tuck, only to have my wonderfully looking stomach now ruined. The surgeon didn't even tell me it was a possibility that my belly button could rip. Perhaps she didn't even think about it. I still haven't seen her since before the OR. She had another surgery after mine and then took off, and a different surgeon followed up with me. Im so sad and mad. The different surgeon said that this gal was known for not taking her time with female patients to minimize scaring, and that she just doesn't really care and stuck some glue on me and then called it good. So I have two small incisions holes: one in the upper center of my stomach and one on my lower right side. And then a long one going from the bottom of my belly button down, and it's sideways too (probably because that's where it started ripping). Hopefully my followup appt will be with HER and I can get some answers as to why it ripped (because my plastic surgeon said that skin is so strong and he's never heard of that happening). As soon as I was discharged (stayed in the hospital 3 days) I went straight to my plastic surgeon, he said I could come in. He felt bad, but he and I both knew that there was nothing to be done at this point. He offered me some assurance that if in 6 months, once it's healed, if he can do a revision to smooth things out, he will. I don't know how much that would cost, and I didn't ask-as we'll have to pay off this gallbladder surgery first. I'm disappointed and frustrated and wondering why this had to happen AFTER the tummy tuck and couldn't have happened before :( I've had that same pain for 3 years, but always thought it was an ulcer. I guess the stones can form when massive amount of weight has been lost, and chemical changes in the body cause stones to form. Anyway, just wanted to update you all. My sweet little flower belly button is no longer....it looks just like two pieces of flaps of skin glued together. I'm swollen and will probably have diarrhea for months, if not years, but my husband said the timing of all of this could not have been better. We are leaving for the Carribbean in a few weeks and what if it had happened over there. And then he is leaving for Africa for a couple weeks after that. It was a holiday weekend, it was a very slow day at the hospital and they had room in their OR (which typically for this surgery, they send you home with pain meds and then you have to book the outpatient procedure). We were able to get it done, which I am thankful for. Ok sorry this is getting so long....just wanted to share with you all!

5 Months PO...new pictures after recent gall bladder surgery!!!

I didn't want to post any photos of my fresh scars from the gallbladder surgery but whether it looks good or bad, this is still "real self" :) So here is my stomach all cut up. I ordered more Mepitac scar silicone tape and will have to keep that on all the scars this summer (thankfully it's flesh colored so it's not too obvious). I don't mind wearing a bikini showing my scars, but I do want to protect them from the sun as much as possible, so I won't be wearing a two piece too often this summer. But that's ok. Again I didn't get the surgery so I could wear a bikini for a quarter of the year haha. I got it to my skin wouldn't hang over my pants anymore :) And even though I have new unexpected scars from an emergency surgery, my skin is still nice and tight and doesn't hang over my pants :) And for that I am grateful :)

6 months PO

My husband and I just recently got back from the Caribbean for a friend's wedding. It was truly the most beautiful wedding I've ever been to. Turquoise water, white lights....really all you need in a place as beautiful as Anguilla. I had to keep my fresh scars out of the sun (from the recent gallbladder surgery), but I did manage to break out a bikini two times-but just made sure to lather up with SPF AND my scar tape. It was a great time. Went on a few runs with the hubby (although lower pubic nerve pain came back yesterday which has been MIA for the last two months so I'm not sure what that's about). But other than that I have been good. Was able to get back to lifting weights yesterday (finally!) which feels really great after not being able to for so long. My arms were looking pretty sad on my vacation getaway but oh well....I'm working on toning them back up again (haven't been able to lift my children either these past 6 weeks which hasn't helped matters). I am glad my body is recovering and feeling normal again. It was a bummer that it was just starting to feel normal again when I needed that emergency gallbladder surgery. But oh well....I am alive and grateful and I am so blessed! My body is not perfect, and there are days when I lament a little over it, but then I am reminded of how blessed I am in so many other areas that pail in comparison to desiring to have a perfect body.

8 Months PO, new pics!

My scar has been really fading nicely which I am happy about. I do have a slight, very slight dog ear on the right side. I thought I'd give it 6-8 months to flatten out before mentioning it again to my surgeon, but I'll be going into his office in a few weeks to have him fix my scar from the gallbladder surgery, so I will mention it then. He's great about followups and checking in and seeing how I'm progressing. I'm not too sure many surgeons would be as thorough, or possibly care as much about extra scars from emergency surgeries. But I am very grateful he's checked up on me. And the dog ear....I remember him saying it's an easy fix in one of my first post-ops, he's said it's just a couple minute procedure. But overall, I am so satisfied with how it's turned out. I am back to running 4-5 miles a day. Not a whole lot of pain. Sometimes still a few weird aches in places that I know must be surgery related, but overall I'm pretty good. I shaved off 5 whole minutes from my best 5K time (from my very first race I ran in last year & took 3rd place!). The same race is in a couple of weeks so maybe I won't take 3rd place this year ;) Some days I still lament about not getting lipo on my love handles because....alas....they are still there. And I exercise and eat clean most of the time. But oh well. To anyone who is contemplating having this surgery....know that I was scared for the months and years I was saving up for it. I was very fearful that something would happen to me. But being on this forum with all the girls in my group/month....going through it all together....was such a joy and a blessing and HUGE help. Made some great friends, and am so grateful for this forum/site. I am so glad I had this surgery, and this whole process has reminded me of how resilient our bodies are. I wouldn't hesitate to go back under again (for a breast lift....maybe next year). It's been a very great experience!

Almost 10 months PO, cancerous moles found on my stomach, scar revisions, and new pics!

Well, guess what ladies....I have cancer. That's right. Went in to the dermatologist to get a mole removed that bothered me, and after looking me over....she found a different spot that said looked really suspicious and that it needed to come off right away. And where else was it other than.....my tummy. So I watched her cut a huge chunk out of my stomach right next to my belly button. I asked her if it was possible that the mole looked weird because it was stretched down, and was ya know....3 inches higher 9 months ago than it is now. She said "maybe possible" but probably not. Biopsy was sent off and it came back abnormal, cancer cells growing. But her margins were good so no more further digging in that area. However, there is another spot on my stomach that she originally said if the first one comes back positive, then we are taking that one out too. So they cut a different spot out yesterday, and I'm all stitched up. And then the day before, I was at my plastic surgeon's office getting my gall bladder scar revised as well as a dog ear taken care of so my stomach is a hot mess right now.....again....lol. But he did a great job...I watched him excise a huge chunk of that weird sideways thick scar the ER surgeon had done, and then he sowed me back up nice and straight. It will be much thinner than before. And I know it'll look worse before it starts to look better. Maybe by next year everything will be all healed and pretty. But then with my luck I'll probably have my appendix burst or something and need that taken out. Hey, I did say I didn't do this for the bikini and I really meant it, but maybe God is making sure I meant it haha. Go get your moles checked out! They said if I had waited any longer, it would have spread fast because melanoma spreads the quickest when it's on your stomach. So please go get your moles checked out. I looked at the pathology report and it really was from sun damage from years ago (one of my first jobs was working at a tanning salon...stupid I know). Ok, hope you ladies are well. I am in bed resting, taking it easy with all these extra stitches and holes lol.

11 months PO

11 months post op and feeling pretty good. Let's see, gallbladder scar revision healing nicely-I took out the stitches 10 days later like he said I could. Kinda tricky cuz they were so small, but I managed just fine. Cancer spots already healing nicely too....still kinda dark and red and I know will continue to get darker as they heal so I am prepared for that. Margins were good on all the spots they cut out so no further treatment, just check ups more than the average person since I am apparently prone to skin cancer.

Let's see, on a physical side-I'll admit I have gained a few pounds in the last few months. I didn't think I had....trying to deny it since I threw away our scale in our house.....tried to explain it away as water weight lol.....but when my jeans were consistently very tight, I knew my weight was up-I just didn't know by how much. I threw away our scale about two months ago because it was cheap and not reliant, and we needed a more accurate one. But decided to wait awhile to buy one to see if I could live without knowing the numbers (I am a numbers girl, and can get kind of OCD with it). The scale is a double edged sword for me and probably for many girls. When I finally bought one a few days ago and stepped on (waited until the next morning of course, fully undressed)....my eyes shot wide open. I hadn't seen that number in over 2 years. Yikes. Gotta rein it in. So that's what I've been doing these last few days, focusing on reining it in and denying myself all those carbs that I love. I'll admit the thought crossed my mind "man I should have just had lipo while I was under....then my love handles would be gone forever and I wouldn't have to worry about my stupid muffin top". My friend recently went to my surgeon and had her breasts done and lipo and she looks phenomenal....I was amazed at the lipo results. And I am all about eating clean and exercising and doing ALL that you can do, before you head down the surgery road. Lord knows that's what I did with my stomach-tried every skin tightening cream, serum, supplement, exercise, nutrition plan, etc. But at the end of that road, if it's still not working, I am not opposed to nipping and tucking....not at all. So we'll see. We've got some strong DNA on my side of the family when it comes to love handles lol. Some very stubborn genes.

We are already putting away $ towards my breast lift so when we get there, if I still have these love handles, I'll probably have him suction them away for good.
Any women reading this already have lipo and want to share their experience good/bad please do. I have done a lot of research on it, and the mixed reviews and results always left me saying no, I'd never do that. But with my friend's recent results, it has me open to changing my mind. Of course, with my perfectionist personality- like I've said before-this surgery road could easily become a slippery slope for me because I naturally aim for perfection in everything I do, and I've gotta constantly be checking to make sure I am putting way more focus on perfecting the attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When the scales tip from time to time, I know I've gotta pull back and re-shift focus and priorities. This body will fade away, I know that. Which would bring my family, myself, and the God I serve more joy?....spending thousands of more dollars on me, or giving that away? I wrestle with my selfishness every day. Every.Single.Day.

Ok, wrapping up now. All is really well physically, I am still very glad I had this surgery done, and for anyone considering it-really spend the time researching the procedure, recovery time, and especially your surgeon. And I'm here if you have any questions! xxoo

Actually 10 months PO...not 11.

I can't count haha

One.More.Surgery :)

My saint of a plastic surgeon has put up with so much of me this year. I still cannot believe how much he has gone above and beyond to make sure that I am happy. So the upper right pubic pain that I've had off and on all year (since 1 day PO TT), has finally been resolved with one more surgery that took place 2 weeks ago. Originally, we both suspected that this pain could be a pinched sensory nerve. It had this burning/stinging feeling when I would move, stand, or sit a certain way. It would come and go these last 11 months, and if it was in fact a pinched sensory nerve, most likely would have resolved itself by now. But about 4 weeks ago, it came back full force and never left. Constant pain. Constant burning when I would get in a out of the car, put on my makeup, hold my kids, etc. I mean it was definitely hindering to my every day life. I reluctantly called my plastic surgeon's office, yet again, at the behest of my husband who was quite frankly, sick of hearing my complain about it. I was reluctant to call because Dr. Kaufman has done so much for me already and I hate that I've been so high maintenance for him. So many things happened this year to my stomach and he has kindly addressed them all, and even fixed mistakes that weren't his (namely, my sideways gallbladder scar). Free of charge. Never asked for anything, just wanted me to be happy. I didn't want to add to his already full plate during the holidays and have him see me yet again. But I remember laying in bed a couple weeks ago, in tears…...not because the pain was so awful. Yes it hurt. But what was truly unbearable was the thought of this pain being a possible life-long thing. That is what made this non-crier…cry. I don't cry…..so I knew this was kind of a big deal. So I called his office the next morning. I told the nurse what was going on, told her to tell him HOW SORRY I WAS to be bugging him once again, I told her that when she mentions my name to him he will likely roll his eyes lol and say oh no not again. But she said he didn't do that (at least outwardly, anyway lol) and she fit me into his schedule that very day a few hours later. They don't mess around with pain. He tried a lidocaine shot to see if that helped. It did nothing, surprise surprise. So he said the only other thing he could think of that it could be is that one of the internal permanent stitches was somehow poking me from the inside and/or laying on a nerve. And the last resort would be to open me back up and dig around and see what's going on. Well, we were there. We were at last resort land. I said yes let's do it. They booked me the next day for the OR. Morning came and I had to do the dreadful no water or food for….I think it was about 6 hours prior to surgery. Surgery was at 4:30PM so that made the day very long without water. But I made it. I marked myself where the pain was (and even days before that I could feel a little knot/ball exactly where the pain was. I had never felt this before. Dr. Kaufman even felt it and knew something was causing the pain). So we get our kids sorted for the evening, make our way towards Folsom yet again…..and while we were driving I realized that today was the day that my most favorite (expensive) wine was on sale at Whole Foods. I had totally spaced because of the surgery, and I was planning on stocking up because it was such a good price. So I called the Whole Foods in Folsom and had them set aside some bottles, and then told my husband he could drop me off for surgery and then go get the wine. Hey I didn't want to miss it. Rombauer NEVER goes on sale. So my husband waits with me while I get prepped. Dr. Kaufman comes in ready to mark me. I told him I already marked myself and I'm trying to make his job SOMEWHAT easier. I remember telling him that I feel bad and that he's actually probably losing money on me with the amount of times he's seen me. I suggest that we add a last minute procedure (chin lipo or breast lift) to make it worth his while lol but the anesthesiologist had a holiday part to get to so it was a no go. Bummer. Maybe next time. So they start the IV, get some versed in me, husband leaves to go get the wine, and I walk into the OR. I lay down on the table and the nurse actually strap my arms down. I'm like "where do you think I'm going to go? I want this stitch out, you don't need to strap me down" lol. The nurse was nice about it, said something about how patients arms like to float up during sedation or something. Tried to make light of the fact that she was literally strapping me down. But drugs and all, I was keenly aware of it. Let's see she gave me 2 doses of versed. Now I was really looking forward to this stuff because the first time I had this wonderful relaxing drug, it worked instantly and made me not care about anything. Wonderful stuff. But that was back in January….11 months ago….prior to all my other surgical issues and pain pills that I've been prescribed for various things throughout this year. My poor liver and body has built up quite a tolerance to drugs unfortunately. So 2 doses did nothing. Wide awake, and actually quite intrigued of the whole OR and all the equipment. Dr. comes in with a surgical tech and they start shooting me up with local lidocaine down there. They give it a minute and then he starts cutting. Oww. Feel that. More lido. More waiting. Then more cutting. Ouch. Nope….still feel that. I've told everyone that I've seen this year (ER docs, general surgeons, dermatologist, anyone that has had to cut me open) that for some reason lidocaine does not work well on me. We do this stop and go thing for a few minutes. I tilt my head up to get a visual on what he's doing. I might as well look. I'm wide awake and can actually pin point where the pain is anyway so I think it worked out better this way. After digging around for a little bit, he finally sees what the problem could be. I'm squirming and flinching in pain every few seconds, trying to be tough and not move….but my body has some built in response that makes me flinch when in pain. He looks at me, and I say "just keep going, I'm fine". He seems stunned and says "You're swimming in lidocaine". Yep. Sorry about that. More wasted dollars on this high maintenance patient. He probably never wants to work on me again. Too bad. He's too good of a surgeon for me to let anyone else do any future cosmetic procedures on. Ok so I feel him clipping away at this long, hard knot. Trying to not flinch. He then looks at me and says "Ok, I can give you more lido or I can just do one big pull, and it'll hurt but then be out". I said go for it. He did. It hurt. But it was out. I tilt my head up and look. Yep there it was. Nice long stitch with a pointy end and knot. I see this huge gaping hole near my vajayjay. I've seen my own insides way too many times this year. Actually it doesn't bother me really. I'm kind of fascinated by the whole thing. I love watching procedures done that doctors put up on the internet. And honestly, your insides really do look just like they look on Grey's Anatomy. Just like it. Ok so he sets the stitch down after showing me. Oh I forgot, somewhere before or after this the nurse pops back in and asks how it's going and asks the doctor if I need more versed. He says yes. lol. "One or two doses?" she asks. "Two" he says. So that's 4 doses of versed now. I remember having the desire to shut my eyes one time, but I was too intrigued so I didn't. Ok so he gets the stitch out. And for some reason, I could feel more. Some other thing that was still in there. There was still that burning pain. He was about to close me up and I said, "Can you dig around some more? I feel something else". Poor guy is probably thinking "You've gotta be kidding me". He digs a little more, cuts into my tissue and what do ya know…finds a "soft suture" that he had placed under the one he just took out. He says something to me like "I can't believe how sensitive you are" or something like that. Gets that out of me and I watch him stitch me back up. Nurse unstraps me and I get off the OR table and walk back to recovery. I'm totally fine. Just then husband comes back from getting the wine. Oh my mother also made an appearance. She was waiting in the waiting room and came back just as I was getting dressed. I told her it was a simple procedure…...but me being a mother myself now, understand anytime the words daughter and surgery are together….you are there. No matter what. So that was nice. Certainly not as dramatic as the first time I was in his OR with the tummy tuck. But nice that she was there. Ok so got my painful stitches out, got my Rombauer, ready to go home.

First couple of days after were kind of confusing. I still felt the burning pain. Exact type of pain. It was actually worse. I got very discouraged that the problem wasn't fixed and that it was something else. But then I thought it could possibly be just from more trauma to the area, nerves are more inflamed, and maybe it will get better. But the first 10 days were very painful. But then on the 11th day I turned a corner and it HASN'T HURT SINCE. I am in awe. I still cannot believe it. I move, I stand, I sit, I pick up my kids….and it doesn't hurt. Spending the last 11 months doing all those things and having it burn and sting like hell….I still can't fathom that it doesn't hurt anymore. I am so grateful. So grateful to Dr. Kaufman. It's not his fault that the stitch ended up hurting and poking me in that one particular spot. I still have the same exact long stitch on the left side of my pubic area and cannot feel a thing. It was just that one particular spot, from 1 Day PO that caused such pain for whatever reason. I am glad it's out. It doesn't affect the tummy tuck results either because the muscles are all healed up anyway, so taking that stitch out doesn't change anything.

During the pre-op he offered to go in through my original scar. But I thought, you know what, let's just leave that alone. It's healed so nicely, is so thin and even….I don't want to mess with it. Plus I knew it would be much easier for him, surgically, to cut right above where the pain was. Sure it was another scar. Honestly, it doesn't phase me anymore. I am all cut up, and am only 27 but will probably incur many more scars throughout my life. Whatever. Plus this one is in my pubic area so the only people that are seeing it are my husband and Dr. Kaufman ha. I am glad I opted for him not to go through the original TT scar, and I think he was too.

Now, no running for me for awhile. I made the mistake of going for a 4 mile run a week after the surgery. It was the day after thanksgiving and I was fat. I needed to run off all that butter from Ruth Chris. Ughhhh. But that definitely aggravated the area more and made it burn and sting further. At my 10 day PO checkup to get the stitches out, it was still hurting. Doc said no running for awhile. Fine. Done. I hate/love it anyway. Ensures himself of more work as well. If I'm not running, my love handles aren't getting any smaller. I gave him a thank you note and included a $100 Fat's Restaurant gift card (a nice Asian Bistro we have in the area). I know it's hardly anything, but wanted to give him something for all that he's done.

The day after I saw him, the pain was gone. And still is. I am so grateful.

Ok man this was a long post. But just wanted to update you all. All is well! I am fine, happy. Christmas decorations are up! I did recently decide to use the money that was set aside for my future breast lift….to go to Haiti next month. Sort of a last minute decision, but one of our senior pastor's at our church invited me to go with a small group of friends. I've never been on a "missions trip" per say, but am very excited to go. I guess Haiti is still ranked as the world's poorest country. Lots of devastation there still, and very dangerous: many kidnappings, armed robberies, murders, rapes, etc. I'm thinking I should dye my hair dark before I go so I don't stand out as much. I also told my husband to up the life insurance policy on me before I go. I probably will get kidnapped. Or have my appendix burst while there, or some sort of horrible thing lol. Oh well. I'm excited to go! Breast lift can wait. STILL will happen. Probably. But might be awhile longer.

Merry Christmas everyone! xxoo

1 Year PO feeling pretty great! New pics.

Wow I can't believe it's been a year already. Time has flown by on one hand, but drug on, on the other. First and foremost I want to thank my surgeon, Dr. Kaufman, who did not only a fantastic job on me but gets a special award for going above and beyond for me with all that I have been through this year (gallbladder removal AFTER tummy tuck, and procedures to remove cancer found on my stomach).

The tummy tuck scar is healing SO NICELY, I barely notice is anymore. I stopped using any and all scar treatment/silicone strips on the TT scar after our Anguilla vacation last July. But I continue to use the strips for my gallbladder scars (mainly the long vertical one going down from my belly button), and then sometimes will use them to cover the scars from the cancerous moles that were removed as well. My stomach is physically still a hot mess with lots and lots of markings and scars all over it, but again I am fine with it, most of the time. I am just grateful to not have to tuck my skin into my pants anymore :)

Swelling, still does come and go although no where near as bad the first couple of months. If I eat too much, fluid immediately pools around the incision site…I can feel it coming on. But always gone by morning.

I am 3 pounds down from last year at this exact time. Day of surgery I was 128, and I am 125 now. I'm continuing on with my PureTrim protein shakes. I attribute most all of my 115 pound weight loss to those precious yummy shakes and still have one every morning. Very nutritious, with many anti-aging and anti-stress herbal blends.

Overall I feel pretty great. I am glad to have had that stitch removed that was causing so much pain from 1day PO. Since a week after that surgery (so about 2 months ago now), there has been virtually no pain in that lower pubic area anymore. There are still the occasionally aches and pulls that I feel in my abdomen that are no doubt tummy tuck related, but I am used to them by now. The feeling on my stomach has slowly returned, but there are still parts that are relatively numb, mainly a diameter around my belly button.

I DO regret not having him lipo my love handles while I was under. Because my front is so freaking fantastically flat…it makes my love handles that much more noticeable. And even with my clean eating and healthy and active lifestyle, those suckers just won't go away…so I am considering having him suction them out after my Haiti trip.

I leave for Haiti in 2 weeks I am so excited! I will be in charge of building bunk beds for the kiddos at an orphanage so they don't have to sleep on the floor anymore. I'll also be bringing much needed infant formula, and school supplies such as pens and paper . There is a gal there who runs the orphanage there and the leader of our trip asked her what she would like us to bring her from the states. She said, "Honestly…I'd really like some shampoo & conditioner". Really puts things into perspective for me. I know I will likely come back with a severe attitude adjustment on the things that I "think" I "need". I'm nervous about the travel over there, we have a red eye/layover in an airport in Florida. I don't do well without sleep…in fact my body shuts down and I become pretty sick. Sleep is so important for me, so for any praying women out there who feel led…please pray that my body will be able to handle the trip and that I will be able to serve and be useful to the best of my ability.

Again, I am so happy I had this tummy tuck done. Despite all the physical challenges this year, I really am so grateful.

Blessings to each and every one of you! And as always, any questions that you might have I am happy to help :)

xxoo
Sheena

Haiti Trip

I realize this update doesn't really have a whole lot to do with my tummy tuck, but so many people asked me to write about my Haiti trip when I got back so here I go :)

This was my first technical "missions" trip where I purposely went to a third world country for the sole intent of serving the people there, and sharing the love of God. Haiti happens to be our world's poorest country actually. Most people live on less than $1 a day.

We took a team of 11 people total: 8 strong construction type men (electricians, plumbers, builders, etc), and 3 young girls without said skills, including myself. We arrived on my birthday and I was in culture shock. Such poverty. Children walking around on sharp rocky unpaved roads without any shoes on, women carrying large heavy baskets on their heads, no stop signs no lines in the road, and the vehicles played chicken on the road one too many times for my liking. We travelled about an hour and a half outside Port-A-Prince to a mountainous suburb right along the coast. We stayed at a "resort", and the owner of the resort had started what the community called "Mission of Grace"…up in the mountains among the poorest of the poor. We went there to serve and help mission of grace, which consisted of an orphanage with 45 children, 11 full time nanny's 24/7 (getting paid a salary of $100 a month), a school for the children in the orphanage as well as the community, a free medical clinic open to the mountain community (of about 7500 people), a widow's home (also called the "grandma's home) well the elderly are cared for and looked after in a culture where they are often disregarded, and then their latest vision is to start a young men's discipleship home where the men are taught how to be men: how to work hard, care for themselves, care for their families, etc).

Our purpose was to do whatever they needed. One of the biggest needs was beds. Many of the children slept on the floor because they didn't have enough beds, so we bought some lumber and started making bunk beds right away. It took me twice as long as any man to drive a nail into the wood, but I worked hard all day, sanded the wood, and then stained it. It took a few days but we eventually built 6 toddler beds and 5 bunks beds so now all of the kids have their own beds to sleep in. We also built shelves for their food so it wasn't sitting on the ground getting infested with all sorts of bugs and scorpions. We built a chicken coop so they can have chickens and eggs now. We also built a long table and benches for the kids to eat at. Built a toy box. Built 3 more bunk beds for the new men's discipleship home. Built a swing set that the kids just absolutely loved. Let's see what else…fixed the plumbing so they have a working toilet now, fixed some electrical issues, and then me and the two other girls painted the inside and outside of the medical clinic. We had 5 days to do all this and we busted it out…I'll tell you what I never slept better in my life I was so tired by the end of the night. But after the work day, we'd walk back down the mountain, jump in the ocean and cool off (it was around 93 degree with a good dose of humidity). "Resort" was kind of an understatement…at least by American standards. Cockroaches were in our beds and showers. Lizards were also our sleeping buddies. I stopped counting my mosquito bites after 30 or so. Rats, bats, goats, pigs, everywhere. But after that first night, with jet lag and culture shock, I got through my panic attack and realized I needed to stay put and do my best. And I did. I really did. The first night though I cried myself to sleep. I stayed up wracking my brain all night on how I could get our leader to let me go home the next day lol. But I ultimately concluded that I would likely get killed on the way home if I decided to leave on my own. Americans, especially in Port-A-Prince usually aren't safe there. If you attempt to exchange money there, they'll either rob you or kill you or both. So I decided to tough it out and stay put.

My French wasn't too great before the trip, but I was able to pick up quite a bit in just a week. Well, they actually speak Creole which is like a ghetto Jamaican French. Not too many people spoke English there so I had to learn quickly. But I was also able to teach many of the toddlers English. Us girls would work, then stop and cuddle with the kids and spend time with them. Then go back to working, then playing with them. It was really great. By the end of the week, I was not ready to leave. And even now, being home for 3 days-I've cried every day because I miss it so much. Not only the connections that were formed so quickly with the Haitian people and orphans, but the simplicity of living. Here, we've got 600 different kinds of soap. Well which one is the best quality? But which one is the best value for the quality? Over there…soap is soap. Food is food. It was nice having a warm shower twice, but the rest of the time it was cold. Oh well. Life goes on without electricity and power. By day 2 and 3, I realized that if I just closed my eyes at night, I wouldn't have to see the cockroaches in the room. lol. Simple. Here in America there is so much vying for my attention. It's so distracting from what's really important. I think that's what I've had such a hard time with coming back.

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better trip and a better experience for my first missions trip. I can't wait to go back…take my husband and our girls with us next time.

I will post some photos of my favorite moments, but there are so many more. I encourage anyone who hasn't gone to a 3rd world country…GO. Get out. Get out of your comfortable life, just for a bit, and see how so much of the rest of the world lives. The children at the orphanage were some of the most well behaved, respectful and responsible kids I've ever met. If I were single, I would move there in a heartbeat :)

14 months PO….just got back from Hell on earth.… oops I mean the Happiest place on earth ;)

So I am about 14 months PO, feeling pretty good. We decided to take the kids to hell (Disneyland) and they had a great time. It was hard for me, especially after coming back from Haiti, to dive right into such a consumer-all-about-me place with so much coming at you. But our daughters were excited to go, so I tried not to be a scrooge the whole time :)

Let's see, I didn't really think about this ahead of time, but being on my feet all day walking caused some SERIOUS swelling. I mean, I looked 6 months pregnant by the end of the day. And for the record, Indiana Jones (my most favorite ride!), is not the same after a tummy tuck haha. I was holding on and bracing my stomach the entire time-it hurt so much being jolted around like that. Maybe the gallbladder surgery added some extra oooos and ouches, but nevertheless, roller coasters are a no go from now on. Bummer. I think the rides also added to the swelling.

But it was quite comical how pregnant I looked. Naturally it would go down and be gone by morning, but man, my stomach got huge. I should have taken a picture of it. I don't think I've actually ever swollen that bad before…not even in the beginning of recovery.

My scar is faded, I think to the point where this is how it's going to look from here on out. It's nice, light. Gets a little red with monthly hormonal changes (as do my other scars from the gallbladder surgery). Ladies something to keep in mind, if you ever notice your scar getting redder or more noticeable than it was the week before, track your cycle and you're likely either ovulating or PMSing. Hormones cause a number of physical changes in your body.

I still have a slight, and I mean very slight, dog ear type thing on my ride side. I don't know if I can even technically call it a dog ear. All I know is that, compared to the left side, it does not lay as flat. My wonderful surgeon has already fixed it once, but that was about…gosh I don't know maybe 5 months ago…but it's back to looking the same. But it's fine. I'm the only one who really notices it.

Let's see, what else…my husband and I are off to Europe in less than two weeks! So lots of walking around there too. We have missionary friends in Poland who invited us to come over for a visit, see what they do, and take us around their country. We are flying into Warsaw, then driving on down to Krakow (where Schindler's factory is and the Jewish ghetto). They will then take us to Auschwitz. Not that that will be a happy fun vacation day, but I am German through and through, and I absolutely want to see Auschwitz. Then they will drop us off in Prague and my husband and I will have a few days together there :) I am very excited. I was contemplating bringing my shakes, as I did with Disneyland because Disneyland has crap food that is just awful for you, but I can't do that with Europe. I mean…it's EUROPE. I'd be a fool not to indulge in their food. So my Mediterranean shakes be damned for a week ;)

Again, so happy to have had this surgery. I don't regret it one bit. And I owe that to my amazing surgeon, Dr. Kaufman. He has bent over backwards trying to make me happy, and for that I am very grateful :)

If anyone is contemplating having the surgery, or have questions…please feel free to ask me .I love helping people through this process. It really is a great, fun, and exciting process! I think maybe I should have been a surgeon…it's so fascinating to me!

xxoo

15 months PO…back from Europe vacation!!

Ok perhaps this will be my last post because I imagine users are getting sick of my less cosmetic posts and more travel related posts! I will try to keep it short, but so many have asked to see pictures of our quick trip to Europe! So here goes…

Oh where to start…let's start with the plane ride. About 4 hours into the flight I sat up from my husband's lap because I couldn't sleep...only to find him completely unconscious. That's right. His eyes were all white and rolled in the back of his head, completely unresponsive. I called for help...no doctor was on board. The crew on the flight were mostly German speaking (we were, in fact, on Lufthansa) so there was a bit of a disconnect there, but a flight attendant did come stand beside me, talking to him and saying "sir? sir?" trying to get him to wake up. I kept begging him to come to. Two minutes passed and I'm doing my best to hold it together as everyone was now awake and staring. I then had visions of me being a widow, landing in a foreign country all alone having no idea what to do. I felt so alone, I put my head down and said God "I need you!! Please help!" I looked up and within seconds my husband woke up. Then he started to gag….so I lunged forward and cupped my hands to catch his vomit. Then he passed out again. I'm freaking out….I have no idea why his body is doing this. About a minute later he woke up again and vomited even more this time. Someone suggested that he needed to lie down flat. Great…I'll take any suggestions at this point since the crew had no idea what to do. A man helped me get him out of his middle seat but then Tass collapsed on me in the aisle. We then drag him to the back of the plane…the kitchen area. Flight attendant calls the captain to turn the plane around (we had just reached the Atlantic Ocean) and since we didn't know what was wrong and he wasn't waking up they weren't sure if we should continue. Someone brought him an oxygen tank (good job crew!) and he slowly started to came back. A nurse on board finally came to us just as he was starting to be more responsive. She checked his pulse, etc. He was responding accurately to specific questions…he knew his name, who I was, where we were going, etc. He seemed to be doing a lot better, so the plane continued on. I asked the nurse what could this be? At that moment, I then remembered that the same thing had happened to him on his flight to Ethiopia last July. It was an overnight flight, he was exhausted, dehydrated, and was sitting for a long period a time. She said yes it's probably a blood circulation issue and some people are just more sensitive than others. She recommended he get up every 30 minutes and take a lap. After some time trying to clean ourselves the best we can, we retuned to our seats (the flight was full so we could not change seats). They put blankets down for us, and we then spent the next 5 hours covered in vomit lol. He even managed to spray my beautiful Louis Vuitton :( Bummer. But I was so glad he was ok and no brain damage from being passed out and (possibly) seizing for that long. I cried the rest of the flight to Germany. He kept apologizing and apologizing…the whole thing was very terrifying.

So after 3 long flights, we finally arrive in Warsaw Poland, just completely exhausted. We got some good rest, and then our friends who are missionaries in Poland picked us up and showed us the old part of Warsaw. It was beautiful and clean, and we had the yummiest food from several different street vendors (warm mushrooms with melted cheese on toasted bread seems to be the thing in Poland).

We then hopped in their car and headed to their little town/village about an hour and a half away. We spent some time seeing their kid's camp and work that they get to do in Poland. They are around the same age as us and both have 2 kids so we had loads of commonality. Although the husband is from Poland…the wife is American…so it was funny and interesting seeing her flip flop so quickly between the two languages. She made is look so easy (side note: Polish is the number 1 hardest European language for Americans to learn) and she's mastered it! So they show us around their camp and all that they offer the children (for example: during the Christmas season, kids come from all over Poland and experience a live Bethlehem scene-what it would have been like if they were there themselves….with real donkeys and people dressed up as soldiers, etc. They're able to share the gospel openly which is wonderful-considering evangelical Christians account for just 1% of Poland's total population.

Which leads me to another observation. I remember this now about Italy too, but I had forgotten while I was there. Europeans don't smile that much. Does anyone know why? I was walking around looking like a crazy person…smiling at everyone….to which the gal with us said that's a dead give-away that I'm an American lol. But there was a hardness with the Polish people. It was painfully obvious and even awkward at times. Perhaps it's just a culture thing. But no one smiled.

After visiting the kids camp, we get back in the car and drive a few more hours to Krakow. Krakow is beautiful and I had never heard of it until the wife mentioned it to me a few months back when we were planning our itinerary. Krakow used to be Poland's capital, and it is the home of Schindler's Factory and the huge Jewish Ghetto. There is lots of history in Krakow. I loved it. We spent a couple days there walking the streets, seeing the castle, Schindler's factory, etc. They had the best hot mulled wine there as well as some incredible desserts!

A few days later, we checked out of our hotel bright and early and headed to Auschwitz. Now I knew this wasn't going to be a happy day, but since we were so close (about an hour and a half away) I knew we had to see it. I wanted to. I had been doing a lot of research and watching countless documentaries in the weeks leading up to our vacation. And I'm so glad I did too, because there's no way they could fit all that I had learned beforehand into their 2 hour tour.

I wrote a very detailed post about my experience at Auschwitz over on my personal blog, so if you want to read more about my thoughts and response on that…just email me and I will give you the link.

After Auschwitz we jump back in the car for a couple hours and arrive at the train station in the Czech Republic…we buy some tickets to Prague and hop on. 3 hours later (ok this ended up being a REALLY long day) we finally arrive in Prague at night. It was cold, damp, and beautiful. I remember remarking so many times that the streets were like shimmering gold glitter! Days later did I find out Prague is nick named "The Golden City". We spent a couple of days frolicking around Prague (just my husband and I) and then we headed back home.

Overall it was a good trip, but a hard one. My husband did fine on the flights home, as I kept reminding him to get up and walk around. My stomach didn't expand too much on the flight over there, but definitely did for some reason on the flight home (maybe it was all the bread I ate while over there? ;) I mean it was no where close to Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, but still definitely swollen. But doesn't everyone swell on flights anyway? Maybe ours is just more noticeable because we're so darn flat there now.

Ok sorry this was long, but a rather condensed version of our trip. I reviewed all the hotels we stayed at, the restaurants we ate in, etc all up on my blog for anyone interested or planning a trip to Europe.

Ok, happy to report I gained a solid 6 pounds on the trip (ok…well…not "happy" to report that) but started up with the shakes as soon as we got home (having 2 of the shakes a day) and dropped the 6 pounds within 4 days of being home :)

I still do waffle back on forth with having one more procedure done (a breast lift). They are just so sad and wrinkly from all the weight loss, but then I think….k $9,000 could build our family a house in Haiti which I of course would love to move to. I am restless and unsettled here (can you tell from all the traveling??)….but I suppose God has us here for a reason. But the whole perfect little American life….yes I am grateful for all the freedoms and opportunities we have here….but for what purpose? If I'm just spending money to make my life better….more comfortable….what's the point? It's like I am at war with myself: my flesh and my spirit. My flesh wants to have the perfect body, an adorable house, a nice car, etc. My spirit wants to do far more important things. And I'm just searching for the correct balance. And the correct balance is probably different for each of us. Do we adopt another teenage foster child? I know there are so many foster children right in our own backyard that need a solid loving family. I am overwhelmed with the world's needs at times. But we just keep taking one day at a time, seeing what we can do and how we can help someone that day.

Oh man I am getting off topic. Sorry this was long! Love to all you ladies…wonderful dear friends of mine who I am so grateful to know and stay in contact with :) Hope you all are well!

Being healthy is an every day choice...

Hello all,

Wanted to take a moment to update and sort of just talk out my thoughts here. Now that I've been maintaining my weight for some time, I must confess it doesn't get any easier. Friends will comment to me "oh man if I looked like you I would definitely indulge more! You can afford to!". But the truth is I put on fat just like you do. I have to watch what I put in my mouth every day-like we all should. When I eat crap, I feel like crap. When I have chocolate cake at night I toss and turn and get a horrible night's sleep (not because I feel guilty lol but because of the sugar and caffeine). There are consequences to our food choices, and just because I am lean now doesn't mean that I am exempt from them. I'm writing this because I think people often mistake their end goal as just that: the end. But it really is only the beginning…the beginning of a new way of living…every single day. Now of course I don't deprive myself of birthday celebrations, and date nights with my husband, etc…I do live and enjoy food and drinks :) But I am conscious of everything I put in my mouth. I am aware. I have to be. Otherwise I will end right back up at 200+ pounds. I look in the mirror every day and make a choice to KEEP my body like this. I've said this before…I don't have some crazy fast metabolism. I actually have the opposite: incredibly strong fat genes. My shape and body takes after my father's side of the family…where obesity is huge (no pun intended, really). If my father didn't work out for 2+ hours a day…he too would be large like his siblings. Thankfully he set such a good example for me…that even if you have a predisposition of more fat cells than the average person…you don't have to stay that way. You can work hard and be healthy. Now he tends to opt for the exercise way of doing it…while I prefer to control what I eat. I think I've said this before too- but I've found it INCREDIBLY difficult to do both at the same time…(exercise AND eat right) and do both well. If I exercise for an hour a day, 5 days a week, WHILE watching what I eat….one tends to suffer and it's usually my eating. I get so famished from working out, that I'll just eat everything in sight (mainly carbs). And it's not that they're bad carbs, but they're still carbs. And that caloric deficiency that's needed to lose fat gets eaten up real fast when I'm so hungry. So through trial and error I've found it's easier and faster to maintain my weight through nutrition. And from personal experience, I really do fully believe what they say is true: 80% of weight loss has to do with what we put in our mouths. Only a small percentage has to do with exercise.

All the to say, I'm right there with you guys. I struggle with it all too. Every day I do my best to make healthy food choices that day. Some days are harder or easier than others.

Oh! The company that I buy my nutritional shakes through actually just came out with a new flavor last week...Strawberry Sorbet and it is to die for! Chunks of real fresh strawberries….it tastes like I'm having a strawberry milkshake for breakfast. I love it. After consistently having vanilla and chocolate the last few YEARS….I was definitely excited for this new addition. The company also added 20 new herbs and nutrients which make you full for longer.

I've also started this new supplement called "Adaptogen complex" from a different company…Quantum Nutrition Labs I think it is….and it's a blend of herbs that sort of "adapts" to what your body needs. I'm hoping it will balance out my hormones-as I've tried all sorts of female balances that have not done a thing. Other than that I've just been sticking with the shakes, the experience cleanse almost nightly, and then the chocolate truffles that help curb cravings as well. Those are the staples in my weight loss/weight maintenance pantry so to speak. The cleanse I take at night, not only rids your body of toxins, but the herbs work to scrape off the years of built up plague in your colon and small intestine. It also contains a natural diuretic and an herb that is an natural appetite suppressant so it's my 3 for 1 supplement. I love it. The chocolate truffles are good for when twice a month (thanks to hormones) I get that sweet tooth. The ingredients the company put in these little truffles claims to promote lipid fat binding in cells. Not entirely sure how or if it works, but they're great to have on hand when I want some chocolate and know I'm not sabotaging my entire day if I have a few. And they taste great too and do fill me up almost instantly. Although they are kind of expensive so I can't buy them every month. Let's see…what else….I've been trying to watch my sodium intake more. I kicked my soda habit long again thankfully, but still crave that fizz/bubbly drink so I switched to sparkling mineral water and it really does the trick. I buy the little bottles from Trader Joe's. I love love love them. They come out to about 50 cents each.

I've been attempting to exercise more consistently, but since I'm a mesomorph (a certain type of body type…there are three….you can look them up to find out which one you are)…I put on muscle very easily. Which-if I ever decide to do some sort of muscle body building competition…then great lol. But that's not on the agenda for today. And so if I work out more than twice a week…what ends up happening is my body gets wider. And I don't like it. So I'm just still trying to find that balance of keeping my heart and insides healthy, while not having all my pants become tighter :)

All that to say…I struggle just like the next gal does. I think about my weight nearly every day. I'm not magically in this happy place now that I am leaner. There are still problem spots that I can obsess over, things that I wish I could change. But I just do the best that I can, when I can, how I can, and try to let the rest go :) Trying to find the balance in it all.

Take care everyone, and as always, I'm here if you need me or have any questions.

xxoo
Sheena

Scar at over 1 year PO

Here are just some recent photos and closeup of my scar for those that asked. It is very light as you can tell so all who are in those first 6 months…even first year phase….take heart! It will fade! :)

Almost 15 months PO

Hello beautiful friends! Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day.

Let's see…tummy tuck related: I am starting to have more and more sensation and feeling come back on the entire right side of my stomach. The left lower side (below the belly button) is still numb in areas. It is weird taking my fingers across my stomach and going from numb to feeling in just a few cm. Pretty weird. And the "feeling" that I do feel in my right side that is not numb isn't the same as a normal feeling…does that make sense? So I can feel, but it's dulled. Those nerves were cut and some sensation is returning but I don't expect it to be as it used to be.

With working out: I am still having to go slow with ab work. I can do it and it doesn't hurt, but I've been doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) a few days a week and it works your whole core. By the time I'm done I definitely feel the oohs and ahhhs of tummy tuck related pains. I know there are permanent stitches in there and I'm sure they are fine but I do still want to be careful. I just don't want to twist and bend in a wrong way and have something pop or move or I don't know…you guys all know by now what kind of luck I have lol. If there's a less than 1% chance of something happening…I'm apparently that 1%. So I'm just preceding with caution and if an exercise comes up that doesn't feel right I just don't do it.

Been toying with the idea of entering a bikini competition. I don't know. I know it requires a lot of time (and money). My sole purpose would be to work as hard as I can to get my body fat percentage down. It seems no matter what I try I cannot get rid of my lovely lady lumps as Fergie likes to call them. Don't get me wrong I love some curves but I would love to be leaner.

I posted some up close photos of my legs…showing how much fat and skin I can pinch. Things look differently lying down vs standing up isn't it true?

I'll let you girls know if I decide to compete. I'm totally up for the challenge but I do know it requires a lot of time away from the family. Nutrition is the more important aspect of competing and so I'd be hauling homemade meals to any and all family get togethers, parties, celebrations, bbq's etc. I've done that sort of thing before but not on such an intense level that competing requires. Again, my main goal would be to get my body fat % down and I'm currently trying to do that on my own and not seeing the success that I would like. So we will see. Anyone have any thoughts on bodybuilding/bikini competitions? Any one ever done it or know someone who has done it?

Hope you all have a lovely Memorial Day weekend! Talk soon xx

Year and a half PO…summer is here….does anyone else gain weight in the summer like I do???

Hello friends! Hope all is well with you. Summer is in full swing here in Northern California which brings temps of 100+ degrees. It's lovely. Just kidding, it's horrible. Does anyone else shoot up 5-10 pounds in the summertime? I used to think I gained summer weight every year from all the margaritas…but this year I haven't had too many and I'm still up in weight. I think it has something to do with the heat. I'm not swollen, per say, as in one part of me is swollen, but rather it's like I'm just a little puffier all over. And then as soon as October hits, I drop back down…nothing changes in my diet or workout regimen so it's gotta be the heat right? Does anyone else experience this?? I try not to let it bother me, but I'd feel better if I'm not alone in this :)

Let's see…haven't done too much traveling lately. My hubby and I did get away for our 8 year wedding anniversary, but we kept it somewhat local and just went to the coast. We spent most of our time in a little coastal town called Sausalito and then hit a Giants game in the city :)

How is everyone else's summer going? Having the kids home….all.the.time…..is quite challenging. I actually like the school year quite a lot lol. The schedule, routine, less bickering and fighting….my girls actually have time to miss each other during the day, etc. But when it's summertime, they are with each other (and me!) non stop and it's just exhausting. I am looking forward to the school year starting up again :)

We've got some new and exciting things on the horizon for our family and I will share when I am able to :)

Tummy tuck related: left side is still numb (right side isn't). I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to it. It's not painful or anything, just a weird feeling. I do notice on my hormonal changes throughout the month, my tummy aches a little more but I've come to expect it and anticipate it. It took me awhile to figure it out though, but as I tracked it each month I noticed it fell right in line with my hormonal changes so that makes sense. I don't know if I've said this before in my review or not, but my scar will also turn red during my hormonal changes. Maybe something to do with the extra blood flow, I'm not sure, but again, I expect it now and it doesn't really bother me.

I'm not guna lie, I do still dream of having other procedures done. And if I opt to, I'm not going to beat myself up over it. It took me a long time of battling, considering, and then actually doing the tummy tuck, and I am so glad I did. I think I will take the same approach with the other areas: give it some time, save $, really think about it, discuss with hubby my motives, etc and if by the winter time I still want to, and if hubby is ok with it, then I'll probably go for it.

Ok here are some updated pics of the last couple of months. Hope you all are doing well! xxoo
Sheena

Almost 2 years PO, new photos, Christmas is my favorite!

Hello all! Hope each and every one of you are enjoying this holiday season. It's been a while since I've posted some photos, so I thought I would update you all. Fall & winter are by far my favorite season. The heat of summer is gone, and along with it those 10 pounds of water (or margaritas…still yet to be determined). But still absolutely loving my tummy tuck results. It's just so darn flat.

I have to say, even though I'm somewhat removed and irrelevant from the current happenings of realself, this website has continued to effect my life. About 6 months ago, a gal contacted me through realself….a gal that happened to come across my post about my tummy tuck journey. We emailed back and forth a little bit, and just felt an instant connection and bond with her. Exchanged phone numbers, and we've literally talked on the phone every single day for the last 6 months. I have never met her in person (she lives in a different state than I do), but God knit our hearts together instantaneously and He has used her greatly in a very difficult and painful season of my life. I consider her one of my dearest friends now. Not only do I thank her, and God for that connection but I have to thank REALSELF. Amazing. So thank you realself for the opportunity to connect with amazing souls!

I hope this Christmas season brings you all much joy, peace, and hope. I will be headed to Haiti next month (taking my amazing husband with me this time!), and I am very excited about that. Breast lift & aug put on the back burner AGAIN (sorry Dr. Kaufman). Hopefully one of these days it will happen…and if it never does I will just have to make peace with that.

Merry Christmas everyone! xxoo
~Sheena

Pictures...

Photos didn't post…here they are :)
Folsom Plastic Surgeon

I researched surgeons for HOURS and DAYS. Anywhere from the Sacramento area, to San Francisco, all the way to Salt Lake City. I interviewed and met with several of them in fact. I landed on Dr. Kauffman in Folsom CA because he was so humble (well, as humble as any plastic surgeon can be haha).....and I LOVED the way his belly buttons turned out. I also loved that his used LMA anesthesia (on my review for more info on that). I woke up with no nausea whatsoever. Another thing that I ABSOLUTELY loved, Loved loved loved is that I was never alone with him. Not in one meeting, initial consultation, follow up, etc....I was never alone in a room with him. He always had a female staff present. Probably for his sake and liability more than mine, but I so appreciated that extra step and caution. And it was probably prompted because his wife works there with him too and I'm sure she doesn't want anything going on privately lol. I mean, you've got a man seeing you naked and touching you....it's just a wise to have another person present. In my other consultations with other surgeons, that was not the case. So final outcome/work aside.....he has my respect for that alone. I really would recommend my surgeon, and if fact already have to others who have already booked surgeries with him. It all went really great, and he has my respect, which I don't give out freely. I think he does fantastic work and I think he did fantastic work on me.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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