Boonies to Bikinis--My Tummy Tuck Adventure! (Out of Town Patient, Consultations Through Recovery) - Portland, OR
Hi there, I'm a working momma with two kids,...
I'm a working momma with two kids, almost 7 and almost 3, married 12 years this June. I had a super easy first pregnancy, 1 stretch mark, unchanged breasts. And then the second one came... He was a monster. My spouse is 6'7", I'm 5'3" normally, about 135 lbs., had gestational diabetes, an unusually large amount of amniotic fluid, I measured 49 weeks gestation at 36 weeks when I delivered--he was almost 9 lbs. Long story short, my stomach was wrecked and left me with a significant muscle separation and horrific, very high stretch marks. My son LOVED boobies so the girls are pretty deflated but not too bad. Smaller than I had before (I'm now a deflated 32DDD) which is just fine by me. Wish they were perkier but that I'm happy to accept.
I'd been thinking about a tummy tuck for a while but put it on hold to switch jobs. Had Epi-Lasik two years ago and LOVED it, best money I've ever spent. I regretted waiting for so long and it really motivated me to proceed with the tummy tuck. Just had my 32nd birthday, do not want to spend my 30's feeling "damaged" and keep swearing at innocent bikinis on the rack.
I met with my PCP to get my IUD removed (HURRAY for vasectomies!) and had her look at my belly. New doc to me, she immediately noted a hernia above and in my belly button, ventral and umbilical. Spoke with my insurances and they said they would pay for the hernia repair! I asked about getting a TT done at the same time, said they wouldn't pay for the cosmetic portion but could combine the hernia repair which would lessen the overall price.
On Sunday, 5/19/13, at about 8pm I emailed 3 different places a similar 3 paragraph inquiry, Dr. Gorin in PDX, Dr. Workman in WA and Dr. Movassaghi in Eugene. I don't know anyone who's had PS, had no recommendations except for online ones, felt very blind. Here's how response times stacked up:
Dr. Gorin: His surgery coordinator Shelbi emailed me back at 10:13 am Monday morning, a very detailed response complete with full sentences, thorough answers to my questions, pleasantries, links to other info and a reminder that this doctor is happy to answer his personal email 24/7. I thought, huh, I'll give that a try--have NEVER known a doctor to email personally! So, at 7:44 pm Monday evening I tried it and emailed him. 7:46 pm he emailed back (TWO MINUTES LATER!!!) saying he was doing the nighttime routine with his kids and would be back soon. 8:50 pm he wrote back, detailed answers about insurance, procedures, etc. I wrote back once more, he responded back again at 9:24 pm. I was SHOCKED. This is a level of customer service I have never experienced in the medical industry. My biggest fear is being out of town, hours away from the surgeon, have a problem and not be able to reach anyone. This kind of personal attention and response time is priceless and went light years towards building trust.
Dr. Workman: I had heard him talk on a local radio show and was able to ask a question on air. I thought his response was thoughtful, courteous and liked how he treated the callers. I heard back from his office on Tuesday morning at 9:51 am. It was a three sentence, no pleasantry, no link response with brief answers to the most basic of my questions. Kind of disappointing after the quick, thorough and personal response from Dr. Gorin himself.
I heard from Dr. Movassaghi's office today, 5/23/13 (Thursday) at a 5:10 pm by phone. I was a little disappointed that many days had passed but the woman on the phone was wonderful, very thorough, informative and not blunt or rushed. That was a positive impression.
I also contacted a Corvallis PS through the Samaritan system and Dr. Daniel out of Eugene. Dr. Daniel was booked for consultations through July (to late for me) and I thought I'd at least meet the Corvallis PS. So, out of those three, I booked consults for the Corvallis PS on 6/11 and Dr. Gorin on 6/12. Still seeking a third, will decide after talking with the first two.
Anyway, that's where things are. Will update as I get closer.
Concerns at the moment: (Can anyone address?)
1) Getting a nicely shaped belly button if they have to make a new one. How do you know when it's likely you get to keep your own and when they have to recreate?
2) I have virtually no tummy overhang when standing, am I likely to have that vertical line where the old belly button was since I'm not sure it'll be able to be pulled completely down?
3) I want a low scar--at 5'3" I have a very short torso and want to wear a low cut bikini bottom. Do we have a say in how high or low the scar is?
Will try to update with before pictures soon. I have some sitting ones and one "protrusion pic" of the upper hernia when I lean back--will get standing ones soon.
Cannot wait to take this journey with you all!!! :) June can't get here soon enough!
Rounding up help...
So I'm a freakish planner and even though I'm not even consulted yet by anyone other than my regular doc, I've got a target date in mind (8/23 or 8/30 of this year) and have started inquiring about who will be around and when to help with the kids. I'm also making lists of stuff to buy ahead of time and am finding many mommy makeover related lists, not as many TT specific ones. So I have some questions for you ladies, was hoping maybe you could help me figure it out?
1) Many of the lists look pretty extensive--suggesting depends, walkers, etc. My question is: How different is this going to be from coming home after a rough, complicated birth? After my daughter, I pretty much hopped off the table and felt great. A little slow, and sore, but fine. I'm NOT talking about this kind of birth. I'm talking about the kind I had with my 2nd, rough, huge tearing, interventions, horrific post-partum hemorrhage, spinal bruising from the epidural, blood transfusions, etc. We both stayed in the hospital a week extra afterwards, and when I came home I felt half alive, days blurred, on heavy painkillers, etc. I'm talking about THIS. Have any of you had rough birth experiences like my second child and can gauge TT recovery to it?
2) How much help with the kids did you have those first couple of weeks? Ours will be 3 and 7, and I'm thinking of keeping my 7 year old home with me those 2 weeks while I'm home. She's able to make sandwiches and toast and eggs in the microwave and be pretty self-sufficient even helpful. Good idea? Bad idea? We pay for summer daycare by the week in the summer, it'd save about $500 which I'll admit is a motivator. My little guy will be in daycare for sure, I can barely manage him able-bodied...
3) How much time off from work did you take off for a TT? I work 6 hour days at a desk job and am planning on going in on a Friday, then taking off 2 weeks. I think that makes 18 days to recover. Not planning on doing anything outrageous, but to be work-ready is that enough?
Thanks for all of your help! :)
Oh--meant to add that Dr. Workman's office emailed back on Friday following my Thursday questions and said she'd have to ask him about the hernia repair and get back to me. It seems that some PS's feel very comfortable repairing them and some are skittish. The other docs I asked didn't bat an eyelash about the repair and how payment/timing of it was structured. Interesting.
Getting my ducks in a row...
I've also decided that I will only be interviewing 2 surgeons, at least initially. Had been seeking a third but didn't find anyone that stood out to me. A 64% recommendation rate is not good enough nor is a week+ long response time. In my gut I feel like Dr. Gorin will be the doc for me. Having the ability to reach him 24/7 is priceless and I liked his personality despite the fact he's a Duck fan. :) I like the all inclusive nature of his pricing and have found some unexpected recommendations--spoke with a local "rest and recovery center" nurse in Portland and she recommended him highly based on his interactions as a colleague, work of his she's reviewed/cared for and as she's had several girlfriends who have used him and loved him. Never did hear back from Dr. Workman's office.
So that's where it sits. Last thing to do is square up financing. His quote was $8240, I'm hoping to put 2k down and finance the rest. I have an "empty" Care Credit account from the Epi-Lasik but I think they only do up to 12 months interest free financing and that the interest rate is something like 14% if you do up to a 36 month plan. My credit union cc is fixed at 9.9% (and we get miles on that!) so I may go that route instead. I can say that the last two years of paying for my eyes have gone by in a flash and I didn't miss the money at all so feel pretty fearless about the financial part.
We have also experienced a near tragedy in my town recently that has shaken us to our core and I'm feeling even more nudged towards living fearlessly and without regrets. Everything happens for a reason and this is falling into place. :)
New Before Pics
I finally had a chance to take some before pictures beyond just the few, hopefully they will better illustrate the pre-surgery belly-tastic-ness that I'm currently sporting. The indentation around my belly button is particularly interesting to me, can't wait for that to be gone.
Got asked twice this weekend when I was due, and once rubbed by a stranger. Awkward enough when you ARE preggo, much worse when you're not. Quite the motivator to go for it. I'm at my pre-pregnancy weight now, (5'3", about 134lbs) but BOY does it settle differently!!!
I also made a last minute decision to see a 3rd PS, I'm going to see Dr. DeMars in PDX. I emailed them last night and his office called me at 8:52 am this morning. Nicely done! He charges a $75 consult fee, but that may be reduced because my insurance will cover the hernia repair portion so it would turn into an "in-network specialty doc" fee, which will either end up being $30, 20% of the normal appointment, or nothing depending on the secondary insurance coverage. He has very good reviews online, has been in business for almost 30 years and is both a PS and a general surgeon which will be useful in my scenarios. And I hate to even think like this, but his TT special right now is about a grand cheaper than the others. I NEVER make decisions based on price, (well, almost never--but never for PS type things!) but if it happens to work out that way so be it.
Over and out--hope you are all doing well!
And the culprit was...
Not sure if links are allowed, but it's the "Fabulous Push-up Triangle Top" in Cantaloupe Craze by Victoria's Secret.
Consult #1, tomorrow 6/11/13: Dr. Day, Corvallis OR, Samaritan Plastic Surgery.
I made the appointment a few weeks ago, provided minimal information and rec'd a reminder call today from the super nice receptionist at their office. There was no financial/insurance/other information other than my name and phone number. On the phone today she answered many of the questions I had including 1) Paperwork to bring in? (only a couple minutes worth once I get there) 2) Pre-post pictures available? (Yes, but you have to ask for them) and 3) Worries about random bills (that hospital is famous for it) until the end of time. (You pay 2 weeks in advance for a facility fee, surgeon fee and anesthesiologist fee. No stray bills, and you'll know in advance how much that'll cost.) Very easy, informative, made me feel better about considering them.
2) Consult #2, Wednesday 6/12/13, Dr. Gorin, Portland OR.
3) Consult #3, Tuesday (?) 6/18/13 Dr. DeMars, Portland OR.
This appointment I made about a week ago and was told it would take 1.5-2 hours. (That seems really thorough--but I like that--for a $75 consult fee I am glad it's thorough!) I was mailed (within a day or two of calling?) a new patient packet complete with several informational documents about different types of procedures, (a full page each) what insurance tended to cover, what they didn't, medical history, maps, important notifications (like GPS will take you to the wrong place unless you use the right zip) it was a pretty beefy packet. When making the appointment I provided both of my insurance cards and was told that I would only be charged what a normal copay would be for an in-network physician. I very much appreciated their all encompassing packet and thorough approach. That's kind of how I roll.
So here goes nothing! We'll see who emerges victorious!
The consult are done! HUGE surprise to me...
When I first started looking into doing a TT, I didn't find a lot of info on what actually happens during a consult. So here's what I think is helpful and what happened during mine:
1) Check-in: At both of my consults I checked in with staff, somewhat the same as a regular doctors appt. My first consult was at a place that looked just like my primary care provider's office because they are affiliated.
2) Exam room: 1st consult: Larger than a usual exam room, (5X larger?) more comfortable exam table, upholstered nice chairs, lots of literature, meant for appointments of longer duration. It was VERY nice, you could tell they were catering to private pay patients and the effort was there. 2nd consult: mid-remodel so in a botox procedure room, also nice, not as streamlined and "medical feeling" as the first. Boombox with good music playing, pillows, nice paint, but not exactly like a doctors office.
3) The exam: 1st consult--I was called back by the nurse, height/weight taken, blood pressure and pulse. She sat and reviewed why I was in, asked a few questions, very sweet, leaves me a gown and says I could keep bra and panties on. She leaves, gives me a few minutes to undress, says I can wait on one of the comfy chairs as I had headed straight to the exam table. Doctor comes in, nice clothes, tie, white jacket, female surgical resident in a beautiful outfit and the same nurse. Shakes my hand, sits down right next to me on one of those tiny rolley doctor stools, introduces everyone, confirms why I'm there. Before diving in, the doc reviewed all of my medical history, listened to my heart and lungs, discussed previous surgeries, etc. then opens the chart to some blank paper inside. There he draws me a picture of a torso and talks about the basics of tummy tucks. Where the scars/drains are, where the old belly button vertical scar might end up if it needed to, why a result might be tailored differently for different individuals (no vertical scar) shapes/heights of scars and why they changed over the years (very informational--old high scars came about as a result of the 80's high cut french panty) and how muscle repair worked. We talked about positive end results and risks, and how he constructed his belly button holes--and why. He didn't treat me like a child or uninformed person. Then he asked me if I was okay with having him take a look, (and actually waited for a response!) I was uber comfortable by that time, like we were old friends, and I said I was and he helped me on the table helping me keep covered with the gown. (Which I could do just fine on my own but it was a nice gesture.) He spent at least 5 solid minutes in silence just examining my stomach from hip bones to ribs. Had me tighten, relax, then stand (helped me off the table) and tighten, relax and see how the skin pulled when upright. Then he had me cover up, sit down back int he chair and we talked some more. He said my skin had lots of scarring but not a lot of extra volume or fat. That my muscles took the brunt of it and were quite separated, 6-8 centimeters at quick guess and that he could actually feel my aorta through the dent which is not common. I'd never heard or read about that! He said that I would see the most benefit from the muscle tightening as the gap was so big. He re-covered the belly button vertical scar and said that I would almost certainly have one then showed me where the big and little scars would be. I asked if he had any pre-post pics to show me of his work, (none online as he's a provider within a large hospital chain) and he said he had a few and sent his nurse for them. He has been specializing in TT's/other body contouring on bariatric weight loss patients, one of the pics was unreal--skin hanging down almost to this poor woman's knees. It was a Fleur de Lis (sp?) operation and he was impressed that I knew what that was. His work was beautiful. I asked how his sewing was, he said he thought good, deferred to his nurse and student, they said great, I asked what his wife would say--we all had a good laugh and he said she'd say good too. I asked if he used the fibrin spray/glue, (no), inquired about the pain pump, (yes) and we discussed my recovery plan. He does surgeries in three locations, two hospitals and a brand new ambulatory surgery center which is where I'm aiming for. He said clearly I was the most informed patient he'd ever had and whishes they were all so educated (THANK YOU RealSelf!!! Knew very little before coming here!) and that he would love to have me pick him but recommended that I talk with other doctors too. No superior attitude, not cocky at all, great guy--very humble. He shook my hand again, had his nurse go write up a quote and left to review the visit with the student. His nurse asked if I was okay taking pre-op pics for my file, I was happy to and did. The quote was two pages, the first a simple breakdown and total, each expense (3 parts) the nurse highlighted with different colors which correlated to their explanations on page two. Clever! She reviewed it with me, walked me out, said goodbye and that it was a pleasure meeting me, (and really meant it!) then the receptionist said goodbye and I left. Total appointment time, about 1.5 hours. I'd guess that I talked about 45%, he talked 45%, the remaining 10% was quiet exam time and drawing pictures (total of 3 pics drawn with multiple parts to each).
Consult #2: I'm just going to say that this one didn't go well. It was maybe 20 minutes tops, doc talked 90+% of the time, 5% exam time, I asked a few questions, it felt very rushed. Personality was NOT a match, I knew in the first 5 minutes but had driven 2 hours to get there... Got a quote, standard issue. The most expensive of my 3. Highest rated doc, HUGE surprise to me that it wasn't a match.
I drove the two hours home, tossed and turned all night, then at about 5 am I emailed my 3rd consult (was scheduled 6/18) and cancelled. I KNEW that doc #1 was my guy. Called his office this afternoon and said I would LOVE for him to be my surgeon. His staff said "Oh good!!! He said after you left that he was sure hoping you'd pick him, it seemed like a really good match!" and I agreed. I asked about my desired surgery date, (she's looking into it--may have to be the Monday following to get the facility I want) and if he used the 72 hour shot. She said she'd ask. His nurse called me back an hour later, said it may have to be the Monday following my desired Friday, and that no--he didn't currently use the shot but was open to it and had started researching it for cost and availability. She would call me back Monday with the results of both.
So, if you've made it this far in my novel, I would say the moral to this story is to go by your gut and eyes and NOT by popularity. I expected to dislike the doc I went with and to LOVE the other because everyone else did online. Consults are crucial as are personality matches. I'm feeling relaxed, confident and secure with my choice, can't WAIT to get this done! :)
I wrote this last night, trying to explain parenthood to a friend w/o kids.
Sunday night musings: Parenthood is a lot like being told you can only take 1 minute lukewarm showers for the next 18 years. You plan, get cocky, think "I've got this--I go camping right?!" In short order you are awakened, (haha) confused and maybe afraid. I was. Compliance occurs out of necessity, you mourn the loss of whatever rituals you're used to and you look different. Sometimes a lot different depending on how far you had to fall. The saving grace is that most of the time, in direct relation to your personal stupidity vs adaptation ratio, you learn new skills, patterns, roundabouts and work-arounds. You hop back into the driver's seat, same roads, same reason for travel, but very different vehicle. Yours breaks down more, leaks, is constantly in the shop, costs more to fill up and doesn't get there sometimes. You almost stop caring I promise. You leave the house with bird shit in your hair, puke down your back, find a cold hot dog in your purse and nursing pads stuck to your butt. With any luck, when you get home there's another 1 minute shower waiting. "It's okay though" you think as you smirk silently to yourself--because you've learned to take 15 of them in a row.
Could anyone give me a good idea of what you absolutely could NOT do on your own for the first 3 days? My husband is going to take off that Friday of surgery, stay with me all day, then we'll be all home all together for the weekend, by day 4 I'll be on my own from 7:30a-6p. Should I recruit someone to stay with me for a while each day? I'd rather be by myself if that's an option.
Things left to do: everything... :(
Hubby shows his support--the last piece of the puzzle.
Today is our 12th wedding anniversary, 14 years together total. We went out last night to a concert, (got lots of stink-eye looks at my tummy as I was buying beer... ) and had a great time with old friends including our best man and maid of honor. I gave Mr. Boonies a bunch of outdoor boudoir portraits I had done from a couple of months ago, very spicy. ;) It was a much appreciated gift with very carefully chosen outfits consisting of mostly corsets to hide/compress the tummy area. His gift to me was very unexpected, a chunk of money towards the surgery because (as he put it) while he loved me just the way I am, he saw over the last few months how important it was to me and wanted to show his support. He thought I might like that better than a pair of earrings. :) It may not sound like that big of a deal, but for my fairly conservative, non-plastic surgery believing, fan of the natural un-enhanced female form, farm boy of a spouse it's huge.
I don't think he really understood why it was important to me until just recently when I had him put his hand on/in the area where my muscles were so separated and actually showed him the bulges that popped out--he had no idea as I kept it so hidden for so long. He was shocked--"that's just unnatural!!!" and in disbelief that insurance won't cover repair of that big old hole.
We've always kept our finances separate (which has worked beautifully for us, gives great freedom to pursue what's important to us individually as long as we meet our family savings goals/bills) so giving money as a gift for something like this is about as personal as it gets. :)
Anyway, having his 100% full support AND understanding alleviated my last lingering worry/guilt over doing this and now it's time to hurry up and wait! 54 days from now I'll be on the flat side!!!
Take care everyone! If you have time, I'd love to hear your stories about your partner's reaction to your PS experience, how long did it take them to come around? How did they tell you? How are you handling the financial part in your household?
Belly button anxiety and pain pump?
I'm having some serious belly button anxiety. There are SOOOO MANY bad ones... :(
I usually combat stress by making a plan so have spent the evening searching the internet for good ones and making a collage of "Happy Belly Buttons :)". The downside of the PS I chose is that because he's part of a big medical group he doesn't have a personal website and can't display tons of pics. I saw a few in his office that all were beautiful, but not enough to see a consistent "style".
Also, he asked about using Exparel and because it's not technically FDA approved for general surgery, (only hemorrhoid and bunion surgery currently) the medical group requires that I would purchase 10 batches of it, (for the low-low price of $2800!!) which is just not going to happen. He also mentioned that some people choose not to use the pain pump, that it has limited effectiveness and if I'm good with pain and can take pain medication I may not want to use it. What are everyone's thoughts on that? I've had Epi-Lasik surgery, (much more painful than regular Lasik) and took Vicodin for a solid week and didn't have any bad s/e's. I think when I had a surgery on my hand once I had oxycodone and that went well too.
I've also started having funny dreams--last night I had dreams that I had the scar but nothing else. They just put an incision in skipped the rest--but the upside was that I was only being charged $4000! Kind of comical now...
What would you do if you were me? Sigh... :(
Oh the nightmares...
"Questions, Lipo, Nightmares, Pain Pump and Prepping"
Okay, so I SWORE to myself that I was not going to be one of those women that called and peppered the PS office with questions for weeks and months prior to surgery. That said, I couldn't help myself and had to call and ask about lipo. So many of you have had it and I got a bit nervous that we hadn't talked about it. Particularly, that I didn't want it and didn't want to end up with a surprise procedure afterwards. I'm also really nervous about the lack of pictures and not being able to see an ongoing style. Even the crappy docs out there have a few awesome afters you know?
Here's how it went:
I called at about 4:45pm today, got right in and had a nice chat with the receptionist. I told her I was wondering about lipo--we didn't talk about it at the consult but it seemed like everyone I knew had it with the TT. She said he had noted in my chart it wasn't needed and that for sure he would've talked to me about any procedure he was going to do, there would be no surprises. Whew. I don't have much stomach fat and the majority of my end result will be achieved from the diastasis repair and stretch mark removal. Makes total sense.
So that said, knowing that I won't have lipo will that lower my overall pain at all? I really don't want the pain pump but am just not sure yet. Isn't lipo pretty painful? So in theory, taking that out of the equation will make it a little better?
Second question was about pictures--it's heavy on my mind (and my dreams!) that I haven't seen a ton of his belly buttons. I've seen 3. (Had another bad dream last night.) She said I was completely normal, and that he had hundreds of pictures (it's a must for board certification) and was in the process of getting releases from each patient. She has seen them and assures me that they are just as beautiful as the ones I saw in office. Made me feel better, because what I did see (a massive weight loss patient fleur-de-lis body contouring/TT operation) was a work of art with plenty of scar length to review for technique. It's the damn belly button that has my panties all up in a bunch. She told me that he'll have more pictures available by next month as the releases come trickling in.
Last thing, did any of you cook food and stick it in the freezer for your "down time"? I like to cook, my husband and I share meal prep responsibilities (so we won't starve by any means) but it feels a bit like getting ready for a new baby with the luxury of planning! I'm going to make a few batches of waffles (they freeze well and the kids love them) and some shredded pork/chicken (sandwiches? soups?) and butchered up a 30 lb smoked ham into sandwich meat, cubes, etc., but beyond that I'm lost. Late August is the hottest part of the hottest month of the year here, am wanting to emphasize microwave/bbq, minimize oven usage.
Anywho, I'm done rambling. Sure wish the time would go by faster. Not counting today, 46 days left!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Would love to be 5lbs more down by the date of surgery, taking baby steps to eat "cleaner". From what I've read it won't matter much, but they needed to go anyway...
What to wear???????
It's been a whole 4 days since my last update, so here goes. First, things on my mind:
1) What to wear.
2) What to wear.
3) What to wear. (Notice the theme?)
So I beg you all for help--what on earth do I wear to the surgery??? It feels like where I need to start my "prep pile" of items and I only have ONE more paycheck before surgery so need to budget and plan accordingly. What did you wear and what worked/what didn't? I'm only having the TT w/MR done, no lipo no changes to the girls. Will I need a shirt that opens in the front or will I be able to put on a normal shirt? What feels best on the incision, keeping pants above or below it--or no pants at all and sticking to dresses?
In other news, as I wrote about previously, I had called the PS asking for some reassurance due to crazy dreams. They were so sweet. The receptionist passed along my concern to Dr. D's nurse and she called me the next day saying that she wanted to put my mind at ease so she had been calling previous patients and asking for releases herself then cropping the pictures so I could see an assortment of belly buttons. I was very impressed and am waiting for them to arrive in the mail. Hopefully tomorrow. I can't remember what his style of belly button looks like, I know it's hooded and uses an "upside down BMW symbol" shaped incision to inset it in. Very excited and pleased that they handled my crazy in such a supportive way.
Okay, off to get away from this site so I won't dream about belly buttons all night. :) On a completely unrelated note, my favorite lingerie store had a sale and I got a $79 Freya gorgeous lavender satin/black lace balconette bra in my oh-so-hard-to-find size of 32E (tiny ribcage, very round deflated boobs...) for $30!!!! Awesome. Double awesome actually...
Be well everyone!
The belly buttons have arrived!!!
I couldn't resist--the belly buttons arrived today and I just HAD to show you my favorite and the sweet note that came with them. I tell you what, this group has exceeded my expectations on so many levels. I would LOVE to have a belly button this darling, I love the shape, I love the hood, I love how natural it looks and it actually looks a lot like my current one! (Or I guess what my current one used to look like...) Anyway, this really put my mind at ease. One of the pics even had part of a vertical fleur de lis incision in it and the scar is perfectly straight and thin and gorgeous.
I'm also adding a wish pic from the internet so you can see my preferred belly button "style" and why I was so tickled with the ones sent to me.
Feeling super confident and ready to do this tomorrow if need be! Life is really short and I'm going to live it to the fullest. Going to go pick out the perfect soft tee shirt, some jammie pants and a new pair of socks and start my "surgery pile" now! Time to go print of a "To Buy For TT List", can anyone recommend a good one?
31 days until the Flat Side...
Not a whole lot's happened since the last time I posted other than I got my finances squared away and am putting together a new "recovery wardrobe" from the "feel better" collection. :) Put in an order at Old Navy last night (30% off clearance prices!) for comfy tees and thin sweatshirts and got a couple of awesome finds from Ross. I've been in that weird "post-maternity" wardrobe never-never land, a few new things that actually fit, lots of raggedy things that don't and need to go away. It was causing me a lot of stress to know I didn't have appropriate post-surgery clothes so I'm feeling better now.
We also decided that my 7 year old will stay home with me that first week. She's self-sufficient with simple food, working the microwave and entertaining herself and I think it'll work well. She's a natural nurturer, foot rubs, back rubs, hair brushing, will make a great little gopher and will save us some $ on daycare. :)
What else. I've had a couple of wavering moments lately where I wondered if I should do this, today was one of them. I had on a cute new top, (that covered my belly bulge) curled my hair, did makeup, was feeling thin and attractive. Buuuuutttttt, then I got home and put on a tight tank, and reasoning came flooding back. I also had a flare of reflux/NERD (non-erosive reflux disease, nice name though...) yesterday from having coffee and a donut (shocker...) that made me look up post-TT effects on GERD. Scary stuff. I've personally found that the stronger my core got the less my symptoms were less but lots of people have encountered alternate results. Mine seems to be best controlled by diet and meds but stress causes flares and I anticipate this experience will make me feel yucky at least for a while. Will talk to the doc about it at my pre-op.
I've also committed to losing 5 lbs before surgery. It's hard to tell what an accurate current weight is as it's been 95+ degrees here lately and I'm swollen all over, particularly hands and feet. But I can try. I would like to be the best me I can afterwards and I have a month right? I'm much more stationary with my job now than in years past and it's a challenge to get as much exercise as I'd like.
One last thought: I've talked to a few people here and there about the procedure and am SHOCKED at the number of them who've had a TT and I never knew. The support has been overwhelming and I'm feeling very blessed. They have all said they wish they did it 10 years sooner.
Off to bed. Sweet dreams lovely ladies.
Nesting...and one more pre-op pic!
Three weeks from today I will be on the flat side. That's 21 days. WOAH. It's getting very real very fast. Things that have changed since the last time we "talked":
1) My fees are split between three different places, the surgeon, the hospital and the anesthesiologist. The money is all in the right places and I made one of the three payments yesterday--no going back now! Hubby has the debit card to the account the main chunk is in, will pay the final amount this week.
2) I've lost about 2 of the 5 lbs I want to lose. *I will add that this is only by a miracle and the heat letting up as my eating habits have been horrible. I appreciate a good burger/foo-foo coffee/muffin/burrito from time to time and have been enjoying more than my share this week. Trying to watch overall calories in the day which seems to be working.
3) My "nest" is almost "feathered". A couple of weeks ago I purchased a bunch of non-perishable snacks (granola bars, applesauce, fruit, soup, pudding, etc.) and now I'm feeling good about clothing. I ordered a bunch of things from the Old Navy clearance rack--lots of camis, tee's, couple of hoodies, etc. This last week I picked up a pair of drawstring shorts, some drawstring yoga type pants, a pair of those Nike squishy soled flip flops and a maxi dress from Ross. I definitely feel like I will have comfortable, appropriate, post-surgery clothing to wear and heal in. Today I stocked up on some fun little extras that were suggested to me by AMAZING Real Self ladies. :) I got three boxes of tea, some trail mix and some hard candies.
4) I've been stashing away a little extra prepared/pre-portioned food in the freezer after I'm done cooking that night. So far there are pieces of lasagna, marionberry muffins, a chicken breast, two containers of chicken noodle soup, a loaf of banana bread and a batch of waffles. Hoping to add about 50% more, lots of protein.
5) I have a full physical scheduled with my primary care doc next week (8/7?) and my pre-op scheduled on the 15th. Will get the two required blood tests done at that time and talk with her more about my PMDD and how I'll be recovering right during that horrible pre-period week. It's really scaring me that it'll all coincide that way, hoping that the pain killers will soothe my frayed nerves/calm anxiety. Very afraid of recovering during this time.
I'm adding an additional pre-op pic of the bulge that happens when I pick up something heavy/lean back. For the next 3 weeks I'm focusing on getting the house ready. 14 more days at work, guess I should probably prep something there too.
Okay then, time for bed. I'm exhausted. Happy healing to you all!
On the flat side! Day 1 post-op...
So yesterday I had my surgery, TT w/extensive MR. I arrived at the surgery center at about 6:15am, wore cropped yoga pants, a super soft oversized tee shirt from Old Navy, flip flops and a thin hoodie, re-reviewed health history, got in my gown, got hooked up to the IV in my hand. Other than not sleeping the night before I felt great. I was the only person booked at the beautiful new surgery center for the whole day so it was very personalized. PS came in and chatted with me beforehand, met my husband, did some initial markings and went to scrub up.
The anesthesiologist came in, I signed releases, we discussed anti-nausea meds as I have an allergy to one but didn't know the name. She decided to give me a steriod through the iv as it was supposed to have a similar effect. I went potty one last time, hopped on the table in the operating room (FANCY! So bright and shiny!) they put a belt on me, hair in the net, massaging things on my feet, asked me a couple things about my kids, I felt cold in my arm and was out.
The surgery was supposed to last 2-2.5 hours and it ended up taking a full 3. He said he spent a lot of time on my belly button making sure the stitches were really hidden and that the MR took longer than expected. He does "interrupted sutures" instead of one big long one (sew, tie off, cut, for each tie up of the muscles, not weaving back and forth. That way if one pops for some reason, the whole thing doesn't unravel. It takes longer but he said is more stable and I had a huge gap.).
I did okay coming out of anesthesia while I was lying down in the bed, they gave me two Oxycodones, but the minute they tilted me up I got really sick and started throwing up, sweating, crying, bad reaction. I didn't want nausea meds because of the horrible s/e's previously but they convinced me to try Zofran as it wasn't known to have the same effects as the ones I had (uncontrollable movements, muscle spasms, heart issues, chest pain, etc.) and finally I agreed. Had it every 15 minutes for about an hour. It would only last a little bit but long enough for me to transfer from bed to chair, chair to wheelchair, etc.
I'm not going to sugar coat it. That ride home was one of the worst experiences of my life. Not pain, pain actually was really good, but the nausea/vomiting was terrible. Even before getting in the car it was like the worst motion/morning sickness I've ever had, x1000, rolled into one. We had to go to the pharmacy and I waited in the car while hubby ran in, dropped off the script then ran out to sit with me. I had to keep my eyes closed as opening them set things spinning, the fan had to be on my face so I didn't puke and if I breathed through my mouth it was okay but the minute I breathed through my nose I got sick. Very strange and terrible.
We eventually made it home, I was so sick I had to sit in the car for about a half hour because I had started crying and couldn't breathe well. Hubby sat with me, then ran inside, got me some ice chips, and sat with me another half hour while I ate them. We made it inside, motion caused terrible nausea so I was happy to pee and then park it. I was relying heavily on him to support me walking at this point, could not have done it on my own. I am "nesting" in a soft microfiber chair w/ottoman and pillows and a blanket (see pic) in the living room and it's perfect. Did learn quickly that tv caused nausea, looking at my phone/computer did too, only wiping a cold wet washcloth on my face seemed to help. So I just stayed there.
About an hour later, the pain meds I had taken at the hospital wore off and I noticed that the nausea was gone. Pain was very manageable, (maybe a 5 or 6?) mostly just soreness, it felt exactly what I guessed having muscles stitched up would feel like. I only feel the ends of my big scar twinge everyone now and again, lots of upper ab soreness. Anyway, I decided to call my doc, the answering service tracked him down and he called me back in about 5 minutes. Asked him if I could switch to a lesser pain med Vicodin that I'd taken before w/o nausea and keep taking the zofran every 8 hours. He agreed, called it in, hubby picked it up.
I started taking that at about 8pm last night, every 4 hours combined with the zofran and life is SOOOO much better. I'm still nauseous a little back as it comes closer to re-dosing, but 90% better. I'm not dizzy anymore, pain levels are still good, I can watch tv w/o puking, much better.
The day of surgery I ate a lot of ice chips, one bite of pudding (mistake) and a cup of tea. Last night I was up almost every hour to pee, (I had two bags of saline) but was able to take myself with no problems, and ate 1 cracker and 1 piece of hard candy. This morning my tummy started growling and I had a half a mug of chicken broth and a swallow of Gatorade so am feeling more human all the time.
At 11am this morning I have the first follow-up appt and will get to see everything. He said he uses internal sutures and external glue so I could take a shower today if I wanted to, am not feeling up to it at the moment. Not a lot of sleep last night and hot steam just doesn't sound good.
What else. Hubby is emptying my drains every few hours, they are ranging each from 4 -50 whatevers, pretty light colored fluid. I don't feel where they come out at all. My upper thighs were really numb when I came home, (couldn't figure out why I wasn't walking so well--hard to do with your thighs numb! Probably from the nerve block I got while under) and they're slowly thawing. I got one solid hour of sleep last night and I woke up feeling like a million bucks. Other lighter sleep was okay, but that hour was magic.
So now that I've scared the crap out of you, let me say that if I hadn't had the nausea issues, I would've been shocked at how easy this was. I expected pain to be much higher, walking to be harder, to be more dependent and it's truly getting easier hourly.
Some things that I'm happy I did (in no particular order)
1) We have 4 hospital mugs, I filled them all up with filtered water before going in and put them in the fridge. It's an easy swap for hubby or the kids to grab me a new one.
2) Buy a snow-cone machine. Just a cheapie little $10 one, but it's awesome for ice chips if your fridge doesn't do that.
3) Have a bowl for a wet wash cloth. It feels so good to wipe your face down, use it for sickness, or just to cool off. I used mine all night and it was glorious.
4) Wash all your "feel better" clothes and have them close to you in one spot so you don't have to hunt for anything.
5) Have hard candy on hand. I got some Pear and Blackberry drops (the kind coated in powdered sugar?) and they were awesome for the bad sore throat I had afterwards from the breathing tube.
6) Get the pain pump. It's worth it. Exparel wasn't an option for me, (the 72 hour intramuscular injection) but I'm feeling pretty darned good.
7) Have a special feel better blanket that's fuzzy on one side and smooth on the other. It's nice to alternate if you get hot or cool.
8) Have someone take at least one kid if you have 2+. We have had our little guy home since yesterday afternoon but my mom took my oldest. The reduction in squabbling and overall noise is totally worth it. It's been very quiet and peaceful here.
9) Get all your chargers within reach on a table. Phone, laptop, whatever.
10) Accept help. Let someone walk you to the bathroom, take your kids, bring you food, etc. Don't try to go super woman this, you'll feel wiped out and it'll be really helpful.
Okay, can't remember what I just typed, must be time to sign off! :)
1 DPO Pictures!!!
Reflecting on some choices I made.
Now that I'm a little clearer headed I'm thinking about what info would've been helpful to know when I was researching/interviewing docs/trying to make big decisions. Here are some things that are on my mind particularly about choosing your PS:
1) I'm REALLY glad I picked someone close to my house. Certainly, it's not a good reason to pick a less than outstanding PS, if you have to travel for good results, do it. But I'm really glad I looked into it, found someone amazing and didn't have to. I dread the thought of a 20 minute car ride for follow-ups, an hour plus would be miserable. I know feeling so sore and yucky in the car won't be important forever, but it makes a BIG difference right now. Especially with rounding up help to take me, 15 miles is much easier to get last minute help for than 80+.
2) I opted to have my surgery at an actual ambulatory surgery center. It was brand new, clean, sparkling, fancy and had all of the little comfort tools (like warming/cooling blowers to go into your gown!!) built into the facility. The one place I interviewed that was an in-suite surgery center just didn't do it for me. Having a facility I was comfortable with made a big difference to my comfort and anxiety level. Other than my day of med sickness, my stress level the day of surgery and after has been really low to non-existent. I don't believe I would've felt that way at an older/out of town/in house surgery center. Out of country travel would not have been for me.
3) I've been trying to pin down exactly why I chose my doctor and why I've been so pleased. It's hard to describe. Primarily it's a gut feeling. (Haha.) But really, I knew right away. I think it was his thoughtfulness in answering all of my questions and I don't mean "courtesy", (although he was that too) I mean more like depth to and the thought behind the response. Many docs would've been happy to answer. But not all of them would've let me know the multi-tiered reasons behind "why and how" that was specific to my body and my result. If that makes sense. To the other docs I interviewed, I was "cookie cutter", they were full of themselves, I was another surgery in and out the door. With my ps, I feel like I'm his only client, my case is unique, he spent extra time in surgery to accommodate my preferred outcome. I could not have gotten a more personalized surgery in my opinion. He said my skin removed was only 375 grams, only .8 of a pound and one of the smallest skin flaps he'd ever removed, but one of the largest/longest muscle repairs he'd ever done. He took the time to do interrupted sutures so that if one popped, the others wouldn't unravel. Because he felt like my body needed it. He put the scar exactly where I wanted it to get rid of a couple of big wide stretch marks into my pubic area where hair wouldn't grow, my "tiger stripes". He knew I was really worried about my bb and spent extra time on it in surgery making sure the sutures/shape were exactly as I wanted. I just don't feel like the other surgeons would've done this for me to this degree.
I don't want anyone to think I'm sitting here, flying high on drugs, feeling slap happy sappy and having everything be perfect. I'm sore, my back hurts, too wiped to shower, etc. But I don't think there's always a lot of explanation as to WHY someone was happy with their outcome, especially really early on, other than a positive visual to look at.
Hopefully this will help someone else make a good PS choice, as I really felt it was the most agonizing part of the process. Whatever happens now is just gravy--my body doing it's thing to heal. I paid a lot of money for this PS to do his thing and really feel like I got my money's worth. He earned it. :)
8 DPO--a turning point! (And weird red marks.)
Just wanted to post that today was a turning point for me. I tried (again) to stop taking vicodin during the day yesterday and made it, but it was a struggle and very painful. I caved by 5pm. Today, I tried again and it was much easier. Sure, yup. Slow, absolutely, but not the same degree of discomfort as the day before. I was advised to continue taking them at night to help me sleep comfortably and now 1 pill gets me as comfortable as 2 pills did for that magic two hours they worked the best. Huge progress.
I also did a bunch of walking today. With the fam around the farmer's market, to the store and then later drove myself to go get a facial and walked a block to check out a nearby store. It felt SO GOOD to have some independence back. By the end of the day I was doing the 8 months preggo, hunched over, cowboy waddle but I was okay. So for me, this was the first day I'm going to say felt closer to normal than any of the other ones have. Only 1 nap too! Woo-hoo!!!
Also, I thought I found a spider bite on my right thigh, just below where the lower side of a bikini underwear style would hit. Two red and itchy puncture looking marks, fairly widely spaced. Too much so for it to be a spider IMO. Then I looked at my other thigh and had an identically wide/angled set! Then I looked at my tummy and sure enough, above my hipbones on my flanks (I think that's what they're called, closer to the bb though not the love handle area) there was another matching set on each side and one set below my breast bone way up high where the MR starts. Hmmmm... I know PS mentioned I was having a nerve block, is this an injection site for that? And why are they red and itchy?? I couldn't find anything online so posted it for a RealSelf doc to hopefully answer.
That's it for today. I took a happy little vicodin about an hour ago and am going to curl up for a sleep. Happy healing everyone!
New pics and updates--11 days PO--itchy and progress.
So here I am again, in the middle of the night waiting for the next pain pill to kick in, thought I'd give you all an update.
First of all, I'm adding some new pictures. A few intra-operative ones (shows the surgeon's marker lines where the muscles were before and after repair) and some PO day 8 and 9 progress pics. I've been using SkinMedica Scar Recovery Gel with brown micropore paper tape since day 4 PO and have been thrilled with the results particularly around my belly button. I had a pretty wide red area around it which got darker the further towards the center it went and even in the first 24 hours of use that reduced by half. A week later and it's 95% gone. That in itself was worth the $85!
How I'm feeling: Better every day. 8 DPO was a big shift towards the better and so was 10 DPO. Pain levels are getting so much better particularly during the day in fact today I actually didn't need Tylenol for about 8 hours and only remembered to take it as I was having cramps and not exactly for TT pain. It's still something I try to stay on top of if I can remember, over exerting and then paying for it later is a real issue, but reliance on meds for basic comfort is really evolving. I'm still struggling at night with end of the day discomfort/pain related to laying down and taking 1-2 pain pills through out the night to deal with it. I just took one after waking up pretty miserable (low muscle/incisional ache, not high, especially on the ends of the incision) and now have one pill left and will be saving it for a really bad spot. I'm hoping to have a follow-up appointment today instead of Thursday and will discuss with PS about a plan because it'll be some long miserable nights without something better than Tylenol.
Drains: I still have one lonely drain in that's outputting between 5 and 10 whatevers of light yellow fluid every 12 hours. It's not doing much. I will be begging to get it out today if they can squeeze me in. I'm fairly thin and can feel it snaking under my skin horizontally across my belly above the bb and it's getting more tender and uncomfortable every day. The drain removed last week was the vertical drain with the higher output. I would've guessed the opposite removal pattern but he said vertical first then horizontal as they drained different areas. He thought the remaining one would likely increase in output as it was picking up the extra but it never did and I never noticed any increase in swelling because of being gone. It was so icky to have it taken out, felt like hitting your funny bone and slithering worms--or like getting a pap smear--didn't hurt exactly but a very weird sensation by an inner area that didn't get messed with much. Not looking forward to yank #2 but the freedom after yank #1 and 1.5 (pain pump) was glorious so it's got to be done.
Sensation: I'm feeling more and more normal belly feeling and less random "ice water drips/zings" type of sensation. I'm still numb from just below the bb to around the incision, but the whole upper area has thawed. I'm still religiously wearing my binder and have not come to hate it yet.
Itchies: So I still have those spots I mentioned before but to add to it, on Sunday (9 DPO) the area on my thighs that were numb/slightly discolored when I came home (like where little biker shorts would cover?) broke out in hives/a raised welty rash. I've now gone through a whole tube of hydro-cortisone cream slathering it on which helps temporarily but MAN. I'm an itchy mess. Some itch on the sides of the belly, but sweet Jesus I'm miserable. Hoping that it's just some sort of delayed reaction to an antiseptic used and that it clears up soon. Still going strong this morning though...
Sleep: Up until last night i had been sleeping on the couch which was an upgrade from the recliner which was an upgrade from my nest chair. I decided to give the bed with supportive pillows a try and it's a solid C if I had to grade it. Not much different than the couch, I have to use a wedge and pillow and two pillows under my knees to be comfy though and woke up really miserable at 1:30 am whereas I had been almost sleeping through the night on the couch.
Mood: My mood has been great! :) I have yet to experience the "why did I do this" phase or any kind of disappointment/frustrated related to the process. I experience PMDD (super severe PMS which is almost like an anxiety disorder for me the 4 days before my period) and with the help of some progesterone only mini-pills to balance things I didn't even have any of that. Life is good. Still thrilled with my decision, PS, prepping and outcome. Can't WAIT to go shopping for some new tops! I still have belly swelling which makes it uncomfortable to wear fitted pants but without that muscle laxity I'm going to look really different in shirts.
What else... I LOVE my bb. It's not a shape and style that would work for everyone but I absolutely adore it. :)
Here are some more random thoughts along the lines of prepping that have come to mind in the last few days.
1) Out of all the medical equipment things I did NOT get, the only one I wish I would've was to rent/borrow a bath bench as our shower/tub combo was tricky for a few days. We used a lawn chair, but a bench would've been better--the kind that's half in and half out of the tub.
2) Snacks: I prepped extensively with snacks and am finding that they're not just for me, but also great little bribes/incentives for my kids. If I'm sleeping in the living room and they wake up early and hungry, I can grant one granola bar/juice box each and buy myself another hour.
3) Animal care: We have had a lot of visitors coming through the house which has been a little distressing to our new-ish dog who's been very intuitive that I'm not well and watching me closely. Most visitors are family members who know her but some aren't and to minimize barking we leave a treat with a little note on the gate for them to give her when they come in. I ran out of treats at about 3 DPO and have been leaving her plastic bone up there over and over which means we have to always know where it is. If I had planned differently, we would have more dog treats and perhaps a little sign posted outside so no one had to run things out.
4) TAKE YOUR STOOL SOFTENERS!!! I had been taking 3 a day but up until just recently have struggled in that department. One day was particularly bad, I had a richer meal than normal on top of constipation on top of gas pains. Holy mother of misery.
5) Pamper yourself. That facial I got was crucial to my positive mental health outcome. It was a nice stop, relax, reset moment that has set the tone for my last week at home. I go back to work on Monday 9/9 and will be rested and relaxed.
Okay lovelies, I'm off to snooze for a few more hours. Take care of yourselves and I'll be back soon. :)
A few more pictures--in my inspiration bikini. Progress is unavoidable!
I was having a crappy mood/pain day yesterday (aunt flo came to town, not sleeping, more aches and pains than usual) and decided to try on my "inspiration bikini" I got from VS a couple of months before surgery. Still had one drain but tucked it in behind my back.
It was a great visual reminder that even when things feel rough, the results of doing this surgery can be outstanding and are worth the pain. I haven't felt this confident in a bikini since I was 17 and thought that part of my life was over permanently after having the two kids. It doesn't have to be that way. Muscle repair and exceptional communication with the PS (LOVE HIM!!!) have been the things I attribute to such a successful outcome. There were no surprises for me.
3 week update
Just wanted to share some updated photos and an update of how things are. Here goes in order of how they're on my mind:
1) Sleep: I'm not sleeping well. Have struggled with insomnia for the last 7 years, it's been pretty well controlled with some benadryl and lots of activity, but this surgery mandated inactivity has thrown me for a loop. It was an unseen road bump. After not sleeping for 3 days I finally went and saw my doc who gave me some ambien. It doesn't work well for me, I sleep for 4-5 hours, wake up, then sleep another 1-2. It's improvement but I'm looking forward to being more active. Not sleeping sucks. If you also have insomnia pre-tt, make a plan ahead of time with your doc so you don't get to crazy-land like I did.
2) My scar: It's looking good. I've been sticking to my SkinMedica scar recovery gel and paper tape 2x/day and like the results. As the glue/scabs fall off I'm finding that I have no scar widening/thickening, it's flat and the redness is reducing. I'm happy with it. Still have some bruising especially around the end of the incision on my left hip which is angry right now. About a 1/2 inch of that very end part looked a little open and weepy last week, called the PS and was told to cease scar gel there, put a polysporin on it and some gauze. It's healed up a little since then, not weepy anymore.
3) Belly button: I'm loving my bb. The scar is less and less, I love how it photographs, love how it's not a slit or a big hole. It varies a LOT in openness inside depending on the swelling. The pics I'm posting today show the most amount of swelling I've had yet.
4) Swelling: I went back to work this last Monday and just finished the first full week. Ouch. Sitting upright was the one thing I hadn't done much of while I was home and it was tough to do it for 6 hours in an office chair. By the end of the day I'm very sore and very swollen. Started taking a ziplock full of ice to work every day, wrapping it in a fleece blanket and putting it around my waist, really helped. I've been icing at home too, always with sufficient buffer between skin and ice, always regularly checking on it to avoid frostbite.
5) Compression garment: When that little raw spot on my left hip happened, PS said I could ditch the surgical binder and get into something like spanx. Couldn't find any spanx I liked (the tall underwear hurt my ribs, couldn't stand the thought of the knee to shoulder things, etc.) so am wearing a bust-less compression tank or regular compression tank with a stretchy part for the bust with my binder on top. The smooth material feels good and I put the big wide soft gauze pads underneath for extra cushion. It's helped with swelling and comfort a lot.
6) Mobility: I'm moving around better, sleeping on my side at night, walking about 95% upright morning to afternoon and about 85% in the evening. I still roll to my side and push up with my arms to sit upright after laying down.
7) Pain: I'm not taking any more vicodin, did get ps's okay to take ibuprofen. I usually take it just at night of if I know I'll be active in an hour or two. By active I mean having to walk a lot, not doing any other kinds of activity. I'm able to cough small to medium coughs which hurt but are tolerable, sneezing and hiccups still are killers.
8) Sex: We had sex Friday morning (the side of the bed is your friend!) and couldn't get to a big finish but it was fun and not painful. Had to totally avoid the incision area, it's numb and icky feeling.
9) Other stuff: I go back to see PS on Tuesday 9/17 for another follow-up. BB doesn't have any more stitches, scabs are almost gone, hoping to be cleared for a nice hot bath.
Over and out. :)
3.5 week visit to PS, two more visits to go!
Saw PS on Thursday, got released back to "light activity" so light housekeeping/gardening and arm exercise/walking. No ab work, nothing strenuous, stop with swelling and pain. I told him, "Sooooo.... At this point I need you to clear me for all the stuff that I've been doing for the last couple of weeks anyway..." and he laughed and said that was fine. I was NOT cleared for baths yet (showers have been okay since day 2) due to that one little angry area. D*^%! it!! I'll be another 2.5 weeks for that...
Ended up calling my PCP (who's out on maternity leave, the FNP is filling in who I'm not crazy about...) and asking for a controlled release sleep aid at the suggestion of the PS. She rx'd Ambien 12.5 CR (controlled release) and it works better than the regular but is still lack luster. Still only getting 5-6 hours a night. Hoping the weather turns cool here soon so heat swelling will go away and I'll see what "regular swelling" looks like.
I think I'm seeing new, horizontal, flat purple belly stretch marks from the swelling. Very worried about that.
I have two more visits, one in a month on 10/24, then one in 6 months. I'm going to miss them! Dr. Day and his nurse Cathy have been AMAZING to work with and supportive in every way. I would not hesitate to use them again for ANYTHING and have recommended them to anyone that will listen. Am considering a breast lift in 5 years, or maybe 7 when I turn 40.
Overall, healing, slowly, swollen, not much visual progress, just killing time until the swelling subsides. More belly sensation coming back, things are VERY sensitive. Slept on 3/4 of the tummy last night, a nice change.
Hope you are all doing well.
Billing error, BB sequence and swelling
So today is 4 weeks PO to the day and I'm finally feeling better or at least different. My ability to do more activity has increased, I picked most of our tomatoes last night, slept 11 hours, (first time since before TT that's happened!) and made a coffee cake this morning. That would not have been possible any other weekend so far.
Took yesterday off because of being up all night Thursday night with an upset tummy, rested and drank tons of water. As a result, my swelling is much better. Skin actually has give and my stretch marks have wrinkles to them again, not smooth/puffed/shiny. It's so counter-intuitive to drink a ton of water when you're swollen, but it really does work. I've been wearing my "magic ouch-free panties" the last 24 hours only with no binder and am really comfortable. Last night I slept without the binder (only the panties) comfortably for the first time. My skin feels sunburned and fiery in spots but I have only been taking ibuprofen at night (if at all) and am virtually pain free.
I rec'd a bill on Thursday from the hospital where my surgery was done (my PS is part of that medial group, not private) which ended up being an error (especially since I paid in full, privately, 2 full weeks in advance) but cased a TON of distress. It was for $25,000...I had a series of "chats" with them on Friday confirming the error and got a call from the "professional groveler" as an apology. Turns out I'm actually supposed to get $1427 back because the PS estimated high on the bid and it didn't end up costing that much. I told the groveler she could cut me that check right away and I'd believe it when I saw it. Still love my PS but the billing group for the hospital he's part of is messed up.
During that whole fiasco, I bawled, puked, had a panic attack (my first) blew my nose a ton, coughed and hyperventilated. I'm happy to report that my tummy was sore but didn't hurt and held up admirably. I was surprised how much force I was able to generate, it was stronger than I thought. Good thing that bill didn't come any sooner!
Anyway, off to rest up. Lots of football on today and we're trying desperately to potty train the 3 year old. Good stuff.
*Of note, I'm still down about 6 lbs since surgery due to eating smaller portions, my tummy definitely doesn't hold as much and I feel full much sooner. That's been a pleasant and unexpected side effect.
Muscle control, sleep, comfort and magic panties...
Today is 4.5 weeks out and in the last couple of days I've gained back a ton of feeling in my abs. Previously, (last week?) they were pretty numb feeling and I could use them some for big things (getting off the couch) but couldn't tighten them on command. Today, I was able to do a disjointed belly roll and can tighten the uppers, the lowers, or both at the same time. Very new and different.
I'm still not sleeping well even with the Ambien, had one good night last weekend but it's been around 4 hours since. Sucks. Can't wait to be more active again.
Magic Panties: LOVING my new mid-rise control panties. They go up to my belly button, very firm/tight compression, they don't roll/cut into me and have made a HUGE difference in my swelling. I am no longer wearing the binder at all, am so much more comfortable in the underwear. I now have a contour instead of a big hard board between my ribs/hips. Very cool. I still am about 6 lbs down since surgery, was sure I'd gain weight from the inactivity/swelling but it's a reduction of portion sizes from the TT.
Next milestone will be when my upper ab swelling goes away and my bb recesses. I can tell it's going to, but is flatter/higher and stretched out to the sides with the more fluid I get. Can't handle any compression on my ribs so it'll just have to hang out until that happens. PS said it was fine to not have binding up there since he did a tunnel excision not the entire abdominal flap, that my blood flow was great and there's not much room/disturbed area for it to accumulate swelling in.
Feeling more comfortable at work this week too, last week I was having to ice all day due to discomfort, was miserable when I got home. This week I'm not having to ice, am more comfortable and still have energy after coming home (a 6 hour day). Progress?
8 Week Update
8 weeks ago today I had my TT w/muscle repair and it's been a rough ride. In general, I *think* I'm pleased with my result. My belly is flat, the scar is exactly where I wanted it and healing appropriately, my belly button is in the healing process.
I've been laying here all evening unable to sleep, it's now 1:19am and I'm waiting for a pain pill to kick in. I'm swollen, very sore from sitting through yesterdays 9 hour meeting, feeling like I have a hot coal on parts of my incision and my back aches. I'm ready to feel better. Aaannnyyyy day now...
Since my last post at 4.5 weeks I made an unscheduled trip to the PS to make sure this pain was normal. Up until week 6.5 I was feeling constant discomfort across the incision, deep inside it like I'd been whipped across the belly with a belt. (As much as I can only imagine that would feel like.) The skin is numb, so it was best described as a deep, intense, ache/burn. It was constant from about week 5 to almost week 7. I can say in the last week, it's not been felt all the time, (there are times I feel nothing) but is directly liked to activity AND sitting upright. Yesterday's meeting was super hard, going on a 5 hour car ride at 6 weeks (why is the car always worse?!) was BRUTAL. There is a 3" wide roundish spot right where my old bb hole is sewn up connected to the main scar that is rock hard and is where the pain is the worst.
PS said upon exam that everything looked great, no stitches popped, swelling was acceptable, no signs of infection. I asked then, why oh why am I still so miserable whereas many of my TT friends are doing so great? :( His theory is two-fold; 1) That I'm very slim and my belly is very tight with very little elasticity to it and even a minor amount of swelling makes me miserable. 2) That the nerves are regenerating and sometimes "read" as pain. Some people itch, others sense hot or cold. Lucky me. He suggested taking a back massager and placing it on the scar as the vibration can "confuse" the nerves and stop the sensation in the same way that a talented bikini waxer places pressure on the waxed area right after the strip comes off to silence pain (it works) and how if you get a cut/owie your first instinct is to put your hand on it to make it feel better. Haven't had a chance to actually try it yet, but I'll report back. Have to find a back massager first...
My bb is a source of anxiety at the moment. Because of the swelling, it's pulled outward and the one thing that I didn't want to see (scars surrounding it) is all I see. Bleck. HOWEVER, in positive swelling moments, it does recess back in and the scars are less visible. The lowest part of it is not round, sewn more like a little point. That spot has "kicked out" a little per the PS and he may do a revision on it, to be re-evaluated at the 6 month mark.
So in summary, I'm uncomfortable, still not sleeping well (although overall better than before) still swollen and in that spot of "ugh, what have I done/are we there yet...". I'm only doing minimal anything, some walking, some light housework, no real exercise or lifting or anything else despite being cleared for it. I see the PS again next week and then one more visit at 6 months. Feeling down about the progress.
*Ps, still taping and using the scar gel. Fell off the wagon for a week or so, got back on last week. Will take some pictures this afternoon after I get home from work. Half day today after a crazy long day yesterday, will use the opportunity to rest.
9 week update, PS visit and revision talk
Just got back from a PS visit, tomorrow will be 9 weeks. It was great, good visit. Here were the items of discussion:
1) "Dimpled" second drain scar.
2) Continued "deep main-scar pain".
3) My bb dissatisfaction.
About the drain scar: I guess sometimes scars adhere to what's beneath them or pucker in on themselves and that's what mine did. My PS was surprised to see it and said he'd happily fix it with a quick in-office procedure.
About the deep scar pain: This was the first thing he asked me about since I had just seen him two weeks prior for a special appt. for it. He said he'd been thinking about me and racking his brain to think of why it might be happening. I reported that it was BAD for about 3 weeks and got intermittent the week after I saw him. It's worst when sitting, and gone when up walking around. Monday mornings at work sitting at my desk are hard. Since I can't remember his exact words I'll paraphrase by saying he's puzzled, feels bad, believes it's probably from the deep muscle repair done there and something about fascia and deep sutures. I had a lot of sutures. If I remember better wording I'll add to this.
About my bb: So it was our mutual goal to have a hooded, non-circular bb that had a hidden scar. Since I've been walking straighter my skin has stretched up and my bb, (which sitting looks lovely--hooded, scar pulls in, adorable) has been stretching out. This has eliminated the hood and pulled the upper scar up high, the side scars out and the lowest part of it has kicked out and strange looking. He noticed it right away and I was grateful that no one tried to talk me into liking it or that what I was seeing was the end goal we all agreed on. He said he thought it could easily be revised and that he'd tack down the bb stem to the fascia lower so it'd be pulled back and create depth. I'm pretty thin there and there's no fat to buffer around it so it needs a firmer anchor to keep it down. He said we'd release the other scar at the same time and he'd trim off a little skin around the lowest part of the bb.
I'm feeling grateful that we had such great dialogue in the beginning (and still do) because this was all a very easy conversation to have. I said "you remember our goal for a hooded, indented scar-hidden bb?" He says, yes, I lift up my shirt and show him and he's immediately like "Oh yeah, that's not it" and agrees. I'll add that my bb looked completely different right after surgery, totally hooded, deep, no showing scars so this is just one of those things that despite best efforts happens in a healing body.
He said we'd wait until the 6 month mark to do it because scars tend to change a lot over time, it could very well invert on it's own and I was just fine with that. So we'll see. If you are reading this and thinking about getting a tt, really make sure your surgeon knows what you are wanting, write it down, draw him/her a picture, make a photo collage of what you do AND don't like (I did--he got a kick out of it!) and so there's no mistaking your expectation. I did this at the advice of other TT'ers and it made this part of the process effortless.
Other than that, everything looked great, contour is wonderful, main scar is healing well and I'm pretty active and mobile. I walk upright, sitting for long periods is still really painful but at 9 weeks I'm gardening, cleaning house, having sex and sleeping without a cg. Still wearing a compression tank sometimes during the day but not seeing that it makes much difference so only wear it a few times a week. I think at 12 weeks I will be unstoppable!
Back to see him in two months.
11 week update
So tomorrow is week 11 and I'm feeling a lot better physically. I no longer have that terrible hot coal feeling along the incision and am doing pretty much everything normally. I have a 40 lb little guy who I can comfortably lift and hold for as long as I please. Slowly working on using my abs again, they still feel pretty foreign but I can now tighten and hold them with normal muscle fatigue discomfort and not surgery pain. Still lots of numb surface area on my lower belly. Doesn't bother me in the slightest.
I'm still unhappy with my belly button. As my skin has stretched, the nice little hood disappeared, the lower part has flared outward and the scar that was tucked nicely inside weeks ago has now stretched outward and is visible all the way around. When I sit and my skin is less taut, everything relaxes and is adorable. I suppose it's still possible that it'll stretch enough to rehood, but I doubt it. PS says that happens sometimes when you're very thin and it's an easy revision. I see him again in early February and we'll schedule it.
An interesting thing I'd like to talk about is that 1) since surgery my reflux has been about 75% improved, and 2) my weight has gone down and stayed down from eating a lot less. I had no deliberate plan to lose weight, was 5'3" and about 136-7 on the day of surgery, dropped down to 130-1 and have stayed there ever since. I really think it's because portions I can eat are much smaller than before, I feel full in a very physical way that I didn't feel before because of the big muscle hole which probably is what made the reflux better. Just an interesting phenomenon.
What else. I think that's it. Aunt flow arrived today and I'm bloated and cranky so I'm making the executive decision to wait on pictures until week 12. We're going out of town for the weekend on that 4 hour car trip so that'll be the test if the hot coal pain is really gone.
Until next week, I bid you, adieu.
Almost 6 months: Fifty Shades of Belly Button...
So I've purposely not chronicled this journey in months because well, there's not been much to tell. I still struggle with swelling, still get pretty sore, still "feel it" pretty constantly. Changes that I can report are that a couple months ago I couldn't lie on my stomach on my bed (the give of the mattress uncomfortably stretched those muscles) and when sleeping I never would roll on my belly to get from side to side. Now, while I feel the stretch of both of those activities, it doesn't hurt.
I've also found ABS!!! Just a four-pack so far but the 6th one is under there. I haven't had abs in a very long time. Everything is still too tender to do crunches or sit-ups yet, so I spend time just tightening them and that's a nice step. A few months ago I couldn't do that without a lot of pain. It really is true that the more muscle repair you have done the more painful it is.
This last 6 months has really been Fifty Shades of Belly Button. I loved my BB when it was first done. However, as it stretched, the skin outside the stitches continued stretching out, it didn't recess as we had hoped and the insides seemed to puff out. In pictures, from far away, it doesn't look bad. But from a few feet away I'm very unhappy with it. At my last appointment he noticed it right away and felt confident that a quick revision would resolve the issues. He said I still had plenty of depth and that he'd add a "deep stitch" to make it pull in more, then excise a little of the wonkiness at the lowest part that "kicked out". Nothing has really changed since that last (3 month?) appt, so I'm anticipating that when I see him next week we'll schedule the revision.
***I would LOVE to hear what the actual revision experience is like--having a hard time finding info on that from a patient's perspective.***
The kicker about my BB is that if I suck in and hunch over, it's perfect. Cute, small, sutures hide themselves and it pulls in perfectly. Same when I lay down, it pulls in just a 1/4 of an inch more and is ideal (to me). But standing, ugh.
Here are some pictures to update. Hubby and I are planning our first trip away (from the kids too!) in 10+ years to Vegas and I'm finally feeling comfortable enough to buy clothes. Previous to the surgery I purchased pants/shorts/bottoms in a size 6, now I'm almost always a size 4 just by wrangling those muscles. I NEVER would've had the guts to buy a smooth front dress, that's when the "Ooohhh! You're pregnant!!!" comments and belly rubs would start. However, now I seem to have a built in girdle and it's much fun. It is hard to get out of that mindset of hiding everything though, even when you were "skinny" pre-TT.
I think it's noteworthy to add that pre-TT I had a lot of back pain, (probably because I had zero core strength) and now I have virtually none.
Anywho, I would really, really, REALLY like to hear if you had a bb revision and how that was.
Thanks. :) Hugs and happy healing to you all--I really value that you're here and sharing this journey with me.
BB revision scheduled 3/13
Hubby and I braved almost a foot of snow and saw my PS today for my 6 month follow-up. Everything looked good and he agreed to do the BB revision at no cost. The soonest they could fit me in was 3/13 at 2:30 pm.
He believes that the problem of it "protruding" and not recessing as planned was because my umbilical stalk is longer than the new distance to the hole. So he'll excise it around the old scar, tack the stalk to my muscle wall which will keep it pulled down like it is when I lay down or bend over. I'm very happy with that look, I asked what the procedure would be like, he said it'd take about 60 minutes, I could listen to music if I wanted, they'd numb me up really well but tacking it to the wall might be fairly uncomfortable. He said I'd be good to drive home and he'd send me with some pain pills.
Sounds like a plan to me and I feel very comfortable proceeding. And even better yet, I'll be all healed up in time to go to VEGAS!!! :) Technically they didn't have any appointments until April but the scheduler squeezed me in mid-March because she likes me. :)
Anyway, that's all I've got. Looking forward to the final chapter in this journey. Back to watching snow!
I chose Dr. Kevin Day in Corvallis to be my surgeon because he and his staff are exactly what I was looking for. I wanted someone who screened me well as a surgical candidate for a TT specifically, provided a thorough consultation beyond a meet and greet, who tailored the result to MY body, who I felt comfortable talking to and showed patience answering my many questions. His staff showed perfect follow-through, organization, kindness and professionalism. He explained the surgical process in a way that didn't make me feel intimidated and recognized what I knew but enhanced it. No trash talk of other surgeons, recommended interviewing more than one as I had planned and was not at all cocky about his skills. The pictures quietly spoke for themselves. It was a very classy experience from start to finish and I feel 1000% relaxed and excited about my decision. Definitely worth a look and free consultation! :)