The Final Touch. - Albuquerque, NM

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I'm a 21 year old student, studying elementary...

I'm a 21 year old student, studying elementary education in Albuquerque, NM. In high school I weighed in at 232 lbs and I'm only 5'4. In the past three years I've lost almost 100 lbs, I'm down to 137 and hoping to be at or under 130 by my surgery date. I've just got so much loose skin in my tummy, I don't see any way around this procedure. I'm really nervous about the whole thing, but after lots and lots of research I feel like its the right choice for me. My surgery is scheduled for May 3rd, the day after I finish my final semester of my associates degree. On Christmas morning the most wonderful man in the world asked me to marry him and I, of course, said yes! We're planning the wedding for April of 2013, I can't wait have my pick of beautiful dresses after my surgery. Pictures to come!

So, tomorrow is my 22nd birthday and I'm excited...

So, tomorrow is my 22nd birthday and I'm excited to say that I'm finally celebrating as the happy, fit woman I always wanted to be! I set a goal of being 135 lbs by my birthday and as of yesterday I weighed in at 136.1, close enough for me!

I'm just about 8 weeks from my surgery date and I'm looking forward to my second consultation with Dr. Cuadros on the 23rd. The last time I met with him was in December, so it'll be nice to reacquaint everyone with the situation. He told me last time to bring my parents if I wanted to, bring my friends, anyone who would be helping after surgery so he could properly inform them about the procedure and the aftercare process. He was really, really friendly and accommodating, which I really appreciate. Its especially nice because my mom is paying for my surgery, (she and I made a deal in high school that if I lost the weight she'd take care of anything I needed afterwords) so its important that she feel comfortable with him and the process as well.

I feel like eight weeks is going to FLY by! I'm getting really, really nervous about the whole thing, but I know I'm in good hands. I've been having this dream a lot lately, where I'm waking up a few days after surgery and I'm not in any pain or anything. And then I look down and I see this gigantic scar and the same saggy tummy I have now. I know its just my mind playing tricks on me and my subconscious fears trying to work themselves out, but its still terrifying!

The other day I cried when I was getting ready. I feel like its hard for some people in my life to understand why I want to do this, but its hard waking up everyday and knowing how hard I've worked in the last few years and having lumpy saggy skin to show for it. I don't want to sound like a whiny baby, but its not fair. I don't want to see it any more, I want all of my hard work to be reflected in the mirror. I'm trying to keep my head up! I hope everyone is doing well!

I had my second consultation with the surgeon last...

I had my second consultation with the surgeon last week and it was quick, to the point and comforting. He gave me a packet of information about recovery, talked to me about what to expect the day of surgery, what might go wrong, and what to expect afterwards. I am really, really pleased with my choice in doctor, he's been really wonderful thus far.
He asked to see my stomach again and when I lifted my shirt he said, "grab what you don't like." I grabbed the whole damn thing of course, its all yucky! He said good, "all of that will be gone." I asked a lot of question about the scar and about my belly button. He said he's going to use my existing belly button and that he would make the scar as low as he can and pull me as tight as he can without the risk of nervous damage. All good news! I told him that I was concerned about my tattoo (see pictures) because I didn't want him to take some of it and leave the rest, looking nice and sketchy, half a tattoo! He said that he'd take the majority of it out during surgery and then, he comes the not so great news...He said he'd take the rest out in the office a few month after the procedure, during a revision. He said that I have so much excess skin and such a small frame that he feels confident that I'll need a revision after the initial surgery. I guess I feel comforted by the fact that he's telling me up front, but its still a little lame. I'm glad that he's telling me now, rather than saying, "You're going to be a bombshell! Don't worry about anything. I'll take good care of you!" That would seem sleezy to me.
I'm trying to compile a list of things I need to get before surgery, in addition to the list of things that Dr. Cuadros gave me. Any suggestions? What kind of spanx type binders did you all get? What sort of scar treatments have you all used? I'm feeling less than prepared....
I've got another appointment on the 17th of April with the nurse to fill out paperwork and go over all the medication, aftercare, yada-yada. I'm planning to take my mother with me, she's been sort of supportive of this whole thing, but she likes to remind me that its ELECTIVE, that people die from these types of things, and that I don't have to do it. She thinks that it looks worse to me than to anyone else, but no one else has to look in the mirror and see what I see everyday. I've worked hard for this body and I continue to work hard everyday, I think I deserve to like what I see.

10 Days....10 Days until surgery. I'm terrified. I...

10 Days....10 Days until surgery. I'm terrified. I took a 45 minute shower yesterday during which I talked myself out of the whole thing, and then back into it, and then back out of it, and then ultimately back into it. It is really crazy all of the different things that you feel when you make this kind of decision. I know that it'll all be worth it in the end, I just feel like I've been waiting so long, that there is just so much anticipation building up, I don't know what to do with myself!

I went to my PS office last Thursday to pay for the surgery, fill out all of the forms and get my prescriptions and after-care instructions. It was overwhelming but it all feels secure and concrete now. It's happening, I better just be excited! The binder that they gave me looks really flimbsy...It says that it fits a 28" waist up to a 44" waist. That seems like a lot of wiggle room to me and I worry that it won't be tight enough to be effective. I'm just putting my trust in these nice friendly folks that I've chosen to entrust with my life.

Speaking of nice friendly folks, I really feel like I can't say enough about Dr. Cuadros and his staff. Thus far they have been wonderful! He's so nice and approachable and his nurse is adorable. She is sweet and friendly, I've only been to the office three times in the last five months and she always greets me by name. Last time I went in, I didn't have my Fiance with me, not only did she ask about him, she remembered his name and congratulated me on landing such a sweetheart! She said she couldn't believe how supportive and mature he has been about this whole thing. I was sad to learn that she won't be there the day of the surgery, but I have my first follow-up with her two days after. I know I'll be in good hands either way!

I think I've mentioned before that my fiance has two beautiful little girls, 4 and 6, that I am absolutely in love with. They are the coolest kids, so smart, so funny and super loving. We usually have them every weekend and one full week a month, after the full week they spend the weekend with their mother. We've timed it out so that we're going to keep them this weekend through next Thursday morning, They'll go to school in the morning, I'll have my surgery and then we won't see them for the weekend. Its bitter sweet because we really do plan our weekends around doing cool stuff with them, but I know that it'll be better if they're not around the first few days. They may be little girls, but they're just as rowdy as little boys some times! I won't be able to deal with them jumping on me. Every weekend we either do some sort of art project (scrapping, sewing, gardening) or we have a major baking session, it would really bum all of us out if they were with us and we couldn't do our usual fun stuff. So I'm going to try and enjoy all the time with them I can and then relax and heal so I'm ready when they come back!

Ramble, Ramble....Ahhhhh! My surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am on Thursday May 3rd. I'm having my markings done at 2:30 on May 1st. That's like a day and a half of purple and black marker all over me. That seems weird to me. Does that seem weird to any of you? If I can't shower for days after surgery, you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be scrubbing like crazy the day before! Lets just hope I don't scrubb it all off!

Two Days, Freaking out! Dr. Cuadros just marked,...

Two Days, Freaking out! Dr. Cuadros just marked, measured and took before pictures. I tried to remember to ask all of the questions on my list, but I'm sure I forgot something. Breathe...Breathe. Good luck Ladies!

It's done! I'm home and honestly feeling great. I...

It's done! I'm home and honestly feeling great. I know it probably won't last, but for now I'm enjoying myself. They said they took off almost 3lbs of yuck, of course I had no idea. I wasn't nervous at all on the way to the hospital or during the check-in IV process but before they wheeled me off to the OR the anesthesiologist told me he was sending a few Margaritas my way anyway. I felt loopy for a minute, then I was out! Definitely feels like I've been doing sit-ups for days. Dr. Cuadros said he was surprised by how tight my abs were underneath all that skin! I've got two drains, neither of which really has anything in them, those are supposed to come out on Saturday. Happy healing to all of you! xoxo

1 day post-op I'm definitely feeling a little...

1 day post-op
I'm definitely feeling a little more pain today, but I wouldn't say that ts unbearable. Getting up to pee is really hard! I spent all day yesterday in bed, today I ventured out to the couch in the living room, boy did that take a lot out of me! I'm certainly keeping up with my drugs, I've been taking them like clockwork, I don't want to kow what this would be like with out them. My drains are only draining 5-10cc every five hours, I think that's good? I haven't gotten a look at what's underneath all of the bandages, I'm just trying to think positively about it. I have a post-op appointment tomorrow morning to have my drains removed and for the nurse to show me how to change the dressings, hopefully I'll get to sneak a peak then!

2 days post-op I had a mini meltdown this...

2 days post-op
I had a mini meltdown this morning, tears and all. There is a stitch right on the end of my incision and it pinches every time I get up or lay back down. I went in this morning to have my drains removed, it really wasn't painful just strange. I felt like there was something slithering around my tummy. Speaking of tummies, I saw mine briefly this morning! I really couldn't see because I was laying back on a chair but my mom an fiancé boh said it looked greaf. I came home from my appointment and then took an hour and a half long nap. It's amazing how tired my body feels after just one half hour trip...I haven't really been nauseous, but then again I haven't really eaten much, crackers and jello mostly. I'm hoping to eat something more substantial in a bit. I'm cleared for a shower and I cannot wait! My hair is a mess. The nurse reminded me again this morning that I've got to be taking MOMA or something like it because no one wants to be backed up, especially after a surgery in which they stitch up your muscles! My fiancé is so wonderful! He's been helping me get up, down and around, he's been keeping track of all of my medication, clearing out my drains and charting it all. I couldn't be doing this without him.

Happy healing! xoxo

3 days post-op I must say, I'm still pretty...

3 days post-op
I must say, I'm still pretty surprised by how something my recovery is going. I'm uncomfortable but not really in any major pain. Still no movement, if you know what I mean...I really haven't been eating a lot and I think that could be part of the problem, so today I'm focusing on eating. I had a half a bagel, coffee and pineapple this morning. That's a big step up from jello and apple sauce, right?
I took a shower last night with the help of my lovely fiancé and a shower chair. It took a lot out of me, but it was nice to feel clean and fresh. Here comes the downfall...I got a good look at my new tummy, granted it was at the end of the day and I'm sure very swollen, but I was reall underwhelemed by what I saw. I'm trying not too think about it, because the I feel like crying. I told my fiancé last night that I think this might have made it worse. It's definitely flat, which is good, but I still have a lot of extra skin on my side and I'm afraid I'm going to have GIANT dog ears. Dr. C did warn me that I had excess skin all around and that he was almost positive that he'd have to do some sort of revision, but it's really discouraging.
Everything felt so strange, like all of my abdomen didn't belong to me. I'm going to try and take some pictures next time I change the dressing. I've also got this weird ache in my right shoulder that I think stems from sitting in the same sort of position for days now. I just threw an icy hot patch on it and it seems to be doing the trick.
At least I'm not in terrible pain and questionably unhappy with the results, right? And I'm standing up almost completely straight! I got up and out of bed by myself this morning, too! Here's to staying positive, I know I've got quite a ways to go!
Thinking of all of you! xoxo

4 days post-op I over did it yesterday. I was so...

4 days post-op
I over did it yesterday. I was so happy to be moving around easier on my own, I should have slowed down. By the end of the night my body was definitely mad at me. I was starting to get really scared about not having a bowel movement, so I loaded up on things to help, so much so that it sounded like a 4th grade science fair volcano was erupting in my tummy. I was terrified! I got a little bit of relief, but it wasn't fun!

I took another shower last night, after which I was sure I was going to vomit. Sitting on the edge of my bed with a bucket and all. Luckily I was able to dissolve an anti-puke pill and breathe through it. Dodged a bullet there! On the up side, I got to take another look at my belly, this time I wasn't hunched over and I was slightly less influenced by narcotics. I feel a lot better about it. It doesn't look nearly as bad as I remember it looking on Saturday night. It's certainly swollen and puffy and the incision is angry, but its a major improvement from my pre-op mess! It is so strange to touch my tummy, the weirdest feeling ever. Will it ever feel like it belongs to me?

I'm focusing today on taking it easy, even if I feel like I can do more. Rest, rest, rest. I hope everyone is doing well. Pictures soon, I hope!

5 Days Post-Op I'm feeling pretty blah today. I'm...

5 Days Post-Op
I'm feeling pretty blah today. I'm working on cutting down on the pain killers an dust taking Tylenol instead. Nothing really hurts, everything just feels weird. I got weepy while I was watching the news this morning.

Posted some pictures from this morning. I can't say that I'm thrilled with what I see, but it is definitely a VAST improvement! And I know its just going to get better. Keeping my head up, happy healing ladies!

Today is 1 week post-op, altogether I'm not...

Today is 1 week post-op, altogether I'm not feeling terrible. I feel like a big swollen blimp, which I'm having a really hard time with. It seems worse today than it has been so far. It'll go down, right? I haven't been doing anything specifically to help with the swelling, should I take something? I've been doing some research on bromelain but when I asked my doctor he said there wasn't really any conclusive evidence one way or the other. He didn't say that I couldn't take it tho, so I might go pick some up. I haven't driven yet, I'm a little nervous...
I've been off the narcs completely since Tuesday. I had a really hard time with that. Light headed, dizzy, nauseous, dialated pupils, cold sweats. It was so weird! I'm struggling with the fact that I feel so weak and tired. I'm bored out of my mind, sitting and taking it easy, trying to be a good little patient. Even with a nap I'm falling asleep by 9:30. I guess my body is probably working harder to heal than I realize. Also, trying not to ruin my new tummy with a bunch of really poor eating. Which is hard to do we you're stuck home with orders not to do anything and a fully stocked fridge. Resist the spice cake!

Happy healing ladies. : )

Post-op day 8 So this is why they call it swell...

Post-op day 8

So this is why they call it swell hell! I think I can honestly say that this swelling is bothering more than any pain I've felt thus far, super uncomfortable and annoying. But this too shall pass. : ) I wish I could figure out how to post pictures from my iPad, I hate having to drag out my old school computer. Aside from the swelling, things are good. Oh wait, I forgot to mention that I'm spitting out a suture already! I've had one spot on my side that has been killing me since the day after surgery, pinching when I move. It stopped hurting on Tuesday and I sort of forgot about it, then last night it flared up again. When I woke up this morning there was a nice little piece of black plastic shooting out of my side. I called the nurse just to be sure, she said "Yup, that's a suture!" Woohoo! At least I know what that annoying pain was, I kept telling my fiancé to look at it again, something must be wrong with it, hahaha. I started yesterday taking both Arnica and Bromelian to help with this ridiculous swelling. I'll let you all know if it seems to be helping.

I hope you all are having good days, happy healing! xoxo

Today is post op day 13 and I'm feeling great!...

Today is post op day 13 and I'm feeling great! I've been a slacker and I haven't updated in a few days, mostly because I've just been so busy. I've been up and about running around doing just about everything that I did before since last weekend, day 9 and so on. I'm really quite surprised by how easy this has been for me, given all of the reading I've done I know full well that many of you ladies had a really hard time with this surgery. Which is to be expected, ITS MAJOR SURGERY!

I had my first follow up with the surgeon on Monday and he seemed really pleased with my energy level and said that everything looked really nice, but of course there was lots of swelling. He thought there might be a little bit of fluid retention on my left side above the incision, so he tried to drain it. Almost nothing came out. He said to call if it seemed to be getting worse, but it hasn't been so I'm not worried. He also gave me another wrap to wear in addition to my binder to keep the swelling down as I'm up and about so soon its making the swelling more apparent? He called it a burrito wrap which made me chuckle, but it just looks like a giant ace bandage. He also said that I'm a part of the small percentage of the population that is allergic to bacitracin ointment. So, while I was religiously applying ointment to my belly button and covering it as I was instructed to do, thinking I was being a grade A patient, I was actually having a reaction to the stuff and I've got a rash in my belly button. Its been red and angry looking the whole time, so I assumed it was normal after surgery inflammation. WRONG. He said to stop using it and that it should clear up on its own rather quickly.

Laughing, coughing and sneezing are still not my favorite parts of the day, but they aren't panic inducing like they were the first week. I really feel like I've got most of my mobility back, but getting out of bed in the morning is still a tuck and roll process. I've been sleeping on my back for the most part, a little on my sides, but I seem to almost always wake up on my back. I really miss sleeping on my tummy but I'm just too afraid to even try at this point. I'm going to give it a few more weeks probably.

TMI portion: Although I know it wasn't really advisable, my fiance and accidentally forgot about the whole no "you know..." for 4 weeks. To my surprise, everything went just fine. One small muscle twing, but really just fine. Post op day 8. I'm telling you, I feel like my normal self! Also, I have no idea if this is related, really, but I'll let you all about it anyway. Before surgery I had issues with irregularity, think Jamie Lee Curtis. After surgery, once I got past all the narcotic backup issues, totally regular...I haven't changed anything else. I'm not sure if maybe it just has to do with things being back in the right place? The muscle tightening maybe? It's kind of freaking me out, I'm not complaining, I just don't know what to make of it...

I'm placing my order for silicone strips as soon as I get paid on Friday and I'm cleared to start using them as soon as they arrive. I'm still stuck with the burrito wrap and binder until further notice, next appointment is on Monday. I hope they'll tell me then that I can switch to spanx. This binder is bulky and itchy, I can still get my size 4's on comfortably, but spanx would be a lot easier to conceal.

Happy healing ladies!
Albuquerque Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Cuadros and his staff have been amazing thus far!

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
4 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
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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