Extended Abdominoplasty with Lipo: Thrilled with Results!

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*Treatment results may vary

Oddly, when I was younger, I thought that people...

Oddly, when I was younger, I thought that people who had plastic surgery were crazy and insecure. What a few years bring, no? I am 5'3" and average ~150 lbs. Five years ago I was 200 lbs, and in the Philippines for a wedding with lost luggage. I was forced to go shopping for clothes in a land where nothing fit me. It was a rude awakening...shopping in the men's store for pants that would button! Needless to say, a (much needed) divorce and the South Beach Diet put me on track.

I met my current husband about 2 months after I was divorced, and began to eat again like he did, piling on the pounds. When I was up to nearly 180, I realized again that this was a destructive pattern, and have maintained my weight for the last 2 years @150 with diet and exercise.

Of course, my midsection has taken a hit. I was always stocky. As a teen I competed in near national level gymnastics, lifted weights, was on the diving and track team. I rode bicycles in college and worked out in the gym in graduate school. But, I always had a gut, even when I was at my thinnest. I still work out 4x per week for an hour a day. Now that I'm 42, I have made the decision to undergo abdominoplasty with liposuction of flanks and possibly rectus muscle tightening.

I contacted a plastic surgeon who did a virtual consultation online after I sent him some pictures (as a pre-consultation,of course). I found him after looking through before and after galleries with a number of body types similar to mine, and consistently favorable results.

I have no intention of being a size 2, I just want to be able to button my nice jeans without praying to take them off all day.
After several decades of New Year's resolutions to (HA!) lose those last 10 lbs, I realize that I am where I'm going to be. I love my body, but really can't stand that gut. Yo yo dieting, and a genetic predisposition to be an apple has put me in a place where this midsection is untouchable except for a surgeon's knife.

My biggest impediment to surgery is taking time off of work. In the last 20 years, the longest I was off work for 4 weeks, and that was in between a job switch. I have to work double before and after a vacation so that my hours match up in any month. Even then, taking 2 weeks off is problematic for me.
I am glad I came across this website. I've eagerly read through the post-operative courses and realize that most people have some sort of an 'awakenings' moment around 10-14 days post op with a paradigm shift in discomfort.

Although my job doesn't involve heavy lifting, I am constantly up and down out of a chair, and moving around.(ok, spoiler, I'm an MD-we're people too!). I would prefer not to advertise in my workplace that I'm having elective surgery, but I don't think I'll be too spritely on return, and it will be noticeable amongst my peers, who notice every little tic and muscle kink.

In all, my husband is supportive. My sister is a general surgeon, and feels that I'm an excellent candidate for this surgery, in that I'm aerobically fit, nonsmoker, no medical problems, and with stable weight for several years. After telling her about my thoughts, she said that she was going to suggest it to me anyway.

My goal is to get into the best physical shape possible cardiovascularly prior to the surgery, as I see that this seems to speed recovery.
Thanks to all of you that have posted on here, even the gory details. These are what people need to understand the process.

Was looking forward to my surgery later this...

Was looking forward to my surgery later this month, but wouldn't you know it...wiped out in a high speed ski area and had to have reconstructive surgery on my knee! I'm now 3 weeks post-op and have a little taste of what the post operative experience is like, and how good (or how my husband thinks)...badly I handle pain. I've been on crutches for nearly 2 months but weaning off. I thought about keeping my abdominal surgical date, but my priority is getting my strength back in my leg. I've put off abdominoplasty until late August as a result. There is no substitute for good health.
Interestingly, I've learned a few things about elective surgery from this debacle. Regarding the knee, I've found that the better shape one is in prior to the surgery, the MUCH faster the recovery. I would bet that this holds true for the abdomen as well, in terms of muscle tone and cardiovascular conditioning.

Also, I found that after all the anesthesia wears off (a day or two), its good idea to get up and move around as much as possible, as much as that seems to suck. I found that the less I moved around, the worse I felt, and as painful as it was, the more I moved around, the better I felt afterwards. Even just a trip out of the house to a local quiet restaurant or coffee shop (someone else driving) was exhausting, but really picked up my spirits.

Another thing...less mobility means less exercise, and watching what I eat. Its been difficult to avoid easy to grab and munch junk foods, and I have been less than perfect, but I didn't want to be on crutches for several months and hauling around an extra 10 lbs. (my deltoids are now fabulous). Just for ease, bought two family-size pre-made spinach salad mixes from Costco (has egg, a little cheese, cranberries, and some BACON-yum) and ate that twice a day post op. Helped with constipation from the pain meds, tasted fantastic, and was easy to prepare and eat. Stuck with similar foods for awhile, and have lost 4 lbs in past month with no exercise. Goal was to not gain. Bottom line, I found something that worked for me, was easy to do, and tasty.

Will take these lessons to my abdominoplasty in August. Good luck!

Surgery is on for August 24! Looking for tips!

Well, the late April date was put off 2nd to a wonderful ski accident with surgery to fix my ACL, meniscus and let my tibial plateau fracture heal. Thought it was a colossally bad idea to have the tummy tuck right after knee surgery and being on crutches for 2 months...now everything is back on! The leg is about 50-60% but good enough to let me go ahead.
In the past month I managed to sell my house (for less than I paid for it, but better than paying a mortgage on a house I wasn't living in) buy a new house, and move out of a rental house. Everything is in boxes. Carpets need to be pulled out, tiles (PINK! Who puts pink tiles on anything??!!) need to be knocked out, new flooring needs to be installed, and old 70's panelling needs to come down. Normally I would get out the crowbars and tile scraper out, (in box in garage..haha) but if I can't get it done in the next month, will have to hire someone to do it. Certainly not doing it after surgery, but don't want to wait until winter. I figure that I can't do my usual short summer hiking trips cause of the knee, so might as well stay home and work on the new nest.

So, in the midst of this, I am looking into what I need to do over the next month to get ready for surgery. I was reading other people's post operative blogs (this is why I love this site, love to hear what motivates people, their frame of mind in each phase) and I see people talking about the usual post operative things like drains coming out etc, but I'm curious about what people think about diet. Not talking about weight loss, but rather, avoiding foods that might cause bloating/swelling.

I'm wondering if it is really a cause and effect with the salt and the bloating/swelling? Its not that I eat a ton of salt, but I do like to eat prepackaged foods like Morningstar stuff and Kashi, and even those have a fair amount of salt. I think that tissue that has been injured (on purpose by the surgeon's knife in this case) is going to swell regardless of what one eats. Anyone have experience or suggestions? I read the MD comments which reference high protein and high fiber. No issues there, those are my two fav food groups. Maybe it would be better if I stick to some homemade veggie smoothies for a few days without salt? I just seem to see a pattern of those who ate predominantly raw foods seemed to have a less rocky post-op course.

Also, anyone have any suggestions regarding the use of cool packs after surgery? I have this fantastic ice machine gizmo that I got to go with my knee surgery which circulates very cold ice water in a large pad. I was going to give it to the Goodwill, but would be nice to put on the abdomen afterwards, if tolerated. Doesn't go directly on skin, but with a barrier, like a towel or something. Wondering if that would help swelling as well, or if people have noted that they can't tolerate that kind of pressure.

Also, anyone swear by supplements or do they feel that it is all voodoo? I noted after my knee surgery that I can't stand pain medication because it turns me into a zombie. I don't want to eat or move or sleep, and was catatonic for days. As such, wanted to make sure that I had building blocks for healthy tissue to grow. I know most of that is from diet, but I would imagine that Vitamin C and calcium are needed for collagen production, as well as antioxidants. I feel a kidney stone coming on. ha. Has anyone taken probiotics with good/bad results? Just curious. I am partial to Kombucha to keep the gut flora balanced. Will ask my surgeon, who will no doubt think that I am the obsessive compulsive that I probably am.

Also, anyone have anything to say about caffeine? Withdrawal? I'm a junkie, can't help it. Will ask my surgeon as well. Doesn't do one much good to be caffeinated with nowhere to go while drooling on oneself with pain meds on board.

Also, any suggestions on setting up the house before hand? I saw that someone bought a recliner(!) just for the post operative period. Aside from new furniture, which is not happening, it seems that there are ways to creatively use pillows, attaching ropes to door handles to help sit up, even use a walker to help with upright walking. Perhaps I'm overthinking this, and although the husband is quite supportive, I find that we bicker at each other with him playing the RN and me playing the patient, so I wanted to be as independent as possible as soon as possible.
How do you shower? Best to sit on a bench? Best to sponge bath?
It seems that something like a MuuMuu might be the best clothing to wear (ha), someone mentioned swim coverup for high fashion.
Well, these are my thoughts in my head. I welcome any comments or suggestions that people might have. Thx!

Looking up Arnica, etc.

I have about three weeks plus a few days until surgery. Was looking up supplements, and everyone seems to be buzzing about Arnica. After exhausive web search in the National Institute of Health and Pub Med, all I could find is that no study showed any benefit of Arnica over placebo for post surgical healing. This is over 30 years of research...I will be starring my calendar when I can take my beloved ibuprofen after surgery. I am not a fan of pain medication, even to reduce pain, I just turn into a total zombie, and I hate that. Will see how things go.

2 weeks to surgery!

2 weeks left! Trying to get in some activities in the meantime that I won't be able to do post operatively.
Have been painting rooms in the new house on rainy days off and yesterday was attempting to walk 26 miles, but thwarted at mile 19, not by the blisters but by a beesting on the foot. ?? I must have stepped on him, but I can't say that was a miserable last 1/2 mile before spouse came around to pick me up. If the blisters heal in time (I forgot to pack socks in my hiking bag due to recent move; I don't know where my socks are right now) I may try to repeat that hike again. Doing a little bit of stress eating, but as of now, will be watching salt intake closely. I think that going from the usual American diet of high salt foods to post-operative low salt eating might be one too many a change for me all at once. I bought a few longer swimsuit cover-ups on ebay for cheap to wear post op. Probably spent a total of $15 on three cover up with shipping. Love e-bay. I think I'm going to look for a walker on there. *g*

9 days until my "vacation"

Whoo! Had a repeat consultation with my surgeon yesterday and feel much better about the procedure. I've been having dreams that I went through surgery and post-operative pain etc. and when I healed, I was exactly the same as before. When I had my first consult, my husband was with me, and although I love him, he dominated the conversation chatting with the surgeon about their mutual friends from the suburb neighborhood that they grew up in. This time, went alone, got an idea about scar placement, the fact that an old tattoo on my hip is going to be lopped in half (actually not a bad thing, I let that one go, and now I have an excuse to spruce it up over new scar tissue when everything heals.) Also now have an idea of what they want me to wear for compression garments. I'm having flank lipo and also lipo of this bizarre presacral fat pad above my butt. Happy to get rid of it.

Also chatted about forbidden meds. I take a fair amount of herbal supplements, Acai, Cinnamon, Flax, 5HT, St. John's wort, and some of them are on the forbidden list in terms of bleeding impact. Also, a number of fruits and veggies...apples, tomatoes, onions, garlic, grapes, almonds? That pretty much describes everything that I eat. Will use sparingly.

Discussed surgery with my dad. He did not seem to be too shocked, mainly because he is having sinus surgery today and is somewhat distracted. I mentioned it to my mother, and I don't think she heard me...(hearing aids not in at the time..ha) so will come back to that later.

Few more "pre" pics

When questioning my motivation for getting this surgery, I have been looking back at photos of myself and realize that I spend a lot of time with my hands on my hips, or standing behind people because I just don't feel proportionate. I have a photo of me in my wedding dress 2 yrs ago, only 5 lbs thinner than I am now. No wonder wedding dresses cost so much, they manage to cover a multitude of sins! Also a few hiking pics, hiking being a passion of mine. If I forgot to cover the middle, its there for all to see. 50 lbs of weight loss and tons of exercise didn't get rid of it. I think I'm making the right decision after all.

6 days

Luckily, work is diverting my attention.
Grand plans to reorganize the house have largely gone by the wayside. We just moved a month and a half ago, and there are still boxes everywhere. there were plans to put in new flooring in den, foyer, hallway, upstairs, master bath and master BR, and I don't think that I could tolerate all the work while I'm recovering after surgery. I was going to clear out a few rooms of furniture so that demo could start, but can't move the furniture myself and hubby does not seem to be motivated. Just as well..gives him something else to focus on, i.e. helping me after surgery. I don't have issues with blood, but he gets somewhat green in the gills.
I'm packing up a suitcase to bring to sis' house for the immediate post-op period for 3 days. While unpacking some stuff in the basement, I found a pair of nordic walking poles that I had forgotten about. They might be good for helping with moving around afterwards. Sis found a walker for $2 at a garage sale in her neighborhood, so I'll use that to help stand upright, and when I'm better just donate it to a senior center. I have a bunch of wedge pillows from after my knee surgery, and all I need is some rope. (Sounds like a climbing expedition to Nepal.) Will look for the crampons.
So I fell victim to the exercise craze and did an insanity video yesterday. Today, the hamstrings and lats are feeling it. I couldn't do the jumping because of the knee, but just did fast squats and small jumps. Still feeling like Sampson with a haircut. Will be thrilled to embark on that video program when I'm cleared to do so after surgery. As it is now, can feel the stomach jiggling around when I try to jump...not fun.
good luck to everyone having surgery this week!

Surgery today!

5 am in the hotel...just scrubbed down with hibiclens. Wearing some sort of pajamas/track suit for the walk over to the surgi center. No coffee. :/ will be feeling that later as much as the surgery. Ha. Fingers crossed!

1 DAY POST OP, cant sleep

OK, not that I can't sleep, but have been sleeping throughout the day for an hour at a time, so now awake. Have moved in to my sister's recliner. I never thought a recliner would save me, but it has. Posted in the comments below that I was having horrible back spasms, starting in the recovery room. I had a rotten 1st day because of them...and no amount of meds or position was helping. After trying to sit in each piece of furniture in my sister's house, finally got comfortable on the back porch with some pretty rigid pillows. Spasms finally ended for the most part. (Aided by much medication, which I am not happy about, but with that pain, was not going to argue).
I would love to see what everything looks like under the CG, but given all the lipo I had and the length of the scar (extended TT) I have to keep the garment on till POD 3 and follow up visit. I thought my skin was all mushy, but I am also packed with 1/2 inch foam to help with compression. I am also quite swollen from hips to chest, front and back. It doesn't really hurt, but I feel like someone injected me with roofing insulation.
Now that the satanic back pain is diminished, I am walking around with my wheeled walker, drains hanging out, etc. I did not want my sister's husband's teenage kids to see me, so staying tucked away in my little wing of the house. I don't think they could deal well with seeing a bunch of bloody drains.
So, sitting up from a supine position is quite annoying..like I did 1000 situps. COughing, forget about it. Trying to drink fluids is OK, but it means more trips to the bathroom, and *ahem* trying not to pee on the compresson garment. No bowel movement yet. Drank powerade yesterday and bought some oyster crackers, which I think taste better than saltines. Mom sent a fruit basket, and sis is making me smoothies with the fruit, some greek yogurt and flax seed. I don't have much of an appetite, probably because I'm not moving around much.

POD 2 pics

Cant take off the CG yet, but swollen like a balloon. I also am padded with foam under the CG for pressure. Drains are on my right. The pain pump is in the fanny pack. I'm pretty sure I have a seroma over lower back just because it feels like a water balloon over there. All is sore, but nothing too painful. Have stopped muscle relaxants/sedatives, and only taking half doses of the pain meds, alternating with tylenol.

another pic

another pic

Stay puft marshmallow woman...

4 hrs until 1st post op appointment and first view of EVERYTHING. Ha. I have three JP drains that all are going in through one aperture, and was having some issues with the drains not keeping a charge (not staying flat for suction.) Aside from the fact my sis is a spaz, (when it comes to taking care of family) she is also a surgeon, and repositioned the packing in the drain area. Now, draining like a champ. I don't think I could've seen the area to do anything with them.
Also another milestone...bowel movement. YAY. Never a bad thing. I started on my post operative regimen of pre-made costco spinach salads for two meals. Has never failed me in the past, and I think they taste awesome. Tons of spinach, some boiled egg, a few chunks of bacon (bacon is 'meat candy'), dried cranberries, sliced red onion, shredded mozzarella cheese and the sparing use of poppy seed dressing. I could eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Besides that, I am now the StayPuft Marshmallow woman. I was going to chalk it up to salt, but I had nearly no salt in the first two days post op. This is inflammation, plain and simple...my body being pissed off at me for electively slicing and dicing. I am starting to use ice packs liberally, and although I haven't seen a physical change, I definately feel less discomfort in in the incision areas. Walgreen's sells oversized (12" and bigger) gel packs, of which I have two, and am rotating them through the freezer.
Also, up and about as much as possible. Not long running spurts, but leaning forward on the walker doing laps to nowhere. Feels good, but unable to stand upright. Drinking tons of fluids, crystal light, and my beloved coffee. :)

CG off! still cant stand straight, but not too shabby!

Micropore tape on the surgical site. 3 drains to god knows where all coming out of the mons. Drain output steady.

POD 4, Overzealous Activity, Recliners, CG's and Other Miscellany

Too much blogging? My husband thinks so. I have always liked writing, and am still one of those people who writes prolific old-fashioned snail mail letters to people when I can. And I'm on 3rd cup of coffee (whoo whoo!!! I also wrote reviews for coffee acoutrement on Amazon, if this tells you anything about my passion for man's greatest legal drug.) What else am I going to do?

Most of yesterday was spent in journey back from my sister's house about 3 hrs away, back to my house, where I will spend the next 10 days working on creative arrangements of furniture and supportive pillows. Whoo Whoo! (OK, who am I kidding here.., the washing machine just broke, and there are three house guests who will be staying here in the next two weeks, none of which I can do anything about, but I can pretend that I am working on pillow arrangements..)

All the time I spent preparing the house for my convalescence wasn't in vain, but definitely needs to be modified. I read ad nauseum about how one engages their abs in everyday activity, blah blah blah. Well, totally true. The joke's on me, body. That little cold that I caught just prior to the procedure? Coughing is a new adventure in pain modification. Reminder: I had muscle plication as well as tummy tuck and lipo. Getting out of bed is an unbelievable pain in the ass. I thought I would be much more immobile than I am, but once I'm out of bed I'm moving around pretty well (albeit hunched over with a walker, but I am setting land speed records with the thing...).

I read that someone set up a knotted rope at the edge of the bed. I used a few of those rubber resistance bands that I used for my knee rehab...those tied together to the bedframe help to pull myself up to a seated position. Could probably tie a bunch of plastic shopping bags or garbage bags together in series for the same effect. Or, could just yell for 20 min until husband wakes up from the snoring room (yes, we have this for my sanity) to help me sit up. Once I'm up, I'm at the races.

I was given two new compression garments by my surgeon yesterday, both with beautiful fabric and both involving inhuman feats of gymnastics to get into. I slept in one last night that was so tight I had to consciously breathe in and out. I checked the manufacturer's label to make sure that a) it was not mispackaged as an XXXXXS, and b) that the size given to me was appropriate. Yes, according to my measurements, I am wearing the appropriate size for the sadistic manufacturers. (I'm having flashbacks to women having their corsets tightened by laces to the point where they fainted from any activity that involved blood to flow back to the heart.)

Now normally, I would consider this suit of armor as business as usual when I want to look good for a social function, but with edema, drains and trying to actually sleep in the thing, well, that's another ball of wax. I settled for the smaller sized version of the CG that I had right out surgery. It has a massive hole in the crotch to allow one to use the restroom without dealing with a snap crotch (another impossibility at this time unless I have a mirrored floor and a third hand). I just wear underwear over it and some loose shorts and a fanny pack to hold the drains. I am setting new fashion trends. Next project is to decorate the walker with flashing lights and pinwheels. Ha. I am reminding myself of when I lived in Manhattan of this crazy guy who tricked out his bicycle with the one-man-band getup, a megaphone, policital stickers, christmas lights etc. I will become this guy, all because I've had elective surgery, am stuck with an overactive imagination and three coffeemakers.

But I digress. So, this reminds me of issues with medical practice. If someone breaks a bone, you set the fracture in a splint which immobilizes the joint above and below the fracture for stability. This isn't strict biomechanics, but it makes sense to me that the CG should extend a reasonable distance above and below the area of the scar. As an example, if the scar is at the hips, I would want a CG that extends down like a boyshort or to mid thigh, instead of like a swimsuit bottom an inch away from the scar. There will be edema above and below the scar and having an elastic edge cutting into the edema just isn't doing it for me ergonomically. I think that when the edema is going down, I can wear something less like a scuba shortie and more managable like a leotard. Hey.. I'm not working for two weeks..what's an hour a day getting in and out of a compression garment? Ha.

So another issue. Felt good yesterday and overdid it. Didn't do any lifting, but went to 1st post-op appointment, and then there was the HUNT FOR THE PERFECT RECLINER. ha. The surgeon's office is relatively near a suburban sprawl outside of Chicago with miles and miles of consumer choices for salty food, cars, bridal gowns, bix box stores, and yes....RECLINERS. When I wasn't in my drug induced haze for the first few days post op, I spent some time looking for the perfect recliner, having realized that until my abs cooperate, the previously hated behemoth monolithic tribute to slothdom will be my salvation. Unfortunately, as with everything else in this process, until you actually try it, you don't really know.

Here are some facts about recliners:
1) price is totally arbitrary. I found the same recliner in different websites and stores for radically different prices.
2) Bonded leather is like a leather veneer pasted onto plastic. If you have an animal with claws, or any sharp object in your house, bonded leather will look like crap in 5 days. You're better off with anything else.
3) that being said, leather, vinyl or PU or whatever...they are all slippery, but easier to clean than fabric.
4) Recliners come in a vareity of widths to accommodate a variety of ass sizes. Why should you care? Well, in your weakened state, you have to be able to bend over to the side and reach the little handle that kicks up the feet. If you're in a big boy model, you're not reaching anything, ever. I'm 5'2", and my armspan is not that of my husband's 6'1" armspan.
5) Some recliners come with power controls. This adds weight to the recliner, making it hard to move. Some recliners have a little tab on the side instead of a low handle. I found the tab easier to reach, but not available in all price points.

So we went to Ikea. Actually, the reason we went to Ikea is that my husband was hungry and wanted the swedish meatballs. (Husband is 6'1" and 270 lbs, and eats accordingly.) Being unable to drive, I had no choice. Ikea had 2 recliners, both of which were overpriced for what you got, and in the true Ikea spirit, you actually had to partially assemble the thing. Ha. That by definition violates the no lifting rule. Ikea is where the overexertion part of my day started. Spouse wheeled me around in a wheelchair, but when he was busy engaging his ADHD tendancies in Ikea fantasyland, I wheeled myself around. Guess what? This also engages the abs, which reminds one in no uncertain terms that they have had muscle plication.

So we left Ikea, went over to Costco, but the furniture store next door was having a recliner sale! We "borrowed" Costco's wheelchair, and checked out the recliner sale, but this only served to reinforce all my preconceived notions about what I formerly hated in recliners. They were cheap, but we would've had to wait a week to pick it up, and delivery out of state for us was substantial. Not worth it. So we went back to Costco, and they had a pretty damn decent mostly leather (whatever that means) recliner for $399, which beat the crap out of La Z Boy. Again, not thrilled about this purchase, but I view it as a necessary evil, as it was the only thing that I found that allowed me to sleep. 18 hrs later, it is still sitting in the bed of the pickup in the driveway, because it is 125 lbs and I can't help the spouse bring it in the house. I hope it doesn't rain.

So all this wheeling onself around and repeatedly testing out recliners and getting in and out of the pickup truck caused a fair amount of abdominal discomfort and general exhaustion. All I wanted was a beer when it was all over, but for fear of more bloating (and more constrictive CG's) I restrained myself and took beer in a pill: valium (Rx for after surgery...lets face it, stimulates the same receptors in the brain, does the same thing except doesn't cause bloating.) Lesson learned to not over exert oneself too early.

Another thing...hide your wallet and disable your paypal account. You will have a lot of time to look through all those catalogs that you would normally throw out, and a lot of time to go through completely superfluous websites selling you stuff you don't need, but they want to make you think you need it. I'm feeling tempted to buy stuff I normally wouldn't....like a recliner. Ha.

Hope everyone is doing well. Thanks for the well wishes. :)

POD 5 with stretching :)

Miracle of miracles. Husband's friend arrived yesterday and helped to move the behemoth recliner into the master bedroom. All I had to do was make lasagne, which if one sits at the stove on a stool, and directs the worker bees to bring raw food items, can be accomplished without too much effort. I didn't have any because of the intrinsic salt, but husband and his friend had 3 test servings to make sure that it was proportionately seasoned. ;)

So the recliner served several purposes: enabled me to sleep reasonably well (although woke up somewhat disoriented to the echoing sound of snoring across the room at 4 AM) and it allowed me to do gentle leg stretching overnight.

So here's the miracle. I was able to stand more upright this AM! This feels wonderful. Heeding the warning of so many who came before me, I have decided to use this new gift sparingly, and spend plenty of time resting as well. Of course, my caffeinated self has nothing else to do but mess around on the computer. I had an epiphany in the shower that I felt like one of those neanderthal men who walked around with their front limbs hitting the floor, and I have now progressed to sub-human. So downloaded a version of the old standby National Geographic montage and went to town with it on my photo editing software. Ha. Sent it to my Plastics guy, who by now probably (correctly) surmises that I am partially manic and partially crazy. But, the husband thought it was funny.

Would upload pics of myself today, but i don't feel that I look much different from yesterday. Still have a ton of anterior swelling, not so much in the low back anymore (this is probably all the fluid in my shorts every 3 hours..yay.)

Washing machine still broken, so handwashing all garments. I have been having issues, or perhaps this is normal, well, issues with fluid draining around the drains. I have three drains which are coming out from one new aperture in my mons pubis. If that area is packed with sterile gauze which is somewhat impossible to maintain every time I urinate, my drains fill nicely. If that area is just loosely covered, I am changing my pants every 3 hrs as if I wet them. This is despite the use of strategically placed pads in my shorts and underwear, which are also soaked.

Honestly, I couldn't care less where the fluid drains out of, but without a washing machine, I am running out of underwear and clean compression garments. Surgeon concurs (about the propriety of the fluid leaving my body through the easiest channel possible; I did not belabor him with my washing machine issues). This reminds me of college where it was such a pain in the ass to do laundry that I would rather go out and buy new underwear. That being said, I can't go out. Perhaps will order another 20 pairs of crappy underwear on amazon and have it express delivered. This is not something that I can farm out to the husband. (remember that movie Mr. Mom where Michael Keaton is shopping for maxi pads for wife in the grocery store and it turns into a store-wide PA announcement?)

Breakfast today for those who care: smoothie with whatever fruit I could find in the fridge: half a peach, some berries, 3 TBS of chia seeds (this has 10g of fiber!!) some almond milk, greek yogurt, vanilla, and some Torani sugar-free almond syrup (available in the coffee section of your grocery store). If this sounds healthy, it probably is...and then I had a few strips of bacon. :)

I've been trying to drink tons of fluids, but I really never liked water, and with the CG's, and all the pressure, I've been having to pee every hour. Given the fact that I have no clean dry appopriate CG's, I put on two spanx-like tops and wrapped a 9" velcro abdominal binder around the whole mess. I still feel compressed, but now am not having to maneuver around the crotchless garment with three drains and reapplying pads, etc. necessity is the mother of invention. Honestly could not care what I look like at this point, although we now have two house guests working on a variety of house projects, and I can't walk around looking like Mick Jagger with a sock in his pants. Ha. I've set up camp in the master BR. Good enough.

I'm not weighing myself during this process, only because I know I am carrying so much fluid weight right now that its really a moot point. Once the compression garments seem to be loosening, I'll see where my weight is. Just trying to eat healthfully in the meantime.

Hope all are well!

"Holiday" Day 6. Brain turning to mush

I did not heed my own warnings last PM and did a little too much walking around. The internet crapped out (HORROR) and was relying on smartphone to keep entertained. I hate watching TV so went on a hunt through moving boxes looking for a working router.

My husband and I have an ongoing "discussion" about PC's vs Apple anything. I call anything put out by Apple an "I-Blob". Spoiler..I do have an Ipod, only because it holds a phenomenal amount of songs, but it has been the bane of my existence when computer crashes as Apple in their infinite wisdom do not allow you to extract songs off the ipod to another computer. Thank god for hacks. Anyway...we were using my husband's Apple router which was giving us crappy signal, and I exhumed a more modern router from the moving boxes and plugged that in. Today, great wireless.

Cable guy came to visit (called by my husband as he felt there was no possible way his beloved Apple AirPort could be malfunctioning..it had to be a cable issue) and was no doubt a little freaked out by my stylin' lace trimmed flesh-toned CG covered by red hot pants with "kauai" emblazoned on the butt, big fanny pack with obvious drains hanging from it, and my shuffling gait, hair sticking out in 8 different directions, and no makeup. I'm in training for bag-lady. Not that I care. I worked night shift for 5 years and frequently would go shopping at 3 AM on my days off. You know those emails that circulate:"the people of Wal Mart?" I'm probably on there somewhere.

So brain has turned to mush. Have accomplished nothing in 6 days, not that I thought that I would, but I thought I would be a LITTLE more productive once I stopped taking the pain meds. Had appointment (not surgeon) today and totally forgot it was Friday, missed the appointment. Posted a pic of my sample reading material (besides catalogs of things to buy..haha) which has been less than stellar.

I think I will make lists of things to do and start crossing out tasks as they are accomplished. There were a fair amount of organizational things to get done: files on computer, burn CD's for friend, re-invest my 401K rollover since I started my new job ( a year ago..haha) but waiting for the Dow to drop (my dad always said buy low, sell high). I was working on a pilot's license, and this would be a good time to work on the book learning part of it, but I'm too busy frying my brain with People Magazine. I have about 45 hours in the air, but life keeps getting in the way...and this diversion I chose myself.

It is weird. HOURS go by every day where I have no idea where the time went. Today I will time how long it takes me to prep for shower, shower and get dressed. I think it was roughly 1-1.5 hrs yesterday...this includes finding clean underwear, coming up with new ergonomic configuration for drains with CG, ointment, pad placement, etc. I know that by the time I get it down to a science, I will have the drains out (it can't be soon enough...I hate dragging these things around..they're like the three stooges).

Corollary: washing machine guy came yesterday: Drum on Washer is broken. Part ordered. No doubt from a mountaintop in Bhutan, awaiting export assessment and weighing against "Gross Domestic Happiness" output. (There is actually something called Gross Domestic Happiness in Bhutan.)

Also, last night had to inject the cat with fluid. He has renal failure, but aside from his severe illness when he was diagnosed in Jan, would never know it. He runs around like a chicken without a head, but every two days I have to inject him in the scruff on the back of the neck with about 200 cc of fluid. He loves it. NOT. Husband is freaked by needles and the sort, so I did it last night and the cat kicked one of my drains open in the process. Did I say how much I really don't like the drains? At least the spouse did the cat litter. :) :)

So couldn't get to sleep last night...had the song "My Sharona" going in my head...except instead of "Sharona" the singer was singing "My Seroma". Ha.

Next appt with surgeon is Tues. I have a few staples in the back on my scar because this area is under tension when I bend over, and the staples are also starting to annoy me. But, they're covered with tape, so not catching on anything, and the wound looks good. When I take a shower today, if any change in appearance, will post a pic. I still have a football schematic on my back of X's and O's and arrows where the coach, I mean, surgeon was planning on moving tissue around, directionals, game plan, etc. May have husband scrub it a bit today, but its sore underneath from the lipo. In all, don't feel too bad.

Hope all is well with everyone. :)

Pictures uploaded again, and back pic POD 6

One additional back pic from today. I have a ton of swelling today on lower abdomen just above the scar, and some below it. I put on the smaller CG, and it doesn't seem to be as tight as it was before...either I stretched it out (story of my life) or my swelling is migrating south. I would prefer the latter.

POD 7. Two steps forward, one step back.

Very carefully stretching on a low chair yesterday, and had lightning bolt cough which caused severe left sided lower abdominal pain, nausea. Reverted back to using walker and taking pills for the evening, last evening. Could not sleep 2nd to pain. Today, pain easing up, only took tylenol. Now I understand about ups and downs. That pretty much sucked rocks.
I found in one of my moving boxes a Leonisa CG that I had purchased to slink into a dress for a friend's wedding. The CG is exactly what I was looking for and is apparently marketed as a post surgical garment as well, and has the open crotch (just love saying that...haha) which works with these satanic drains. I put it on; it was appropriately and nauseatingly tight, and stuck an extra binder around the abdomen 2nd to the pulled muscle last night. Now walking upright..may even go for a ride (passenger) in the car today! WHoo WHoo!

Had a long talk with one of my best friends on the phone today. I was telling her about my immediate post operative experience (F-bombs, flashing entire OR staff with crotchless (again, love that word) CG while flailing around on the gurnee yelling about back spasms. It was not my finest moment, but funny in retrospect, now that i'm not in excruciating pain. I think some of the OR staff need therapy after my little spazfest.

On my POD 3 follow up appointment, my GC and all my foam packing covering my body was removed by the assistant. It was hard to even get out of the damn thing, so I asked the assistant how they got it on me in the first place in the OR. Her words,"It's the hardest part of the surgery." Hahaha. This sent my friend on the phone into peals of laughter. She now has visions of plastic surgery residents casing out the foundation garment sections of department stores as part of their training, all practicing putting on compression garments on anesthetized patients, or if no patient, grabbing the fattest one of themselves and seeing if they can squeeze 350 lb 'Bob' into an XS Marena CG. Haha. Passing depends on Bob's continued ability to breathe and not cutting off circulation to limbs.

So I'm getting pretty damn sick of the drains. I am also going crazy not being able to move around in my sleep. I'm one of those people who at times will end up upside down on the bed from maneuvering while sleeping...and this laying in "beach chair" position on one's back also sucks rocks. But..I keep reminding myself..this is an elective surgery and I knew what I was signing up for..just that the reality is so much more, well...monkey on your back real.

In my discomfort last evening, I tried something new..gentle massage of edematous areas. I know that some PS's send their patients for post operative lymphatic massage, obviously avoiding scars. As I was on the bed laying on my right side after the coughing debacle, I massaged the left side of my abdomen, flanks and upper buttocks. I looked in the mirror this AM and definitely see a difference in swelling compared to the other side. Will try this again later.

Hope all is going well with everyone!

Stuck in chair...would rather be doing this:

Self explanatory. Just restless and daydreaming. :/ All are from hiking trips that I have taken. Mostly just go off on my own (probably not the smartest, but I like long day hikes and leave an itinerary with wherever I am staying for the night.)

POD 8, Sunday Drive, super swollen on return

Feeling reasonably good today, but mainly dreaming about my former life as a 'person without drains.' Cannot wait to get these drains out. With apologies to R. Crumb, I have butchered his classic 'Ball and Chain' image on the center of the Cheap Thrills album, because this is how much I hate these drains. I feel like taking a small scissor and cutting out the retention sutures, which are starting to feel like little pins in my hoo ha (that is a medical term, BTW) whenever I bump my fanny pack of 3 drains into anything.

As a corollary, I am bumping my fanny pack of drains into beverages that I have placed out. FIVE times yesterday, I knocked over a soon-to-be-drunk non caffeinated, non alcoholic beverage with the pseudo-pannus that is my fanny pack. I have however since discovered that the previous homeowners have treated the rug in the master bedroom with no doubt highly carcinogenic water repellant substances, and clean-up has been a breeze, using a clean dry towel to wick up the beverage, then adding the wet towel to the mounting pile of laundry that cannot be done because we have no working washing machine. Ha.

I have my next follow up appointment with my surgeon two days from now (actually, 40 hrs and 50 min from now) and I will have a drain log book supporting removal of the drains. One of them is about 40 cc daily, but I would rather have it pulled and secretly drag my ass to work, sequester the ultrasound machine and suck out my own developing seromas. I'm only kidding, but no, maybe not.

To be honest, the drains aren't really that horrible, they just quadruple the time it takes to do anything..to shower, to change, to pee, and yes, occasionally they do pull on the retention sutures.

So. The laundry. My parents and sister live near the surgeon's office. I think we're going to bring the laundry down with us when we go to the appointment (abt 2.5 hr drive away.) Why don't I go to a local laundromat you ask? Because then I would have to sit there without wifi and have flashbacks to movies like Reality Bites where I find someone else's underwear in my laundry. Besides, am already married and the whole romanticized notion of meeting Mr Handsome there has a number of gaping holes, namely:
1) Drains have no place in Laundromat fantasies
2) Likely someone will have washed something prior to me containing any combination of the following:
a) melted crayon
b) chocolate
c) some variant of mammal feces
d) Drakkar cologne (which was sprayed by a friend on me in 11th grade 1st period class by a friend until I woke up...nearly the whole 3 oz bottle...I can't stand the stuff now)

Besides, laundry at mom and dad's is free, and they are as big coffee freaks as I am. :0)

So after Sunday drive today with spouse, my lower abdomen is swollen. Why? Not painful. Why must the process of swelling be so capricious and without any sort of logic? Why? Why?

Here's a step forward. Was able to sleep in the bed last evening for a total of 3.75 hours!! This time was divided into thirds, with each third representing back, left side, right side. I guess I should subtract 5-10 minutes it took me to TRANSITION to each of these positions from the other, the throwing of pillows in a huff, and the eventual giving up on the whole thing because I had to pee at 5 AM. Managed the rest of the sleep on the recliner, who (with risk of anthropomorphizing) now eyes me warily as the DESTRUCTOR of its partial leather surface with spilled objects and substances.

I drove by a senior center today that I have earmarked for donation for all of my post-operative accoutrement...the wheeled walker with fresh tennis balls implanted on the non wheeled legs, the "grabber" (kind of like an arm extension with gripper pincers on the end..didn't use it much till I started needing to bend over constantly to clean up spilled tea, etc). I wonder if the over 80 crowd would like any of my stage I compression garments. Anyway, not going to get rid of anything until I can reasonably do an insanity video without needing these items again.

I did have another epiphany today in my post-shower exam. I was thinking of previous attempts at weight loss and how they didn't seem to amount to much (except the 50 lb one after previous divorce...that was actually a 250 lb weight loss...the ex weighed 200 lbs hahahahaha) because my stomach never really got flat..it always was sagging over the pants, or protruding because of the rectus diastasis. Weight loss now (not talking crazy, but maybe like 5-7.5% of body weight) might really be phenomenal. Will have to mentally balance that on the scale against my need for bacon.

OK. Spouse is sitting across the porch and just looking at me until I get off the computer. Happy labor day everyone!!

Continued health....

"Holiday" day 9, brain is back, now mulling over potential (and unlikely) complicatations

Well, swelling from/after yesterday's Sunday drive still present to some degree but not as bad. Unfortunately (or maybe its a good thing, as I return to work in a week) my brain has decided to discover the exact mechanism of the swelling and report it to me. Thus far, much data has been returned, but the brain has refused to analyze it. Will have to discuss with surgeon at appointment, without appearing like I'm actually obsessive compulsive. Ha. (BTW, this is self-diagosis, and I'm not bagging my plastic silverware to bring to restaurants, but it would be an obsessive compulsive thing to obsess about all the ways how NOT to appear obsessive compulsive...hahahahaha)
Here are the potential things that I have thought of:
1) This is normal and expected. Full stop. Although this is the most likely reason for swelling, I can't just stop there.

I think this is a job-related hazard. People come to me in the ER for analysis of benign conditions all the time, but since its the ER, I have to have my antennae up for the "bad stuff". Of course, logic usually predominates.
Patient: "Doc, I have a runny nose and a cough and a mild headache. No fever. I feel a little achy and run down. What could it be? Oh by the way, can I have a note for the past week off work?" If this wasn't something that doesn't happen I wouldn't say it. You heard it here first. So my brain, with it's little internal rolodex, rolls through all the possibilities...kind of like that scene in 'The Terminator' where AH-nold's cyborg character is responding to the superintendent (who is complete in character with stained-wife beater shirt and cigar) banging on the terminator's door to determine the source of the rotting flesh smell in the building. The list comes down and flashing: "F*** you a**hole." comes up and is spouted by AH-nold.

I go through this process with the patient. "You have a cold. Go home. Drink plenty of fluids. Quit smoking, duh. I too have a cold an I am here working. Go home." But, also coming up in my brain on the list are things like sinusitis, meningitis, encephalitis, mucormycosis, cavernous sinus thrombosis, brain-eating amoeba infestation, amongst others. Of course the vast majority of these conditions are so rare I might see them once or twice in my career, but the likely thing is usually the right answer. The patient leaves my "office" pissed off they didn't get an Rx for antibiotics and a retrograde week off of work. Such is life.

So maybe swelling is normal. maybe:
2) I was wearing a CG with an abdominal binder (due to errant sneezes and/or cough) and perhaps I squeezed some of the edema southward on my body.
3) I like keeping my feet on the dashboard. Perhaps this caused distortion of the CG/abdominal binder combo and in my numb abdominal wall state did not notice the distortion and had resultant swelling.
4) Overly tight compression garment has placed pressure on pelvic veins and I now have iliac vein thrombosis (blood clot) and clot in my inferior vena cava, and it will only be a matter of time until my untimely demise from pulmonary embolus.
5) Errant cough or sneeze ruptured diastasis recti repair (muscle repair) and I have now recurrence of this and internal hemorrhage, causing swelling, and ruining the whole surgery for me. *HONK* *DING* * DING* * DING* * DING*

So I spend the next several hours determining the incidence of muscle repair rupture (rare) causes (usually from a direct blow, like car accident, but can happen in instances of power-ralphing----another medical term BTW----or protracted coughing spells) and determining if technique of repair is associated with incidence of muscle repair rupture (only if the only line of sutures place were a running stich, which might be used as a second layer, but not as a primary layer) then looking up techniques in the medical literature of repair of 'repair failure', then looking up on realself if my Surgeon has described his technique (he has, at least to the layperson's satisfaction). *Deep Breath* And you wonder why physicians make the worst patients.

I examined my belly fully in the mirror and do not see focal bulges, i.e. I do not resemble Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate factory, and I still have a narrow waist..just a hell of a lot of swelling! Bottom line is that if I ripped a stitch, not much to do about it at this time while everything else is kittywompus in there, and going in again for a stitch would be just plain stupid.

So, I have swelling. This was so prophetic, but when I was a kid, we had a CB radio for fun when we were taking long family drives..."Holiday Roooooooooooaaaad...." haha. My "handle" was 'Chicken Little', you know, the one who cried wolf about the sky fallling! I used to get on the CB and talk trash to the truckers, who never knew what hit them. It seems that aspect of my personality has surfaced in the past 24 hrs.

So spouse and I take another quick ride out to Home Depot, as we are doing all these home projects with the new house. I foolishly had the 'snap crotch' CG on for better compression, and thought that I would try snapping the crotch on the 'middle' setting. Uh.... no. I was using a shopping cart as a pseudo-walker and while walking noted that the CG was so tight on my groin that I was getting numbness and pain on the front of my right leg. In Home Depot. I quickly scanned the ceiling for cameras..they were everywhere. No way to do this discretely, but stuck my hand down my pants and lifted up the edge of the CG to allow the compressed nerve to bounce back from its untimely and noisy jaws of death. I basically stayed like that walking around (no iota of modesty at this point) until I had an epiphany...I was in a store with all kinds of stuff to fix things!

I limped over to the plumbing department and bought 6 feet length (it doesn't come any smaller than that) insulation for PVC piping. The gates of heaven opened up and god smiled on my side of the field. It was $1.97, and I limped out to the car with my foam noodle....once there, tore a piece off and put it inside my CG to take pressure off the edge of the garment at the groin. Whoo Whoo! Not perfect, but better until I could get home and unhook the damn thing. I have decided that I will not wear any CG's again shaped like a leotard..from now on, only boyshort or mid thigh.

So, I have decided that local road trips and Sunday drives may not be a good idea just yet.

Got an e-mail from my Surgeon today telling me that he finally received my "Abdominoplasty Progression Diagram" and he wants to put it on facebook. Ha. I just want the drains out. My husband tells me not to bother with these things on email. I'm seeing the surgeon tomorrow for my 2nd post op appointment, so I will hold everyone hostage until the drains come out.

Actually, have a number of staples in my scar which really bother me when I try to lay back or roll onto my side..like someone sticking you with a pin..or a staple. Spouse tells me to take pain meds. Totally not worth the 4-6 hours of discombobulation, nausea and constipation for the few seconds of being stabbed in the flank sensation. I'm fairly certain that these are coming out too, but specifically circled the worst offenders with pen. If you've never had medical staples ( on abdomen, or scalp or whatever) the staple remover looks like the Jaws of Life.. same thing that they have in the workplace office to remove paper staples, more or less. You can take out your own! ha. I will endure them for one more day.

Labor day otherwise unremarkable. nearby neighbor or local nearby church? Can't tell..hired a cover band to play, so was out on the porch enjoying the music. Hope everyone had a good day!

Holiday Day 10... Appointment today! Detour to visit old friend...

This will be brief. Have appointment today with surgeon outside of Chicago. My worst drain is at 30 cc/day. Hoping he will take all of them. *fingers crossed*

Will have a fair amount of driving...2.5 hrs to Chicago suburbs, then have to make a detour back to the Wisconsin area via Milwaukee. Just found out that a friend of mine who had partial mastectomy/chemo/rad 5+ years ago was diagnosed with brain mets. She's in the Neuro ICU in Milwaukee. She had been having poorly healing 'pneumonia' all summer, and finally after several rounds of antibiotics, had a CT of her chest which looked suspicious. She was scheduled for a lung biopsy on Thurs, but got admitted yesterday with severe vomiting and headache. Well, diagnosis made there. This was a woman who was extremely supportive with my previous job (she worked there.) Most of the docs in my previous practice are going to drive up and visit her in the next 2 days. I did look up survival rates for stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, and they are grim. (Average is 15% 5 year survivial). This is a devastating blow. No funny today on this one. Will write later if I can.

"Holida" day 11. 'Flu' symptoms yesterday

Well. Many revelations regarding this procedure have come to light, whether I want them to or not.
The good: *fingers crossed*
No infection or major complications like blood clots. No wound dehiscience (wound separation.) Pain is not too bad. All staples and sutures (save one in the belly button) have been removed. Yay!
The bad:
Drains probably in a tad longer than they could've been, and exit site (@ the "hoo ha") is very irritated.
Small seroma in back where I had lipo of sacral fat pad. Not a surprise. Have had fluid taken out of this twice.
Sleep disturbance from not being able to sleep in my God-given position of belly down.

The Ugly:
Swelling. Holy cow, not to be underestimated. Probably the biggest impediment to achieving world peace right now. I blithely went ahead with this procedure reading about 'swell hell'...Bosh, I say...I can deal with anything. Of course I can deal with anything, but I don't have to like it!! Not complaining, but merely stating a fact. I think that the amount of swelling varies from person to person. Right now, I look like I'm 4 months pregnant. If it weren't for the scar being irritated from this, I probably wouldn't care as much, but I'm kind of like the "princess and the pea" right now...every light touch, bunched up undies, clothing etc, is magnified because my tissue is on high alert.
Remember ladies (and gents!) this is an elective procedure and we chose to do this to ourselves!! HA.

Well, to all my RealSelf friends, I could not physically get on the computer long enough to write anything of substance yesterday. I chose a surgeon closer to my family in the event I needed to convalesce near them or if I had a complication, they would be able to drive to the hospital where the surgeon practices in the unlikely event that I had to be hospitalized. I also didn't want to have surgery in my own town with my colleagues performing the surgery. Not that I don't think they do great work, but I prefer to keep the information private instead of on my digital record pulled up any random tech in the office. Besides, as I'm sure most of us are, we're paying cash for this. My health insurance company has no place to put their fingers in this pie. :)

SO...a one day trip of 6 hours of driving (by spouse) was just unbelievably annoying. We were supposed to visit my friend in the hospital on the way back, and just could not make it there in a reasonable time frame. I will visit her later, as she just had decompressive surgery on her brain to remove one of the large tumors found. She is awake and doing reasonably well otherwise.
The surgeon's visit was unremarkable. Spouse came and in his usual (lovable-ha) fashion diverted the conversation away from all my post-operative questions to discussions of favorite restaurants in the Chicago area. Picture the scenario: I am naked (at this point, I couldn't care less), people are coming in and out of the treatment room (RN's, techs, the MD, etc). I am standing, bent over onto treatment table so that staples can be removed from my back, and seroma fluid can be aspirated from my pre-sacral area. Spouse is getting green in the gills, but insists that he wants to be present. I have no issues with any of this except that I don't want to be responsible for organizing the scooping of his 6'1" 270 lb body off the floor after he faints from the sight of one large needle.
Spouse makes wholehearted attempt to redirect the event as if we were eating at a cafe for lunch, and trying to talk about favorite restaurants with the surgeon. I am trying to ask the surgeon questions about compression garment issues/design, wound care, you know..the WHOLE reason for which you are actually AT this appointment, no? I can't get a word in edgewise without yelling at spouse, which makes me look like the bad guy. I did get in all my questions, but it just came out in one big run-on sentence with a bunch of question marks thrown in. Ha. Surgeon is awkwardly caught as trying to be professional and courteous to all while not sure how to manage two type-A's at once in the office room.

Prior to this, of course, I am riding down with spouse for 2.5 hr drive while spouse is on car speakerphone (which I hate with the passion of 1000 suns) trying to arrange for us to get the best deal on a new washing machine. (The repair guy felt that the drum needed to be replaced, and oddly, it is cheaper to buy a new machine..go figure. Luckily, this is under home warrantee, as we just bought the house). So, roughly 30+ calls were made with bad static, poor connection, and the constant asking of the person on the other line:"what?" No one can hear anything when speakerphone is engaged. It sucks. I can't listen to music, even on headphones, because once every 5 minutes or so spouse wants me to write something down. We were pretty hyped up by the time we got to the appointment. From there, went to appliance store in Chicago burbs where spouse used to do business when he was flipping real-estate at fast pace. It was pretty cool, but I spent way too much time getting in and out of chairs, etc.
Went over to my parent's house, where the house looked like a demilitarized zone. My parents (love them) should have an orthopedic surgeon on retainer. In the past 1.5 years, my father has had ankle surgery to fix broken and dislocated bones from cycling accident, mother has had broken humerus, broken tibia from fall down stairs, and shoulder replacement surgery (stemming from both ski and bicycle accident trauma over the past 40 years..it catches up to you!). My father had his other ankle replaced 8 months ago (this is a rare surgery BTW) and just had sinus surgery a week prior to my surgery. SO...between the two of them, since dad is feeling discombobulated still from sinus surgery, no lawn mowing, no bush trimming outside, and piles of crap everywhere in the house. My parents represent THAT house on your block..you know the one, the one where the neighbors put their house of for sale and wistfully look over at the wildflower and weed garden that has been allowed to fester over the entire lawn. They refuse to throw anything out and are both cycling enthusiasts, so after the 15+ bicycles and and 30 years of bicycle accoutrement take up the garage, everything else has found a resting place permanently on the driveway, with its complement of weeds, etc. I bet the area can be seen from space as a landmark, in fact, I'm sure pilots use this anomaly of a property to mark their approach to O'Hare airport to enter the approach corridor at 10,000 feet.

I cringe every time I go to visit. Attempts at hiring a lawn service have been thwarted. Attempts at throwing out rotted 50 year old canoes have been thwarted. I swear there's a moonshine still out in the back somewhere...I would cringe at this but it probably tastes good...ha. My parents are both well educated; dad has an engineering PhD from MIT, and mom has a master's in linguistics and speaks like 5 languages. BUT...they cannot mow the lawn.
SO, we get to the house, and I decide that I can try to clip hedges with the manual hedge trimmer without engaging my abs. WRONG. I kept my arms at my sides and clipped away all around the house, and my brother finally got out the lawn mower and mowed the lawn. It looked a hell of a lot better, but I was already feeling it. We had middle eastern food for dinner and then spouse and I felt we needed to get back home..2.5 hrs more driving.
Fortunately, no speakerphone. Spouse has an SUV, and for whatever reason, the front seat will not maneuver to make me comfortable. We had to pull over for back spasm, and I sat in the back for the rest of the trip, which actually was much better.

BUT...yesterday, was totally bushed. That was way too much to do in one day, and when I got up I felt like had been beaten by a baseball bat. I grabbed the bag of coffee that my dad gave me as a gift (they are also coffee junkies, as were my grandparents..it is genetic, and I cannot escape it) and made a pot of coffee. As the morning went by, I felt worse...more sore, exhausted, more lower abdominal swelling, splitting headache, flu-like. No fever. Laid down in bed for a few hours with an ice pack, and took a rare day-time pain pill. No real improvement.
Spouse had multiple contractors over to look at the house, and control freak as I am, I had to come out and talk about flooring issues, paint issues and logistics issues. I felt like absolute s**t, which I felt was due to the exertions of the day before. Around 5 PM or so, I still felt exhausted, had another cup of coffee which did nothing for my headache (usually helps)...and then it dawned on me.

I frantically tore through the garbage and found the coffee bag. Suspicions confirmed: DECAF. My father gave me a bag of DECAF COFFEE. I was in withdrawal. If I didn't feel so crappy, I would've been laughing my little seroma off. I called my dad, and informed him that he gave me a bag of DECAF. He was shocked and dismayed, as he is as much of a coffee junkie as I am. I brewed up a standard pot, and within 20 minutes, all my symptoms except for lower abdominal swelling were gone. Lesson learned.

To, that brings me to swelling. Swelling. My drains are gone, BTW. Thrilled, but sore and my body is missing them in a way. They weren't doing much towards the end anyway, def, < 30 cc per day. Someone had commented to me on here about my body relearning how to reduce swelling, and they are absolutely right. It didn't really occur to me at first, but all the normal lymph channels for lower body and lower abdomen draining have been either chopped up into hamburger, or poked at with a liposuction cannula. I had a realization this morning that it will be several weeks of this swelling for me until my body's lymph system rebuilds itself. :-/
Of course, being the absolute geek that I am, I looked up the normal anatomic lymph drainage passageways on the abdomen, and read a few articles on different techniques of abdominoplasty and liposuction which have varying degrees of preserving or destroying the lymphatics. To be honest its somewhat of a moot point, I tell myself, because it is clear that I have swelling, so duh...the lymphatics are disrupted. The thing is, my scar is from an extended tummy tuck..it extends all the way around the abdomen, over the hips and to the back. There is about 6-8" (depending on swelling...ha) space between the tips of the scars on my back, and in that space, I had liposuction. I think I have two little screaming 1/2" channels on my back where the superficial lymphatics are actually working....they're like little elves the day before christmas slaving away while the other slacker elves go off drinking, and they are ready to go on strike.
But..this also explains while I feel so much more swollen when I wake up in the morning. I am laying on my back, again, not by choice, but because I can't physically lay on my side or stomach, and those poor lymph channels are being compressed. SO in the morning, I feel like I'm back to the stay-puft marshmallow woman...and as I move around (just walking around the house), things improve slightly.

I should invest in compression garment companies and design ones with boyshort legs for women under 5'3". I am searching for the perfect garment, and have not found it. The Colombians seem to have a fix on the market. Will bone up on my espanol ('levantacola' means 'butt lifting': remember that if you are ever taken hostage as a tourist in Colombia, it may save your life!) and check out their websites.
OK. need to get off my butt. Just still reeling from trip few days ago, much on the mind. Warily eyeballing my return to work date in 4 days...that will be interesting.

Hope all are doing well!

Back to work in 2 days :-/ Swelling! Thoughts on Compression Garments

Well, have to return to work in 2 days (today is friday evening, going back on Monday!) I do not have a sit down job. Well, I take that back; I do sit quite a bit typing up information, but I'm constantly up and down and walking briskly. I typically don't have to do any heavy lifting, but I'm moving around patients constantly. Its funny..blowing out my knee in Feb and being on crutches for nearly 8 weeks made me quite aware of how much I maneuver around at work! I work approximately 10 hour days, and am lucky if I get off 5 minutes to use the restroom or get a bite to eat. We shall see how this goes. One wonders why I'm a caffeine junkie!

I'm trying to take little trips out of the house with the spouse, but I find that I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day.

So I spent a fair amount of time online looking at compression garments. They are not cheap, and I hate to order something only to find that it does or doesn't fit. There are a lot of options, but not sure what is the best. Surgeon gave me 2 CG's, one which was better when I was wearing the drains in that it had a huge open crotch (again, love saying that..haha) and using the restroom was easier. This garment has "mid thigh" legs which extend to my knees. Once the drains were gone, the open area started rubbing on my poor sensitive tissue down there where the drains came out on the mons, and things are becoming pretty damn irritated. I've tried padding the area with a variety of things; thick gauze, regular pads, surgical lap pads. Everything migrates and pulls on the pubes, further irritating the area.

I tried taping things down (try to tape anything to your pubic region and see for yourself what a total joy this is: "KELLY CLARKSON!!") and if I tape to external skin, it actually pulls the skin off. Maybe an ace wrap? Hmmm. I am going to lay out all the wonderful devices that I have at home and see which way seems to work without maiming my body.

SO, compression garments. The second one my surgeon gave me is a Marena body suit, with a leotard-type bottom, snap crotch. I find that due to swelling, anything I wear in this style (leotard), including some underwear, causes an incredibly annoying and distracting burning numbness to anterior thigh. This is what caused the Home Depot Hands in Pants Debacle. The Huge Crotch garment is by Clear Point. Both of these garments have fabulous soft fabric. I have a garment from Leonisa (Colombian) that I bought like a year ago for shapewear; the fabric is not as forgiving, but the garment is a brick shithouse and definitely compresses. But, this one has a boyleg opening which is fabulous for not compressing local nerves.

Other caveats: I am 5' 3". Many of these garments have incredibly long torsos and the zippers and other gadgets on them tend to bunch up on my flanks, or rub up in my armpits. None of this is fun.

So, I looked online to find a boyleg, midtorso style stage II CG with or without straps around the shoulders. I think this may be called a girdle?..hahahaha. Be that as it may, went to local department store and bought a couple of maidenform boyleg compression girdles. they have a siliconized waistband which I pull up to the ribcage, but the boyleg seems to be the right height right now. They are zipperless, which helps to prevent the marks and bunching I am getting from the zippers.

I think that everyone would have unique issues with finding a CG that fits well. In my case, the biggest issue is the length and leg cut. Will keep my eyes peeled. meanwhile, I have an ice pack on my groin while I'm typing this. Spouse is getting used to the image. I don't think that I can do that at work very easily, though. Ha.

Other miracle, though, is that I have been cleared to use my beloved Ibuprofen. Tylenol really does nothing for me, but surgeon was worried about NSAID use in the post-op period 2nd to bleeding issues. Being the horrible patient that I am, I cleared myself to return to ibuprofen yesterday, after reviewing practice habits of ten or so plastic surgeons and taking an average. However, spouse feels that this is sacreligeous and practically refused to talk to me unless I got "official" clearance.
Ibuprofen really does help the discomfort quite a bit.

Speaking of which, incisional pain and pain with walking are waaaay down. The only thing that really hurts is the crotch, which I am keeping an eye out for early infection. the diffuse swelling below the incision is not painful, but makes the skin ultra sensitive. I will be happy when all that returns to normal in a few years. ha.

Now that everyone is asleep with the ramblings, wonder if anyone else had issues with drains or with CG's..or has favorite style ( of CG, not of drain...)

happy healing!

One more thing...

NEW WASHING MACHINE TOMORROW!! I don't have to hand wash my underwear anymore!! WHOO WHOO!

Back to work tomorrow...no rest for the wicked!

Well, yesterday was interesting, but have been dealing with some rapidly progressive midline swelling and redness. I've been (carefully, because of numbness) putting ice packs over midline lower belly because of discomfort. That area was specifically swollen, and was starting to turn somewhat red. Checked my temperature any time tylenol or ibuprofen wore off, and did not have a fever. No drainage from anywhere.

Got a hold of surgeon, who double checked culture that he had taken from angry looking drain exit site, and preliminarily, it was negative, but later came back positive for pseudomonas, which is a bacteria present to some degree on skin normally, but probably contaminating the wound. We decided to start antibiotics, and I decided to take it easy yesterday.....then THE SKY PARTED, and a WASHING MACHINE was delivered. :) I did like 7 loads of laundry, including all the sheets and towels which have been mounting. You never know how much we're dependent on modern technology until you don't have it.

Take running water for instance. I went on a wilderness medicine backpacking trip a few years back in Wyoming. Nothing like camping out in August when its 32 degrees at night...and you want to heat up some water for tea or cocoa..but this involves walking down the side of the mountain to the nearest stream, filling up the 2-3 gallon carrying bag, and either boiling the water or treating it for tea. It just wasn't worth it. (all while looking for bears..haha.)

Actually, our little hiking group did come across a brown bear, and I don't know who was more freaked, the bear or us. We were all walking in the woods (our group of 5 or so, as well as the bear) and we turned a corner into each other. there was about 2-3 seconds of incredulous staring on all of our parts, and then we all jumped up and down and waved arms around. The bear ran off. Fortunately, no other bears in sight.

Anyway..yesterday, did a lot of moving around, but just felt pooped. Abdominal wall was painful, but controlled with ibuprofen. BTW, I did have a small seroma on my low back where I had lipo, and that felt like a mushy water balloon. The front of the belly was getting reddened in the form of a nebulously defined triangle, with the base of the triangle at the pubes, and the tip pointing towards the belly button. I was instructed by surgeon to massage the area toward the previous drain site while in the shower. A whole lotta nothing happened.

Sis, who is also a surgeon, wanted me to switch to warm compresses instead, and I see the wisdom (increase blood flow to area, bring any infectious drainable process to a head), but the cool felt SO good. I accidentally drank 2 cups of caffeinated tea ( I could've sworn it said decaf on the package) ~10 PM, so was pretty wired. ~ 1:30 AM noticed that my shorts were wet (yes....you remember the "wetting the pants" debacle after IKEA). I waddled over to the bathroom and sure enough, there must've been a residual fluid collection upstream from the drain insertion site, because it was coming out though the drain insertion site. This is a very good thing.

The drains were draining a relatively clear serosanguenous material. This was the same stuff, but cloudy. No odor, no pus (whew), but clearly inflammatory. I felt it wasn't worth calling surgeon at 2 AM...(as an aside, I worked nights for 5 years in an ER, and I can tell you that calling surgeons at 2 AM for anything other than a partial decapitation does not win one brownie points.) Went into the shower and massaged lower abdomen, and area of induration (hard swelling, like a mosquito bite is hard) had gone down significantly. I think I got out most of the fluid as discomfort was down significantly.
Also, had taken the wound tape off the base of the "triangle" where it came up to the wound. This area was pretty irritated, and I have a few small stitch abscesses, which are no big deal. Just dressing this area with silvadene.

So looking back, I'm trying to think how this could've been avoided. I'm thrilled that the area is draining, because for any abnormal fluid collection in the body, that is the treatment...drain it, or if it finds its way out on its own..in the immortal words of the Beatles: 'let it be." I did shower with drains in place, but drain hole was covered with xeroform gauze (medicated gauze with a petroleum jelly) to prevent fluid coming in. The drains were taken out after output had def. dropped down < 30 cc/day. It is quite difficult to take care of drains coming out of the pubic area (e.g. hoo ha) in the first few days post op when mobility is limited. Did not want to defer this to the spouse, because (he will deny this) I can see him getting green in the gills at the site of any substance coming out the body. Men are such wimps. I think that is why this happened..because men are wimps.

So, yesterday morning, felt a ton more discomfort than today, and was questioning decision to go back to work, but today, feel much better. Judging how the rest of the wound feels, and how I feel in general, I know I would be inclined to be much more active had I not had this setback. Not out of the woods yet, but glad that my body is doing the appropriate thing.

So going back to work...no light duty..its all or nothing. Fortunately I can get staff to do any heavy lifting (e.g. when spouses faint at the sight of blood, we can't just leave them on the floor...) We are also having workers over to the house this week to remove paneling (a wonderful 70's era paneling decorates our living room and den...it must be destroyed), and some friends over to paint..and I have to follow up with my surgeon, obviously.

I did the last of the frantic-I'm stuck here caffeinated with nowhere to go online buying last evening. Basically gifts for friends. I have a good friend from high school with which I kept in touch with over the years, and she is one of the people who comes on my girl's trip to Hawaii. My husband calls her "cottage cheese' because she is probably the least athletic person I know. Actually, not true, but despite how she exercises, she never gains any muscle. Still looks like cottage cheese. One of the girls in the yearly Girl's group had an idea that we should all train for a marathon, and do that marathon in Patagonia (halfway across the world in Argentina!!).

Why there? I have no idea. I hate running..jogging that is. Have always hated running. With extra belly skin, hated running more. I did run track in high school, but that was sprinting, and it didn't bother me. Galloping is smoother than trotting. I grudgingly agreed to start preparations for the marathon this past Jan, but then blew out the knee skiing, so I had my doctor's excuse. Cottage Cheese took it seriously, and to her ultimate credit, is on the tail end of the training schedule and ran 20 MILES yesterday. Friends all bought tickets to Argentina and leave in 2 weeks. The friend who suggested it may be walking the race, never really trained, but I think just wants to go to Patagonia. I am so bummed I'm not going with them, but psyched that Cottage Cheese has graduated to Yogurt. If she can run a marathon, anyone can do it. Her only race to date is a 5 K this summer.

OK..spouse is doing that thing where he is looking at me again. I'm a little sluggish today because of lack of sleep (prior to area draining did an exhaustive search of potential complications with abdominoplasty and was worried about how I was going to find time to drive to Chicago to see surgeon for my festering wounds..) Also, cat took it upon himself to become king of the pillow pyramid which decorates the bed, and refuses to give it up. Even when I was trying to sleep, he was basically on my head, unrelinquishing. Amazing how an 8 lb animal can hold one hostage.

If you are so inclined to check out the good, the bad and the ugly regarding abdominoplasty, I found a textbook chapter of it online which details different techniques. Some graphic pics you have been warned. :)

Continued healing!

oops, correction

Oops, that's Chilean Patagonia, not Argentina. I think they're hitting Argentina and Peru on the trip..had it in my mind.

Return to Work.

Somewhat pooped after a full day at work. No one commented on my gait or appearance, which is good..means it doesn't look too far from normal. My scrubs are loose on the upper waist, different from normal (normally tighter) and about the same fit in lower belly if not slightly looser from before the procedure.
It was pretty discombobulating to be back at it after a few weeks off, but after 2-3 hrs I felt the brain started to engage and I got the hang of the ridiculous computer system.

Did not sleep last night at all from general whatever..so went into work kinda blah..but after a few cups of coffee we were off to the races.

Still dealiing with this latent draining seroma or drain tract in lower abdomen. No fever, and no real pain, but I feel like there is a hard lemon (cut in half) in there. I get out small amounts of cloudy seroma fluid (not pus) after massaging lower abdomen. I don't think its infected, but I would like to see it draining more. Since there is already a drain tract open, I'm just trying to express fluid out a few times per day. It doesn't come out on its own. I'm sure you're all transfixed. I know that if this was expanding without drainage I would've driven my butt down to the surgeon's office today prior to work, but if its draining, there's not much he's going to do except either aspirate it or put in another drain. :(

So everyone talks about how pooped they are after going to work. I am to some degree, but I have to say that it was good to be back in the mix. Maybe I *shocker* just like my job. :) I moved around much more today that I have in the past 2 weeks, and it was good. Job involves constant walking around the ER, bending, sitting at desk for chart entry, and rarely, major muscle stuff (if I have to manipulate dislocated hips, etc..this I would not be able to do in current condition).
I don't notice any additional swelling except my lower abdominal 'lemon' is the same. To be honest, except for the general swelling, which I know will go away, and the lemon swelling, I am not feeling too bad! Not up to full exercise, but it did a lot of good to go to work. Will monitor swelling and see if I notice something later. I wore a boyshort high waisted flexees girdle thing because I couldn't handle a full upper body CG if I needed to go to the bathroom. This seemed to do the trick pretty nicely. On days off, I think I will go back to standard CG because then I can hit the bathroom ad lib.

So I'm sitting with a heating pad on the belly massaging it right now, seeing if I can get anything else out of this lemon. My surgeon is curious what my ( very limited) ultrasound shows, if i can get a pic of it with the ER ultrasound machine...and I'm curious if he's going to just stick a needle in there and see what goes. To be honest, would prefer that...just get it over with.

Well..still have another hour of charting to do. Back to work wasn't that bad!!

Now I am getting what all the fuss is about!

OK! Long day. Another drive down to Chicago for the 2 week (really, 2.5 week) follow up. My abdomen is feeling much improved after small seroma basically drained itself (with some considerable but gentle manipulation on my part) through my old drain site. Still pretty swollen in lower abdomen, but this is now back to just normal post operative stuff that I was expecting.

SO I grabbed the ultrasound machine at work and checked out my abdomen. I could only find a few clear pockets of fluid, and at that, really only one over my sacral area where I have had drained twice before. The stuff in the front is either being absorbed by my body, or has largely drained out. I could see all the areas of edema though; they looked different on ultrasound than say, my arm would look. Of course, my surgeon is getting a kick out of the fact that I brought in my own ultrasound printout, although it was not very accurate on the low back...I couldn't see what I was doing..ha. But, it did show him roughly where to stick me with needles, so I did get some fluid drained, but not much.

Most of the visit was, yet again, spouse and surgeon comparing mutual friends from childhood..while I'm naked and being poked with a needle in my low back. Spouse also was eating a sandwich during the exam. After the sandwich was done, he asked the surgeon when we can start having sex. Ha. I was mortified, but then thought about it, I suppose it is a very legitimate question. Surgeon doesn't blink an eye and says give it another few weeks. Spouse has no shame, which is probably why I married him. :)

So while we were in the N. Chicago suburbs on the way home, we stopped at a thrift store/resale shop. The great thing about this store is that its in a nice neighborhood, so people drop off designer duds and the store resells them for charity. I was eyeballing a pair of Paige jeans normally $150 new, but marked down to (brace for it...$12!!!) But, they weren't in my size. BUT...I realized that this is a great place to buy one or two things while I have this transitional body.

Got a pair of Talbot's jeans with embroidery on the side for $7..and they were a size 10 (I usually run 10, 12 on a bad day) and THE WAIST WAS LOOSE. I finally see what all the fuss is about!! When people say that they have an AHA moment after this surgery..that was mine. Usually, I'm able to button the waist after manipulating all the midline gunk on my body...and these went on and zipped up without a fuss. Funny, my upper outer thighs are slightly swollen, which is making my waist look even smaller.

So I continued this trend at home and decided to go shopping in my own closet. Although I still have lower abdominal swelling, I got out a few sweater dresses that I had in the closet and tried them on. Everything looks so much better on me! No more fighting with the zipper! No more pouch in the front!

On top of this, have not weighed myself. Surgeon says I'm still likely carrying 5-10 lbs of fluid weight from the surgery. I cannot wait to start exercising again. My biggest hurdle will be taking it easy! Our house has been taken over by plasterers putting up a texture in the kitchen, den, living, room, hallways and two bedrooms. the entire main floor is coated in red rosin paper and draped in plastic. I just want to paint something, but getting up on a ladder and reaching overhead constantly will likely not be too healthy for surgical recovery. But, can start using the elliptical without arms next week, so looking forward to it. Advised to exercise with a CG or supportive garment on. I bought a gym elliptical (precor) machine refurbished on eBay about 7 years ago, and have never looked back. It has already paid for itself several times over. It does not pass GO or collect $200. It also is not a storage vessel for laundry. I usually put 3-5 lb weights on either wrist and just run on the elliptical for an hour 4+ times per week . 3 lbs doesn't seem like much, until you do 5000 curls with it. Will have to hold off the wrist weights until cleared to do so. Husband is hounding me about salt....and then he goes and makes a pound of bacon. WTF, over?

OK, rambling. Just realized that its after 2 AM. Am back to usual circadian rhythm of bed @ 4 AM, up at 11 AM. Hope all is well with everyone!

Compression garment updates

I ordered a few CG's from the net.. I wish there was a local store to try them on..these are not a one size fits all kind of thing, no question about it. I find that I can tolerate a medical grade CG for about 12-14 hrs before I am ready to kill someone. The size I pick usually fits everywhere except my ribcage, which is too small. I may have to take some of these to a seamstress to make a notch or open them up a bit at the top so I don't get that lack of venous blood return to the heart thing going on. I think they do help with swelling.
At night, I'm wearing more of a seamless Spanx-type thing. I find that I've turned into the "princess and the pea". You remember that story of the test to see who is the princess..she was the one who could feel the pea placed under several mattresses. That is me. Any little seam or bunched up whatever under the body, especially when sleeping..seems to irritate the snot out of me. I think it is the numbness that I have in the lower abdomen and low back from the procedure, its numb, but there's an altered sensation of pressure there. Wearing clothes with belt loops for instance..if I sit in a seat, the belt loop is incredibly annoying. I know that some of the numbness may be permanent, but I also know that a lot of these peripheral nerves regenerate over the next year or so (like my overstressed remaining lymphatics....hamsters in wheels going crazy!!!)

So the fabrics on these garments are very different from each other:
Design Veronique is more scratchy, but iron clad. Isavella (comprexxwear) has a ton of lycra in it, and is much softer, but not quite as iron clad. I already had a Leonisa garment that I bought as a sucker punch purchase after seeing an ad in the "SkyMall" magazine while flying. Well, that one is pretty iron clad too.

The open crotch (love saying that) thing was a complete godsend as a stage I garment..for drains, maneuvering, etc. As a stage II, it just irritates the heck out of the pubic area. I'm wearing seamless undies underneath to help with that, but then using the restroom becomes a challenge. Will see how to get around that. Its all about not peeing on the compression garment, right? ha.

I think as far as these compression garments go, I am not looking to torture myself, pass out, endure that much discomfort for beauty, etc. I paid someone to do that to me already. ha. The swelling on my body will have to go down in its own time, and in the meantime will wear the most bearable garment I can for each occasion.
So far the winner is the isavella. Still pretty compressive, but not chafing (except at the crotch) and very wearable.

Day out, lots of driving. 3 weeks Post OP

Drove down to Chicago area again yesterday for mom's birthday, and hanging out with three siblings and spouses. Wore the isavella compression garment, not too bad until the end of the evening where things were getting irritated around the "open crotch". I'm just wearing underwear under the CG and making sure that nothing is bunched up. Bathroom trips have been an exercise in balance, poise, and stepwise coordination.

Typical bathroom trip:

Outfit: something with elastic in it.
CG: boyshort crotchless worn with seamless underwear underneath.
Step 1: If wearing crotchless CG, remove pants/shorts/skirt. I find that if I don't do this, said garment will end up on the floor of the bathroom, and public or mixed use (e.g. male/female) bathrooms do not have um...dry floors. As an aside, I can tell you some interesting trivia about outhouses and why they have a moon on the door, but I digress.
Step2: Pre-rip toilet paper and have immediately handy.
Step 3: ensure "crotchless" garment has not shifted so that the aperture is not actually covering the intended orifice for use.
Step 4: shift underwear to side, allowing one to use facilities.
Step 5: deftly holding underwear to side, use pre-ripped toilet paper. Note about this step: failure to do step 2 first will result in a rebound of underwear over unblotted groin, and more laundry, more quickly.
Step 6: wash hands thoroughly.
Step 7: Usually people are wondering if I am OK at this point and/or a single use bathroom in a public place has a long line outside with people eyeing me warily as I exit.
Corollary to this: CG's that have no opening and must be pulled down around knees involve complete removal of all clothing and doubling of bathroom time.

Wow. All that driving really made me sore. Or...maybe its that funny e-mail I read from my friend which had me laughing hysterically... regardless, I find that prolonged sitting is now not my best modus operandi. Spouse konked out in the car on the way home so I got to crank the tunes and speed all I wanted (he usually hounds me about both) and we made it home in record time.

Was dying to get out of the CG. Family commented positively on my appearance, especially as most of them have not seen me since the immediate post-op period, when I was the height of fashion in my Stage I skin-colored CG packed with foam, whining about my back spasm. I think I permanently traumatized my sister's husband when I came home from surgery and could not get out of bed without two-person assist. I know HE didn't sign up for this..haha. I need to buy them some meat and send it in the mail. Fruit or flowers just wont do for a gift.

Work hasn't been too bad. I actually have not taken any ibuprofen for a few days because the discomfort wasn't enough to warrant it. Laughing spells, however, will make the gut ache. Ha.

I'm planning on trying to paint some rooms during days off. Spouse has great philosophy that we should solicit 3 quotes for every home job and take the best person for the job. Great, except that then he bitches about how much people charge to do the work, but he won't do it himself. I am a little frustrated here as my way of doing things is doing them myself, but I just cant do the lifting or bending right now. We have 11 rooms that need to be primed and painted, each one with wood ceilings one needs to carefully cut in...and it is going to take awhile. I did talk spouse into getting 5 gallons of Zinzer primer today, at least that's a start. Working overnight, so will take a nap in the AM tomorrow, then start with the primer. :)

Hope all are well!

Painting walls and abdominoplasty...

well, dealing with sore abs. Nothing particularly swollen, but whole abdomen very sore after priming two larger rooms. It is very difficult to NOT do something. I don't think I'm going to rip anything, but how do you take it slow??? I suppose pain may be a key rate-limiting factor here... ha.

Would type more, but only have 10 hrs between shifts, and sleep factored in there somewhere. Hope all is well with everyone!

3.5 weeks pics

Here are some pics from 3.5 weeks post op. I was looking at my pics from POD 7, and although the total amount of swelling has gone down (can tell from the way my clothes are fitting) I still have a lot of local swelling in the immediate scar area. You can see this best on the side view...still looks like a pooch out in front! It is still so much better than the pre-op, and clothes still fit me so much better; I am still completely thrilled with the results!
Again, since I had extended abdominoplasty, my scar extends much further around the body (this made for some really fun adventures in attempted sleeping, let me just say) and I also had lipo of flanks and low back/presacral area, so will still have swelling in those areas.
Every day is a small improvement!

Tried exercise..felt good!

Got up on the elliptical yesterday and did some moderate work for about 15 min. Just a trial. Normally I strap on 5 lb wrist weights and more or less run on the thing for 45-60 min a day, but today I did no weights, just the exercise. My PS wants me to avoid excessive arm movements. I note that when I moved the arms (like one would with a brisk walk) I felt it pulling quite a bit in the flanks and abs. BUT...the exercise felt good, and I need to get my legs and butt back in shape for ski season and those downhill burn runs (if the knee holds out). Either way, I am psyched to get back into shape! My surgeon did his job, now I need to pick up the pieces and carefully do my job. In fact...I need to get off the computer and exercise before work today!
WHoo whoo!

Complement at work!

Not that I was fishing for it...but I was finally pulled aside by someone at work who asked me if I was losing weight!!!!! Whoo hoo!! Again, at work, I pretty much wear shapeless scrubs so it is not easy to make out any body shape, but it was good for someone to notice!
Funny thing is the complement was very nice, I also felt like I was cheating a little and taking a shortcut to a trim body. Of course, no amount of diet an exercise will get rid of loose skin, so its kind of a catch 22, but still....Didn't tell the coworker about the surgery, but it did make me realize that it is important to hold up my end of the deal and eat well and exercise.

Went for a brisk walk yesterday, and it did pull a little on the sides with walking. Nothing major, but did notice it. I love my elliptical, but the weather is just too nice to ignore the outdoors! Leaves aren't changing quite yet, but I can feel fall is around the corner!

I booked at trip to the Bahamas for a conference in November, just under 2 months from now (shoot..have to dig up my passport from the monstrous pile of boxes that we have not unpacked..harumph). I find myself looking at 2 piece swimsuits online.

Now previously, I didn't mind swimsuits except for the fact that they were impossible to find the right one to fit my body. I was basically a square (body shape, that is..haha). Wide shoulders, big boobs, short torso, stocky middle. Hips were not wide, but, well, square. The torso on the suit was just too long, or the suit didn't have enough support for the boobs. I spent YEARS perfecting my technique for finding the perfect suit: no long torso, spaghetti strap, high back, underwire bra blah blah blah. Not that this is a bad thing, but I may need to rethink my suit strategy.

I had blinders on to two pieces, even tankinis, only because the tire around the lower abdomen was prohibitive. I didn't want to be THAT GIRL on the beach, you know the one who is dressed in the bikini and should not be.
When I was in college, I lived in FL for 4 years, and went to the beach nearly every day, even if just to go swimming for the afternoon. It was about a 5 mile bike ride down the coast to the beach access from my school, so a nice ride. We used to watch the tourists, and I have to say that I have seen EVERY body type in a swimsuit. I was in college during that whole period when neon thong bikinis were the rage, but causing a stir amongst the more conservative crowd. Some people..locals or tourists...would wear the thongs, and the local police, spurred on by the conservative morality groups (Florida is actually a separate country from the US, I found) would go around and ticket people for wearing thongs.
I was at the beach one day, and the guy near us, just to throw off the police, brought out a 3-hole blow up doll which he dressed in a thong. hee hee. He set the doll up on a towel next to him as if she was sunbathing. Of course, when we looked over, my first thought was, "gee, that woman should really put on sunscreen." And...the doll was like a shining beacon of rubber and plastic pulling the police to her like moths to a flame. At least three cops stopped by, ticket in hand, and then realized that this was not a real person, so of course, the thong was thus not publicly obscene. The whole scenario was so ridiculous, and the man's only comment to police was, "cheapest date I've ever had." The police would then stumble away scratching their heads, no doubt having an existential crisis over first amendment rights and their role in the executive branch of government...not...ha.

But, I have seen every body style in a bathing suit and feel that even those with a middle can wear something classy and functional...it just may be a muu muu in black. Ha.

But navigating though the world of two pieces...this is going to be an interesting challenge.....

7 weeks post op

Doing well 7 weeks post op. Pooped as multiple visitors/house guests at house over past 2 weeks, and house is demiliarized zone. Also flew to DC for family wedding last weekend, and trying to figure out what to wear was exhausting. This is a blessing, of course, but all old clothes fit oddly, in that still some swelling in low back and abdomen, but now everything is baggy there. :) Picked out an old dress which was now a total dream to zip up, and many family complements at the wedding regarding this.
Also went shopping for swimsuits...no store in the midwest sells swimsuits this time of year except upscale ones, and so laid out a fair amount of cash for two.. ****drumroll*** TWO PIECE swimsuits. I have no recollection of ever wearing a two piece suit in my life...save when I was an infant. I will upload pics, but right now have realized that multiple weeks of not working out after surgery have made me a little out of shape, and lack of any exposure to natural sunlight has left the skin pasty. Ha.

I did snap a photo of a swim bottom that I bought prior to the surgery, but now I can actually wear this!!! I think it will be good for paddleboarding. No nonsense with this one.

I didn't realize (well, I did, but it has been a gradual change) what a major change this surgery was until I saw some of my "before" photos in the MD file in the office..the pre-surgical ones where you have to dress up in that god awful paper thong thing and have the surgeon mark you up and take photos. Yow. I didn't really look at myself in that kind of 15 megapixel detail in the past. Needless to say, it appears that the camera added about 40 lbs. I can't say how thrilled I am to have completed this surgery, and wish that I had done it years ago. If you are hesitating for any other reason than safety, well, don't. Nuff said.

7 week pic

had problems uploading pic on last post. Here is a sample.

Few more 7 week post op pics

Site snafu? Having attachment problems. Sorry for blurry pics. :) Tommy Bahama suits to wear for trips south :) I like the skirts as you can walk around easily, but pull them up for sunning. :0)

4 month update! Still loving it!

So, 4 months after extended abdominoplasty. It seems all a blur, but because my clothes are fitting so much better, it is hard to forget. Some general things: my weight is about what it was pre surgery. With the holidays, possibly a bit more (2-3 lbs at most).

I never looked at this surgery as a weight loss venture, but the fact that I had 5+ lbs of tissue removed makes me wonder about the stay in weight. I do still notice some swelling, but it is not the end-all be-all edema that I was having after surgery. I have long stopped wearing any compression garment, although they do feel good. Honestly, I think the weight thing is 90% food-related. Ha. Somewhere around halloween, I found myself sneaking snacks here and there (you know...the "only for today" snack) which turned into an all-out fest where I was doing a drive by chocolate chip munchie grab from the impulse-buy industrial bag of Costo chocolate chips. Fortunately, no major weight gain, because I've been exercising like crazy, but stress eating and snacking could undo all this hard work. It does not help being married to the "EAT-OR". Husband can pack away 5000+ calories in a sitting, and being in the house with him during the winter puts me in proximity to the food. I love food.

But...a few things about the 4 month post-op period. My abdomen looks fabulous. Even with the modest salt-related swelling, it still looks fabulous. I have noted a shift of how I carry a few lbs..now they have migrated to buttocks and upper thighs. As I can see a day to day change in this (e.g. same pants will fit differently in AM vs PM) I realize that there is still a reasonable swelling component. My lymphatic channels which were disrupted with surgery are still rebuilding themselves. (I patiently wait in the rafters...) As I never had a lot of 'oomph' in this area before, it really isn't that bad at all. Spouse has named it the "gadonkgadonk".

As an aside, I am working out 5-6 days per week agressively on the lower body getting ready for a ski trip out west. Yes...I did blow my knee out last year this time, causing a delay in my abdominoplasty surgery as I was on crutches for 2 months..but I just love the sport so much, can't stop. So, working on continued strengthening of the gimp leg...tons of lunges, daily squats, 45 min on elliptical. Still doing pushups etc. I think the lower body strengthening is also beefing up the butt and legs, so I'm taking it all with a grain of salt. I would take strength and bigger size any day of the year over flabby and weak. My legs rock, and now I feel that I have a stomach that matches. :)

Numbness. I don't see people talking a lot about this on here. I am and will probably be permanently numb around the area of the scar as well as a few inches below and above it. This was initially pretty disconcerting to me, but over time I got used to it. I think that one of the reasons people like to continue to wear compression garments or supportive garments is that movement around a numb area..jiggling or clothes rubbing etc...feels weird. Again, something that I don't see mentioned on here much..but the numbness encroaches on my groin and one of my fav erogenous zones. Relations with the spouse are fine, but I don't like being touched much on the lower abdomen around the scar now. Not to be gross....but the "hoo-ha" is fine. Ha. This is not a game changer, and I would still definately do the surgery all over again, but it is something to keep in mind if that is important to you.

OK. Will try to take some pics today and upload them.

4 months post..still loving it!

Oops..one more photo!

One more!!

8.5 months later, loving results!

Havent been on in awhile, but still loving how clothes fitting! Still a little food related swelling off and on, but everything buttons nicely! Abt 5lbs up from pre-surgery weight. (Winter. Nuff said.)
Beach selfie posted above. Cant believe the "pre" pics!!!

One Year Update to Extended Abdominoplasty

Just returned from a yearly girl's trip and had received a reminder from RealSelf about updating my profile after one year. Technically, its been 13 months, but who's counting? As pictures tell a thousand words, I have some to post here. I wasn't posing specifically for RealSelf in the bathroom mirror, so the angles may be off. However, these are an accurate reflection of how I look during "real time."
How do I feel? Great! It is so fabublous to pick out clothing and put it on without worrying about "sucking it in" for pictures, or buttoning the pants/shorts/whatever. Am I skinny? No, but that's not what I expected from this surgery. I was able to throw on a 2 piece (!!!!!!) swimsuit and go paddleboarding and hiking without worrying about cover-ups, or my excess skin hanging over the shorts. The pics below from hiking are in Kauai through some pretty muddy areas. I posted some stuff on FB and a few friends commented on my abs! Ha. I don't do situps, but I do pushups to work the whole back and abs at the same time.

At one year, I don't think about the surgery that often. It seems a very long time ago! I am still numb around the scar in about 2 inches in each direction. The scar has faded significantly to a silvery pink color. I suspect it will look like a faded stretch mark (in terms of color) when all is said and done. I had some puckering near the old drain site on the mons, and my surgeon released tension on this in the office and now it is not noticable. (He didn't have to use anesthetic at all because of the numbness...but being medical, I was sufficiently grossed out...only because I knew exactly what he was doing with the scalpel at all times...professional pitfall. eew.)

So I've identified two potential downsides to this procedure: 1) new wardrobe costs money. Ha. 2) I now am thinking about having my boobs done. I think its like getting a tattoo...if its good, you want more. Many women get the "mommy makeover" with mammoplasty in addition to the abdominoplasty. I had a more extensive abdominal procedure and (rightly so) did not feel that I could 'stomach' everything at once from the healing perspective. I had a few long discussions with my girlfriends on the girls trip regarding this. We are all in our 40's and it seems that we all have similar breast ptosis issues. Only one of us had breastfed, but 3 of us had rather large weight loss and DEFLATION. Right now, only large amounts of spandex, inversion therapy, and body armor are keeping my boobs up. I've been looking into what I will call surgical 'anti-gravity' options for this, and although I have the ultimate respect for my plastic surgeon ( in fact, referred a friend to him for breast lift and implants, and she looks great!!) I do not undere any circumstances want implants.

I found a surgeon on RealSelf whom I've contacted for mammoplasty. Will update and write a new review if I go through with it (thinking Feb/Mar after ski season...priorities!!). Spouse not keen on the surgery, but he wasn't with the abdominoplasty either, and he definately likes the results. I have upper back pain from the DD's, and now that I don't need to wear a scuba suit to fit into a dress, it is much more apparrent to me that the boobs are out of proportion. Again, ladies (and gentlemen) remember that you are choosing to do these surgeries electively, and if you aren't doing it for yourself, that you have to re-evaluate the appropriateness of surgery in the first place.

If anyone has questions about my procedure in general or whatever, PM me and I will get back to you in a reasonably timely fashion.

1 year update pics

Pics didn't upload. :/
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Thrilled with results, artistry (even down to what I call 'dealer's choice' belly button!) and responsiveness! Office staff fantastic with great detail memories. Not in the least disappointed!

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