OK, this is going to be a long update including all the things I would liked to have known about this experience. I hope it's helpful and you don't fall asleep!
I arrived for the pre-op appointment on Friday afternoon. I was there from 1pm to around 4pm in the end and by then the aircon had chilled me to the bone, so wrap up! I met Dr Poomee's wife in the waiting room and we had a bit of a chat before I went in to see him. He was very sprightly and cheerful and talked me through the procedure. I wanted some info about scar placement and dog ears etc so that I could manage my expectations, which he discussed honestly. He said there are usually dog ears unless you extend the scars quite a lot, but he said they often flatten by themselves and if not it was very quick and easy to correct them under local anaesthetic once the swelling had gone down. He said he would try to place the scar as low as possible but that the final outcome depended on how much loose skin there was below it, because if there's a lot, it allows the scar to move up with tension. I am quite baggy down there (yuck!) so I knew this would be an issue for me. I put my underwear on in a slightly higher position that I normally would and he said the scar would likely extend a bit from the top waist band at the ends. Once I pulled them up to what I would call 'mum levels' - (sensible but not granny high!!) he said yes, that would probably cover the scar. So it's sensible bikini bottoms for me after this op, at least until the scar fades. He talked me through all the stages and explained that I would only have to keep the drains in for two days because of the newer stitching technique he uses (when he pulls the skin down, he uses lots of small stitches along the way to reattach it to the fascia inside, so the skin is attached more tightly and there's less of a big gap for fluid to build up). He gave me some antibiotics to start taking straight away, told me not to take anything that could cause bleeding (NSAIDs, vit E etc) and he'd see me in the morning. Then I went and paid upfront to the cashier and did some tests (blood test, ECG and chest x-ray because I'm and old lady of 44).
I was nervous and ready to burst into tears on the morning of the operation and it seemed like I was whisked in very quickly after all these years of waiting . Before I knew it I was on my back, arms out while they apply monitoring pads, tubes and the gas mask before drifting into unconciousness. It didn't help that I had to remove my contact lenses and so was blind as a bat. Felt very vulnerable and when Wannie (Mrs Poomee - the sugeon's wife) held my hand as I went under I was ready to start blubbing!
Next thing I knew I was coming round in the recovery room, trussed up in dressings, a bra and binder and feeling very panicky and sorry for myself indeed! Very sick, dizzy, miserable, vulnerable and like I was about to vomit, in fact I thought I already had, but I don't know if I actually did. This was the worst part of the experience. I was being sporadically jostled about on the bed by a lot of young nurses who were all squabbling and gabbing on to each other across me and it felt like I was at the mercy of a lot of Saturday shop girls which was alarming when I felt so vulnerable and clueless. I really wanted there to be a 'grown-up' to take charge and help me and shush them all. I felt quite frightened and miserable and there were communication problems due to my language being very slurred and knowing no Thai, and their busyness and limited English. They kept messing about with my catheter and arguing about it in Thai so I was worried there was a problem. They weren't unkind, just insensitive. Once they understood they gave me a sick bowl and anti-nausea meds. Really I just wanted to be left alone and for a calm older person to say "there there, just relax, everything's OK, nothing to worry about you silly old woman."
They put some pneumatic leg squeezer things on my legs at some point - possibly before the op, to prevent DVT. I loved them and the massaging action was quite a good distraction from all the nausea and discomfort. They took them off when they de-catheterised me on the Sunday - bye bye old friends!!!
Later they took me up to my room where my husband was waiting and I was very pleased to see him, though still quite out of it. I still felt very nauseous and miserable and was terrified of vomiting because of the pain in my abdominal muscles and not wanting to tear the stitches - and just because vomiting is the worst!
From waking up in the recovery room until late on Sunday I felt so rotten that I regretted doing this. If I could have snapped my fingers and just hopped off the bed and gone back to how I was before the op I would have done. If a friend had asked me if they should do it themselves, I'd have said 'no, don't!' I think this was largely because of the medication involved in the general anaesthetic and/or the pain relief that was given intravenously (an opioid). Until that was all out of my system I felt completely wretched, nauseous, dizzy, scared, guilty, and foolish. I was also quite shocked at the level of incapacitation the op involves - I didn't realise how vulnerable it would make me feel. Of course I did know what was involved, I just didn't truly 'get it' until I did it. You daren't move an inch for ages and you're just stuck, very uncomfortable in the bed and you feel very very vulnerable. I also hated the canula that was still stuck in my left hand and stayed until I was discharged - it goes right through me and reminds me of the time my husband grabbed my hand and SQUEEEEEZED with excitement when my daughter was born. I coudn't feel a thing from the birth, I was screaming because he was jamming the bloody needle further and further into my hand!!! I also got a very sore neck, throat and headache from the weird sleeping position and that, the nausea and the canula were what bothered me most, my boobs and stomach being largely numb, though the stomach muscles are very sore, like a major stitch or cramp.
ANYWAY - once the meds were out of my system it was like the sky cleared and the sun came out! Everything started to seem manageable and I started to tentatively imagine a good outcome! Must just say here that I can't believe that I often considered doing this on my own. Now I can't imagine how much worse it would have been if I hadn't had my lovely husband with me. I really needed that support, practically and emotionally. And he gave me a life-saving neck, head and face massage when I had the drug hangover from hell - darling man! That made up for 'the canula incident' 13 years ago.
After we established that I didn't want any more sick-making opioids, I was given 1 x 500mg Tylenol every six hours and antibiotics twice a day I think. I asked them to up the Tylenol to the recommended dose of 2 x 500mg tabs per dose, as per the Tylenol website. They eventually agreed but had to get the doctor's approval to do so and as it was Sunday they couldn't get hold of him for a while. Apparently the lower dose had been prescribed because of some recent findings about Tylenol side effects or something. To me, there's about as much point in taking one Tylenol as there is in using one clove of garlic in your cooking :-)
I have been kept in a position of back of bed raised and knees raised at all times, apparently this helps relieve tension on the scar.
Sleeping was surprisingly OK, uncomfortable but possible. I just woke up a few times but easily went back to sleep. I was offered a sleeping tablet on both nights I was in the hospital but declined - I can usually sleep for England!
Woke with a splitting headache on Sunday which just got worse all day - like a super massive hangover headache that was making me feel nauseous again. Begged for more Tylenol - it was a while before they agreed to give me two per dose. Early doors on Sunday Dr Poomee arrived to say all had gone well and check how I was. I think Mrs Poomee came too and said they should take the catheter out and I should get up to pee. About mid-morning they did this and around lunchtime I shuffled bent over and very very very tentatively on the arms of two nurses to the bathroom. I was surprised to feel as though my breath was taken away and I couldn't speak at first when I was vertical - something to do with your diaphragm no doubt. It's improved every time. The nurses gave me a bit of a wipe down with some clean facecloths and then shuffle shuffle shuffle back to bed.
I won't lie, the binders and bra band are tight and uncomfortable all the time. And I'm really sick of tape stuck on me.
Went to the loo a few more times. It got easier each time. Had to try really really hard not to laugh - trust me DON'T LAUGH OR COUGH at the ridiculousness of the bathroom shuffle. At one point my husband was holding my hand as I shuffled along bent over and I said, and instantly regretted saying 'Aw look, it's like you're taking a chimpanzee for a walk'. DON'T LAUGH!
Oh, forgot to say, I've also been taking daily arnica pills for bruising, colace for constipation and vitamin C for healing from about Wednesday before the op on Saturday. Also had a glass of prune juice on Monday and hey bingo! no constipation!
Monday the drains came out - not pleasant but not terrible. Mrs Poomee (who is a nurse) did it with another nurse. They also changed my dressings and binder. Said I must keep it on, no shower before the appointment on Weds. Later that day checked out of hospital with some more Tylenol and anti-biotics and an appointment card for Wednesday back at the clinic.
Felt like a right idiot in my tracksuit and sunglasses sitting in the wheelchair to go home. Took a bumpy no-seatbelted taxi to the hotel (get an Uber instead, don't know why we didn't). Paranoid about catching a cough or cold from EVERYONE - cannot face the thought of coughing or sneezing.
On arrival at the hotel, crawled out of the taxi and bent over like a demented Mrs Overall attempted to scuttle round the umpteen staff determined to block the path and ceremoniously 'Sawadee Ka!' me while I tried to flee to the shame and privacy of our room!!
Today is Tuesday lunchtime. Still sore but somehow not as much as I thought I'd be. I thought it'd be the incisions that would cause pain, but apart from feeling a little tender and sometimes a bit prickly, they're not a problem. The abdominal muscles are the main concern - still terrified of coughing or making a sudden movement. Eating light but regularly and drinking lots of water. Trying to steer clear of salt to minimise swelling and anything that might constipate me. Watching lots of telly. Lovely husband is going back to Singapore today because he needs to attend something with our daugthter. Will be sorry to see him go but feeling more confident and able every day. Right now, can't imagine going to an airport with a suitcase myself, but maybe by Tuesday (which will be 10 days post-op) I'll feel quite differently. I'll get help at airport just in case I still need it.
Too scared to take off all the bindings and dressings right now but have attached a couple of photos that show a good boob uplift so i'm pleased about that, though I have to say from the view looking down at them they don't look pleasingly round like boobs with an implant do. I opted for lift, no implant. Still, much better than they were.
Oh, one last funny thing - my husband started to open one of two red plastic bags they sent back up to the room with me in hospital thinking it was my pre-op clothes. Thank God before he got it open the nurse told him that my old stomach skin was in one and my lipo fat was in the other!!!!!!! Poor man would have fainted!!! We couldn't get the nurses to throw it away (even though I had signed a form saying I didn't want it) and they seemed surprised we didn't want to see it! I suppose people might be curious but if you're squeamish like me, DO NOT OPEN any mystery red bags!