6/30/16 Tummy Tuck and Lipo. Houston, TX

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I'll be having my Tummy Tuck tomorrow and thought...

I'll be having my Tummy Tuck tomorrow and thought I'd go ahead and get a thread started here! Would love some words of encouragement as I go along.

I have four kids, ages 8, 6, 3, and 1. They were all pretty big, and I gained a lot of weight with my first, so I had a diastasis from the time my first child was born that only worsened after each pregnancy. Over the course of all four pregnancies, I gained 40 lbs., and at this point, I've lost 20. I am 5'5" and currently weigh approx. 157. I work out (weight training and varying levels of cardio) between one and three times a week. My weight has changed significantly, but thanks to the weight training and a (mostly!) healthy diet, so has my body composition. The diastasis will never go away, though, and this summer is my window for having a long recovery, so now is the best time for me to have surgery.

I have been super nervous about this procedure. With any surgery, you accept the risks involved, but the difference between this one and the other major surgeries I've had (four C-sections) is that this one is voluntary. When you have a baby in you, there's no going back. You just want to choose the birth that has the best chance of seeing everyone through safely. With a tummy tuck, I have at times felt like I'm assuming unnecessary risks, and why would a mama assume unnecessary risks when she has four small kids who need her?

That said, I am also really excited about getting a tummy tuck. I feel I have dealt with looking five months pregnant really well, eventually reaching a point where I am able to sincerely think to myself, "Well, I DO look pregnant, so there's nothing wrong with that child [or adult!] ASKING about it. It's only natural that they would." However, it will be such a relief not to think about how my belly looks in every single outfit--not to think about it 15 times a day, in general, actually. It'll be wonderful to wear dresses again (I have avoided them for years because they all look like maternity on me). It'll be fantastic not to look at photos of myself on a day when I thought I looked good, only to discover that from a certain angle, that belly was fairly prominent, and now it's captured forever. It'll be great not to call my abdomen a "belly!" And another big lifestyle change will be my willingness to get in a pool or in the ocean with my kids, which I have not done unless I'm pregnant for several years.

I am going to have a little lipo, as well. My doctor (whose aesthetic expertise I trust completely) has suggested that in order to create an aesthetic unit, I should have some lipo on my waist, hips, and outer thighs to bring them into proportion with my new, flatter tummy. And because even after losing 20 lbs. my arm measurements have not changed, I am considering that "stubborn fat" that won't come off with diet and exercise and will also have a minimal amount of lipo on my upper arms.

All this said, though, can I just add an aside here? Having a pretty significant deformation has given me some perspective--who freaking cares if my thighs could be 2" smaller or if my boobs could be a little more filled in? Who cares if I have a little cellulite? Those things used to give me such anxiety, but not anymore. They seem so small, compared to the issue of my abdomen, that overall I am much gentler and more accepting of the rest of me, realizing that those imperfections are truly normal. They would have kept me from playing at the beach, once upon a time, but not anymore.

So I have three major sources of anxiety about my procedure tomorrow: 1.) that I come through safely, 2.) that the recovery goes smoothly (no complications like bleeding or DVT), and 3.) the pain. Apparently, because I will have such extensive muscle repair, the pain is likely to be worse than your typical tummy tuck, and worse than a C-section (which I was SO glad to be done with). I'm not a weenie, but I'm not an easygoing patient when it comes to pain, either. I asked for prayer from some moms at my church on all these issues, and I honestly have not had any more panicky days or extreme anxiety. I do still worry about everything some, but not to the same extent. I know it is the power of prayer, and I'm so thankful for it. I do still plan to take a Xanax tonight to help me sleep, though!

See y'all in a couple days!

4 days post op

Look at all those awesome comments! I love to see y'all encouraging one another (and me!).

My surgery went well, and my recovery is going as expected. I am tired of sitting on my butt, though. Of course, I don't want to get up and do things, either! Dang it! It's a no win situation!

The good stuff: Thing 1: my four kids are happy with my parents, which means my husband and I are getting a break. It only took major surgery for us to catch up on our sleep, right?? Thing 2: Also, he has not always been the most attentive or intuitive caretaker when I've been sick before, but y'all, I can say that he is ON IT this time. Even the visiting nurse who came to the house was impressed at what a good job he's doing. Thing 3: I don't know what I'd have done without my Granny's lift recliner. Seriously, if you get a TT, beg or rent one. It's worth it. Thing 4: even though I don't feel so hot--I'm bruised, hunched over, sore, kind of itchy, and I have the runs because the laxative they recommended won't freaking wear off (TMI, sorry)--my husband and best friend are telling me I actually look pretty awesome. If they see a lot of improvement even with my compression garments on, then yay.

I have not had a terribly depressed down day, which I fully expected by now. I'm not sure why. Maybe I got all that anxiety out before surgery. Maybe the Exparel (which I don't think every doc uses) has really helped control my pain and thus my outlook. Or maybe it's the Xanax.... My husband left to go shoot fireworks with the kids for a couple hours, and that has made me feel more lonely than I normally would be, but other than that, I'm good so far.

The pain has definitely been bad from time to time, but I think the doc has controlled it well. I took my narcotic on a schedule for about three days before I realized I was doing ok and could back off. I have had enough c-sections to know better than to let the pain get away from me.

I think that's all the updates I have for the moment. I will try to update with a photo soon.

Death to the Girdle

So they put me in a girdle today. That surgery didn't kill me, but this girdle might!! It is seriously so tight!! I might burn it when I'm done with it in five weeks!

Improved, for sure

Just thought I'd upload a couple of photos, taken today. Surgery was one week ago today. I'll post some of my actual abdomen soon, but this was my first time to put on my old clothes (I've just been in pajamas for days), and the difference is pretty drastic, at least to me. I am wearing my compression garments here and am still swollen, but I look so, so much more trim.

Today also marks a turn in how I feel. For the first time, my bruising is not so tender. I am still very tight, but I'm standing up almost straight (it doesn't feel natural yet). It's late afternoon and I feel tired, but I do better in the mornings, so we might take a short family trip to the grocery store tomorrow morning. I'm supposed to start walking half a mile a day in air conditioning, so that'll be my activity for the day. I still can't bend down and pick up things off the floor, make quick movements, etc. But I'm definitely feeling a couple of degrees better, for which I'm thankful.

Day 9 post op

So these pictures don't do justice to the change in my midsection. I look just so very different than I did before, and even with all the swelling, I can tell I'm going to love my results. I think I definitely hired the right doctor.

I am healing well. The bruising, while it has healed a lot and looks SO much better (according to my husband), is still very tender. It still feels very tight and a little uncomfortable to stand up straight. I did a lot of activity yesterday--went to the grocery store, spent some time outside in the 97-degree backyard watering my garden, etc.--and today I've been quite tired, but not so much that it makes me worried. Overall, I'm doing well.

Day 12 post op--Colorful day yesterday!

So my belly still looks awesome! I have a bit of a sway back, which means that even when I weighed 120 lbs. in college, I still had a little belly. Well, not anymore. Even with the swelling, I'm flatter than ever before.

I did have something bad happen yesterday. The night before, I felt a little twinge in my chest when I went to sleep, but I didn't think much of it. My toddler woke up at 1:45am, and I realized when I awoke that it was hurting me a good bit. It worried me enough for me to get online and Google "upper right chest pain," and none of the results seemed to fit except a pulmonary embolism, which of course worried me immediately. After about 4, I was able to relax enough to sleep until 6, but when it was worse when I woke up, I asked my husband to drive me to the ER.

They did an EKG to check my heart and a CT scan to check for clots at the ER, and both came back fine, but because I have a not-very-great family history in terms of cardiac disease, they sent me on to the hospital to the chest pain observation floor, where I stayed until this morning. They had ruled out a pulmonary embolism with the CT scan, but apparently if you have a family history like mine and say "chest pain," you get the works. They proceeded to do a stress test (which was CRAZY) and an echocardiogram. Everything came back perfectly clear, which meant there was nothing life-threatening happening, so they sent me home.

I do still have the same pain, but it has diminished. Basically, when I take a deep breath, I get a sharp pain under my ribs in the upper right quadrant, kind of just under my breasts. Today at my follow up appointment with my surgeon, he suggested it might be referred pain, since they did so much work in my abdomen. But my nurse friend made a suggestion that he also affirmed as a possibility, which is that perhaps I have some bruised ribs from how tight my girdle is. That makes sense, because although it is very snug around everything, it is really too tight around the top band, which lies just over the area that hurts. Also, the sleeved vest compression garment that I'm wearing for my arm lipo has a bottom band that lies right on top of that other tight band, so I've been getting double duty along that whole area. If I got all those tests because my compression garment was too tight, that would be the dumbest thing ever.

BUT, please hear me that I would definitely do it again. Chest pain is not something to mess around with, especially after surgery, which increases your risk factors. So if you have chest pain, get it seen about, even if you suspect it is perhaps just your CG!

And the other lesson to learn from me here is to use your common sense about your garment. If you think it's really too tight, perhaps it is! Although I will say that it does help keep the swelling down. I didn't wear it at the hospital for close to 24 hours, and I did swell up a bit. So I am wearing it, but I'm keeping the top part, closest to the band, undone.

Alright y'all, didn't want to scare anyone, but I thought there were a couple useful lessons in my experience yesterday that I wanted to pass along.

Day 17 post op

These pics are SO DIFFERENT from the ones in that first post, and I still have swelling that needs to go down. Just wanted to share a happy moment. ;)

24 Days Post op

Just wanted to offer another bit of advice, based on what I'm observing in myself right now. Basically, I wake up feeling good--not too much aching or pain after the initial getting up (which does hurt because usually I've become a bit stiff overnight). I feel good for most of the day, and for the past several days, I've acted like I'm back to normal for most of the day. But today I got honest with myself and realized that I am NOT normal yet. Every afternoon, I crash, to some degree or another. Sometimes I just start to ache in my upper abdomen, and I'm not sure if it's swelling happening (if it is, it's not very visible) or just tiredness or what. Sometimes, I feel like the areas where I had lipo--or perhaps it's incision-related, because the incision and lipo are pretty much in the same place--feels stiffer, achy, and slightly burning. This seems to be happening for various reasons: mostly, I think, it's because I've been on my feet a long time, but I think it could also be related to not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, being out in the Houston heat too long, etc.

So I had a talk with myself and decided to be more serious about recovery. I'm 3.5 weeks out, but I'm not totally well yet, and it will behoove me to be active with my rest and recovery now so that I can be completely on my feet sooner. It feels counter-intuitive, especially since I've been back on my own with my four little ones (ages 1-8) for a week now, and the reality is that mothering them is a demanding job, and it's not easy to rest and recover as actively as would probably be good for me. I can do better than I have been, though. So that's the goal this week.
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