43 Year-old, TT with Umbilical Hernia and MR Ready to Have a Core Again! - Miami, FL

I'm an athletic person who has suffered a lot on...

I'm an athletic person who has suffered a lot on injures post children. I had kids late (37 & 41), one baby was 10 pounds and both ended with c-sections; basically, that is every risk factor going for ending up with this belly. I noticed post kids that I literally cannot engage my core. I can sort of tighten while running or cycling but it always feels like I'm engaging around a ball. When I hug my husband, my stomach hits first - ugh. I can only presume that ball is my intestines and organs... great. I am doing this primarily to regain a strong core, which I feel is fundamental to getting older in a healthy manner. That said, it will be nice to have my flat stomach back. I always had a pack. Now I perpetually look 5 months pregnant. What shocked me was my husband's willingness, strike that, eagerness for me to get this fixed. I've never seen the man throw down his credit card for anything faster. This particular doctor had a sudden cancellation and I grabbed it. I called my husband out of no where last week and told him about the cancellation and that we had to pay immediately since it's less than two weeks out and by the time I called the doctor's office back to confirm my husband had already paid it in full himself. ahhh, thanks? Of course I'm completely grateful that we can do this, but... eager much? Anyway, we have big travel plans for late June and I thought any later than this and it could potentially interfere with the trip. So here I am, one week out suddenly from this TT. I'm completely terrified of anesthesia since I'm THAT person that barfs and spins for 48 hours with any opioids or volatile anesthesia. I've worked out a plan with my very nice anesthesiologist to provide me with TIVA (total intravenous anesthesia) in place of inhaled anesthetics but she will still be utilizing opioids for the pain triad of general anesthesia. I'll just have to survive my nightmare of dry heaving after major abdominal surgery... terrified doesn't begin to cover it. I vacillate between eager to be strong again and petrified that something might happen to me, leaving my very small girls without a mother over what is at its core, elective. I actually feel relief when I remind myself that a multi state drive, or riding my bicycle without a helmet probably holds a fair risk as well and I do that without a thought. So, I'm going for it. I've chosen a well-known PS here in Miami, which is saying something since this place is lousy with PS. I definitely don't want the guys that ply you with advice regarding implants or Brazilian butt lifts; that is not the look I'm going for. I chose Dr. Michael Kelly. He was on a plastic surgery show years ago... Body/Works. It was a typical plastic surgery show BUT it afforded me the opportunity to watch him perform surgery - cool! I did meet with other PS just to cover my bases. His approach was very different from the others. As of almost a year ago he only does Progressive Tension Suture TT. So no drains. He stitches the muscle to the fascia so there is no dead space. He says his complication rate dropped drastically following that change. Since there is no longer any dead space with this procedure, there is no way to utilize a pain pump. But he said the new product Exparel is miraculous in minimizing pain. I've read some studies and they also indicate that this particular product is somewhat of a game changer. He also will not do any other procedure with TTs. He says the risk profile goes up TT surgery is combined with anything else. So... here we go! The first 24 hours his office sends a nurse home with you. I was a little disappointed that there was no hospital stay initially, but I've since decided my own nurse in the comfort of my home actually sounds better anyway. I've truly valued following others experience here on realSelf, so I thought it was important to add my story and experiences as well. Knowledge is indeed power.

Today's the day!

I'm minutes from taking my shower with the creepy iodine stuff and heading off to the hospital. Every feeling at once from terror to excitement to let's just this get this f*&cking thing over with, please. Apparently, the nurse who stays with me also leaves in a foley (SP) bag so I won't have to pee tonight. Strange. Also, note to anyone out there renting a recliner, give yourself time to clean that potentially nasty ass piece of furniture! I spent hours yesterday steam cleaning the recliner. I decided I couldn't sit in that thing for days without losing it if it smelled like that. I would have gotten another one but they couldn't bring it until later in the day and then I'd have had no time to clean that one. I rented a steam cleaner and it worked great. Smell gone. Also, my girls spent an hour playing on it yesterday. They are off with my parents now for 4 nights. This is absolutely the longest they have ever been away from us. The house is so quiet. My husband and I went to dinner and at one point he suggested we could go see a movie and I was literally shocked, mouth on floor, that we could actually just go to a movie. Wow. But I do miss girl squeals. :) Talk to you once I'm flat!

On the flatside!

I'm feeling good. I walked around a bit, after some food and watched Outlander TV series! Pain a 2 w/ 1/2 hydrocodone and 1 Tylenol. I ended up having 2 hernias and av2 inch muscle repair. I will post pics tomorrow at doctor's office.

on the flatside, ladies!

I'm feeling okay today. I'm definitely hunched when I walk. And interestingly, walking feels better than sitting for me. I've been taking the hydrocodone (Norco, I think) every 4 hours. It helps but there is still a low grade pain for me. I'm heading to the doctor's office to day at 9:15 to check the incision. I think the absolute blessing for me so far was my AMAZING anesthesiologist who somehow managed to keep from spinning or vomiting upon waking up. I always get sick after anesthesia and sometimes for days. She was incredible. She didn't give me inhaled anesthetic just IV. She gave me propofol and fentynal (sp) and versed during surgery but before and at the end she game Prilosec (the heartburn medicine), zofran, and a form of motion sick med like Dramamine. If anyone else suffers from PONV (post-operative nausea and vomiting) then I highly recommend trying this cocktail. I actually felt peaceful and great waking up. I think the pain increased last night due to the GA wearing off. Also, the nurses were amazing. They made me feel safe and comfortable. I truly could not have had a better OR day than that. I'm a little nervous about my binder coming off this morning but it will be nice to see the incision. No poop yet, even after coffee. Let's see how that goes. Also, my doctor told me my diastisis was 4 fingers wide and I had not one but two hernias in there. Really glad those are all fixed. I'll take pics at the doctors today and post later.

Day 1 pics.

One day down!

Day 1 and serious pain

the pain certainly hit hard this afternoon. I wonder if feeling good last night and this morning was just a remnant of the anesthesia. I finally took two narcos and now I'm not feeling so awful. So advice is to just take the narcotic they give you the first couple of days even if you don't think you need it. This pain was horrible.

time moving slooooowly

So this is much harder than I was imagining. Everything is sore. Moving at all hurts. Coughing is a total hell. After coughing I thought I had to have ripped a stitch due to the horrific pain I felt for the next several hours in that spot. Eventually, I took another pain pill and that particular pain subsided. I can't believe this is only day 3! It feels like I've been a complete invalid for weeks now. And the realization that it could be another week or two of nearly this level of incapacitation is super depressing. I'm scared to take off my binder because frankly it looks gross under there, plus the pain. My biggest hope for this surgery was getting a strong core back, so this time is the complete antithesis of that goal. I can't imagine being able to sit, walk, twist, turn without pain and tightness. I knew all of this going in. I've read countless reviews and knew that at least for some people this is seriously hard and painful and yet when that happens to me, I feel pretty down and surprised. On the bright side, I pooped! My husband bought some suppositories yesterday and threatened to use it unless I made some poop happen. That seemed to literally scare the poop out of me. My body said no way, and kicked into gear. Also, I'm less sore than yesterday right now. It definitely comes and goes but my last pain pill was 1 narco at 11pm and right now I'm good enough to wait until I need another. I'm also very stooped, so of course my back is agony. On a lame note, my little girls have been off with their grandparents at their beach house and they are having a blast. I must admit to feeling a little sad that they haven't missed me at all. Not a tear, not a question regarding my husband and I. If I weren't feeling so unwell, I think I would be thrilled for them to be this happy and independent. But my rational brain is definitely isn't working right now. I just feel a little sad and forgotten. It's totally pathetic that I feel this way... they are really little. I'm trying to talk myself out of that feeling. I think I'm going to walk down the street this morning. Oh, one other really strange thing... I had all these plans to chill out and watch shows and movies during this time. And I've tried to do that except I have literally no attention span. Every show annoys me. I'm flipping channels like a man! I never normally do that so all I can figure is that anesthesia did something to my short term memory. So tv isn't even fun. So strange. To everybody out there getting through this one day at a time, happy healing!!!

This has been hard...

Yeah, so apparently no amount of preparation reading can prepare you for actually feeling this shitty yourself. Yesterday I had my breakdown why-the-hell-did-I-do-this-to-myself moment. Sat on the couch and cried to my husband. My poor exhausted and over worked husband. Blah.

I would say day 4 was the day where I turned a slight corner. I went to see my PS that day and all looked good. I'm the rare case who actually walked into the office and didn't call for a wheelchair on the morning after my surgery and did it again on day 4. I am however hunched over like Quasimodo and have generally felt like crap. My breakdown so far would be day 1 and halfway through day 2 was still feeling okay because of anesthesia. Day 2 1/2 through 3 was an epic ass-kicking. The narcotics made me sick so I took dramamine and 2 pain pills every four hours. Between the sleep effects of dramamine and the pills themselves that day and a half was like a nightmary blur. Thankfully. Day four I felt better. Still took some tylenol but the pain itself was going down on its own. That was my best day except I started getting chills like I was coming down with something. I was concerned chills were the precursor to a potential fever/infection so I started taking my temp like only an anxious, drugged up, housebound invalid can - every 15 minutes. Fortunately my obsession never produced a temperature so I calmed down. The next day my chills were diminishing but I started with my new, and still with me, symptoms of feeling dizzy and on the edge of fainting. I've been lightheaded off and on pretty consistently ever since. I called the doctor and he didn't seem too concerned. The main issue is this fear that I'll pass out when I'm alone. When it hits hard I try to lay down and it typically passes, but it's scary. I wonder if my blood pressure is low, if I lost more blood than normal... who knows. Could just be my healing process. I will say that starting late yesterday (day 6) the pain of moving has started diminishing. I'm basically not on any pain meds. And today upon waking I could get out of bed, lift my legs, turn very gently. I found a series on Netflix that has become my workday. Thank you for Scandal, Shonda Rhimes. I've gotten through seasons 1, 2 and, half of season 3. So I've watched somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 hours of the show since my surgery. Yeah, seriously. I'm afraid to go outside to walk solo due to the dizziness. So I'm in my house. Watching TV. Sleeping. Walking around my couch until I feel like I might pass out and then I lay back down and read a book until I watch another episode. This is an ass kicking. Oh, one aside... the BEST thing I purchased pre surgery was an enormous bag of cough drops. Either I cough way more than I ever realized or the intubation gave me some serious post nasal drip, but that hell cannot be overstated. I've found the when I feel a tickle coming I grab a cough drop and a glass of water, fall to my knees facing my couch and press my entire abdomen into the cushion of my couch while vigorously sucking on the cough drop. It is explosive, relentless pain that continues long after the cough stops. My 3 year-old has assigned herself the job of getting me a cough drop the second mommy falls to her knees and screams. Those cough drops have practically saved my life. I'm sure without them, I'd have hemorrhaged to death from ripping my stitches completely out. Sorry this isn't happier. I think my stomach looks good. My bellybutton is new, which is actually strange. My tummy is flatter. But right now I just find it hard to care. I hope I can one day change this to worth it. It seems like a dream right now...

killer sciatica

So my tummy started feeling better the evening of day 7. On day 8, I developed what I can only guess is relentless, nonstop sciatica pain that shoots through my hip and lower back. The funny thing is that this is actually more painful than the tummy pain ever was. Yeah, hilarious. WTH? At least with meds the tummy pain would be intermittent. Even after taking two hydrocodones, no easing of pain. It just does not relent. In the end, I slept on a tennis ball last night. It hurt, but I noticed it diminished the sciatica pain. I can't take motrin yet. And tylenol and hydrocodone do virtually nothing. I'm so down and desperate right now. It's so painful that it gives me a massive headache. It hurts so badly that although my tummy is much better, I still can't leave the house. I can only guess this is from stooping around for a week. Does anybody have any advice? My husband rubbed it but it didn't do anything... I did a heating pad, nothing. I'm forcing myself to stand straight and that is the only thing that has knocked the pain down at all... but it still hurts all the time, just at a slightly lower level. I know a chiropractor but that doesn't seem safe with only 9 days post op. I'm sure she could be gentle, tho... I don't know. Help?

Feeling much better! Yay!!!

Here are some day 11 update pics. I'm feeling much better. I laid on a tennis ball for 24 hours and my sciatica pain is much improved. I also made myself stand upright and sleep flat. My hip is still sore but off and on and nothing too intense. I Participated in the Easter hunt and took a completely solo shower. Basically, feeling human again! And I like having a waist! I'm so pleased to post a happy update - whohoo!

Hitting a wall.

Still feeling MUCH better. I'm still getting the occasional pain in my back and hip but it's manageable. I do remember reading people saying that they would feel good, do too much, and then feel exhausted and swell like a kielbasa sausage. All true. What I didn't expect was that I can go from up and feeling good, making kids' lunches, clearing breakfast items to suddenly feeling like I'd run a marathon and MUST MUST lay down NOW. It really goes from cool to total crap in 1 minute. I've never felt anything like that before. Usually in life there's this wind down to getting tired. That makes it much harder to know your limits. I sent my mother home yesterday after she picked up my little girl thinking I was fine. I made dinner, took her outside to play, came home and then fell on the couch and could not get up. I was taking care of a 3 year-old horizontally with my voice only. But I really felt I could not get up. I felt my heartbeat in my incision, my feet throbbed - strange. And today I'm definitely more tired than yesterday. So today I'm not sending my mother home! Happy healing!

As far as my actual TT pain... it's great. I can move around. I can even engage my core under my giant corset. It feels amazing. I couldn't do that pre TT because I had a giant ball of intestines in the way - so cool!!! Overall just wondering what the trajectory of self-sufficiency will be over the next month. Since I get so tired so suddenly how can I plan well? Also, I'm still not driving. I see my doctor in a few days and I hope he will say it's fine to drive. I'm not 100% in my body movement but I can't see how I will be for potentially weeks, so that's not an option. I guess I just have to keep my driving to a minimum until I feel like myself again. Happy Healing!!!

Slowly but surely recovering week by week

I'm feeling better but still not perfect. Knowing my limits is a struggle. The hardest part is not lifting more than 10 pounds. Everything weighs more than ten pounds, including my 3 year old! I have to bag 7 items per grocery bag to get it to my kitchen. Or try not catching your kid when she's falling or not twisting awkwardly to check for a car pulling out of a parking lot. Plus, by day's end I'm so tired. But all that said, some days I'm flat as a board!

I had my first experience where I ran into another mom who I hadn't seen in awhile and she kept looking at my waist. Finally, she told me I looked great and started to sadly tell me how she needed to workout more. I actually felt a little guilty! If I knew her better I would have told her about the TT so she didn't think working out is some six-pack panacea. She looked so bummed w/ herself, as if any amount of sit-ups or planks would have gotten me here - not. I walked away shocked that my belly looked good enough 3 weeks after surgery to provoke a response like that. Wow.
Miami Plastic Surgeon

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