Amazingly, the first week has past, and I have reached my TT one week anniversary. It has been harrowing! I plan on celebrating yet another follow-up with my plastic surgeon with a list of concerns and aches. And maybe, just maybe, someday soon I’ll get to see in a MIRROR what this new body looks like!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen it, but only from looking down. It is a muuuuch better view that my previous look, which was basically a fat stomach, like a soft pillow upholstered in the center by a plunged in belly button. This pillow of flesh, from my purview, hid my lady parts unless I was craning down to view them. If I were to suck in my gut, it only exaggerated the extra skin under my belly button. Glamorous, eh? Yeah, well, thus the abdominalplasty.
Another comrade on Realself mentioned that this journey is an emotional roller coaster. YES. Yes, that’s right. I never wondered, “why did I do this?” but I have worried, “what if something that I’ve done will ruin this?!?” My doc took me off narcotic meds at post-op day 3, and that meant that the pain of not moving as well as the operation itself caught up with me quick. Today, one week after my procedure, it is discovered that the pain in my right side may be a pulled muscle in my abdomen! And let’s hope that’s it, because a busted stitch is much worse and I will cry my eyes out if somehow living my life ruined all this work.
The roller coaster itself can be quite fun when you are at the top. Because I’m a freelancer, and also need to earn a living, I actually began working again a few days ago. CRAZY, RIGHT?! Nothing too high impact, but I actually found doing work to be a little therapeutic. I’m saying a *little* work. I’m a writer and an artist, so I have a few projects that are going to come due in February that need tending. I felt witty and bright, if not pretty, and this little jaunt into the workforce gave me a boost of self-confidence. Until….
The searing back pain. Somehow, balancing out the pain in the front of my lower torso, the pain in the back of my upper torso is headed for the win. I literally could not lay down against my back. At all. I walked around, and sat straight up (against doc’s orders, by the way) all night long. My family greeted me in the morning, well rested and unaware that overnight I had become feral with pain.
So what got me through?
Not pain meds, I’ll tell you that much. Tylenol ain’t gonna make a dent in that action. What worked? My husband finally agreed to massage my back for literally 2 hours. NO JOKE. Not many men are known for their back rub prowess. My husband is of the typical variety that will rub my back for about 2 minutes before saying his hand is sore. It was an act of God. He indulgently massaged my aches, all the while our 3 kids ripped up our house and blared cartoons on the TV. This changed me from evil to good again, and life continued.
I’ve made a lot of comments throughout the week, and thought I’d share a few on my review for safekeeping. In fact, I've plagiarized myself at some points:
•LAUNDRY: No one will have clean socks/pants/underwear etc. Your socks will end up in someone else’s drawn. Your laundry will become a fun riddle for when you are well again and feel like channeling Nancy Drew as you organize the remains of your family’s wardrobe.
•BATHING: Not taking a bath or having the therapeutic effects of warm water on my body has been a hardship. It's been a week now. Baths are my go to move for almost all stress.
I’ve been bathing via “French bath” as another reviewer put it. Which is to say, I’ve been using rubbing alcohol on my underarms to kill bacteria, then washrags and baby wipes on my visible body parts. I’m trying to stay sane. Surprisingly, I’m not that disgusting. Using baby wipes regularly in “delicate” areas keeps you fresh—despite having started my period post-op!
•HAIR: Washing your hair in the kitchen sink is not that bad when you have help. My hair looked okay, much to my surprise, up to 6 days after by TT with no actual wash. I keep reminding myself that women in the 60s would get their hair “dressed” once a week at the hair dresser and wear sleep caps to bed, so what’s one week to me? This retro-style consolation didn’t work much.
I “freshened it up” twice with dry shampoo before doc follow ups—I bought the cheapest Dove brand dry shampoo because I’d never tried it before. A word of warning for girls with curly or “ethnic” hair types. Weirdly, the dry shampoo makes it straighter and more wig like. To date, I have still YET to take a bath, which leads me to this next fun fact…
•DRAINS: My drains are still in. I must be the only one who reaches this mark and still has drainage. If I’m lucky, I get to have them removed Monday, possibly Tuesday (today is Friday). I’ve been given orders to move as little as possible until that time. I have been instructed NOT to shower while the drains are in, and so my “French baths” continue.
•MEASUREMENT: In pounds or inches. These are the things that make me crazy if I allow them to. I’ve read some seriously impressive posts about doctors telling their patients that they have removed 15 lbs of fat and skin. Woowza!
Ladies, I have not lost any weight. Not. Any. Not after lipo, not after the TT. When I jump on the scale, it's the SAME. I have decided that it's "water" or whatever, but in my heart I suspect that the surgery is just rearranging my fatness, and I have made peace with that. If I look rockin' and still come in over my ideal weight, so be it. And measurements? I think my thighs and butt are actually BIGGER than before, probably from the swelling and duress of saying good-bye to its flab friends on my abdomen. Don't be hasty with the numbers. Time will tell for all of us.
•BOREDOM: Oh, you guys, the boredom. It's making me stupid. While I was medicated I couldn't really read books, my eyes would not agree. I'm out of the fog, now, but even so it's hard to concentrate sometimes. Last night in a fit of sleeplessness I ended up watching CNN and a guy literally peed snow it was so cold. And this was on the news at like 3 a.m. Why? I'm not sure why ANYONE would pee outside when it's a polar vortex, but apparently it turns to snow when you do that. Disgusting, but that ended up occupying my thoughts for about 10 minutes. The rest of the news was so depressing that a pee break was actually welcome!
Before surgery, I imagined that I would have time while recovering to pain my fingernails and surf the net. But mostly, I have been preoccupied with pain, sleeplessness, and the fact that it takes a thousand times longer to do anything I need to do than I thought that it would. I tried to watch a funny video clip that a friend posted on Facebook, and had to stop because I thought I would bust a stitch. I guess being happy will have to wait.
•COMPRESSION GARMENTS: I’ve noticed some pretty hot stuff CGs on many other Realself buddies. They look pretty hardcore and awesome. I like the ones that have all the zippers—someone had one that had a zipper that wrapped all the way up creating a “butt crack”! Those must look awesome under clothes.
Mine looks like a girdle, the kind that hooks at the crotch. When you open it at the crotch, you can pull it fully up and away, which makes having your period a lot easier. It has boning in the sides and front, which is nice, because it holds the binder into place and does not crease. I actually like these because they are easier to pee and use the bathroom with. I’ve tried the horrible “gusset” opening CG garments when I had my lipo—they open in two tight flaps like a sort of fake labia majora—and you end up peeing all over yourself as you two handed hold them open while hovering over the toilet. Not something my ab muscles would tolerate at this point, anyway. My CG was recommended by my surgeon and is super cheap, too. Cupid model 5065--$12 at Walmart, and comes in sizes S to 2X. I am proud to say, I am actually wearing an S. I am also picking up the model that has thigh compression to try that out (although it does not come in size small)—it’s $14!
•DRAINS. AGAIN. At their most productive in the earliest days after my operation, the drainage went renegade and leaked from the source right down on to my sexy thigh-high compression socks. The more you move, the more you drain! The color does change, and the drainage fluctuates wildly. The color is anywhere from thin red to weird yellowy orange (like a UTI or maybe if you take to many vitamins before you pee). Don't worry if the drainage seems too red to begin with. It lightens. It changes.
The drains are good, but they are soooooo annoying. When I first saw them it reminded me of an old movie where someone has a bomb strapped to their chest—the tear-drop shaped drains looked like detonators! Little fluid filled grenades! My left drain was stagnant for a day while the right was working overtime, and it was determined that there was a clog in the drain somewhere. I worked the clog out myself by pulling on the tubing while NOT pulling against its insertion point, which I have mentioned before is plugged straight into my newly shaved mons pubis (no one warned me my vagina would be so involved in this process). Once the clot reached the point of connection between the tube and the grenade shaped drain, I had to carefully cut the tube with scissors that I had soaked in isopropyl alcohol, cut out the blockage and reattach the tube. I did this *carefully* and kept the tube pinched tight the entire time so that extra air would not enter. Then the drain worked fine again!
•CLOTHES: Maternity clothes are fun again! I am going to LOVE to shop my closet for clothes that I have managed to keep and not wear after all these kids and multiple c-sections. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to fit in my pants and not have them look like mom jeans. However, I am here to sing the praises of maternity pajamas. They are the PERFECT recovery clothes for this process. They hide drains, are loose and stretchy, and seems to be the most forgiving thing on the planet. I am so glad I didn’t freak out and dump all these at the salvation army like I planned to. I have new respect and appreciation for the Motherhood Maternity brand, and I feel less likely to curse their high prices.
I haven’t had a lot of time to myself to keep this review fresh, but I hope that this entry helps someone, anyone. Or at least entertains those of us who are currently healing and preparing for our new, badassed selves.
I wish I could share photos, but I’m in a constant state of being bound in a binder and secured in a CG. My doc has pics, and hopefully I can get a few of those, soon. One last thought. One week later, my scar is looking great—it’s long, but it’s getting flatter and it’s all taped up. Pretty cool.