Leading up to my surgery date, THIS was the day that I was most looking forward to! My ps had told me in a pre-op appointment that 6 weeks was usually when his patients are "cleared" to resume all activity without restriction ... and all I could think was that it seemed like YEARS away and HOW would I EVER make it?!!
In MY mind, at 6 weeks, I'd be totally healed - feeling totally back to my old self and my usual routines and workout - minus my tummy! New, and improved!
Boy, was I wrong! Not in a BAD way ... Moreso, just wishful thinking, I guess! I did know better, too!
But here I am anyway! Just as happy as I've been all along! I've come a loooong way since PO Day 1! I've met a lot of milestones, and I'm still working toward a few!
Overall progress is still slow going. The big things are long behind me. The sores and blisters I got from the original bandage tape are all but gone, thankfully. The skin is a tiny bit discolored, but getting better daily. Except for one small scab from stitch removal a week and a half ago, my incision is fully closed. I received the NewGel+E Ointment and Silicone Strips I'd ordered, and I only just started using the ointment yesterday. I avoid the little scab and cover the long incision, the scar that's my old bellybutton, and around my new bellybutton. A tiny bit goes a long way. I'm doing this after my morning shower and again at bedtime. For best results, they recommended using the ointment during the day, applying twice, and then wearing the strip overnight. Can't wait to be able to start. The strip! I'll post pictures of this process so far, of course. When I touch the incision sites, they are all still completely numb pretty deep down. I remember my c-section scar was numb for months and months, so no concern there.
My bellybutton will be ear-plugged for the foreseeable future! Last week, for the first time, I took it out overnight, and by morning, it had swelled up tight again, just like that. It was frustrating and disappointing, but it is what it is and that's ok. I'm still quite swollen and hard to the touch under my bellybutton, so I'm not worried.
My stomach, as a whole, is coming back in stages. I have sensation back in all areas of my skin, which is reassuring. I still apply Cetaphil lotion all over, every other day seems to keep my skin soft and itch-free. The same lipo areas at my flanks, above my hips, are still really tender to the touch, so I'm still avoiding most contact there. That swelling has really decreased overall, though, and my waistline is coming back!
Swelling in general really comes and goes. There's a level of swelling that seems permanent right now, and that's what increases and decreases with activity. It's not always even, either! Sometimes I'm puffier on the right than the left, and vice versa. My ps had told me to ween off of the binder, but I haven't accomplished that fully. As soon as I feel like I'm swelling and hardening up, I put it on, nice and tight. It helps, so I'll keep doing it. Days, I'm at about 65% on/35% off. At night, it's about 50/50 on or off.
My abdominal muscles seem to be healing from top to bottom. My upper abs to just above my belly button have softened enough that I can control them now, kind of sucking them in and out just to see them move - but I avoid tightening them as much as possible. They are very tender to the touch, with one spot on the left and one on the right that will actually hurt a bit with exertion. But when I'm sitting or resting or distracted, my upper abs feel normal!
From my belly button down to my pubic hairline, I'm still almost totally numb on the inside. It's uncomfortable and hard to push in on, but it's not as bad as it was for sure! I no longer have the awful vibration feeling when riding in the car and hitting bumps in the road! I'm only just starting to be able to suck in and move it at all, and it's not much! But it's something.
Most of the crazy contractions I was getting seem to have calmed down. I've been off all muscle relaxants for several days now. When it happens now, it's mostly with activity, and still pulls me forward a bit. I'd say I walk totally upright about 85% of the time now and the backaches are mild and with lots of activity. I find the longer I sit, the more I contract and the longer it take me to get moving and straightened up.
Even this far out, I still have a LOT of pain from the muscle repair if I get laughing too hard or if I sneeze! Owwwowowowow. Luckily it passes more quickly now, though. I still can't cough at 100% and I don't have my own real laugh back yet - almost! Overall, I'd say my core is at about 40-45% there. Possibly less! No real way to tell though!
Sleeping is so much better! I can sleep pretty comfortably flat on my back, no pillow necessary under my knees, though I like one between my knees when on either side. And side sleeping is great, but sometimes I'll wake a little stiff. It's better without my binder because when it's on, it digs in to my hips and flanks. Again, oww. Also, waking up to a morning stretch is still something I try to shake myself out of.
The swelling has kept me from wearing my jeans, and I'm looking forward to getting back into them. So the stretchier the better for now. In all my usual tops - mostly tanks under workout jackets or sweatshirts for now so I can cover my binder easily. You'll see my usual attire in my pictures today ... Designed to hide! Today, as a 6 Week Treat, my daughter and I went underwear shopping. Nothing too thrilling, just went for comfort today! I'll go for sexy later! I've been to the mall a couple times now for other reasons, and last Thursday, I had another bout of happy tears as I walked past spring/summer tops and realized I don't have to only look at things that will hide my midsection!! I'm excited to shop for the first time in many many years! I plan to start shopping slowly and for one item per trip-- underwear today ... then maybe shirts ... then pants ... shorts ... etc! It feels so overwhelming! It was a HUGE accomplishment today to walk around in public with my sweat jacket unzipped! I kept looking down expecting to see my belly! I actually kept kind of pulling the jacket closed, and I'd catch myself! It felt good to feel good about how I look!
Sadly, my love life has been on hold between my husband traveling for business a few days last week and a few this week and then having my period during the time he was home! Horrible timing! So, no updates on that front! We were standing this morning, me a bit higher than usual up on the fireplace hearth, when he hugged me goodbye. We were actually up tight, belly to belly, and it was NOT comfortable! I can't wait til this passes and I can feel again! I really miss that special closeness...
Best thing that happened today was that my big sister, who's a nurse with a ridiculous schedule, was fiiiinnnnalllly able to come by and see me!! She was SHOCKED when I unzipped the jacket and she couldn't stop raving about what a great job my ps did, having seen her fair share of scars! She had me sit and stand and turn and bend and just could NOT get over my having my old body back!! She actually told me she's jealous -- and I thought she had nothing to be jealous of!! She has a little loose skin, but not near what I had! And she was happy for me and proud of me and gave me a big hug and kiss that I'd been needing!! Until today, she'd only been able to support me via phone and texts! My mom has been a support all along! And she's as pleased for me as can be! Makes it all that much better!
One last thing for tonight ... I did continue my walking this past week, 2 to 3 times a day for about 20mins at just 1.1mph. Today, I bumped it up to 1.3mph considering it's 6 weeks - though I won't be Officially "cleared" until my next follow up with my ps this coming Thursday! It's amazing how quickly I tire out! My endurance is most definitely nowhere near what it was pre-op! I was wiped out walking in the mall but pushed through it.
Fingers crossed my ps will clear me, even though, as usual, reality has taught me that 6 weeks was unrealistic for me! I will get back to the gym soon, but once he gives me the go-ahead, I've got my hand weights ready to go at home and I'll increase my speed and incline when walking. The rest will come in due time.
I have to say, as positive as I feel, and I feel REALLY POSITIVE, I'm kinda over this recovery! I do feel sort of trapped by it at times, and I've started to feel a bit claustrophobic in that binder! I'm hoping things pick up in pace, but I have no choice but to take it as it comes!
My biggest goal today was this post! Now that it's complete, I can get to bed and get on with whatever tomorrow may bring!!
Hoping all is well for anyone reading this!