PO 8 weeks...Chugging along (new pics!) - Rochester, NY

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To first read part 1 of my Tummy Tuck journey,...

To first read part 1 of my Tummy Tuck journey, please click here.

So Thursday night my family went to the shopping mall, and I tagged along because I know there is a GNC there. By Friday morning I have to admit, that I was exhausted, and the mall had been far too much walking for me. But that's not the point. The point is I got my hands on some bromelain, and took my first pill on Thursday night. My last seroma aspiration was on Wednesday, where she removed 50cc. My pattern has been to begin filling up again, right away. Because I don't have much fat on my stomach, it was very obvious when I get the fluid ripples, versus just general swelling so monitoring the seroma has been easy. By Thursday night I estimate that I was packing about 25cc under the skin. When I went to be aspirated yesterday morning, she got out 35 cc. I came home and took my second dose of bromelain, and then watched throughout the day. Each time I went to the bathroom, I gave myself a poke. No wave. Hours later, still no wave. Before bed - waveless. This morning - a little puff, but certainly not enough to get some motion or to move it around. OMG. Did the bromelain work or was it a total coincidence? I didn't change anything else - doing the same amount of work, same compression garment, same food and drink. Maybe it was just 'time". Or maybe the bromelain is a silver bullet. No matter - I'm going to keep taking this stuff for the next month and recommend anyone with a seroma do the same! What a miracle if it is gone just like that! Perhaps I WILL be able to begin walking on my three week anniversary!

New stuff? Anything else new? Well...my stomach skin has been flaking and peeling all over the place, so I have begun putting Palmer's Cocoa Butter on it. There are a few places that my incision is not totally healed up because he made little knots in the stitches that stick out of my skin, so I am reluctant to start some oil therapy or massage until the scar is looking sealed. I did cut those little stitch tails back yesterday and am hoping that helps.I am really swollen.

Hi realselfers! I am back in business! This is...

Hi realselfers! I am back in business! This is part 2 of my review because I have a problem with verbosity :-) For all the back story and my surgery drama and recovery see part 1. For now, I'll update you on whats been happening:
- My seroma is still going strong. Apparently it is a common complication of hernia surgery. For now I am letting it be to see if it ill reabsorb.
- Today I exercised for the first time in 3 weeks! I walked 2 miles on my dreadmill verrrrry slowly. I felt great...no pain. I am a bit tired now, though.
- My scars are fading fast. I am very pleased with my appearance
- I have been getting the pulls,tugs, zings, lightning bolts...all those exciting inside feelings that mean "healing".
- I got some action last night. No problems, except my hips and butt tired quickly due to all the inactivity the last few weeks :)
- seriously post ops, every day is better and better. Life goes back to normal and your body will function again. Still have a loooong way to go!

Well, it's TMI time girls! I recall that after I...

Well, it's TMI time girls! I recall that after I had my babies there was an ugly transition period after I stopped taking stool softeners and the last 2 days have brought all those painful memories back to me. I tool the colace for so long because I was afraid to push and hurt my hernia repair, but now that it has been deemed solid, I figured it was time. All I have to say about that is OW OW OW. I am not constipated or anything, but what is coming out is requiring a lot more work and pain. Time to step up water consumption even further. Eventually it will regulate, but yikes.

Getting back on the treadmill today. Hips and butt are a little sore, which is too funny for words. And I did swell up quite a bit after my workout. I don't really care though, swelling is temporary... my insanity from not moving is much more problematic.

I think I have decided to call my PS on Monday and see what he wants to do about my waterbelly. I just hate the idea that my healing will be prolonged because there is this pocket of fluid preventing the muscles from reattaching to the skin. It's because of that stupid mesh they used to repair the hernia. Dangit!

Happy healing post ops!

So, something I have forgot to mention is that...

So, something I have forgot to mention is that around 5 days PO, my husband pointed out a lump in my neck. Like a big monster of a lump, and of course in my post surgical delirium I think I have a blood clot in my carotid artery and I am about to have a brain embolism. I am such a hypochondriac. Anyhow, I do end up looking up a schematic of the lymph system online and find that, by using pictures and descriptions, that I am dealing with a swollen lymph gland.

I pointed it out to my general surgeon and he said "Probably just a little junk got scraped up when they put in your breathing tube. Little infection, no big deal. But if hasn't gone away in 4 weeks, you should address it with your GP." Buuuuuut, I am thinking, if it is an infection, the week of antibiotic should have fixed that, right? So after loads of researching I have convinced myself that I coincidentally discovered I have lymphoma right after my tummy tuck. I know, intellectually, that this is entirely unreasonable. But intellect isn't always my strong suit. So that's why I am asking you ladies if any of you discovered enlarged lymph nodes PO. Well? Somebody help me here.

This is day 3 of exercising. So far, I am pretty swollen, but moving okay. Went a bit faster today - decided on 3 miles outside (not much snow on the ground this week), finished in about 50 minutes. Normally it would take about 43 minutes, but I'll take it. It seems as though my seroma has grown a little in the last couple of days. Getting tired of it. Starting to feel fat from eating a bit more than I need and sitting around. In the beginning, my body was working so hard to heal, I could eat my normal amount of calories, but based on the way I've put on weight this week, that time has passed and it's time to dial it back pretty significantly.

I have been having some fashion shows with my old clothes - bathing suits and summer things, running clothes etc. Very happy with how things look!

It is a very special talent to gain 8 pounds in a...

It is a very special talent to gain 8 pounds in a week and a half. It requires a strict prescription:
1) have a major surgery that interrupts your lymphatic drainage system
2) have a few restaurant meals that are loaded with salt
3) sit on your butt all the time for 3 1/2 weeks except when you..
4) exercise
5) have a large hollow space in the layers of your abdomen where you can store virtually unlimited supplies of fluid

I am a monster right now girls. I was astounded to find on Saturday evening that I looked like a regular woman for the first time in my life - I had round curvy thighs...and a full butt! My usually angular face was soft and full, my fingers and toes weren't bony and aged looking, like usual. Who the hell is this girl? I feel like I souffle, puffed well over my physical limits and about to pop. I am so so uncomfortable. I am back in 3 layers of compression instead of one and debating the merits of exercising or sitting. For me, walking has always had a diuretic effect on my tissues, but things are different now. Part of me just thinks that this is all normal. I remember seeing a picture of metalmama, all the definition drained from her muscular thighs, and I know that she wasn't doing any cardio.

For now I am going to eat raw and vegan for a couple days, keep drinking lots of water and probably do some light exercise to see if I can shed some of this fluid!

Well, I am a total genius. My general surgeon said...

Well, I am a total genius. My general surgeon said that heat might help dissipate my seroma, by dilating the blood vessels. This sounds dubious, but I am willing to try anything. Note to self, and anyone else who thinks a heating pad on their incision is a good idea - since we cannot FEEL anything, you may have no idea that you are burning your skin. What I thought was a bit of redness yesterday afternoon, turned out to be minor burns by the end of the night. Lesson learned - heating pad on LOW through several layers of clothing. Duh.

On to better news. I lost 2 lbs of water between yesterday and today, even though I exercised. Actually, exercise is going well and I have increased something each day - distance or intensity. I am okay, as long as I rest right afterward for a couple of hours I can continue the rest of my day as normal. (If i don't, it hits me like a freight train. Must. Rest.) Yesterday I even sweat, as I walked slowly with the mill at a high incline. And I did a 60 second plank, 15 girlie pushups, a sun salutation (minus the upward dog) and crow pose. I felt it in my hernia repair, but my surgeon has already cleared me for any activity I feel comfortable with, so I wasn't worried. Not going crazy, but I needed to feel my muscles work, if only for a few moments.

My incision is jamming. It looks really good, fading nicely, and all those little suture knots that were above the skin have retreated inside, except for one, so they can begin to heal over as well. My slight quilting on the side is starting to lie down as well. I did make an appointment to get aspirated tomorrow and talk to the PS about the conflicting advice. My general says that he never aspirates and to leave it alone and it will go away eventually. He hates the idea of a drain or syringe anywhere near my new piece of mesh, and feels that aspirating it only makes it fill back up again. But then you read from the doctors on realself that it is a terrible idea to let a seroma heal on it's own, you must get it removed or you will get a bursa or mess up your results. I want to do what's best for my body, but with this conflicting info, I don't know what that is.

One last point of interest - my husband seems to be scared or disturbed by my body. He doesn't want to look, won't touch my waist or hips etc. This is awkward for me. I am hoping once it's all healed he will be less wary and be happy with the results, but the fact is, it is going to be a long time before my scar is white and flat, or before he gets used to the new landscape. He very much liked my body before, though looking at my before pictures one might assume he was sick in the head...or blind. But he did. Like many other post-ops have experienced with a reluctant husband, I figured he'd come around once he saw how awesome the result is. But he's not. Maybe it's just a lot to get used to. Can you imagine if your formerly rotund husband showed up in bed one day with a six pack...overnight? I am trying to be understanding.

Here is my official 4 weeks update, regarding my...

Here is my official 4 weeks update, regarding my physical state, mental state and changing anatomy!
- I am exercising most every day. Yesterday I walked 4 miles on the treadmill, 2 of them at the highest incline. I did a few sets of girl pushups and 3 (60 second) planks. I find that if I go faster or longer than I have previously, I swell, but it's gone by morning. Personally, I think the swelling when you do cardio is going to happen whether you wait to workout at 12 weeks or you do it as soon as you are cleared. Once your body starts pushing that highly oxygenated blood around real fast, you are bound to get fluid accumulation. Your body will learn to deal with it when you force it to. Which leads to my next point...

- It has been 11 days since my seroma was last aspirated. I wear compression round the clock, did my one bout with the scorching heating pad and I finally am seeing improvement. My PS said at my last visit, that the seroma may just keep returning and returning and perhaps we should give my body time to deal with it. it *seems* to be dealing with it, as I canceled my aspiration appointment yesterday, and this morning the fluid looks quite a bit lower. Am I finally going to beat this thing?! Squeee!

- The further out from surgery I get, the more I am scrutinizing my results and my body in general. This is a slippery slope gals, and one I am not wanting to ride down. My results are not all they "could have been" had I had an extended TT, a wrap around body lift, or a fleur de lis. I knew that going into this. My doctor never mentioned it to me, but I'd looked at enough reviews and photos to know I had a great deal of vertical laxity as well as horizontal. So, now I am having to live with that, since I will not have surgery again. I am also super aware of the excess fat on my back and butt like never before. I do hate that I am standing in the mirror more and more and picking myself apart, when I should be celebrating. But it was probably inevitable. This is where I use those mantras about loving and accepting myself for what I am, and...

- The good news is - I can lose the fat off my back...it is not stubborn, it's just there because I let it be there. (Now is not the time however, I need to let my body heal before I restrict it's food supply) This is the truly great news that I am reveling in. Before, it didn't matter what I weighed (all the way down to 123 muscular lbs..at 5' 7") or where I am now - closer to 140... no matter WHAT I did, I could never look good. In fact, the smaller I was, the more pathetic my belly looked. Now I actually have the potential to have the body I always dreamed to have. That is a fucking miracle. (pardon my french, but it deserves a swear!)

- My scar is healing well. I do feel my belly skin waking up a bit, itching or tingling, pings and sharp stabbies. I am alternating between Scar Zone cream and jojoba oil every day. And I am fully upright now. I cannot arch my back but a little, another couple weeks and maybe I can do an upward dog!

Happy 4 weeks to my 27th sisters, glad we are all doing so well! And happy healing to the rest of you!

*Also, I just need to qualify, if you have not...

*Also, I just need to qualify, if you have not read my previous review - I did NOT have muscle repair, by choice. I had about a 1.5 inch gap that i chose not to repair, so don't feel like doing planks at 4 weeks is normal, because it isn't.

*also, anyone know how long it takes for quilting...

*also, anyone know how long it takes for quilting and gathers to lay down?

Hi girlies! There are a few things that I didn't...

Hi girlies! There are a few things that I didn't know before surgery, that all of my trolling on realself didn't reveal, and I put them together in a little collection for the pre-ops and newly post-ops. It is not your typical advice about buying baby wipes and drinking prune juice, it is more a preparation fro what will happen to you psychologically. For me personally, the mental and emotional aspect of healing has been far more trying than the physical. I posted it in the forums, so it wouldn't get lost in my review. I am hoping it is helpful. http://www.realself.com/forum/helpful-tips-for-pre-ops

Godspeed to all of you!

Heading to the OB for my annual exam tomorrow....

Heading to the OB for my annual exam tomorrow. That should be fun. You know how they put their hands up in there and then press down on your lower belly to get a good feel of...something. What is he feeling for exactly anyway? Hmmm... All I know is, my incision is right where the pressing happens. Eek.

I am terrified I am suddenly pregnant. This is totally irrational. I have been using the same reliable BC for years, but I feel the need now to double or triple up on my methods just to make sure I don't tear myself in half by getting pregnant (not to mention, having more of those pesky babies around the house. SOOOOOO over having babies. My kids are at an awesome age now!) Hmm, maybe if my husband gets snipped and I get sterilized too, I'd feel better.

Seroma is still present but very gradually shrinking as my body figures out what to do with it. Maybe it'll be gone by the end of the week? Too much to ask?

Thursday is my birthday, and my 5 wk PO anniversary so I am going to celebrate by running. So for the rest of the days this week I will be increasing my walking speed and intensity to get ready. I did a little P90X ab ripper X with my husband yesterday. Felt it in my hernia repair, but everywhere else was fine. (Remember, no MR for me...so results aren't typical) Still have that lump in my lymph gland. Starting to get a little curious/ worrisome. If it hasn't shrunk by the time I have my 6 week PO, I will go see my GP about it.

I was waiting for the axe to fall with my observant 7 year old who has often commented on my "squashy belly". ( ie. why does it look like that? why is it so smushy?) I've let her see me changing (undies on, don't want to scare her with the scar) a few times now, and she hasn't said anything until yesterday, when she said, "mama, you have a cute little belly button", with no mention about how that cute belly button arrived there, virtually overnight. Perhaps I have taught her well, and she is too polite to inquire further.

Lots of ladies just out or about to go in for surgery - good luck to you all!

It is freakishly warm today in wester NY, so I am...

It is freakishly warm today in wester NY, so I am taking the belly for her first walk outside. So excited by how i look in my workout clothes that I just had to share!

Happy Birthday to me! I can safely say that the...

Happy Birthday to me! I can safely say that the best birthday present I have ever received is this brand new belly. It is already effecting my self esteem in so many ways - I am much friskier with my husband because I am proud and happy to let him see me. After 12 years I was still covering up, trying to hide myself and ashamed...but not anymore! I can get dressed without the tears and frustration. Now I stop in the mirror to pull up my shirt and marvel at my new body, not grab a handful of flesh and curse it. And today, I will get to feel what it is like to run without my stomach flopping to and fro!

I am an ultra marathon runner, and always run my age on my birthday. Last year that meant a 32 mile run on a sweet little trail in Florida while the family was on vacation. There were armadillos crossing my path, and alligators splashing in the swamp. It was a lot for me to make this decision for TT when I knew I would have to give this day up. But, it was worth it. So today, I will run 33....only I will use a decimal. Hoping to make it 3.3 miles on the treadmill.

So, here are the belly updates:
-I finally Finally FINALLY beat the seroma that I developed at PO day 8. After a few serial aspirations, I decided to wear compression and leave it alone. For about 10 days I saw no change and was getting frustrated, but then ever so slightly it started to go down. I stopped wearing compression because I thought it wasn't helping, and within 3 days it cleared completely. Hooray!
- My shape is constantly changing, but now without the seroma, the girl parts are looking normal, and not all puffed up or flopping into my lap when I sit.
- My belly button is awesome
- I think I have some new stretch marks, but you know what - if I didn't have poor skin elasticity, I wouldn't be in this mess in the first place, so I expected it.
- I am doing light weights and calisthenics, have walked up to 6 miles, done some stairs, picked up my kids etc. I am standing straight and can arch slightly. Still no bridges or upward dogs. May be a few weeks for those...
- My scar is healing beautifully. I use both Scarzone and Jojoba oil, depending on my mood that day. Most of my scar is flat with my skin now, except for a few little puckers at either corner, they made need revision down the road. I love the shape of my scar as well, when it is faded, it will fall right in line with my muscular curve and be almost invisible. I highly recommend it if you can find a doctor who uses this type.
- Swelling - I have a bit of swelling as the day progresses, or after a workout, but it's not too bad. The first week I worked out was horrible, but I suspect that it would be that way no matter when I started exercising. I have just accepted that this is part of the process, and I am not going to sit around with my feet up just so I don't swell.
- Physically I still have days when I am tired and need to take it easy.

Finally, the last update I want to share is regarding that swollen lymphnode on my neck. I went to the GP yesterday and he wants it biopsied. Odds are really really good that it is related to the surgery and absolutely nothing. We shall see.

Happy healing post op gals!

The day before surgery, I took what would be my...

The day before surgery, I took what would be my last run for a while. I am not an exercise junkie. But as a race director, secretary for a running club, and writer-correspondent for a running magazine - I live my sport. The thought of taking my strong and healthy body, a body I have trained to do things that many could never dare dream of, and destroy it on purpose is a threat to my image and the very fabric of who I am.

On that run, a song by Twin Atlantic came on, called "Free". It has nothing to do with anything else, but this one line of the refrain, "I set my body on fire so I could be free!" I wept as I ran my favorite route by the lake, knowing that's what I was doing - lighting the match to burn down my own house. It was the only way I'd ever be free.

As I ran on my 5 week PO date last week for the first time, I listened to that song again and knew it was true. I was free. Finally. Finally.

The night before surgery, I sat down and wrote something like I never have before. A letter to my belly - here is the last couple paragraphs:

"When I had had enough and was ready to starve you away...exercise you away, just make you go away, I never anticipated what you would leave behind. A trail of ruin, a constant reminder that I was not okay, that I would never be totally okay, that I would forever in certain ways be 'disordered'. Over those few years I lost your volume and padding and all the rest of me - more than 100 pounds. More than a small woman. Yet what I was left with, was the shame of you - a misshapen body, that I would still have to hide. Never could I look nice in a swimming suit. Never could I wear a snug shirt. Or jersey. Or silk. Or sit down. Or dance. Or I could...but they'd find me out for still being a fat girl. You hung off me then, like you didn't belong to me. I returned from winter runs to find you white and dead while the rest of me was pink with cold, the blood supply retreating from your extraneous redundant flesh. I have tucked you in and compressed you and camouflaged. I have cried over you, turned my head from the mirror in shame, lept away from touch like I had been burned. I have looked down at you as you spread like wet dough while I made love on my back, and the pain made me take my mind away from that place - away from touch and affection and hungry eyes. I have stood in the mirror and coached myself - telling myself I was beautiful, that I was good enough, that I didn't need to be pretty to deserve love...that I should be proud and wear you like a badge of honor. But it never took. And so I spent much more time in the mirror pinching you, pulling you this way and that, manipulating you to see how you would appear if you would just disappear. Until I finally got up the courage to find out.

And I went to the doctor and told him - cut it off. Get rid of it. You aren't a part of me. I have been carrying you around, cadaverous sack of skin, but you belong to a girl who lived a long time ago, a girl who took pleasure in slowly killing herself. And so I ran the risk of being judged and ridiculed, to be called vain, to be accused of wasting our money. And I said to those - go to hell. What you think isn't important, this is only for me. Me, standing in the mirror, saying to you, "I know I am good enough. I know I don't need to be beautiful to deserve love. But you belong to someone I killed 12 years ago. She has been haunting me ever since. And tomorrow - her ghost will be exorcised."

I am healed well and back to normal for the most part. I have posted lots of before and after pictures, and will continue to update with more photos as my body changes. I can barely recall my life before. Tummy tuck doesn't make you instantly slim and perfect, but it can give you self esteem and self acceptance that many of us have found impossible to find another way. And now I have the rest of my life ahead of me - to love this body I have been given.

Godspeed TT sisters.

Well...8 weeks have gone by since I had my surgery...

Well...8 weeks have gone by since I had my surgery. Life is almost entirely back to normal. I say almost because I am still unable to bend my back significantly and that has kept me out of yoga and from doing the deep stretches that my body wants. It is a work in progress.

I hadn't planned on taking photos this morning, but I wanted to show you what it looks like after a week of bad eating and no exercise while on vacation. Still working my way up to my old distances. So far I have only pushed to 8.5 miles but I think I am ready for more now. Making lots of plans for the summer....so excited to use this new body!

Happy recovery and waiting for surgery girls!
Rochester Plastic Surgeon

Dr. Langstein is a world renowned micro vascular surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction after mastectomy. He has appeared as a specialist on the PBS series "Second Opinion" and is a true artist. I am very excited to be working with him!

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
3 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
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