I am going back to work part of the day tomorrow -- that will be Day 20. Today I took off my binder for several hours (naughty girl! Spank spank!) because I just wanted the FREEDOM again. What I ended up feeling after about 3 hours
was.... stretched. I didn't look that much different that I could see, but I could feel a stretchy feeling across the scar line that was uncomfortable. It was like it was dried out, but I think it was just that I had expanded some without the compression of the girdle. I ended up taking a long bath with Epsom Salts in the water which felt good and reduced the slight swelling that I was having. I then rubbed Egyptian Magic all over my belly (it is an olive oil based moisturizer) and put my girdle back on. This is the first time that I have been glad to have it back on -- it feels like a nice supportive hug right now.
A lot of people have been commenting to me lately asking for different advice and I want to say this first off: My list of things that I recommend is in my Part One, Date October 5 2012. Go check it out!
But I also want to elaborate on something I have been thinking about now that my little mini vacation is ending.
BEFORE the surgery, thank the Lord I found this website. I honestly am so grateful for the pictures, stories, wisdom, and humor (shout out to Cherrybabi!) that helped calm me down before the surgery. I am seriously not sure if I would have gone through with it without Real Self! There is just no one else, not even your spouse or mother, that wants to talk about tummy tucking all day. In fact they REALLY don't want to talk about it, because they start freaking and say maybe you shouldn't do it. That is the LAST thing you need to hear when you are already thinking about the expense and that you might DIE!!!!! So Real Self gives you this place where we can all bitch, moan, anticipate, and endlessly ruminate with people as obsessed, scared, and excited as we are. And then talk about support! So many people cheering for your progress it's awesome!
I have this running joke with my husband about all my best friends whose real names I don't know. I had him cracking up just before my surgery, pretending to be mad at him and saying "YOU don't understand me! YOU don't love me!! Only my imaginary blog friends love me! I don't even want to talk to you -- I want to type with my REAL friends!!!" :)
So yes, clearly, I believe that this website is a important part of the process. I can also see that it has its' beginning (usually right before you set your surgery date and you start cyber stalking people on here), has a first climax when you set your surgery date and post some before pictures (pictures that you are letting all of your real imaginary friends whose names you don't know see of your belly that you have heretofore shamefacedly hidden from your spouse, best friend, siblings, and doctor), then it has a slight lull for about 2 weeks until you freak out about what you need to do to get ready. Then you start the cyberstalking again, have another climax when you have your blood work and/or pay your money (this is where Anesthesia Dread starts to really pick up speed.) Right about this time your loved ones make the mistake of reading something that makes them realize how drastic this surgery is (hopefully they do NOT watch any YouTube videos, and hopefully you do not either you sadomachochistic freakshow) and they start to get cold feet on your behalf. You reassure them and hastily shut them up because you really can't deal with opposition right now, but luckily you can retreat to the comfort of your real imaginary friends whose names you don't know. However, by this point you've still probably only done a couple of Updates (although you may have asked a lot of questions or comments on other Profiles) because A) there is not much to say except that you are scared that you are going to die under anesthesia and B) you actually still have a job and a life out there. Besides, with all your potty - chair shopping, it's not like you can spend all day Updating.
Finally it's like 2 days before and you start to take the Arnica and Anesthesia Dread has gripped you in its' icy talons. If you are smart you got a Rx for a valium or a Xanax for the night before surgery, because otherwise that is a LONG night. Even though you have read 67 Profiles in full over the past 48 hours, you still can't wrap your mind around why in the world you can't shower by yourself for so long, and what is a Compression Garment EXACTLY, and what does "swell hell" feel like, and whether or not you can fry an egg for yourself by Day 6 and if that's enough time for someone to care for you. You're actually kind of sure that you will be able to do those things sooner than you have read about... but you actually are not sure at all... and the mother effing UNCERTAINLY is what is really killing you. Fortunately you can still post on Real Self that you are freaking out, and miraculously even 45 minutes before surgery someone will comment back "Way to go! Thinking of you! See you on the flat side!"
Finally you get to the hospital with your little knapsack full of things that you won't use or wear, but makes you feel better and more prepared. You get quickly checked in because you already pre-registered, and you discreetly grab a few fistfulls of belly when no one is looking struck with a sudden nostalgia. In your private room, you strip down and put on the gown , someone plugs in an IV, and then the almost unbearable anticipation of waiting for the anestheiologist begins. Where IS that guy??? They are supposed to give you a "happy cocktail" but they missed the damn memo because you are actually NOT happy, and yes actually you would like a cocktail. At this point you CANNOT STAND WAITING FOR THIS DAMN THING ANY MORE AND IF ITS GOING TO KILL ME THEN KILL ME BUT I CAN'T THINK ABOUT IT FOR ONE MORE SECOND.
Finally something happens, someone starts wheeling things around, you get taken to a different room, you see the anesthesiologist, you think about cussing him out for taking so long and then realize that you should NEVER get on the bad side of your anesthesiologist so you shut your pie hole.... and then....blurry...hazy...
You open your eyes and you just KNOW that it is done. You are different. And your very very very first waking thought is "I am alive! I did not die! And the sheer relief and happiness of that is just the overriding feeling. You are totally schnockered from the drugs and painkillers and what not, you don't even know what-all is happening, you just know I AM NOT DEAD and that, my friends, is a fabulous feeling. Your loved one attendee is there and grabs your hand and says "How you feeling hon?" and at that moment you realize that actually, you might still die. You might die of cotton mouth.
They bring you ice chips in a plastic hospital pitcher thing that is probably pink, and your loved one attendee helpfully spoons some into your mouth. It's reacts exactly like a drop of water falling on a Death Valley highway in mid-summer.... it evaporates before it even hits the pavement. "More! More!" you beg, but nothing slakes this demon thirst. It's like when Dumbledore was drinking out of that evil birdbath when he and Harry were getting the locket horcrux.
You can even see that there is an IV in your arm, so you must technically be hydrated, but it's just a physical symptom that takes a long time and a lot of ice chips to assuage.
Finally your loved one says they are going to get going home now, but you hardly hear them through the bleep of the machines in your room, the rhythmic whirr of the calf squeezey things on your legs, the occasional blood pressure cuff compressing, the oxygen monitor on your finger, and the tip toe of nurses like little elves as they keep coming in and sticking a needle in your left thigh (and ONLY your left thigh) to give you anti-blood clot medicine.
Here is something VERY important to know. VERY important. DO NOT BE A HERO IN THE HOSPITAL. They are under strict protocols about how much pain meds they can give you for what level of pain. To get a full dose, your pain needs to be a "7 or higher." If you say "5" when they ask you, they will half your dose. This happened to me because YES I felt better because I was on PAIN MEDS. So when I said "Like a 3 or 4" they cheerfully halved my dose and did not tell me. 30 minutes later i called them back and said "I think you forgot my pain meds by accident" and they said "No we didn't" and I said "Well something is wrong they are not working." My pain started to climb higher and higher and then everything went to hell in a handbasket because they finally explained that they had halved my dose, but they could not give me more because they could only give me pain meds every 2 hours. Well, I am not exactly proud to say (but at the same time I think it's asinine that they are torturing someone freshly out of surgery) that I went mad dog on them. I was SO pissed! I said "MY PAIN WAS LOWER BECAUSE I WAS ON PAIN MEDS! THEY WERE WORKING! THAT WAS WHY MY PAIN WAS LOWER!" They still said they could not give me more so I demanded to see the Hospital Administrator. So then they did actually give me more pain meds. Harumph!
How STUPID is that story? Really poor pain management in my opinion. So, the moral of the story is always say 7. I am sorry, I am sure there are nurses and doctors out there who will disagree with me, but I don't care I disagree with YOU. It is an absolutely proven fact that people heal faster when they are not in pain. When you are 4 or 6 or 12 hours out from a really gnarley surgery, this is NOT the time to play G.I Joe. This is NOT the time to worry about people becoming addicted to prescription pain meds. This is the time to ALLEVIATE SUFFERING. And the way you do that my friends, is with the magic number SEVEN. I wish that I had known that before. Don't try and impress them with your bravery -- take all the help you can get. And just for the record, I birthed all three of my kids vaginally and completely naturally -- no epidural, no pain meds, nothing. Just me and the field of corn I crapped them out in before resuming picking crops. That is 100% true. Ok, well, not the part about the corn or the crop picking. But the other stuff is true. I am just telling you that so you understand that I am not a wimp. I just don't believe in pointless suffering just because you accidentally said "Six" instead of "Seven."
Somewhere in this stay you have a vey short mini climax because you use your iPhone to update on Real Self that you are not dead, because of course you know that your very very best friends who love you and understand you and who you actually have no idea what they look like although you could pick their privates out of a crowded football stadium, you know that THEY are standing by and waiting to cheer for your successful landing on the Flat Side. So you manage to Update them, the most important people in your life, and then drift away to la la land soothed by the whirring machines and the knowledge that you don't have to get up to go pee because of the world's greatest invention, the catheter.
To be continued tomorrow my lovelies .... :)