Part Two: 13 weeks +/- PO!

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So sorry I actually went one day without updating...

So sorry I actually went one day without updating yesterday. I must be losing my touch...

I had my follow up appointment with my surgeon Dr Wotowic at 9:30 am yesterday. I was SO excited to finally see the incision! His nurse peeled off the tape, and I was actually surprised to see that it is NOT a whole line of stitches across me (like Jack's face in Nightmare Before Christmas, a round white circle with a whole line of leering hash marks). Instead, I simply look like I was circumferentially opened by a very large and sharp can opener.

One stitch was taken out of each end of the incision (good call! You always want a stopper at the end of the zipper as far as I am concerned) and then the stitches in my belly button were removed. There was just one at the top and one at the bottom. Guess what? SURPRISE! It's the same stitch connected at top and bottom! So when they cut it and pull it out, you can feel the thread holding it's breath and swan diving UNDER your belly button as they pull it out, to finally surface on the other end gasping for air!!! Holly creepy feeling Batman. This of course begs the question, how the hell did they get that string UNDER there in the first place? What kind of cur

Continued from Part One

SADNESS!!! My whole last Update was lost forever...

SADNESS!!! My whole last Update was lost forever in the bowels of cyber hell. 500,000 light years from now, aliens on the planet Gamma347 will receive the transmission and rupture their post-partum Cephalothorax Tuck laughing. I can state with absolute certainty it was my best Update yet. How can I prove it? I cant. Thats the point. YOU can't prove it wasnt, so there.

I will have to get back to you in a bit after I put the kids down. Meanwhile, we can all try and guess what the ach ee double hockey sticks I was going to say after "What kind of cur"

What in the WORLD was "cur" the first part of? Curious? Nope, wasnt that. I have no idea. :( WHAT was I saying next??? I can't remember.

But dont despair!!! Just hold out for another 1,000,000 years and that will give Gamma347 enough time to beam it back to us.



Alright. Kids in bed. Here I go, trying to remember the emotional roller coaster of MONDAY when today is WEDNESDAY. For crying out loud people, when you have a TT an hour is like a day, a day is like a month. We can't POSSIBLY go back to 48 hours ago! Yet, alas, I must.

To continue my thought process from my stitch removal on Monday... "One stitch was taken out of each end of the incision (good call! You always want a stopper at the end of the zipper as far as I am concerned) and then the stitches in my belly button were removed. There was just one at the top and one at the bottom. Guess what? SURPRISE! It's the same stitch connected at top and bottom! So when they cut it and pull it out, you can feel the thread holding it's breath and swan diving UNDER your belly button as they pull it out, to finally surface on the other end gasping for air!!! Holly creepy feeling Batman. This of course begs the question, how the hell did they get that string UNDER there in the first place? What kind of cur".... ahhh.... uhhh... What kind of curved sub-oceanic Navy SEALS implement did they USE to get one damn stitch from the bottom of my belly button all the way to the top -- UNDERNEATH -- ??? Don't ask. It's better not to know.

I had a whole list of questions for Dr Wotowic that he graciously answered. Can I increase my exercise? Yes, you can walk around the block. Can I go to a bar? No , I don't want you falling off a barstool. You know, the normal questions.

I also opened my eyes in doe eyed pleading innocence and begged to get rid of my girdle. Sadly, he is immune to my charms. He said that I have not "shaped" as well as he would like (probably because of me stripping down too often to take pictures for all my BFF's on Real Self) and he wants me in in for 9 more days before he will fit me for a Compression Garment. :( *BOO HOO* He then used his nurse to help him wrap me back up, but NOW with a towel under my girdle, and a rolled up bandage right down my midline (he says to help further shape the feminine definition and curves that he created on my abdomen). So now my existence is reduced to being a frumpy towel burrito 23 hours a day, the 1 hour of respite being when I naughtily take pix for alls y'alls.

He also admonished me to NOT PICK the little scabby wonkers that are on the incision line. GOOD WORD. Because we all know that is the first thing we would do. Remember in High School when some do-gooders would say "Don't pop the pimples on your face! They might scar! Let them recede naturally." Whatever DORK. I am NOT going to school with a friggin' white head!!!!! Well, naturally, we all want to look best for the ONLY people who understand us in the whole wide world -- the girls (and occasional guys) on RealSelf -- who are waiting for our next pictures with baited breath. But at the same time, you are peeps that I do not NEED to pick my scabs for -- now how is that for love??? So I have taken his advice, and you will see the pickless-image on my pictures.

I also discussed my cramping legs and he said that would be alleviated by me walking more (he was right by the way, I can assure you with the wisdom gained by 48 hours.)

So THAT is what happened at my stitch-removal appointment 2 days ago. But then that night, I had a super scary thing happen. The top of my right thigh was numb which was disconcerting. But then I shifted and got a SHOOTING pain across it -- like seriously horrid. I immediately decided I might be dying of a blood clot. But then I did not want to be a hypochondriac. So then I reflected on the meaning of the two simple words "Pulmonary Embolism." Yet then I thought about the effing emergency room co-pay.


So finally, at 9:00 pm I called Dr Wotowic's office number. An answering service lady promptly answered, and I explained my predicament in 30 seconds or less. She put me on hold for literally 15 seconds. And then..... *clouds part.... sunbeam illuminates my quaking form gripping the phone to my ear" DR WOTOWIC HIMSELF came on the line and said in a friendly voice "So, what's going on?"

I just could not BELIEVE he came to the line like that! Talk about service! It was 9:00 at night people, and let me tell you when my crazy clients call me at 9:00 pm, it's voice mail baby. I never dreamed he would come on the line. I was HOPING for an advice nurse, so I could avoid the ER co-pay (or at least head there with assurance before I died of a blood clot because of my stupid effing selfish stupid TT that is now killing me my children are motherless it's all my fault selfish vain stupid)

He listened to my problem, then immediately said "I would be ASTOUNDED if you had a blood clot at this stage of the game, at your age, in your level of health" and also told me that even if I did, it would almost certainly be in the calf not the thigh. He explained to me that a LOT of nerves got cut, and I would experience all kinds of crazy sensations and impulses in the weeks to come as it heals. He instructed me to loosen my binder, and then told me to come in and see him the next day if I still had any concerns.

I HEART Dr Wotowic. There is just nothing else I can say.

Okay, now I am going to post this one and see where my energies are for getting caught up...

Ok so now its 10:42pm, and I am REALLY 14 days...

Ok so now its 10:42pm, and I am REALLY 14 days post op, just pretending to be 13 days to get us caught back up again after I couldnt post for 3 days.

So! My new Veronique Compression Garment Pack arrived in the mail. You may recall that I have tried these bastards on before only to be turned into The Lorax. I am now trying a different brand, hoping for greater success. This pack ALSO includes a "Labia Support Girdle", which you may also recall I initially mocked but now shamefacedly admit perhaps I need.

First thing I do is pull out the Labia Support Girdle. SURPRISE! It's a THONG. Call me crazy call me zany, but thong support is an oxymoron. Now we all know a thong has its uses, particularly when spandex is involved, but NO ONE would call a piece of bottom floss "supportive.". However, they did considerately adorn it with a cute little flower (see picture.) Perhaps I am being hasty.

The PROBLEM is that I am, at heart, a granny panty girl. Sure I try. You know, I buy some nice stuff at Victorias Secret and I genuinely try to wear it. But I LIKE the 100% cotton full-bun comfort huggies! I would seriously still wear diapers if I could get away with it, just for sheer cozy puffy love value.

Sadly, at age 38 I'm a tweener. You can do it at 2, you can do it at 92, but at age 38 socially you just cant wear diapers unless you are an astronaut.

So anyway, here I am at 13 days post op in my cozy big bottom underwear and my huge girdle-towel burrito, contemplating the Labia Support Thong (mislabeled girdle.) What else is there to do but try it on? Perhaps my newfound labial compression will eliminate the post-surgical Gigantor Cooter of previous posts. Perhaps my skeptical sarcasm will be pressed away along with my edema.

So I tried it on. What. The. Hell.

First of all, is this a MAN garment? Because nevermind gigantor cooter, you would need serious elephantitis of the nuts to fill out this thing. It is CRAZY TRAIN! Look at the pix! It could not POSSIBLY be LESS supportive!! Who on earth is this thing made for???

Ok Im done. That was enough tranvestite granny panty fashion show in one day for ANYONE. Time to take a percoset and go to BED!

Yesterday in my usual 2:30 pm boredom slump, I...

Yesterday in my usual 2:30 pm boredom slump, I decided to try on the the Design Veronique #850 Zippered Abdominal Girdle that was part of the three-item pack I had ordered. I can tell you right now that I consider the design Tummy Tuck Friendly, because it actually has TWO zippers (one up each "quarter line" kind of up from your hip bones.) Also, each zipper line is first reinforced by a number of small hook-and-eye closures which is really smart. Clearly, they know who they are dealing with, because with that bad boy cinched down tight it is not only possible but probable that you could split a zipper walking around. The hooks make sure that the zipper is not taking the whole strain of our afternoon 400-lb weight gain.

I managed to get it on by myself (score 1 !) without too much difficulty (score 2 !) I had a little bit of a hard time twisting to do the hooks and zippers, but then again I just managed to the the proper front-to-back wipe about 2 days ago (been feebly patting from the front for almost 2 weeks now WHO'S WITH ME ON THAT!?) I feel pretty squeezy, but not too bad. I walk around in it a little and decide that in all likelihood it's a keeper.

So I reclined on my rented lift chair and stared musingly at my legs that have fatness swelling around the bottom of the compression shorts. (SEE PICTURE) It seems to me, that whatever compression garment you wear, you swell at the perimeters. It makes sense if you think about it. I mean -- the fluid has to go SOMEWHERE right!? Unless you make yourself pee it out by using dandylion tea, or Traditional Medicinals Weightless Tea, you are not ELIMINATING swelling by wearing a compression garment. You are simply re-distributing it. So it kind of makes me want to keep buying more and more coverage because who wants fat thighs? So I should get one that goes to knee. But then who wants fat knees? I guess I could get ankle length. But then who wants fat feet?

Following my line of thought, I decided what you really need is a Spidey Suit that covers your toes and fingers and ends at your neck. But then what happens to your head??? The answer is, it will explode like a ripe tomato thrown onto hot pavement from a second story window. So not such a good choice after all.

As I was lying there musing I happened to look down and.... WHAT THE HELL IS THAT???? There was...something....coming out of the "crotchless" portion of the compression garment.... WHAT IS THAT THING?.... I decided it was just bunchey underwear and pushed it back inside. Out it came again! I pushed it back in.... POP goes the weasel!!!! (See pictures)

Remember my previous thoughts about how all the fluid went to anywhere that was not compressed??? Uhhhh.... yeah. *cough cough.* Suddenly it is all clear why the Labia Support Thong would be large enough to fit not only myself, but a suckling pig at the same time. Maybe I should stop bitching about my compression girdle towel burrito after all. Because my cooter is about to attack.

I have to say that there is is totally bizairre...

I have to say that there is is totally bizairre mental illness that every single one of us shares here. Its some kind of surgery-induced amnesia.

Let me elaborate.

So, over and over, on every single Update I read, I see these unbelievable before and after pictures. I see physical transformations are are truly, genuinely, miraculous. I see women lose 30 lbs in appearance in the course of a 5 hour anesthesia. And I see us...EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US... undercut the after pictures by saying "I am swollen here." "I am really bloated there." "Swell Hell!" " I just hope the swelling goes down."

And I scratch my head. And I look back and forth. And I think, "What in the world is she LOOKING at!!??"

All I can see, as the casual observer, is this miraculous metamorphasis. Ive never yet seen ONE single picture on Real Self that I could even tell that someone was "swollen" or what they even thought that meant. They just look great to me.

Yet today I got a little down because I felt kinda swollen. I could see a little edema puff all around above my scar line. I took a shower, then had to burrito-wrap myself because my husband was at work. I did okay, but it wasnt as tight as it should be so I got bigger. Then I had to put on pants and a shirt to look "normal" to go pick up my 3 year old at preschool. And I DID look normal... But kinda thick and fat.

And instead of really, truly being okay about it because I know that I am wearing a girdle with a TOWEL under my clothing for peets sakes, instead I felt kinda fat and frumpy and sad.

Is that the stupidest thing you have ever heard or what? Its RIDICULOUS. I look better, and YOU look better (and you WILL look better who are still pre-op) than we have in YEARS. For some of us....DECADES. How can we possibly be so silly as to feel unhappy even if we ARE a tiny bit puffy from edema? Even if we are a lot bit puffy? Because even at a lot bit puffy, we are SO MUCH SKINNIER than we were before. The apron is GONE for crying out loud. How can we lament some puffiness that only WE can see, when we just lost an apron of flesh that had to be tucked under belts?

I know we all know this. But it amazes me how we all, including me, forget. Or even worse, its not that we have FORGOTTEN precisely -- its just that we dont yet see good enough.

Im struggling for the words here because I dont want to say something trite or cliche, but also because I can see how people start down a road of nipping this and tucking that, getting more and more "done" chasing that illusion of perfect. And I dont want to see any of us start down the path of that addiction, because I DO care about you guys. I read your posts, I know about your families, I celebrate your victories, I laugh at your jokes -- just like you do mine! And I my hearts desire for all of us is that this Tummy Tuck is a beginning AND an end. The beginning of a new life set free from a major obstruction. And the end of being unhappy with the reflection and desiring to fix anything more.

Ladies (and gentlemen), I pray for everyone who reads this that you would genuinely know in your heart that you are not only already good enough...but in fact, you are one of God's special favorites. He is particularly fond of you. :) And always has been.

In the past 36 hours I have accomplished several...

In the past 36 hours I have accomplished several VERY important things.

1) I listed 30 items for sale on Ebay. Considering how many cute things I have bought over the past 2 weeks (all designed to CLING to my belly! Oh yeah, you heard that right!!! CLING BABY CLING!!!! Drapey ruffley loose shirts be damned!) I thought I needed to offset it at least a little. I actually restrained myself from prematurely getting rid of ANY of my clothes. Why you ask? Well, since you're asking I'll tell you. Because WHY deny myself the pleasure of trying them on in a few more weeks when the incision is less tender and discovering how different they look!

2) I set up two personal training sessions a week (Mondays & Thursdays) beginning December 3rd. That date puts me 10 weeks post-op. I figure it's safe to assume I can do that by then, and even if I can't then I'll just cancel. But I am a GOAL PERSON. I need the goal to motivate!

3) I made my husband go buy me Monistat-3 because I got a #%>€#*#% yeast infection following the gagiriffic Cephalaxin antibiotics every 6 hours for 10 days. Man are those the STINKIEST antibiotics or what??? They smell like puke. Of course they did the job because I am not dead of a staph infection, but now instead I may die of a yeast infection. OR I shouldnt be blaming the Cephalaxin at all, and instead I should be blaming myself for all my recent nether-region anctics.

NEW ITEM FOR ROCKINMOMS MUST HAVE PRIOR TO SURGERY LIST: Monistat-3. The Monistat-1 actually doesnt work very well. And I'm too impatient for 7, Im bored of it as soon as I feel more comfortable. 3 is the magic number. Oh, and be SURE to get the Jordan Almond-style. The little hollow sticks that you have to fill with paste and then dispense are just messy and too much work. Get the pods.

4) I went to my older two kids school for an hour with my husband for a book fair and pumpkin patch thing. I've never felt so alive!!! There were.,.. PEOPLE! And...and...COLORS !!! For a die-hard extrovert like me (shocking, I know) it was drinking nectar to be surrounded by hundreds of people like that. The world! I was out in the world again! It was even better than my first walk around the block that I was finally allowed to take on Monday with a chaperone. I was SO ectastic I sang at the top of my lungs "THE HILLS ARE ALIVE...WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC...AHHHHHHhhhhhHHhhh... WITH SONGS THEY HAVE SUNG .,.FOR A THOUSAND YEARS....AHHHhhhhhHHHHh"
My long-suffering husband walked ahead of me shaking his head. True story. It's VERY liberating by the way. If you have never sung that song at the top of your lungs outside, I recommend you do it immediately. Start in your backyard if you're shy, then work your way to the front yard. Oh and by the way, not having a good singing voice has nothing to do with it. I dont have a good singing voice. Its all about moxy.

That just reminded me of when I was pregnant and we were trying to pick names, I would always go open the front door and scream names to test them out. You know, like "JEBEDIAH!!!! YOU GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!!!! JEBEDIAH!!!! DINNNNNNNERRRR!" Boy my husband hated that! "Stop DOING that!!" he would beg. But no, I had to test them out like that. Give them the real test drive. Good thing too, or I might have a kid named Jebediah.

5. I put on my dream outfit, which is just shorts and a jog bra. I looked so freaking awesome I was SO happy. The shorts covered the incision line, so right then and there I could have totally MILF'd out and gone to the store like that. (SEE PICTURES) I am serious this is my dream outfit! I have run either a marathon or a half marathon every single year for the past 8 years (first one was a marathon eight months after my daughter was born, and I've had a bet with my best friend ever since that we would each run at least one half marathon a year until someone wussed out. Our theory is that if you traverse a half-marathon at least once a year, fundamentally you can never get THAT out of shape...because you are always less than a year away from being fit enough to pull that off.) and I am always that runner with the baggy shirt. As you guys totally understand, this bet has gotten harder and harder and harder. The first year, 2004, I had a zip lock baggie on my belly bouncing around. By 2006 I had two kids, and a quart size baggie to haul around. But after #3 in 2009, I had one of those new 2 1/2 Gallon Jumbo Size ziplocks hanging down that I could feel jouncing really uncomfortably with every single step.

Hey! Ive never told you guys how I ended up here! Well, I mean, the first domino in the stack.

In 2011 I was training for a half marathon I was going to do in Napa (this one a trail half) and I was on a 10 mile run and my left knee started hurting. Well, without going into all the details (and yes I still did Napa), I got an MRI and all kinds of stuff. Then I started having problems with both knees, and then I strained both rotator cuffs. Finally my lower back was hurting when I was on my feet too long, and even when I rode too many horses. I just felt really depressed about it all. I felt like I was just getting old and washed up :( It didnt help that I saw doctors who told me that I was 38, with 3 kids, and that I really shouldnt be trying to do this stuff anymore. Maybe try swimming?

It all came to a head when my husband bought this workout DVD called "Insanity." It's called that because... Guess? YOU'RE RIGHT!!!! IT'S INSANE!!!! (slap your knee.) Now, my husband is a rather strapping buck. He almost never formally works out, but he was a swimmer for half his life so he is permanently an inverted triangle, and he works outside all day so he's pretty buffed.

At the beginning you have to do all these different timed fitness tests in a row to get baseline markers to which you can later compare yourself. These fitness tests are ASS KICKERS!!!! We both thought we would die of heart attacks just doing the fit tests (It was INSANITY I tell you! Haw!)

Well, I seriously smoked my husband on every single measure except pushups where he killed me (it was something like how many you can do in a minute and I did like 12 and he did like 40.) But on literally EVERY OTHER TEST, I beat him by a wide margin -- like 30-50% better than him.

THIS REALLY REALLY PISSED ME OFF. I was just flat out mad. I mean it. I felt like "What the hell?? I am freaking FIT. And Im tired of feeling like and being told that Im a washed up old has-been mom." I was expressing my madness and depression about this to my Coach the next day (horse showjumping) and she asked me if I had ever considered a Tummy Tuck and I said no, because of my daughter and wanting to be an example to her of worrying more about who you are than what you look like. Well, my Coach told me HER big secret, which was that she got some help in an area a few years back. I honestly had no idea and I was amazed.

This started me down the road of considering this procedure, the agonizing about which I explain in my first post at the beginning of Part One. But the REAL clincher for me was when I finally saw a doctor about my knee and back pain who said "Lets see if you have diastasis." Dia-WHAT? I had never even heard of it!

Well lo-and-behold, that was when I learned that I had EXTREME diastasis. That my muscles were so separated, I had a ventral hernia beginning up the front. And the doctor said he was ASTOUNDED that I have been jumping horses and running marathons and doing all this stuff with zero core integrity and everything falling out my front.

This set me free.

It set me free to fix myself, because it was the absolute confirmation I needed that I COULD NOT FIX THIS and my knees and back were just going to get worse and worse unless I let someone else fix it for me.

I am so grateful to live during a time in history where we have the ability to do this thing! I am SO GLAD I did it, and I cannot WAIT to do my 2013 half marathon and feel my abs tight as a drum. And guess what ladies??? Here is my vow to you and I PROMISE that I will do this and that when I do, I will think of all of you, my RealSelf friends. I absolutely pinky promise that for my 2013 half marathon, I will wear my dream outfit. :) I can't wait.

Quick question: anyone know if we can "subscribe"...

Quick question: anyone know if we can "subscribe" to people? I'd like to be able to subscribe to some of you and get your update alerts sent to me, rather than manually checking up on a dozen people every night!

Here is how I feel at Day 18 Post Op: 1) Been...

Here is how I feel at Day 18 Post Op:

1) Been driving since Day 12 no problems
2) Been off the raised potty since Day 8
3) Presently very active around the house. Folding clothes, making dinner, all that. That has gradually picked up over the past week.
4) Still way more fatigued than is EVER normal for me. An "outing" (like going to someone's house) for about 2 hours makes me feel super tired afterwards
5) Pain is managed fine by advil
6) Pain is hard to describe.... the incision feels tender. It may be more my body protecting itself than anything else. The skin of my abdomen is numb, but the muscles underneath get sore, which is a dual-layer weird feeling
7) My most pain it around 5 am every day, when I wake up because my back hurts. I think I am sleeping weird or protecting myself in my sleep or something, but my lower back hurts like a son of a nutcracker every single morning (but not at all during the day.)
8) My weight is the same TO THE POUND from before I got my surgery (163 lbs), but then again I did not get any lipo. I was still hoping to magically lose 10 lbs. :( But as many people point out, it doesn't help to be completely sedentary for 3 weeks
9) Sex is out of the question. I don't even want to! And my husband is scared to even hug me, he thinks I might rupture and violently explode intestines all across the room. I am ASTOUNDED by people gettin' busy within 1-2 weeks. I just feel way too... fragile. No thanks, not interested.
10) I am a high maintenance ho when it comes to the girdles and garments. I just hate them all. I feel constricted, thick waisted, weird, and annoyed. But I only have about 3 more weeks of wearing them anyway so I am just trying to deal with it and stop thinking about it because it can't be helped. So that is probably the biggest part of my daily suffering.
11) I can stand completely straight, and have been able to since the first day he told me that I could (which was about Day 12 PO). No one seeing me would have any idea that I had surgery, even with the girdle on under my clothes.
12) The only exercise I am getting is "progressive ambulation" and frankly that is enough. I walked a few miles yesterday taking the kids to the Farmers Market and the park, and I was wiped out by the end. That also makes my abdomen feel way more tender.
13) I notice a very minimal amount of extra swelling towards the end of some days, but really not enough to care much. If I didn't read so much about it here I might not even notice. Note: If you want to pee like a racehorse, get the Traditional Medicinals Weightless Tea (it is actually specifically to shed excess water.) Dandylion is supposed to be the usual tea to shed edema, and I have been drinking that too, but I swear to you when I drink one cup of that Weightless Tea I pee like seven times in a row. So I might not have much swelling because I am lucky, or because I am extra healthy, or because of my great grandmother's DNA. But it also might be because I pee out 72 gallons each time I drink that tea. I will post a picture so you can see it in case you want to try (and if it works for you too, let us all know!)
14) I have not gone back to work yet, but if I had to I could have last week part days. I think if you MUST go back to work before 3 weeks are up, then you should try to work half-days if possible. For example, you are better off working 5 days and working 4 hours each day, then working two 10-hour days or three 7-hour days. Try and do whatever you can to ease into it with short shifts, at least the first week. That is what I will be doing starting on Tuesday which will be Day 20.
15) I am going to send my recliner back earlier than necessary (sad!) because my in-laws are coming into town and I don't want to talk about it with them. And I don't NEED it anymore, it's just a convenience. (But I NEEDED it for the first 14 days.)
16) I put on a CG and I went in public today wearing jeans for a planning meeting for my church's Women's Retreat. The small group of girls there know that I had the surgery, so I thought this was a good test drive. By the end of 2 hours and eating a big brunch, the jeans were biting me and I could not wait to get home and back into my girdle and drawstring pants. The jeans button sitting down was NOT comfortable on my incision. So, I would say that you should plan on wearing soft, stretchy, yoga-type pants for the first 3+ weeks.
17) Stuff like showering has been totally fine alone since about Day 9
18) I have been able to put moisturizer on my own legs since about Day 14
19) I have been able to read to my kids and help them with homework, etc. since the first day.
20) I have been able to spend 3 hours a day on RealSelf since Day 2 PO, and I think I now need surgery for carpal tunnel because of doing so much of it on my iPhone!

All in all I am ALMOST back to normal. I know I really will never feel normal again until I am completely out of any kind of compression anything. I cleaned out my closet today, but I was really conservative because I do not want to throw out a bunch of stuff and then be disappointed. I feel like I will not get the REAL clothes try-on experience until I am 6 weeks PO. And then I won't get the for real for real for 6 months PO, because I need to be cleared for exercise, feel normal, be running, be riding, be inspired by my hot new belly and so work hard on my legs and arms and lose 10-15 lbs overall.... I need all THAT to happen before I am done. And that my wee chickadees, puts me to March 26th as my real for realseys day. PERFECT TIMING! Just before Spring and Summer midriff bearing outfits take over my entire wardrobe!!!! :)
p.s. I put on a full-side bikini that covers my scar to see what I would look like if I wanted to go to a beach today -- could I pull it off? The answer is YES I CAN!!! :) See new pix!

I am going back to work part of the day tomorrow...

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 .... :)

Hi everyone (especially SandySF!) I am so sorry...

Hi everyone (especially SandySF!) I am so sorry that you have not heard from me in about 2 weeks!!!!!

The truth of the matter is...and frankly, this is good news.... once you are able to go back to your "Real Life" you just don't have the same amount of time for "Real Self!" Not to mention, pressing issues like Halloween Costumes needing to get made, catching up at work, and all the things you neglect while laid up :)

I want to write another post continuing the thread of my last one, mainly what it is really like hour-by-hour and day -by-day. But I don't have time right now, so I just want to tell you where I am at.

4 1/2 weeks! The time actually did go pretty dang fast, especially once I went back to work! People, do NOT try to go back to work too soon. You just feel SO TIRED. It's like that 1st trimester pregnancy tired where you fall asleep at the foot of your bed because you are too tired to crawl up to the pillow. Don't bag on yourself for "low energy" or anything like that. It's NOT low energy, it's your body putting its energy to the most important use -- HEALING. So understand that being "tired" is a good sign -- it's a sign that your body is putting itself towards healing.

I went back to work right after my last post, I think that was Day 20. I stayed too long, and did not walk around too much (I was mainly sitting or at a desk or talking to people.) I meant to stay 2-3 hours and I stayed about 5. Anyway, I was just EXHAUSTED afterwards. Could hardly see straight to drive home.

That has improved day by day and week by week. But still, even at week 4.5, I fatigue much more easily.

My scar looks TERRIFIC. Really thin, beautifully symmetrical. I can't post pictures right now because my IN LAWS ARE IN TOWN FOR A WEEK and guess what? They have no idea that anything was ever even wrong with me! They can't tell at all, unless they secretly wonder why I have such heinous Visible Panty Line (VPL) all the time from my compression garment aka Glorified Spanx.

There was a big transition for me between weeks 3 and 4. At week 3 I still felt.... fragile. But by week 4, I felt almost normal.

My world's greatest surgeon, Dr Wotowic, continues to caution to me to really take it easy with exercise and physical exertion. He says "I can tell you are the type to wants to go out there and sweat bullets, not just get a little workout in, and I am telling you STOP IT!" :) He gave me a long lecture at my 4 week check up about how I seriously need to just TAKE IT EASY. He says that the more I can restrain myself now, the better long term results I will have. When I said that I feel like I am getting fatter from doing nothing but walking, he said for me to eat less food :) HA! Novel concept :) I did not get offended at this at all, because it was part of a discussion of my overall recovery and I 100% know that he is genuinely committed to me having the best results. It's not like I am going to rip myself open at this point, but the more you overexert yourself the more you swell.... the more you have swelling, the greater chance of a permanent thicker waistline.... He is trying to get me to keep the swelling down for the first 6-8 weeks, for the best permanent results. His point is that if you control your weight by eating less for two months instead of rip roaring around and causing swelling/edema, then 6 months.... 12 months.... 5 years from now you will look even better.

This all makes sense to me because we do the EXACT same thing with horse injuries. And a horse that gets a thickened leg, for example, that is not controlled early enough by standing wraps (aka compression garments!) and cold hosing, etc etc etc will end up with a permanently forever thicker leg than the other -- long after the surgery or injury is healed.

I feel good though. I have run around a little bit (not jogging, but just running to and fro) and feel totally fine. I tried a few incline pushups and did 10 no problem. Tried a few leg things (step ups, etc) and had no problem. Jumped up for a pull up and as I was dangling there it was like "Oh HELL no." I dropped down and didn't even try. I could just feel that was a bad idea. All of this was between weeks 3 and 4, when I started to feel less "fragile."

A NOTE ABOUT ITCHING: I have not felt ANY itching at all whatsoever, but I got those Silicone Scar Strips and used them for one day, and when I peeled them off, I itched. I did not have that same experience with the Silicone Scar Gel. I am not saying I am not going to use them, I am just saying that if someone is really having a hard time with itching, maybe you need the gel instead of the strips? As another note, Dr Wotowic laughed at me with the scar gel stuff. He said go ahead, it's fine and it won't hurt you, but a good scar comes from a good incision. He says that there is no need to use that stuff at all and that the scar is the surgeons responsibility, not the patients by applying expensive stuff. Well, being a total American I don't care -- I guess I just want to waste my money! ;) More that I already bought it, I might as well use it, and even if it IS a placebo effect it makes me feel good to be "taking care of my scar." So there!!!!

Also, I have personally noticed a good effect by applying a heating pad to my scar for at least 10 minutes, then massaging the scar gently but firmly with Egyptian Magic (its an olive oil / beeswax / hippy thing that comes in a pot.) I could feel there was a thickened line where the scar is.... almost like a rope or hose of thicker, more fibrous tissue.... and the heat/massage/EM therapy I have done a few times has made an obvious difference in smoothing that out and breaking that up.

Only 10 more days until I can start weaning off the Compression Garment. I can't wait! You know how we all got this surgery because we are so sad about having to put a napkin on our lap to hide our big fat tummies when we are sitting down at a wedding or something? Well, guess what ladies -- you STILL have a hard time getting dressed for awhile post surgery, because now you have to hide that CG instead of that tummy! I was so bummed yesterday because I did have a wedding to go to, and I still had to try on a bunch of outfits to find one that looked good :( because I either had weird shoulder straps showing, or I had the most ridiculous VPL. I finally got one together and I felt good, but just so you know, don't expect ALL your problems to be solved immediately after surgery! Just most of them.... ;)

Incidentally, I was on my feet all day and I did dance a little too crazy at one point. What was I supposed to do? "Pour Some Sugar On Me" cannot be denied. The good news is I did not split a seam. The bad news is, I really was more swollen than I have ever been before last night when we got home. Damn, I guess Dr Wotowic knows what he is talking about.... :)

I promise PIX as soon as the the In Laws leave on Tuesday! :)

I know all we care about are pictures, but I don't...

I know all we care about are pictures, but I don't have any handy to show you my lovlies! :)

I am 13 weeks Post Op. My scar looks good -- clean and straight, just still really red (of course! As I expect for at least a year.)

Here is what I have experienced: I feel totally fat! :( I have gained 10 lbs on the scale. I really can't blame the holidays, as I have gone through 39 of them without gaining 10 lbs! I actually weigh more -- by a lot -- than I have ever weighed in my life except when pregnant. I THINK I HOPE this is just swelling or edema or something? Although my ass is bigger and I did not have any butt surgery! And my legs are HUGE something I have never worried about :(

I had a massage 2 days ago for the first time, and she did some "work" on massaging my abdomen and scar. It felt really good in a weird I-am-still-numb-so-that's-creepy-way. But I have been wicked sore since that night -- very tender and puffy on my belly. I am not sure of that is bad or good. Is that a sign of healing or hurting?

I am kinda depressed. I am hoping all this is normal. But I am bummed to have my tummy look so much better, but my butt and legs be SO MUCH BIGGER than they have ever been in my life even at 9 months pregnant!!!! What is wrong with me? I am really NOT eating that much (and have resumed gentle exercise) and I am so big. I promise you, I looked so much better at 4 weeks post op than I do at 13 weeks. :( I have swollen into a big fat tick. I HOPE so much this is the "swell hell" thing that people complain about, but I always assumed that only meant swelling on the abdomen. :(
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 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
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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