I have been awful about updating here…I had my surgery on March 23rd and at first I was too out of it and then I was too frustrated to post but I want to get it all down now before I forget so here goes:
Day Before Surgery 1: I was called by the surgery center at 11am to give a medical history. At 4pm I was called by my plastic surgeon’s office to let me know that the surgery center had rejected my case because I have a latex allergy (WHICH I MENTIONED TO MY DR AT BOTH THE CONSULT AND THE PRE-OP!!!)and that they would have to reschedule for the following week someplace else. Um, no. I pitched a fit and ended up getting my surgery one day later than originally planned, I think it was supposed to be my Dr’s day off but I was annoyed and I was trying to work around work and school so…
Day Of Surgery: My 80-something year old grandmother ended up being the one to drive me to the surgery center the day of my surgery. I woke up early and she drove me down there, I spend the whole time trying really hard to NOT think. Just do it, don’t think about it. I brought my iPhone and was listening to my favorite band via headphones which helped. As soon as they took me back to prep me my grandmother left and I was a nervous wreck. Surprisingly I didn’t have a panic attack or cry though, both of which I usually do right before a surgery…I’m sure a lot of people do. It is scary. Thankfully the guy I have been seeing stopped by and held my hand until my surgeon came to get me to take me to the OR and that was really nice. ?
After they took me back and had me put the nifty gown and socks and cap on, and got my IV in I just waited for a bit with my visitor and before too long Dr Kim came in to draw my markings. My friend left at that point and after she was done drawing she had me hop back into the bed.
The next thing I remember is my bed being surrounded by people all of a sudden (Dr Kim, nurses…) and someone saying “This is your anesthesiologist, Dr Justice. So, of course, I had to crack a joke about “Oooohhh, Dr Justice, are you going to dole out some justice?” Everyone laughed and then he said “Well, lets see if this works” and pushed something through my IV. Nothing happened at first and everyone was staring at me. I said “What was that?” and everyone just laughed. I said “Oh no…does that mean I am about to start speaking in tongues or something?” and they laughed harder. Then I have a foggy memory of being asked to move from the bed to the operating table….
…My next memory is waking up in recovery. I heard my name so I opened my eyes (I was sitting up, of course, as they have you after a TT) and my nurse was standing at the foot of my bed. I said “That was it? I’m done?” (and she said yes). I said “That’s it?! I just had a tummy tuck!?” she laughed and said yes. At some point during all of this a nurse came up and told me that I had a catheter in place and that she was going to remove it (and she did, it just feels weird, no pain). I think I asked how long the surgery was but I don’t remember the response, I think it was around 3 hours but I’m not sure. Then I said “I don’t feel ANY pain!” and she said “Yeah, I have you maxed out on your pain meds.” I said “Awesome! Can I go home?” I don’t remember much after that, I don’t know if she just said yes or said if I could get up and get dressed/pee then I could or whatever…but in any case I vaguely remember seeing my Nana, I vaguely remember being wheeled to the car and riding home with my pillow that I’d brought over my belly. I remember walking into my room and falling into the recliner…
…and that’s pretty much ALL I remember for the first two weeks after the surgery! Lol I know that I slept a lot and was semi-coherent (talked to people, had visitors, watched a few TV shows) but for some reason I don’t REMEMBER any of it. I had a morphine pump for the first few days which was removed at my first post-op (surgery was Friday, pump removed on Monday). After that I took two Norco every four hours and Valium. That’s what it said on the bottle but for whatever reason Dr Kim ended up getting upset and said I was taking too much and refused to give me more than 1 refill. I ended up having to go to Urgent Care to get a third refill and then again for a step-down medication because she flat out refused to prescribe me anything else (with the exception of an antibiotic for a UTI that I developed). The Urgent Care doctors saw no issue with giving me more pain meds and they even called down a plastic surgeon to take a look at me. He said that it was one of the best tummy tucks he’s ever seen (YAAAAY!) and asked to take pictures. This is when I began to get irritated with Dr Kim because I had told her over and over and over again before the procedure that I am VERY resistant to pain medication but that I do NOT have an addictive personality and that I was only comfortable going through with the surgery if she was willing to work with me to keep me pain-free. I toss out unused pain pills ALL the time, I do not abuse them but I DO need high doses and I DO need to take them for longer than most people do. It annoys me that even though I went over and over this with her that we still ended up butting heads…even the Urgent Care staff was annoyed with her and called her to ask what was going on.
Which brings me to the second part of the reason why I ended up in Urgent Care: The day after the surgery I noticed a painful lump the size of an orange on my left side and a lot of bruising. By the time I got to my post op it was a HUGE bruise (my whole left side from butt-cheek to knee was black and red and blue). She said that I was doing too much and had popped sutures (I was bleeding externally as well) but that for the most part it was normal post-op bleeding. When I went to Urgent Care about the pain management I showed it to them and they were horrified, it was NOT normal, it was a hematoma (internal bleeding). They told me that the dose of Lovenox she had given me was too high for my size (5 ft & 109 lbs pre-op) in their opinion. Now, opinions vary on this in the Plastics community but she gave me the full 40ccs, and I think it was once a day (?) for four days. My hospital (Loma Linda University Medical Center) said it was inappropriate and Dr Kim called me to tell me that she had in front of her studies that showed that it was (appropriate). So…in either case I was annoyed again because she told me that my bruising was normal when she knew good and well that it was not. Urgent Care said it was a good thing that I came in to have it looked at because I had to be tested to see if I needed a transfusion. (I didn’t. Normal hemoglobin is 12, at 8 you need a transfusion and I was at 10.)
Other than that, healing as gone pretty darn well. I only used the recliner for the first night, I ended up preferring my bed with a ton of pillows to the recliner (I had a feeling I would end up that way). I used a walker for awhile, don’t remember for how long, and I used a raised toilet seat with hand rails for over two weeks (HIGHLY recommend this).
Like I said, I don’t remember much about the first two weeks or so, so I can’t give much advice. I can say that I was and have remained pretty much pain free throughout this whole experience, but I did have to be very pro-active and assertive about getting what I needed. I stayed on the Norco for two weeks(after the first week I went down to one pill every 6 hours). After that most people go on regular Tylenol but Tylenol does nothing for me (might as well be eating Tic Tacs for all the good it does, it doesn’t affect fevers, nothing for me and my father is the same way) and I couldn’t take Ibuprofen or aspirin or anything else I could find on the market because they are blood thinners and I had the internal bleeding. I tried to have a sit down with Dr Kim to resolve this issue, but she seemed like she was in a hurry to get to her next patient and her response was basically “Take the Ibuprofen at your own risk, I recommend Tylenol and I refuse to prescribe anything else.”
So I ended up BACK in Urgent Care. I wanted OFF the Norco and Valium but I still needed something for pain and muscle spasms (this was at two weeks and with zero meds I had both issues). They were more than willing to prescribe me Ultram and Skelaxin. The Ultram is apparently a pretty strong pain killer that works similarly to an opiate (vicodin, etc) but is not one. However, it has some very scary drug interactions and side effects.
Around the end of week 3 I decided to try some Tylenol 3 that I had leftover from my last C-Section. Perfection. I am extremely comfortable, not at all loopy (finally! Lol) and it doesn’t have as many scary risks. Right now I am taking 1 pain pill every 4 hours but I’m feeling great so I’m going to try to wean off that (6 hours, then 8,etc) and if that goes okay then I’ll go off meds entirely.
FYI: I did try one dose of Ibuprofen the other day and not only did it not control my discomfort well, but it did make me bleed (there was blood in my drains).
Another FYI: I apparently have a really bad reaction to Valium. I have been told that I picked fights with friends, got into arguments with my mother during which she had to fight me for my car keys because I was going to go DRIVE myself around, and I said and did other things that I have ZERO memory of. Not. Cool. I doubt I’ll ever take Valium again.
I can honestly say that I have had very little of anything that I would call actual PAIN (although when I woke up from the surgery and was all perky and asking to go home one of the nurses told me that most people wake up at least a bit miserable from this surgery and that I had the highest pain tolerance they’d ever seen). My biggest fear in ALL of this has been that I would be in excruciating pain because I have such a high tolerance to pain meds. BUT, when I am holding still (laying in bed, sitting in recliner, etc) I am usually 100% pain free or close to it. This recovery is very UNCOMFORTABLE (I feel more like I was in a car accident than like I had a surgery. I’m SORE, not in PAIN…if that makes any sense?). By the second week I was up to going on short outings and by week three I was working from home.
That brings me to the present…
Today is 3 weeks and 3 days post op. The soreness is improving, it was improving very slowly until yesterday when, for whatever reason, I had a sudden HUGE improvement. No idea why, it was mid day too…I just suddenly felt a lot better. I had a post-op visit today and had my first drain removed (it felt kinda strange coming out and then BURNED for a few minutes after…nothing unbearable though. I’m not even dreading the second one coming out, no biggie.)I’m pretty comfortable now. A little run-down, still some soreness (mostly around my belly button and where I had the bleed). I can laugh and cough without too much discomfort if I hold a pillow to my tummy (still haven’t sneezed yet *knock on wood*!).
I’ll update more later on but since this is a HUGE update, I’m sure it’s more than enough for now. Pics to come…