So far so good. Communication has been a little...
So far so good. Communication has been a little complicated and drawn out because most has been via email, but Fatimeh and Dr. Cardenas have both been very courteous and professional. My procedure will include the following:
-Extended tummy tuck with muscle repair
-Liposuction to waist, upper and lower back, arms and thighs
-Fat transfer to butt and/or hips
I will also be staying at the recovery house for 5 days. I only live a few hours away from TJ, but I'm sure I'll be grateful to be cared for by nurses for the first few days. I'm a little anxious about the fat transfer to the butt because I don't want it to look unnaturally large, but I hope to feel better once I meet with her in person and voice my concerns. I will be scheduling a day to do all the pre lab work at the clinic (I was quoted $165).
I found Dr. Cardenas on RealSelf after a few weeks of researching online. Her before and after pictures sold me. She sounds very confident about my projected results so that makes me feel very happy. I will post my journey here since reading all of these reviews has been a great support for me in my decision making. I hope my experience serves to help someone else who may be undergoing a similar procedure.
Surgery Prep & Lab Work
There is finally something I feel is worth updating about. I am traveling to TJ tomorrow to complete all of the following pre surgery lab work: CBC, Routine Urinalysis, HIV, PT, PTT, INR, Hep B, Hep C, Chem Panel, Pregnancy Test, and EKG. To be honest, I don't know what all of those are but I'm not concerned enough to look them up. All of the lab work will cost $165 USD. I live in Southern California so I'm fortunate enough to be able to take a day trip to get this done with all of the same clinicians who will be involved in my procedure. Getting this out of the way somehow makes the whole thing seem more real. Anxiousness and excitement have definitely begun to take over.
I have also started purchasing surgery related items and collecting them in what I'm calling my Cardenas Doll Box. Amazon (my online sugar daddy) has delivered the following items so far: boppy pillow, Keri lotion, Lanacane, Polysporin, compression stockings, P-Ez, Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B-12, and Folate. Some of the items were recommended by Dr. Cardenas via her friendly staff, and other items I have jotted down from reading all of these helpful reviews (P-Ez to pee while standing=genius!!). I just started taking the last four supplements on the list today. They are supposed to increase my hemoglobin levels to assist in a speedy recovery.
For now, I hope this information is helpful to anyone out there. I'm sure later on I will be turning to this forum for moral support more than anything else. My husband is amazing and incredibly supportive, but there is nothing like venting to people who truly understand the thoughts and emotions associated with this process. I will update soon :)
Lab Work Update
So I did all my lab work and everything came back normal. Now all that is left to do is drink lots of water, eat healthy, get in some walking, take my supplements... and wait.
The Beauty Enhance clinic was beautiful. The secretary was sweet and professional. The 'blood guy' got my tricky vein on the first try, and with no pain. I have always been told I have horrible veins, and blood work has been very painful. I was happy and relieved with his work.
The 'EKG guy' was a different story. He was uncomfortably flirty and made me feel gross and objectified. My mom walked in as he was taking off all the EKG stuff and immediately noticed he was unprofessional in his demeanor. I won't go into details, but I decided to email Rocio about it because my mom was concerned about him working at the recovery house. She was very quick to respond and apologize for his behavior, and assured me he was not associated with the recovery house in any way. Apparently he is an outside worker and Dr. Cardenas is going to address the issue. I felt reassured by her response and I want to stress that everyone else I have communicated with has been incredibly professional.
I probably won't update for a while since there won't be much to update about until the surgery nears. Maybe I'll get the courage to post before pictures along the way.
Dun dun dunnnn...
Sooo... I woke up feeling courageous this morning. Therefore, I decided to upload some 'before' pictures before I change my mind. I took these a few weeks ago for Dr. Cardenas to review for my initial quote. Some days I wake up with what I interpret to be a decent looking body, and other days not so much. I've always struggled with my weight and I've never considered myself to be "skinny." The lowest weight I've been was about 130lbs. at the end of high school, and even then I saw myself as "chubby."
At the same time, my weight has never affected my self-esteem so much that it becomes a fixation. I'm a pretty confident person and I feel I have a lot of great things going for me. I have two Masters degrees and I'm working on Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. I value my smarts and career quite a bit. I also have a fair amount of artistic talent, and I have a loving and supportive family.
I decided to go ahead with this procedure now because I have the money to do so. Money tends to go so quickly, and there is usually little to show for it. This way I will have a lifetime of proof that it went somewhere worthwhile. I also figured if I was going to ever do it, why not while I'm young? My husband and I don't plan to have children, so waiting is unnecessary. I told him I was going to voice my concern about my butt looking too "Kardashian" and he said "Don't. Just let the doctor do what she wants." Um... Someone is excited about a bigger butt! Lol
I also wanted to thank you guys for supporting me on here. I appreciate your comments and questions because it lets me know there are other people who have either gone through this and understand, or are going through this now and share in my experience. Thanks!!
Brace yourselves for Pre-Cardenas Doll pictures...
12 more days...
...and I'm terrified. I'm trying not to think about it, but my heart definitely races whenever I do. I spoke with Ronnie about pick up/drop off times again. He is the sweetest emailer to ever exist. Knowing the staff I will be interacting with are kind and comforting, including Dr. Cardenas, eases my nerves a bit. I will be traveling into TJ by myself with Ronnie. My husband is dropping me off and picking me up in San Diego. Not having my family while I'm there is scary, but I'm trusting all of the reviews about the staff at the recovery house. I know I'm in good hands while I'm there. These last 12 days are going to go by so fast! Ahh!!
Bye bye hubby :'(
In the car with Marcos as I type. He's very nice and we're on our way to pick up another patient before heading into TJ. I had to make my goodbyes with my husband quick because he was nervous about me leaving and I didn't want to break down. I'm not nervous right now. I don't feel much of anything, actually. I think I'm in shock. I will update throughout my stay. Eeek!!
The nicest people
Everyone at the Recovery House is so sweet and accommodating. I feel uncomfortable being taken care of because I'm such an independent person, but they make me feel at ease. I've already been brought some very yummy food. Surgery is first thing tomorrow. I'm first at 7:30 AM so I'm not sure when I'll be coherent enough to update again, but I will do my best.
Surgery went well
9 Dec 2015
Day of treatment
I'm very tired. Nurses have been great. Not a lot of pain, but I expect the worse to come tomorrow. Transferring beds afterwards was not pleasant, but not unbearable. They just brought me Gatorade, which I'm excited about because I'm very parched. Didn't see too much bruising on my arms, but she did warn me she wouldn't be able to take too much to avoid sagging skin. Right now I'm most concerned about sleeping. I'm suffer from insomnia and when I do fall asleep I toss and turn. I anticipate the next few weeks will be a struggle to rest and I'm hoping it doesn't take a toll on my psychological well being.
So I almost fainted 3 times yesterday. My iron and hemoglobin got too low so I'm having to do 3 iron infusions. Worst case scenario, I'll have to do a blood transfusion. I really don't want to do that so I'm bullying my blood into getting it together. I haven't been able to take many pics but I got this one of my incision. It looks thin and low and I'm in love. Also, I got a glimpse of my booty yesterday and I liked what I saw. Yay!
The swelling makes it difficult to move. Lower back is hurting quite a bit. I just had another dizzy spell. Despite the swelling, I'm loving my little waist.
Not a good day
I was looking forward to today. I was going to get my garment on after a shower. Turns out I fainted after my shower. They did a bunch of things through the IV and gave me blood pressure medication because it's been low. They stopped my meds because they lower blood pressure so I'm in quite a bit of pain right now. I took ibuprofen and I think a tramadol, but I've been jerking my a body around so much that it's in so much discomfort all over the blace. My back kills, my incision feels like it's being torn open. I never cry and I've been crying to myself because I feel so helpless. Now that the nurses have switched shifts, a new one just started working (Looks like she's completely new, which scares me going into the night shift). I had to tell her how to redo my drain after she drained it and I had to talk her through helping me out of the bed to use the restroom (through tears because I can barely breathe let alone speak). I want Dr. Cardenas to come see me or one of my other nurses to come back so I feel like I'm in capable hands. I guess this is just one of those moments where I wish I would have never put myself through this. I'm hoping after I feel better I'll start to cheer up again and remember why I did this to begin with.
To the rescue
Dr. Cardenas showed up with her team of magical faries and took care of everything. Meds are in and within minutes all the suffering dissipated. Nurse Karla is here for the night and I'm in good hands again. Thank you guys for letting me cry out the pain. I'm not usually a Debbie downer, but I guess my weakest self emerges post surgery with no meds. As JK Rowling would say... All way well.
Today is a new day
I took a shower today after the dreadful post-shower fainting experience day before yesterday. Nurse Eli made it quick and she helped calm my nerves. I'm supposed to be leaving tomorrow, but I'm going to ask if they still think I should stay another day or two. My hubby wants me to come home as healthy as possible so he said for me to stay until I feel better. Of course... I'd rather be home. I miss him and our fur child. Still haven't been able to see my butt. I'm not too worried about it because my main concern was the tummy tuck and that looks fantabulous! Swollen, but fantabulous nonetheless.
Garment and goodnight
Nurse Karla helped me get my body garment on, and sleeve garment because I had lipo on my arms. My front drain hole made it painful as hell, but it's on and I feel better. I've been wanting to get these babies on because I somehow felt that once they allowed me to wear them I would be over the hill in my recovery. They postponed putting them on me because of my low blood pressure. They are tight, which makes it difficult to breathe with an already tight muscle repair. Hopefully my lungs don't scrunch up overnight. I can't really tell a difference in my body because of the swelling, but I'll post pics anyways. Goodnight y'all :)
I am so excited to be going home tomorrow. Marcos will be picking me up at 11:00 am, and I should be back in my hubby's arms around 12:00 pm. Today was uneventful. I got my second lymphatic massage, which helped drain a lot of fluid. I really recommend those. I would have done 3, but with my blood pressure being so low for the first few days, I didn't have time. They're removing one drain tomorrow and I'll have to come back to remove my second drain on the 23rd. Overall, I feel so much better. I can walk a little faster and stay standing a little longer. I can get in and out of bed on my own. Of course, I do everything carefully because I do not want to experience any complications with my scar. I shall update again when there is something worth updating about :)
I've been home one day. I miss my amazing nurses, but my hubby is doing a great job of taking care of me. I cleaned my wound on my own today and took pics for Dr. Cardenas so I figured I would share them on here. Swelling is bad, but I love how low my scar is and the shape I seem to be getting. I forgot to take a booty pic, but my lower back is so swollen anyways that it's not a true depiction of what it will look like. I did a lot of research and I didn't expect a miracle overnight so I'm being patient with my body. More updates to come every other day since that's how often Dr. C wants pics :)
My mom helped me take a nice shower earlier. You'll definitely need help with that, so recruit someone you feel comfortable seeing you naked. Pain is a lot better today, so is my overall discomfort. Swelling continues to go down. Today is day 10 post op, so I am allowed to start standing up a little straighter each day. I've scheduled three lymphatic massages at a nearby location over the next week. Looking forward to those. Here are today's pictures for Dr. C.
My garment quickly became too large for my de-swelling body. I was already on the last row of hooks, and it was like wearing a tight shirt. It is an XL. I almost purchased a new one on Amazon (my online sugar daddy) when I remembered I had purchased a legit waist trainer/corset a few months ago. I only wore it a few times because the struggle was too real and I could not handle the tightness. Pulled it out today and voila! I won't need to purchase a new garment at all (perhaps a smaller waist trainer at some point). I plan on wearing loose fitting clothes for a while anyways, so this will do in addition to the compression garment for the next several weeks. I don't care about it looking like skin so I can wear tighter clothes. Standing up straighter today and no pain meds at all :)
These are the pics I sent Dr. C for today. I feel more swollen today, even my forearms feel swollen. Fatimeh says its normal to be more swollen on some days and in certain areas intermittently. I'll probably take the drain out on Wednesday based on how little it's draining now. Not looking forward to that. I've recruited the hubby to do it so I don't puke/faint. The scar looks very healed in some areas, and overall it's healing well. I hear it changes in color/texture a lot over the first few months so I'm just waiting out the healing process. I think after this update, I'll only update pictures when I feel there is a noticeable difference in my body. They're starting to love look too similar to be worth continuous updates.
Now that Dr. C only wants weekly pictures, I'll only update weekly unless something comes up. I watched Making a Murderer on Netflix, followed by Central Patk Five, and Dear Zachary. They turned my recovery into a lot of stressed out yelling at the television screen. In fact, I had a full blown panic attack while watching Making a Murderer. I'm in the field of psychology so I knew it felt like a panic attack, which I have from time to time, but I also knew I had surgery so the feeling of "dying" seemed like a real possibility... Which made me panic even more. Despite that, and despite the stress, these are great things to watch. I especially recommend Making a Murderer. It is probably the best and worst things I have ever seen in my life.
Anyways... Recovery has been otherwise uneventful. I have noticed a lot more swelling that feels worse than it looks. I constantly have to look in the mirror to ensure that I don't actually look like a balloon. Sometimes the tightness of the swelling verges on pain, but most of the time it is just discomfort. I took my drain out on Sunday. That was strange. The first tug hurt like a biotch in the sense that it stung the outside of the hole. However, the actually pulling just felt odd. I'm glad to be drain free for sure. Sleeping has been a pain. I have insomnia as it is, so not being able to sleep on my stomach has made it much worse. My back hurts from sleeping in that awkward slightly bent position, although I am able to lay more and more flat everyday. Still, I am a stomach and side tosser and turner. Needless to say, I wake up at odd times (like 6:50 AM to write Real Self reviews). I have asked Dr. C when I can sleep on my stomach, so we shall see what she says. I have also asked when I can have sex again, because damn. I will update next week, but also answer any questions that come up before. Thanks for reading :)
The following is my social media rant about Making a Murderer. I decided to include it here because, oh why not?
I implore everyone, especially those in the psychology community, to watch Making A Murdered on Netflix. I am appalled at the atrocity that is the injustice committed against two innocent men. Even when you set aside the blatant corruption, everything research tells us about eyewitness testimony and false confessions is completely disregarded. This series took me on a roller coaster of emotions, including a full blown panic attack, in the face of helpless indignation. I am so grateful to Netflix and the filmmakers for shining a light on these issues. This is an important series that will induce rightfully angry reactions from anyone with a working ethical brain.
I've been feeling a lot better lately. Sleeping is easier... Although I haven't tried sleeping on my stomach yet. I do experience pain when I stand too long, when I sit too long, and when I wake up. Nothing unbearable. I still swell up throughout the day, and I'm sure that'll continue to happen over the next few months. I'll leave comments on the photos because I have some observations/possible concerns that I'm trying not to freak out about until my body has completed the healing process and I get a better picture of my final results. PS: I will be getting my belly button stitches taken out on Saturday :)
I can't wait to be able to really go full force at the gym to start working on my thighs/butt. As much as I don't want to lose it, I want to get rid of the cellulite. My butt looks good in clothes, but it doesn't blow me away. I still think I'm losing volume and I think the bottom looks a little square. I already decided to go back for a second round of lipo and fat transfer, but I want to do A LOT of gym work first. I'll likely go back for that late this year or early next year. Still a lot of swelling, especially in my lower back and scar area. Love how low my tummy tuck scar is though :)
Concerned with my results
I haven't updated in a few weeks. I've been busy working out (walking and light weight training) and eating right (1200 calories or less and a paleo diet)... And yet my weight is up three lbs from my pre op weight. It's to the point that I'm afraid to eat anything at all. Also, my results seem to be changing for the worse and I'm genuinely concerned. I have developed a bulge in my upper abdomen that feels looks like loose skin when I bend over. I really hope it's not the muscle repair coming undone because I would be devastated if I spent all that money and time recovering for nothing. It looks horrible and it's making me depressed. Below my butt, there are rolls that Dr. C said were swelling, but I'm less convinced of that now. Since all of my lipo was done to my lower back and thighs, I was hoping for those areas to be on point. I swear, my butt is getting smaller and smaller too. Ugh. I'm trying to keep it together, but I'm so disheartened.
To make things worse, some stitches were left in my belly button and it couldn't heal so it opened up inside. Rocio said Dr. C would take out the stitches on Saturday when I go in for my appointment, and it wouldn't affect my results.
I sent another email voicing my concerns and I'll bring them up again on Saturday, but I'm afraid it won't make much of a difference. Regardless if I'm told that I need a revision or that I need to re-do lipo to my thighs, I can't afford another surgery.