I am 5'2" and 20 lbs over my ideal weight right...
I am 5'2" and 20 lbs over my ideal weight right now. When I was pregnant with my second, she dropped very early, so my abdomen from my belly button down was stretched more than I though was possible. I also swelled up towards the end just to top off all of the stretching. After the birth, I had complications for 6 weeks. I was diagnosed with fibroids, which turned out to be retained placenta, which caused hemorrhaging and very slow healing, as you can imagine. Aside from the fact that I'm lucky to still be alive, my ab muscles never healed properly. I tried all of the exercises and my core would not get stronger. I am active and have run lots of races, half marathons, finished the Tough Mudder, but I'm still slowed down and discouraged by my weak core muscles. Finally, I decided to do this for myself, for ME!
Here I am, 2 days until surgery. I have one bag packed with meds, one bag with scary looking, mummifying garments, and a weekend bag to stay with my friend and her family for the weekend after my surgery. My mom is coming to stay with me from day 3 until day 9. I really hope that I can return to some non-strenuous activity after then. I hope this isn't too optimistic.
My biggest concerns/paranoia right now are: long recovery time, passing out a lot (it happens automatically when I see my own blood), gaining weight while being inactive, getting weak from being inactive, and having any serious complications.
I will force myself to post before photos on here because so many of you brave ladies have done it. It's only fair.
I will see you on the flat side!
At home resting after surgery
18 Apr 2014
Day of treatment
I'm on the flat side! Three hours after I entered the OR I woke up surprisingly alert. No major pain yet. I had a hard time staying bent over while walking so I keep my hands on my knees. I'm in a recliner and ready for a nap.
Here are my before photos taken this morning
Day 1 after TT
Last night I was coughing quite a bit and will go in to make sure it's nothing serious since I have mild asthma.
I showered this morning and put on all of the garments (towel, spanks, compression band, hose). My friend helped with this. There is no way I could have done it by myself! I cut a hole in the crotch of the spanks do I can use the bathroom without undoing all of it.
Here is a before-shower snapshot. I will update after the check for my breathing.
I went to Urgent Care yesterday afternoon because I was coughing up some blood. The doctor told me that this can happen from the air tube, but they take no chances when it could be a blood clot. I was sent to the ER for evaluation. First was the X-ray to check for pneumonia and it was clear. The position they had to put me in was very uncomfortable and so was the hospital bed. I ended up taking my pain meds without food because they didn't want me to eat. Huge mistake! The next test was a CT scan to check for blood clots. They inject dye for this and it was painful laying flat. This just pushed me over the edge and I ended up being very sick. The pain was unreal until they finally got enough morphine into me and anti-nausea meds. This taught me how important it is to manage the pain meds! The good news is that no clots were found and they sent me home.
My stomach is still wrecked and I vomited 3 times during the night. I'm taking half doses more often to try to keep the meds down, but not resting well.
I will update later, hopefully feeling better.
The nausea was under control last night so I was able to take the pain meds with no problem. I slept a lot and feel like I need coffee this morning. That's a really good sign. I will post pictures after I shower.
I'm looking for advise on how to keep the drain areas clean so I'm not a walking biohazard. My dr office said to goop lots of Vaseline around it to help keep it from leaking. I have also been tucking gauze squares around it and just started adding panty liners. This may work for sitting around on towels but not if I have to go anywhere. What are you ladies doing about this?
Day 5 update / nausea gone
The nausea is finally gone. One of the nurses recommended removing the patch and that did the trick. Now I can focus on healing without feeling miserable.
Today I showered again and redressed my leaky tube 6 times using panty liners sliced up the middle. I'm still looking for better ideas. I had a small BM and I'm hoping for a larger one before layering on the spanks and wraps. Here are new photos. The incisions look better but swelling looks the same to me.
Tomorrow is my follow up appointment and I will update afterward.
What I wish I had known
I had my follow-up exam one week after the surgery and was still too swollen to remove the drain tubes. This was a disappointment since I hoped that I wouldn't miss too much work. The things that I wish I had known from the start would have helped my recovery:
1). Stop taking the heavy duty painkillers as soon as you can. Start with substituting ibuprofen as you can. The heavy stuff makes you groggy and brings your digestion to a grinding halt. The sooner you are off it the sooner the recovery starts.
2). From the bottom up. You won't solve constipation by taking stool softeners, aloe, magnesium or anything else "from the top down" (the exception is water for hydration). The stoppage happened already and needs to be moved from the bottom up (suppositories and/or enemas). This may be too much information, but not when it has been a week and you are bloated and miserable and wondering when the stool softeners are going to work.
3). Bind yourself up tighter than you thought was possible. Yes it is uncomfortable, but so is excess swelling and keeping those tubes in.
4). Milk the tubes to move blockages that will prevent the system from removing fluid and lead to leakages around the tube suchers.
5). Compress the bulbs as much as possible to squeeze out as much air as possible and make a vacuum to pull off those fluids.
6). Empty the bulb when it has more than 20cc fluid (less than 1/4 full) so you can continue to pull a stronger vacuum.
7). Start walking as soon as you are given the ok to stand upright and it doesn't kill your back. This was the final step that finally brought me relief from my, um, backup problem.
These are the things that I wish I had known a week ago. Now I just need to push on and work off the fluid buildup. Does anyone have tips for me there?
Sunshine and Success
So now that I told you about the challenges, it's only fair to tell you the successes. Today is a beautiful sunny day in MI so I went with my kids and mother for a walk around a local nature area. I was able to walk 1-1/2 miles at an easy pace with a couple of stops to take in the scenery and sunshine. This gives me hope that I will get back to my active life eventually.
When I step back and look at it, being able to do that 8 days after a major surgery isn't so bad after all. I will get there. :-)
Working on the wrap and dressing
Today I used ace bandages and a tight futuro ab wrap for the lower most swollen part. I haven't found anything comfortable around the tubes, so I'm wearing granny panties. I pin the bulbs to my ab wrap and tuck the tubes under my shirt to go out. Luckily it's chilly and I still need a jacket so you can't see the bulges.
I'm interested in what others are doing for wrapping and dressing. This is my third version and most comfortable so far, thanks to tips on here.
It's downhill from here
I try not to focus on weight, since fitness and shape are what is important to me. However, this morning I was happy to be back to my pre-op weight. This is purely a psychological milestone. I know that I still have excess fluids (I'm still wearing the tubes) and they removed 2.5 pounds of belly skin flap. I plan to get back into a serious fitness routine once I am able, but for today, I will take this milestone as real progress. *Happy Dance!*
I'm still swollen, but fluid output is much lower, so I'm hoping for improved results soon.
Trying again to upload photos.
Want these drains out!
My fluid amount has been below 20cc for 3 days on one side and 2 days on the other. My PS seems to be very conservative for removing tubes and will not until I've been below 20cc for 3 consecutive days (on day 4 at the earliest). These bulbs are not even that accurate for measurements. I've seen that the standard is below 25-30cc for 24 hours. These tubes are getting very painful and making it hard to sleep. I don't want to go back on those heavy painkillers like they are recommending. I want the tubes out. *pouts*
Reduced swelling & back to original cg
I wore my smaller futuro ab binder for the past day as low and tight on my belly. I also started taking Zyflamend for inflammation yesterday. I'm not sure what did it, but I could see a difference in swelling below the bb.
Also, today the nurse at my PS told me that if I don't go back to the towel / spanx / large binder that they may keep my tubes in longer. She recommended running the tubes down the legs of the spanx to help with the tube pain. I tried and this has helped so far and I am back to the original wrap. It feels snug on my hip bones and ribs, but not as much in the middle, so I question this, but will obey and wear it (grrr).
I will keep the tone of this down since I am very unhappy right now. I was told at my prior appointment that my fluid levels need to be less than 20cc on each side for 3 consecutive days before tube removal. Based on this I scheduled my return to work and notified my employer. I even called in yesterday to give latest measurements and confirm appt time. On my way into my appointment I receive a phone call to inform me that fluid levels need to be less than 25cc *total* for both tubes for 3 consecutive days. When I arrived for my appt I was told that they I will be asked to sign a waiver and if a seroma develops, they will charge me for surgery to correct it. Not happy about this. I will write my own note on the waiver before signing it.
I decided to celebrate tube-removal by trying on clothes from my own closet that I never wear. Wheee! I had on just a waist-cincher underneath.
Got my hourglass shape (waist size down 3.5 inches)
I'm going girdle/faja shopping today, so I took my measurements. Wow! My waist size is already down from 37 inches to 33.5 inches (down 3.5 inches!). My PS does his own method of TT called the "Hourglass Tuck" http://hourglasstuck.com/. The way that he described it was that he attaches fascia from the side areas to the center fascia to create the hourglass shape. Picturing this grosses me out, but it's interesting and seems to have worked. *happy dance*
Back to work this week
I worked this week and it went well. I had to adjust cg during the day to stay comfortable and was exhausted and more swollen after work. Here are updated photos.
Canoe ride today
I wanted to do something active with the kids now that the weather is finally nice here, so we went for a canoe ride. I figured that the upper body workout and some sunshine would be good. We rented because getting kayaks on top of my car right now is not an option! We went for over an hour and everything went well. When we got home I was tired and napped for a couple of hours. I don't seem to be swelled more than usual. Overall, a good day, but I'm reminded that this is going to take a while to get back to normal activity level.