Surgery & 4 Days Post-Op

As you read this post, I want you to keep in mind that it’s Friday evening, I’m 72 hours post-surgery and I’m high on pain meds.  I’ll try to be coherent, but I make no promises.

I figured I wouldn’t get much sleep the night before my body lift, but I think J and I each got a few hours.  I made sure to shower and shave so I could wake up and be ready to go.  Then of course I decided to semi-straighten my hair before we could leave.  Don’t ask me why – I guess I’m vain?  But on the other hand, I couldn’t eat breakfast or drink any coffee so maybe I was just killing time.  Then we were off!

We drove up to the hospital, and I had a few breakdown moments.  I sent videos to the kids letting them know I loved them and missed them.  I woke up Audra when she received the message, so she wrote me back and wished me good luck.  That totally didn’t help my emotional state.  But I was still thankful to hear from one of them.

Since I was already pre-registered, the check-in process was super easy.  I sat in the waiting room for just a minute or two before they called me back.  My vitals were checked (all normal), and I got to change into my fancy hospital gown.  I had a moment where I realized that it was the last time (at least until gravity takes over in a few decades) that I’d have to be self-conscious about my droopy boobs.  Hellooooo permagrin!

They also put the compression bands on my calves along with a blow-up blanket to keep me warm.  It was all a bit much but I figured they knew what they were doing.  I obviously didn’t want to risk getting a blood clot and apparently my core temp needed to be up for the surgery.

They finally allowed J to come back and then my dad arrived shortly after that.  J’s mom was supposed to come but she ended up with kidney stones (BTDT – owwww), so she couldn’t make it.  We all sat around and chatted about random things.  I was pretty calm at that point.  The good news is that we are a trio of talkers, so there was never a dull moment while we waited for the surgeon. 😉

Dr. Sando arrived with an assistant, and my dad stepped out while he started the marking process.  It’s funny how far I’ve come in the modesty department.  After giving birth to Austin and having a billion student doctors around, I’m just not that concerned about what the professionals see on my body.  That’s a damn good thing too because there was lots of boob lifting and skin pinching happening.  Fun.

The marking process took about 30 minutes, and I felt pretty excited by the end of it.  One of the decisions I had to make was regarding my breasts.  They were still pretty large, so he needed to know if I wanted the extra weight anchored above my breast, or if I wanted it removed.  I think it was because my breasts were lopsided?  But honestly I was a little confused.  But mostly the point was that if some of the volume removed, the re-sagging process would happen more slowly.  I decided to take that route.  They could still get a little bit smaller if I lose anymore weight, but I’m okay with it.  They were a 36D pre-surgery, and I’m thinking maybe they’re a C now?  They’re swollen though so I won’t know for a few months.

Anyway, I thought they would drug me up a little before I went into the operating room, but they decided against it.  I guess I seemed calm enough.  So off I went and we were all ready to get the show on the road.  I just remember being rolled in and wishing I had my camera.  I would have loved to get a video of all the activity happening everywhere.  I guess I didn’t really think of everyone who’d be involved in my surgery.  I chatted with them a bit, and then before I knew it, I was off in a dream world.

J kept everyone updated on Facebook, and I’m so thankful.  He did a great job!

• Nicole went back for surgery around 10. I have received no further updates yet.
• Official update. The back portion of the extended abdominoplasty is complete. They are now working on her thighs. The doctor says she is doing great.
• Thighs are complete. The operation portion of the extended abdominoplasty is complete and they are stitching her up. The last part will be the breast lift. Anticipated completion time is 7pm. 
• The surgery is taking longer than expected. They assure me that everything is going well. The next update should be that everything is complete.
• Just talked with the doctor. Everything is complete and she is awake and doing well. Waiting for the nurse so I can see her. Thank you all for the support and prayers.
• Nicole was moved to recovery at 8pm. The nurse is moving her into the room she will be staying in for the night now. She is asleep now but I will keep everyone up to date as things happen.

I guess my dad was still there when I woke up, because he said I talked with him.  I don’t remember that at all.

• • • • •
Hello again.  It’s now Saturday morning – so about 84ish hours post-surgery.  I had a rough night last night so I had to put away the laptop and focus just on getting sleep.  More on that later.
Back to that first night in recovery.  It went pretty well.  I was catheterized so I didn’t need to get out of bed for any reason.

Pretty hair, huh?  Anyway, all I know about that night is that I could only eat ice chips and I only hit the pain med button one time.  I definitely regretted that later.  But I was so out of it that the pain didn’t really register.
Around 2am, they came in and asked me to stand up and walk to the chair.  I did it, but I got hit with a major wave of nausea.  It was then that the pain really started to set in, and I knew I couldn’t be a superhero.  J set his alarm and I started getting doses of Dilaudid every 20 minutes.
I had been given a nausea patch for during surgery, but after I struggled to just walk a few feet, the nurse hit me with another dose of something for that as well.  
I made it back from the chair to the bed (soooooo slowly) and then I pretty much slept until 8am.  And then I realized that I had food to eat!  I was so excited!
As it turned out though, I was totally not hungry.  I ate a few bites of eggs and drank my coffee.  I tried to talk J into eating the rest, but he said no.  I did end up saving the pastry and eating it a bit later.  I just couldn’t throw out a perfectly delicious pastry.
The nurse removed my catheter and I had to walk to the bathroom.  That was not fun at all.  See my hunchbacked walk? (That’s only improved slightly at this point.)

Trying to pee right after a catheter has been removed is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever encountered.  I also have this weird thing where I have to pee 2-3 times before I feel done.  So I sat on that toilet forever.

I did get through it though and before I knew it, Dr. Sando was in the room checking on my incisions.  He said everything looked good, but damn I was starting to bruise and swell.  All I could really see was my legs:

It’s difficult to see either the swelling or the bruising in this picture, but it was definitely there.  I didn’t really get a good glimpse of my stomach at that point though.  And my breasts just looked nasty honestly.  But hey, I trusted the surgeon and he said it all looked fantastic.
The rest of the day seemed to drag by.  I was in and out of it because of the Dilaudid.  Lunch went similarly to breakfast, and dinner wasn’t much better.  I couldn’t taste anything, and that is certainly not normal for me.
Getting out of bed to pee didn’t seem to be getting any easier, and that hospital bed was so frustrating.  By about 3pm, J and I decided that getting home would probably make things at least a bit easier on me.  I originally thought the kids could come home that night from hanging with my mom and Gran (my stepmom), but I’m so grateful that she insisted on keeping them an extra day.  I was so not doing well.  And my dad and Joy (my other stepmom) had been keeping an eye on the dogs for us so that was one less thing we needed to worry about.  I can’t even explain how much all of the support (physical and emotional) helped this whole process.  I loved that J was able to be at the hospital with me the whole time (except for a few minutes when I finally convinced him to go grab some food).
I don’t remember exactly what time I checked out, but it was just barely past dinner (5pm-ish).  I putt my little nightgown dress on and got situated in the wheelchair.
You can already see in that image how swollen I am.  The stomach binder is thick too, and that doesn’t help.  But at least I was headed home!
The drive home was quite similar to when we brought our babies home the first times.  He drove way safer and slower than normal.  It was totally cute.
I don’t remember much of that night other than J was soooo concerned about the dogs “attacking” me.  I cuddle with Astro every night, so I knew it’d be an issue.  But J was still way more worried than me.  He built a pretty solid fortress around my recliner with dining chairs and luggage.
Let’s talk about the recliner.  It was suggested in my paperwork and also by my friend Chris (who had the surgery a year ago).  I cannot overemphasize the need for the recliner!  Even four days in, I tried laying on my bed and nope.  Definitely not ready for that.  I’m normally a side-sleeper and that’s totally out.  But the recliner helps me at least sort of sleep on my side.  Don’t get me wrong, it all sucks, but I really can’t imagine not having this chair.
Basically J and I spent Wednesday night and half of Thursday sleeping in 2-4 hour stints.  They had weaned me off the Dilaudid before I was discharged so I was now taking 2 Norco pills every 4 hours.  But I found that if I waited 4 hours to get up and use the restroom, then the pain was too intense because I was stiff.  So every 2 hours, we woke up and made the trek from the living room to the bathroom and back.  We obviously could have moved the recliner back into the bedroom, but it made more sense to keep me active.  
J made sure to wrap Sissy’s birthday gifts and I checked out my worsening bruises.

Gran brought the kiddos home just in time for gymnastics class on Thursday.  I wasn’t feeling too hot, so Dad and Joy came by to sit with me during those few hours while J took the kids to class.
The puppies were apparently in need of some love.
Oh, and Joy also brought me some beautiful flowers.  Very sweet of her. :)  J brought home some McAlister’s (after-gymnastics tradition), but I could only eat a few bites of my sandwich.  I couldn’t taste anything at that point.  I’ve never experienced that!
We had another night of frequent wake-ups, but I was finally able to shower on Friday after we did breakfast and Audra opened her birthday gifts.

 I really can’t imagine not having J here to help me during this recovery.  He jumped in the shower with me and I just stood there while he washed my hair, scrubbed the dried blood off of me, and shaved my armpits.  I’m feeling anything but sexy, but he isn’t acting repulsed by the sutures covering my body.  I need that right now, because it’s easy to second-guess this whole thing.  I obviously knew I wouldn’t go from saggy skin to supermodel overnight (or at all), but I really didn’t anticipate the swelling, blood, and bruising that covers me.  And I have tape over nearly all of the incisions, so I can’t really even clean up the blood.  I assume the tape will be removed on Wednesday at my post-op appointment.  On a good note, I have no drains.  So that right there is a HUGE relief.  I don’t have to deal with that at all.

So you ready for some pictures?  They are graphic and not at all pretty.  These were all taken on day 3 of recovery.  I cannot stand up straight and I am insanely swollen.  But I promised to share all along the way, so here we go!

How hot is my hospital-issued bra?  I do have to say though my breasts are nice and perky underneath! One is definitely more swollen than the other at this point.  I obviously won’t be showing those scars. :)

Hunchback City.

My stomach is so swollen that it feels like it could pop.  I will always have those stretch marks, but I’m wondering how much they’ll fade as I heal.  I guess we’ll see.  And I can’t wait to see my brand new belly button!  The tummy tuck scar goes right through my pubic area in a “V”.  This is something that I worried about.  I didn’t want my pubic hair pulled unnaturally high.  But nope, my stitches go right through that area.  So it may never look totally normal, but it should look okay in underwear.

See the water blister in this one?  Ouch.

The incision meets right above my butt crack.  I assume that will be helpful with underwear?

If you’re thinking I’m a bit crazy for sharing these pictures, you aren’t alone.  It’s scary to post such graphic images!  But I’m all about being real, and the reality is simply not pretty right now.

My surgeon’s office sent this note over to me regarding the tissue that was removed during surgery.  It’s rather confusing so I’m hoping Dr. Sando can clear it up at my next appoint.  But if you add up only the “gram” totals and convert, it appears that they removed around 6.3 pounds.  If any of you can decipher this further, feel free to let me know!

After my shower yesterday, J’s parents came by for Sissy’s birthday and to sit with me while J took the girl to get her pedicure done.  It was nice having company, but my moods are all over the place with this pain medication.  One minute I’m alert and the next I’m slurring.  Thankfully, my in-laws weren’t at all weirded out by me.  They were too interested in checking out my battle wounds, haha.

After J’s parents left, Grandma (my stepmom Joy) came by to collect the kiddos for a weekend of camping.  I had no idea how grateful I’d be for the kids’ absence this week.  They were only home for 24 hours, and I HATED them seeing me all drugged up.  That’s definitely not a Mommy they are used to.  Hell, they’ve never seen me have more than 2 glasses of wine and that’s even infrequent.  Drugged Mommy sucks and although they were totally understanding, I didn’t like them experiencing that at all.  I’m hoping I’m on a lower dosage by Monday.  Fingers crossed.

Yesterday was a rough day all around.  I couldn’t sleep for more than 20-30 minutes at a time, and the minutes just seemed to creep by.  J felt totally helpless and I just cried a bunch.  I tried crawling into my bed, and that was a disaster.  Once I got up there, I was stuck and couldn’t roll myself back out.  J helped me, and I haven’t tried that again.

We have a system at this point.  J bends down so I can put my arms around his neck.  He kisses my shoulder (which is oddly very helpful mentally) and then I give him all of my weight so I can stand up.  We do the same thing on the way down.  I’m walking okay on my own though, but sometimes it takes an eternity to get from A to B.  The incisions in my groin area aren’t taped, so I just have to cover them in a topical cream to avoid infection.  I’m scared to death that I’ll rub the sutures apart.  Well, I’m feeling that way about all of my incisions honestly.  I don’t want to rip anything apart, and I don’t want to make the scars wider.  I’m just being as careful as I can.

This recovery process has been harder than I anticipated, but as I type this, we’re already finishing up day four (96 hours post-op).  I’m hoping that things will improve after the next few days.  Oh, some weird things to mention.  My right thumb is numb.  I was warned by the anesthesiologist that my arms could suffer some effects from being laid out in the the same position for so long.  She wasn’t wrong.  For the first few days, my right arm felt totally heavy.  I would go to set down my cup and when I got just a few inches from the table, my hand would simply fall.  It just became dead weight.  Thankfully, at this point it’s only my thumb acting weird.  It’s tingly and feels asleep.  The other thing that I didn’t fully anticipate was the itchiness. My friend Kristie mentioned it so I was a little prepared, but I had no idea how bad it would be.  I think it’s a combination of the drugs and the healing process?  But she suggested I take some Benadryl and that does seem to help.  Unfortunately, I’ve been taking it with my Norco and so about an hour later, I just start completely slurring and I become a different person.

I hate hate hate being on so many meds.  I’ve only had to take the Zofran (for nausea) twice though, so that’s a plus.  I finished up the antibiotic.  J has to inject me with the blood thinner daily, but that actually hasn’t been a big deal.  His bruises have been smaller than the nurse’s was.  But I’m also taking the Norco, a stool softener, Gas-X, and a laxative.  The last three are totally not working.  At all.  And I can’t possibly express to you how uncomfortable I am!  TMI, right? :)

Oh, and I am happy to report that my tastebuds seemed to start working again last night, so I’ve been trying to eat a bit more.  It’s still not enough, but it’s a start.  And I did get a little cuddle time with my buddy last night too:

So now it’s Saturday night.  It took me 24 hours to write this damn post because I’m so in and out of it.  For the 90th time, I’ll say that I’m grateful that J IS here and the kids are NOT.  I’ve never gone through anything like this before, and at times I’m acting like a huge baby.  I try to do things on my own because I hate bothering J, but that’s not really the best for me in the long run.  Mostly, he just ignores my stubbornness and helps anyway. 😉  Thanks for following along this journey!  I’ll probably wait to take new pictures until after my post-op appointment on Wednesday.  I’m guessing the swelling won’t subside much by then and the tape will keep the nasty blood in its place.  We’ll see.

Talk to you soon!  I’m off to sleep – I hope!

ETA: Other than when I took my shower and the pictures, I’ve kept the stomach binder, bra and leg bandages in place to reduce swelling. :)

Comments

  1. Tammy R says

    You are brave to post these, and I can’t even imagine the pain. Once it is over and you have the healed, healthy body, the memory will become less and it will all be worth it. Praying that your recovery continues well and I’m sure once you get the staples out some of the pain will go away. It’s that feeling of stretching at the incision that always bothered me with surgeries and I’ve never had anything this extreme. Thanks again for being real!

    • says

      Tammy, thanks for reading and for your kind words. I know in a few weeks/months, I’ll be so glad I did it. Right now all I can focus on is the pain LOL! Thanks again!

      Nicole

  2. says

    Looks very painful and scary, yikes! I admire how brave you are and how far you have come. You were missed this past Sunday….