Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hi!!! I'm ALIVE!!!!

OMG....blogger is working again on this computer! It hasn't worked forever!

I've had a revision surgery and I'm back at work and I'm alive! I know you were all wondering...


Or not.

Ok...maybe some of you were. I choose to believe some of you were. :)

I did go in on October 19 as planned for my revision surgery and all went well. I actually came out of it looking even BETTER than the first time because she had to pull the skin TIGHTER than before AND, because she is a perfectionist (thank HEAVENS!) and the tightening was going to leave "pleats" on my "mons pubis" region, I got another pubis revision as well...and that looks even better than before, too! I'm going to look effin amazing in a pair of underwear (if we all ignore my thunder thighs) if these flimmin flammin drains EVER COME OUT!!!

Yes, here we go again with the never ending drain saga. It's actually not QUITE as bad as last time, because I'm only 3 weeks post-op and they do look like they are going to come out sometime soon...where as last time they were in for 74 freakin days and only came out because the giant freakin hole in my gut took over the fluid draining process....this time we are only at 20 days and they are actually decreasing in quantity enough to believe they might come out either by Friday (at least the right side will) or possibly some time next week. In the mean time, the right side is AGAIN trying to inch out on it's own...which is not the most comfortable thing in the world...and the left side has 2 holes in it which I have mended with DUCT I look very "Ghetto Chic".
Itty bitty holes in drain tubes that are causing an
air leak in a system that works by suction....not good. :/

I do have a teeny, tiny wound again...but when I say tiny, it's literally the size of a pencil eraser and the surgeon isn't even calling it "necrotic tissue" (though I am because it looks the same to me)....she says it's simply a scab. What's not bad, regardless....I can put a Band-Aid on it as soon as the stupid drains come out.
Current wound...nothing compared to last time.
I can't explain why it happened again. I was assured
the odds were very, very low.
So going into this secondary procedure, I was pretty terribly deformed from the "contracture" that took place during the healing process. In it's final days it really did start closing in very fast and was significantly smaller. But it left my tummy looking gnarly as hell. I'm posting pictures of what it looked like the night before surgery because I don't believe these photos to be gory in any way...the hole is there, but it's the size of a small post-it note and barely noticeable in the photo with all the layers of deformity around it, so you should not be shocked or grossed out now like the other photos (but if you are, I'm sorry). I've pixilated out all the fun stuff...but you can see how my awesome boobs turned out...even with the pixilation.

On the last day, the gauze you see on the left is all I
was able to "pack" the wound with, whereas the gauze
 on the right was the original amount that I packed
 it with when this all started, so you can see
there was significant shrinkage over time.
The next two photos are shots of how I looked laying down in the days immediately after the procedure. I'm sorry to say I don't have anything more recent than that at the moment. I've been waiting for these damn tubes to come out...and a decent shower....but these are pretty good. I had to take them laying down because you aren't supposed to stand without the binder for a while after the surgery. But you can tell things were already looking pretty darn good.

The surgeon had to cut a great deal of skin away because it was important to re-attach "new skin to new skin"...this scar revision couldn't simply be done by opening along the scar and re-attaching again along the scar. That is why I had such a nice, tight tummy when she was done. And she went up pretty high and down below the wound to accomplish it. She also had to cut around my belly button again, so I have a smaller scar around my button now than I did before. Hopefully it heals as nicely as it started to before things went all to hell. I'm staying optimistic that this will be the end of my TT journey. Believe it or not, I am scheduled for my 4 month follow-up (from original surgery, of course) in just a couple weeks.

All this recovery time (again) has me laying around (again) during a LOT of online Christmas sales...sadly, I've been spending money on Amazon like I'm loaded. I am not...but it's been fun. I bought the following dress....because I've always wanted to dress like a 50's housewife...

...and it kinda disguises the drains!

Unfortunate fall-out of the timing of this procedure...or more-so the slow progress of my recovery...has been that I had to miss my husband's company Christmas party in Dallas...which was all expenses paid....and my own company Christmas party, and an all expense paid trip to Ft. Lauderdale for a conference, all because of these stupid drain tubes. Ugh...

Conversation between me and my husband
who works for an airline, as we try to determine
if I can fly with surgical drains in me.

The one question/comment/concern I do have for the lap band community is that I do have significant swelling on the port side of my belly...which also happens to be the side that the drain is taking longer to slow down on this time around. I'm wondering if this is normal and if it is going to lead to long-term issues? Also wondering if I should discuss with Dr. Hunter (my LB doc). Throughout both procedures I've had discomfort around the port itself, so tissue irritation could be the cause, but I'm wondering if it is going to cause me issues long-term. I've just recently begun some light googling on the topic. If anyone knows anyone whose been there/done that, I'd love to hear some thoughts. The swelling is stretching out my nice, tight, 10 thousand dollar belly on the left side...that's rather annoying. LOL  However...when I did get my fill last time, the surgery had managed to flatten out my port, which had been awkwardly angled prior to the surgery making it difficult for C to do her there was a plus. :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

I love my perky boobs

Updating is hard these days, I tell ya...

Here is the quick run down...then you can decide if you want to proceed:

  • Boobs look amazing
  • Victoria is still open but is healing approximately 1cm every 10 days
  • I am scheduled for revision surgery to close the wound November 19
  • I'm back to work full time
  • I finally got a fill
  • Varicose veins: my next insurance challenge

So my boobs have, that's a weird thing to say....and they look AWESOME. I'm so happy I did this. I wish I had done it a thousand years ago. It was worth every penny as far as I'm concerned. They are still bigger than I thought they would be, I'm still in a D cup for now, but first of all, I'm OK with that. Second, they say results aren't final till you hit six months, and third, I have gained some weight so it could change, but I don't we'll see. Either way, I'm happy.

My wound, AKA "Victoria" is progressing well, supposedly. I actually am starting to notice rather rapid healing in the last 2 weeks. I wouldn't say I could tell much before that, but apparently the doctor could. Measurements showed about 1cm improvement every 10 days. I swear in the last week that is increasing. 

I've made an animation of the wound over time that you can see by clicking here (I didn't want to embed it.) I will warn you, it's gross. It starts with the necrotic incision, which honestly is the least disgusting portion of the process. Then proceeds through how it looked after a few days treatment with Silvadene, then the first debridement, which is where it looks horrifying and you see fat and goo and other stuff (that's where I sank into my mental hole)...and then the second debridement which is where it just starts to look like a giant crater in my gut, through to today.

You can also see in the photos a weird skin deformation that is happening on my right side (left in the photo) that is occurring because of the "undermining" of the tissue causing some scarring and tightening above my naval. This and other reasons is why I'm going in for a revision surgery, which is officially scheduled for November 19...thank heavens!!! I so can't wait! I just want to be over this portion of my life with the dressing changes and the weird openings, yadda, yadda, yadda...

I don't even want to talk about how much money I'm spending on dressing material...ugh. Let's not forget that this was an elective procedure, so the complication is not covered by insurance...which is awesome.

In the meantime, I am back to work full time, which is going well. I've only had very minor wound drainage issues since returning. The wound drains much much less than it used to so it is much easier to keep up with these days. I've also mastered the art of applying diaper rash cream to my skin, since I was literally getting diaper rash from having soaking wet bandages stuck to my skin all day every day for this darn thing. Really...this has been a treat. *eye roll*

In other news, I did finally get a fill and I'm back in the green zone. Oh man is it good to be back! I saw Dr. Hunter on an unrelated issue and asked him to evaluate my candidacy for a fill given my wound situation and he did that and reported to C that it could be done, to simply drape sterilize the area well and otherwise there would be no issue. So you bet your sweet bippy I was in the very next chance I got to get that fill...which was 48 hours later. We replaced most (but not all) of the fluid that was removed prior to surgery and currently I am in an awesome, AWESOME place. I feel amazing control. I've had no issues with being stuck...I'm eating exactly the right amounts, I'm not searching for food, I'm seldom hungry, I'm making great food's been grand. I just need to get more weight off. I'm so happy to be filled back up. I believe the "revision" is considered a "minor procedure" and an unfill will not be required.

Lastly for this post, throughout the surgery recovery I had a devil of a time controlling the swelling in my right leg. I've had swelling issues in both my legs ever since my spinal cord injury back in 2002, but I usually just wear compression stockings and keep my feet up for a day...and take hydrochlorothiazide keep the swelling down and all is well. But with all the lymphatic issues created by this procedure, my right leg just never seemed to catch back up and I started getting throbbing pain below my noticeable ropey varicose vein. At one point I was actually concerned that I did, in fact, have a DVT because the leg was just so much larger than the left and looked "weird". So the day I went in for the fill, I noticed that C also happens to work in the clinic that does the varicose vein stuff, so I asked her to look at my leg to see if she thought I needed to be seen for DVT. She said it wouldn't hurt to rule it out, and we went ahead and did the full study to determine if I had venous insufficiency anyway, which I did on the right but not the left. Now I'm moving forward to see if my insurance company will allow me to have the laser ablation to have that vein resolved. I'm not holding my breath. They have been a nightmare lately.

Anyway, that's it for now. I have a bunch of school related stuff to rest for this crazy lady! I'll check back in soon, I swear...hopefully with cute Halloween pictures.

OH...PS....My friend just gave me a free Bowflex! I'm excited! I think it increases my in home workout options a lot! Anyone else reading this have one?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I gotta re-start somewhere...(and I can't believe I'm posting this...)

WARNING: Down below you will find some pictures that are in fact nude...and some show my wound filled in/packed with gauze. The wound in this image is not scary but I am posting this warning up front. If you do not want to see these photos, please only scroll to the part of the blog that has photos of my adorable dogs...and then STOP. Do not go any further! 

I believe this is fair warning!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

One month later...

I'm having a rough time.

All in all, it could be worse. Today is a rough day and probably clouding my spirits a lot.

First...the good news. The boobs look good. The blister that formed under my right breast healed up nicely. The drainage oozing out of the incision of my left breast (can't recall if I wrote about that and too lazy to go look, but it was fluorescent yellow and oddly coming from a teeny tiny spot for no apparent reason) ultimately stopped. The doctor said it was just "tissue fluid", and the coloring was similar to what you would see with bruising. The breasts are just beginning to drop a little, I've started doing scar massage with aloe and Bio Oil (alternately) to minimize the look of the scars, which sucks...and I need to do it more often but it takes a HUGE amount of time and energy.

Now the bad news...

I still have the drains. My body is not cooperating on the drains at all. Apparently (from ALL that I've read), it's pretty common in people who have lost a significant amount of weight. That doesn't make it much more tolerable.

I also had a complication at the tummy tuck t-junction that was not discovered till the surgical tape came off. The skin at the junction had died. Because it was not too deep and the doctor could see that the skin had declared its margins and was beginning the healing process, she opted to not debride the dead tissue till yesterday.'s debrided now...and it is horrifying. I have a huge, gaping hole in my stomach. I've been told repeatedly "not to worry" and that "it will heal in time" and that it will "likely not be that much wider" than the original scar...but if you could see what I's unreal. I've never seen anything this gross my whole any movie or horrific internet photo or anything. And it's on me...and I have to clean it, and manage it...twice a day. I. Want. To. Die.  I truly don't see how something like this could ever possibly heal. I feel VERY hopeless right now.

This is the most common complication in this type of surgery...more common in diabetics (which I am not) and smokers (never have taken a single drag). I don't know why this happened. It just did.

I attempted to go back to work this week BEFORE the debridement (man I MISS that black scab so bad right now) and with the drains because I thought I could handle it. I probably could have but the debridement was WAY more than I could handle emotionally. Tonight I came home from work and did a dressing change and cried for an hour. I would just about give anything to be admitted to a hospital and let THEM deal with this at least until I can't see my insides anymore. 

I've gained 6000 pounds of fat...and like 10 of water...but mostly fat. I have a fill scheduled for next week...if they will do it with the giant hole in my gut. 

Also...our Poodle (Lily) died on Saturday. I've lost two fur-babies in 6 months. 

I'm going to go cry some more now. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One Week Post-Op BR/TT

This post is coming to you from the glorious (slight exaggeration) comfort of a rented electric lift recliner planted firmly in front of my bedroom television, across from the only portable AC unit in the house, at the foot of the bed where my husband is soundly sleeping with our 3 dogs who are usually not allowed to sleep on the bed as there isn't enough room.

This is how it has been for the last week...and this is how it shall be for at least a couple weeks longer.

But at least I have smaller boobies! SEE!

Ignore the lumps in my flatish belly area...I still have on the velcro binder and two JP drain bulbs. 

I also have a flat belly...but really, lets talk about the ta-tas.

So I'm one week post-op, and am currently in the "boxy boobs" phase of the process. I was told by my plastic surgeon today that the next phase I have to look forward to is "cone-boobs"...Oh boy!

I went into surgery at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, August 10th and was released after waking from a short recovery shortly before 10pm. I was told I would be a long case. She spent over 10 hours in surgery on me in total. 7 pounds of skin and fat were removed from my breasts and stomach. I remember very, very little. I remember walking into the surgery suite and getting onto the operating table...and I remember them waking me up saying they were finished. I recall VAGUELY being wheeled out to the car. I don't recall getting into the car but I remember someone buckling me in. I remember pulling out of the parking lot and thinking for a half a second I might toss my cookies...and I remember walking into the house. And then I have a few spotty memories here and there over the following days. The dilaudid appears to have worked well.

The surgery center sent me home with a walker and those blow-up thingies for my legs to prevent blood clots. UGH...what a massive PIA those are when you have to pee!

As previously stated we had rented a lift-recliner and put it in the bedroom at the foot of the bed. Once at home, we discovered that the dogs were using ME as the path ON and OFF the bed and Kismet wanted to pounce on my chest to be with me constantly (one of my few vague memories is not having any skill the verbally communicate the fear I was feeling when he jumped on me and just starting to cry uncontrollably). So my husband set up a barricade with baby-gates and other things to block all the pouncing...and then snapped this picture:

Yep...there I my own little bedroom prison. Kismet would spend the next few nights sticking his nose through the baby gates to get as close to me as he could. :(

Scott stayed home with me all day tuesday...which was fun as I figured out how to manage getting to and from the bathroom in time to pee when necessary. Believe it or not...turns out I was better off peeing in a container for the first 2 days...just was easier that way till I bought a toilet seat riser. Maybe TMI...but for those of you considering this procedure, I learned that I'm not the only one to figure this out. I thought I had prepared for everything...foiled by a damn toilet seat! GAH!

From a pain perspective, I can say the most discomfort I've felt, quite honestly, was what I kept referring to as "muscular pain", which has been explained is just an all over pain your body sort of over-compensates with when it's hit from multiple directions. It was sort of a "system overload". My pecs and abs hurt like I had been working out like a fiend....but I had NO muscle work done at all. My incisions haven't hurt to date. It was always this "muscle-like" achiness that I complained of. Frankly, it wasn't the worst thing in the world.

At some point I had the presence of mind to snap this picture (I found it on my phone tonight...)

I had my first post-op appointment on Tuesday and got my first "sneak-peak" at the new boobs and all. I'm not gonna lie, Scott took a picture and showed it to me and I was STUNNED and a little worried that I'd made a huge mistake. They look VERY small to me. I'm not convinced they are a C-cup...but he says they are. Scott thinks that I'm just not used to them a) being small and b) being in their current location (recall my boobs have NEVER been perky, so to see them all "forward facing" is very bizarre to me). He reassured me that I would get used to it, I just needed time. They are also ROCK hard, uneven, and very "franken-boob" looking...I'm definitely not pornstar material right now!

Wednesday Scott left me home alone in the morning and then Koreena dropped off the kids and my MIL sometime around 12pm. I somewhat recall Koreena waving hello from the bedroom doorway. Apparently I survived the morning by myself...though I don't recall any of it.
My MIL tending to my dressings while my youngest stepdaughter assists. The little one was "ALL IN" with helping from the moment she walked in. She wanted to see EVERY. GORY. DETAIL. I kept telling her she didn't need to stay and that she might want to leave...she was not having it at all. 

The eldest stepdaughter wanted to be by my side every other moment that did not involve a dressing change...initially. She wanted nothing to do with the gory details at first, but wanted to be glued to my side so much that I actually didn't get near as much rest as I should probably have gotten. But she was so, so, so sweet. And by day 3...she wanted to be involved in dressing changes as well...which was bizarre, as she WAS the squeamish one, but this may no longer be true!

Prior to surgery, Nev had been tasked with "hair management" since I can't raise my arms high enough to do my hair. This is the style she chose for me on this day...the day before her birthday party. The result...was...well...unfortunate. But she's happy, and that's all that matters. 
Thursday and Friday were just a whole lot of me laying around while my MIL managed the kids during the day and Scott went to work (I guess...I really don't remember). Saturday I actually left the house to go to my oldest step-daughter's birthday party back up at her mother's home 40 miles away. I thought I was up for this...after all, how hard was it going to be to sit in Koreena's living room for a 8 year old's birthday party?

Well the birthday party went on FOREVER...and of course we couldn't leave because we had the guest of honor. Plus, I didn't bring any pain pills (I didn't think we would be gone the entire day), I was having massive issues with one of my drains pulling and leaking all over my pants, my binder was killing me, I had broken SEVERAL of the post-op rules (sitting too long with knees bent, got my heart rate up trying to get into the house, not on consistent pain management, Scott had lifted one my arms VERY high on assisting me into the house, etc.), it was just a horribly long day. But I survived. I was sore and exhausted when I got home.

Sunday I recouped from Saturday, but started feeling stronger. Unfortunately, more of my favorite in-laws were due to visit my MIL but because I had done too much the day before I was pretty much sequestered in the bedroom. This was a big, fat bummer.

Monday I went with my MIL and the kids to the mall (I got a scooter) so that she could buy them some back-to-school clothes. This actually was way more activity (even with the scooter) than I should have done...oopsie.) But again....feeling stronger...very little pain...and now clear to start taking NSAIDS again if I want. At this point I'm taking 1-2 Vicodin a day and that's it.

And here we are, Tuesday...I walked out of my bedroom with no crutches for the first time in a week this morning (I typically walk around my house with no crutches...just using walls for stability). I made breakfast for the kids, my MIL gave me my last assisted sponge-bath/dressing change and we went to my 1-week follow up, where things are looking just dandy. My rock-hard boobs are just barely starting to soften and have dropped a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy, bit. The swelling has gone down a tiny bit (but not takes six MONTHS to know what a "final result" is supposed to look like!).

So far, I am pleased with the result. I have a LONG way to go...but I think I will ultimately be thrilled.

Oh...I should probably mention things related to my band...since that is how most of you know me.

First of all, I did get MOSTLY unfilled (but not totally) the Friday before surgery. So I think she left 2 or 4 cc's in there...I can't honestly recall. I haven't been too concerned about it (obviously).

The port is apparently in the same original location...since it was sewn to the muscle. But the lump of scar tissue I had grown under my skin is now gone and the scar that used to indicate where the port was is also gone. I have to wear a tight binder across my tummy for 6 weeks that is agitating the HELL out of my port as the swelling goes down each day. Not much to be done about is what it is. The port has to be there, the binder has to be worn.

I'm supposed to be on 90 grams of protein daily for optimum healing nutrients. Hello familiar diet. of today, even though 7 pounds of fat and skin were removed from my body, I am currently 14 pounds heavier than I was the day of surgery thanks to fluid retention. Surgeon told me not to bother with the scale...but when I couldn't get my shoes on yesterday, I just HAD to know, purely for entertainment purposes...what the number was. I'm okay...I'm not scarred by the scale. I have other scars to manage right now.

I need to stop blogging now and get some rest....but some time I need to write about the time the dog almost ate all my dilaudid. In the meantime...please enjoy these additional pics I wanted to share but am too tired to incorporate into this blog. :)

Cedara wearing one of my old bras...stuffed with dog toys. Yep. Dog toys. 

Nev dressed head to toe in various birthday goodies. I love this silly pic of her. 

I realized the night before surgery that I was going to lose one of my favorite scars of all Atari Car can sort of see it in the top photo. It was the scar that remained from the chest-tube placed after my heart surgery in 2002. It always reminded me of an Atari car from a driving game from the 80's. I'm sad to see it go. Not sad enough to cancel surgery...but sad...still...

Thursday, August 6, 2015

1 work day and the weekend left to go

  • I have all my pre and post-op meds in hand.
  • I have submitted paperwork to HOPEFULLY get time-off work approved with pay (uncertain till after the first week passes...that's not nerve-wracking at all!)
  • I'm in possession of a post-surgery compression bra.
  • I have scar oil and lotion on hand.
  • I have a rented lift-recliner being delivered tomorrow.
  • I have purchased protein shakes and bars to ensure I get the requisite 90 grams a day post surgery for "better healing".
  • The check to the surgeon has cleared the bank.
  • I believe (though not 100% certain) that I have passed all the pre-op stuff, including the cardiac clearance (the final piece I'm still waiting to hear on, but I'm assuming no news is good news?....ugh...I hate assumptions.)
  • I have been busting my ass to finish things up at work....I couldn't possibly be leaving at a worse time.
  • My husband has tuesday off work to take care of me. My mother-in-law, a retired RN, arrives on Wednesday to stay for 1 week.

  • And my band is being emptied tomorrow at noon.

Maybe I should have my husband take some before pictures tonight?

Am I forgetting anything?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

6 Days till TT and Boob Lift!

It will all be self pay...just not enough of "me" left for insurance to justify anything else. But I want it. I will post more after surgery in the weeks I have off work for recovery. Right now I'm super busy with the kids, work, dogs, and a data management program I signed up for because apparently I'm insane.

More soon!