Chris W. had a tummy tuck and breast lift last month and was kind enough to share her story with us!
June 5, 2013 ~ My Mom and stepdad, Jay, arrived from Michigan to help take care of me. My mom is a nurse, so I felt good that I would be well looked after, and Jay and I are very close, and I knew he would keep my mom in check, when she began hovering too much! lol For my "last meal", I decided on Mexican food, and enjoyed my usual, Chicken enchiladas with salsa verde. Mom, Jay, Christian (boyfriend), and I stayed in a hotel near the surgery center to avoid driving over an hour the next morning. I could not sleep, due to excitement and my mom's snoring! lol
June 6, 2013 ~
5am ~ woke up after an hour or two of sleep. Used the restroom, got my stuff together, and stared at everyone until we were ready to leave.
6am ~ Check in at the surgery center. I filled out paperwork and paid the surgery center's fees and the anesthesiologist fees. I had already paid my surgeon's fees on May 24th.
6:45am ~ Called back to sign my waivers and be told about the preventative procedures (leg wraps for blood clots, transfusion waivers, after care information, etc.). My mom was able to come back to make sure I didn't sign anything crazy, as I was ready to sign ANYTHING just to get "my party started"! They sent her back to the waiting room, and said that right before I went back, she would come see me real quick. Next they needed me to pee in a cup for a pregnancy test (standard procedure), but since I had not drank anything for 9 hours, and I am used to drinking A LOT of water, I couldn't. They told me they couldn't do the surgery unless I did (even though I was on my period!). After a few minutes of trying really hard to get ANYTHING out, I told her I couldn't. They decided to get my IV started, push fluids, and see if that helped. They took me to my curtained room, I changed and got in the bed. The nurse came and tried to start my IV, and blew out my vein in my forearm, so I had to have it in the crook of my elbow. My mom later told me she should have used my "awesome vein" near my wrist because NO ONE could miss that one! She finally got the IV started and they began pushing fluids. It did not work, and while my mom was back visiting, she suggested to me (but loudly) they just start my catheter, and use that. Moments later, the nurse appeared and said, "I have an idea! Let's start your catheter, and just pull a little." At that point the anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself and his assistant, who would be doing most of my surgery. Both were nice, and put my fear of being awake during the procedure to rest quickly. My mom and Christian came back to see me until my surgeon arrived. Then my surgeon came in, did my markings (which was the funniest thing ever! He was SO pissed at the pre-op nurse because she couldn't draw a straight line while he held my loose skin in a certain position.) Then the anesthesiologist gave me my first "relaxing" drug, and then nurse put in my catheter, because even with the fluids, I still couldn't pee. I remember it being uncomfortable, feeling like I was peeing the bed, but the meds make it so fuzzy. The relaxing drugs made me shake and my teeth chatter. They asked me if I was OK, I was trying to talk, but was chattering and trying not to laugh, so I just had to answer yes/no questions with head shakes! They pulled the curtain and "stepped out" and were telling someone how nervous I was and calling me "that poor dear". I was about to say, "Um, I can hear you, I'm not nervous, I think this is funny, and lets get started, I'm bored!" But I decided NOT to piss off the people who might be working on me, and also told myself that I didn't want to have a "bad trip" while I was knocked out, so I closed my eyes and dreamed of clothes shopping. Right before 8:30am, the anesthesiologist gave me another drug, and I vaguely remember being rolled out of the room down a hallway.
4:30pm ~ My surgeon finished my tummy tuck and breast lift, and told my mom that he had taken 8 pounds off my stomach, and a bit more off the side boob area/underarm. He said I did great and because of how I carried the weight, I had to be readjusted on the table multiple times during the surgery. I remember opening my eyes, and the anesthesiologist saying "Welcome back! Are you in any pain?" I tried to say yes, but couldn't, so I nodded. Mind you, it was NOT agony pain. It was, "**** that hurts, and I want drugs before I wake up anymore" pain. He gave me something in my IV, and immediately, I had complete relief. I felt stiff and sore, like walking up the day after my half marathon. He told me that I was having problems talking because I had be intubated (tube down my airway) and that makes you sore. I was not sore, just no voice. The nurse then came over and said, "Geez you woke up fast! Usually we have to nose canual on before people are awake enough to be talking!" I remember trying to smile and trying to say, "Well, I like to talk!" but couldn't. She put the oxygen on me, and at this point, I realized I was not in recovery, but my overnight room. My mom, Jay, and Christian came in, and we were saying hi. I remember them being there, but nothing else. At this point, it was almost 6:30pm.
6:30pm ~ The nurse told me that if I was in pain I could have a pain shot. I wasn't really in pain, but I was feeling SO good, I didn't want to risk it, so I said, "Yea, a little. I'll take a shot now so it doesn't get worse." They got it and asked Jay and Christian to step into the hall. They had me roll and gave me a shot of Demerol and a anti-nausea med in the left butt check. It was an intramuscular shot, so I expected it to hurt. It did not hurt, but the anti-nausea med stung! I faded in and out throughout the night. Jay and Christian went back to the hotel and my mom stayed with me. I felt like I would sleep for an hour or two, then wake up, ask for water, my phone to play on Facebook, ask questions, get a snack, or watch TV. Then I would go back to sleep. I was TOLD by my night nurse and my mom that I would sleep for 10-15 minutes then be up asking for everything under the sun, including for my mom to call/text friends to come visit me at like 11pm-midnight. I would also complain constantly about how dry my mouth was from the anesthesia. The ONLY thing we ALL agree on what that I would somehow be able to keep track of time well enough to know when I was allowed to get my pain shot. What I would do is about 30 minutes before I was due, I would buzz my nurse, ask for water or pudding, and then say, "Oh yea, and my shot is due in 45 minutes, so make sure you are back here then! Thank you so much!" (lmao) Then, about 5-10 minutes before it was due, I would buzz the nurse and say, "Just making sure you didn't forget my pain shot! It's due in XX minutes! I have great pain control, so I want to keep on top of it!" (if my stomach still didn't hurt I would be dying of laughter right now, just typing it, because I know how I sound when I go into "teacher mode"!) I had shots at 6:30pm (left butt), 10:30pm (right butt), 2:30am (right thigh), and 6:30am (left butt).
2:30am ~ When the nurse came to give my my 2:30am shot, I began to roll for the left butt check, and she was like, "No, it goes in your thigh." I said, "I'm a runner and have no fat there! I'll take it in my butt." She said, "It will be too sore, the thigh will not be bad." Let me tell you, that was the WORST PAIN OF MY LIFE! If you have a meaty butt, go for the butt, even if they recommend your thigh. The other shots made me cringe, but I was swearing and cussing up a storm with the thigh. And I still have a bruise from that one, and none on my butt!
4:30am ~ the nurse took out my catheter so I would need to pee before I left. In order to leave, you have to pee a certain amount. I drank as much water as I could so I would REALLY have to pee! Then the nurse said, "You are about ready to go home it looks like." I said, "Um, My mom said Dr. Yee (my surgeon) will be here in a couple hours to check out my incisions." My mom agreed and the nurses said, "Um... OK, let me check." Later, my mom said she heard them talking in the hall about how I saved their asses, cuz Dr. Yee has very high expectations (why I picked him), and their asses would have been canned had they let me go home before he got there!
6:30am ~ Time for my last pain shot. When the nurse came in I was like, "You can go ahead and just stay on that side. It is going in my butt, you are NOT putting that in my other leg!" The nurse was like, "You will be sorry. Your butt is going to hurt so bad." Me: "That was the worst pain in my entire life! Nothing could hurt as bad as that! It still hurts!" Eventually she agreed, gave me my shot (minus the swearing this time), and said, "I'll be back to get you up for the bathroom and walking." I peed a ton (my mom later told me it was full, and I probably should have gone twice before leaving). Dr. Yee showed up, liked what he saw. Had the nurses change my bandages, and told me to call if I needed anything.
I was rolled down to the car and it took FOREVER to get in because I had to slide in and then someone had to swing my legs. I fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot.
10:30am (Friday 6/7/13) ~ I got home, walked up the stairs by myself (slowly!), got in my chair I had set up on Wednesday morning before I picked my mom and Jay up from the airport. It took me holding on to my mom and Jay's upper arms and lowering myself into the seat SLOWLY. It wasn't painful, just slow and sore. I took oral Demerol and an anti-nausea med on the following schedule:
Friday 6/7: every 4.5 hours
Saturday 6/8: every 4.5-5 hours
Sunday 6/9: every 5 hours
Monday 6/10: every 6 hours
Tuesday 6/11: every 6.5 hours
Wednesday 6/12:every 8 hours
Thursday 6/13: every 9-10 hours
Friday 6/14 and Saturday 6/15: every 12 hours
Sunday 6/16: 2 extra strength Tylenol in the AM, and nothing since.
On 6/7-6/12, not much happened, except I broke up with my boyfriend on 6/12 because he was refusing to do ANYTHING except play video games and arguing constantly with my mom. Before my parents arrived, I had thought about breaking up with him for many other reasons not related to this post, but decided to give him one more chance. What made me decide to finally do it (only the final thing, there was MUCH MORE), was he was cleaning up dog poop off the kitchen floor and I asked him to get me something, and AFTER TOUCHING DOG POOP, HE DIDN'T WASH HIS HANDS AND CAME OVER AND TRIED TO TOUCH ME! I have about 4 feet of open incisions, and was trying to maintain a sanitary environment! When I told him and asked him to change, he told me that it was my job to tell him what to do, but when I did he would get mad at me and tell me to stop treating him like a child! Well, I'm sorry, I want you to wash your hands after using the restroom, playing with the animals, etc. and I should NOT have to tell you that EVERY TIME. There was so much more, but like I said, it's really not for this post.
The follow are truly the only things I remember other than the breakup:
*I nodded in and out from the side effects of anesthesia and the Demerol.
*My right drain itched constantly, and during dressing changes, my left drain pulled and it was annoying!
*I had to ask constantly if I was doing enough movement to prevent blood clots and was asking for my mom to count my laps as I circled the coffee table. lol
*I drank close to a gallon of water a day for the first 3 days and I had to follow every bite of food with water due to the dryness from intubation and anesthesia.
*I had to then pee (what felt like) constantly, but I needed to be supervised, as I would nod out and forget to pee!
*A laxative every other day helped a TON while I was eating on a weird schedule. A laxative every day for about 3 days once I was eating normal makes for way less discomfort.
*A stool softener a day until you have full use of your stomach muscles makes for a much happier Chris!
*Dressing changes I thought would be the easiest part. It turned out, I wouldn't have NOT been able to do it by myself! 3 times per day!
1. Undo PJ top and binder. Throw away old gauze. Mom inspects for drainage and healing. Notes any spots of concern.
2. Use cotton swabs (NOT Q-tips) to "paint" hydrogen peroxide on scars. Let bubble and "eat away" any bacteria/infection trying to start.
3. Use gauze to dab with sterile saline water to prevent over drying and irritation of skin .
4. Use gauze to smear Neosporin on incisions. We used about a giant tube and a half a day.
5. Put down fresh sterile gauze and tape into place as needed.
6. Redo binder and PJ top.
7. Twice per day, my drains would be stripped (squeezing the fluid out of the tubes, into the grenade looking container) and empty, measure, and record the amount of fluid. Then put new gauzes around where the drain tubes entered my body.
Thursday, June 13, 2013 (1 week) ~ Had my follow up. Got my drains out. It felt like a snake was slithering through my lower stomach trying to escape. I was laughing for like 30 minutes after! Doctor said everything looks good. I should only wash the incisions with my normal soap and water, wear the binder except while showering and sleeping, and no walking except into a restaurant from the front row or to a wheelchair/electric cart. I have found through trial and error that I can do about 2.5-3 hours of "outings" 5 days a week and avoid most swelling. If I am up for more than 4 hours per day, I swell quite a lot. I don't want to swell, as that could cause fluid build up under the skin which is quite painful. Typically, my mom, Jay, and I would go out to an early dinner and 1-2 stores that had electric carts.
Sunday, June 23, 2013 ~ My mom and Jay flew back to Michigan. My mom was scared to leave me, so my best friends came up to spend the night with me. We went out to eat and to Walmart to buy smaller sports bras since so much swelling has gone down.
Monday, June 24, 2013 ~ My friends had to leave around 6am to get to work on time, but I woke up long enough to say good bye and thank you. I slept til 9am when my friend, Renita, came over with her youngest daughter (15 years old). Renita helped me wash my hair (I just can't hold my arms up to shampoo, I can rinse by tilting my head sideways) and cleaning my incisions under my arms (same thing). She helped me get dressed. She cleaned the cat box (I can't bend and do not want to risk infection) while I ate breakfast. We then went out to see my GP, since she helped me so much in the months leading up to the surgery. Jennifer (my GP) introduced me to the main doctor in the office (I always just see Jennifer), and they raved about how well I'm doing and how good my incisions look. Apparently they talk about me constantly, because everyone knew me (even if I had never met them) and were in awe of how good I looked! Then we went to Best Buy to recycle some old hardware my stepdad had helped me sort out. Lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant was next, followed by a quick stop at the grocery store. I was out for about 2.5 hours, so when we got back, Renita took care of my stuff and I sat down. She got me set up for the afternoon (didn't take much today!), and left. Since then I have put my feet up for 4 episodes of "Take Home Chef" on Netflix and 2 episodes of "Queer As Folk" (my favorite TV show). I got out disc cleaner and cleaned 2 seasons of "Queer As Folk" (QAF) so they would be ready for my marathon showing of all 5 seasons this week! lmao I also texted with Jay a bit. My mom called me after she got out of work and I talked to her from 5:40pm-6:00pm. Immediately after talking to her, I started typing this, and now, nearly 2 hours later, I am ready for dinner and more QAF!
Before weight loss:
A view of the tummy before surgery.
One month post surgery. Chris is experiencing the same frustration that I went through with not being allowed to exercise.
Thanks Chris for sharing your story! Continue to heal and you will be back to working out and back to your goal weight before you know it!!