She’s going down, catch her! {part one}

Let’s be honest, I don’t know what a normal stomach feels like. I went from 240lbs of a stomach to my 140-16lbs weight with extra flabby skin. Now, post skin removal surgery, my stomach feels squishy & slightly mushy on the sides and then very very hard in the middle, like I swallowed a softball. I’ve often asked Carlos to feel my stomach and tell me if it’s suppose to feel as hard as it does. I’ve asked my sisters too. They just shrug and say they don’t know.

It wasn’t until a few months ago, that I started to notice some uncomfortableness. Not shooting pain, but pressure when I lay on my stomach while sleeping or during yoga. It was an irritating uncomfortablness, but I wasn’t keeled over in pain. Last week, I went to a family doctor for something else and, since I was there, asked him to feel my stomach. He agreed that it felt kind of hard & not right but couldn’t tell for sure if anything was wrong. Since I had had my skin removal surgery tummy tuck in November,  it could just be related to the heeling from that. To play on the safe side, he ordered some lab tests and scheduled me for an ultrasound.

My ultrasound was on Friday and sure enough, they found something. A little pocket of fluid.

Disclaimer:
I am not a medical doctor. Everything
in this post is in my own words
.

A pocket of fluid can be somewhat common post surgery and is called a seroma. A lot of times, drains are used post surgery to help with the draining or it can also go away on it’s own. I am not sure if this far out from surgery is normal but the person who read my ultrasound told me I should just go back to Dr. Gervais to have him look at it.

On Tuesday, I had an appointment with Dr. Gervais. He felt my stomach and said he wasn’t sure it was a seroma and if it was, he didn’t think it was big enough for me to actually notice.

Dr. Gervais: Why don’t I just grab a needle and see what we can drain.
Me: Needle? No.
Dr. Gervais: Don’t worry, Jen. It’s really quick.
Me: No, I can’t do that today. I’m not ready. I’ll come back.
Dr. Gervais: Jen, it takes 15 seconds and your still fairly numb. You won’t feel anything.

By this time, I was starting to feel sweaty & clammy and began to fan myself with the blue gown I was wearing.

Me: No. I am so sweaty and anxious. I can’t do it now. I’ll have to make a 15 second appointment, I’m sorry.
Dr. Gervais: Jen, I promise it will be really quick and painfree.
Dr. Gervais grabs my hand
Dr. Gervais: Jen! Your so clammy and your palms are sweaty! Okay… let’s just make an appointment okay?

I made an appointment for Thursday afternoon and collapsed into the chair behind me, still trying to fan myself with the blue gown I was wearing.

On Thursday, I took a dosage of in-case-of-emergency anxiety medicine and headed to my appointment. I asked Carlos to come with, to old my hand and distract me by talking to me. Dr. Gervais came in to say hi, handed me a gown, and left so I could change. As I changed, I figured I better take it upon myself to put the chair in a reclining position so I can lay & be slightly more relaxed when he begins stickin’ me with needles.

When Dr. Gervais came back, we had a short, light-hearded exchange about my anxiety on Tuesday. I laugh at myself, because I know I get all worked up over nothing, over the fear of pain, over the unknown. It is what it is. I know it happens, I can’t help it so I just deal with it. Dr. Gervais didn’t dismiss my mention of anxiety, I just think neither of us really understood what was about to happen.

Dr. Gervais noticed the chair I had reclined and, in a way only he can do, with a twinkle in his eye, told me I’d be standing. I asked if he was sure I had to stand and he smiled. Okay. Fine.

I stood up in front of Dr. Gervais, draped in a pastel blue gown with the front open. I could already feel my internal temperature beginning to rise, despite the fact that I was standing primarily naked in the room, only draped with a thin gown. As Dr. Gervais started to move about, grabbing the tools he needed, my heart began to race.

Dr. Gervais: Carlos, come stand right here. Jen, eyes up. Don’t look down.

So I looked down.
Naturally.

My right hand flew out to the side, feeling for Carlos who was right there.

HOLY NEEDLE! HOLY SYRINGE! That thing was MASSIVE! Not overly long, maybe 6 inches long but it was thick! And the syrynge was the size of a brat!

My insides started to shake and Dr. Gervais knew he was going to have to move fast. Carlos had one arm wrapped around the backside of my waist and another on my elbow.

Dr. Gervais: Okay, Jen. Tighten your abs.

to be continued…

 

Final surgery, 1 week post-op

Back to appropriately cropped photos of me with no clothes on. Oh come on, I was fully dressed last week. Give me a quick minute to give a surgery update and then we can get back to healthiness topics!

Friday marked already 1 week post-op from my last, and final surgery. I had an appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Gervais and he took the tape off the incisions. They put tape on the incisions for a couple of reasons. First, it helps protect the raw incisions. Also, while the skin is beginning to heal back together, the tape holds the skin together on top of the sutures itself. It basically reinforces the sutures.

Now that the tape is off, I felt really sore all weekend. Much more sore than I felt the first week. My left arm feels more sore than my right, which is odd because my right always bothered me more after the 1st surgery. Dr. Gervais advised at least one more week of extra relaxing – he stressed laying low and not trying to be too active when I have to.

Aside from the slightly more prominent pain, I have to tell you I LOVE THE RESULTS. It is absolutely amazing and while it isn’t perfect, remember, that isn’t what I wanted. I just wanted the skin to not hang over and irritate/pinch me. I am beyond elated at the results of this surgery and looking forward to making a full recover from all the surgeries I had.

I know these pictures are slightly booby-ish, hang with me, okay?

In the first photo, you can see Dr. Gervais extended the top incision down further and also extended the bottom incision laterally. They don’t connect but are much closer. In this picture, you can also see how well my scar has healed down my arm from the first surgery. It’s already starting to lighten up.

The next two photos show my arm as I lower it. You’ll notice there is no more excess skin to begin to bulge or, when I wear a bra, to hang over the bra band.

So another week or so of relaxing and then, Dr. Gervais said I can begin to be active. He stressed beginning to be active doesn’t mean jumping right back into working out but I can start being active slowly with walks and stuff, until I work my way back up.

As we finished the appointment, Dr. Gervais and I double high-fived each other, sharing huge smiles and both excited at the results of the three surgeries. I never anticipated having the 2 additional surgeries but each one, individually, were worth it. I love the results and love the imperfect body I have.

And now, to recover and move on!

I am so thankful this weekend was half gloomy and grey – it made curling up in our big chair easier. Surgery on Friday went really well. I arrived very early, at 6am, and was greeted by Jill, my nurse. We took before pictures and then walked back to wait for Dr. Gervais. Dr. Gervais and I talked a little while he examined under my arms, reviewing what he’ll need to do. He then drew incision lines and showed me.

I’m learning surgery isn’t like we’d think it is. It isn’t like cutting fabric & sewing it together because the skin pulls in different directions, reacts differently and heals differently. The skin under my left arm wasn’t as bad as under my right arm. After drawing, they started the I.V. and I kissed Carlos goodbye.

I walked into the O.R. and stood on a large blue disposable towel while Jill wiped iodine all over my body. Iodine is an antiseptic wash used right before surgery. I laid down and before I knew it, I was out.

Before surgery:

After surgery:

Hopefully those pictures aren’t too bad for you – they aren’t as graphic as from previous surgeries. I’m done posting gross surgery photos. Mostly because I have no intention of having any more surgeries

I finished my 2nd book in a month, read 5 magazines, addressed all the wedding invitations and caught up on a lot of recorded t.v. Iggy has been very cuddly, insisting on laying right on my lap. He does that sometimes, but not all the time like this weekend. I think dogs are very intuitive.

I’ve been very good with my water the past six months and especially good this weekend. There isn’t much else to do while sitting still except drink water :) My eating has been pretty good too. I didn’t gain any weight during this surgery and am looking forward to getting back into my weight-loss mode in the next couple weeks.

I can’t believe it’s been over six weeks since I worked out, since I went in for my 2nd surgery. I don’t miss working out but I miss running. I miss the air in my hair, the wind hitting my face. I miss running with friends and catching up on life. I’m thinking of doing another large calendar for the summer, to keep me on track and focused. I also am going to restart New Rules of Lifting for Women to get my upper body ready for my wedding dress. Anyone want to start that with me? I was thinking maybe the beginning of June.

I have Monday off from work but do have a Blogging for Beginners class Monday evening. Back to work on Tuesday which should be fine. I’m trying to alternate the Vicodin with Tylenol so I think by Tuesday, I should be off the Vicodin. Other than that, I feel like I’m out of the loop on the healthiness community.What am I missing? Fill me in!!

Skin Removal Surgery – 5 month update & another surgery

It is now just over five months from my initial weight loss skin removal surgery in November yet here I am going back for another surgery. I never anticipated I’d have any other surgeries after the first.

The first surgery removed excess skin from my stomach & annoying under arm skin. The second was to remove the painful skin that folded over my bra, which I, nor my surgeon, anticipated becoming as big of a physical pain as it did. That 2nd surgery turned out not to fix the entire painful problem so my 3rd surgery is to remove the rest of the skin from surgery #2.

It is not my intention to go back for additional surgeries, at least and especially any time soon. I am very happy with my progress this far and very happy with my decisions to gave the surgeries. I’ll share arm photos after this next round of surgery but am excited to share updated photos of my stomach.

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I came home from work tonight, mentally ready for tomorrows surgery. I don’t feel very nervous, maybe because the idea of surgery, even for the 3rd time, still seems so surreal. Last night, I cleaned a couple bathrooms and made a couple dinners for next week (chicken pot pie & ham/veggie pasta dish.) I also made a ham we can pick at throughout the weekend. On top of the lasagna I froze last week, we are set for the next week!

I’ve been saving my recorded shows for this weekend and also plan on addresses our wedding invitations. I have a book I want to finish reading and plan on taking a lot of naps.

I have to arrive by 6am for prep, surgery starts at 7am. It is expected to be a 2 hour surgery so I should be done and recovering by 9:30am.

So ready? Here I go!