Continued Healing

This will likely be my last Panniculectomy surgery update for quite some time because there’s not much left to say.  As of yesterday, Thursday April 27th, I am 5 weeks post-op.  I saw my surgeon for a check up on Tuesday, and everything is well.  The splitting in the middle is almost all the way healed, and the splitting on my side/hip is still open and rather deep, but healing at a fairly quick rate.  The doc said it looked good, and to just keep it clean and dry.  I am officially off of all antibiotics and doing well.  Very little pain, if any.  Just the occasional zing of nerve pain from having a big portion of skin removed which is totally bearable, some muscle aches and pains if I sit still for too long at a time, and phantom itching for the part of my skin that is gone.  But besides that I feel mostly normal again.  I have to continue to wear my compression garments for a few more months, which I am comfortable with since I have some swelling and a lot of scarring at this time.

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On the left: Summer 2015, 270ish lbs. On the right: Spring 2017, 210ish lbs. and post-panniculectomy.

The garments I have are probly about as comfortable as they can get, so I don’t mind wearing them most of the time.  I don’t have to see the doctor again for another 4 months, and that’s just for another routine checkup.  Plus my belly looks slightly lop-sided, and we just want to make sure that’s going away and looking great by that time in my recovery.  If not, I may discuss a repair, but I’m hoping we won’t need to go down that road.

 

I am going to continue to see my nutritionist so that I can continue down my healthy path and proceed with documentation in support of a breast reduction.  I will be eligible as soon as October for that surgery, but I think I will likely wait until at least January just to give myself a break from all the surgery recovery pains, to make sure I’ve lost the weight I want to lose and firm things up a bit, and to make sure I’m not going to miss half of next summer in recovery.

Once that surgery is complete, I will be done with surgeries in regards to loose skin.  For one, I don’t have insurance that will cover anything more.  And for another, I do believe I can firm things up from here with some vigorous exercise and willpower to keep at it.  Since the Panniculectomy I have been slowly losing more weight, even being sedentary.  I think it changed my metabolism a bit, and I look forward to taking advantage of that soon.  At my 6 week mark, which is next Thursday, my activity restriction is lifted and I will be riding my bike and hitting the gym at least a couple times per week.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually looked forward to exercising.  But without that embarrassing belly flap, I have nothing to fear.  I am currently at 209 pounds, and my overall goal is 175 (though government BMI standards say I should be around 135, I think I would look anorexic if I got down to that weight…. I still want some curves!). I know I can accomplish 175 with more hard work.

Thanks for reading along with my surgery journey.  I hope I have helped those of you who were trying to decide if this surgery was right for them.  I hope I have given you what you need for information if you were going through struggles with the recovery.  I hope I have provided support or encouragement for those of you also on a weight loss journey.  Good luck to you all, and thanks again!

Stir-Crazy

Due to my physical limitations with my hip dysplasia, my surgeries, and some family issues, I have been out of work for a little over 2 months.  For the last few weeks I haven’t been able to such as lift anything or exercise besides walking, and walking is limited due to my hips.  This is not a complaint, it is just fact.  But the complaint here is that it sucks!

ballexerciseOn Tuesday I get to go for a recheck with the surgeon who performed my Panniculectomy, and at that time I will most certainly be asking if I can resume exercise.  I know I have a weight restriction for at least 6 weeks of 10 pounds, so weight training isn’t an option yet.  But if I could go to the YMCA and ride a stationary bike, or walk a treadmill for short periods that I can handle, or do some other aerobic activity, that would be wonderful!  Plus I feel like I’m losing muscle mass.  I know I’m not gaining weight back, but I feel lazy and depressed.  I need activity.

I’d also like to be able to volunteer my time in the local shelter, or help a groomer with bathing dogs, or something of that sort.  I need to find things to do outside of my home, with other people, in some sort of social environment.  I miss my work so very much, but I don’t think I’d be capable of doing everything that being a veterinary assistant requires anymore, as sad as that makes me.  That was honestly my dream job.  I learned something new every day.  It made me think, and exercised my brain.

Blog-image-burchielI need to find more activities that do that for me.  I’m going stir-crazy in my home all the time.  I don’t know how I managed to be a stay-at-home mom for 12 years.  It’s no wonder I had social anxiety so bad, being cooped up and secluding myself from other people.  The social anxiety isn’t gone, but I certainly don’t want it getting worse again.  I need to push myself to do more.  I need to grow as a person, not take steps backwards.

Splitting *graphic image*

Just when I thought things were healing well, I notice some extra drainage right in the front middle of my incision line on Friday of last week.  At first I freaked out, thinking it was a lot deeper than it actually is.  I called the surgeon’s clinic and they told me it has to heal from the inside out, that there’s nothing I can do.  So I’ve been babying it over the weekend.  However, I finally pulled off the saturated and no-longer-stuck steri-strips this morning, and its not nearly as bad as I originally thought.  I think the mystery of being behind bandage, paired with my fear of a wound coming open, played hell with my imagination.  Included in this post is an actual photo of how open it is.  It’s probly about 1/3 of an inch deep, but keeps closed with tight bandaids, enough to keep it from gapping and open enough that it won’t get infected hopefully.

I’ve found that the little open spots here and there, like my belly button and other very small spots like this one have a hard time closing up.  And I think that’s because they are covered 24/7 with compression garments and/or absorbent gauze in an attempt to keep them dry.  I think its hard for them to heal as well when they don’t get much air and are ALWAYS covered.  But I’m not allowed to go without the garments, so I guess for now I’ll just stay on antibiotics to keep infection from taking over, and keep cleaning and drying the wounds as much as I can.

Furthermore, I am not really satisfied with how I’m looking cosmetically, so I’m considering a consultation with a different surgeon to get their opinion and see if there’s anything we can do to fix what I don’t like.

Days Five & Six

I know I said I wasn’t going to publish a blog about every day, but the whole point here is to document and share my experiences.  And well, things have happened and changed and I’d like to share.

Yesterday I was feeling pretty great, so Jake drove me around and we ran some errands together.  We took Evan to the doctor for what turned out to be seasonal allergies.  While I was there I weighed myself and I was down to 218 lbs!  I went over to Jake’s house to shower because I like his shower better than mine.  We went out to lunch.  And we picked up a couple things at WalMart since I had very few pieces of clothing that fit me.  Mostly, I was sitting for the errands, except for walking to and from our destinations from the car, and walking in WalMart a little bit.  I did okay, but was tired when we got back home.  So I relaxed for a while.  Then it all hit me!  The right half of my incision started hurting really bad, and the left side around my ribs started hurting really bad.  It became hard to walk or move at all.  I figured maybe it was because I had tried to back off of the pain meds a bit, so I bumped them back up.  But it didn’t help much.  I’ve come to the conclusion that between the surgical nerve block wearing off, and all the activity yesterday, I just overdid it.  So today, I’m back to hanging out in my recliner and minimizing activity again.

Post-Op Day 5

Also last night I opened my binder while I was relaxing, laying on my bed.  I wanted to put some pads/bandages under the binder because it felt like it was rubbing wrong in a few places.  And I noticed that my belly button doesn’t look quite right.  Not only do I think its off-center, but it seems to be too moist and almost looks like its trying to be infected even though I’m on antibiotics.  I called the surgical clinic about it but was only allowed to leave a message.  When they called back, they told me I can give it air a couple times a day, and to keep it as dry as possible with a bandaid or gauze while I have the binder on, and that if it starts looking worse, come in to see them.

 

Another thing probly no one wants to hear about, but those of you who are going to have this surgery done may need to read about anyway… is poop.  I have not had a bowel movement since the morning of surgery.  I have been taking stool softeners all along, and I have been eating normally.  But I still haven’t gone.  I think if I still haven’t gone by tomorrow (day 7), I will be taking some Castor Oil to get things moving.   I weighed in at 215 lbs this morning, so I imagine once I get things moving inside I’ll be down a few more pounds.  My biggest goal right now is to heal obviously, but to get below 200 lbs.  And I’m well on my way!!

So yesterday I learned I need to quit trying to push myself so hard, and do my best to just relax and recover.  Let other people take care of me like they are here for, and give my body the break it deserves.  Its been hard to slow down so much because ever since we moved to Otley toward the end of November, every single day has been busy running and running.  And then the rush to move back to Newton and get settled quick before this surgery.  And now that we’re moved, settled, and the surgery is done, I just need to RELAX.  I need to keep telling myself that.  Recovery is my #1 priority now.  And my body definitely reminded me of that yesterday.

I’m wearing size 12/14 shorts!

One last thing that I’m very excited about – when I bought clothes yesterday I decided I didn’t want any jeans or anything too restrictive yet for at least a couple more weeks.  But the pajama pants and shorts I purchased were a size 12/14!!!  Before my surgery I was a size 18, and before weight loss I was a size 24.  This is the smallest I’ve been since high school.  Its so exciting!  And that’s even over all the swelling, padding, and binder.  😀

Day Four

Last night was my first night sleeping at home since surgery, and it was delightful!  I’m not supposed to lay flat, so I had about 3 pillows under my shoulders and head, and a folded up quilt and pillow under my knees.  I slept so very well in my own bed!  And I woke up feeling rested and refreshed.  Even though my pain meds had mostly worn off, the pain was still mostly tolerable.  So I got up and took my meds and have spent most of the day today up and around the house.  I’ve been a little dizzy off and on, and I’ve had a splitting headache most of the day that comes and goes in waves.  So I haven’t gotten too crazy or anything haha, just walking around the house and I paced a little bit on the front porch to get fresh air.

I think the drains are my least favorite part of this process.  “Stripping” the line creates suction at the other end of the line, which is under my skin, and it feels like its tugging.  Its not a great feeling at all.  The surgeon expects to be able to take them out at my 2-week post-op checkup.  I hope he’s right about and I don’t have to keep them any longer.

The binder actually feels good to have wrapped around me.  I feel supported and together with it on, and feel far too vulnerable with it off.  Luckily, the only time it needs to be off is when I shower, so I don’t have to deal with that feeling very often.  Only once every other day.  Also, as I mentioned in my last post, I don’t like the way I look without it right now either.  Between the uneven swelling, bruising, and odd posture I think my body looks pretty hideous right now.  So, better to keep it covered for my own sake until its healed a little more.  No new post-op photos until there’s improvement… except for ones where I’m covered.

One more thing… I find it kinda funny.  Since I have a binder on and can’t really feel around on my belly too much yet, I’m really not sure where my waistline is yet!  I don’t know exactly where my pants should sit!  I know all my pants except one smaller pair are pretty loose.  There’s no way any of my jeans would fit right now, just sweatpants or drawstring Jammie pants.  Once this swelling goes down a bit more, maybe in a couple more weeks, I’m going to have to buy some pants and figure out where my pants sit on my body all over again.

After today I’ll be updating less frequently.  I think I’m doing pretty good, so I see no reason to keep repeating myself.  If I don’t update by then, I’ll post pics and an update at my post-op appointment on April 4th.  OR if you have any questions for me, please ask!  I’d be happy to answer questions for anyone considering this surgery or doing research.  I feel like there’s not enough patient info on this procedure online, so I’d like to change that as much as I can.