2 Months

It has been two whole months.  Two months since my husband and I tied the knot after being together for only 8 days.  And two months since I had my final weight loss related surgery.

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Jarrod and me

I couldn’t possibly ask for a better husband and example of a real man for my boys.  I knew immediately when we confessed our feelings to each other that he would be my forever, and that feeling has only gotten stronger every single day since then.  He’s the best friend I’ve ever had!  We lay awake at night and talk about everything.  We intend often to watch TV or a movie, get housework done together, or take care of other errands, and often it gets put on the back burner to our conversations, or the conversations continue through it all.  We are attached at the hip and prefer to do anything we need to do, together.  We even prefer to work the same shifts together at work, just to be in each other’s presence.  We understand and are comfortable with each other on the deepest level.  I’ve honestly never felt anything like this before, and it’s the best!  He is wonderful with my kids, and they become more and more open to him each day.  His kids are pretty awesome as well, and I love how our family is blending.  Jarrod is my heart, my soul, my life.  This is my forever, and I couldn’t be happier or more content.

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Left: 270 lbs, late 2015 — Right: 200 lbs, October 2017

As far as my surgical recovery and body image goes, I’m quite satisfied now!  I started my weight loss journey in January of 2016 at 270 pounds.  Around summer of 2016 I had already lost enough weight to disqualify myself from bariatric weight loss surgery by getting down to around 230 pounds.  I had changed my lifestyle enough to take off the weight myself, by eating less fat and carbs, more protein, and cutting out sugary soda.  Then once I reached about 225 pounds I qualified for skin removal surgery, and got approved for my Panniculectomy (tummy tuck) in March 2017, which is when it was done.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results as it healed because I still had quite a bit of sag, my bellybutton was off-center, and a couple other details I was dissatisfied with.  So when I had my breast reduction and lift on September 1st, I was able to get my tummy tuck revised.  Now it’s been two months since I had that last surgery, and though nothing is perfect, I am VERY satisfied with my results.  I am now hovering right around 200 pounds, and still want to lose about 15.  I haven’t had the willpower to just buckle down and take off that last 15 yet, but I know I will and am not too concerned with it anyway.  I’m happy with the way I look now, with the way my clothes fit, and with my appearance in the mirror, naked.  Really, I feel I just need to tone up now.  I’m very proud of myself for having come this far without bariatric surgery.  And I plan to continue this healthier lifestyle forever.  I NEVER want to gain that weight back.  I have so much less body ache and pain now, I am more flexible and don’t lose my breath going up and down stairs, I have more stamina and am all around a much happier person.  I love it!

Two months since my life made some permanent changes for the better.  I am so happy to have had these opportunities come to me, and to have been able to grab ahold of them.  I am so happy with my life!

 

My Breast Reduction Surgery

On Friday, September 1, I was admitted to Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Grinnell, Iowa for a breast reduction and lift, and a Panniculectomy scar revision performed by Dr. Coster.  Going in, I was pretty nervous.  My bra size was a 36G and I was concerned with the extreme reduction I would lose sensation or experience complications.  But I didn’t.  The surgery went well, lasting about 4 hours and under general anesthesia.  Jarrod and my mom were both there for me when I woke up.  Dr. Coster removed about 1 pound from my right breast, and about a pound and a half from my left breast.  Here are photos of the progression I’ve experienced so far.  The results will only get better from here on out.

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As you can see, my Panniculectomy did NOT create the results you’d expect from a plastic surgery to improve the appearance of my tummy.  I was so fortunate to be able to have it repaired.  Also, I’m still really puffy, bruised and swollen from my most recent surgery.  I’ll update with pics in a few months to show how everything heals.  At first I was really disappointed with the small breast size I’m left with now, but the surgeon said it would all heal into a nice D cup, so I’m okay with that.  Not to mention, over the last 3 days I’ve adjusted to having smaller breasts anyway and it is so much more comfortable!!

Already I am experiencing so much less pain and discomfort than I ever did with my previous surgery.  I’m on day 3 today, and I haven’t needed my prescription pain meds, only Tylenol.  I have however been extremely tired and have needed a lot of sleep as I’ve been healing.  Luckily my kids and job are giving me time to do just that.  This surgeon really knew what he was doing, and I will be forever thankful for the wonderful work he did to give me my new body!

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!

More Splitting

I’m sparing you the photos, because it’s gross…

Now that the front splitting area is under control and healing well, the one on my right hip has come much farther open.  It is at the end of the incision, and has been draining quite a bit.  Last night I was using q-tips to gently clean out some darker colored stuff inside it, and I decided since it was very obviously open under the one remaining steristrip that went over it, I should probly take it off so I could clean it better.  Once I did that, I saw just how ugly and deep it was under there, and how much it stunk, I had a bit of a panic attack.  I had Jake take me to the ER in the town where I had the surgery done.  The ER doctor was in the room for maybe 30 seconds and told me to go to my surgeon’s clinic today.  It took me a while to get an appointment made today, and my surgeon was not in the office today, but I did see his nurse.  She looked at it, measured it, and told me that since this is such a big surgery and such a large incision, its is very common for them to come open a little bit here and there.  She assured me I was okay and not annoying or naggy for being so concerned about all these wound changes.  She assured me it was just because I have never been through this before so its all unknown to me, and let me know that she sees things like this every day in their clinic.  She said keep the wound clean and dry, no ointment or anything.  Continue taking antibiotics, and leave it open if desired to let air get to it, as it will help it heal.  But keeping it covered is okay too, since it drains and I don’t want that all over my clothes.  Either way.

I feel a little embarrassed about how upset and scared I was over it, but she’s right, I haven’t ever been through this before.  Every surgery I’ve ever had has healed up without an issue.  And this one is much bigger and major.  But now that I know its not dying tissue, and its normal and healthy for what it is, I can relax and just re-focus on healing.

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.