If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, a grandson, a granddaughter, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 dwarf frogs, an unfortunate number of tadpoles, and a whole lot of love.




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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mother Tucker!

Part IV:  Recovery, Week 2.

Despite dreading the impending removal of my 2nd drain, I left last week's appointment pretty darn excited.  I was given official permission to take a shower.  If you've never been forbidden to bathe, or been a contestant on Survivor, you might not appreciate the magnitude of such a restriction.  And for someone obsessed with freshly shaved legs, it was kind of a nightmare. 
So a real shower.  That's a big deal.

Here's something you need to know about my family and my tummy tuck.  Zac, Aubrey and Kearstin want absolutely nothing to do with the recovery process.  From the pictures and stories, I'm sure you can't imagine why.  Caymen has been pretty oblivious to any of the major details.  She doesn't ask questions and she's never around during any of my detailed follow up care.  It's just a matter of fact that 'mommy had surgery on her tummy' and 'daddy takes care of mommy.'   As for Ron, he's a little too involved sometimes, and is entirely too fascinated with some of my post-surgical side effects.

For instance, there are areas of my tummy I've lost feeling from where they cut nerves.  I might regain that feeling, or I might not.  This is something that screws with my head.  When I scratch my stomach and I can't feel anything at all, I could very easily qualify for a rubber room.  So when Ron's applying Neosporin to my belly button stitches, that make me nauseous right now anyway, and he starts poking my belly real fast and saying, "Can you feel it?  Can you feel it?  Can you feel it?" while he makes obnoxious sound effects...well, that's grounds for divorce threats in my opinion. 

But back to bathing.  I wanted to take my shower Wednesday night, but Caymen started vomiting.  (Because we didn't have enough gross bodily fluids going on around here.)  So on Thursday, I couldn't wait any longer.  Ron wasn't home at the time, which had it's pros and cons.  Kearstin refused involvement on all counts.  After much persuasion, Aubrey agreed to help me rewrap myself into my Velcro girdle, but refused any involvement in the actual bathroom.  That left only one option.  "Hey Caymen...wanna help mommy?"  Sure! 

All she had to do was sit on the stool in the bathroom while I took a shower with instructions to run and get Aubrey if I "need anything."  Code for:  Tip over, fall out of the bathtub, and/or get overtaken with Heebie Jeebies at the sight of my own stomach, pass out and drown.  You can't think too far out of the box around here.

As I undressed in the bathroom, I knew I better prepare her for what she was about to see when I removed the wretched Velcro girdle..."A rubber tube is hanging from a gaping wound in mommy's hip...totally normal and nothing to fear, cry or vomit about." 
A necessary reminder to myself as well.

Here we go...*Rip*...For several seconds she sat there staring silently and then said, "Well.  Things just got interesting and disgusting all at the same time."  Out of the mouths of babes.  And little did we know just how quickly things were about to escalate.

My ten minute shower was absolutely glorious.  I quietly congratulated myself on being hygienically self-sufficient again while Caymen sat happily humming on her stool beside the sink.  I turned off the water, stepped out of the tub and that's when, without warning, my drainage tube ejected itself from my body and fell to the floor at Caymen's feet. 

In dead silence, we both looked down at it.  We looked at each other.  We looked down again.  She finally said, "I think you're gonna need to tell somebody about that." 

I looked at the exit site and saw a bloody hole full of stitches...and then I calmly and rationally reacted to the situation...all hell broke loose.  I sunk to the bathroom floor, gasping for breath and grabbing for my phone.  The only thing going through my mind was that it broke in half and the other half was still inside me, embedded deeply within my soul. 
(Cut me some slack.  Drama runs rampant here.) 

The doctor was sent an emergency page and immediately called me back.  He had some great news and some really not great news.  The great news was that the tube did not break off inside me and that was the whole deal laying on the bathroom floor. In hindsight, I remember thinking that my tucksticle was hanging a little lower than normal length throughout the day, but I never gave it much thought.  Anyhoo, there was no way for him to safely insert a new one and that meant I would not have to live through another drainage tube removal, but he wanted to see me Monday morning.    Because, the not so great news was that my body now had potential to collect fluid inside me, with no way to escape, thus requiring him to use a spinal needle to manually remove it. 

His voice took on that low, slow motion sound effect when he said, "S-p-in-al n-e-e-d-l-e."  and I answered in a slow mo, "Nooooooooooo..." right before my head thunked against the bathroom wall.

Enter 'Bed rest until Monday' because that was the best way to prevent my body from producing fluid.  Within the first hour of bed rest, I was convinced I could feel fluid building up in my lungs and by Saturday morning, I could hear gurgling because as it turns out, Ron isn't the only hypochondriac in our family.

I don't mean to sound ungrateful here.  God has been super-generous in providing writing material throughout this process, not to mention my life in general.  But as I lay in bed for 3 days contemplating what might happen with a needle on Monday morning, I prayed something I've never prayed before;
"Please Lord, don't make me write that."

Monday morning arrived, I lay on the exam table and in order to check for excess fluid, the doctor smacked my stomach, twice.  Not that I could feel it, but at least he didn't make sound effects.  No fluid!  As an added bonus, they were able to remove my belly button stitches while I was there and I've been upgraded from 'Bed Rest' to 'Take it easy, seriously.'  Whatever that means.

As we drove away I said, "I'm so happy right now." 
Ron replied, "Me too...those are some flat ass abs."

Happy Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What The Tuck?!?

Part III:  Recovery, Week 1.

In all my pre-surgical research, there was one recurring theme.  The pain.
I tried not to dwell on that because
1.  I've experienced 3 C-sections and
2.  I'm a Tough Mudder twice over, after all.  What is this pain you speak of?

This is where you're expecting me to fill you in on the indescribable  tummy tuck pain, right?  Wrong.  In all seriousness, with exception of the moment I woke up in the post-op room, my pain level has been quite comparable to that of a C-section.  Certainly no worse, that's for sure. 

So here's a day by day breakdown of my first 7 days of recovery, including some things they told me to expect and a few they most certainly did not...


Wednesday & Thursday
The key to recovery is to get a jump on your pain pills on the first day and stay ahead of the pain game.  I took a Vicodin religiously every 3 hours for the first 48 hours.  That, on top of the pain blockers I'd been given during the surgery, made those first two days go smoothly.  I rotated between sitting in a recliner and lying propped up on my side with a pillow between my knees in bed.  The worst part was the transition from sitting to standing and vice versa.  Ron did the brunt of the movement for me and I just hung on.  A heating pad also helped a lot.

Bathing is strictly prohibited the first week, so on Thursday night, Ron put a chair in the bathtub and helped me shave my legs and wash my hair without getting the Velcro wrap around my midsection wet.  That's true love, people.

We'd been forewarned about the 2 drains that would remain attached to me for at least a week that Ron would be responsible for emptying and measuring the contents twice a day.  What they don't tell you is that they're two rubber pouches that hang from chords and dangle right at your crotch. 

It didn't take long for my family to dub those "Mom's testicles"....until the day Caymen overheard me tell Ron I need my testicles emptied and Ron replied, "Well, so do I but you don't hear me complaining." 

Caymen burst out laughing and said, "You don't have testicles, daddy!"
My drains were immediately renamed Tucksticles. 
Hopefully that solves any potential '1st Grade Show n Tell' nightmare.

Quick word of advice:  DO NOT weigh yourself the day after surgery.  I made the huge mistake of sneaking onto my scale, discovered 5 extra pounds and spiraled into oblivion.  Ron was furious and strictly forbid me from weighing myself again.  Turns out, it's just extra fluid and it comes off within 4 days...I know that because I continue to sneak onto the scale each morning.  Ssshhhh.

Friday  
The itching under the girdle began, as did a slight rattling in my chest, causing me to feel the need to cough.  Anyone who's ever had a C-section knows that you'd rather gouge out your eyeballs with a butter knife than cough.  (Same goes for sneezing.)  I panicked about my cough to Ron.  His response was to casually inform me that my nurse in the recovery room immediately following my surgery told him that I should take deep breaths so that didn't happen.  I furiously asked him why he never told me that.  He said, "You were laying right there when she said it.  Your eyes were open, I assumed you were paying attention." 

Saturday & Sunday
Huge turning point.  I woke up feeling noticeably better and my Vicodin dosage was bumped to every 5 hours...which is good, because that's roughly how long it takes Ron to watch a football game on tv.

Monday
Ron returned to work.  Bruising began to creep down my left leg, but otherwise I felt great.  I washed my own hair, I shaved my own legs and I began eyeing my tightly wrapped tummy like a child eyes a birthday gift.  I mentioned to Ron the possibility of taking a quick peek.  And that brings us to....

Tuesday.
I think the best way to explain what happened is to describe the scene Zac walked in on when he returned from work:  Ron, wearing only his boxers, was scrambling around frantically yelling at me to calm down, while I stood wearing only my pajama top, loosely hanging around my neck, looking down at my swollen (albeit smooth) tummy and swaying woozily back and forth unable to rip my eyes away from my belly button that is overflowing with black stitches that looked exactly like a swarm of ants from where I stood.  "Holy mother, wrap it back up...WRAP IT BACK UP!!!!!"

Sadly,  Zac was Facetiming with his girlfriend at the time.  A good reminder not to walk into our bedroom unannounced.  Another lesson learned the hard way.

Wednesday  (one week post-op)
We sat in the plastic surgeon's waiting room. Ron played on his phone while I sat with my hands stuffed into the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt, trying to hide my tucksticles from the other patients.  The silence was broken by a painful scream that came from an exam room in the back.  My immediate thought was, let's take the dramatics down a notch in there, shall we?  (Before you remind me of the scene from our bedroom a mere 12 hours before, let me remind you that my belly button looked like it was full of ants, okay?!?  If that doesn't call for drama, nothing does.)

Half hour later, I was sitting in my own exam room with my pants down around my thighs, my head hanging upside down with my hair in my crotch, face to face with my ant infested belly button, violently dry heaving because the Physician's Assistant had just removed my right tucksticle.  Let me explain...she unstitched a portion of my fresh incision and slowly pulled a 12inch piece of tube out from under my rib cage from the inside.  She was exactly right when she said, "This won't hurt."  What she failed to mention was that it would feel like she was pulling a live snake out of my freakin soul.  But hey. I didn't scream.

Stay tuned next week when they remove my one remaining tucksticle and the ants from my belly button. 

I don't see how any of that could possibly go wrong...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tuck It Up

Part II, The Surgery:

Wednesday morning, I carefully followed all of the pre-surgical instructions.  Well, almost all.  Certainly when they said 'No Make-Up', they weren't referring to eye liner and mascara.  That'd just be ridiculous.

A small portion of my thoughts were centered on the excited anticipation of realizing another dream.  But then I'd find myself on an irrational thought loop:  I'm going to be lying on a surgical table completely exposed to a room full of medical professionals and unable to suck in my stomach.  What will they do with my roll of skin after it's removed?  What if I'm under just enough anesthesia where I can't move or respond, but not enough to where I don't feel him do the surgery?  What if I throw up?  What if he puts my brand new belly button up too high?  Or worse, too low?  You get the idea.  Worst case scenarios are my specialty. 

Before we left, I shared some of my concerns with Ron and Zac.  Huge mistake.  What started out as a simple question turned into the great belly button debate that had me briefly contemplating asking the doctor to leave me belly button free until Zac suggested that no belly button at all might give the illusion of constant camel toe.  Well that settles that.

Before I could finish my inner shudder, Ron chimed in with, "I'm more concerned with how far your vagina might get pulled up."  ....silence....
I've tried to come up with an explanation for what he said.  I've got nothin.  Clearly, there was a massive break down in communication somewhere along the way.

We left for the Ohio Valley Medical Center in Springfield.  I need to take a minute to praise that place.  Ron and I have each had procedures done there and we have yet to have a negative experience as far as the surgical center goes.  It runs like clockwork.  The staff is incredible from the time you enter to the time you leave and everything in between.  They treat you like you're their only patient and this time was no different.  I highly recommend it.

We arrived at 11, by 11:30 I was in a room hooked up to my iv and at 11:45 the anesthesiologist walked in.  It was the same man who took incredible care of me during my C-section for Caymen and I'll never forget him.  Nothing like receiving a little pre-surgical hug from God, right?   He explained everything he'd be doing during the surgery.  I shared my concerns about anesthesia and he assured me he'll know exactly how far I'm under at all times.  I also told him it's extremely common for me to throw up when I'm coming out of anesthesia and the mere thought of vomiting after this particular procedure had me scared to death.  He calmed my nerves and explained the precautionary steps he'd take to ensure I wouldn't get sick. 

Then he told us about a patient he had on the table once who had a hernia removed.  Just as they closed his incision, he became violently ill and all of his stitches tore open. I said, "That doesn't really make me feel better."  He replied, "Oh, that won't happen to you.  He was young and muscular." 
Thanks, dude.  Does your wife call you Chuckles, per chance?

Around 12:15, my doctor came in to see me, reviewed everything he was going to do and then asked if we had any questions.  I darted my eyes toward Ron and silently willed him not to say vagina. 

Shortly after, I was being wheeled away from my husband toward a full abdominoplasty that could take up to 3 hours.  Mine ended up taking roughly 2.  I hope to learn more details of what my personal procedure entailed at my follow up appointment and share those in my next post. 

The next thing I knew, I woke up sitting at an angle.  The throbbing sensation in my abs immediately reminded me where I was and the nurse asked me to rate my pain.  I said the first thing that popped into my mind, "It hurts like a mother."  And with that, she pumped me full of morphine and I returned to a happy place where I could eat saltine crackers, drink water and go to the bathroom...because urination is the magic key to getting discharged after surgery.
 The nurse unhooked me from my iv and pulled up my gown to explain what was happening.  I'm wrapped tightly with a velcro girdle contraption that tightly squeezes my abs from just under my chest all the way down over the incision site.  Two tubes remain inserted into my incision, exit from underneath the wrap and are attached to rubber pouches that catch drainage.  She explained all the post-op instructions to Ron and then asked if we'd like to see my new tummy.

She released the wrap and through morphine goggles, I think I saw a smooth stomach and just maybe the most perfectly placed brand new belly-button a girl could ask for.  But she quickly wrapped it back up tight and we're under strict orders to keep it that way until my first follow-up appointment on Wednesday.   

By 3:30, I was being wheeled out to our van with a fresh carnation in hand as a sweet parting gift. 

All surgery concerns appear to have been unfounded.  I'm pretty sure I stayed asleep during surgery, I never threw up, I couldn't care less what they did with my roll, from the brief blurry glimpse I got, it seems the doctor can be trusted with belly button placement and on return from my first trip to the bathroom, I gave Ron a thumbs up.  Breathe easy, fella...everything below stayed put and I still pee sitting down.
 
Onto the next stage. 
Recovery.

To Be Continued...
 
*Please attribute any typos to the periodic doses of Vicodin I'm still under...as for any offensive personal details, that was probably all me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuck U.

The long awaited time has come.  And when I say long awaited, I don't mean the 9 months since scheduling the tummy tuck.  I'm referring back to 2001 when I made a goal:  "Lose the extra hundred pounds, keep it off and maybe someday I'll get a tummy tuck."  I've spent the past 6 years trying to prove to myself that I'll keep it off. 

There have been a few people who know my struggles with body image issues that have wondered how I can blog this process.  I'll address that below, but I think it's important to keep in mind that I wouldn't be taking 'Before' pictures of my saggy stretch marked belly without operating under the assumption that the 'After' pics will be a vast improvement.  Note that I won't be posting any shots of myself from behind.  I'm not completely insane.

Similar to my other recent adventures, I approached the tummy tuck with research.  It started with phone calls a couple years ago asking the simple question of cost.  Ron and I had an amount in mind that we'd be willing to pay, but everyplace I called was significantly higher than that.  Door closed.  Wasn't meant to be.  I accepted that and moved on, until last December during a conversation with a friend.  Her husband overheard me mention the prices I'd been told.  Having a job related to the medical field, he referred me to Dr. Troha, and gave me a rough calculation as to how much he charges.  Extremely close to our price range. 

*Regarding the cost of my procedure, it's not a secret, but I won't be listing it here.  Anyone seriously interested in that information for themselves can ask me privately or consult the doctor directly.

Next step:  My initial consult.  I no sooner got taken back to an exam room and pulled my gown over my head, then had to go to the bathroom.  The mental debate began.  Sneak to the restroom down the hall wearing an open backed gown or hope we make it through the appointment without him pushing on my stomach...cue the James Bond music as I crack the door open and peek my head into the hall.  Everything went according to plan until on my way back when I walked into the wrong exam room to find the doctor with another patient, gasped and darted back to my room, where I sat trying to look casual when he walked in. 
Hey stranger, long time no see.

The actual exam was simple and painless.  The doctor is really nice and patiently answered all of my nervous questions, although when I enquired about a partial tuck he could have at least acted like that was a good idea instead of quickly telling me that my stomach is the perfect candidate for the full shebang. 
Okay, he said it much nicer than that and explained that for the relatively minimal price difference between the two procedures, I'd be happier with the results of a full.  May as well do this right.

That was back in February and I left there under absolutely no pressure to schedule and was encouraged to take my time and think about it.  After much discussion with Ron, November was the best option in relation to both finances and work schedules.

I had 9 full months to completely immerse myself in obsessive research that started with Google, led to seeking out actual real life tummy tuck recipients, which eventually escalated to a twisted version of 'You show me yours and I'll show you mine.'  Turns out women are much more willing to show you their new belly button if you offer to show them your old one.  I also discovered that when people find out you're getting a tummy tuck, they tend to automatically look down at your stomach while you stand there hoping they don't look back up and say, "Good idea."

Most recently, my obsession turned to the dreaded post-surgical bowel movement.  I've had 3 C-sections.  I know what I'm talking about here and I predict many of you do, too.  That began the string of phone calls to the doctor's office and surgical center asking anyone and everyone their opinion on my idea of some pre-surgical laxatives, most of which were met with a resounding 'NO' and one who actually said, 'Oh Lord, No.'  
Take it easy.  Never hurts to ask.

I feel like I've educated myself on the topic of tummy tucks as much as I could.  I have no idea what the journey holds or what the end result will be, but I guess we'll all find out together.  Ron has been given free reign to document the process with the camera.  We should all be terrified.  Who am I kidding...I should be terrified. 

But I've done my part and now it's time to let the surgeon do his.  My post-surgical instructions consist solely of staying off my feet.  I'll be propped in a recliner, completely dependent on my family to care for each other, the house, the dogs and me for several weeks, not to mention they'll be single-handedly responsible for making the entire Thanksgiving meal for our annual Feast With Friends we host at our house the night before Thanksgiving. 
Things are bound to get interesting.

So in reference to the question as to how I can blog this, I think the bigger question here is, how can I not blog this? 

In the words of my doctor, "Once you hit that 4 week mark, you're free to return to a completely normal life with your family."

He obviously doesn't know us very well.


Until we meet again.
To Be Continued...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thou Shalt Not

We were long overdue. 

It's been months since our last major blow out worthy of a title,  reminiscent of the 'Worship Your God Fight of 2003' and the ever popular 'Shirt vs. Shirt Battle of 2012.'

As is usually the case, we didn't see this one coming, but in hindsight recognize the groundwork that gradually led to the 'Bible Verse War of 2013.'

Welcome to a peek into the Funny Farm, kids.  We call it home...

It all started at church when I happily returned from the coffee bar to my husband's side with my fresh cup of caffeine to learn that he'd (once again) volunteered me to pass the Communion plates and Offering bowls because in his words, "It's good for me."  Nothing against Communion and Offering, it's just that I always manage to make a mess of it from nerves (read: phobias) of being one of the few standing, while everyone else is sitting, and the subsequent hot flashes and shaky hands when one of my inner voices continually taunts me with the possibility of dropping the tray of 50 tiny cups of grape juice into someone's lap.  That's never happened, mind you, but it's quite common for me to screw up the pattern of passing and end up on the receiving end of my husband's disappointed looks when he gets stuck juggling 2 trays of juice and 2 trays of bread while I stand empty handed on the opposite end giving him the 'what did you think was gonna happen here? gesture.  The sooner he stops with this sick Public Humiliation Therapy, the better off we'll be.

Believe it or not, I still didn't see the fight coming.

We listened to the awesome sermon on living by faith and not by fear where it was pointed out that despite Peter's doubt that caused him to begin to sink in his attempt to walk across the water when Jesus beckoned him, at least he had the courage to step out in faith, unlike the other 11 who stayed sitting in the safety of the boat. 

Still didn't see the fight coming.

We've been wanting a black leather recliner for the rec room and I'd really like to have it before my tummy tuck next week, so I was thrilled when he suggested we make a trip to Value City Furniture after church.  We'd been in the store a whopping 10 minutes and all we could find was groupings of brown leather until I heard Ron yell, "Hey Shar!  There's a black family down there!"  I looked up to see him pointing toward the grouping of black leather chairs he was referring to, but unfortunately, there stood an African American family looking back at him.  We left empty handed.

Now I started to see it coming. 

So on the ride home when he tried to change the subject from what just happened, to the sermon we'd heard, my day's frustrations rose to the surface and I called him a 'Boat Sitter.'  Boom.

His defense:  "Nuh uh!  I've been faithfully giving money to K-Love every month for a year and a half without telling you!"
Me:  "Excuse me?  You've been what?!  Why?!?!"
Him:  *with deer-in-the-headlights face* "Um...because the Bible says that when you give to the needy your left hand shouldn't know what your right hand is doing!!"
Me:  "First of all, K-Love isn't the needy.  Second, I'm not your freakin left hand, we're supposed to be one flesh and you shouldn't keep secrets from your own flesh!" 

A hush fell over the mini-van.  Ha.

We arrived home and went our separate ways.  I went to bed, he headed to the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later, he came into the bedroom and said, "Oh, by the way, your tummy tuck is sinful."

WTH?!?

He flipped open his bible to Leviticus 19:28 and proudly read, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead..."

Well, then let me clarify a couple of things:
1.  I'm not cutting my body...Dr. Troha is.
2.  I'm not doing it for the dead.  I'm doing it for you and you're alive...at least for the time being...

Note to self;  Thou shalt not kill.