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.
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.
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....
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...