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, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 4 dogs, and a whole lot of love.





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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Worth The Weight

A tiny hand full of people have seen my stomach these past 4 weeks and things were escalating to a fever pitch about Before and After pictures.  I won't call out the person who threatened to pull up my shirt Sunday at church.  You know who you are. 

I suspect not a word I write will even be read today, but here it goes anyway, as I conclude this Tummy Tuck series.  Unless of course situations develop in the future, but let's all hope that doesn't happen. 

This month of recovery has been full of things both expected and unexpected.  I knew going in that 'Official Recovery' was 4 solid weeks.  No more, no less.  When my doctor ordered, "4 weeks down" I thought to myself, "Well, he doesn't know me very well."  But apparently, he could smell my attitude a mile away because he followed it up with, "You'll do it if you want your money's worth."  Now, he's talking a language I understand.

My life came to an abrupt standstill.  I expected that.  What I didn't expect, was the opportunity to sit back and watch my family pull together...in every area not pertaining to my belly button, anyway.  And let me tell you, they successfully ran this place, complete with an entire delicious Thanksgiving meal for 20 people.  Did everything run like a well-oiled machine all month?  Of course not.  But it wouldn't have with me in charge, either.

As of Thursday December 12th, I have permission to return to life as normal and toss the list of forbidden activities out the window.  I followed the doctor's orders and for an entire month refrained from sleeping on my stomach, lying flat in the bed, lifting anything over 2-3 lbs, taking baths, work, exercise and sex...okay, maybe not all things were followed to the letter, and 3 days seemed appropriate. Let's not get ridiculous with our orders here, doc.

The hardest for me personally was not exercising.  Not because I felt good enough to do it, but because it required me to rely solely on diet for weight management.  I quickly realized how much I depend on the option to burn those extra eaten calories.  I can tell you right now, return to exercise will not be physically easy or painless, but I'll be relieved to retrain my body back into a strict daily regimen, because it would appear that I have a serious addiction to special dark chocolate chips eaten by the handful chased with a tiny scoop of natural peanut butter eaten from the end of a butter knife. Now we know.

I will also have permission to remove the Velcro girdle that day.  But, I won't be removing the Velcro girdle.  At least not yet.  It scares me when it's off.  I believe the phrase, Fear of freedom sums it up best.  That awful thing squeezed around my midsection like a boa constrictor has become like a child's security blanket and I suspect I'll need to wean myself from it accordingly.  Certainly didn't expect that.

According to the doctor, my stomach will continue losing swelling and changing for up to a year, so I've decided to document my recovery with pictures on a monthly basis.  I won't bore everyone with those each month, but I'll be more than happy to privately share them with anyone who's contemplating having the surgery or is simply interested in the continued healing process.

On a different note, I expected the extra blog readers tuning into this series out of morbid curiosity.  What I didn't expect was the flood of emails and messages in my inbox from women I both know and don't know, who asked questions and shared with me their testimonies of struggles, successes and failures.  Honored doesn't begin to describe each moment I open a message from a woman with the courage to confide their story with me, each one awe-inspiring in their own way.  I'm completely amazed with all of you and hope you continue updating me along your journeys. 

Back in 2002, at the age of 30, I stepped on a scale and saw the number 254.  I sure as heck didn't expect that.




Today, I turned 42.  My eyes have a few crows feet, there are laugh lines forming around my mouth and I don't even want to discuss the way my neck skin is starting to sag, not to mention my thighs. 

Fear not, I'm not on the slippery slope to a life spent on the surgeon's table.  I do not now, nor will I ever have the face or the body of a 20 year old and I didn't miraculously morph out of surgery a size 2.  But that wasn't my intent in having this procedure. 

Here we are in 2013 and for once in my life I'm not trapped in a 254 lb mindset.  For once in my life, I don't look in the mirror and see the pain of the journey hanging in the evidence of the loose misshapen skin.  And for once in my life, I look in the mirror and see only one scar reminding me of my surgery, rather than a multitude of scars reminding me of my past. 
Worth every bit of it.

With exception of some temporary crease marks from my tightly squeezed girdle, being slightly freaked out by my own belly button and suddenly having the option of bouncing a quarter off my new stomach skin, things are pretty much back to normal.

All in all, not much has changed around here and it feels pretty great to return to my role as a 42 year old, low-key, conservative mom and house wife preparing to send out our family's greeting cards.  So on that note: 
Merry Christmas...
From our normal family to yours!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Tuck In Roll

Part V:  Recovery, Week 3.

In light of how the first 2 weeks of recovery went, this 3rd week was downright boring.  (Granted, our standard of boring might be a little different than some.)  I traded my Vicodin for driving privileges, therefore, my life took on a slightly normal spin.  Which brings us to the main focus of week 3.  The horrid, thick, and itchy Velcro girdle. (Dramatic music here:  Duh duh duuuuh.)

I've made reference to the girdle, but when you have tucksticles, a girdle is the least of your concerns.  The girdle is mandatory 24/7 and I'm only allowed to remove it to take a shower.  It squeezes everything in, helps ever so slowly reduce some of the swelling, and overall gives me a sense of security.  (My new stomach scares the crap out of me half the time.)  But last week was Thanksgiving and I'd be seeing friends and family that spanned beyond our inner circle of 6.  You know what that means.  Pants would become mandatory.  And my children rejoiced.

I'm pretty predictable these days.  I'm either sitting in a recliner or lying in bed.  Sometimes I'm wearing pants, usually I'm not.  But regardless of where I am or what I am or am not wearing, there's one thing that sends them bolting from the room in absolute terror.  The loud sound of ripping Velcro.
I'm not the only one who fears my new tummy. 

Although I can unwrap my own stomach, I haven't yet learned the art of rewrapping it tight enough.  Enter Ron.  Again.

And that brings us back to pants.  I didn't own any appropriate ones that fit over my girdle.  That landed he and I in a Women's dressing room at Kohl's together where we could be overheard saying things like:  Lay flatter; This bench is too uncomfortable; Pull it harder; It's not lined up right; It's digging into my thigh and Quit complaining and let me finish! 

And to think my biggest worry was that Security might think my bulky shirt meant I was shoplifting. Silly me. 

Surprisingly, we were still allowed to make a purchase, which thanks to the big fat girdle included two sweat suits...so much for my pre-surgery visions of low rise skinny jeans and festive holiday crop top ensemble.

So how might I attempt to look normal while sporting an obvious abnormality?  I'll resume tanning, of course, because a fresh tan fixes everything. 

Flash to me lying face up in the tanning bed, completely unwrapped and exposed, with my knees bent at awkward angles because I'm still unable to lie flat and fighting panic as I realized I was trapped under a heavy tanning bed lid, coming dangerously close to screaming for the salon owner to break in and let me out. 

You see, sometimes our drama seeps out into the general public.

But recovery wise, we're on the home stretch.  Friday, a burning sensation began coursing through my ab muscles.  More of a post-ab-workout pain than the post-surgery pain I've grown accustomed to.  Then Saturday, things got strange.  I felt a spasm in my stomach that reminded me of something...the familiar feeling of an unborn baby kick from inside. 

Well, wouldn't that be horribly unfortunate timing.

As the spasms increased throughout the day, a word I learned way back in massage school crept out of it's long forgotten place in the attic of my dusty memory.  Synapse a junction between two nerve cells, consisting of a minute gap across which impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter

Holy crap.  I think I feel my nerve endings reconnecting.  And low and behold, I'm slowly regaining feeling in portions of my stomach that were previously numb.  (Thank you, Lord.)  A new level of healing has begun.

My mandatory girdle phase ends next Wednesday.  That means Ron has one more week to play his sick little, 'How tight can I wrap her" game that leaves him clapping while I lay flailing on the bed like a helpless mermaid.

As for my appointment today, nine outer stitches were removed.  One long stitch that runs under the surface of the entire length of a precisely thin incision spanning roughly 18-20 inches between hip bones along my bikini line will eventually dissolve, if it hasn't already.  Just in case, I'm still forbidden to take a bath.

I guess my plan of Ron and I sitting in the fitness center hot tub together, with me wearing a string bikini, sipping wine disguised in a water bottle while I leisurely shave my legs will have to wait one more week. 

Just kidding.
I'm not taking Ron.