Sunday, March 17, 2013

Better Than I Hoped for, Worse Than I Expected

It has been almost a week since my surgery, and the results have both been amazing and depressing at the same time.  Except for a bit of swelling, my "man-boobs" are gone.  The surgeon was able to cut a total of over 35 lbs off of me between my abdomen and chest.  I am much less than what I used to be, but at the same time, I am not.

Fluid retention and swelling mean that I weigh only about 10 lbs less than before the surgery.  My thighs are swollen to twice their size.  My stomach is awkwardly sticking out (only above the scar) like I have an intestinal parasite (Think Starvin' Marvin on South Park).  Because of the swelling, it is hard to gauge how "even" everything will be once the swelling goes down, but right now my stomach is lopsided (right side sticks out a bit more).  Two of my four JP drains aren't draining much fluid and their locations make them somewhat uncomfortable (under my arms).

The pain is tolerable enough on only 1 pain killer (can two but haven't needed to) but when I sleep past their effective time (about 4 hours) I wake up very uncomfortable and it takes a while for the pain to subside again.  That is why I am writing this post now, because I woke up about 2 hours past-due for a painkiller and am feeling it right now.  I can get up and move around ok (with some pain) but I won't be able to drive until I am off the painkillers and I drift in and out of it some days due to them.  There is a chance I will start to doze off while finishing this blog post if I don't do it fast enough.

To add to all that, there was some "excitement" while I was in the hospital.  When they switched me from the pain pump to oral pain medication, a migraine was triggered.  And I don't mean a "ow my head hurts" type of  migraine either, I experienced full aura.   I had vision difficulty, and numbness/tingling on one side of my body (right) including numbness in my mouth.  So, yeah, that triggered a stroke scare in the hospital staff (rightfully so) so during the time when I am not supposed to lie down flat, and not bend strangely, I had to maneuver myself onto the tables of both a CT and MRI machine and lie flat.  That was.....painful.  Fortunately, the CT and MRI both came back clean, but that was not a fun time.

I snapped a morning-of "before" photo in the hotel room Monday morning, and I will eventually post that along with an after shot (in all my pasty-white shirtless glory), but the swelling could take 3-4 months to fully go away.  I will make sure to put those pictures behind a link so I don't subject anyone to my blubber unless they really want to see the photos.  I may also take an intermediate after photo in the next  day or so to show the swelling, but that requires me to do that when we are changing the dressings which in and of itself is an ordeal.

Speaking of the dressings, I now know how a sausage feels.  I have to wear a compression dressing around my abdomen and an ace bandaged wrapped around my chest.  This is to help keep swelling down, and promote the expulsion of fluid through my JP drains.  That is not exactly comfortable, especially where the compression dressing crosses paths with the JP drain entry points.  Back when I played little league baseball, I wore compression shorts, and I actually was very comfortable in those.  This is different though, because the compression dressing is directly on top of very long scars that are still healing.

Speaking of very long scars, the tummy-tuck scar actually wraps around onto my back on both sides.  I can only imagine how much "fun" that must have been during the surgery.  The scars extend probably one-two inches onto my back on each side.  Also, my five-six hour surgery ran SEVERAL HOURS long because of how much I was bleeding and how many tiny blood vessels the Dr kept having to tie off.  Fortunately, while I came very close to needing one, no transfusion was required.

Only time will tell if I am truly satisfied with the results, and I will never look like a model or anything, but I can say it is very odd looking at myself in the mirror now without there being the giant skin fold in my stomach or my man boobs.  The difference, even with the swelling, is already amazing, and I look forward to seeing the final result.  On that note, my percocet is kicking in and I am starting to get loopy, so I will close out this blog post by saying that "I don't always drive on painkillers, but when I do, it is on XBox and is hella fun"

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