The big day has come and gone. While the soreness and lack of mobility is still very real, for some reason my body thinks the operation was weeks ago and is wondering why it’s not fully healed yet. Patience is a virtue I’ve never really owned.
Wednesday: Operation Day!
9:00am: Checked in at the surgery center, met with my awesome nurse, signed paperwork, got changed into paper clothes, and naturally, took photos.
9:30am: Met with the anesthesiologist to go over my history, met with my surgeon to get marked up and take super flattering before photos, before literally hopping onto the operating table where I’d be for the next…
9 hours and 45 minutes!!! Holy moly.
8:30pm: I remember waking up seemingly 5 minutes after I went under. I could tell it was night time outside and that the poor surgical team had a looooong day. They had to work on me for so long because I was a bleeder. Dr. Minniti might not have agreed to do all four procedures at once if he knew this would be the case, but all turned out well in the end, and I am thankful to everyone in the operating room for getting the job done.
9:00pm: The driver from the aftercare facility came to pick me up in a fancy black sedan with super luxe suspension to soften any bumps in the road. So this is how the other half lives… I was able to get up and move on my own, and they joked that they didn’t believe I actually had any surgery.
9:30pm: I am finally settled in my bed for the night. My catheter was in, and the compression machine on my calves to avoid blood clots. Basically I didn’t have to move an inch. Funny thing about the catheter. I felt like I had to pee all night and thought it was ironic that I finally had catheter in yet I couldn’t seem to go. Turns out I was going, but I didn’t know it. Learned something new…
I drifted in and out of consciousness the rest of the night, not getting more than 3-5 minutes of sleep each time because of the loud compression machine. The Percocet was sure to give me 3-5 minute long totally effed up dreams each time though.
Thursday: Post-Op Day 1
7:00am: In the morning my catheter was removed and I was asked to walk around, then pee on my own. Easy enough. I ate breakfast, got my hair washed, and convinced them I was ready to go home. The discharge nurse explained how to empty and record my drainage output, cautiously commended my level of ambulation, but warned me to take it easy.
10:00am: The same friendly driver from last night took me back to Dr. Minniti’s office for my first post-op appointment where he removed my dressings. I was very swollen, and it may take weeks or months before I can see the final result. Despite the scabby incisions and bandages, it looks pretty good so far. I asked Dr. Minniti how much the skin weighed; he didn’t have an exact number because he didn’t have a scale large enough, but he guessed about 5-7 pounds in my stomach and a quarter pound in each of my arms. My boobs probably came out even in the end.
He originally planned to put in a pain pump with my drain, which would require both to stay in for 3 days, but since he didn’t have to do any muscle plication (my abdominal muscles were in good shape apparently), the pump wasn’t needed. That meant he could have taken the drain out too*, but since my output was still large and red, it had to wait. Ideally, surgeons want to see a total output of less than 20mL in a 24 hour period.
*Many surgeons utilize a quilting technique when suturing the skin back to the abdominal wall, which lessens the probability of seromas, and in some cases, eliminates the need for drains at all. In my case, I’m viewing the drain as a good thing, not a nuisance.
11:45am: My dear friend Angie picked me up from the office and took me to my aunt’s house where my mom was waiting for me. I don’t remember a lot after this point. I think I ate lunch, took my medication, and tried to go to bed, but without much success. The rest of the day was uneventful.
Friday: Post-Op Day 2
To keep the circulation going in my bottom half, I have to get up and walk around for 10-15 minutes at a time every few hours or so. It’s a catch 22 because I think I’m expending too much effort getting up and lying down, which is making me drain like crazy (actually I looked it up and my output is pretty average). Part of me wants the output to be low so I can have it out, but the more logical part of me knows it should stay in as long as needed to get the fluid out.
This was my original waist binder, and my drain. Dr. Minniti had me go and get a different binder because the one they put on me was too tall for my torso and wasn’t tight enough. Luckily they had the brand I needed on Amazon Prime for less than $10, and I was able to get it the next day. While changing into the new binder, I snuck a peek at what was going on underneath.
None of my incisions are oozing or bleeding, and there is very minimal bruising around them. I wondered if the drain tube site would bother me, or if I’d constantly worry about yanking it out, but I haven’t thought about it much at all. No bleeding or oozing coming from that area either.
Friday night was another uneventful evening. I stopped taking Percocet when I realized it wasn’t doing much for me anymore except backing up my digestive system and making me cranky. I switched to Tylenol, but only took some when I would be doing more than sitting on my ass (like wiping myself down with wet naps or trying to take a crap). I slept a bit better and for longer periods of time.
Saturday: Post-Op Day 3
This morning I excitedly emptied my drain which was getting lower in volume and lighter in color. I drank a protein shake, took a dose of Colace, and waited. It didn’t take long for my digestive system to wake up, and without a lot of effort (but with a lot of patience), I had my first bowel movement. And then two more over the next couple hours.
I feel a significant amount of relief, and most of my discomfort is in my back and in my old woman joints. Since I’m not moving a whole lot, I feel stiffness all over. Sleeping on my back in one position is pretty lame too. I don’t know how circumferential body lift patients (with the incision all around their belt) do it. At least I can slip and slide around on my back without irritating anything.
So what’s next?
I thought I would have a better idea of how my recovery was gonna go by now, but I don’t, which is slightly frustrating. Not because I think I should be healing faster (I keep having to remind myself that I’m barely 3 days post-op…more like 2.5 days really), but because I am a bonafide control freak and have to be a few steps ahead of everything.
I want to know when I’ll be able to go home and function alone. I miss Bow and Sioux like crazy, but more importantly, I need to figure out who is going to take care of the dogs in case I’m unable to go home on Tuesday. I want to know when I can drive myself to post-op appointments or if I’ll have to ask people to take off work in the middle of the day so they can give me a ride. I currently do not have a fully outlined plan of action for the next 7 days, and that’s kinda stressing me out.
After I publish this, I’m supposed to call Dr. Minniti and give him my drainage numbers for the day so he can schedule my next appointment. Once I have that date set, I can procure a ride to the office, cross that off my list, and rest a little bit easier.