Wednesday, July 31, 2013

FLASHBACK: My tummy tuck surgery.

Since Chris' guest post about her Tummy Tuck surgery, apparently people have been going back to the beginning days of my blog to compare her experience with mine.  And, they have informed me via e-mail that I did not post any details on the surgery itself.  Really?  Well that was stupid of me!

So I will post on what I can remember from that day.  My memory is not always that great, but since this was a pretty life altering day to say the least, I have a pretty clear recollection!!

It was a Wednesday, April 18, 2012.  I remember being completely calm about what was going to happen.  I even slept really well the night before.  The one fear I had was being under anesthesia but still able to feel like has happened to some people.  However, I had been repeatedly reassured by the nurse who met with me that this could not and would not happen with their procedures.  I liked and trusted her so I was able to put that - mostly - out of my mind.

We got up early and I took a shower, dutifully scrubbing myself with Dial Antibacterial as I had been instructed.  I dressed in loose clothing, also as ordered.  And with that, we were off.

It's about a 90 minute drive and Marc and I chatted about inane things.  I think he was way more worried than I was.  I told him I wanted him to go to the mall while I was in surgery.  He was worried that something could happen - my response was "What could you do about it anyway?"  He still refused saying that he would stay in the waiting room during the multi-hour surgery.

We arrived as the nurse was opening the office up and without delay I was hustled into the small recovery/pre-op room next to the operating suite.  I was told to take off my clothes and given little socks to put on.  Before long, Dr. DeRoberts was there.  The first course of business was to mark me up with a magic marker.  He grabbed my loose skin and began drawing the lines where he would make the incisions.    Spinning me around - cocking his head - evaluating and re-evaluating.  To him it was all business as usual, but there was a certain humiliation aspect to it for me as he grabbed and marked up my skin.  Marc would later comment how impressed he was at the straight steady lines the doc made freehand.  Just as he was finishing, the anesthesiologist came in.

He was of middle eastern descent and was introduced to me.  You could tell that he was a hired man and had no interest in me as a person, he was just there to do his job.  So he was a little cold and didn't even look me in the eye.  Eh... he wasn't there to be my friend, right?

With me fully marked and ready both docs started their scrub down and the nurse asked if I was ready.  Now the nervousness hit.  On shaky legs I stood up.  Marc was completely pale and looked as if he was seeing me for the last time.

We went into the surgery suite and I laid on the surprisingly comfortable table which had thick padding.  The nurses placed my legs in these hard plastic things.  What was this?  But then I heard a machine turn on and soon felt an internal bladder in each plastic thing inflate and gently squeeze my legs and then deflate.  I then knew that this was to prevent clots in my legs during surgery.    

I felt really vulnerable laying there naked with my legs spread even though a sheet was draped across me.  Because I was having a 360 circumferential abdominoplasty, they would have to completely flip me over and have me on my stomach to remove all the skin in back.  So that meant that they had to have everything - all wires, the intubation tube, the catheter - everything would have to be placed right to make it relatively easy to flip me like a pancake without damaging what had just been done in the front.  This is not the standard abdominoplasty, so there was some discussion and fiddling with things from the nurses to make sure everything was just so.

The anesthesiologist  came in and started setting up.  He placed a blood pressure cuff on me but was having a hard time getting a reading.  He made a comment to the nurse - in a really annoyed voice - that my arm was "too thin".  Hmmm... ironic.  Then he started seaching for the best vein to put the needle in.  Dr. DeRoberts had come in and was kind of standing there waiting and must have seen the look in my eyes - I hate needles - and came over and gently took and held my hand, smiling reassuringly.  With the vein located the drugs started to flow.

I had been looking forward to what I had always seen in movies - you know, where they put that mask over your face and tell you to count back from 100?  Well, I remember seeing the mask come towards my face and that was it - I remember nothing after that - I apparently was OUT before they even got it on me!  Blissfully they didn't insert the catheter until I was unconscious.  Although later the thought of what that involved with me laying there motionless creeped me out a bit. 

5 hours later I opened my groggy eyes.  I was back in the recovery room.  Marc was there.  The nurse made sure that I felt ok.  There was zero pain.  She also asked if I felt sick or pukey - apparently that can happen with anesthesia.  I didn't.  She left Marc and I alone and he appeared relieved - still concerned, but relieved.  He told me that they said everything went perfectly.  I had on the compression garmet I would soon come to hate, and had a bag full of liquid hanging from my neck with two wires that were inserted just below my breasts that fed continuous pain medication to my abs which had been sewn together as part of the procedure.  I also had been re-dressed in the loose clothing I had worn in.

The On-Q pain pain pump that I wore around my neck following surgery.  It delivered pain meds directly to my abs.

Before long, the nurse came back in with a wheelchair.  She started giving us intructions and warnings.  I understood the words that she was saying, but couldn't incorporate them into my brain.  So I just kind of sat there and stared at her.  Marc was listening and I figured he would remember everything.  Then she encouraged me to stand and move over into the wheelchair.  I was wheeled out to the car where she and Marc helped me get in - Marc had laid the seat mostly down and he placed a blanket between my hips and the seatbelt.  I remember only bits and pieces of the ride home.

Once home, I was able to slowly get out of the car and inside.  I was VERY hunched over, and that was weird.  We had dropped the dogs off at Marc's sister's house the night before, so Marc got me settled into the recliner and ran over to get the boys.  I remember them arriving home and running in at me.  I don't normally sit in that recliner and had a moment of fear that Archer would launch himself onto me, but dogs are so awesome.  They came to a screeching halt and sat there by the chair - wiggling all over - but unusually and respectfully calm.

The rest of the night I drifted in and out of awareness.  I can remember some things completely clearly - like I remember watching Survivor and can even tell you who got eliminated that night!  Other things are completely gone from my memory.

I had decided beforehard that I was going to try to sleep in my own bed rather then in the recliner, like many people do after a tummy tuck.  So I had ordered a wedge pillow since lying down flat was out of the question.  It worked fantastically (in fact I still use it to this date while watching tv in bed!).  I was able to get settled fairly comfortably despite the incision along my back.  

The first night was the only truly difficult and painful part of my recovery.  Because Dr. DeRoberts had done liposuction in addition to the skin removal and ab repair, I had been pumped full of liqud.  So I had to pee many times that night - I think I got up 6 or 7 times.  The process would involve me waking poor Marc up.  He would come over to my side of the bed to pull me up which was AGONIZING.  Because of the abs, NOT the incision.  So he would be pulling me and I would be screaming in pain.  Then we would get to the bathroom and I would again scream in pain as he lowered me to the toilet.  Then we would reverse the process and getting off the toilet and back into bed was SO painful.   But I made it through the night.

Marc got up in the morning while I continued to lay there.  He had left a walkie talkie next to me so I could easily talk to him if I needed anything.  Being somewhat more "with it" I was able to reach down and feel that my stomach was flat.  Even with the compression garmet there, I knew that the horrible skin - which before the surgery I was still half convinced was more fat that I needed to lose - was gone.

This is what I dealt with pre-surgery.  I didn't believe the doctor when he told me it was all skin.

Since I had filled the meds I would need a few days before the surgery, I knew what I would have to take and when and had made a detailed chart for Marc on what he would need to give me and what times.  I was on an antibiotic, Percocet for pain management, Valium for muscle spasms, an anti-nausea drug if needed, plus two herbal medications that other tummy tuck sites had recommended and that I had started taking before surgery - Bromelain and Arnica Montana.  So Marc would come and deliver the meds to me.  I would wake up, swallow them down, and drift off again.  By mid-day I was able to get up and move into the living room.  

I was able to eat right away - Fat Jen doesn't let a simple thing like surgery get her down!!!  I had bought protein powder to aid in faster healing.  So I drank that with each meal and Marc made me eggs and gave me peanut butter - healthy high protein foods.  My throat was a bit sore from being intubated and these foods went down easy without irritating the throat too much.  Marc has a TV tray that slides under the furniture, and that worked perfectly as I could have the tray pulled right up under me while eating.

I have to say, that after that first painful night and somewhat difficult first day my healing went fairly smoothly.  Being hunched over sucked, but I didn't have many muscle spasm issues.  I went into my medicine cabinet before writing this and found that I have 26 of the 40 Percocets pills left, meaning that I only ended up taking a total of 14 pain killers!

The incision looked pretty gross, but wasn't all that painful.  You can see in this pic where the tubes were taped up and inserted that carried the medicine to my ab repair.

The rest, as they say, is history as I think that I documented the recovery process as it happened pretty well.  If you read this post, as well as Chris' post, you can see that every surgeon does things differently.  Surgery is never an easy thing, but given the way my life was altered for the better, obviously I wouldn't change a thing! 


  1. That's an impressive story. So you never had any work done on your arms?

    1. Nope - I have the bat wings :( But they aren't HORRIBLE

  2. Nice story !! Tummy tuck surgery is the only option for those who wants to remove the excess fat and skin. It also tightens the muscles in the abdominal wall.