I had planned for the first sentence of this post to read something along the lines of, “One year ago today….”. But, well, that would only be true if I had posted it on December 22, 2009. I tried. I did. But then it got really long really fast and I got overwhelmed with how to cut it down some. So I did what any wise person does, I ignored it.
But I’m back to triumph over this post. So….One year ago today (if we pretend that today is December 22, 2009) I underwent one of the most horrendous experiences of my life. It was horrendous, yet it was wonderful and life-changing and I would never go back. One year ago today (again, keep your pretending hat on) I had a plastic surgery procedure referred to as a circumferential body lift.
This is the biggest cosmetic surgery you can have. It is basically like a tummy tuck that goes all the way around your body. They cut you all the way around, loosen the skin from your body (you’re rethinking having a snack while reading my blog, aren’t you?), pull it tight and cut off the excess then stitch you back up. For my belly button, they cut the skin away from the outside of it and left the inner part of it in tact. Then pulled the skin down and cut a hole to sew the new skin to the old belly button. For those of you with the common misconception that a tummy tuck removes fat, it doesn’t. That’s lipo and I didn’t have lipo. A tummy tuck is for removing excess skin. Because no matter how much working out you do, if your skin doesn’t have the elasticity to go back in place, ain’t nothin’ but surgery gonna take care of it.
I have had crappy skin in terms of elasticity since I was a pre-teen. I remember having stretch marks on my hips when I was only eleven. There was no doubt in my mind that between my heavy weight and three pregnancies with almost no time in between them, my skin was never going to recover.
I lost as much weight as I could and got to a maintenance point. There is no point in getting a tummy tuck if you haven’t lost your weight. If your skin sucks, it’s still gonna suck after the tuck. If you have more weight to lose, the skin will be loose again once you do. So it only makes sense to lose weight, then do your tuck.
I did my research, paid them my life savings and my first born and was ready for the knife. And the fact that I paid someone, on purpose, to cut me in half can’t be ignored. Knowing that you are going to undergo major surgery because you are asking for it; there is nothing wrong with you, you aren’t going to die if you don’t have it. It messes with your head just a little bit.
I don’t actively worry about stresses in my life, typically. I chose the surgery. Yes it’s scary, there’s nothing I can do about it, don’t think about it. That’s my process. And for the most part, it usually works for me. But in this instance, not so much. I still didn’t actually think and worry about it, but my body decided that enough was enough. By the time my surgery date rolled around, my back muscles were pinched so tight I could hardly walk and had to spend most of the day flat on my back with my knees elevated.
Surgery day came and I got there bright and early having white-knuckled the entire ride there asking myself what the hell I was thinking. The nurses were chatting with me in an effort to keep me calm and I just kept thinking, drugs, drugs are good at keeping people calm. How ’bout you hook my ass up with some of that? Enough of this yammering, I need narcotics, of the opiate variety would probably do the trick.
Drugs came eventually and six hours later I had been sliced, diced and mummified in bandages and cinched up in what I referred to as my geriatric lingerie. I wish I had a picture of that thing. O. M. G. people. It was made of that hospital grade white spandex-y stuff. It was a sort of body suit that went from my calves up to just underneath my boobs. It had a zipper from each thigh up to the boob. AND it was crotchless. Dude, why didn’t I save it so I could take a picture. I lived in that thing for weeks and if I had to take it off, I was in serious pain. I grew to love and adore my geriatric lingerie.
I also had some new personal accessories in the form of four lovely drainage tubes that wound themselves beneath the skin of my abdomen and came out near my groin to drain into a bulb for each tube. Those bulbs were then pinned to the front of me so they could continuously fill with a variety of juicy bodily gunk. It was real cute. And you can be sure that I gave any kind of a shit about how cute I was with all the drugs I was on.
Most of the time for this particular surgery, you have to stay the night, but my doctor let me choose if I wanted to go home since I was young and healthy. So home I went with my trusty catheter and bag of pee. In order to go home though, I had to get dressed. That just felt like an insurmountable obstacle. The nursed helped me and I kept chanting to myself “Just do this and you get to go home. Just do this and you get to go home.” Getting into the car completely sucked. Riding in the car completely sucked. Getting out of the car completely sucked.
I walked at a 90 degree angle and that first night I had to have a person on either side of me to go anywhere. The degree to which it sucked is simply beyond my ability to describe in words. I might cry if I have to think too long about what it would have been like if I hadn’t been so heavily medicated – in fact, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit at the thought.
But, even with that, every day got noticeably better. My first shower was so exciting and completely exhausting. I still had those super cute tubes, but when you’re naked, there’s not a whole lot to pin them to. So we crafted a little necklace for me to hook them to. How rad is that? A necklace of bodily fluids – me and Angelina, we’re like “this”.
I lived in a recliner for two weeks. Every day I tried to do a little more, stand a little straighter, walk a little more, take a few less drugs (that was not my favorite part of the to-do list). Things progressed well and I was confident that everything was going well.
At about week four, I started feeling really depressed. Until that point, every day was a little better than the last. But at week four, that kind of noticeable difference wasn’t happening anymore. My mind was clear because I wasn’t on drugs, my body was feeling better, but definitely not 100%. I wanted to be able to move around, get out more, do things, but I couldn’t. It was really frustrating. I would get tired easily and I still couldn’t stand up straight. Apparently this is a very common phenomenon amongst patients of this type of surgery, but I didn’t read about that until after it was all over. So now you know in case this is something you end up doing.
At week 5, I could stand up straight, YAY ME! I decided to venture out to meet a friend for lunch. The first thing she said when she saw me was “Aren’t you cute still all hunched over.” Well, so much for standing up straight. I was a little tempted to spit in her soda when she was in the bathroom. But I didn’t….probably.
After that, things got a lot better. My abs still felt like they were on fire if I ever did anything remotely strenuous. My greatest fear in life was that I would sneeze. The abdominal pain associated with a sneeze is indescribable. But I got back to the gym for really light stuff and I went to Vegas at around week 7.
The swelling can last for quite some time. Mine seemed to be all the way gone by around six months post surgery. The scar, however, is not gone. It is substantial. Posting a picture of it is just a little too much sharing even for me considering how low it is. But if you ever catch me in person, it really wouldn’t take much convincing for me to drop trou and show you. The back scar is actually pretty light now, but the front one is still dark. It really does look like I was cut in half and sewn back together.
Even after all that, and then some that I have cut out due to the ridiculous length of this post, it was the best thing I have ever done. I am thrilled with my results. I can’t imagine walking around with all of that skin hanging off of me for the rest of my life. I feel like my hard work is finally visible.
So here is the before and an early after. Sunglasses my be appropriate for viewing this virgin belly skin. Never has it seen the sun.
And a more recent after taken in November. This one a little easier on the eyes since I still had a little of my fading tan. There are still stretch marks and my belly button scar….I will never have a 20 year old belly again. But it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.