Surgery Day!

Surgery Day!

At my pre-op visit two weeks prior, I’d received a TON of instructions and a goody bag of supplies. I was to avoid a bunch of foods and supplements that could impact bleeding (who knew garlic would be an issue?). I really only had to modify things a bit, cutting out my turmeric supplement, raspberries and blackberries in my oats, and cut back on my garlic intake (I like garlic – very much). In addition to my instruction packet, there was gauze and chucks to catch any oozing, SinEcch (homeopathic arnica montana to minimize bruising), and a  little bottle of Hibiclens. Hibiclens is an antibacterial and antimicrobial cleanser that I had to apply to my body from the neck down (avoiding the genitals) and let it sit for 3-5 minutes before rinsing off. I was instructed to shampoo and shower as usual, then apply the Hibiclens – both the night before and the morning of surgery. Ok. Easy enough prep.

I had still heard nothing more about the reduction. I’d already come to terms with it not happening, but I allowed myself a teensy-tiny glimmer of hope. Meanwhile, before going to bed, I took a quick “before” photo of myself and all of my saggy skin, and went to bed.

The last “before” photo

I woke up dark and early (4:30am) to shower as instructed. As I washed myself under the apron, I smiled at the thought that this was the last time I’d have to lift up all of that extra flesh to wash and rinse. An hour after waking, Hubs and I got in the car to head to Oakbrook Surical Center and a new me. Initially, I had some concerns about being at a surgical center, as opposed to a hospital. What if something went horribly wrong? But, I shoved that thought out of my head because being in a surgical center is actually a great way to avoid infections solely because there are no sick people in there. That makes MRSA and other opportunistic bugs much less likely to roam around.

When we got there and checked in, they took me back almost right away. I gave Hubs a kiss and he said, “Have fun.” Goofball.

I was led to a “locker room” where I was given a gown and put all of my stuff in a locker, made one more trip to the bathroom, and headed to pre-op. My awesome nurse, Theresa, got my IV started, I met the OR nurse and nurse anesthetist, signed some more releases, and settled in to wait for Dr. Geldner. No watch. No phone. No clock. I felt like I was waiting forever. Theresa and I were kind of laughing, because he tends to be a putterer. I know this about him, but I wanted to get on with it already. 

While I waited, Theresa brought over a drain to show me how to milk it (more on that later) and refreshed my memory how how to use the incentive spirometer. I’ve used them in the past, but totally forgot. It’s a doohickey that is used in the days after surgery to make sure one is inhaling fully, keeping pneumonia at bay.

Image stolen from online because at the time of this writing, I already threw mine out.

Finally, Dr. Geldner came in and I asked him if since we were clearly not doing the boobs if he had plans to golf this afternoon. He told me nope – he would be working. I don’t know when this guy takes a break! He had me stand up so he could do the whole sharpie thing on me to mark where he’d be cutting. (Lift this. Sqush together that.) As he did, he explained what went wrong with the reduction approval. Though he still did not know how it was approved in the first place, he did start working with a new outside agency for billing and insurance submissions. They told him that it was no big deal – if it got denied after the fact, they’d just bill me. He gave them an earful about how that is not how he does things (for which I’m quite thankful).

Once he finished marking me up, the nurse anesthetist came in and put a little propofol in my IV to chill me out – not that I needed to chill out, but man, that stuff is great. I was out before we even got to the OR. At least, I don’t remember getting there. Fun fact that I did not know before this: the IV drugs just sedate me, but I’m kept under with a combo of gasses via intubation. I don’t know that I ever knew that before.

Next thing I remember is waking up after it was all over. I had some burning at the incision site, plus some general soreness but other than that, not too bad. As I told my CrossFit fam when they texted to check on me, I felt like I’d done Annie times five (IYKYK). Theresa gave me some crackers and Sprite so I could take a Norco, but my mouth was so dry from the meds they give during surgery (to dry out secretions to avoid potential choking) that even with the Sprite, I had trouble swallowing the crackers. The pain was not unbearable, so I was ok skipping the Norco for the time being.

Once I was awake enough, they helped me put my clothes on, and got Hubs to bring the car around. I think that it was once I got in the car that Hubs suggested banana bread from the Sbux next door. That sounded amazing, so we got a slice. Even that was dry, so I swallowed little bites with sips of my LaCroix that I’d kept in the car for the ride home. By the time we got home, I took a Norco, and kept on an every six hours schedule for the next couple of days to stay ahead of the pain. Truthfully, it was just enough to get me more comfortable. I didn’t even get loopy from it. I think the Exparel local anesthetic that Dr. Geldner injected throughout my abdomen shouldered the bulk of the pain relief for the next three days. Seriously – that stuff is amazing! It truly lasted the three days he said it would, and while I could feel a bit more discomfort once it wore off, it clearly got me through the worst of the post-op pain.

My afternoon was mainly filled with three activities: drain milking and emptying (with Hubs’ help), a few laps around the first floor, and snoozing in front of the TV, waking myself up every now and then with snores. At dinnertime, TG made me a plate of scrambled eggs (because I was instructed to eat somewhat bland food to let my stomach settle after the surgery and anesthetic). They did a great job. Best scrambled eggs I’d ever had.

One more drain emptying sesh, and I was ready for bed. Well, chair. I had to sleep upright for the first week or so. In preparation, Hubs and I carried our big, comfy chair and ottoman up to the bedroom. It took a bit to get myself comfortable, but eventually I drifted off. Not the best sleep, and I ended up with a stiff neck from not moving all night, but I managed some sleep (with Norco’s help), despite the thunderstorm that surely sent my scaredycat, Alex, to the basement.

Here’s the “after” photo I took just before bed to model the beautiful compression binder that was to become my uniform for a while.

The first “after” photo

Next… stories of healing and pics of the gore… don’t worry. I’ll make the images safe for the squeamish.

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