Day Five: Post Operation

Still stuck in bed.

I am feeling much better today, again. I was able to get in and out of bed alone without much pain, and the only time I really have any aches is as I’m walking, the weight of my body pushing against my abdomen causes discomfort. Nothing horrible, but just a dull pain. Going to the bathroom is getting much easier now too, although I’m still not attempting the dreaded “Number 2.”

I am supposed to have a shower later this afternoon or evening, and while I’m not really looking forward to it, I’m also not dreading it like I did last time. This time, I know I can walk without begging dizzy, I don’t get nauseous, and Sherry will be helping me with the actual shower so I don’t have to look too closely at anything. I’m not squeamish when it comes to seeing wounds, blood, gore, etc, but I’m not keen on seeing it on my own body.

As for getting back to work, I actually think I’ll be able to sit at my desk in my home office and get back at it. I sat down at my desk today to see if I could handle it, and it was surprisingly comfortable. Sitting up isn’t nearly as bad as laying down for the past five days.

Since this is only day 5, I’m much more optimistic for how quickly I’ll recover. Again, I’m not pushing anything. I spoke with the nurse at the doctor’s office and told them my plan, and they said that my healing seems to be on-schedule.

The little plastic bulbs that are sucking the excess fluid out of my abdomen started looking a lot more see-through today, which is a great sign that the bleeding internally is subsiding and now, it’s just the body doing what it thinks it should to heal the wounds. The bruises I have are pretty gnarly; I can’t really see them as they’re either on my lower back or underneath the girdle I’m wearing right now to keep all my abdomen “stuff” together, but I’m sure it should be okay in the next month when I get to take it off.

I will say that on the improved pain scale, I’m at a 0-1 for the most parts of the day. Every now and then, a phantom pain will come up that’s like a 6 for a second or so, but it goes away as quickly as it came.

As for my diet, it’s still Paleo. For breakfast, Sherry made me an amazing Hungarian Lecso which is green peppers, mushrooms, onions, sausage, and eggs with a little salt, pepper, and paprika. For lunch, I had the delicious chicken and apple salad. Of course, I have my applesauce or cantaloupes when I take my Hydrocodone.

I hope to have even more good news tomorrow as I’ll be at my desk. But, for now, I’m not in pain, and I’m actually quite comfortable.

Is The Pain Worth It?

Being silly on one of my walks every couple of hours.

Someone asked me via Facebook as to whether I think the pain I’m experiencing right now post-surgery will be worth the results. Honestly, I can’t answer that question just yet, because I’m still in bandages, and I haven’t even yet had a chance to see what my body looks like. Aside from the bandages, I am severely swollen; the process I went through is quite traumatic for the body, and there’s a lot of swelling and liquid retention (which is mitigated by the two bulbs that are connected to tubes that come out from my pubis area).

I can say that so far, the pain has subsided a lot day after day. Sure, I’m still in some pain, mostly when I get up out of bed or have to lay back down, but when I’m just laying here or sitting up or even standing, the pain is tolerable, and it gets more so every day.

I’m expecting that the results will be worth it. I’m hopeful that the excess skin around my waist, and notably around my back, will be gone. This will allow me to run and exercise without the extra skin getting in the way.

I also expect that I will feel better about my workouts and I will be further motivated now that I’ll be able to actually see the fruits of my labor with weightlifting, running, mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking.

So, is the pain worth it? I think so. The pain won’t last forever, but the results will.

Day Four Post Skin Reduction Surgery

The beard just keeps on growing…

Last night, Sherry made me a quite amazing steak with chimichuri served with asparagus. It was really delicious, and was a really nice cap to the day. I was able to fall asleep after going to the restroom nearly on my own. The sleep was good and solid and I didn’t wake up on my own (other than the medicine wake-ups in the middle of the night) until around 5:30 am. Then, I just sat in bed for a while reading the book, “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek.

Once Sherry woke up, I decided to try to get up and go to the bathroom as much by myself as I could. I enlisted the help of a small stool that makes getting in and out of bed for me much easier. I was able to get up, walk to the toilet, pull down my own pants (something I haven’t been able to do since the surgery), do my business, pull my pants back up, and walk back to bed where, using the stool, I was able to get back in bed without any excessive pain. The only thing I could do myself was to lift my legs to put some pillows under them, but honestly, it’s not a necessity if I keep my body more upright with our articulating bed. I figure I can stay that way until someone comes in to help me put my legs on the pillows.

Overall, I do feel better today both physically and mentally. Hydrocodone still wipes me out, and every 4 hours, it knocks me out for at least 3 of them. I just took another dose which is why I’m using this time to write this post and to watch a little car racing on TV.

One of the best things for me, aside from the stellar help from Sherry and Gelli, has been our bed. Never did we consider that we’d need articulating beds (like a hospital bed where the head portion comes up) for any kind of recovery. We just thought it was a convenience for either watching TV or to alleviate my sleep apnea (which went away after I lost all the weight).

The drainage bulbs did fill up a bit more yesterday than the day before, but we’re guessing it’s because I was up and about more (per doctor’s instructions). I’m not doing anything beyond what I’ve been instructed to do. I do still feel a bit dizzy, especially when I look in a different direction quickly, but I think it has to do with the Hydrocodone. I also take Valium for the muscles which were sewn back together. I can definitely feel when it’s time for another dose of the “V.”

This, being Day 4, has been the best day yet. I’m still making great progress and getting more and more back to being independent. I still can’t stand up straight (and won’t be able to for about 3-4 weeks), but at lest I’m able to get up and around and not be too dizzy and without nausea.

Day 3 After Skin Reduction Surgery

I am feeling much better today.

I feel much better today. I still have some dizziness when I look around the room, but nothing too terrible. I received flowers from my lovely sister which not only look beautiful, but smell great. My daughter Gelli and her boyfriend also got me a nice card and balloons. There have been countless friends and family who have messaged me or Sherry to check up on me and to offer their support which has also been nice. It’s amazing how much those little gestures mean.

Sherry and Gelli have been the most incredible caregivers/nurses. They come in every time on-time with the next task for me to do, whether it’s to take medicine, eat, or get up and walk.

Today, I was able to walk on my own without support. I look like Quasimodo when I walk, but at least I can do it without getting too dizzy, nauseous, or weak. I feel like I’m on the mend. With that said, I’m not pushing it too hard or too fast; the last thing I want to do is get too overconfident in how much I’ve healed. I’m taking it easy and not pushing it.

I had more of the chicken and apple salad for lunch today; that stuff is amazing! You should check out the recipe for it on Sherry’s site. Right now, I’m relaxing in bed and watching the Astros play the Rangers. It’s a close game, so there’s lots of drama for me to stay awake to.

I have an amazing dinner planed next Friday I’m hoping to be able to get to. I’ll talk about it more when the time draws near. Otherwise, I’m only concerning myself with following all doctor’s instructions to the letter and doing what I’m told to get better.

Thanks to all of you for your support and kind words. They are welcome and appreciated.

Day 2: The Day After

Feeling a little better. Sorry for my pepperonis showing.

Today, I feel much better. Not so well that I want to get up and dance, but the pain is much reduced. I was able to sleep through the entire night, and even though I’m sleeping most of my days away right now, it’s very welcome to not have to deal with the discomfort.

Walks today are still a struggle with the pain in the lower abdomen. Strangely enough, however, I feel otherwise much better. My primary diet of cantaloupe and applesauce makes me feel so much better. I did have to get up a few times again today to get on my feet, and I always use those opportunities to go to the restroom. So far, it’s only been number 1; I dread when it’s time for number 2. I can’t imagine how I’ll be able to push to make that happen.

I’m less dizzy today than I was yesterday. I forgot to mention how nauseous I got yesterday that first time I stood up. The second time I stood up yesterday wasn’t nearly as bad. Today, I feel much better. The only part that really hurts now is when I have to get back into the bed. Then, once I’m laying down, the pain drops from a 5-6 to a 0-1.

Lunch today was a chicken and apple salad that Sherry makes, and it was wonderful. Dinner was stuffed flounder with asparagus. I watched the Astros game for a little while but had to turn it off as I was getting to tired to continue to watch. Hopefully, I can make as much progress tomorrow as I did today.

Surgery Day

About 10 minutes before surgery.

The morning started out very early; I had to wake up at 5 am. From there, I took a shower with Hibiclens to disinfect my body, and had to shave my body hair from my bottom rib to below my privates. This was not a fun task and required a lot of careful attention.

Sherry drove me into the doctor’s office, and I didn’t feel any anxiety. It was weird. But that all ended when the nurse tried to get an IV into my right hand and had trouble doing so. I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath and nearly passed out. I couldn’t see, what I could see were purple spots, and my hearing started going away. Within 10 minutes, however, I was better (albeit embarrassed). I’d never had any sensation like that in all the years I’d given blood or had IV’s.

Once the IV was successfully started in my other hand, I was wheeled into the surgery room and began discussing some mundane things with the anesthesiologist and the nurse and then… nothing. I was out. I don’t even remember the sensation of going out. It went from “Talk, talk, talk,” to nothing.

When I awoke, I remember I was already in a wheel chair. I am told that I did talk to the staff there, but I remember none of it. I do remember having to get into the car, and it was uncomfortable. I remember getting home and being taken from the car to my bed, and that was also uncomfortable. But, thanks to modern medicine, I was out for most of the day except for those times I needed to be administered more medicine. I had to walk a few times, and the first two times were not easy. I could feel the abdominal muscle sutures, and they felt very painful. Fortunately, the pain medicine works well, and I was able to get a full night’s sleep.

Skin Removal Surgery Pre-Op Appointment

Last week, I went in for my skin removal surgery pre-op appointment. When I arrived, I was asked to get into a pair of paper shorts. You read that right; paper shorts. They were a pair of shorts made of the same material that paper hospital gowns are made of. Then, I went into an adjacent room and I was photographed from every angle as I turned on the floor. This was for before and after photos, I was told.

Then, the nurse discussed my pre-op instructions which included telling me that I can’t eat after midnight the night before my surgery, and a personal favorite: I need to shave my entire genital area the morning of the surgery to prevent (and again, this is no joke) a fire.

A FIRE?!?!???

I was also given a class on the tubes and the “Bulbs” that will hang from them and how I will have to log my fluid production. As my body heals, two tubes will allow fluids from inside my body to drain, and I need to continuously log the amounts my body is draining as this is a metric the doctor will use to determine how well my body is healing. Eventually, they will pull one of the tubes out and I will be down to a single tube before they remove it altogether.

I was given the largest number of prescriptions for medications I needed to have filled prior to my surgery to include stool softeners and anti-nausea medicine. The former is because my stomach muscles will be very sore and straining hard to poop will be painful otherwise. As for the latter, apparently a lot of people come out of anesthesia with nausea and the last thing you want to do after having your stomach cut open and sewn back together (to include the stomach muscles themselves) is to hurl. These measures sound reasonable and prudent to me.

I was given a schedule of events, including washing my body with a shampoo/soap that will sterilize my body the morning of the surgery. Oh, and I need to be there by 6 am. So that means waking up pretty early to get the shampoo/soap and shave done.

I was also briefed on the recovery process and what to expect. Here, it gets muddy. No two people are alike, and neither are their pain thresholds. Some people have a lot of pain while others say there’s pain, but it’s not too bad. I tend to be a big baby when I’m sick, but at the same time, I have worked through some incredible amounts of pain before without letting anyone know, so it’s kind of a coin toss as to how it will go. I’m going to try to be brave and not be too much of a baby since my wife and daughter will be taking care of me in the first week after which it’ll be my wife taking care of me alone.

Surgery is day after tomorrow. I still don’t have any anxiety or fear yet. I’m literally putting it off as long as I can by not really thinking about it too much. I’m sure tomorrow things will change. I just hope I can sleep early enough to get up at 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning to get all the things done.

I’m supposed to receive a phone call sometime today or tomorrow to confirm my show time and to let me know that everything is a “Go.” Maybe that’s when my brain will override my attempts at ignoring the impending procedure and start the worry wagon. Until then, I’m cool as a cucumber.

First Full Day of Whole30. Again.

I forget how many times we’ve done Whole30, but I think this might be the sixth or seventh time. Each time after the first, it’s been to help us get back to basics in terms of our nutrition. It’s not that we slip or fall hard. It’s always just a slight readjustment that needs to take place, but somehow, it always feels good to be back on the wagon. We started yesterday at lunch. Why not breakfast? Because I wanted my blueberry Paleo pancakes! Lunch and dinner, however, were Whole30 compliant.

It’s hard for me to believe sometimes, after all the misinformation, that this is a healthy breakfast. I love it!

This morning’s breakfast was also Whole30 compliant; bacon and eggs with half an orange and coffee. Lunch was Whole30 Picadillo. I am not sure what dinner will be, but Sherry meal prepped a week’s worth of lunches and dinners that are all Whole30 compliant, so I’ll be fine with sticking to our prepped foods.

Emotionally, it gets easier every time we do a Whole30. I think it’s because I am so used to the process and I fully know what to expect. I also know that I don’t do these without a good reason. This time, Sherry and I both needed to get back to brass tacks in terms of our diet in both content and portion size. I was allowing myself larger portions (because I have a serious problem with portion control; I always have) as well as chocolate. I still stayed away from grains, dairy, and anything (besides chocolate) with added sugar, but I have noticed my facial features getting a bit softer as a result of the water retention due to increased sugar intake. It normally takes me 2-3 days for it to go away, so I expect to have my sunken cheeks back by Wednesday or Thursday morning.

The weirdest thing for me and Whole30 is that I actually really like how I feel when I’m on the strict diet. My body really does well with a strict Whole30, and I think that’s part of why I embrace them now so much more than in the beginning. I actually look forward to the mental clarity that the ultra-strict diet brings me. I also like that I don’t get hungry between meals, and that I don’t have cravings for sweets (like I did for the past two weeks).

Is Whole30 for everyone? Probably not. But it works for me, and every time Sherry and I do one, we see immediate results and start feeling better soon afterward (well, I feel better sooner than she does, typically). If you haven’t done a Whole30, I recommend trying it to get you off the sugar addiction most people have (even if you aren’t into sweets, you would be surprised how many non-sweet foods have added sugar in them) as well as helping to identify possible food alergies (my wife didn’t know she had a milk alergy until we did our first Whole30).

How The Process Began

As I countdown to the surgery on Thursday, I’ll recount the first appointment I had with the plastic surgeon.

I found the plastic surgeon based on online reviews and personal accounts. The surgeon I selected was highly regarded, had very good results, and very few reported issues. I searched for days; this wasn’t a decision I made lightly. Allowing someone to make permanent changes to my body is not something I do every day, nor is it a decision I would jump into without sufficient investigation.

After making the decision, I scheduled an appointment that was amenable to my wife’s schedule. I wanted her to be involved in the decision making process, so that meant her being there for the consultation. I wanted her to receive all the same information I was receving from the source. I didn’t want her to receive the information from me second-hand. That information would be tinged with my personal opinions or be skewed due to how I inferred what I was being told. This turned out to be a good call; there were a few things I misheard or inferred incorrectly. She was able to help me make a better informed decision.

At the appointment, I was interviewed by a nurse and then by the surgeon herself. I was asked a lot of questions about my health, the process by which I lost all the weight, and about what I do to maintain my weight and health. I was told that I was a good candidate for skin reduction and “Tummy tuck” surgery, but that I’d also need liposuction on my lower back. The fatty tissue there is exceptionally hard to get rid of, and in my case, it wasn’t going away. If it was going to go away, it would already be gone after six years of eating right.

Once the consultation with the surgeon was complete, all that was left was to fill out the paperwork and schedule the procedure. We settled on a date, and I was given instructions for what to do prior to the surgery. A pre-op appointment was made where I was told I would receive more detailed instructions and information as well as prescriptions for me to fill prior to the surgery so that I would have the drugs on-hand immediately after the procedure.

We made a down-payment on the procedure and went home to further discuss the procedure and how we were going to handle my recovery. I had to inform my employer to let them know I was going to be out for a few days as I recovered, and I had to let the military know that I was going to be unavailable during my six-week recovery time. We also had to arrange for my daughter to come and stay with us for the first week after my surgery to help take care of me. While I will be more-or-less able to function after three or four days, those three to four days will be pretty rough and I’ll need a lot of help to do some basic things.

At this point, I wasn’t yet nervous. I didn’t feel any anxiety or have any apprehension.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the pre-op appointment and the process from that point forward.

This Week Will See Big Changes

So, it’s finally happening: on Thursday, I will be under anesthesia and will have a medical procedure to remove excess skin from my waist, to remove some fatty tissue that has been reluctant to go away after 6 years, and to have my stomach muscles sewn back together after splitting when my stomach was at it’s largest (when I weighed over 320 lbs, also known as a “Tummy tuck”).

I’m a little nervous. The surgery itself won’t hurt; I’ll be under anesthesia. But the recovery will be long (six weeks) and there will be tubes hanging out of my body to drain excess fluid while I recover.

Tubes.

I’ve written in the past about why I’m doing this. It’s not something I’m doing for purely cosmetic reasons, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t part of the reason. It is not, however, a procedure done to shortcut any process. To the contrary, it’s because I haven’t used any shortcuts that I’m being forced to have this procedure done. The pain I have while running due to the excess skin is keeping me from taking my fitness to the next level. It is also hurting my self-esteem.

So, this blog will be centered around the procedure and my recovery. I will post before and after photos as well as photos of my recovery. My goal is to document the process for anyone who is interested in the same procedure.

In the meantime, Sherry and I are starting a Whole30. Again. It’s time for both of us. I’ve been eating foods I shouldn’t be eating, and I don’t want to let these bad habits turn into a permanent thing. I’m still very invested in my healthy lifestyle, but truth be told, it’s been tough to get back into exercise and weightlifting after graduating WOCS two weeks ago knowing that I’d have to quit for six weeks while I recover from the upcoming surgery. So, I not only stopped working out, but I’ve had some questionable foods here and there. That all ended yesterday.

So, Whole30 and surgery. Let’s see if it pays off.