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The Unvarnished Truth About Plastic Surgery - Part 2 - Home & Doctor Visits (Could never be blue)

Friday, January 29, 2010

If some of this is icky or seems to be TMI, my apologies, but it's all relevant. The first song is my happy place song for the week. It's what I forced into my head whenever I was feeling particularly awful. It isn't that I like the song that much. It's just that it was pleasant and slow tempo and a point of focus.


I barely remember this day, I was so out of it. And I was more alert than I'd been in the hospital! My parents arrived maybe an hour after we got me home from the hospital, and the Jespah rules were posted: #1. No making me laugh. #2. No touching or sitting on the bed. #3. There is no #3. :)

For my father, who is the Consummate Jokester, Rule #1 must've been torture.


I mainly sat around, worked on a jigsaw puzzle and slept. My parents were excellent; they cooked, they entertained and they also kept Mr. Jespah company. I ate whatever I could handle, which wasn't much.


When I left the hospital, I was told that, if I didn't move my bowels by the end of the day on Tuesday (the 19th), that I'd have to return to the hospital.

Well, nature did call that morning. And called. And called. But it was tough to answer, seeing as I still had very little use of my abs for the purposes of, well, not to get too graphic, but for pushing.

It hurt. I strained. It hurt even more. Add to this the fact that I was not drinking enough water, and that the drugs I was taking could (and did) cause constipation, and it was a recipe for disaster.

Here's where it was truly vital that my parents were there. My father and my husband drove to CVS to get me some help. My mother stayed and talked to me, just to keep me calm and focused. And, frankly, I needed to not be alone. I was scared of passing out from the pain. My mother talked to me about the family, about this one and that one. It doesn't matter what she said -- she just kept me cool and I was able to keep my head together.
My father and my husband returned. Not only did they have an item manufactured by Fleet Labs (see:
), but they had saved big bucks with a coupon I had given them earlier. The whole shebang had cost them a big sixty cents.

By this time I was not truly able to appreciate the major league bargain. I just needed relief.

Now, if there was ever even the slightest thought that my husband did not mean the old "in sickness and in health" vow, that doubt, that thought, was immediately dispelled as he helped me. I will not go into details, of course, but I do want to thank him, and my parents, for their roles in it all, for helping me. It was extremely distressing. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I had been living alone. 'Nough said.


The previous day's activities completely wore me out. I had been getting better, but I was wiped. It was a quiet day, and I desperately needed that.


It was time to get the stitches taken out and the drains removed.

Gawd. Thank God my mother was with me.

The removal of surgical drains is its own exquisite pain (with maybe a quarter of a minute of after-effect burning as well). It should be used at Gitmo. It is simply awful. And, I had had no idea where the drains were attached, because they were pinned to the front of my binder and up by my chest so that I wouldn't accidentally sit or lay on them. I had not followed them to their origination points. There are just some things you don't want to know.

They were actually attached to the front of the bikini area. I know you're all cringing, and I'm sorry. Fortunately it was very fast. But, my God. I never want to have THAT happen again.

Stitching was removed from around my breasts and then I was patched up there again with tiny bandages. The tape at my hips was left on for the moment.

And so I was done for the day. The doctor said it would be fine to go to Target and get me some clothes. And, in particular, I could get something like Spanx to use as a replacement for the binder, so that it could be washed.

Afterwards, we went food shopping. I had my own cart so that I could lean on it. We bought a bunch of produce and then I went to the fish counter while my folks bought some deli stuff. I saw my friend, for the first time in months. He's known me at 346 pounds, of course, but I don't think he's seen me look quite so hellish. I held onto his arm to hold myself up. It was good to see a friendly face.


Target was not crowded and my parents left me to my own devices. I kept looking for front-hook soft-cup bras. They apparently did not exist at that particular Target. And soft-cup back-hook bras only existed if you got nursing bras. Weird. I bought two nursing bras anyway, along with a stretchy camisole to hold me in and a harder stretch long-line panty thing to hold the bottom. Plus a size Large shirt so I'd have another thing to wear over the binder. And then I went to the swimsuit area and picked up something in the Juniors department (I haven't shopped in that department since I was maybe 19 or so) to remind me of why I'm doing this in the first place. We were there for maybe an hour but I was worn out.

My plans for the next day were a shower and then we'd have brunch out and see off my parents. Everyone agreed I'd come a long way. I went up and down the stairs seven times, three of them in the evening, in order to get all prepared for the following morning. Mr. Jespah and I stayed up late (well, late for me) and watched the entire Haiti special. Oh, and TOM arrived (this is important).

The above song is what ran through my head for much of the 23rd.


I got up at maybe 5 AM and could not sleep any more, so I turned on the iPod and listened to music for a while, for the first time since the day before the surgery. I whispered to sing along to the songs. TOM was heavier than it had been the prior day. 6 AM came and it was time for Oxycontin. Keep in mind that this is a narcotic. I took it and the other early morning medications I'd been taking, and then sat down to do the crossword puzzles. By seven or so, everyone was out of the upstairs bathroom. I walked up the stairs and thought, hmm, it feels like the stitches are pulling over my right breast. I commented on that to Mr. Jespah. He asked if we needed to call Dr. Silverman. I said, well, I don't know. Let me shower first.

I stripped down and noticed that my right breast was significantly larger than my left. It had a crease in it from where it had pushed up against a soft-cup bra I had worn to sleep. It hurt a little to the touch. But I was hellbent on having a shower. I knew we'd have to call the doctor, but I figured it could wait. I told Mr. Jespah to stay nearby.

I took about 2/3 of the shower when I began to feel lightheaded. The shower was not that hot, but it wasn't a cold one, either. I had conditioner in my hair but had otherwise rinsed everything. But I could not hold myself up. I grasped the grab bar (so glad we had it installed when we had the tub interior redone a few years ago). I called for Mr. Jespah or perhaps he heard me -- that part is foggy. Call the doctor! Well, it's a Saturday. He came in and turned off the water and called the answering service. I was nauseous and dizzy, and sat on the side of the tub with a towel over me. I then felt slightly better and rinsed the conditioner out of my hair. That may seem vain or silly but I realized I'd be going to a doctor or a hospital soon; might as well prevent yet one more problem for myself. I finished and sat back down. I was a mess. At eight, he gave me an Oxycodone, which is for breakthrough pain and not taken on a regular basis. It's another narcotic.

I was nauseous, dizzy and cold, then hot, particularly over my right breast. I told Mr. Jespah to call an ambulance or perhaps he suggested it. Again, foggy. We got me dressed as quickly as possibly (it was in the 30s). The EMTs arrived, Arthur and Mark. They had a portable stretcher with them but we didn't use it. I held Arthur's hand as we walked down the steps. Mr. Jespah and I sat in the back of the ambulance with Arthur. Sitting was easier than lying down. Mark drove.

St. Elizabeth's is very close so it did not take long. I was brought into the Emergency Room via wheelchair and Dr. O'Neill, the doctor on call, took a look at me. He thought I had had a vasovagal episode (see:

Then we went over the reasons I might've been feeling faint:
* fasting
* no water except minimal amount to swallow pills
* narcotics without food
* recent surgery
* the breast thing (I'll get to that in a moment)
* warm shower raising my body's temperature
* heavy TOM meant that I was even more dehydrated and had lost more sugar

Yep. It all made perfect sense. The perfect storm of conditions to cause fainting. I had not felt faint any other day because on those other days:
* I'd had my Oxycontin and then eaten not too long afterwards
* I wasn't climbing the stairs in the morning
* I was drinking tea or cocoa in the morning
* no shower until that day
* no heavy TOM until that day

Now, as for the breast thing. Dr. O'Neill felt it was possibly a hematoma. See:
. He said this is not uncommon. It was possibly a blood clot in the breast as a result from the surgery. We asked, and he confirmed: THIS CANNOT LEAD TO A STROKE.

Allow me to repeat myself.


But it's uncomfortable, and lopsided. The swelling was slated to go down, in days or weeks. In the meantime he said I could pad the other side to even things out.

Dr. Silverman's associate, Dr. Lee, came in for a look, and brought along an intern, Jake. They took a look and agreed that it was either a hematoma or a seroma. See:
. They confirmed that it could go away in a few days or weeks, but an interview would be fine. In the meantime, I already had a followup scheduled with Dr. Silverman for Thursday, and was told to keep that appointment.

The Nurse Kathy came in and drew blood, just to make sure that I didn't have a seriously elevated white cell count, which would be a sign of infection. My vitals had already been taken. My pressure was good, and my temperature was normal. The signs did not point toward an infection but of course this was due diligence. I also found myself with a little acid reflux, most likely due to how I was sitting/laying.

The bloodwork came back and I was cleared to go at about eleven or so. Since everything is on hospital time, this meant I didn't actually leave St. E's until around noon or so. Dr. Lee and Jake did return, and we pointed out to them that it looked like the swelling was going down a bit. That is apparently possible.

I got home (I walked out of the hospital, no wheelchair!) and had some very plain food. My parents left and Mr. Jespah and I got upstairs, where I was napped and read with an ice pack on my right breast. Someone should invent an ice pack insert for a bra. That would come in handy.


I don't normally get acid reflux, but my body decided, hey, this is something that's gonna happen. Again. Ai yi yi.

Maalox is an extraordinary invention.

Mr. Jespah and I also decided it was about time I started doing a little cardio again. We decided to start up as if I were again 346 pounds and starting from nothing. We walked around the block, a trip of no more than a quarter of a mile and probably a lot less. This normally takes me about five minutes. It took fifteen, and that was all I could possibly do. But it was a start, and it felt good to do it.


Mr. Jespah left for work and I spent some time online. I have to show job search activities but they can be done online. I had finished, was actually, finally, recording my food on Spark, and otherwise winding down. The phone rang, and it was Dr. Silverman. Come on in.

I took a cab. It was a good thing I went to see the doctor, as he grabbed a needle and aspirated out about 15 cc of, er, stuff. It's still unclear whether it's actually a hematoma or a seroma, but that kind of doesn't matter. This did help some of the swelling go down but he told me that it might swell up a little bit more before it goes down in earnest. In the meantime, ice became a constant companion.

The doctor also told me that the reflux is partly due to body positioning and partly due to the narcotics. Another delightful side effect.


I finished up the first of the drugs and was glad to see them go, as the reflux was even worse. But I was able to be awake and alert even more. I got some rest in the afternoon and we walked again. Instead of one block taking fifteen minutes, it took twelve. Progress!


With no more Oxycontin, Extra Strength Tylenol became more important to me. I still had Oxycodone left but decided I only wanted it for nights.


In a sure mark of insanity, I agreed to a job interview at 10 AM, and a doctor visit at 4 PM. But both, surprisingly enough, turned out to be good ideas.

The interview went well, not only for the two-hour conversation I had with the three principals but also because I was wearing something a lot nicer than sweats and sneakers, and did not lose stamina. It felt good and vital to do something so normal. I crossed my legs and thought, that's normal, that's good. I do not know yet how I did. Details to follow if the results are positive.

When I got home, my intention was to change, eat and rest. But there was a phone message: could I come in earlier? Sure. So the plans were altered to change clothes and eat but don't rest.

The doctor took out more fluid. This time, 50 cc! 50 cc = 0.05 Liters, AKA about 2/10 of an ounce. That may not seem like a lot, but the projection was maybe an inch. Yep. Ow. It was a huge relief to get that out of there. There was still a possibility of more fluid, or of fluid in the other breast. But for the time, things felt infinitely better.

He also told me that my navel, which is still kind of, er, damp, will be so for another 2 weeks or so. Just keep cleaning and changing band aids. He removed one last stitch that must have been missed the last time, and took off all of the tape. I was left with the band aid over my navel and two surgical pads on the underside of each breast (those are just a little sore and red but otherwise okay). Once all of that heals, I'm done with all of that, and all I'll have to do is wear the binder or its equivalent (the stretchy camisole and stretchy shorts I was wearing proved to be decent substitutes).

1/29 TODAY

I will be wearing the surgical binder or an equivalent until mid-March, but can (and will!) walk before then. Strength training will wait until late February or so. I had originally planned on returning to my gym on Monday, February 1st, but that will end up happening later as I'd like to have my navel completely healed before then, and probably will wait to have my next doctor visit (February 18th) accomplished by then. We'll see (the doctor had said that I'd probably only be able to tolerate about 10 or 15 minutes at the gym to start, anyway).

I'd like to blog about other things but at some point I will be blogging about what I've learned from this experience. That will be Part 3 and may or may not be next week's topic. Plus I'd like to cover my return to fitness, which will take considerably longer. Those things are for another day. Thank you all for your kind attention and good wishes. It means a great deal to me.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    emoticon What an ordeal! I get the helplessness of breaking down in a shower, wet and naked and with conditioner in your hair. Aiyiyi...
    2049 days ago
    Thanks for sharing
    2218 days ago
    So very glad I found this post. Thank you for part 2. Looking forward to part 3.
    2465 days ago
    So very glad I found this post. Thank you for part 2. Looking forward to part 3.
    2465 days ago
    emoticon again
    2638 days ago
    You are a very strong woman. I appreciate your honesty and in depth detail. I hope you heal really fast!

    4150 days ago
  • KAYBEE37
    Hang in there and thanks for the information. How on earth did people ever make informed choices about stuff like this before we were able to share our experiences on the internet? Anyway, thank you for being so honest.

    Just a quick comment about something you wrote in the beginning of the blog -- it drives me nuts how hard it is to find a bra that hooks in the front. It took me weeks after my surgery last fall to be able to put on a regular bra without needing to rest after the ordeal.

    Best of luck to you with your continued recovery!
    4152 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4749243
    Simply fascinating! Thanks for sharing. How would we ever know otherwise? Looking forward to more details and to results of the interview. THAT took courage of an entirely different sort so soon after this surgery! WOW!
    4153 days ago
    I am glad you are feeling better, that you are now getting up, out, and around. Your crash in the shower could have been partly caused by low iron also. In my teens TOM would always make me crash.

    To be honest, as a multi dog house hold, I laughed so hard over 1/19 killer poop DH asked what was so funny. I did not share.
    4153 days ago
  • 250STRONG
    Stumbled onto your blog. Many of the things you wrote about were things that I also experienced after my hysterectomy last March. I am just getting so that I can do crunches without everything cramping right up and me laying, writhing on the floor. And the combo of pain meds and constipation - I totally get that. Hang in there!
    4153 days ago
    Wow. You're so right about being lucky to have supportive husband and parents around. I don't know how people handle this otherwise. I'm sorry you've been having such a difficult recovery. It sounds like the worst is behind you, though. At least I hope that is the case and here's to feeling better and better every day.
    4153 days ago
    You are so brave to share all of this with us. There are many people better informed about it now! Glad to hear you were well enough for an interview. That bodes very well. And good job getting off the meds inside of 2 weeks - that`s important. You are fortunate to have the family support and I`m sure you`ll repay them in spades when you`re well. (Well you KNOW you are very likely going to be repaying your mother one day - but hopefully a long long way away)

    Hope it all turns out even better than expected.
    4154 days ago
    When I had my ICD (implanted cardiac device) replaced I had a large hematoma. It looked like I had a third boob.It took 4 months for it to go down.It wasn't painful tho.
    It sure sounds like he- l to have the skin removed. My heart doc is not going to let me do it but I am not sure I would want to go thru what you are going thru.But you sound like it gets better each day.I am amazed you went to Target.You are tough.
    4154 days ago
    Wow! I had no idea. Congrats on making it through the worst of it! And confirmation of my surgery phobia!

    Hang in there... better days are on the horizon!
    4154 days ago
    Sounds like you are trying to get back to normal. I hope you heal up real soon. Keep the music flowing and feel better every day. emoticon
    4154 days ago
    I'm so glad that you are able to cut down on the narcotics so quickly. I had physical addiction to Percocette after my last surgery (he literally hit a nerve!) and I did the chills and nausea stuff. For the GERD try (and this should be more and more possible) not to lie down until 1 hour after eating. I like the gaviscon (generic is okay) for the GERD however the zantac stuff that is long lasting is superior. You might be treating the GERD long after you are back to the gym. I am soooo excited for you! I was thinking about you today as I am moving and came across a box with your address on there! (Apparently I keep everything!) I'm glad to read this and glad you are up to writing it. I have had a surgeon remove fluid and it is a wonderous experience. It does resolve on its own after a while, but why suffer when they can remove it. I have to be careful not to watch them do it. It makes me all fainty.

    I guess I'm lucky that my TOM slows up if I am not okay to have it. I guess you will be making sure you get your fluids. This was definately TMI and I so appreciate your sharing this with us. You are gonna look awesome! I bet there IS bra ice. We just have to find it.

    4154 days ago
  • no profile photo SABRINAWHO
    You're doing great! I had a tummy tuck several years back, with lipo in a few places too. I remember well the pain upon waking, and the loooong nights while you can only lay in one position. It gets better about day 10 and exponentially from there.

    And high five on the drain removal! I swear I think I was most scared of that post surgery. I nearly passed out when they removed them. Ugh! (although i had kind of a blast with those weird things...even named 'em. gotta get your laughs where you can, right?)

    Congrats on getting through all this!
    4154 days ago
    Oh Geez..., that doesn't sound all that fun. I hope you are feeling better soon.

    I have to say..., I am another one you may have scared away from having excess skin removal. Although, once you post your after pictures, maybe we will all change our minds again.

    Best wishes,
    4154 days ago
    Yikes, I'm glad that you are starting to feel better. I had surgery in September and had hematomas, draining, and they wouldn't even let me LEAVE the hospital until I did #2. You're right, that whole "sickness & in health" things definitely gets put to the test. Best wishes for a smooth recovery!
    4154 days ago
    Thanks for posting your story. I am so glad you have most of that behind you and are on the mend. I won't even consider surgery for a few years. I need to get to goal and then some before I dare to think about that. Remind me to re-read this when I do, please?
    Lots of healing hugs & good wishes!
    Frozen peas are great.
    4154 days ago
    Another ice pack altermative- but may not be something you have on hand. Soak a baby diaper with water, then freeze in a ziplock. Works great for engorged breasts and mastitis : )
    4154 days ago
    Wow...what a time you have had. They make it look so easy on the tele. I think the worst is far behind you. Isn't it great to have people who care about us and take care of us when we are down? Give that wonderful hubby of yours kudos from me! And the parents, too!
    4154 days ago
  • KAREN_01
    This morning I was looking at the flab of fat I have and thought, geez it is going to be a big flab of skin once I get to goal!! I'll just get some plastic surgery. Now, that idea does not sound all that good to me. After two cecarians and a foot operation I had my fair share of surgeries and complications. You just brought it all back to me :)

    But I really do hope that you will heal perfectly and without any more hickups. Can't wait to see final before and after pics!
    4154 days ago
  • JLITT62
    All I can say after reading some of this (and I'll admit to a bit of skimming, too) is that I sure hope there is no surgery in my future. I've had a few necessary surgeries as a kid, and as a result, I would just never do something elective. That's me -- I'm a wimp.

    Continued heal well & quickly vibes.
    4154 days ago
  • no profile photo CD3248497
    WOW You sure have been through a lot and yeah I CRINGED! hehe I am one of those people who like to watch the discovery channel and when the lion eats on the baby zebras, I close my eyes and yell "tell me when it's over." lol So all in all you are doing OK. Don't even worry about some exercise. Take care of yourself and your body. Don't want no infection like you said, plus once this is all said and done...this spring you will be working out in some super cute and fitted workout clothes. hehe that's what I do & I gained weight! And you will feel sO wonderful. I don't know about that Jr bikini. lol I stopped wearing jrs a long time ago, no matter how small I get I can not fit my hips into those little clothes!
    4154 days ago
    Thanks for posting these blogs about your surgery. We all need to hear the truth! Cosmetic surgery is a wonderful thing, but it is surgery and should not be gone into lightly! I'm so glad you are on the mend!! emoticon
    4154 days ago
    Lordy. That is quite the saga, already.

    I'm already in juniors clothes (Large juniors), and unfortunately I think the variation in sizing of 10s etc. is a function of the clothing industry and not our bodies. So you will be smaller, but still probably not fit perfectly everything with a certain number on it.

    Thanks for sharing. Now that I'm so close to "done" (I got my DXA body fat scan done on the 15th and it said 19%) I'm starting to assess the damage and wonder if I'm ever going to want to do the surgery or not. I'm planning on waiting for at least 2 years after I reach goal, so it won't be any sooner than 2012. I want to give my skin a chance to recover over time and see what it does. My boobs, however, are pretty much in the state you described for yours, so I don't have high hopes in that department (no pun intended, LOL. Sorry if I made you laugh)

    Hang in there. Good thing virtual hugs won't hurt like the real thing might!

    P.S. They DO have little tiny ice packs suitable for putting in bras. I got a couple when I had a biopsy done a couple of years ago. They're small and round.
    4154 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/29/2010 9:24:13 AM
    It's work taking care of one's self isn't it? Good descriptions. And not TMI. You may help someone else who faces surgery and reads this.

    Tip. Frozen peas for an ice pack. They conform to the area in need of ice and are "soft" feeling, not hard like ice cubes or prone to melt together like crushed ice. And you can customize the shape and size unlike gels. I keep ice pack peas in the freeze marked with freezer marker so I don't mistake them and eat them some day. They have been refrozen many times. Wack em on the table or counter before use and they are fab.
    4154 days ago
    Whew! I'm so glad you have a support team and great medical staff attention.

    Best wishes for smooooother recovery!

    4154 days ago
    Wow, what an ordeal! Just take it easy, do a tiny bit more each day, follow doctor's orders EXACTLY, and REST!!!!!!!!!

    Oh, and feel better, too!
    4154 days ago
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