Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Tell-All Tummy Tuck Post (Part 2)

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In case you missed it, here's the link to Part 1.

I woke up several hours later in recovery. Moments after opening my eyes my mom was there and it seemed like moments after that I was walking out to the car. We'd planned to stay one or two nights at the hotel and then go home. Since I didn't end up needing drains (which is a good thing), I didn't have a post-op appointment the next day, which was nice. All rest, all day.

We got back to the room and I took two pain pills, Percocet 5-325. They did absolutely nothing. Or at least it didn't feel like it. I was dying in pain. We called the doctor's office and a nurse said to put ice on my tummy and to make sure I'm sitting up with pillows under my knees. Two hours later, still dying. None of this was helped by the fact that I still had a cough. Every time I coughed I thought I'd pass out from the pain.

I have a mom friend who's also had a tummy tuck. She was checking in on me via text and when I told her about the pain she suggested I switch to Vicoden, that it had worked better for her despite being a weaker drug overall. I called the doc's office back, eventually spoke with Dr Canales and he made the switch. In the end what worked was to alternate the drugs every few hours, take Percocet, then Vicoden, then Percocet.

Dr Canales also told me that my abdominal muscles were entirely separated (also knows as Diastasis recti, read all about it here) and had to be stitched together from the top to the bottom.


This, and they didn't use drains, which meant additional suturing (which meant more pain), "but trust me, in a couple days you'll be happy about not having drains." - he was right, so thankful for not having to deal with that.

So, in the end, a solid couple days of too much pain and, yes, even regret, another few days of pain but at least it was manageable, and then a few more days of discomfort entirely managed by the pain meds. Oh, with the coughing, my nurse friend Catherine told me to hold a pillow against my stomach and put as much pressure as I can when I cough, "that's what heart transplant patients have to do, use the pillow like a stint." That made a world of difference.

You might be wondering how my tummy looked after the surgery. Well, I wasn't. I could have cared less. In fact, I was thinking what an idiot I was for putting myself through such torture just to look better. When it came to the first couple of overnights there was good and bad news. Good news, I was sleeping pretty well (with the help of an Ambien). Bad news, I'd sleep through the time for meds and wake up in serious pain. I never said I bore pain well.


Being the good blogger that I am, I took a picture from my reclined position. This was taken Monday evening around 7:45pm. Can't tell much, I know, but there you have it.

So after the first couple nights I learned to set an overnight alarm to take pain meds at least every three hours while I was sleeping. Oh, and I extended my hotel stay by a couple more nights. I was not ready for a car ride. And the fun doesn't end there. All those opiates led to constipation. Skip the rest of this paragraph if it's TMI for you but I want to include it for anyone getting a tummy tuck. So yes, constipation. And it was bad. Despite my being very careful about taking Senna and stool softeners and despite eating mostly fruit, drinking a good amount of water, and even drinking a few glasses of prune juice, my system came to a serious halt. Fortunately I have my nurse/runner/mom friend Catherine on speed dial. I'll spare you the gory details but just know that by Day 3 I had to action I typically associate with people in convalescent care.

I finally came home on Thursday. More TMI so feel free to skip this paragraph too. It took a day of constipation-related interventions for my system to start working again and then when it did, things took a turn for the opposite. I go from laxatives to Imodium AD but at least things settled down to almost normal before the kids got home.

Regarding the kids, Miguel and the pre-school teachers had been prepping them on how I'd be delicate for a while, "gentle hugs and kisses, no jumping on mommy, no sitting in her lap, she has an owie that needs to heal." So that night Miguel and I took the kids out to Chevy's to make things easier. They were so happy to see me and did their best to be gentle with me. It wasn't easy for them to refrain from the usual bear hugs, and we had a few bumps here and there but all in all they were great. I ate the Santa Fe Chopped Salad and a few chips. I was still uneasy about putting food in my body but I was hungry.

Mesquite-grilled chicken breast, crispy bacon (which automatically makes it delicious), fresh Hass avocado, fire-roasted red peppers, crumbled bleu cheese on chilled hearts of romaine.
I'd planned to spend the weekend away from home, I didn't yet have the energy or fortitude for being around the kids full time. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were all about rest. Each day I felt a bit better and needed less pain meds. A week after surgery, Monday, I was almost feeling like my normal self. I'd hoped to get through the day with no pain meds but about 4pm I decided I needed one. So yesterday, Tuesday, was my first day with zero pain meds - extra-strength Tylenol a couple times and that did it. Thus far today I haven't had anything, not even Tylenol, and I feel fine. Just very mild discomfort. Barely even discomfort really, except when I cough and then it hurts a bit but it's fleeting and manageable.

Ok...enough of all this. I know it's time for a picture. On the left, my "before". On the right, a pic taken Monday (one week post-op). Ah, the beauty of corrective surgery.


It kind of makes all the pain seem not-so-dreadful now, right? Right. At least for me. Of course, if I had it to do over again I'd do a better job of managing the pain from the start.



I just snapped this bikini pic in my backyard. And to give you an idea of how much movement occurred... I highlighted a couple moles on the left side and the same ones on the right to show you how my skin moved. Which is why my belly-button had to be removed and re-installed.


So I'm a week-and-a-half out and feeling very happy so far. I'm still swollen, they say it takes 8 weeks for the swelling to go down entirely! And I still have stitches (that you can't see because they're at my bikini line and hidden by my clothes). The black line under my belly in the pic at the left is where the stitches were placed. I think they'll be removed at my follow-up appointment on Thursday. Oh, and I have to wear this abdominal binder for a total of six weeks. Thank goodness for elastic waistbands.


As far as exercise, I plan to ask when I can start exercising and using my core muscles again. I'm already feeling antsy about sitting around so much. So today I'm taking my own advice (This isn't a slump but #9 still applies here) and heading to the gym. Hold on, don't freak out. I plan to walk slowly on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes while reading a magazine. And then I'll leave. The last couple days I've been eating a bunch of crap. I had vanilla ice cream for lunch yesterday and so-called "veggie" sticks were essentially my dinner. I know, I want to stop, hence the gym visit. Just being there will remind me of my goals, remind me of what I want - to maintain my weight during this recovery time and to formulate and implement a fitness come-back as soon as my body is ready - and how to get it.

Another good thing is I'll be meeting with Janine, my Pharmaca herbalist soon to go over my goals. I know that will help keep me on track too. In fact, I'll email her right now. Alright, that's it! I'm looking forward to sharing my comeback journey.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Tell-All Tummy Tuck Post (Part 1)

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Where to begin? I've lost over 90 pounds and I've had two babies. That didn't bode well for my belly. I've been dreaming of a tummy tuck even before I hit my goal weight. Most people who'd see me (dressed) balked when I said I wanted a tummy tuck, "What?! You're so skinny, you don't need one!" Sometimes, if they were a close friend (or my hairdresser) I'd show them my belly, to which they'd always say, "Oh yeah, I see, you should get one!" Want to see what I mean? Here are my official "before" pictures taken by the plastic surgery folks.

Before (tummy tucks) pics
Those pictures make it look even better than it is was in my opinion. They were taken when I went for my pre-op appointment in November of 2012 (the surgery had been scheduled for December but ended up getting canceled because of my cough. The docs were worried I'd get pneumonia).

So it got canceled and I randomly chose April for a new date. At the time April sounded so far off in the future but it was here in the blink of an eye! I got so nervous leading up to the date. I'd really wanted to lose those re-gained 5-7 pounds before the surgery but it didn't happen. Oh well, maybe that's a good thing. But what wasn't good is that I caught a cold (with a cough) about a week before the surgery. Ugh. I just hoped it would go away before Monday.

It didn't, but the docs still gave me the go-ahead for the procedure. I was so nervous! My final pre-surgery workout I felt so strong, and I was dreading the downtime to come. Anyway, the night before surgery I stayed in a local hotel so I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. I followed instructions - no shaving for two days, wash with surgical soap the night before and morning of, and ingest nothing after midnight.

I arrived to the surgery suite exactly at 7:30am and they took me straight in. Eek! No mom to hold my hand. I took some pictures to keep me busy and called Miguel and the kids for one last chat. I said some very heartfelt "I love you's" just in case I d.i.e'd, which I wasn't seriously worried about but still.


Nerves!
And then Dr. Canales came in for a pre-surgery pep talk. And to do some body-art on my tummy. I'd asked most of my questions long before but this morning he answered my last minute ones, some of which were repeats because I was nervous and couldn't remember anything.
  1. Will you be cutting through my abs? No. If they are separated we'll sew them back together but I won't know if I need to do that until we get in there. But no, I won't be cutting into them.
  2. Will I still have the same shape and definition I have now? Hard to say exactly but you will look better. (he said more but I'm paraphrasing here)
  3. How long will the surgery take? About 2 hours, recovery will be 1-2 hours, depending on how you do.
  4. Will you take a selfie with me? Sure!
I'm sure there were more questions but that's all I can recall for now. So, here I am, all marked up and ready for the knife.

Before (tummy tuck) pics
It's not easy sharing these pictures. Just had to say that.

And, the selfie! (if it's two people should it be called a welfie?)

Dr Francisco Canales and yours truly.
No, I didn't select him because he was the cutest doc I saw, though that didn't hurt. I chose him for a few reasons. First, he came recommended by someone for whom he'd done a breast augmentation and she was very pleased with the work. Nothing like a first-hand recommendation. Second, I felt he was very honest about what to expect from the tummy tuck. And finally, I didn't feel he was selling me. He didn't dazzle me with the magic of plastic surgery or how fabulous I'd feel or look afterward. Some of the docs I saw gave me the feeling I was buying a new car. No sales job please, not when it comes to my body.

And he told me not to touch my arms. I'd asked about surgery to remove the fat hanging from my arms and he practically told me he wouldn't be willing to do it, "they aren't that bad." I asked him if I was being neurotic and needed to get over it, "Maybe I wouldn't put it that way, but yes." There you go, honesty goes a long way.
 
Then I had a chat with the anesthesiologist (holy cow I spelled that correctly on my own!). He reviewed my history of pneumonia and coughing and listened to my lungs. All clear.


The nurse came and got me, washed me up some more, laid me down and then the sleep doc gave me a pre-anasthesia cocktail...and with that...I went under the knife.

Link to Park 2.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The 7-Minute Workout...It's Science!

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I'm five days out from surgery and things are looking up. I'll spare you all the gory details. For now. I'm working on my tell-all post and will include all of them there. Just know I've been suffering. But  less so today.

And I'm already dreaming about my post-recovery comeback. I found this article on The New York Times Well Blog, The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. First of all, seven minutes. And further, no equipment required. Well, except a chair. That means you can do it at home. Or in a hotel room while on the road. Or heck, even at your office.

There's a catch though. It should be unpleasant.
"The exercises should be performed in rapid succession, allowing 30 seconds for each, while, throughout, the intensity hovers at about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10, Mr. Jordan says. Those seven minutes should be, in a word, unpleasant."
And by unpleasant, I think they mean suffering. Anyway, here's what I'm lusting after these days.


"In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science....even a few minutes of training at an intensity approaching your maximum capacity produces molecular changes within muscles comparable to those of several hours of running or bike riding."
I don't think they're proposing that 7-minutes can replace endurance exercise like running or cycling but I know, at the very least, they are saying that you can get more out of something like a 7-minute workout than was previously thought. And at the very, very minimum, something is always better than nothing.

Anyone care to try it out? In case you didn't read the article here's how it works.
  1. Do each exercise for 30 seconds at a high intensity, 8 on a scale of 1-10.
  2. Rest for 10 seconds in between.
That's it! I'm looking for someone to do it and write up a review that I can post on my blog. I'm interested in how easy/difficult you thought it was, how you'd compare it to a longer workout that involved running or cycling and, if you wear a heart-rate monitor, how many calories you burned.  If more than one person does it, even better! I'll edit them so don't worry about grammar. Here's a YouTuber who demonstrates. And she gives alternatives in case the exercise is too difficult, which I like. Anway, email your report to me at funez.michelle at gmail.com. I hope someone does it!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Courage of the Naive

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It's been a nice weekend. I wrapped up the week nicely with a trip to the gym on Thursday. I was proud of myself for squeezing it in between the end of the workday and dinner at my mom's house. Everyone was drinking but because I had to drive home I didn't partake. It would have been nice to unwind a little bit - for some reason I'd felt irritable for most of the day - but I didn't miss the calories. I made up for it with food though, I think. Ate more than I needed.

Friday I wasn't able to make it to the gym. The kids' preschool was closed and I couldn't swing it. But I made up for it on Saturday. We got up and had a lazy morning at home. Marek had his good buddy Gracie over and eventually, we got our adventuring selves in the groove. We started with a stop for sandwiches and then a side-trip to the The Space Station Museum.


The kids had a good time playing with rocket ship controls and trying on space clothes. Then we were off on our real adventure, a hike to a waterfall. We've done this hike a handful of times because it's so kid-perfect, not too far and not too steep. The trail has some rocky bits and with the kids wanting to run they trip over a rock sticking out of the ground. Live and learn, though, right?

3 munckins in middle earth


After the hike we were all ready for...ICE CREAM! I indulged in a scoop of mint chip myself but passed on the cone to save the calories.

Then it was home to meet up with grandma. I was tired but I rallied and rode my bike to the gym. It was a nice day out and I almost had the place to myself. I did back/biceps/core for strength training. I have to admit, I felt really good. Most of the exercises weren't much of a challenge. I love feeling strong and competent in the gym. To capture the moment I asked Ian (my former trainer who happened to be working) to snap a picture of me doing some core exercises on the stability ball.


Prone Jackknife


I do five of those and then, because I'm once again strong enough, I do five of these.


Prone Pike
And then I rode home. Victorious.

So that made up for Friday's missed workout and today would normally involve some kind of workout. But given that I have the surgery tomorrow, I'm still coughing and my nurse friend told me to take it easy, I decided to skip it. Of course that doesn't mean I sat on my rumpus. This morning we ran about a million errands, one of which was to buy Myra a bike. She's been riding Marek's up and down the street and it seemed like time to get her her own.


She's super happy with her new wheels. So we came home and I decided that since our final errand was only a bit more than a half-mile from home, I thought we could ride there. Welllll...it's quite a step up riding up and down the sidewalk in front of your house and riding .68 miles, crossing streets, navigating even the slightest hill. Whew, it's a miracle we survived.

But Myra was a trooper. She fell several times, had the poop scared out of her when she started careening toward traffic (I had to jump off my bike and grab her bike, I had the poop scared out of me too), and we all learned she's not so good with brakes. But the 1.36 mile ride on relatively quiet suburban streets was good practice (yes, I mapped it when we got home to see the distance). She now has a healthy respect for speed, has a bit more experience with her brakes and above all, LOVES her bike.

This was also Marek's longest ride; his biggest problem was getting tired. It was in the low 70s with no wind and the afternoon sun shining down on us. He's quick to overheat and we'd already had a big weekend so it's no wonder he was a bit whiny. But we all made it home in one piece and I made a big deal of our triumphant first ride. Unfortunately I was too busy riding to take any pictures. And saving preschooler lives. If I'd known what an undertaking riding that far with two munchkins would have been I might have just taken the car. Ahh, the courage of the naive.

I noted that being able (and, possibly more important willing) to do this sort of things with my kids was one of my reasons for wanting to lose and maintain weight loss. I reinforced that reality today, "See Michelle, this is why it's important to stay in shape and invest in maintenance, so you want and can do this sort of thing." I believe these reinforcements are as important in maintenance as they were in weight loss.

Well, that's it from me. You might not hear from me for a while. I'm up bright and early for surgery tomorrow. I'll post short updates on my FB page I'm sure. I hope I don't d.i.e. (we won't dare say that out loud). I'm not thrilled about the recovery process but I'm totally ready to face it head-first.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tricks of the Trade

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It's Thursday! This week is flying by. Yesterday was busy at work and I felt that late-afternoon drag, "I'm tired, I don't want to go to the gym." I reminded myself of a few things.
  1. Being tired is NOT a valid excuse to skip the gym.
  2. If I skip the gym every time I feel tired, I'll miss half my workouts (if not more).
  3. I always feel better afterward, I'm always thankful I went. I will regret it later if I don't go.
  4. Exercising will give me MORE energy to manage the rest of the day.
  5. If I skip the gym this time, I'll be more likely to skip it next time. Going will keep momentum on my side and keep my confidence up.
But the truth remained I was tired so I bargained with myself, "Just go to the gym and run for 10 minutes on the treadmill and do weights." Better than nothing, right? Besides, after work I ate a scone I didn't really need and scones + couch ≠ momentum.

So I got to the gym and started on the treadmill. I was still coughing a little bit. The guy on the treadmill next to me wiped down the treadmill before he got on it as if it was contaminated with the plague. My coughing probably unnerved him. But it sounds worse than it is. I hope.

Anyway, I was nearing the 10 minute mark when I thought, "I feel pretty good, I think I'll go for 20 minutes." And there it is, the old Ten Minute Trick (I just made that name up)...works every time. If we can fool ourselves into making bad choices, "I can buy this gigantic bag of M&Ms and only eat one serving," why not fool ourselves into making good choices?

And at around 15 minutes I still felt good so I considered going for 25 minutes. I reminded myself that after the surgery on Monday I won't be able to run for a while so I better run while I can. But at minute 18 things unraveled and I stayed with the goal of 20 minutes. This is my workout, I make the choices. And 20 minutes is better than 10 minutes which is better than nothing.

After the run I did chest/triceps/core and felt really strong, already so grateful I wagered on myself and made it to the gym. For dinner I ended up eating a Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken meal.

Kashi Lemongrass Coconut Chicken dinner

It was very flavorful. The only thing I didn't understand was the need for 1.5 teaspoons of sugar (a teaspoon of sugar has between 4-8 grams depending on the granulation). I can't see making this at home and putting in that much sugar. And in looking through the ingredients list, I'm not even sure where all the sugar is coming from.


Is it all in the evaporated cane juice? Or is there sugar in other stuff, like guar gum, xanthan gum or carrageenan? See, that's the problem with processed foods, even "healthy" ones such as this...too much mysterious non-food stuff. But, it seems there's a place in my life for this sort of thing and right now I'm not going to fight it. Besides, it was good. And at 300 calories it balanced out the scone. At least the scone was homemade, right?