Part 1 of 2
Warning: This is a very long blog, which is a record of my journey.😋 The advice and tips are not intended to provide or replace any medical instructions given by your surgeon/physician. This blog contains graphic content, mostly gross.
Who gets a “mommy makeover” at 55? I DO! 🙋🏾♀️
Well, I’m using the term loosely. Years of back, shoulder and neck pain and in July 2020, I ended up in the emergency room thinking I was having a stroke. Thank God, I was not! It was time to get rid of these breastesis. I’m so thankful Carefirst Pre-Authorization Dept approved my surgery in less than a week.
There are A LOT blessings that occurred in 2020, but with COVID-19, it was difficult not to succumb to the fear. On 7/17/2020, I ended up in the emergency room. I was sitting at my desk and my daughter thought I was having a stroke. Tests revealed no signs of a stroke. THANK GOD!!! the doctor think it’s due to a pinched nerve in my neck. The nurse added it could be due to my large breasts.
As long as I can remember, I had pinched nerves issues. I have always chalked it up to my 1.5-2 hours (one-way) commute to work and stress.
This is not first time a doctor has told me my back and shoulder pain could be due to the size of my breasts. Due to the chest pain, I followed-up with my cardiologist. I asked could could the pain in my chest cavity be due to my breasts size. My cardiologist, who’s bedside manner is WEAK! Gave me a “DUH” look and said YES! while staring me down, like “are you hearing me.” I was shooketh.
This time I heard loud and clear. In the early 90s and early 2000s, I saw two plastic surgeons for a breast reduction. My health insurance wouldn’t cover the expenses, so I just dealt with the pain.
I recalled a friend of my daughter’s, mother, had plastic surgery. I inquired and researched like crazy. In addition, I discussed with my cardiologist and gastroenterologist and received a medical clearance. I made an appointment at The Center for Plastic Surgery.
I went overboard on the preparation supplies. I ordered cases of protein shakes, protein bars, beef jerky, water… The advice from the mommy makeover blogs, is prepare a table of snacks next to your recliner/bed. This will save lots of back and forth to the kitchen. I will add, it will also prevent whoever is taking care of you from making multiple trips to kitchen and/or pantry. My bedroom and bathroom resembled a medical storage closet.
- The Brobe was the best purchase. The Brobe has pockets, on the inside that hold the drains and is also stylish. Since, I’m unable to raise my arms, I purchased multiple zipper and button front loungewear and house dresses. Yes, the house dresses your grandma wore, which are VERY comfortable.
- Adult diapers, which were itching as “H”. I had the great idea (not) to alter the diaper, cut off the front and back and maintain the crotch area section; I was creating a sanitary napkin (a pad). Well, funny story, in the middle of the night, half awake going to the bathroom, the “makeshift” pad falls into the toilet. I friggin freaked! The undergarment contained purple and white pellets. When the pellets come in contact with water, they turn into a thick slime. All I pictured was my newly renovated bathroom pipes being clogged up with diaper sludge. Thank God, I was able to scoop the sludge out of the toilet.
- Blue protective pad – This was a waste of money. I was concern with “accidents”; thinking I would have a weak bladder. Now, I have a case of blue protective sheets. SMH!
The Dirty Truth
To those mommy makeover blogs I read on Pinterest, I’m not saying you lied BUT YOU DEFINITELY WITHHELD THE DIRTY TRUTHS! 😖
If you undergo a breast reduction and tummy tuck at the same time, due to the severe swelling and drains hanging from your body, you will be unable to wipe your azz. This was so humiliating! My poor girls! 😖 We have lots of content for future laughs. 😂
Daughter said, “Make sure you tell them how you tried to wipe yourself, on your own, using tongs.” As I previously stated, “we have lots of content for future laughs. 😂
In addition, you will have accidents (pee on yourself) trying to get that dang compression garment off, in time for the bathroom. Just cry it out and give yourself a birdie bath, if you have not received clearance from your doctor to take a shower. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a birdie bath, a birdie bath is washing yourself in the sink.
FYI – It is easier to perform a birdie bath while you are sitting on the toilet; make sure you place a towel on the floor.
By the way, this female urinal wedge thing did not work for me. I could not position it properly underneath me; so this thing went in the trash.
I have to tell you, my oldest daughter’s nursing skills “was on point!” and she became my primary caregiver. I prepared a medication tracker, which was not detailed enough to her liking, so she prepared her own medication tracker that was maintain in a notebook. The way she managed my medication and logged my drains was phenomenal! My surgeon was also impressed with her note-taking and tracking skills. He asked her if she was a nurse and said she could teach some nurses a thing or two; he kept her drainage log. 😋 Both of my daughters took great care of me. ♥️
10/6/2020, What’s for Dinner? My youngest presented my dinner menu. Keep in my mind, laughter is very unpleasant with a tummy tuck. Your stomach muscles feel like a rubber band being stretched tightly. The doctor said to hold a pillow against my stomach, this helped a little.
The dinner she prepared was DELICIOUS!
10/7/2020 – Refresh! Yaaay! Today is shower day and I’m feeling ecstatic! Showering is prohibited until approval is given by your surgeon. Last night was the second night I woke-up drenched. I’m talking a full blown menopausal episode of hot flashes. 💦 It truly felt like my body was fighting the effects of the Hydrocodone and menopause. THE “B” (menopause) THAT SHE IS, WON! She left me dripping like a rag mop. I was determined to gain control and refresh this body. It has been eight days, baby wipes and birdie bath can do but so much; Mama is funky. 😋 Thank goodness for the walker, which was recommended by bloggers to assist with walking, which I did not utilize to assist with walking. I placed the walker in the shower for support. I have not regain my mobility and still walking and standing hunched over.
Tip: Bring tongs in the shower and keep them in the bathroom for picking up dropped items. I could only use Dove plain white soap and I can not tell how many times, “I’ve dropped the soap.” Trust me bending over and leaning over/down will be out of the question.
Due to lack of blood supply, I have necrosis occurring in my left breast and a little on the right breast. Necrosis is a word I thought would not be in my vocabulary. Trust me do not Google necrosis.🤢 THANK GOD my condition was not as severe as the images on Google.
Per the Oxford English Dictionary: Pronunciation: /neˈkrōsəs/ /nɛˈkroʊsəs/ Meaning: The death of most or all of the cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply.
I will admit that I was concern with healing. In the past, I noticed that it took me longer than before to heal and I bruise easily; this is due to my my liver disease (NASH, Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis) and Grave’s disease.
In the past three days (11/8-10/2020), I slept for only three to four hours per night. My mind is occupied with worry and my thoughts have become my worst nightmare.
There is pigmentation issue on both breasts, more on the left. My surgeon mentioned, “medical tattooing” to fix the color pigmentation. I was silent. My thought, “There is no way I’m tattooing my breasts or undergoing any medical procedure to repair my areolas.” Well, this is my thought process now; who knows what the far-far future holds. 😋
(I took pictures of the necrosis, but my daughters said they are too gross and graphic to share.)
11/11/2020 – Feeling Blue. My tummy and breast incisions are healing very slowly. My left breast is displaying signs of an infection and the drainage smells horrible. I’m still bleeding and draining from my tummy incision area. I’m told to use Neosporin, then switched to Aquaphor on my incisions area. I was given iodine tape for my tummy incision area only.
I’m feeling confused and starting to doubt my care instructions. I do not understand why because every time I see my surgeon, I feel assured and confident in his care. I’m still seeing my surgeon on a weekly basis. To calm my thoughts, I have prepared questions for my 11/13/2020, doctor’s appointment.
11/13/2020 – Good News! I graduated to monthly check-up. Not so good news, my doctor said I’m two months behind in my recovery. I refuse to say this is bad news because I see my body healing; it’s just taking longer than normal. In addition, before I could present my questions, my surgeon prescribed me an antibiotic for ten days to prevent infection. Approximately three to four days later, the smell was gone and I began to see a difference on my breast. THANK GOD!
Advice: Trust your surgeon instructions, if you did your research you know you are in good hands. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions.
Due to drainage tubes, which I had a total of four (two in breasts and two in stomach), soreness, swelling and pain, it is highly recommended to sleep on your back. I purchased bed wedges to aid with sleeping.
The first night after surgery, I was unable to sleep in my bed; it was too high. Even with a step stool, I had difficulty getting in and out of bed. So, I slept in my bedroom sitting area recliner and eventually graduated to my office’s twin bed, laying on bed wedges. For weeks after surgery, I still required assistance entering and exiting the bed. For this reason, my girls took turn sleeping in my bedroom.
I am a side sleeper. Sleeping in the bed or in the recliner, my heart felt like it skipped a beat/hesitated and my breathing would stop. I would gasp waking me from my sleep. I was terrified that I was going to stop breathing while sleeping. The fear set-in strong and fierce! My thoughts ran wild. “Did the surgery compress my organs too much? Maybe my heart was not strong enough to handle the surgery. Is my compression garment too tight that it’s constricting my lungs and heart? Did I have sleep apnea?” This happen frequently and I was afraid to fall asleep. So on top of dealing with the necrosis, I’m now not sleeping.
12/12/2020 – No Bed Wedges. Tonight is the first night sleeping without wedges. I’m going to see if I can lay on my side. I still have swelling and hardness in both breasts. The doctor recommended using pillows and if I have no soreness, it should not be an issue; fingers crossed. I’m half on my side and back because I can not lay on my right breast. In this position, I know I will wake up in the morning with back pain. This position is too uncomfortable and I given up on sleeping on my side. Plus, everything I found on the internet said sleep on your back until you are fully healed.
No Laughing, Sneezing or Coughing
So this occurred (see below pic). At week four and three days, my tummy incision area is bleeding again, more than before. My mind instantly went to “What am I doing wrong?” Has another incision area separated?” Why is this happening?” I hold back tears of defeat. I cleaned the area with soap and water, slathered on Aquaphor and bandaged my midsection like a Mummy.
As for my breasts, they too are “blistering” (term the doctor used at my weekly appointments. Yup, I’m still seeing the doctor on a weekly basis.) scabbing and leaking. At week 3, I am now able to lightly touch my breasts and tummy incisions without feeling queasy.
The appearance of my areoles are a fright. I hold back a laugh remembering when I first showed my daughter and she made a vomit 🤢 reaction. “Oh it’s normal, the pigmentation will come back.” My surgeon said. My thoughts: Lawd Jezuz, I hope so because right now they are a disaster!
HA! In this household, not laughing was the hardest thing to conquer and I failed. My girls are comedians without even trying. Yes, I held a pillow against my stomach and use my hands to hold my abdominal muscles; both had little a success. As for sneezing, how do you stop yourself from sneezing; shoot, I sneezed twice in the middle of the night, which woke me up from my sleep. I’ve been experiencing very little coughing. My primary concern is having trouble breathing.
For some reason, well many reasons, I’m mad at myself. I rather be upset than sad and depressed and start crying AGAIN. I never knew my emotions would feel like a roller coaster and why?
11/5/2020 – About Last Night. I could not take it; I had to get out of the house. I told the girls I was going to the post office, which is appropriately 5 miles from the house. Since the drive was not that difficult, I had a pillow in front of my breasts. I drove to HomeGoods and I felt like a teenager sneaky their parent’s car. When I sent my girls a photo of HomeGoods, they were pissed. It made me chuckle and I understood their concern. I had a very quick visit and it felt good to be out the house.
11/12/2020 – Back to the Basics. So I’m back to the basics; back to living like it is 1-2 weeks after surgery. I’m limiting my activity, changing my walking position to a more hunch over position, limiting reaching and stretching, climbing stairs, decreasing the time sitting upright in a chair and, importantly, resting more. I will do anything to get my body out of this “delayed healing.” This includes ensuring my mind is positive and optimistic and I need to be patient.
Whew, this is long. I’m going to end now. If you are still reading, thank you!
Stay tune for part two; I promise it will be shorter.😊
Take Care and Remember to Do What Brings You Joy! 🌸