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And Skipping over the Ocean like a Stone

Monday, February 08, 2010

Well, I'm not exactly skipping.

But I'm doing better than I was. It's still a row to hoe, but it's better.

This week was remarkable for a few reasons. I've gone back to strength training (very light weights!). I've gone back to walking most days. I've been sleeping better. My reflux has improved (although not gone away entirely, damn). I can stretch the time between applications of Tylenol and Maalox. My measurements are still just about the same. My weight has gone up but I am bloated and that will continue for a while. Kinda like a three-month TOM. Gawd.

And I've come to the conclusion that, following _The_Spark_, it makes sense to set some recovery goals. Naturally I have regular old weight loss goals, but these are for the time from the date of surgery (January 15th) to three months afterwards (April 15th - Tax Day!). This short term will, more or less, be the time for me to get back in the swing and recover. It may end up taking longer. It may take less time. It's my body and, while I can influence some of the things that happen, I cannot predict how I will react. If it feels like too much, too soon, I'll pull back.

So, here are my recovery/recommitment/rededication goals:

GOAL #1: wounds all healed by March 1st (somewhat out of my control but I'll do what I can to spur it along). I have three major wounds which I have to dress twice daily, and that takes up a great deal of time these days.

GOAL #2: back to regular walking speed (about 1/4 mile every 5 minutes) by March 1st. Currently I'm walking at a speed of about 1/4 mile every 10 - 15 minutes.

GOAL #3: back to one hour (at a time) or more walking endurance by March 15th. Currently I conk out at about 45 minutes, and I really pay for it in nappage if I stretch that to 55 or so minutes.

GOAL #4: back to strength training levels as follows:
* lift 10 lbs. every morning (I am currently at this level)
* lift 20 lbs. every morning by February 20th
* lift 30 lbs. every morning by March 10th
* lift 40 lbs. every morning by April 1st (this is my old level)

GOAL #5: fit back into the brown pants by April 1st (you get bloated by surgery, and it's hard to get rid of that, particularly if you're not exercising as vigorously as before). These pants had fit before; they will fit again.

GOAL #6: there is no #6. :)

I think these are reasonable and attainable. But I'll change them up if they're not working for me. April 15th isn't some magical date, and neither are the other days. If I make it on time, great. Early, even better. Late, eh, that's okay, too.

I'll be keeping track of how I'm doing here:
. I'll be summarizing my progress on my blog, too, but not as frequently as on that topic.

In the meantime, I am still waiting to hear on a particular interview. I will blog once I know, one way or the other. You can count on that, even if it's today.

Enjoy Harry Nilsson.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 2/8/2010 11:17PM

    Love Nilsson, love Everybody's Talkin', but more than that love your progress and your plan! Woo Hoo to YOU! :-)


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LIV2RIDE 2/8/2010 9:11PM

    Those are great goals. Be sure to listen to your body. You know best what you can handle. Sounds like you are making a lot of progress and that is AWESOME!!

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MS.ELENI 2/8/2010 2:27PM

    I am also amazed you are lifting 10# weights. You do have some big goals but I see you are willing to adjust them as needed. Glad you are doing better.It will all be worth it.

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SWEETZMIX 2/8/2010 12:40PM

    You are awesome! I have known you well enough you will make it to all your goals OR be pretty darn close!

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NO_EXCUSES_ 2/8/2010 12:32PM

    You have put together a great plan. Take care of yourself and good luck on your way to recovery =)

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IFDEEVARUNS2 2/8/2010 10:59AM

Nappage sounds good! emoticon

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JOHAL52 2/8/2010 10:58AM

    You're lifting 10 pounds already? Wow. I am glad that you are feeling better and making goals. Just remember that adjusting goals is okay too, as long as you are in touch with yourself. And you sound like you are.

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KUNGFOOD 2/8/2010 10:43AM

    Always right to have a plan! Positive energy your way!
emoticon emoticon

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    Nappage is good for healing.

Sounds like you have a sensible plan. You are as ever an inspiration.

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IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/8/2010 10:38AM

    wow ! you put me to shame indeed. I had surgery oct 5th and then 5 more hospital stays and one surgery. I am due for another one in about a week. I am losing weight but not able to exercise due to the nature of the surgery. I wish you success on all your goals whether they be short or long term.
emoticon emoticon

Lori in new york

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MARCHMAID 2/8/2010 10:31AM

    Is it too early to ask if it was worth it? Good luck and good health. Having done nine months of recovery for a rotator cuff repair as well as a few other surgeries, I feel your pain and I would never elect to do it. . . except my neck is bothering me. Why is it that age first shows in the neck???? emoticon

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PARKERB2 2/8/2010 10:21AM

    Good luck to you. Hope you reach your goals! Hang in there.

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The Unvarnished Truth About Plastic Surgery - Part 3 - Learn From My Errors (Look Both Ways)

Monday, February 01, 2010

I made any number of mistakes heading into surgery, but I also did a few things right, if I do say so myself. I want you to know what I know now. That way, if you go into it, or you know someone who is, you can be better prepared.

I chose this song not only for its lyric (which is in the title of this blog, as always), but also because it's positive, major chords. But it made me cry a little this morning. What can I say? I'm still overly emotional and I suspect I will continue to be so until my routine is restored. And that will be at least a few weeks from now, and more likely it will be a few months.

But back to prep. There are a lot of things that you can do that will make life easier, not only for you but for your caregiver(s). Every little bit helps. I'm going to not only list my suggestions but also tell you why I'm suggesting something. Of course you're free to reject everything. You won't hurt my feelings.

Also, to recap, for those who may not have been following along, I had a tummy tuck, a breast lift and an umbilical hernia was repaired. All of these things happened 17 days ago. You may be getting one or two of these procedures, or something similar. Hence you may need to modify my suggestions to suit your own particular situation. Oh, and my apologies in advance if any of this is too icky, or it seems like TMI.

* Make your appointment for surgery - I *highly* recommend getting the surgery done in the Wintertime. This is because you'll have to wear a surgical binder, and, even in 30 degree weather, you can find yourself sweating into it. Sweat's got salt in it, and your open wounds are being covered by the binder. Yeah. Ouch. Imagine the sweat when it's in the 80s. Another reason is, the binder must be worn about 2 months or so. Hence mine will come off in mid- to late-March. Just in time for lighter clothes, and the 5K running season will begin in April.
* Line up your caregiver(s) - more than one, if you can get that. Generally, your primary caregiver will be your spouse or significant other, or a parent. Ask them if it's okay, as it might not be, or they might have their own issues. And be sensitive to their needs. If your mother is 95, no matter how much she loves you and wants to do it, she's not a good choice for a primary caregiver. But she could be all right for a secondary caregiver. The secondary is to give the primary a break, perhaps allow the primary to go back to work, or get in some "me time", or just take you to the doctor on occasion. Your primary will thank you a thousand times over if you can do this for them.
* Start strength training, if you haven't already started - work EVERYTHING. Your abs are going to be out of commission for a while, so it's better if they are as fit as possible before surgery. That way, when you are able to go back to working them, they might still have some fitness. Plus well-worked abs might require less surgical intervention. Work your arms because for the first few days after surgery, that's how you're going to get in and out of bed. Work your legs because they will also assist you for getting in and out of bed. Work your chest because, if you have breast work done, you also won't be able work the chest area for a while. Hence give yourself some extra fitness there as you'll be idle for a while.

* Get your hair cut - you won't be up for it for a while, so do something nice for yourself.
* Stock up on the following medical supplies - tape, bandages (you can get some from the hospital; I got 2 weeks' worth. Problem is, I need 4 weeks' worth, possibly more), big band-aids, Bacitracin or the like, baby powder (you'll want to sprinkle this on the inside of the binder every time you put it back on), Zantac (the way you sit and lie may very well give you reflux; you can also get it from your pain meds. Ask your doctor if it's okay to take it), Maalox (same idea as Zantac, but it's not as long-lasting. Go with whatever your doctor recommends), Colace (general anesthesia and narcotic pain meds can give you wicked constipation. Again clear this with your doctor), Fleet Enema ('nough said), Monistat1 (if you need to be cathetered, you can find yourself with a urinary tract infection. Get the one-day deal even though it costs more, so that you can minimize any suffering you may encounter), Cortaid (this is anti-itch cream; healing skin can become very itchy, and scratching will reopen everything), Hydrogen peroxide (for wound care), Q-tips and/or cotton balls (to apply the hydrogen peroxide to your wounds), Extra Strength Tylenol (it's better than Aspirin or Advil because it won't make you bleed. But ask your doctor first), Mederma (this is a cream for scar care. Start applying it as soon as wounds have healed in order to minimize the appearance of scars), saline nasal spray (sneezing and nose blowing will hurt for the first few days, so avoid that by blowing a little gently but frequently. Make sure your doctor says it's okay to use this; it might not be if you have high blood pressure), multivitamins (clear these with your doctor; you'll need them at least for the first week or so as you won't be eating much, so this will give you a fighting chance to get in some nutrition) and, finally, sunscreen (any scars will have to be either covered or sunscreened for at least a good year after surgery).
* Pick up any prescriptions you've been given
* Make sure you have the following other supplies on hand - about a half a dozen pairs of panties that are one size too big (these are granny panties; be as comfortable as possible), slipper socks (you'll get them from the hospital, too; this is in case you need extras so you can wash a pair), slippers with treads, two pairs of sweat pants that are one size too big, about four tops that are maybe a size or two too big (these should be minimal fuss as you will end up sleeping in them half the time), at least one zippered sweatshirt or soft (non-itchy) cardigan (you'll get cold, then too hot, and back again, so make it easier on yourself and avoid having to raise your arms to take off this sweater or sweatshirt), extra pillows (the less you have to lean back, the happier you'll be. It'll be easier on your abs and it will minimize the risk of reflux), blankets (my parents brought over an electric blanket and it was heaven), soft cover books or crossword puzzles or magazines (you won't be able to lift -- or rest on your abs -- a heavy hardcover book), jigsaw puzzles if you like them, playing cards, and any other easy entertainment. Movies are fine, but stay away from anything that's too stressful or funny, as stress and laughing both involve your abdominal muscles. Get yourself a binder alternative, such as a girdle-type item or a stretchy camisole. Make sure these items are too big for you. Also purchase a leave-in hair conditioner spray and, if you can find it, dry shampoo. Get yourself soft-cup front-hook bras if you are having breast work done. Get a pad of paper and a bunch of good pens (you will need to record your medications and anything out of the ordinary that you're feeling. The last thing you or your caregiver needs is to be hunting around for a pad of paper or a working pen).
* Stock up on the following foods and related items - bendy straws (you'll need them to drink while you're lying down), individual yogurts if you like them (there were times when that was all I could/would eat), soups, potatoes, tea bags, flavor sticks for water (you'll need to drink a lot of water), prune juice (for obvious reasons), oatmeal (the reason for all of the soft food is, a lot of heavy chewing will also involve your abs. You'll be fine after a few days to a week, but in the beginning you'll want to avoid all that chewing), and any other plain foods you like (yes, PLAIN. Narcotic pain medications, and the anesthesia, can make you nauseous, even days later, so head that off at the pass and avoid spices).

* Do the laundry
* Change the sheets on your bed
* Make up a separate bed for yourself, elsewhere, if you don't normally sleep alone. If your partner tosses and turns it will not be pleasant for you during the first week or so
* Put a clean towel down on where you're going to sleep
* Set up a table next to your bed, with a tissue box, a pad and paper (so that you can record which medications you're taking, and any other information that will help your doctor and caregiver), napkins, bendy straws, magazines and anything else you might need on hand
* Go out to eat (you won't be able to for a while, so treat yourself nicely)
* Fill the car(s)'s gas tank(s)
* Pay any bills and balance the checkbook, if those are your regular tasks
* Board your pets, at least for a couple of days (you might want them nearby, but if they get on and off the bed, it'll hurt. You won't be able to let them in and out, walk them or change litter, and if they get underfoot and you trip, it will REALLY hurt. So seriously consider at least a few days of pet-free living)
* You may also want to consider, if you have very small children, having them sleep over elsewhere, at least for the first night or two (teenagers and tweens can obviously fend for themselves, but preschoolers may not understand why you are moving slowly or taking forever in the bathroom, or why you can't pick them up. Plus you will mainly be sleeping for the first few days, and your primary caregiver will be occupied caring for YOU. So make it easier on your primary caregiver and make it so that s/he doesn't also have to care for the kids)
* Color your hair if you do this at home (you won't want to have the hair color rinse off in the shower over your wounds until they've completely healed)
* Remove any nail polish from both fingernails and toenails (you aren't allowed to wear any makeup to surgery, and there are things that doctors can tell by checking your fingernails, such as whether you've become cyanotic. Make life easier for your doctor and take off the polish
* Clip your fingernails and toenails (it'll be too hard to bend over and clip your toenails for a while. As for your fingernails, for the first few days after surgery, you may be absently touching your face or body a lot; it would be best if that didn't mean you were constantly, inadvertently, scratching yourself)
* Take a shower and wash your hair, shampooing twice (you won't be able to shower for a while after surgery). Oh and shave your bikini area. ALL of it. Trust me on this one; the doctor's gotta put tape somewhere. 'Nough said.
* Pack your overnight bag for the hospital and take the following items - a pair of larger panties, a large top, a large pair of sweatpants, two pairs of socks, a laundry bag, a case for your glasses (if you wear eyeglasses), your prescriptions in their original bottles (including anything you take regularly that isn't surgically-related, such as thyroid medication), a soft cup bra (only if you aren't having breast work done. If you are, they'll give you a bra to wear) and your cardigan or zip-front sweatshirt. Also bring basic toiletries: powder, deodorant, hair brush, tooth brush, tooth paste. You may get some of these things at the hospital but it's nice to have your own things.
* Take down from high shelves anything you might need. Reaching up is going to be tough for a while.

* Get up and walk whenever you can. You will have very little stamina but every moment up and about will help you. Try not to let your caregiver wait on you hand and foot, no matter how tempting that might be. It's better for everyone if you become as self-sufficient as possible, as soon as possible
* Drink a ton of water. Think you've had enough? Drink more. You need to flush out the anesthesia and do anything you can to prevent or at least ameliorate constipation.
* Try to stay out of stressful situations. Just because you've got a ton of family togetherness does not mean it's time to have some sort of major talk.
* Be as good and considerate a patient as you can be. You're in pain, yes, but it's not your caregiver's fault.
* Do whatever you can independently. This will not only be better for healing but it will also improve your mood. No laundry or heavy lifting of course, but you should be the only one getting yourself in and out of bed.
* Make sure to take your medications with food or milk, EVERY SINGLE TIME.
* Visit your doctor at least once. Bring your pad of paper with your medication information on it; the doctor may want a copy. Mention anything that seems of interest or at all related to the surgery. Are you feeling hot more often than you should? Is anything lopsided? Is there swelling? There will be bruising, but what if it doesn't seem to be going away? Do your wounds seem to be healing? Do they smell? Are any stitches pulling? Are the medications managing your pain well? Can you sleep at night?

* You'll be more independent, which is great! This should help your mood
* Start off slow with walking. No more than maybe 15 minutes at a time, and not uphill
* Do some short-distance driving. Select a time when there shouldn't be too much traffic, so as to minimize stress. Of course make sure you are not on any sort of narcotic painkiller when you drive. Tylenol is fine
* You should be able to do things like go food shopping. Take it slow and don't lift anything too heavy; leave that for your caregiver. If you can get your groceries delivered, seriously consider that. This is another reason to get the surgery done in the Winter -- since it will take longer than usual for you to put your food away, it's better for food safety if it's not super-hot in your kitchen while the food is on the counter.
* You might be seeing your doctor. Again, mention anything of interest. If you've ended up with a hematoma or seroma, ask to have the fluid aspirated out as that will help you feel better

* With your doctor's okay, start light strength training
* Wounds should be all healed by now. If you've gotten a hematoma or seroma, it should be close to being all resolved by now
* You should be able to work if you haven't gone back already, so long as you don't engage in heavy lifting

* With your doctor's okay, you should be able to take off the binder for good
* You should be able to engage in heavier strength training, and you may very well be back to your pre-surgery levels by now

There's probably more about the later times, but I haven't lived them yet so I can't comment.

I do hope this helps people. I don't want any of you making my mistakes and feeling more pain and discomfort than you have to.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WHYTEBROWN 3/26/2014 12:24AM

    Wow. emoticon for sacrificing your time and energy to write such a detailed blog. I'm sure that many have been and will be helped by this blog.

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SHOOPETTE 3/25/2014 4:32AM

    much needed blog, thanks for sharing

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IM_GETTIN_THIN 2/8/2010 10:49AM

    this is the best advice ever and i wish i had read this before my first recent surgery because you are spot on correct in all of it!! thanks for such a detailed blog. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Lori in new york
[still recovering and ready for next and hopefully final surgery feb 15th, augh!!]

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EMMASMART 2/3/2010 2:15PM

    Since you have self-respect. I note that you do not mention Granny Dresses. Long dresses sized bigger than you are, are the easiest thing to wear after any abdominal surgery. no need to bend over to stretch those stitches. I am glad to see you are feeling much better. I bet you are looking much better too. Are you eating well again?

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NO_EXCUSES_ 2/2/2010 7:46PM

    emoticon blog. Again, thanks for the great amount of detail and effort you put into your blogs. There are many things that you mentioned that I would never think of before going into surgery.

I still have a very long way to go, but one day I will have to have all of this done plus more. It has given me something to think about, because I do not know if I have one person who would want or could be there full time for me as a caregiver.

I am so strong minded and independent that I would have thought that I could handle everything myself. Now that you have shared this, I know that when it is my turn, I will not be able to care fully for myself. I will need help and lots of it.

Stay strong, and take care of yourself. I can't wait to see your results!


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KUANGIE 2/2/2010 5:31PM

    This is awesome! I am not planning on surgery, but this is very comprehensive. You need to give this to your doctor to hand out to their patients!

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SWEETZMIX 2/2/2010 12:24PM

    Even though I won't need this anytime soon or maybe never (pray for me) it's good to know. I read everything. I have never had surgery before in my life and I can imagine (just in case, but pray for me here too) if it was ever to happen, some of the tips will be the same. I hope you are feeling a little better today than yesterday!

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BEGONIAC 2/1/2010 10:04PM

    Thanks for all the advice! You sound like you're feeling much better!

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LAB-LOVER 2/1/2010 9:29PM

    Wow! That IS quite the list. But how are you feeling ma'dear?

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CAROLISCIOUS 2/1/2010 9:22PM

    I don't ever see me doing this...but if I do, I'll know where to go for the best advice!

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MS.ELENI 2/1/2010 8:57PM

    Great blog. I am waiting for the one that says how great it is.It sounds scary.

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TELERIE 2/1/2010 4:13PM

    What a wonderfully complete set of advice. I haven't really thought about the possibility of surgery, but I'll make sure to look up this resource if I enter that path. You should possibly put that in the Examiner?

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ROCKYCPA 2/1/2010 3:21PM

    very good list - should be posted on this site so everyone can see it.

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MARCHMAID 2/1/2010 11:34AM

    You really ought to consider writing a pamphlet or posting this as general information on the internet--something like this could be really useful for any surgical patient!

You're the best! How thoughtful of you to take the time to share all this with others.


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DDOORN 2/1/2010 10:29AM

    Again, such immeasurably invaluable information you are sharing here...! Wow!

Don't know if I'll EVER consider doing this...I flip-flop all the time on it...but if I ever do, I have saved your blogs elsewhere to studiously, religiously review and follow!


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DMPRIDER 2/1/2010 10:18AM

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm sure you will help a lot of people with this information. I hope you continue to feel better every day.

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NYAYNE 2/1/2010 10:04AM

    I have one to add to the list. If the bed you sleep in, or will be sleeping in, is low to the floor invest in a set of risers. I had surgery in my twenties while my bed was a mattress on the floor. I was young and fit but still... The higher the bed the less work your gut muscles will have to do to get in and out.

If your house doesn't have a "comfort" height toilet you can get a seat extender. These are common for people who need assistance getting on and off the loo.

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WONDERTURTLE 2/1/2010 9:36AM

  Thanks for sharing your hard-won wisdom! It is a lot to consider and it was kind of you to give your account. I wish you continued healing!

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FURBALLDTH 2/1/2010 9:27AM

    I'm in sore pain just thinking about it! I never realized it it was this long a recovery. They make it look easy on Big Medicine. I am going to need it down the road and this has been most informative. Thanks Jes! emoticon

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IFDEEVARUNS2 2/1/2010 9:23AM

    Great blog - very comprehensive. Brings back memories of C-sections past (although the hysterectomy was worse.)

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    Good comprehensive list. Good continued healing.

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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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 9/14/2014 2:39PM

    So very glad I found this post. Thank you for part 2. Looking forward to part 3.

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FRANCESCANAZ 9/14/2014 2:39PM

    So very glad I found this post. Thank you for part 2. Looking forward to part 3.

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WHYTEBROWN 3/26/2014 12:32AM

    emoticon again

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NO_EXCUSES_ 2/2/2010 7:21PM

    You are a very strong woman. I appreciate your honesty and in depth detail. I hope you heal really fast!


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KAYBEE37 2/1/2010 1:43AM

    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!

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MARCHMAID 1/30/2010 4:29PM

    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!

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NYAYNE 1/30/2010 4:01PM

    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.

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250STRONG 1/30/2010 1:12PM

    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!

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FIT_TERI 1/30/2010 10:57AM

    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.

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LESS_IS_MO 1/29/2010 11:11PM

    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.

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MS.ELENI 1/29/2010 10:56PM

    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.

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LAB-LOVER 1/29/2010 10:04PM

    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!

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LIV2RIDE 1/29/2010 9:07PM

    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

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EMMASMART 1/29/2010 8:53PM

    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.


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SABRINAWHO 1/29/2010 7:20PM

  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!

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GEE-KNEE 1/29/2010 7:14PM

    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,

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RUSSELLORAMA 1/29/2010 6:59PM

    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!

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TELERIE 1/29/2010 6:47PM

    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.

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KUANGIE 1/29/2010 3:54PM

    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 : )

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CAROLISCIOUS 1/29/2010 11:49AM

    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!

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KAREN_01 1/29/2010 11:39AM

    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!

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JLITT62 1/29/2010 11:01AM

    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.

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SWEETZMIX 1/29/2010 10:46AM

    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!

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IAMSHE-RA 1/29/2010 10:44AM

    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

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 1/29/2010 9:18AM

    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.

Comment edited on: 1/29/2010 9:24:13 AM

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    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.

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KUNGFOOD 1/29/2010 9:06AM

    Whew! I'm so glad you have a support team and great medical staff attention.

Best wishes for smooooother recovery!


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PHEBESS 1/29/2010 8:31AM

    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!

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The Unvarnished Truth About Plastic Surgery - Part 1 - Pre-Surgery & the Hospital (Shake it up baby)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

There are going to be at least three of these, perhaps four or even five as I sort out and process everything that is continuing to happen to me. But I want you to know -- while it is fresh in my mind. You need to know this, and I need to tell you. I NEED to tell you.

Some things are going to be alarming. Some will be gross. It is very personal. But I want to -- I insist -- on laying it out for you. This naked, shivering truth.

I had the following three procedures done on the 15th: breast lift, umbilical hernia repair and tummy tuck. Of course most people don't have all three done at once or even at all. I've been thinking for quite a while about whether if, knowing what I know now, I would have done all or most of these things, and whether I would have done them all at once. Today, my conclusion is that I'd still do it. Same way. But there have been many times I've thought of doing things differently in the past few days. Anyway, here's my tale.


I went in for a consultation about six months ago. I was interested in breast reduction, actually, and didn't even know I had a hernia. The doctor took one look at me and said, if we reduce you, you'll end up looking like a teenaged boy. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's not how I wanted to go. Hence I decided to go for the lift. The bottom line, even though, of all three procedures it's probably the one most informed by vanity, the lift is something I want because I've had sagging breasts for twenty freakin' years. I looked middle aged when I was still young. Now that I'm middle aged, I'd like to look young. Or at least younger. Hey, humor me. :)

So I said yes to all three.

Before going to the hospital, I did the following: I packed an overnight bag. VERY IMPORTANT: I included a top and sweat pants that were too big for me. I was a Medium before I walked into the hospital. The top was an old 2X and the sweats were XL. Also, we arranged for my parents to come up on Sunday. This would assure that they'd be around to take over for my husband so that he could return to work, plus he does not drive so they would be able to help with emergencies. And to keep him company and spot him. It's too much work for one person.

We also cooked some bean soup in advance and bought some easy foods like deli sliced turkey and little individual Greek yogurts. I cut up tons of produce for future salads. We were set.

Our expectation was that I would not even stay overnight. Ha! How wrong we were.

Oh yes, one more thing. Because I am looking for work, I arranged for a job interview (an in-person; I had already talked on the phone to the Hiring Manager) for today. Insane.


We arrived early (we walked to the hospital; it's that close). The doctor was there and I changed into the lovely attire they give you. And then the next thing the doctor did was, he grabbed a purple magic marker and marked me up. Lines on my breasts. On my belly. Around my navel. Under the breasts. To the sides of my hips. Purple everywhere.

Then I met the anesthesiologist and signed more consent forms.

I'd like to right now acknowledge all of the amazing people who cared for me: Dr. Richard Silverman (my surgeon); Dr. Derek Keller (anesthesiologist); Tom (surgical nurse); Kaye (ICU nurse); Katie (overnight nurse, both nights); Leanne (day shift, first day, first shift); Jackie (day shift, first day, second shift); Courtney (fill-in nurse, both days) and Kelli (day shift, second day). See all those days? Oh yeah. My plan to be outta there without an overnight stay was, shall we say, overly optimistic.

Back to our story. I signed the forms and they wheeled me in, or at least I assume that's what happened, as things get foggy. Shots in the arm, in the IV line. Lights out. I learned later that Dr. S. did me from the top down. And, for the breast surgery, I was up on my elbows a lot, so they hurt later.

I woke up in ICU. Mr. Jespah was there; so was Dr. S and Kaye. Dr. S told me he'd removed six pounds of flesh. The entire apron of skin around my belly was gone. He had stitched down my abs. I was wearing a soft truss and a kind of surgical support bra. Inside the bra were the ends of two drains, attached and hanging down on the right side. Everything was taped up snugger than a Christmas package.

Kaye kept talking to me. She was unbelievable. She did whatever was needed. Mr. J would come in and out (I don't think he was allowed to constantly stay in the area). Kaye, of course, had to stay. I could hear machines and the other ICU nurse, Carol, talking to the patient in the next, I dunno, area. They aren't really rooms. More like booths, I suppose.

Then Kaye tried to get me to sit up. We were all still of the opinion that I might head home that night (it was getting late, 8 PM?).


If you were wondering about today's blog song and why I chose it, here's why. The song, if you cannot get to Youtube, is The Beatles' "Twist and Shout".

Because that's exactly what I did.

I have never felt such agony. You don't know what your abs do until they hurt like THAT.

Kaye and I tried to move me. I screamed. Ixnay on THAT. I then apologized. She said I didn't have to. I said, I just don't want to alarm the person in the next room. And it's true. I never knew their name or even if they were male or female. But I hope I didn't scare Carol's (the other ICU nurse) patient. Things are scary enough.

The decision was immediately made for me to stay overnight. Kaye called Marco to wheel me to seventh floor West in the Seton wing. St. Elizabeth's Hospital is a Catholic hospital, so the wards are named for various prominent Catholics. Seton is of course Elizabeth Seton, the first American Catholic Saint. I asked Marco if he was an immigrant from Italy. No, Costa Rica. He got me in, safe and sound and wished me well.


This is where I met Katie, a pretty, young woman, probably in her twenties. It was maybe midnight on the 16th. I did a lot of sleeping, of course, as is to be expected. The first alarming thing was being unable to urinate. Not a happy thing. Not at all.

If you are reading this and you can urinate on your own, I know this sounds silly but, flush an extra time and think of people who cannot. Because, let me tell you, when you can't, it is just awful. Not just the feeling of fullness. It's also the feeling of utter helplessness. Yes, Katie had the unenviable task of having to catheter me.

Leanne took over in the morning. Leanne is the kind of person who calls everyone honey and love and dear. We went through all sorts of pain medications. Oxycontin (yes, that's what Rush Limbaugh is addicted to). Celebrex. Percocet. Over and over. No real relief. I was never truly pain free. They asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, with ten being agony. Trying to move in ICU was a damned 11, I swear. But during the day, even doped up, I was at a six or so.

The urination thing was still at issue. Leanne brought in Jackie. They talked. Then they brought over the Resident on call, who introduced himself and shook my hand with a grip of iron. That would have been fine if I'd been interviewing him. But lying there in a hospital bed, that just hurt like the Dickens. Yes, you use your abs to shake hands. Jackie insisted that I get cathetered again, and they stop this nonsense.

She eventually won out and came up close to me and whispered. "It's because I'm a b----." That made me smile. But no laughing. Because, you guessed it, you use your abs to laugh.

Jackie took over for a while, and was in and out with Courtney. Courtney was another lovely young woman. Jackie and Leanne were both a bit older, maybe my age. I think they were all Massachusetts natives. Mr. J was around by then (yes, for the second cathetering, too, a sight that must have been a wonder to behold). The doctor had been in, too, and his verdict was, I had to pass two tests: urinating and walking (hopefully not at the same time!). If I could not do both, I'd have to stay.

Mr. J left again (he needed to clean house and set up the downstairs couch for me, plus he needed to email my interviewer and tell them I wouldn't be able to make it). I again attempted urination. Sitting there for an hour was just not a fun time at all. But I was otherwise more alert, eating meals and talking with the staff. The phone rang a few times. I talked to my parents and my brother. Eventually Mr. J returned and I again made the attempt (this was on a commode chair so that I wouldn't have to walk much). With the water running in the bathroom, and with a lot of straining and prayer, suddenly there were happy sounds.

Mr. J wanted to gently high five me but, of course, you use your abs to high five.


There was a football game on, and so Mr. J turned it on without the sound. Even though I no longer had a roommate (when I'd first arrived, there'd been a Filipino woman with some sort of lung function issue, and diabetes -- I kept hearing Katie talking to her about her sugar numbers -- but she was gone by then.), the door was open and we didn't want to disturb the other patients. Dinner was served. Good Lord, coconut cream pie. The first pie I'd had in two years. Weird.

Naturally I did not count calories or log a damned thing. I drank scads of water, and the first thing I had after surgery was a small can of diet ginger ale that Katie gave me. Wow. The best stuff I'd ever tasted. I figure my calories were pretty much in line with what I've been eating, since there were no snacks. It doesn't matter.

I finally sent Mr. J home late that night. He needed the sleep desperately; I'd seen him dozing off in the chair.


The next day, my arms were really starting to hurt me. This was because, since I could finally eliminate on my own, I was getting up every few hours to do just that. This involved using one of those things over the bed -- I forget what they're called. But they look sort of like one of an Olympic male gymnast's rings. I'd pull myself up, swing over as well as I could, and then flop onto the commode, do whatever, and then the return trip was harder as the ring was not in a good position. Back and forth, forth and back, over and over again. Since I could not push hard (those pesky abs again!), I could not eliminate much. Hence all of the trips. But, every time I did it, things got better, or I got faster.

Kelli came in, and we decided to do some walking. We took a tour of the floor and then she got me to the Interfaith Chapel (next door to my room), where I read the bible a bit. Joseph and his brothers. I know the story but it reminded me of dreams and their meanings. And my gosh, Jacob's family was quite a blended family. But the Brady Bunch they were not.

I had accomplished my goals. I could urinate and I could walk. It was time to go.


Mr. J of course came for me. The guy who needed to wheel me out seemed to be going fast; that was scary to me. It's odd what you're afraid of, but that terrified me.

We got into the cab. The World's Most Wonderful Cab Driver helped me in. I didn't know the man, of course, and held his hand like a long-lost friend. The ride was short, cost maybe three dollars. Mr. J gave him a ten. Here, keep it all.

Going up about a dozen steps to our home was easier and faster than I'd feared. The open sleeper couch looked amazing. My parents were enroute. I was exhausted and fell into bed and awaited the next part of the adventure.

If this ending seems rushed; it is. I cannot sit still for too long. More to come in a few days. Thank you for reading.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 9/14/2014 2:30PM

    Thanks for posting this amiga. Be blessed!

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JIBBIE49 1/29/2010 10:01AM

    I'm glad u had it done. I plan to have a tummy-tuck, so it was interesting to read. I don't care about the boobs at this point. BUT, getting the abdominal muscles fixed is what matters as with age they would have stretched MORE and you would have had serious back issues. (Reason I am going to get them done when I'm at goal weight.) When I had my gallbladder out in October the surgery went through my navel and he did tell me that my ab muscles are pulled apart , which I know came from my having a 9# baby turned FACE UP and pushing for 3 hrs to get him out. (I pushed my guts out.) He was the 4th one so they didn't think I'd need a c-section.

Well, glad it went well. I'd have left the cath in longer and not did the bathroom trips right away. When I have mine done I will have to have bladder surgery to "lift" it as I have problems with that, too.

Glad u are doing well. I'm so happy for you. Now u will be able to do ab exercises and strengthen your back. Look at Pilates exercises as they are good for us.

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DDOORN 1/29/2010 9:28AM

    Yeesh...wincing my way through this, but SO appreciate your unvarnished truth as I have been kicking this idea around but mostly giving myself a thumbs down on surgery as I'm so squeamish and have so many concerns about complications.

Yet the thought still lurks around...

If I might ask...were you able to have this covered by your health insurance...?

Thank you SO much for sharing such a VITAL part of your journey!


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PROMISE2DESIGN 1/26/2010 10:10PM

    Glad to see you are home. I've had you in my prayers. Hopefully the pain lets up soon! I can't wait for you to get all healed up and tell me how that 9 inch radius off makes your clothes fit :) I'm proud of you. You are an inspiration. Hang in there sweetheart! emoticon

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GEODAWG 1/25/2010 5:27PM

    I came over here to thank you for commenting on my blog then read YOUR blog. OMG. Reminded me of my surgery only I did not have much pain. Hurry and get well!!!

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KUNGFOOD 1/23/2010 7:38PM

    What an experience! Thanks for sharing another amazing journey. I've had plenty of surgeries (skin grafts and reconstructive from burns) and can relate to this post on many levels. But you can always be humbled without totally losing dignity!

Speedy recovery wishes, looking forward to those pics. And how many pounds of flesh! Yikes yowee and that's a heck of a way to lose the pounds, my dear!


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KENNYWHEELS 1/22/2010 6:15PM

    Hey jespah, glad to hear everthing is getting better for you. as usual a very funny and interesting read. get well soon

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KUANGIE 1/22/2010 4:25PM

    Thanks for your story. Very interesting. I have saggy boobs, and elephantitis of the abdomen due to gaining 50 pounds with my pregnancies. Once I lose the weight and if I am still saggy, I will seriously consider this, that is, if I had the money.

I am wondering how the pain compares to c/s pain. But it does sound worse.

Here's to fast healing!

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LAURIE5658 1/22/2010 3:55PM

    Wow! I just found your story via a Spark friend via Friend Feed. I am now subscribed so I can follow this amazing story of YOU! Thank you for taking time to tell it to us!

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    Whew! Hoping you have a speedy and quick recovery!!! I'm late on checking back up on ya, but glad to know you made it through semi okay!


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BITFLINGER 1/21/2010 7:11PM

    Oh - one other comment. Once the cathetar is in, don't let them take it out until you're absolutely sure you don't need it anymore. Trust me on this one . . .

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BITFLINGER 1/21/2010 7:10PM

    Oh, just be glad you didn't have to pass the poop test. Usually you have to POOP and walk after surgery before they'll let you out. I can only imagine how THAT would have felt.

Just to make you feel better, I will share my latest humiliation: I have second degree burns on my butt. Yes, it's true - I spilled soup the other night and ended up sitting in it for a all of a nanosecond, which is all it took to fry my a**. I, too, gave the 11 on a scale of 1 to 10 response when it came to rating my pain. Oy vey, it was bad. And you haven't enjoyed the ER until you realize that everyone working to assist you is trying not to LAUGH the entire time.

Hey, I'm glad I brought a smile to their faces. Right now, it's all I can do to stay pearched on a donut-shapped pillow.

Hang in there!


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STRINGS58 1/21/2010 6:47AM

    Wow! I knew that people get quite bruised up with breast surgery and that abs work HU-U-U-RTS! Peeing and eating without vomiting are those keys to get out of the hospital kingdom. The recoup time will still take awhile! You did some good prep. When I had a string of surgeries starting with a partial thyroidectomy, I had to spend time preparing myself to be a good patient! Now it's your home challenge.
May each day be a healing one!

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EMMASMART 1/21/2010 12:17AM

    Regarding the scary ride in the wheel chair. Percocettes and Oxy have codienne. codienne is drying and it can screw up the balance system, which makes wheel chairs, gurney's and etc. a very scary situation. My balance is fubar regularly and when I am in hospital usually it is worse (allergic to the anti-biotic spray and cleaner) so I let the gurney drivers know to take it easy on my poor dizzy head..

I was terrified after my last surgical experience (Cardiac Cath which I aced by the way) riding home in the car and all I was on was morphine and benedryl. i have recovered. but I know to watch out how much of the good stuff. (I find pain occasionally better than spinning)

I hope you recover with great speed and are soon on your way to your interview and able once again to yuck it up as you are prone to.

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CAROLISCIOUS 1/20/2010 10:28PM

    Best laid plans, huh? Sorry that you had such an awful time...but I am enjoying the read. Welcome back.

A's called a trapeze...

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    Oh my dear Jespah I am so glad you wrote all about it and I want to see the other chapters to come.
Ow. Sympathy pains.
Good healing girl. Glad your parents are available to help. Don't rush it. Small steps just keep stepping. Gotta move your limbs and your circulation and your lungs. Gotta. Really.

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LAB-LOVER 1/20/2010 7:38PM

    I'm like Marit. No surgery, unless you count wisdom teeth. And there's a reason (lots of 'em in your story) why I'm afraid to subject myself to knives. I'm glad you made it through and are on the downhill side of recovery. Thanks for sharing your story. But I think I'm glad that this isn't a vlog! A big (careful) hug to you and a high five to Jay for taking good care of you!

Look forward to the next chapters!

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FIT_TERI 1/20/2010 6:41PM

    Wow, that sounds like quite an ordeal. I had to be catheterized once - "wait, you're going to do what?" - but it was for a very short duration. I've never had abdominal surgery but have heard from others about learning that you use your abs to do just about anything.

It sounds like you had an excellent team taking care of you. I am glad that you did and that you happened to find the world's most wonderful cab driver. It's nice to know that you sometimes can rely on the kindness of strangers.

I hope that you feel better soon.

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JLITT62 1/20/2010 3:34PM

    Sending healing vibes your way. Hope you are feeling much, much better soon.

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TELERIE 1/20/2010 3:08PM

    Healing hugs! I haven't had surgery in my life, and can't imagine that pain, but hope you're keeping yourself medicated. Hang in there and get better. emoticon

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LESS_IS_MO 1/20/2010 1:15PM

    Thanks for sharing that. I think it is important for people to know. I'm sure it will get much better from here, with only a few horrible things left, like the changing of dressings etc.

I had a very large uterine fibroid blasted with silicone particles about 5 years ago. I was also cathetered as part of the procedure - it was my first and I was deathly afraid of it (The nurse had a very hard time doing mine too. Oh joy!)
I wonder why they did not give you morphine for the pain. I got intravenous morphine and it was heavenly, let me tell you - utter peace in a bottle. BUT later, at home (I didn't stay overnight), I was supposed to take my morphine orally and I barfed it up - the tablet formed for some reason caused me a lot of dizziness and made me upchuck. Boy I was NOT a happy camper. The pain was incredible. My poor dh who is a doctor, was stunned by my screaming I think. Later I finally was able to take a Gravol suppositories and that made me able to keep down the morphine. I was ok within a few days and I still have a lot of morphine pills left, but I can't think of anything that would make me touch them. Once a doctor gave me some kind of sedative for airplane travel and taking that was a big mistake too. I hope YOU find some kind of pain killer that will keep you comfortable.

PS there was an article in my local paper today about women who get botox earning an average of, hmm i think it was 10cents per hour more than women who don't. Maybe the surgery will pay dividends on your job hunt too! Hope so!

Comment edited on: 1/20/2010 1:19:04 PM

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MARCHMAID 1/20/2010 11:56AM

    As a surgical veteran--I won't belabor the details, but I've had several--it sounds to me as if everything's moving on track.

Take it easy, stay on top of the pain--you won't get addicted because you'll run out of pills or need to take them soon enough. Don't flush 'em though. It's bad for the environment.

Smile as much as you can--it'll make the Mr. feel better and he needs to know you're OK. Good going Red Rider. You'll be fine and happy that the excess is gone--the memory of pain evaporates rather quickly which is a mercy. : )

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DMPRIDER 1/20/2010 11:26AM

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you are feeling better and better every day.

I envy your bravery/decision to get a breast lift. I have had sagging breasts pretty much from the get-go. Having had thyroid surgery two years ago, I'm not sure I would go under the knife again just to improve them even though I like the idea of them looking better.

I have to tell you, I saw something in your status last week about having an in-person interview this week and I thought it was a mistake, like a typo. Otherwise I would've warned you that you were not going on any interviews this week. I'm surprised your doctor wasn't able to fill you in on what to expect, at least to that extent.

You are brave and you are strong. Good luck with your continued recovery.

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MALCONTENTION 1/20/2010 11:19AM

    Thanks for sharing. I'd meant to wish you luck before your surgery, but it got away from me. HEAL FAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to see the photos of the New You!!

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GEE-KNEE 1/20/2010 11:12AM

    I have only had surgery once and it was done laparosopically (tumor in my ovary). It was an outpatient thing, and it hurt terribly. My first thought upon waking up, "I am suppose to go home like this". Yours sounds worse. Yet, being that I have sagging skin myself, I understand why you did it. I hope you feel better soon. Thanks for sharing.

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MS.ELENI 1/20/2010 11:09AM

    Your story so far is what I thought it would be.It is a lot of pain and recouping involved.But once all the healing is over it will all be worth it.Hang in there.Each day will be a little better.

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PALMTREEGIRL1 1/20/2010 11:02AM

    I'm thinking about the breast lift.....

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IFDEEVARUNS2 1/20/2010 10:55AM

    OMG, what an ordeal! And yet you'd do it again. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story! emoticon

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LIV212000 1/20/2010 10:53AM

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

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LOSTWITHIN 1/20/2010 10:47AM

    Thanks for sharing. I appreciate you and your experience. As for you lift, I wouldn't call that vanity. I myself have always had sagging breast. I was a DDD by the time I was 12 years old, and from experience I know that the sagging also causes the same problems as lose skin. You were not vain at all!!

I'm glad your pain has dropped down, and you are lucky to have wonderful parents who are there to help take care of you. I can't wait to read the rest of your post so that I can know what to expect when I hit my goal. I myself will have to have a full body lift plus more.

Take Care!!!

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SWEETZMIX 1/20/2010 10:43AM

    Glad to hear you are doing OK, well I know not OK, OK, but you know what I mean. Well at least all this pain is not for nothing. I must say you are a strong woman b/c many would of chickened out to do all those procedures like you did!

Miss you!!!!!

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2FUN2B_LAZY 1/20/2010 10:34AM

    Wow.. wht a crazy adventure! I always wondered what it may be like after those surgeries! You would think the doctor would tell you not to get them all at once.

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FTLSWEETIE 1/20/2010 10:33AM

    Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading more about your experience. You are very brave for sharing like this:-)

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Shut the Door Baby, Don't Say a Word/You were Always There for Me

Friday, January 15, 2010

Surgery is today. I have been thinking of it for months, and the day is finally here. It's set for 12:30 and we've got to be at the hospital at 10:30. I'm certain I'll be nutty so this is a shot at coherence.

My dreams have been dominated by visions of losses of control. Not necessarily specifically medically-related, but there is a fear of putting myself into others' hands. I have always been this way. Yes, I am a Control Freak. Know thyself, right?

I put some stock in dreams, even odd and obscure ones, perhaps more than I should, but I do, and it has been that way since I was a scared seven-year-old who thought she wouldn't fit in.

One recent dream was of opening up a mess kit, you know the kind with nesting utensils, and somehow the flat knife was mechanized and spun. Tried as I might, I could not stop it, and I was becoming more and more afraid that it would cut and harm me. Finally, somehow, I took my eyes off the terrifying spinning knife and cast them on the floor; it was the old, ratty, linty carpet from when we lived in Mineola over fifteen years ago. I somehow flipped the wheeling knife over and buried it in the carpet. It stopped, the mechanism jamming due to the presence of the lint. So it was a happy ending I suppose, but it took damned long for the solution to present itself and, in the meantime, fear held my throat and my heart in its grip.

I know that my surgeon is good. I know that the hospital is good. But there is a nagging fear that somehow this will be the exception, and oxygen will fail to go to my brain and I'll become a vegetable. Or that I'll die on the table.

I cannot help these fears, no matter how much I tamp them down with other activities and concerns and thoughts, beliefs and feelings. And, in the meantime, I also am in the position of managing others' feelings. Sometimes it's all too much.

Guitars and major chords tend to soothe me, so I thought of Sugar Ray immediately. And then when I really listened to "Someday", I got it.

I hope that this is not the end, but stranger things have happened and I am mentally prepared even if my dreams are trying to tell me otherwise. So before I go, and before whatever is going to happen, happens, I want to thank you. Because you really have always been there for me. I could not have gotten here without you.

Perhaps I am sentimental, and overly dramatic. Feelings are sloppy and indulgent and don't always make much sense. But I hope that what I feel for all of you has shone through, even amidst the muddiness of my own fears and phobias and idiosyncrasies.

You have always been there for me. If I have said anything at all, at any time, let that be what is front and center, and remembered.

Thank you.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARCHMAID 1/20/2010 9:04AM

    Since it's five days later and I've just read this, I know you're fine! Give us all an update! Hugs and sweet dreams!

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CAROLISCIOUS 1/15/2010 11:17PM

    I read this on my crackhoe early this morning...I know everything went just fine...

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LIV2RIDE 1/15/2010 9:14PM

    I hope that everything went well. You have been in my prayers.

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IFDEEVARUNS2 1/15/2010 2:22PM

    Sending healing thoughts your way. emoticon emoticon

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JOHAL52 1/15/2010 12:40PM

    I felt similar worries when I had my surgery last year. I'd never been under anesthetic and was convinced I'd either wake up halfway through or else not wake up at all. But I am here and I am fine! Praying that you will be too!

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JLITT62 1/15/2010 12:35PM

    Sending lots of positive vibes!

Surgery is always scary. I had several as a kid, none as an adult. I pretty much just accepted it as a kid, now I'm sure I'd freak out!

We'll catch you on the flip side, as they say.

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GRANDMAAMIE 1/15/2010 11:46AM

    emoticonTAKE CARE


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BORROWEDANGEL1 1/15/2010 11:16AM

    Surgery is a scary thing, but for what it's worth just know that a higher power is there for you to lean on, and that by letting His power have control, all will be fine..

Stay Strong and may your healing be as fast as you need it to be!


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MS.ELENI 1/15/2010 10:33AM

    Any surgery is scary but you will be fine.As you said you have a good doc and good hospital. Hopefully they gave you something to relax when you first got there.By now you are there and it will soon be over. Once you recover you will be happy you got it done. Will be thinking about you emoticon emoticon

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DMPRIDER 1/15/2010 10:05AM

    Surgery is scary, it's perfectly normal to feel that way. But I'm sure you will be fine. And we'll all be here to cheer you on through your recovery. Best wishes.

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SWEETZMIX 1/15/2010 9:54AM

    You'll be fine. I know you will.

Here's to a speedy recovery! And that's not water, sometimes we need to have some vodka! It takes the edge off!

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LESS_IS_MO 1/15/2010 9:17AM

    You're a brave woman. We're all wishing for a speedy recovery, and kick-azz results!

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LILSUNFLOWER 1/15/2010 9:09AM

    Best of luck with your Surgery. We'll all be sending good vibes your way.

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    Sending you loving kindness. Now and from 10:30 on today. Update please as soon as you are able to log back to us.

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    I am sure everything will go just fine!

Good luck and I am wishing you a speedy and healthy recovery!


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TELERIE 1/15/2010 6:54AM

    emoticon Be well! emoticon

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GRAMPIAN 1/15/2010 6:29AM

  I wish you all the very best for the operation and your recovery. emoticon

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