Monday, February 04, 2013
Long blog… bit of a rant… bit of a freak out… issues I didn’t plan on with losing weight.
So I lost almost 100#... great. Along with that I had amazing health benefits, more confidence, looked great, felt great…. And extra skin. It happens to a lot of us. I decided to get my arm skin reduced because it was the worst issue I had. My arms were always an issue. I was always self conscious about my arms. So… I got down to 180. Felt great. Finally plucked up the courage to see a plastic surgeon. Found one with good reviews… went in – and BAM! Problem solved.
Except as we all know, the more weight you lose, the more you begin to look at yourself in a mirror. The more you begin to become hypercritical of every pound of fat on your body. Is that a collarbone popping out? Is my wrist skinny? Wait, is that a gap between my thighs? This of course happens to almost everyone going through a plastic surgery procedure too. You shell out thousands of dollars and you think that you will be perfect at the end.
Well… things don’t always work out. After my first surgery I healed up… started working out again… and noticed things weren’t quiiiite right. My left elbow was significantly fatter than my right elbow. You could definitely tell a difference. And on my right side, my incision decided to form a little armpit nipple off the side of my body instead of laying flat. It was weird looking. It was small, but it was weird. So I was going to have a revision on my left elbow – get rid of my extra nipple at the same time. No big deal right?
Well apparently it has become a massive deal. Let me start out by saying my left side looks great. Straight scar… very small… skinnier elbow region. All good. No problems. No pain, most importantly.
Now the right side. This side has literally been in almost constant pain since December 11th. It has been in some form of almost excruciating pain since December 22nd. Yep. Over a month.
What I didn’t realize when I had the surgery, to remove the armpit skin triangle, he had to completely excise my existing armpit scar, and make me a new one. I thought it would be a simple nip and tuck, but apparently the scar tissue is so delicate and easily torn, they had to back up the margins to healthy skin before pulling it closed again. So he did that… and I apparently talked to him while he did it since I just had a local anesthetic… and not general anesthesia…
I don’t know what was different, but these stitches gave me almost constant pain since they were put in. They were worse than I remember the first surgery being – and let me remind you, I had two arms fully done with the first surgery. This time around, for some reason, my right armpit was just in constant pain. The stitches literally hurt me. They looked inflamed. I thought it might be infected, so I made a special appointment to see him a few days early just to check because the pain was so bad. He said, looks fine… no problems… you’re just healing.
So 11 days after my surgery I went to see him again. The stitches hurt. It was almost Christmas, so I asked him if it was okay to take them out. Aaaand I wanted to get in a hot tub with my BF over X-mas… and you can’t do that with stitches. He agreed, let a nurse do it, and left. She took them out – it hurt (common word in this blog!) and then she went… “hmm... Its pulling apart a bit, I wonder if he should look at this before you leave.” *NOW I know I should have said – “Go get him, please.” But it was late… I was tired… and I was happy the stitches came out. So I never saw the doctor.
The next day I finished packing up my car, and went home for Christmas… but my arm hurt. Now I just thought it was a little painful… and I was making a big deal out of it. But I had my sister who’s a doctor look at it, and it was apparently ripping itself open…
***Nows the part where it gets gross… do not read on if you don’t want TMI***
The eleven days of “healing” after the surgery, slowly ripped itself open over the next three painful days. Per my sister/doctor’s orders we did 3-4 wet to dry bandage changes a day. This entails putting wet gauze on top of the open wound. Letting it dry… and then ripping it off. Literally ripping the top layer of the wound off to heal. This is exactly as bad as it sounds. Worse so for me.
Through this all my sister, mother, and boyfriend helped me with bandage changes and all the grossness that goes along with it for the next few days. On the 26th, I called the doctor, and I saw him again on the 27th. Apologies… I don’t know what went wrong. He agreed my sister’s plan was appropriate and I was told to continue it.
So I did… and then I saw him again on the 3rd or so… Again. Wound nasty… pain… similar story…. Keep doing what you’re doing. Same for the next week… and the next week… so we decided to wait two weeks until the next appt.
During this time, we asked. Well… can you just stitch it back up? Close it? Force the skin to grow together? Should I wear a sling? Etc… No to all… apparently since this was an open wound, even though it was not infected in the bad sense – it was colonized. Aka my exterior skin bacteria was in there. If we closed it – I would be putting exterior bacteria INSIDE and that could lead to a very nasty infection. It would be better to let it heal on its own. Also according to my sister this is true.
So two weeks go by. Its painful as f***. My mood is worse because of this. I feel crappy because of this. I’m having trouble at work because of this. I have anxiety because of this. I’m annoyed that I can’t wear cute clothes because of this (legit annoyed!). I hate feeling useless. I hate feeling weak. I hate having to rely on others, and then failing at things when they are not around… Its been a vicious six weeks psychologically. I’m trying to stay positive, willing this to heal, waiting, following doctors orders to a T. And on Friday I had the worst appointment ever with my doctor.
Two weeks previous I mentioned I was almost fainting changing bandages. He didn’t offer help or ask me further. Just said it was me. I went to see my GP because I legitimately almost fell in the shower on multiple occasions and was afraid I was going to hurt myself. I had my blood pressure checked (it was 115/65!!! The lowest number I’ve ever seen! I used to be 150s/90s btw) – that was healthy normal! I had my blood sugar checked. Also normal. He told me the long wound was just messing with my autonomic nervous system – and I just needed to alter my routine to be safe.
Following doctor’s orders, I have to get up earlier than I need to. Eat something or drink something with real sugar (aka calories). He suggested juice. I compromised with a soy/protein/chai drink. So I get up earlier… I eat calories I normally would avoid. And I goof off on the computer sitting up – all so that I don’t pass out when I change my bandages and shower.
At this past Friday’s plastic surgeon appointment, I mentioned this to him. I also had my mother with me because she was in town to help me pack up my stuff and clean my house since I am literally crippled and can’t do that. No heavy lifting… hell no lifting my right arm much at all. Apparently those two things, plus me finally breaking down and crying because I was so frustrated with everything and the pain and the stress… made him kind of flip out on me.
Yep. He b1tched at ME! In the past two weeks since he saw me, apparently my wound was visibly larger and worse looking. According to him I had been healing two weeks ago, and now it was worse. He insinuated that this was my fault. That I had done something, and if it was so bad I should have not skipped my appointment the week previous.
When I said, it just looks horrible and I’ve always been this miserable, he also didn’t like that answer. Basically – I told a plastic surgeon I was horrified with his work and he flipped out. My mom mentioned that she was worried about how much pain I’ve been in. This has been the worst part. In the last two weeks I’ve developed severe pain in my arm below the incision. His response to my genuine pain declaration: “well I don’t know why that’s happening.” I basically described my nerve pain to him and he blew me off. Ignored that I brought it up. I didn’t ask for Percocet. I didn’t ask for pain meds… he just disregarded my pain completely.
By that point I was emotional wreck. His demeanor just kept pushing me off the sane edge into emotional disaster zone. So apparently he also hates tears. He then told me, and this is a direct quote: “Now if you remember, you’re the one who made me do this surgery.” Luckily my mom was quick to respond: “Yes, because it NEEDED to be done. There was a problem that needed to be fixed from the first surgery!”
So we have reached the point in the appointment where he tries to GUILT me? Somehow this whole fluke accident is MY FAULT? He then agrees to do surgery ASAP. So now he’s going to close it and I will have to wear my arm in a sling, restricting my movement completely for 3-4 weeks, and oh by the way you’re having surgery in less than a week. The end. So I got the details from the scheduling nurse. And left. A wreck. I was literally sick when I left. I started crying again… having a mild panic attack/anxiety attack… I just couldn’t understand why I had been treated like that + the fact that my wound had gotten WORSE was just too much to handle. I was sick/shaky/upset all day.
My mom and I went out for Mexican for lunch. I needed a drink and chips and cheese. So I ate horribly to comfort myself out of a sickening pool of despair. And it helped. We called my sister, asked her opinion on the situation, and I sent her more recent photos. At her practice in Kentucky, one of the other partners has experience with wound healing. She suggested a few treatments and strongly advised against surgery.
Around this time I also called to cancel the surgery. I mean, within 30 minutes of getting home I cancelled the surgery. I CAN’T have my arm in a sling for a month right now at work. I have serious experiments going on and a thesis to write. February is a bad month. March would be better.
So after lunch, and work, and talking to my sister, I called the doctors office back at 3PM to tell them that I had gotten a second opinion, this was the treatment suggested, what did my doctor think? Could he call me back and discuss this option? They suggested a wound vac treatment. Basically I would be carrying around a vacuum pump that would pull on the wound to drain it and keep it clean and healing. AND it would only require one bandage change a week. Sold!
And then I got a phone call from the plastic surgeon. He just sounded like he was in a pissy a$$ mood. I can’t quote all of the horrible things here, because I really do need to go to bed, but the short story highlights include:
“well its your right to get a second opinion, and you can get a third too”
“its unfair for someone to diagnose you from across the country”
“You could have this treatment, but its very expensive and I doubt your insurance would pay for it”
“That’s just a horrible idea, you have no idea how it works, and good luck getting it to function properly with where your wound is”
“You think surgery will be bad? This will be just as bad”
“Pfffft – I don’t think they know what they’re talking about”
And many, many, many more… So of course I’m trying to stay composed, and trying not to cry again… which I start to anyway. So now by talking to other doctors, he’s assuming I’m questioning his ability to practice medicine? I was just being a responsible person, getting more information on possible treatment options since he was so dismissive about my concerns and my pain earlier.
Then he tries to FORCE me into surgery. Apparently what he didn’t want to do in the morning, is now the ONLY option. It’s the only option he is willing to discuss with me. So I get off the phone with him as fast as I can so I don’t lose it completely… and then proceed to lose it completely.
Cue all of the anxiety/stress/sickness back again in full force. I’m so nauseous I can’t think… my chest is tight… its just all around bad news. AAAAAND I’m out shopping at Home Depot for all of this BTW.
I call my sister/doctor and talk to her about this a bit. He’s apparently just acting like any normal god-complex surgeon would, and plastic surgeons are apparently the worst of that bunch.
Now my family is talking lawsuits and I just don’t even want to add that to my pile of things to get done… I don’t know if I can take it.
Saturday morning the plastic surgeon called me. Much calmer. Much nicer. I don’t know who told him to call me back and play nice, but he did. He accused me again of keeping him out of the loop – but I when I try to keep him in the loop and discuss fainting *he ignores me and I have to see another doctor to get a treatment plan. Now once again he ignored my pain *so now tomorrow I need to make ANOTHER doctor’s appointment to talk to someone willing to listen to me…
He upped my bandage changes to 4 a day if possible. I’m managing 3. I can’t even begin to describe how bad these have become. Because of the nerve damage in my arm. Yep. I’m pretty sure I have an exposed nerve someone near the wound. There’s a certain section near the middle that’s the hardest to remove. When I do my entire arm lights up like fire. Like lava – excruciating burning pain that travels a defined path down my arm. Except in the past two days its gotten worse. I had sciatica before, so I know nerve pain. This is horrifyingly painful. I’m not joking when I say it can get up to 8 or 9 on the pain scale out of 10.
I was out to lunch with TJ today and I had to stop moving for a minute. My arm went to a full 10/10 on the pain scale for a good two seconds. He said he saw my eyes instantly tear up and he thought I was going to burst into tears at the restaurant. All in the middle of a normal joking situation.
So tomorrow I’m going to my GP to try and get some neuro drugs. I thought I might have some Gabapentin left over from my shingles episode three years ago, but I apparently tossed it. Ibuprofen doesn’t help, and at this point, I’d only take the Percocet for the oxy… So I’m avoiding it.
So where do I go from here? I’m at an 8/10 on the pain scale right now. I can’t fall asleep… and I not only have stress and anxiety, I also have pain. Pain that is becoming unbearable, possibly due to nerve damage.
So now that it might be serious, and I could have serious damage… do I need to talk to a lawyer? I think frivolous lawsuits against doctors are one of the major problems in our healthcare system… but with the way I’ve been treated lately coupled with the possible nerve damage… I just don’t know what to do.
I’m not asking for advice per say, and heaven help you if you actually read all of this… I just am at my wits end with this. The pain is bad enough today, and his treatment was bad enough on Friday, I figured I’d share the whole story with you… Its bad… I don’t know what to do…