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My Own Post-Op Recovery Guide

I’ve learned a lot about recovering from surgery in the past few years – as I am now a veteran of three c-sections; gallbladder removal; gastric bypass; bowel obstruction; tummy tuck; and brachioplasty.  There are some comfortable surgeons riding around in luxury cars thanks in small part to my health insurance.

I have yet to walk into one of these surgical offices, though, and have them give me a real life guide to what you need to know in recovery.  I’ve compiled a short list myself of the things you need to know.  Consider these specific to my recent surgery, where the use of my arms and back has been restricted, but feel free to apply these lessons to any surgical recovery:

Drying your hair –

You’ve just spent thousands of dollars on plastic surgery so that you’ll look your best.  Good luck with that, honey, because for the next few weeks, the back of your head is gonna look like a nest of rats lives there.  You won’t be able to reach to dry your hair, properly brush your hair, or even scrunch your hair so it looks like you intentionally want your hair to look like a rat’s nest.  Invest in a wig.

Smacking your husband –

You know you’re gonna have to do it – because husbands have just a certain way about them that irritates the crap out of you at a time when you least need your crap to be irritated.  He’ll make fun of the hair you can’t properly fix, or he’ll laugh at you as you are trying to squeeze your swollen, uncomfortable self into something cute and slightly sexy, so you at least feel somewhat human.  The temptation will be there, and I understand.  You want to haul off and smack him, as hard as you can, preferably into an unconsciousness that will last until you are totally healed.

Stop right there, girlfriend.  Hauling off and smacking your husband is going to be more pain than it’s worth – seriously.  You risk opening up your incisions, and that could get ugly.  Don’t do it.  Instead, spike his drink with a bit of your pain meds, and hopefully, that will knock him out long enough for you to get some peace and quiet.

And Speaking Of –

Let me take this opportunity to recommend a conversion to an all liquid, no waste diet.  Attending to the, ummmm, necessary routines of hygiene have just become outrageously difficult, and the aforementioned ass of a husband will either flat out refuse to assist you in your post lavatory needs or make fun of you mercilessly.  As we’ve already determined, smacking him is not an option.  I opted to, ummm, hold it in until I could attend to things myself.  Perhaps investing in a bidet??

It doesn’t matter how good your insurance is –

Visiting nurses will not come to your house and help you to apply your eye makeup.  And – go figure – the emergency room doesn’t consider this OBVIOUS emergency to be an OBVIOUS emergency – even if you tell them it’s the new LashStash mascara from Sephora.  And believe me, if you’re like me, it takes a while to cake all that makeup on your eyes to hide the wrinkles and dark circles, and your arms get tired while they’re bandaged.  Skip Sephora and head for Sunglass Hut.  What you can’t see in the mirror won’t bother you nearly as much.

Cherish Your Children –

I have to thank my girls for being so helpful these past few weeks.  Eilis made dinner last night by herself, and Granuaile is always throwing on her apron to help out with things in the kitchen.  Of course, you know they aren’t doing it out of the kindness of their hearts – they’re hoping there’s a puppy in this as a reward…



Bat Wings, Back Fat, and Other Body Anomalies that Make You Want Barbecue

The sausage you see hanging in the photo above is not found at the Italian market in South Philly.  It is found hanging from my shoulder.  I have one on each side.  Not that I have something against sausage, but I want them gone.

Last summer, I started what I had hoped would be a series of plastic surgery procedures designed to help me get rid of the remnants of my formerly morbidly obese self.  I had a big, huge hanging belly; droopy, saggy boobs; sausage arms; and enough rolls on my back to hide Osama Bin Laden and the entire al Quaeda team.  My breast lift healed in record time, and I have very few physical indication that I had anything done – the scars are minimal, the boobs are in the right place, and it’s all good.

My tummy tuck recovery is epic.  Seriously, I could write a War and Peace sized novel on what a crappy healer I was – and I blame that on the selective hearing loss I suffer from when it comes to medical instructions.  I’m fine when the pediatrician tells me to fill a kid with fluids and give them Tylenol.  That, I have no problem hearing.  But when a doctor tells me that I have to not lift, not bend, not travel far; well, I don’t exactly catch ALL of the words – I just know he said something about lifting, bending, and traveling.

So, because I took so darn long to heal from my tummy tuck (six months, including four on a wound VAC), I think my surgeon was a bit leery about doing any additional procedures.  He wanted to make sure my wound was completely healed, free of infection, totally closed, blessed by the Pope, consecrated by the Dalai Lama, and prayed over by a Voodoo High Priest.


Next Thursday, I’m going under the knife again.  One day after my 20th wedding anniversary, I hope to begin the final chapter on the road to the new me that I found myself on almost five years ago.

Wish me luck.  Wish Dr. Veitia luck, because, after all, he has to deal with me.  And let the fun begin!

A Light At The End of the Tunnel?

Today marked visit number I’ve lost count with the fabulous Dr. Nestor Veitia.  I’m going to run out of things to operate on before I’m going to want to give up visiting with this guy!

It was the first time in a long time that I felt restrained giddiness about this healing process!  I look amazing – I don’t say that to be arrogant, I’m just comparing what I looked like before to what I look like now, and the transformation is amazing.  Dr. Veitia has been patient, understanding, caring, compassionate, and concerned – and has worked so hard to get me to this point.  I could not be happier.

The wound VAC is totally gone as of today – the end of my one week test period without it.  How awesome is that?  I’m headed to Florida in a week to do a whirlwind weekend that combines a BFF reunion with a Walt Disney World Moms Panel PR event.  I don’t have to worry about my battery dying, the machine failing, the nurses complaining that I’m supposed to be house bound.  It’s pure pleasure this time around.

People have asked, and I just wanted you to know that I feel fine.  Better than fine.  At some point in the not too distant future, I’ll share the before and afters with you.  I hope you’ll be as amazed as I am.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – The Plastic Surgery Road Trip

Beautiful Pennsylvania!  The air this morning is crisp for a day in August, starting out at 64 degrees.  There’s a gentle breeze blowing the leaves on the trees that are part of the stunning view I have outside of my window.  What a great way to wake up on summer vacation!

After admiring the sunrise, I grab my room service menu so I can order my breakfast.  Not too hungry this morning, and trying to watch my girlish figure.  A banana, some yogurt, and some granola sounds good.  And a cup of piping hot tea.  The air conditioning in my room was turned down a bit too low last night!

Then the real fun begins.  Because my “summer vacation”, as you all know, has so far been spent recovering from plastic surgery.  We won’t bore you with the details – here’s the Cliff’s Notes version – Weight Loss Surgery, Excess Skin, Tummy Tuck, Infection.  And the next turn on the road of summer fun we’re having so far takes me back where it all began.  Paoli Hospital.

I’m not even gonna post pictures of what my wound looks like.  Ewww.

So how did I get here?  Bad travel agent?  Cheap GPS?  Didn’t book through Travelocity?

This is what happened – a perfectly well thought out plan occurred.  I’d have gastric bypass surgery; lose a bunch of weight; have plastic surgery to take care of the ugly remnants of my former self; get a contract with the Ford Modeling Agency for Rapidly Aging Mothers; and if nothing else, at least not have to sweat my ass off in Spanx (God love them) every time I go to FL.

When I researched my surgery ahead of time, like a diligent non-emergency surgical consumer should, I thought I did a great job.  I checked out doctors and their credentials.  I looked into costs and variations.  I looked into the different types of procedures that might be available to me.  And I checked out hospitals and their spa like surroundings.  I had all of my pre-op ducks in a row – making sure the will was up to date, the kids were taken care of, and I had a ride to the hospital and a way to get home.

But the one part I sort of glazed over was the “risks and complications” area.  Because, after all, I’ve had a number of surgeries, and I bounce back really well.  I was up and caring for babies within hours of two of my c-sections.  I was playing on the floor with a not quite one year old Eilis the day after my gall bladder was taken out.  I was back in the car line for school one day later when my kidney stones were removed.  And how many times do you have to hear that I did Disney World 10 days after gastric bypass surgery?  I tell everyone that!  Who would think there would be risks and complications?  That just doesn’t happen to me.

So now that I have risks, complications, and at least four different bacteria – all bad – living among my bits and pieces (including a staph infection and a gram negative bacteria), I want you guys to know that you have to be better researchers than I was.  I am learning the hard way there is no such thing as being Unbreakable.  And I learned that I need to better follow doctors’ orders.  But if you’re a mom, you know how hard it is not to do the things your family needs or wants you to do.  You have to do it.

That’s my trip report on this summer’s journey.  Not as fascinating as a trip cross country.  Not as exciting as a cruise through the British Isles.  Not even as interesting as a trip to Milwaukee for Irish Weekend.  But you can consider this my Public Service Announcement of the moment.  Before you embark on any journey, remember not to just focus on the destination.  Make sure you map out all the twists and turns.