Posts Tagged ‘belt lipectomy’

In A Bind

March 16, 2022

And in some tears.

Sigh.

I had another post op appointment with my surgeon this morning.

He checked out my belt lipectomy, “it looks beautiful,” he said, very pleased.

I told him that I have been doing the scar massage twice a day and he applauded that and told me to continue, pointing out that the scarring on my back would fade with time.

The scar there is a bit wider from bending over, stretching, etc.

Basically I was told, keep up the good work and I’ll see you in six months.

“Any questions,” he asked?

“Actually, yes, what is this?” I asked, pointing to a bump I’ve noticed for a few weeks and that frankly spooked me a tiny bit, what is that thing?

My surgeon felt it and said, “nothing to worry about,” he could tell I’d been worrying.

(It’s some surgical instrument he left in there and he’ll need to go back in and retrieve it! Thanks brain, thanks for sharing.)

“It’s a surgical knot, it’s a stitch, it will dissolve with time, it’s fine,” he said, then, “anything else?”

“Yes, actually,” I said. “When can I stop wearing the binder?”

My surgeon smiled at me, “now, you don’t have to wear it anymore.”

Holy shit.

I was over the moon.

Really?

Yes, really.

“I’ll see you in six months,” and off he went on his busy surgeon way.

I looked at my binder, I folded it up and almost left it in the trash in the examine room, but part of me was like, slow your roll, you might want that later.

So I put it in my purse and put on my leggings and dress and cardigan and left the examination room to make an appointment with the receptionist.

“What days are good for you,” she asked.

“Fridays,” I said.

“Ok, that puts us into September, how about the 16th?”

I asked for an earlier spot and she got me in the week prior on the 9th.

I walked out the door, got gingerly in my car and drove home to get ready for my clients.

I shared excitedly with a few friends about not having to wear the binder.

I mean.

It’s been on 24 hours a day for just under five months.

I was so fucking excited to not wear it.

The only times I take it off are when I’m taking a shower.

Otherwise, all day long, all night long.

I ate breakfast without it, went into sessions without it on, checked in a lot with my body, it certainly feels much more vulnerable without the binder on, I can start with that.

Then.

I began to notice swelling happening.

Ugh.

I sort of sensed that would happen, I mean, even with the binder on I swell during the day, by the end of the day the binder is quite tight.

My belly is always the least swollen in the morning after I have slept.

So I didn’t fret too much.

But, boy oh boy, has my attention been there all day, especially as the swelling continued, to well, swell.

By 5:30p.m. I was like, great, this sucks.

Same at 6:30p.m.

My belly felt and looked to me like how it looked pre surgery. I felt scared and tender and I thought, fuck, I haven’t had dinner yet. And some wonderful part of my brain shared, “what the fuck was the point of getting the surgery if it looks the same as before?”

Fuck you brain.

Also.

It does not look the same, the surgeon always shows me the before photos, even swollen it looks different so stop being so damn mean to me.

Then I thought.

Ugh.

I can’t imagine eating like this.

What if it swells up even more?!

I can’t do it.

But.

I also know better than to not eat dinner.

I have an eating disorder, being mindful about eating my dinner and all my meals is really important to me.

So, with some chagrin, I went and put the binder back on.

Sigh.

Fuck.

Tears.

Resignation.

And.

Relief.

Ugh.

It feels better.

And yeah, maybe it is purely psychological, but after being a therapist holding my clients trauma all day, I’m ok with being gentle with myself and being ok with sure, maybe it’s a placebo, but whatever it feels better.

So just do it.

Listen to what your body is saying.

My body is also saying, get a god damn shoulder massage.

But I can’t get a back rub yet, well, I suppose I could have someone work on my shoulders in a chair, but I don’t think lying down on a massage table is quite an option for me yet.

Gotta wait, back.

Anyway.

I have it, the binder on now, and I reached out to a friend for support and it’s ok that I’m a little sad about it and I can realistically understand that it’s just been under 5 months, the full healing arc of the surgery is 9 months to a year.

And fuck.

My arms that I had done in July, still hurt at the end of the day.

They hurt now.

Not so much that I am overly distracted by it, but they hurt and that surgery was done 8 months ago.

So patience brain.

The body is in charge, not you.

Feel your feelings and be ok with process.

Soon you won’t be in a binder.

My friend suggested I take it in small steps, work up to wearing it less and less.

And really, I got to give myself props, I went from 10a.m. to 7:45p.m. not wearing it.

That’s pretty fucking good.

So, gently, slowly transitioning.

Without too many damn expectations.

And being ok with the process.

Listening to my body without judgment.

Poor thing has been judged too much as it is.

I’m Ready

November 14, 2021

To date again.

Well.

I mean.

Theoretically.

I am in no shape to actually go on a date.

I’m still pretty much tied to my bed.

Although I do feel increments of change, small shifts in my body signaling to me of my healing.

My dear friend was over yesterday and she said I looked “sooooo much better,” which is nice since I feel like I look like ass.

But she insisted.

It might have been the shower I had.

I was cleared to shower this past Tuesday.

It might have been one of the greatest showers of all time.

Rivaled many a Burning Man fresh back from the playa shower.

And if the after care hadn’t been so damn hard, it would have been the top shower of all time.

I mean.

I didn’t shower for two weeks.

Sure, I did a whore’s bath.

You know, baby wipes and deodorant and perfume.

Very 1800s French of me.

heh.

But really, I like a good shower.

In fact, I have often said that God is a good shower.

I mean, think about it, it feels so good to have hot water sluicing down ones back.

The sigh of relief when I get underneath a good hot shower with great water pressure.

Oh, so good.

So to go two weeks was pretty hard.

But I had to, the drains didn’t all get removed until two weeks after the surgery.

I had three drains, two of which were removed one week after, and the last 13 days later.

I cannot tell you how obnoxious they were.

Granted that first week I was on heavy painkillers so though annoying, I didn’t find them that uncomfortable.

Sans Percocet, they were infruriating.

Always this slight annoyance, not quite pain, although if I jostled myself too hard or took down my sweat pants too fast.

Egad.

Aside.

One of my friend’s calls sweat pants “my give up” pants.

For the record.

I have never owned sweat pants until this surgery.

I bought two sweat suits prior to the surgery.

I was told, loose pants and zip up fronts.

So sweatsuits seemed appropos.

And on the shelves they were cute, but on me, eek, I do not care for them.

Maybe that’s why I’m feeling better today too, not wearing a sweat suit and I put on a bra.

It’s the small things.

I did contemplate taking another shower today, but I’ll hold off one more day.

Three days is still a bit to go for me, but like I said, despite how fucking phenomenal the shower feels, the after shower routine is really hard.

I feel pretty tired just getting out of the shower and drying off.

Making sure I’m not vigorously drying myself, putting on Neosporin on the stitches, re-bandaging myself, and the skin tightens when it dries so I feel like I’m getting pulled apart and my range of motion gets much smaller. I end up feeling like a hunched over little old lady.

And don’t talk to me about drying my hair.

Holy shit.

Just getting to my blow dryer and doing a quick pass through is really hard.

I did manage it yesterday, but I was super shaky after just a few minutes of it.

Although like I said, I rallied and I put on leggings, a bra, a t-shirt and a button down shirt instead of the zip hoodie and sweat pants over the binder that I am wearing over the bandages, over the stitches.

I might burn the sweat pants in effigy when I’m done.

There’s also a psychological fatigue that happens.

I told myself both times that I showered not to look at the belt lipectomy, which by the way, if you don’t know, is not a tummy tuck, which would just be a midline scar across the front of the belly.

A belt lipectomy is like the name, think of a belt encircling your waist.

It is a full 365 degrees around.

Removing excess skin and tissue from around the entire trunk.

So, it’s a lot.

I know when it’s healed I’ll be ecstatic, but looking at it right now makes me a bit nauseated.

But yeah, I looked, and I think that makes it hard too, it’s not pretty to look at and I’m still bruised and swollen.

In fact, the post-op paperwork does say that many folks go through a regret phase and some slip into depression.

Now.

I won’t lie.

I have had some depressed mood, I mean, aside from two post-op trips to see my surgeon, I haven’t been outside since October 25th.

I am grateful, truly, that I live in a beautiful apartment and it is very sweet, but it is not outside.

Outside where it’s been sunny and late fall gorgeous and 70!

Sigh.

Just a walk to Patricia’s Green is all I really want, but I’m not quite there yet.

So, why do I think I’m ready to date?

It’s mental.

Not physical.

I think I’m finally over my ex, or pretty damn close to it.

I haven’t seen him since January and I think the grief of it all is finally passing.

It’s certainly lightened substantially.

Especially with all the work I put into my dissertation and also the work of transforming with the surgery.

I am the same.

Yet.

I am different.

And too, the new therapist I started working with has been a God send.

I’m ready for someone who is available, physically and emotionally.

I’m ready for some requited love.

I think I’m done with the unrequited kind, thanks.

I’m healing physically and emotionally.

I also, yes, yes I did, I also, booked myself a trip to New York in spring!

I’m going to go for the last weekend in May.

I got a ridiculous fare, $304 roundtrip!

And I scored a room at the Jane Hotel in the Meatpacking District.

I’ve only ever stayed in Brooklyn when I’ve gone to New York before.

Once staying with a friend on Myrtle Ave.

Once an Air BnB in Green Point.

Once an Air Bnb in Bedstuy.

This time I’m staying in Manhattan.

I am super excited.

I’m taking a red eye out after my last client on a Thursday, landing at 6:15a.m. at JFK on Friday.

I will stay at the Jane Hotel Friday night and Saturday night and check out Sunday morning, catching the noon back to SFO Sunday, and due to the time difference, get in Sunday afternoon and have a little time to recalibrate before going back to work on Monday.

I am super excited.

Yeah.

I know I already said that, but seriously.

It will be late spring, warm, but not too hot.

I will walk around in my new (ish) body, in sundresses and skirts and sandals enjoying the warm.

I will go to the Highline.

I will walk the Hudson River Greenway from the hotel to the Beekman for breakfast Saturday morning, it’s about 45 minutes.

I flirted with staying at the Beekman, but fuck paying that much money, I’ll just go have a breakfast there, I had lunch there with my ex when we were in New York summer of 2018 I think, and my God it was beautiful, the dining room is just ridiculous, the atrium, the velvet couches, the leather club chairs.

Then I will just walk the city.

Go to Central Park.

Go to book stores.

Go dress shopping.

Go to the Whitney.

I will likely hit the Whitney my first day in, on Friday, it’s literally a five, ten minute walk from my hotel.

Lunch somewhere in the neighborhood, walk over to Perry Street, a ten minute walk, to do the deal, meander around Greenwich Village, or Bleeker Street.

Buy a new dress.

Go out to a fancy dinner…maybe Catch in the Meatpacking District or Strip House, steak people, it’s a steak house, in Greenwich Village.

Though I do love Peter Luger’s Steak House, I’m not going to go to Williamsburg to get it.

I want to stay on the island and just meander.

And I’ll end my nights at the roof top bar, sans alcohol, just some bubbly water and me sitting underneath the night sky looking out over the city.

A romantic weekend away with myself.

And I have the feeling that sometime around then I’ll be ready to really date.

It’s going to take a few months for me to really feel able to get out.

The recovery from the surgery literally takes months, and can take up to a full year.

But I can see it coming.

All this work I have done on myself.

The emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical transformation, of me.

I mean.

I’m still me.

But.

I’m becoming, have become, something greater than the sum of me.

Even though, technically, there is less of me around.

I take up less space.

And yet I have more space, I am more spacious.

I have grown the space in my heart.

It is a grand thing this.

My metamorphosis.

Though not complete.

It is well underway.

New York State of Mind

November 7, 2021

It’s interesting what a little down time and sitting in my bed for, what now, twelve days?

What it will do to your mind.

I’ve been bed bound recovering from a surgery.

Third surgery this year.

Kind of crazy.

I have not had any surgeries in sobriety until this year.

I am no longer afraid of the pain pills or of becoming addicted to that shit.

I do not like them.

No.

I do not.

Ugh.

Gross, wonky thoughts, horrible nightmares, weird mind meanderings, drugged sleep.

Not for me.

When I was out there using and drinking and smoking and fucking around I liked the up all night kind of drugs.

Cocaine was my spirit animal.

This girl liked to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time.

I didn’t like the slow track.

Never have.

Likely never will.

I have a good girl friend who tells me I drive like her step mother.

Now in some vernacular circles that might come across as an insult, not in this case.

Her stepmother was a rally race car driver.

What my friend doesn’t know is that I slow down when I have folks in the car with me.

heh.

Anyway.

I will also add that pain killers, they do work you know.

I have found myself asking for them.

But only right after the surgery.

The first surgery this year happened in early February.

Burst appendix.

Well, it wasn’t burst until I was actually in the ER.

Then it burst.

Guess that’s a lucky place to be if you’re appendix is going to pop, might as well be where it will be taken care of.

I eschewed the pain meds, I said, no thanks, I’m sober, don’t want any, no way, no how.

Except.

Well fuck.

It was surgery.

And coming out of it was excruciating.

Apparently when I came out I still said no to the pain meds on offer, I have no memory of this.

However, after about twenty minutes or so, maybe more, maybe less, it’s hazy, I couldn’t take it.

The nurse who was typing up a note looked at me and said, “honey, you’re dying, let me give you something.”

Tear leaked down my face and I nodded yes.

Oh sweet God.

Was the relief immediate and welcome.

That was the only time I took anything.

I refused the rest.

But after having gone through that experience I realized I could handle surgery.

And not relapse.

Thank fucking God.

I also realized I was tired of my belly.

The loose skin from the weight loss.

Weight loss I’ve sustained for years and years and years now, twelve I think.

I was too old when I lost the weight for my skin to bounce back.

It just sagged.

I have always been self-conscious about it and it was disarming to lose all that weight and then be left with a body I still had to come to terms with.

I think that’s why a lot of folks actually gain the weight back.

The skin is depressing.

I did a lot of work.

I did a lot of praying.

I did a lot of acceptance.

And I had beautiful body experiences.

I have dated men who were stunning.

My ex for sure.

Gorgeous and hyper fit.

And I still felt self-conscious.

Not as much as I used to.

But it would happen.

No matter how many, “thank you God for this beautiful body” prayers I said, I still felt something.

Sometimes is was dismay, like if I hadn’t been messed with as a kid would I have drown myself in a sea of sugar to cope with the feelings that wouldn’t ever leave me.

Add weight to protect myself from the world, from the predatory gaze of men in my family or on the street on in school.

Would I have been just a normal size kid?

A beautiful body to match my beautiful face.

I used to wish that I could just cut off my head and put it on another body.

And yeah.

The work has worked and the acceptance has worked and I’m hella grateful for this body that I have been given to walk around in and ultimately, that it saved me, it took the brunt of the mental and emotional pain I was in and held it for me.

Thanks body.

And.

I also wanted something more.

Something transformative.

Like all my tattoos.

A new story for this body.

A new experience.

The appendectomy and the healing that happened and the focus on that part of my body pushed me to inquire about skin reduction surgery.

I have talked about it for years with my therapist.

I have dreamt about it, if I win the lotto type dreams.

So.

I talked to my GP.

And she agreed.

And she referred me to a plastic surgeon at Kaiser.

And I stood naked in front of a mirror and took 365 degree photos of my body and the sagging skin on my stomach and upper arms and sent a stranger photos.

My first naked selfies.

Probably my last.

And I met with the surgeon and he asked me why I wanted the surgery and I told him my reasons and I told him about all the work I have done and how long I’ve been abstinent and how much I wanted to do it, with tears on my face.

And he said.

“You’re the perfect candidate for this surgery, you really are, you deserve to have this surgery done.”

And he said.

“But your insurance won’t cover it, Kaiser won’t cover a dime of it, believe me, I have fought for this for many a patient.”

He asked me one other question, “does the skin on your belly prevent you from walking?”

Um, no.

And he said unless it was so much skin that it prevented my mobility my insurance wouldn’t cover it.

And he ended with, but I still think you should do it and I’m going to refer you some numbers of colleagues in the Bay, as Kaiser in San Francisco is not doing any cosmetic surgery at the moment due to the pandemic.

I took naked selfies for no good reason.

Ugh.

And for all the right reasons.

I called all the numbers and I got no after no because pandemic, because booked up, because on vacation, blah, blah, blah.

So.

I decided to go out of pocket.

I found my own surgeon.

Dr. Kenneth Bermudez.

And he is special.

He is fabulous.

He was amazing to meet and he’s been a dream to work with.

He was not cheap.

I blew all my savings.

I’ve been saving to buy a house.

But instead I decided to remodel the one I live in.

I also used student loans.

I ain’t gonna lie.

I figure I’ve become a great therapist, I have a full client load, I have a lovely business that I have built and worked on and put my heart into creating.

I can afford it.

I will make the money back.

So we set a date, July 16th, to do a brachioplasty, belt lipectomy, and butt lift.

There were some complications which meant that I had to derail the surgery a bit, turns out I was anemic and the surgeon wouldn’t due the full surgery.

But we compromised.

He did the brachioplasty.

And I’ve been recovering from that, pretty well, too I think.

It’s been rather extraordinary to not have the wings of skin hanging off my upper arms.

My arms are still healing and it was painful to go through the process, but man, it was worth it.

After a month and a half of healing I got an iron transfusion to accompany the plethora of iron supplements I had started taking in July.

And my surgeon set my date for the belt lipectomy for October 26th.

hahahahahahahaha.

Right after my PhD dissertation defense.

Can I just say that whole thing was stressful as fuck.

I successfully defended.

I am a doctor.

Huzzah!

And I pretty much turned right around and started getting myself prepped for the belt lipectomy.

Big ass surgery.

And in hindsight I am grateful that there were complications with the first surgery, I don’t think I could have dealt with both my trunk and my arms being inoperable.

It would have been too much.

So I went in 12 days ago and got it done.

He removed 7lbs.

7lbs!!

Of loose skin and tissue.

Fucking amazing.

I’m still too swollen to see much of a change, but I am excited for getting healed up enough to see the difference.

And wear clothes and buy new clothes.

And walk outside of my house.

I’ve been pretty bed bound for the last twelve days.

But.

I am happy to say.

That once again, I got off the pain meds really quick.

I was on Percocet, which is basically Oxycodone.

I hated it.

I mean.

In the beginning I took it without thought because I was in so much pain.

And I slept a lot, a lot, a lot.

But after my six day post-op follow up appointment I felt ready to titrate off the shit.

I went one more full day on the meds, going longer in between taking the pills.

And I had a plan to wean down and cut the pills in half and be off of them by this past Friday.

But.

Ack.

I remember one night, Tuesday it was, one week after the surgery, where I realized that I didn’t need them and that I didn’t want to continue taking them and I was afraid I would become bodily addicted.

So I stopped cold turkey.

And yeah, it wasn’t fabulous, the first night, Wednesday, was hard to sleep and I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching videos, but I got it out of my system and I haven’t had anything since this past Tuesday.

Four and a half days now.

Just Extra Strength Tylenol, lots of bubbly water, and videos.

Movies, series, cooking shows.

And for some reason.

An awful lot of what I have watched has been set in New York.

I have always wanted to live in New York.

And in some ways I sense it’s a good thing I didn’t when I was till actively drinking.

I think New York might have been the death of me, San Francisco nearly was.

So I never made it there.

I never moved there.

But I have thought of it often.

A brown stone in Brooklyn.

A therapy practice.

Seasons.

Granted.

I know winter there is not the bucolic cinematic scene that I watch cozied up with my fuzzy blankent.

Winters are brutal.

But spring, summer, fall.

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

I am nostalgic for a place I have never lived in, though I have visited three times.

And I fit in.

I fit in quite well.

I love the characters, and the character of the city.

I also know it can grind a person down and I know a lot of folks that have moved away.

But there is something about it.

Even now, on the cusp of turning 49 I think about moving to New York.

Though I sense you have to be young to make it in New York and really get established.

I am too old.

I have my one bedroom rent control apartment in Hayes Valley and my office is a five minute walk away.

I have the fog and the cable cars and the trolleys, the ocean, the multitude of beautiful hills and vistas, the Victorians.

Sure.

Yeah.

There’s homelessness and rampant drug use and shit on the sidewalk and some guy in the neighborhood who walks around with a super huge sound system strapped to a rolling cart, but there is still beauty.

So much beauty.

And just like I fit in New York.

I fit in San Francisco.

I’m in year twenty of living here.

So.

I don’t think I’m moving to New York anytime soon.

But there is something there.

A life maybe, running parallel to the one I am in now.

That once in a while I can just see out of the corner of my eye.

So when I’m ready and fully healed up I think it might be time for another trip back.

Which might be a bit yet, I do have to heal and I am going to Hawaii in February for a conference.

Maybe in the summer.

A four day weekend.

A stay at some swank hotel or a cute Air BnB in Brooklyn.

Until then.

I’ll keep watching videos.

I’m still on bed rest.

But I’ll keep the dream alive.

New York, you’re so often on my mind.


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