It’s Tuesday. Day two, post-op. I am sore, but overall I feel pretty OK. Granted, there are probably still some narcotics left in my system and I know the lidocaine is still working because I’m numb all over. Or maybe that’s just nerve damage, which is supposed to happen. But I think yesterday went pretty well. So, prepare yourself for WAY WAY TMI.
I arrived at 9:45 AM. I checked in, and was shuffled back to a pre-op room where I was told to strip down, put on a blue gown, a blue hairnet, some booties and a pair of ill-fitting panties. (Yes, I’m opting to call them “panties” as much as I loathe that word because they were indeed very panty-like. I think I would have rather been given some granny-briefs, but I reckon the less material the better. Also, they need access to as much skin as possible. So, panties it is!)
I was given more paperwork. The COVID sheet was slightly terrifying. Basically, I had to sign away my everything, letting them know that I’m choosing to have an elective surgery done during a pandemic. And this is why Toby and I postponed the surgery twice before. It’s been the subject of many intense conversations, about the risks and likelihood of my possibly being exposed to the coronavirus while trying to heal from surgery. I don’t think either one of us were particularly worried about the possibility of exposure during the actual surgery; the team is tested regularly and they have their own surgical center and full-time medical staff (ie. it wasn’t done at a hospital). Plus, PPE seems to work well against the spread. It was the days following the surgery that we worried about. So we chose to postpone the surgery until cases here in Maryland dropped to an all-time low, while tests were being administered at an all-time high. The positivity rate is what we spent a lot of time focusing on. I was also dancing between hoping to get it done BEFORE Montgomery County opens up more (we are behind the rest of Maryland by two weeks due to having experienced higher rates of the virus) but after positivity rates had dropped.
So, I signed and I’m staying inside for the foreseeable future.
Confession time! I went back and forth on whether or not to share this part publicly. It’s deeply personal and I know I’m likely to get some judgement, whether silently or not so silently. But I also think that people are curious about wanting work done. And it’s been, what, 20 years of my oversharing on the internet? Why stop now? Judge away!
Here’s the skinny. Four months ago, when I went in for the consult, the doctor and I discussed the reduction and what my goals were. I wanted a B cup, but would settle for a small C. He felt this was doable. But then I questioned him about what my belly would look like once my boobs were smaller. And that’s when he brought up liposuction. I know. That’s what these cosmetic surgeons are trained to do—up-sell! And the thought of getting liposuction never, ever crossed my mind. In fact, I’d always been adamantly against the idea. I used to be a hippy chick. (I do still wear my patchouli and Birkenstocks with great pride!) I would learn to love my body no matter what became of it. I would be happy with aging and gravity and all that fun stuff. But things change. And people have babies. So people change. And I guess I’ve changed.
The doctor and I talked about post-pregnancy bodies and how often times, no matter how hard a person works at losing weight, stubborn belly flab never goes away. Skin loses its elasticity over time, and, well, then that’s what you’re stuck with. He told me that if I wanted to, since I’d already be under for the reduction, they’d give me a discount on the liposuction should I choose to add that to my order, like it was a side of fries. I told him I would consider it. I asked for two quotes, one with the Lipo and one without, and that I’d get back to him.
Weeks passed. I researched the ever-loving shit out of liposuction, combed through before and after pictures. I even googled “Celebrities and Liposuction” (haha! Dork. But it seems like us common folk don’t share this stuff as much?) I also googled something called J-Plasma aka skin-tightening. It’s incredibly safe and seems to yield satisfying results. And after 3 full-term pregnancies, my belly skin looks like an enormous, fully extended elbow.
The cost difference was nominal, solely because the same anesthesiologist would be utilized and I’d already be undergoing surgery for the reduction. I figured since I’d already be in pain for the reduction, might as well double down. So, after discussing it with Toby and getting over my prejudice, I said, “What the hell? Why not?”
I opted for the reduction, Lipo and J-Plasma. So, recovery is a bit more intense than I had originally planned.
Now that I got that bombshell out of the way, and hopefully not TOO many of you are shaking your heads in judgement of me, I’ll continue.
So, yeah. Yesterday.
The OR nurse walked me through everything I’d experience after the surgery. There would likely be a lot of leaking due to the Lipo. This is incredibly common. And the J-Plasma might cause some bubbling of the belly. She actually called it skin flatulence.
“Wait, like it makes noise? Actual fart sounds?” I asked.
“Yes.” She answered. “Two weeks ago my husband had Lipo done with the J-Plasma and his stomach made sounds.”
“OH MY GOD. I have three little boys. If my belly makes fart sounds, I’m doomed.”
I was scheduled to have two drainage tubes, coming out of each breast, which Toby would have to empty for me. (I did not end up needing either one.) I would not be allowed to lift a damned thing. I was told how to clean myself and to use a specific soap. (Uncented Dove.) She told me to put down a protective sheet on the bed due to the likelihood of leaking and all the belly farting. Thank goodness we hadn’t tossed out the king-sized protective sheet we’d purchased when the boys were little and would often crawl into our bed at night and then inevitably pee all over it. I texted Toby letting him know where to find it and could he please put it on before I got home.
She inserted my IV and left.
Next up, my surgeon popped by and proceeded to draw all over my chest and stomach with a black marker. Measurements were taken in painstaking detail. He drew a circle where my nipples would end up, if all went according to plan. He drew a dress-like pattern all over my chest. Dashed lines here, solid lines there. X marks from my sternum out toward each breast. I was reminded of the guy in Silence of the Lambs with the female body suit. (I know. WTF.) I watched him work his magic and made a mental note about how you can find art in everything. I felt like I was in very capable hands. (I chose him because of his work and stellar reviews. He has done many breast reductions and had the portfolio to back it up. His colleagues, equally as talented, seemed to have more augmentations.)
And then in walked the anesthesiologist.
Now, I am not sure if it’s just been MY experience with anesthesiologists, or if there is indeed something about the people who choose that branch of medicine, but every single anesthesiologist I have ever met seems to be a little bit cuckoo. I mean this in the best possible way. I really do. They have all been slightly off, but in a good way. They almost always had a wicked sense of humor. They often seem to be the most cherished among their fellow staff members. And this doctor did not stray from this generalization. I’d guess she was in late 60s, and unique in every possible way. She had the best laugh. She was clinical when it came to the details of exactly what she would be doing, but when it came to personality and just shootin’ the shit, she was positively goofy. Maybe it’s that an anesthesiologist, above everybody else, literally has a patient’s life in their hands, balancing a delicate chemistry between awake, asleep and, well, death. Perhaps that type of power requires a certain amount of humor? I don’t know. But I appreciate it. And I have yet to meet one I haven’t liked.
We chatted about mundane stuff for a while. (Due to COVID, each OR has to recycle the air several times over, on top of excessive cleaning between every surgery, so we had some time to kill.) She asked me about my life, my kids, my husband. She even asked to see my cake portfolio, which was awesome. And she LOVED my roach cake. And when someone “gets” the roach cake, I know I’m in good company.
And then, just like that, she segued into all the drugs I’d be given. Versed. Dilauded. And eventually Propofol, “The Michael Jackson” drug. A cocktail of drugs that would completely erase hours from my life.
And that was it. I was ready. I walked into the OR, laid down on the table and the next thing I know it’s 4:45 PM and I’m waking up while being informed that they are unable to reach my husband. I tried Toby from my phone. Nothing. It wouldn’t even ring, just dead air. (Later, we’d learn that T-Mobile had a nationwide outage. Go figure. Great timing.) I called my brother and I called my parents. I don’t remember what I said to them, but I apparently called them. Someone finally suggested I text Toby. And somehow that worked.
Next thing I know, I’m being wheeled out to the car and I’m on my way home.
So, yesterday wasn’t terrible pain-wise. But I was so unbelievable nauseated from the anesthesia. That was awful. I had no appetite and could barely stomach water. I probably would have thrown up had I had anything in my system at all. But alas: I had properly fasted. Thankfully, Toby found some Zofran left over from the time down in Disney when we all got sick with the Norovirus. And Zofran made everything better.
I’m still mighty numb and the bruising has already begun. There has been some leakage from the Lipo, but noting too gross or obscene. I was even able to shower. I do believe I am now a proper B-cup, but I’ll know more once the swelling goes down. And it’s going to take 3 to six months for things to really make sense. But my nipples are in the right place, and much, much smaller in diameter. (Long story and if you thought this was already TMI, that’s a whole new ballpark, my friend. Let’s just say this was something I have hated about my breasts since I was old enough to notice how different they were.)
Yesterday evening, the nurse called Toby with some interesting news. Apparently, they found a tumor while performing the reduction. It was removed and sent to the lab for further testing. They are pretty sure it’s benign, but it can’t hurt to test. I’m just glad it’s gone now. Who knows, maybe this reduction had another hidden benefit.
I regret nothing. I’d do the reduction again in a heartbeat. Scars or no scars, this was a great decision. I only wish I’d done it sooner. The Lipo? No clue how I’ll feel about that. But I’m sure to update as time goes on.
(Go easy on me, Internet. Go easy.)