"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start,
anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." ~ Anonymous

Friday, January 31, 2014

Drains Are Out!!

I finally got back to the doctor today and my drains were both removed.  Yippee! My appointment today was the rescheduled appointment I was supposed to have Wednesday.  I think I'm kind of glad it got pushed out so I didn't go in on Wednesday just for him to tell me he was going to remove one and leave one for a few more days.  He had to tell one of his patients that today, but she had surgery three days after me.  My extended wait due to the storm was worth it after all.

Removing the drains was a weird sensation.  I'll admit I was nervous for it to be painful, but then the nurse told me she puts a topical anesthesia at the drain site to help.  I watched him snip the stitches and then pull...oh my.

My breath caught and he said, "Breath deep!"  I did and then it was out.  The second one came out much smoother.  I knew there was a lot of tubing in me, but I was still a little surprised at how long it was.  Amazing.

The doctor said everything looks really good and I have to agree it's really starting to look much nicer. He told me...
  • I'm still on limited activity.
  • I need to keep sleeping in a v-position (in recliner with pillows under my knees).
  • Little-to-no bending or reaching above my shoulders.
  • Standing is better than sitting, but I can sit up, ie. at the computer or for meals, for short periods of time.
  • I can start taking small walks, beginning with 15 minutes and working up to 30.  
  • Switch antibiotic ointment for cocoa butter now.  I'll do scar cream when the incisions are true scar tissue.
He also reminded me that I am doing better, but I still have a long way to go.  Now that my drains are removed I have to be careful because too much movement can cause swelling under the skin that will not be drained out. He said it will naturally reabsorb, unless it's too much, then I'd have to go back in and allow him to drain it.  I'm going to be do my best to not have to go back to drain fluid out of my abdomen.  

This means I have to continue to take it easy. I had read that when they say it takes 4-6 weeks for recovery they really do mean 4-6 weeks.  Today was one of those days I had to remind myself a good, obedient recovery is going to be worth it in the end. :) Being able to pull down my shirt over my smooth abdomen without drains poking out was a good taste of how nice it will be....if I'll just be patient. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One Week Post Op

It's officially been a week since my abdominoplasty surgery and things appear to be healing nicely.  Unfortunately, the death of my mother six days ago seems to have robbed me of some of my restufulness emotionally, but physically I've had plenty of care and time to rest.  Things are coming along nicely for her service and I am cleared to go out for it in about a week.  

Today I had a couple of firsts:

  • I took a shower! Our shower has a removable shower head with the tubing attached, so I actually sat in our shower and my husband still washed me.  :) It felt so good to have the warm water pour over me.  
  • I sat with my family at the dinner table for dinner.  I realized I should probably try sitting up a little bit each day and what better time than to eat and converse with my family? It was nice.  I spent maybe another hour upright and then I was ready to recline again.  
I've been amazed at how well the body can heal itself, but I'm also seeing the reality that this is truly a slow and steady healing process.  It took about an hour and a half to shower, put lotion, dress and out on my face and after that I was ready for a nap.  

It's times like that I'm glad my kids are older and understand what I'm going through.  If I am wiped out and need to rest in my chair they understand.  Younger children would probably not be able to comprehend why mommy stays so still for so long. 

Tomorrow was supposed to be my next checkup appointment, but due to a winter storm passing through they closed their office and moved my appointment to Friday. That means my drains won't be out tomorrow.  Darn it.  I am ready for them to come out.  My drain output is pretty low now, so at least I feel I should be able to take them both out on Friday.  

That's it for now.  The healing continues to be uneventful and I'm so grateful.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Post Op Day 6

Today was a pretty relaxing day...what else is new, right?  :) 

One of my daughters stayed home with me while the rest of my family went to church both in the morning and evening. We listened to a sermon at home during both times to get some church in.  I can't say I wish I was there yet, because being in a bit of pain and having drains keeps the desire to go out of the house at bay.

Last night my husband's boss brought us dinner.  There was so much we shared some with friends and still had plenty to reheat for lunch today.  After that we all took naps.  

My daughter and I played Phase 10 while "Swamp People" played in the background.  We also cleaned up the kitchen a bit for my husband.  She loaded the dishwasher and I wiped counters down.  My husband has been so good to keep the kitchen clean, so I asked her to help give him a break.  

That was my workout for the day. :)

Someone asked if I'm ready to go out of the house.  Not yet, but I am ready for the drains to come out. I have one stitched into each side, just in front of the hip and my underwear rubs it sometimes and bothers it.  The amount of fluid draining is really low, so hopefully they will be able to take out my drains like planned.  

Well, my family is home now, so I'm gonna get.  I may try and sleep in my bed tonight, with pillow support.  We'll see how that goes.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Post Op Day 5 -Spa Day

Okay, so I didn't go to the spa, but it felt like it.  It was bath day today.  :) 

Today I made it upstairs to my bathroom and my husband gave me a nice sponge bath, including shaving my legs for me (1st time since surgery) and washing my hair.  Though being upright for so long was tiring it felt so good to get a deep clean.  My husband was kind enough to bring a space heater in the bathroom to keep me warm for the duration and I felt so spoiled.  

After my weekly bath *giggle* I went ahead and put some hair products in and put on some makeup. I felt so nice and fresh.  I told my husband, "I'm all dressed up with no place to go." :) 

Actually, my mom used to tell me that getting dressed each day, whether or not you had to be somewhere, just makes you feel a little better about yourself.  I've found it to be true.  So, even though I put on some sweats and a t-shirt I felt clean and refreshed.  Just in time to eat some lunch and take a nap.

Going up and down the stairs and undergoing such a slow bathing process wore me clean out.  I remember reading how people said doing the smallest things would wear them out and it's so true.  When I get up for my little walks around the house I move my arms in racing motions and tell my family I'm working out. They smile at me and we giggle.

I only laugh so much, because laughing brings probably the worst pain I feel physically lately.  There is lots of stretching going on as well, but the jolting of coughing, laughing or crying reminds me I am stitched not just at my incision sites but internally as well.

Part of an abdominoplasty includes stitching the abdominal muscles together to tighten things up.  I guess it's like a little bonus help in regaining correct abdominal muscle placement.  When I go in for a checkup this week I want to ask the doctor how my abdominal a muscles looked.  He may not remember, but I'm curious.  Watch him say it was a mess.  :D

So, today had been pretty good,  I've been feeling a pinch on each side during the night when I adjust myself to get comfortable and I think it's the sites where the tubes are coming out for the drains.  The incisions are looking really good.  I've also only had one pain pill a day for a couple days now.  Its amazing I'm still so full of stitches and yet the pain has really lessened.  

Glory! Things are continuing in the direction they should and I'm grateful.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Post Op Day 4

One thing I kept reading repeatedly with regards to abdominoplasty recovery was that day #3 would be "hell"; the day the pain just really hit hard and you wondered why the heck you did this to yourself.  I'm happy to say that has not happened to me. 

My doctor said he is using a fairly new anesthesia that lasts about 48 hours and helps with getting over the worst of the pain. I think between the newer anesthesia and me staying on top of my medications I have not hit a wall of pain of sorts.  Yay! 

Today my quadriceps have begun aching at times, so I have been getting up more regularly to move around. The standing and shuffling around my house feels good for my middle, but it doesn't take long for me to tire out. Sheesh.  

I think today is the first day I started getting a little stir crazy, so I went and sat in a different room for a little bit.  :) I really don't want to go out with my drains in, so I'll be home for a bit longer.  Everything I read prior to surgery said this is a long recovery and to just take it easy and slow.  

Unfortunately, with the death of my mom I'm not sure if my lack of interest in movies and the like is due to being stir crazy from surgery or being frustrated I can't get up and do more.  My phone has been ringing off the hook with texts and phone calls both yesterday and today.  While I'm so grateful for the love and support I am finding it wears me out. Again, I'm not sure if it's emotionally draining just because of the death or because I'm also recuperating from surgery.  I imagine it's both and I'm trying to be patient with myself.  

But, everything looks to be healing up nicely and I am standing taller every day.  My drains appear to be holding less fluid each day and that is a good sign as well. I have some steri strips starting to fall off and I let them, though it grosses me out. Blech. 

Last night my family brought the dinner table into the living room so they could all eat with me,  it was sweet.  My husband also brings his food in to eat with me whenever he's home.  Today he showed my son how to make coffee because my son wanted to learn and help out.

Speaking of my son...this was cute.  He's 13 and stayed home with me today while my husband went to the girls' basketball game.  Well, the doorbell rang and it was a floral delivery.  I hear the guy say, "I have a delivery for Leah.." And then I hear" You can sign it." Some mumbling from my son and "sign it however you like."  I was awww... My son was probably asking if he had to sign for it in cursive or not.  So cute. That was a first for him,  :) 

This is getting to be a long post and it's time for another walk, so I'll go for now.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Post Op Days 2 & 3

First off, thank you for the condolences regarding my mom's death.  I'm told she appeared to pass quietly in her sleep and for that I am so grateful.  I also know for a fact that she had given her life to Jesus at a young age and I know we'll see her in heaven again someday.  There are lots of things to plan, but for now my job is to heal from surgery.

Yesterday was my two-day follow up and the doctor said everything looks great. With my abdomen covered in stitches from the outside of one hip to the other and a vertical incision up the middle of my abdomen I find it hard to think it looks great, so I told him I would take his word for it. :)

I was given instructions on wound care and to go ahead and take breaks from wearing the binder garment. One of the nurses said I didn't need to wear underwear or a bra either, but ... Uh... That's not gonna happen.  I had put on a regular bra, but did decide my sport bra was much more comfortable.

The told me I can shower now, but that makes me nervous.  My husband said we'll keep doing sponge baths for a little bit longer.  I bought "dry shampoo" and used that, but it made my hair feel disgusting. I think it's better when used on people with oily hair, and I am not one of those.

The doctor told me to stay a little hunched over, but not too much.  I think I was walking too hunched overl.

Today has been pretty good.  I did not take a pain pill this afternoon and I think I'm doing okay without it. I did have a couple questions for the nurse to clarify some things I was told yesterday, so I called her. She was sweet and answered everything.

My doctor also said my drains should come out next Wednesdaay or Thursday and I can travel to be with my dad if needed.  My dad has said they will wait to do my moms memorial service until I can get there, so we will see what dates we decide on. My heart is to be there as soon as possible, but my body wants to heal and be in better condition to travel.  My husband will be going with me, so we will see when that is to be.

In the meantime, the nurse told me to take regular little walks, pushing myself a little beyond comfortable to start standing up straighter more often. I still have my stack of books, audiobooks and have been enjoying Pride and Prejudice with my daughters today ... Between texts and phone calls.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Mother is Gone

I used the restroom this evening and then planned on sitting down to blog about post op day 2 when my phone rang. It was my dad's phone number, but not his voice and I knew something was wrong.  

I was called and informed that my mother has passed away. My dad couldn't talk at the moment and asked I be called immediately.  It looks as if she passed peacefully in sleep and I'm grateful for no foul play. I've since spoken to him, but still find myself sitting here in shock that she is really gone.  

So, my friends, I do want to blog about my post op days, but I know you'll forgive me if I don't share more tonight. I also know you'll understand if talking about the surgery is the only thing that keeps my mind off of her death.  

Her death...I still can't believe I'm saying those words and talking about my own mother. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Post Op Day 1

Well, I'm almost through my first day post abdominoplasty surgery. My husband was home with me all day and we hung out.  :)

My biggest trouble through the night was staying comfortable in the recliner with regards to my tailbone.  Ever since I lost weight if I'm slouching on the couch my tailbone will hurt.  I'm also not able to do sit-ups correctly because of my tailbone.  My husband said he always noticed it was "high". I've never asked the doctor because I just work around it. But....needless to say I have to adjust my seating when I'm reclined or I get really sore in that area.

I slept pretty well through the night and finally woke up at 5:30 realizing I was in pain.  It wasn't unbearable, but definitely pain. I took one Vicodin and realized by the next dosing I needed to take two. I remember the doctor saying to stay ahead of the pain and now I know why.  :) The good thing about feeling the pain for a bit was it reminded me that I indeed have been cut and need to be careful.

I have compression socks on and they itch periodically.  I think they come off at my follow up appointment tomorrow.  Only this afternoon did I begin to feel itchy just under the binder.  I was instructed not to take off the binder until the follow up tomorrow, so I'm hoping then to be able to see my incisions and my new belly button.

While I did show you how I look wrapped up I probably won't be showing the incisions.  Sorry. As I told my doctor, that's an area only my doctors and husband will ever see.  :) I took some "before" pictures in somewhat tight clothing so I'll have some comparisons to show you later. I can already see a major difference in my abdomen.

Today I slept off and on, ate and drank, texted for a bit and have relaxed pretty well.  Every time I get up to use the restroom I go for a short walk through my downstairs.  It feels good to move and I know it's good for blood circulation as well.

So, that's about it for today.  I'm sore, but nothing more than I expected and that is good. Things are going fairly smoothly and I'm grateful.

A Few Post Op Pics

I'm blogging from my iPad in my recliner,  so please excuse if I can't get the pictures up here correctly.
Well, this is how I look right now. 

 Tomorrow is my first follow up appointment and they will change my dressings. So hopefully I'll be able to see my incisions and my new belly button then.  :) I'll be wearing this binder for a few weeks and hopefully the drains will be out in a week.  We'll see what the doctor says tomorrow.
This is where I'm living right now. :) My little corner of the living room.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Abdominoplasty Surgery Day - Long Story

We arrived at the surgery center exactly on time.  My husband and I joined hands in the car and prayed for a safe surgery and thanked The Lord for the chance to make this happen.  Then we got out of the car and he took a pic of me in my new cutie pjs I purchased for this special occasion. :)

"My" nurse was going to be in OR, so the other one prepped me for surgery. She has me give a urine sample, of which I had plenty after our drive, and then had me dress in my gown, compression stockings (knee high length) and socks. She took my vitals had me reiterate to her what I was having done and gathered up my belongings.

Not too long after that the nurse anesthetist came in and got my IV set up and going with some saline.  He was an older gentleman who has been doing this for years and was awesome.  Great bedside manner.

The doctor came in and marked up my body for the surgery.  My husband enjoyed watching what he was doing and asked a question or two.  It was interesting to see how he marked me for surgery.  He was making vertical lines for symmetry because he said my stomach would fall to the side. At one point the doctor needed me to hold up my stomach so he could mark the underside of if and I was reminded exactly why we're doing this.

The operating room nurse came in as well and double checked all the stuff the medical assistant asked me and reminded me what would be happening before and after surgery.  I believe she is the one who walked me back to the operating room.

I wasn't really nervous, but a few times the reality of what was going to happen to my body made me nervous, scared even.  As I walked into the operating room and saw everything there I had a twinge of " oh my goodness, what am I doing?" But I remembered a few things....

  • Many people have had success with this surgery, and lots with my same doctor,
  • My doctor does this multiple times a week and doesn't want to lose a patient any more than I want to die. :)
  • I have prayed and trust that if it's my time to go, then so be it, but I know God is watching over me.
Then I walked over to the operating table and when I saw the little tables laid perpendicularly to the table for my arms it reminded me of the c-section I had with my girls. The OR nurse and the nurse anesthetist got me situated and he started dripping something that would help my mind relax as I waited for the anesthesia to kick in. 

As the nurse was covering me with warm blankets, slapping a freezing cold thing on my thigh (she warned me, but it was still a shock *giggle*) the nurse anesthetist chatted with me a bit. I told him I hoped I didn't say something stupid and he said I wouldn't be talking at all once I was asleep.  "The doctor doesn't like patients to talk while he's working." He grinned and said.  I told him I was totally good with that and wanted his focused attention on his work. Then he asked me about my kids and that's about all I remember...

.... until I suddenly felt myself shaking horribly, chattering teeth and in pain.  It took me a minute to realize where I was and that the recovery nurse was talking to me.  I had been dreaming and then wondered why I was in pain, because pain wasn't part of my dream. [grin] I was almost frustrated with the pain and chattering, but then I remembered where I was.

I kept telling myself to try and relax and to breathe through the pain. I could feel I was clenching my shoulders up and I knew I was very tense.  I was taking shorter breaths because of the pain, but then the nurse told me to go ahead and try and breath normal.  

She gave me a muscle relaxer right away.  Between the relaxer kicking in and me making a conscious effort to relax I began to feel a little better. I picked up the conversation where we left off and told the nurse the shaking reminded me of recovery after the c-section. 

I want to stop here and say that as I made myself try and relax and take normal breaths I told myself this was not forever and I could get through it.  I also realized this is something I learned through exercising.  There are times workouts or runs got really hard, but I just had to tell myself it wasn't forever and I would get through it--I could get through it.  I reminded myself of that as I was coming to and the relaxer was kicking in and I was fine. Sure it hurt, but I knew it wasn't forever. (I sure wish I would've learned to think like that for childbirth.. *giggle*)

I was slightly nauseous, but I was dizzy more than anything.  I think it was the warmth, because as soon as I began to get some fresh air when we left I started feeling better.  The nurse suggested we stop for something to eat so I could take a pain pill when I got home. She said, "There's a Wendy's next door and a frosty might be nice." That sounded great. 

She helped me try and use the restroom and dress. They didn't even try to put my undergarments on and I was mortified... Okay.. Not really. I didn't even care.  You know you're fuzzy headed and in pain when you don't care and are happy enough to be covered.  My pjs covered me completely. 

I was wheeled to the door of the facility and then my husband helped me into the car.  We brought along a step stool to make it easier to get in our Toyota 4 Runner.  I was advised to sit in the back seat because the doctor doesn't like his patients in the way of an air bag, God forbid it deploys.  So, my husband tilted one of our back seats slightly back and I sat catty corner to him.  We put the stool under my feet with a pillow on top of that because I was instructed to sleep in a somewhat "v" shape for the first bit to not stretch myself out too much.  

He stopped by Wendy's and got me a small frosty which I ate slowly so I wouldn't throw up.  It tasted good, but I was queasy.  The coolness felt wonderful on my irritated throat (from the tube that was keeping my airway open). My husband was so kind and even turned on the a/c to keep me cool and help me get over the nausea. It never got any worse and I'm sure it's because of that.  

I was pretty awake and was able to send a few texts alerting friends and family all went well and I was headed home.  My husband drove carefully and would say sorry if I was jostled in any way. He was so cute! He'd also reach back and rub my foot once in a while. 

I did nod off and on on our short drive, 45 minutes, but also enjoyed relaxing an d knowing I'd made it through the surgery safe and sound.  I texted my daughter when we entered our neighborhood and my husband backed in the garage so I could exit on the side nearest the door to the house.  He told me I had an audience waiting for me and as we walked into the house I hear my daughter snapping pictures on her iPod touch.  A girl after my own heart.  

My husband helped me to he readied recliner and got me situated very slowly; taking extreme precaution to lift the leg rest on the recliner nice and slow so as to not jar my abdomen when lifting my legs. He then instructed my girls to each lift a leg gently to he could place a pillow under them to keep me in a "v" shape. They were eager to help and were very gentle as well.

The roast I had left cooking in the crock pot smelled delicious.. My husband and daughter finished up dinner and I ate a child's portion from my recliner chair.  After dinner the family put a movie on and I dozed off and on before texting a friend for a little bit.  

I have a great team of family that has been so gentle helping me get in new no out of the recliner to use the restroom. My husband also helped me get my underthings on and emptied my drains. I'm not surprised at his care, but it tickles me just how slow an deliberate he is about every little thing.  He won't let me pick up hardly anything just yet and keeps reminding me to not strain myself. 

When I'm in the recliner I am most comfortable and feel recovery won't be so bad.  Then I stand up and I'm like, "Oh my. Yes, I did have surgery today," yowsa. I've gotten up each time to use the restroom and move my legs a bit for circulation, but that's about it.  

There's a long road of recovery ahead of me, but I can already tell that it's going to be worth it.  It's been an adventurous day, but now I'm going to eat an orange and go to sleep. My husband is sleeping on the couch to be near me.   Aww... What a day! And what a man! :)

Abdominoplasty Surgery Day - Short Story

The surgery went well.  I was pretty dizzy coming out of anesthesia, so I didn't ask too many questions except 1) Do you know how much you took off? Weight? And he said, he didn't know the weight, but it was A LOT and 2) I believe he did indeed do a vertical incision as well as a horizontal incision.  This is the "fleur de lis" incision.  The doctor and his staff were wonderful.  

My husband took me and it was so good to see his face when it was all said and done.  He drove me home safely and has been babying like me like crazy. He's so sweet.  My kids are real gentle as well. I'm a blessed lady.  Now on to the recovery. Yay!!!

Maybe A Little Nervous

As I got in the shower this morning I suddenly got butterflies in my stomach.  I decided it's the kind of nerves I had before any of my races, but mainly before my half marathon,  -- the "I'm doing something I never thought I could/would do." nerves.  

I'm about to altar myself in a way I never dreamed I would.  Losing weight has been a miracle in my life, but getting rid of the remainder of the belly I've carried around for so many years ... It's a big, and very permanent step. 

Then as I showered and lifted my belly to clean under it I thought, "I'm never going to have to lift my belly like that again."  


And now... I've brought down my bathroom stuff, dinner is in the crock pot, I've kissed the kids goodbye, my dear friend Steph has already texted me (at 5 am her time) to let me know she's praying and I've seen two comments of encouragement on my Surgery Eve post.  

I'm ready and it's time to go.  Thanks for the well wishes and I'll talk to you later.  :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Surgery Eve

It's the night before surgery and all through the house...

Just kidding. 

I think I pretty much have everything done that's going to get done before surgery.  I've just finished printing out the dinner meal ideas for about 14 meals that I've bought groceries for along with instructions for each meal and recipes if necessary.  My husband is very handy in the kitchen and my kids will help too.  He'll have to buy fresh stuff, but the meat is all there.  This should be fun!  

I also prepared a package for the mail, put my little bag together with my prescriptions, some crackers in case I'm nauseous and my folder of paperwork.  I've downloaded two audiobooks to my iPad for my post-surgery listening pleasure...until I feel like holding the two books I borrowed from the library. 

The only thing left to do is bring down my bathroom stuff tomorrow morning to our powder room because I don't think I'll be going upstairs for a few days.  I've already packed a bag of changes of flannel pants and shirts and things to change daily after a sponge bath that I can do downstairs.  I bought dry shampoo to try too.  I'd rather be prepared than trouble my family too much ( or get frustrated when they don't know where to look for my stuff.  lol )

A friend asked me if I was nervous about tomorrow.  

Nope.  I'm not nervous at all about the surgery.  I just had things I wanted to be done before I had it done and they finally are.  My pre-suregery "to-do"s have kept my mind busy with planning and preparing.  My family will do just fine with me out of commission for a bit, but I'm trying to make things as easy as possible for them. 

As I type my husband is saying, "Leah, it's after 11:00..you need to go to bed."  So, I will shortly. 

The doctor asked if I'd need valium tonight to relax and be able to sleep.  Nope..I might've needed it to help me not be too excited.  *giggle*  Actually, I've stayed up late enough tonight I think I'll sleep just fine. 

I have to be there at 10:15 am and my surgery is at 11:00 (Eastern time).  We live about 45 minutes to an hour away, so we'll still leave pretty early.  I'm already dreading not having my morning coffee, but I know I'll live.  lol

I may check in one more time in the morning, but I may not.  Depending on how I feel I'll check in post surgery.  Otherwise, I'll be back on Tuesday.  

I still can't believe this is really happening...to me.  It's so exciting and still surreal right now.  A whole new adventure in my new ending I never dreamed I'd experience, or actually be in a place where I qualified for such a surgery.  

Goodnight...I'm going to enjoy my bed and sleeping "normally" for the last time in a short while.  :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Mom's Having Surgery!!! (a Guest Post)

Preface:  My daughter has wanted to tell the world about my surgery, so I asked her if she'd be interested in writing a guest post for my blog.  She readily agreed.  So, here is my 16-year-old's view of my upcoming surgery.   ~ I didn't edit a word and have to say I think she's a pretty good writer.  She's brought tears to my eyes and gives me one more reason to keep pressing forward in my new ending in life. 
I am so proud of my mom! She has worked so hard to get to this point. I never would've thought she'd  lose enough weight to have surgery.

For the most part of my life, my mom has never been the one to be active or eat healthy. I'd always hear of kids at school whose mothers were all about eating healthy and staying active, but I just knew my mom would never be like that. I was alway ok with that because I loved her the way she was. Plus, she can cook really good and I didn't want her to start making some of the "disgusting, healthy food."

When my mom first started running, I thought it was pretty cool. I couldn't believe she was actually doing something active on her own. I loved hearing when she finished a run and was talking about how hard it was, or how she actually did it. There were even times when I thought "Wow, I could never do that."

I always felt a sense of pride when she accomplished a new goal, wether it be a faster mile, or more distance added to her time. I just couldn't believe she was turning into this thinner, fitter, and healthier woman. 

There were even times when I secretly watch what I was eating because my mom was, and why shouldn't I? 

I alway loved watching The Biggest Loser. It was interesting to see how hard these people worked to lose weight and get healthy. It was so cool to see them at the end of the season and how much weight they lost. I remember listening to how they'd say losing weight changed there life and they'd never be the same again. 

I've also seen other weight loss shows where people would work towards getting this surgery to remove excess skin and stuff. I remember seeing how excited they were to reach that goal and earn that surgery. 

When my mom said she was going to get this surgery done, I was like "Are you serious?!" I looked back at how far my mom has come and how much she's lost and I thought to myself, "She looks like those transformations you see only on TV." I was amazed that she lost that much weight. When she said she lost enough to get the surgery, I wanted to cry. She worked so hard for this. I'm so proud of how she's stuck to her plan and not strayed from the goal to lose. 

She is an inspiration to me and to others that it is possible, and that if she can do it, anyone can.

I love her and I can't wait to see the final result of this amazing success that she has earned.... And when she recovers, I will be running my first 10k with her. I never would've thought to do it if it wasn't for her. 

I love you, Mom, and I 'm so proud of you.

Friday, January 17, 2014

"Will I Still Have a Lumpy Stomach??"

At my pre-op visit the doctor held the bottom of my stomach, the "apron" as they call it, and told me they can definitely get rid of that.  Then he touched the upper portion of my abdomen, just under my bra and informed me, "That will not go away.  We can not remove that fatty tissue due to blood supply issues."  

After he left the room I asked the nurse about that comment and she assured me everything will be flush and smooth.

But in the days following I was still worried about the thought that the upper abdomen fatty tissue would still be there.  I had images of a flatter lower abdomen and a bulge on top, or small deposits of bulging tissue everywhere. 

When I voiced my worries to my husband he replied with, "You've seen the pictures ... you'll be fine."  

But it still bothered me and I knew I was going to ask the nurse about it one more time just to be sure.    This is a lot of money to spend and have unanswered concerns prior to the procedure. 

So, today when the nurse called me I told her I was thinking about calling her with this concern.  I told her everything that was bothering me and she explained it like this: 

She said the fatty tissue that is attached to the upper portion of by abdomen will not go away, but be stretched out along my abdomen along with the skin that will be pulled down.  I told her it concerned me when the doctor kept pointing it out, but she reassured me it just meant my stomach will not be rock hard, but have a small layer of fatty tissue under the skin.  

"Don't worry.  You'll be flat and it will look all smooth because that tissue will stick with the skin as it is pulled down.  You're gonna love it!"  

I asked her if it was like having a pile of frosting on a spoon and then smoothing it over a cake -- it's the same amount of product, but spread out.  She said that was right. 

I told her I never expected my stomach to be a washboard stomach when this surgery is done.  There are women going into the surgery with much less fat and weight on their bodies than I am, so I know I will not look like their "after" pictures.  I always look for the "before" pictures that look similar to my stomach right now and then look at their "after" pictures as something I have to look forward to.  (It's always much, much better than what I've ever had in my life..) 

She said I have a great outlook and my expectations are exactly what they should be for this procedure.  She also reassured me for the millionth time, "You're gonna love it!"  :)  Now that she has put to rest my qualms about the fatty tissue that will remain I am definitely getting more excited about it.  

Pre-Op Phone Call

This morning the nurse called from the surgery center where I will be having my abdominoplasty on Monday.  Most of this isn't anything new, but I'm kind of having fun journaling this tummy tuck journey.

First, she asked if I had any questions, then she said to get a pen handy and she was going to go over a few things with me and proceeded to remind me ...

  • When to arrive and where to enter the surgical facility, around back where no one will see me shuffling in and out in my pajamas...cute as they are.  :)
  • No lotions, makeup or jewelry on surgery day, but I can take a shower that morning.
  • Bring all prescriptions with me and no medications or herbal supplements that morning. (No daily vitamin...that's my only "herbal" supplement.)
She said I can wear whatever style bra I feel most comfortable in and if I have a hard time putting it back on then they'll send it home with me in a bag.  Oh my.  The thought of being outside my home without undergarments makes me blush.  *giggle*  She said they may or may not let me keep my bra on during surgery.  I knew they'd have me remove it, but I kind of hope I can get it back on afterwards.  I think I'm going to go with a lighter support sports bra I have, because it comes on and off pretty easily and will be more comfortable to sleep in.

She said my husband seems so sweet.  He was asking all kinds of questions about the anesthesia and pain medications at the pre-op appointment.  I told her it's kind of funny, but being a dentist and being somewhat familiar with oral surgery he likes to know everything that is going on.  

I informed her that we have decided to drive home, versus staying in a hotel minutes from the center. We live 45 minutes from where my surgery is being done, but I know my recliner and have things ready here for me to sleep.  I think the hardest part will be getting in and out of the car, which I'll have to do regardless of where I stay, so we've decided to save the money and just come home. 

I asked her if I can get a picture of what will be removed and she said, "Oh yes.  I'm going back there to take pictures of everything and I can get you copies of that; just remind me."  I'm so excited about that.  It will be interesting to see just how much skin/flab is removed.  

I asked if liposuction is included in my surgery because I keep seeing before/after photos with captions like "abdominoplasty with liposuction to the flanks".  She said that is a separate procedure and we could ask the doctor about doing it, but he may not because my surgery will be pretty extensive already.  I told her I wasn't going to use surgery to get rid of excess fat and that if it bothered me I'd take care of it with diet and exercise. 

I had another major question for her about the expected results of my surgery, but I'm going to post separately about that.  She answered that very thoroughly and I was super glad she called.

This nurse, or medical assistant..not sure what she is, is so sweet.  She's probably 10 years younger than me (or more ... lol) and keeps telling me, "You're gonna be so pleased with your surgery!  You're gonna love it!"  She and the doctor have seen before/after pictures of me at my heaviest weight and they are excited to do this surgery and help me even further in my journey. 

She asked if I was getting more excited and yes, ma'am I am!

My Daughter's First [unplanned]5K

My daughters have always been very active and they currently play basketball.  Last fall one of them told me she was thinking about trying out running after basketball season was over.  Yesterday there was no basketball practice, so the same daughter told me she was going to go for a run. 

"I'll just be gone for 30 minutes.", she said, "I don't even know if I can run for that long, but I'm going to try." 

I said okay and continued about my business.  We live in a fairly safe neighborhood, so I wasn't worried about her. 

Well, she returned a little over 30 minutes later elated and showing me on her Nike+ Fitness app that she had just finished running 3.56 miles.  She said she just kept running until she realized she'd hit 30 minutes and then finished it out.

I told her that was a little over a 5K and she was grinning from ear to ear. 
When she mentioned running last fall I had told her she would probably have no problem running a 5K in the spring and she had said she'd like to try for that.  Well, now that she just ran 3.56 miles (about .46 over a 5K) she is thinking of going for a 10K race this spring instead. 

The best part of this is how she posted on her Instagram account that she knew if her mom could do it she surely could.  Aww... 

At my heaviest I was always happy for my kids when they played for hours outside and when they played sports I cheered them on, never once wishing I could participate in those activities with them.  My husband was the active parent and I was happy to cheer from the sidelines.  

Now my daughter is saying that she'd like to try to train for a 10K ... and she wants me to help her find a training plan so we can train together.  Another moment of non-scale victory in my new ending.  :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Support Welcome, But Not Necessarily Required

I want to take a minute to thank all of you for your support about my decision to have surgery.  One of my faults is to worry too much what people think about me and my decisions in life.  At 37 years old I still worry more than I should.  I'm learning part of that is because I can be a pretty critical person myself.  Over the past years I've really been working on being less critical of others and in turn not worry so much about what they think about me.

I share all that to share that when I told a friend about my surgery and her reaction was less than supportive I told my husband I had a major breakthrough -- I didn't care.  She wasn't offering me justified reasons to reconsider, i.e. risks, etc, she simply kept repeating "I get it [the skin], but WHY [have the surgery]?!"

That was the night I realized I would need somewhat of a reason to explain investing a large sum of money into removing skin that no one other than my doctors and husband would every truly see.

Of course, my husband said I don't owe anybody an explanation, but I knew I also wanted to have my reasons down for myself.  You don't spend lots of money and allow someone to cut on your body without knowing why you're doing it.

So, I figured out my why and put together the blog post announcing my surgery when I finally felt it was time to share my decision with "the world". 

More than figuring out my why I also figured out, or came to the conclusion, that I don't really care whether people support or reject my choice.  I don't mean to sound harsh, but my husband and I discussed at great lengths whether or not I should have this surgery.  As I got smaller and smaller and truly understood what it is to have saggy skin that can make clothes shopping and exercise frustrating both he and I realized this kind of surgery could be very beneficial.  

There are those who I think may worry I'm changing too much by being willing to go through surgery; they will think it all vanity.  But as I told one close friend...  I am still Leah.  I'm still just working on my new ending in life with regards to my health.  

Those who are my friends will have to trust that I'm going to continue being the same me.  My priorities in life have only adjusted slightly to include staying active and eating less food, but that started way before my decision to have abdominoplasty.  

To sum it up, I didn't start losing weight and exercising to please anyone and I'm not doing this surgery for that reason either.  So, I'm grateful for the support from those who offer it and I'm not worried about the ones who don't agree.  For a girl who spends too much time worrying about what others think this is a huge breakthrough for me, and another breakthrough in my weight loss journey I'm glad to have experienced. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pre-Op Appointment

I had my pre-op appointment today for my abdominoplasty.  The doctor and staff were very in depth with the risks, procedures, to-do's etc and said everything looks good.  I have my prescriptions to fill for an antibiotic, a pain killer and a muscle relaxer.  I'm also going to look for a stool softener to take right away to help keep me from getting constipated.  

They suggested I wear a shirt or zip up hooded sweatshirt for surgery because that will be easier to put on versus trying to lift my arms above my head to get into a t-shirt the first day or two.  I only have one button up blouse, so I stopped at Kohls and picked up a cute pair of flannel pi's with a button front on clearance.  As my girls said, I'll also need to look cute if someone comes to the house.  Yea, me with no makeup and hunched over will be cute.  lol  :) 

But I digress.

The doctor did inform me that the area on what would be near the back of my hips will still have the skin and fatty tissue it currently has, but everything else will be pulled flat.  I was informed I can lose up to 20 more pounds and it not affect the results of my surgery.  Since I would like to get down to 150 I was glad to hear this.  

My husband went with me to the appointment and the doctor showed him wear the incisions would be -- one from hip to hip and one around my belly button.  My husband is a dentist and a little familiar with surgical procedures so he asked a couple questions about anesthesia and post-op medication.  The doctor was very patient with us and answered all our questions in a kind manner.  

At the last minute the nurse remembered she has to take a before picture and we had to go into this little room where the camera is set up.  I put on the little panties handed to me and told my husband had I not been about to have my stomach skin removed I would've been very embarrassed to let my gut hang out like that.  Yikes.  She is the nicest young lady and kept telling me I'm going to be so pleased with my results.  (No, mom I did not consent to have my photos on their website...even though I did tell my husband I've learned a lot from seeing others photos.)

The doctor asked if I needed a valium to take the night before surgery and I told him I think I'm fine; to which he replied that I looked very calm.  I am. 

I really am not worried about the surgery.  I'm very comfortable with the doctor and staff at the surgical center where it will be performed.  I also have no expectations of looking like a super model when it's over.  I've given birth to twins and a single baby, lived the majority of my adult years weighing over 200 pounds on a 5' 4" frame and have the stretch marks to prove it.  

My body has done some amazing things and I'm very proud of that.  I'm simply looking forward to not having the bulging skin in my middle when I exercise and to look a little smoother in my clothing.  Today my doctor assured that he'll be able to take care of all of that.  :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So Glad I talked to Ms. Teri

Short Story:
Ms. Teri is the sweetest lady at the gym and yesterday after intimating to her that I would be gone from the gym for a bit due to having "skin removal surgery" she informed me to simply obey the doctor's orders to a "t" and I'll heal just fine..like she did when she had her surgery.  I. Never. Knew.  and I realized you never know where help can come from if you don't ever reach out to those around you.

Long Story:
Ms. Teri is a really neat lady at the gym I go to on base.  She always has a smile on her face and is ready with a cheerful word of encouragement to those around her.  I started getting to know her a bit last fall and currently chat with her a little here and there after a class we both take on Mondays and Wednesdays.  She is also a beast in class; quietly working so hard and always saying that she just tries her best, while she casually outworks many of us younger ladies.

Yesterday I got to the gym early and decided to tell her about my surgery prior to the class so she would know where I was when I didn't show up for a month or more.  She was so happy for me.  Then she sweetly took me by the shoulders and said, "Just do everything your doctor tells you to and you'll be fine.  Do everything they say and let yourself heal and you'll be fine.  Trust me...I know... [pause] I did and mine healed up just fine."

What?!?  I smiled real big.  "You've had the same surgery???", I asked her.  She said yes she had and shared her story with me.  She said she doesn't tell everyone, but is happy to share it when it will help someone else.

She said I could share her story on my blog, then she explained she had always been active, had two very large babies that stretched her skin out a ton.  She wore girdles with all her clothing (including workout gear) and after years of doctors telling her there was nothing they could do about the skin she finally asked for a referral to speak with a surgeon after having a hysterectomy just to see what the surgeon would say about the excessive skin.

The surgeon took one look at her skin and told her they could give her the gold star treatment and insurance would cover all of it.  Ms. Teri said she and her husband cried at the news that not only could they take care of the skin issue, but they wouldn't have to pay for it.

She said the freedom she felt after having the skin removed when she exercised was amazing.  She was relieved from chaffing skin and pain from the excess skin flapping around during her workouts.  And she was also relieved from having to wear extra undergarments under her clothing to keep things in check.

The thing she kept telling me what that you can never think someone is perfect or that they don't have problems, because you never know the whole story.

That is so true (as I've said many times since losing my own extra weight). I would never have known that this sweet lady had skin removal surgery.  I've seen her as a faithful regular at our gym since I moved here.  She doesn't dress in a way that says, "Look at me and my flat abs!!"  She simply works hard and I could easily assume she'd never had an issue with loose skin or extra weight of any kind. 

Sometimes I'm a little too talkative -- so I'm told -- but this was one time when I was so glad I opened my mouth.  Not only was I able to become a little more friendly with a lady at the gym, but I was able to learn more about the procedure I'm about to undergo from a real person.  I couldn't have asked for a better person to learn from either.  

Ms. Teri has offered me her phone number so I can check in with her after my surgery, she's offered her prayers for everything to go well and we both look forward to when I can go back to the gym and continue working on my new ending ... excess skin not included.  :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

One Week Until Surgery

So, it's officially one week until my abdominoplasty surgery and I've been a little obsessed over the past few days looking up "abdominoplasty success stories", etc. etc. on Google.  I've been looking at pictures and reading peoples' stories to get an idea of what to expect on the day of surgery and in the days following.

There are some very honest people out there, and while I won't be sharing all of my bare abdomen for the world to see I am very grateful some have shown theirs.  Through the perusing I've come up with some more specific questions to ask my doctor on Wednesday.  

Here and there I'm also thinking of different things I need to take care of.  For example, I think I'll take our step stool to help me get in our Toyota 4Runner post surgery.  Yikes.  My husband reminded me he'll be there to help me step up on the running board, but still ... We'll see how strong my arms are.  :)  

Today I went and picked up some hard books and some audiobooks for recovery from the library.  I burn the audiobooks onto my computer and then I have as much time as I need to listen to them.  I also have some baby hand work gifts I can work on when I'm past the sleeping-all-day stage and just need projects to keep me seated and healing and not bored out of my mind.  

That's about it for today.  I'm not really nervous about having surgery.  I just can't believe I'm really doing it and that I'm not going to have a bulging belly anymore.  It's beyond my comprehension what exactly this surgery is going to do for me.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

January Sugar-less Challenge

So, my husband has been wanting to get rid of a little extra belly fat.  We had some talks about this and that with regards to diet and exercise and one thing I mentioned is it might help him just to cut out his sugary drinks that he loves, namely soda, lemonade and Kool-Aid.  He exercises regularly and eats fairly healthy.  I'm the more sweets girl, but he's definitely the sweet drinks guy.  My son has also wanted to trim up and get healthier.  My son is in the early teen, pudgy stage, but he has an appetite for sweets AND sugary drinks.  

They came up with this idea in December to not have any sodas or sweets for the month of January to  detox from the sugars.  I reminded my husband when I did this a few years ago he told me after it was over it was the dumbest idea I ever had.  *giggle* 

I suggested trying to cut cut out the sweets for 6 days a week, allowing one "treat" day for sweets and/or sodas and sugary drinks.  If they chose to do the "one cheat day" plan I said I'd join them.  My husband liked this idea and we agreed that it would be an easier idea to maybe even stick to beyond the month and make it a habit. 

The rules are:

  • Sweets are only allowed one day a week
  • Sugary drinks only allowed one day a week for the boys
  • Any soda only allowed one day a week for me (I've been downing too much diet soda lately and not enough water)
  • Milk, juice or water at mealtimes.  (Trust me, I wanted to cut out the juice...but I'm not winning that battle.)

We started the challenge this past Monday, when the kids went back to school, and it's going well so far.  Last night was the first night my husband had any juice and I told him I'm so proud of him for drinking so much water.  Woot!  My son has done well also, though my husband did reassure him he didn't have to do this with us if he wanted to have a sweet treat (after I asked if he could have a small hot chocolate when I was ordering coffee on our freezing cold afternoon earlier this week..)  My son had the hot chocolate, but that's the only dessert he's had so far this week.  

I have found myself eating some crackers with milk at night a couple of nights and I think it's the "carb craving", but I've been tracking all my food again and making room.  Just the fact that I'm not having as much sweet junk as I was eating in late December is a good thing.  

I'll keep you posted on how things are going periodically and at the end of the month we'll see if there's any weight loss for my husband from his cutting down the sugary drinks (and not drinking so many extra calories...oh..the conversations we've been having.  lol  *grin*)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Major [Surgical] Decision

Have you ever found yourself doing something you never thought you would?  There are some things I will never do simply because they go against my beliefs and then there are things I say I would never do because I have no interest in the subject or I don't think I'd ever be able to do "it". 

Weight loss was one of those things I never thought I'd be able to do.  Maintain a large weight loss?  That was only a dream for me for many years.  In fact, it was more of a "I'll-never-be-able-to-do-that" thing.  

Then I did it.  I lost weight and have maintained a significant loss for a little over a year now.  Throughout this past year I've also changed some thoughts on something I never thought I'd do.  I've considered skin removal surgery. 

I've considered it on my abdomen, especially after a consultation with a cosmetologist last September assured me the bulge on my abdomen was mostly loose skin and I was a perfect candidate for an abdominoplasty -- a.k.a. "tummy tuck".  

Me?  Get a tummy tuck?


After much consideration, research and planning over the last six months my husband and I have decided to go ahead with skin removal surgery on my abdomen.  I've known that when I announce this I'm going to be asked why.  I'm a modest woman and have no desire to wear a bikini bathing suit or cropped blouses, so why would it matter to get rid of the excessive skin on my stomach? 

To sum it up I want to get rid of the reminder of who I used to be.  I have an apron of skin that hangs from hip to hip and up and over my belly button.   There are certain styles clothing that will never fit me correctly no matter how much weight I lose and I will always have this bulge around my middle that will not go away without surgery.  It's a vex sometimes.

Yes, the saggy skin on my thighs are also a reminder, as well as the underarm "wings" I've acquired both with age and weight loss.  But they don't prevent me from feeling as good about myself as my stomach does.  

It sounds vain, and I know some will think I'm just that, but I honestly have arrived at a place where I'm not overly concerned with what others think about this decision.  Also, we are in a place financially where skin removal surgery is possible.  

All throughout my weight loss journey I have prayed to stay a humble, modest woman and not allow my new figure to turn me into a "hooch".  I'm also a big component of loving yourself as you are, and I do love myself and am very proud of what I've been able to do,  but the thought of being able to get rid of this one major reminder of the old me is wonderful.

I'm super excited about the prospect of not having an apron of skin hanging from hip to hip, of not having to wear a full body girdle to keep things smooth under my dress clothes and to be able to run and not feel my stomach flap, flapping as I go along.  This surgery is the proverbial "icing on the cake" of my weight loss journey.  It's not necessary, but I'm very glad I can do it.

I'm also getting a bit nervous, because this type of surgery is no joke and mine is less than two weeks away.  

Yes, I go in for my pre-op appointment in a week and surgery is on Monday, January 20th.  I'm guessing will be similar to my c-section as far as the healing goes.  My husband is able to take off work to go with me to all my appointments and to care for me at home,  My teenage kids are aware of what is going on, so they will be able to help out as well. 

Skin removal surgery a huge step for me, and one I never dreamed I'd take in my weight loss journey.  I plan on sharing a lot about it here and look forward to good things.  I will share some sort of before and after photos, but I'm still deciding how much photo proof I want to share on the internet.  

If this is not your type of thing, please just bear with me.  My blog may be focused a little on the surgery for the next few weeks, but things will settle down after a bit and I'll be over it.  

For those that are up to it ... feel free to join me on a new adventurous chapter in my journey.  :)


Today I did a Jillian Michaels DVD workout.  It wasn't hard and it was only 30 minutes, but it felt so good to move for exercise again.

After hurting my foot, going on vacation, celebrating Christmas and my twin's 16th birthday on New Years Eve, then being knocked out sick for almost a full week and finally trying to catch up on laundry and cleaning after being sick... I have felt so out of shape.  I did exercise on vacation, but I think I only went to the gym once the week of Christmas and then I wasn't able to after that.

So, the workout was short and sweet, but I felt so refreshed after my exercise.  Ahhh... :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Out Sick

I'm currently recovering from a cold that has hit me harder than any cold I've had in a long time...I'll be back soon with my 2014 goals.  :)