Burning needles & needing to pee - post op day 1 abdominoplasty

I did it! I had a tummy tuck. My god I have waited so long for this...and put it off for so long. I had numerous consults with Dr M in the lead up to this. I was anxious, I was scared. The whole process for me from initial consult to surgery day was about 14 months, The tummy tuck itself, was about 15 years in the making and now here I was on the other side of surgery. My first night was full of broken sleep as the nurses were taking my blood pressure every hour. I always suffer from post op low blood pressure and this time was no different. The nurses seemed slightly concerned and told me that Dr Miroshnik wanted it to be continually monitored until it became stable again. The nurses kept Dr M updated throughout the night and by early morning it had returned to normal again.

I had woken up in no pain at all, just discomfort from being led in the same position all night, I was afraid to move. I was also super excited that this was it, I had done it.....finally. I had been given one of those pain pumps and had made use of that throughout the night if required. I really think I only used it a few times. It releases a small amount of pain relief directly in to your system and it provides relief for about 5 minutes. So it was really only relevant to use for those short, sharp pains that I may have felt if I had moved the wrong way. The other meds that were fed through my drip did most of the hard work, so I really didn't feel anything at all. I still had my catheter in too, which was fab because there was no way I was getting out of bed to pee. The thought was horrific. having the catheter had proven to be awesome. When I had learnt, pre op, that I was going to have one, I was mortified. Mortified at the fact someone was going to have to actually insert it...lol.., mortified that Dr M would be involved in the process. lol. (ikr) This whole recovery and being vulnerable thing was my main concern regarding this surgery. It wasn't pain, or scarring or anything like that. It was merely that I now had to become vulnerable; something that was very foreign to me.

I had two drains in as part of the surgery also, so they were constantly being emptied through the night, It was pretty gross, but nowhere near as awful as I was expecting it to be. They just became a part of me, and a necessary part of recovery. They were inserted at the tops of both my thighs. I didn't feel them at all. They were taken out the day I was discharged, but I will go through that when I reach Day 4. :)


Before I go any further, I just want to make a quick side note about the food and catering service at the hospital and then I don't need to mention it again, because I could go on and on about the food and service all throughout this post....lol. It was seriously like being in a 5 star hotel. The chef would come around prior to each meal and talk about what was on offer for that meal. It was pretty much five courses too, and I could have has much or as little as I wanted. Breakfast would be toast, something warm, a bowl of fruit, some yoghurt and a drink. The same types of options were available for lunch and dinner too; a starter, something warm, a bowl of fruit or salad, some yoghurt or ice cream and a drink. All of which, I might add, was super fresh and tasted delicious. Below is a sample of the food that I had during my 3 night stay. Seriously, how good does it look! I can not fault the service provided by the catering department at ESPH.

Dr Miroshnik had previously advised that the physiotherapist would be in at some stage in the morning after surgery to help me get up and get mobile and he would also be in at some point. My mum had arrived first, maybe around 10am. The morning nurses had advised that the catheter needed to be removed before the physio arrived. I was so excited for the physio to be there, but was absolutely dreading the removal of the catheter. I am not sure why. Maybe I thought it was embarrassing, maybe I thought it would hurt. Not sure. lol. But I was told that the physio will not come by until the catheter is removed, for obvious reasons. I also did not want to have it in when Dr Miroshnik came in, and he was due in at any time. The nurses came back in shortly after my mum arrived and said it was time for it to be removed. So, they pretty much just pulled it out. haha. Not sure what I was worried about. It felt weird, but it was a super quick process and certainly wasn't painful. I was getting used to having it in though. There's a certain kind of comfort you get knowing that your bladder will just empty for you. No thought (or movement) required. lol

It soon dawned on me.....now that the catheter was out, how am I supposed to go to the toilet?

I still had the drains in too remember, so they were constantly being monitored and emptied too. My output was really good, with not much fluid passing and the colour of the stuff that was passing was 'healthy' the nurses said.

The physio came by not long after the catheter was removed. I was glad to see her and totally ready and pumped to get out of the bed. After all, I was going to need to soon now that I had no catheter. ;) The physio was lovely. I don't remember her name though. She had a quick chat and was excited to get me up and moving. Although somewhat nervous, I was keen to get moving. The nurse was there for assistance as well. So the physio had me sit up and link in with her arm and told me when I was ready she would just be there as a support for me to use when getting to a standing position. With that, the nurse grabbed my feet (which were still on the bed) and proceeded to swing them (slowly) down towards the floor. I screamed like a child, cursing a little loudly. My mum just watched on in horror I think. I reverted back to my childbirth 'training' and started breathing through the pain. lol. I literally felt like my stomach muscles were being ripped apart. It felt like a million little burning hot needles were fired in to my tummy muscles all at once. It was excruciating. I couldn't move. That was it. I was done. Get me back to my safe place please, stat! ....then the physio was gone. It was over. She wouldn't be back until Monday (it was Saturday), so it was up to me to get myself moving. I felt ill. I was a little traumatised. I also suffered from almost a blackout type experience. It was awful. A result of the general anesthesia as well as being led horizontal in bed for over 24 hours I suppose. I was thankful for the pain meds pump and then I just rested, back in my safe position, until it was time to try again.

About 30 minutes or so later, Dr Miroshnik came in to see how I was going. I was so pissed that I wasn't able to be up out of bed. He always knew that the recovery was what scared me the most about this surgery. He'd made a point on numerous occasions to remind me that part of his recovery plan is early movement, which is why the physio is booked for the very next day. I was excited to be up and moving by then time he came in so I was bummed that I was still an invalid in bed. :( It was nice to see him though, this time my mum got to meet him too, which was pretty cool. He made the effort to speak with her, and was the ultimate gentleman, of course. He came over to my bed and basically said "Let me see." He was terribly excited to show me what he had achieved with me. He took my binder off, which I hadn't really done yet...pushed aside the padding that was there, which felt super odd because I was totally numb but sensitive to touch all at the same time, if that makes sense. He placed his hand on my tummy to show me the width of my waist was the same size of the width of his hand (thumb to finger span). He was super excited. lol. I was too. He also told me that he'd given me a very cute belly button. I couldn't wait to see it. (It was still covered over with the dressing. I wouldn't see it until the week one post op mark.)

He asked me how I was feeling, which I replied "A bit shit today..." I told him what had happened with the physio session and he said it was OK, that I would be up and at it on my own soon. He then reminded me that I just had major surgery and that Day 2 would probably be the worst (which it was), but in the same breath told me how amazing he had me looking. I was pretty excited about that. He asked me how my breathing was going and if I was using the tool they provide me to help with that? lol. I had no idea what he was talking about and then he showed me.....Apparently I should have already been using it. It was my job to get all the balls to the top of the plastic tubes by taking big, deep breaths. I don't know what it was called so I kept calling it the plastic machine thing (technical term) to practice my breathing and exercise my lungs. As a result of the surgery and I guess the general anesthetic, the way your lungs work can be affected. Taking deep breaths and using this machine thingy, really helped bring that back to normal. It also gave me something else to do. Dr M stayed for a bit of a chat and then he was off again.

The nurse came by at one point and had asked me if I had been able to get up to the toilet yet. When I told her that there was no way I was getting out of bed, she reminded me that if I don't go to the toilet, then they would have to put the catheter back in. Argh! So I avoided drinking anything for the next couple of hours. lol. #rebel I could only do that for so long, then I just had to give in. The nurse kept coming in and checking on the amount of water that I had drunk. I couldn't play this game any longer, the time came for me to get up. I didn't want to wait until I was actually busting for the toilet before getting out of bed, so I started before I actually needed to. With my mum's help, I just took it really slow, remembered what the physio had told me and then just did it. I got out of bed. So relieved. I went for a little walk to the other side of the room and back (drains in hand) and then went to the toilet finally. The hospital toilet had one of those accessible toilet seat frames, which made it easier to sit on, as you were actually sitting on the frame above the toilet, but on the other hand...it also made the toilet bowl a little further away than you would expect...and remember, I was not standing upright...I was totally hunched over. So the whole toilet thing was super weird and slightly awkward. But I must admit, I was glad that bit was over and done with. I guess it was the biggest struggle that I had to overcome. So in the big scheme of things, that wasn't really too bad. Before long I was walking up an down the hall of the ward, albeit super slowly and hunched over like an old lady.

All in all my first day in recovery was great, aside from the whole burning needles and needing to pee thing. It was much easier than I had ever imagined it was going to be. I felt great within myself, I felt relieved to finally be on the other side of this 'surgery thing' that I had been so anxious about. Dr Miroshnik was right, I was in the best hands. I flew through the surgery and he was amazing. I am so grateful to him for everything he has done for me. He goes above and beyond the limits of surgical care, he really does. I don't ever take my experience for granted. I know it would be easy to do. I have an amazing husband who made this possible for me too. If he wasn't able to stay in Brisbane and keep the wheels of the house spinning, then I just wouldn't have been able to go through with the surgery. The same goes for my mum as well. Having her there for the first week post op was amazing. It allowed me to just focus on the healing. I also had a visit from a friend too, but I will post about her separately, that deserves it's own page. Just know that I am so appreciative of all of you for making this possible for me. I simply would not have been able to do it without the 4 of you. Much love.

Note - I started writing this blog entry on the 21st April. :/

I will add the rest of my Sydney recovery story in the next week, so stay tuned and if you're not already, make sure you are subscribed to get updates.

H :) xx

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