Good morning Family! I was allowed to go home yesterday!! My drains were removed and I was discharged at noon! I am loving being home and have curled up in my favourite outdoor chair in a sunny place on our back deck to enjoy the feeling of warmth in the air and a beautiful cup of French Earl Grey with Tasteless in it made for me by my 11 year old son!
Yesterday was a super emotional day. I woke up from a wonderful sleep because an incredible nurse by the name of Maddi at SJOG in Geelong went out of her way to get me a recliner to sleep in last night. It meant the world to me to be able to get comfortable and she did not have to go out of her way to make my night easier like that but she did. I have to say that I had an absolutely exceptional hospital experience this time. Every staff member was wonderful but particularly Kate, Maddi and Meg – those girls just went out of their way to help me and I am so thankful.
Then something happened that has never happened to me in my entire adult life – I put a bra on and I didn’t have to tuck my side boob flap in and as soon as that happened I started to cry. I cannot even tell you how many times I have dreamed of that and I never thought it would happen. Gosh I am thankful for the transformative power of weight loss surgery, for skilled surgeons, for family and friends and most of all for the possibilities that unfold before us when we start to believe that we do matter. Have a beautiful weekend. Sending love to everyone and don’t forget to show up for your life and let nothing stop you xx
Well, here we go! Counting down until I am having surgery 😳😳. Last night I decided to take the pictures that I have been dreading. I sort of felt like I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t just making a bigger deal of my skin than it actually is. Gosh self doubt can be a horrible thing. These pictures were for me. I mean this in the kindest possible way but no one else’s opinion of my skin will influence or define my thoughts on it. I care about the thoughts of those that will help me to recover post operatively but I am only influenced in this by what I believe is going to be best for my long term health. I have to live in this body and so have to know what is best for it and be responsible for the choices I make.
When I last saw my plastic surgeon a few months ago he said to me “when we do your bum and thighs ……” because they are as wrinkly as my front is …. and I know that he is coming from a place of wanting me to look as good as possible considering the years of abuse I subjected my body to via food! However, I can’t, at this point, imagine that I will reach a place in myself where I will ever want to have those areas of my body done. That is the reality. Reconstructive plastic surgery is a big deal and the recovery is hard. The more I have learned about the recovery etc the more positive I am that the higher the weight and the more weight that was lost the harder the reconstructive work may be and also the longer and more complex the recovery. So that must be accounted for!
In truth I am melted, imperfect and marred by the life I have lived. I look somewhat melted naked but I am pretty fucking glorious in this state. I am okay with how I look – I just want to be able to avoid belly button infections and skin break downs and hopefully not catch my arm skin on things!! So that seems like a fairly reasonable request to me.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday and it was a hard day. I spent most of it outside in the yard. I needed to do something different to stop myself and that seems to be a great strategy for me if I am starting to focus on unhelpful thoughts. Probably the fact that I have been sick for nearly a month has not helped much! I have been feeling quite down and that can lead to feeling a little bit lonely. Often times I tend to forget that I have autoimmune conditions and weird blood sugar dramas! I want to be able to feel like a “normal” person and will push myself to be that, until my body does what it has for the last two weeks. My tipping point is much easier to arrive at than it used to be. That frustrates me! I had antibiotics for two weeks for a condition and just when I seemed to be improving, I think I allowed stress to get on top of me again. So I am staring down the barrel of my 4th week on antibiotics with the addition of an inhaler for 6 weeks for my sinuses and a week of prednisone 😟
So instead of going to church after Easter Sunday Breakfast, I allowed my kids current feelings around that issue to be heard and even more importantly – to hold some weight. So, we sat at home – enjoying time in the back yard together.
As the afternoon went on and I got to thinking about more and more of the situations surrounding some difficulties that I have been facing, it became clearer and clearer why I have been holding back. I have always been my own harshest critic and I have realised that once again fear was probably what has been holding me back!
So I decided to get really clear about my why for this surgery and what I am planning to do after it is over. This enabled me to give myself a kick in the pants because I needed one!!
1. I want to be free of skin related issues going into the future.
2. I want to be able to avoid pain when exercising.
3. I want to be able to look better in clothes rather than always bulgy and bumpy.
4. I want to remove my excuses.
So with all of that in mind I decided that I needed some new pics – here they are. 18 months post ETT with Muscle Repair, mons lift, breast lift, breast reduction and fat transfer.
What is planned for my revision surgery is FDL revision of my Tummy tuck, extended arm lift dealing with side boob skin and fat transfer.
Hands up if you know what it is like to feel fear? That visceral, consuming, blood gone from your extremities, hyperventilating kind of fear that leaves you wanting to run – but you can’t run because there is no where to go to escape it.
Well that happened to me on Saturday afternoon. My plastic surgery in September 2019 was filled with problems. (Read back in my blog for info) Well my baby sister had her Tummy tuck last week – and we had just picked my mother up from the airport for a visit – the first time since pre covid times, when the phone rang.
Mum went outside to take the call as we were preparing for my sons 19th birthday party, and it was quite rowdy in the kitchen. When mum walked back into the room I knew that something was wrong and she told me what had happened and that my sister was not okay. I felt that fear – I had spoken with my baby sis right before her surgery and told her not to go towards the light – I guess I was trying to use humour as a coping mechanism to mask my concerns BUT I also had a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. Anyway as mum was talking to me I tuned out, it felt like she was speaking to me in slow motion and I felt everything about my experience come flooding back.
Hours later my sis was out of surgery again and they had found the source of her bleeding but she remains weakened and will have a longer recovery ahead now. Aaaaaaaand I am meant to have surgery myself in 31 days – and I’m just not sure how I feel about it!
Today was hard. My blood sugar was low right from my first waking moment. I don’t enjoy checking it, I hate the smell of blood. It reminds me of my time in the ICU last year. I am reminded of blood transfusions and life saving surgery in the middle of the night. I can feel my pulse quicken and I know it’s PTSD. So I just sit still and I try to push the panic down. I haven’t actually found the words to say that out loud to anyone in my family yet. I know it means I’m a little bit broken so I just continue on with the test. 3.8 great 😔 my blood sugar will fall from there when I drink my coffee ….. it will fall when I eat or drink anything so the medication will need to do its job this morning.
As is his custom, Steve brought a coffee and my bariatric multivitamins in to our room at around 6:30 am and I sat – trying not to feel frightened by the appearance of my favourite beverage. My endocrinologist has explained a couple of medical conditions to me – we are treating one and it is everyone’s hope that I am going to quickly respond. So I drank my coffee. I think I do feel better than I was feeling so we are taking that as a positive sign. Taking so many tablets each day is a very strange and foreign concept for me and I feel the symptoms of hypo number 1 for the day coming on at 8:00am. I know what the feeling is now – I thought it was all just in my imagination, a lack of sleep, stress or a combination of all of those things. I was wrong – All along it was blood sugar. It has even had me casting my mind back to last year – wondering if that is really when all of this started … I think it probably was.
I seem to have muddled my way through the morning. Helping the kids when they need me, working and then having my doctors appointment. My GP, I am fairly certain, is some kind of saint. He always listens to me with compassion and totally agrees with my specialist that I must not be driving while my blood sugar is still prone to such terrible lows. This isn’t what I wanted to hear but I know it is the safe and responsible thing. This also means that we need another driver in the family pronto. Dr. Mendes has written a note to that effect. Now we just have to hope that Vic Roads will give Aramis the medical exemption that he needs to get his P’s immediately so that my inability to drive doesn’t affect everyone so terribly.
After that I was feeling fairly low, sad, like a burden and useless. These are feelings that I am not a stranger to. They were my constant companions when I was big. I hate it when they reappear now that I am meant to be living my very best life …. then there was a knock on my front door and a delivery from a lady that I have met via a Facebook page that I help to run. We are nudging 36 thousand members and I truly believe that they are the most inspiring humans I have ever had the privilege to know. Serving the weight loss surgery community is such a passion in my life and I do it because I love watching people’s lives transform. Anyway … the postie handed me the package and when I opened it I was just so touched that someone thought of me. I was even more blown away by the timing of the delivery.
Someone’s kindness changed my whole day. It reminded me of the goodness of people. 💞
Arcabose – typically for type two diabetics but apparently used to help hold blood sugar steady so that is what I am now taking. I still experienced a couple of mild hypos last night and to be honest I still feel scared to eat this morning because I don’t want the usual to happen – in two hours I am a mess on the floor. Side effects so far – yup. I am itchy and I have the poos (sorry everyone I know how much you wanted to know that 😆) and weight loss – which lets face it, would not be ideal and seems to have already happened. But as with anything, you really have to take any medication for a couple of weeks before you will know if it is going to be okay for you or not, so I will persist. Besides my multivitamins I only take one other tablet which is for reflux so at least I don’t have to worry about any weird medication interactions taking place. It’s still not a pleasant thing to be on another type of medication but hypos that cause you to black out aren’t fun either – in short the risk is not worth being precious about having a mildly irritated butt. All in all I have woken up feeling much more positive today.
I told a close friend yesterday that I was giving myself a few days to sulk and cry and feel like everything was unfair but the truth is – there are much worse things. There are still going to be a lot of tests and there will still be mountains to climb but that is okay – the mountains will move. I have stopped feeling sorry for myself and am thankful for the breathe in my lungs today! Much love always x
We all know that none of us share everything online right? I always remind people that we all love to share our highlight reels with the masses but when it comes down to the muckity pluck – we may try to hold some of that back! Well I am no exception to that rule. There are swathes of my life that are only for me and mine – however I am facing a new situation that is a direct result of my weight loss surgery so I feel like it is something that I should share because it is going to have a massive impact upon how I do everything in the weeks, months and years ahead.
There are times when I have struggled to be open about what is going on in my post weight loss surgery body. I share because I hope that it can possibly help others in some small way. For the most part, things for me have been quite difficult and I think it would be completely fair to say that I have not had an easy time of it. Yes I have lost a LOT of weight. I needed to lose a lot of weight. In saying that I love, celebrate and embrace all shapes – but my body was becoming increasingly immobile and shut down prior to my surgery, that is why I needed to act. I don’t regret my surgery at all. But I am feeling a little overwhelmed today.
Lets take a quick trip down memory lane. May 2018 I had an infected cyst removed from my upper gum that resulted in massive facial swelling and a long recovery. June 2018 I had RNY – Gastric Bypass. July 2018 I had my Gallbladder removed and a longer than expected hospital stay while they tried to work out what was going on with my body (scary visits from the infectious disease specialist) December 2018 Hernia repair surgery. February 2019 my husband had his first flair up around his autoimmune disease. March – June 2019 MASSIVE weight loss (around 10 kilos a month) and malnutrition issues with scope and iron infusion. July 2019 Steve’s official diagnosis. September 2019 First skin removal surgery with complications, ICU stay, return to theatre prevent me from bleeding to death, repeat blood transfusions, ongoing blood protein issues, ongoing iron issues. March 2020 heart scare and hospital Stay. May 2020 Steve had surgery. February – September 2020 strange symptoms that were attributed to stress etc. When I read that and I know that it doesn’t show even an 1/8th of what has gone on in our lives, I know that it has been a really big few years.
It has not been all doom and gloom and actually life really is kind of wonderful in so many terrific ways. I remain steadfastly grateful for the wonderful people that continue to love and care for me and for mine. So, in the paragraph above I said that I have had weird symptoms for more than half a year. If I am honest, and really think about it, it was probably even earlier than this – perhaps late last year but I didn’t want to think about or acknowledge that anything else could possibly be going on in my body. I attributed everything to stress and at the advice of my doctors, I remove additional anxiety, I changed my field of work, I stopped giving my attention to situations that were not good for me and I simplified my life. From that perspective the pandemic was wonderful because it gave me a chance to reimagine and re-think my life but the symptoms persisted. The change in work meant that my weight loss became stable and that was truly a wonderful thing – but the other things persisted.
Last week I passed out for the 3rd time in as many days.This was becoming something of a regular event. A terrifying one and not one that I want to regularly put my children or husband through but it was turning into a somewhat regular thing. So it was time for another doctors visit and more blood tests were ordered, then another doctors visit and more blood tests were ordered and after those yet another lot of emergency bloods came back and I ended up with a referral back to my weight loss surgeon. I was referred back to my specialist because my GP suspected I had a condition that can result from gastrointestinal surgery. It’s rare (yeah so surprised by that 😒) But he felt it required the input of my gastrointestinal surgeon. I called the rooms and made and appointment for the 16th of October – his soonest available. But honestly that felt like a LONG TIME to wait when I keep collapsing. I live in the State of Australia with the most cases of Covid, and if I presented at Emergency I wouldn’t see my family again until I was released …….. so I decided to contact my surgeon directly via email. I told him exactly what has happened and as usual he acted swiftly and I had my appointment yesterday. I have often said he is amazing and he TRULY is. I start medication today. I see an endocrinologist really soon as I learn how to live with reactive hypoglycaemia. Doing my blood sugars regularly, making sure I am eating enough and trying to avoid hypos. Last night, 2 hours after dinner my blood sugar level was dangerously low.
This morning, I will be honest, I feel frightened to eat because I don’t want my BSL to drop and that is what reactive hypoglycaemia does. My body is producing too much insulin and it does that in spite of what I eat. It’s not a common condition and I will learn how to manage it – it will just take me a few days to wrap my head around it all. At least it has a name and thankfully the blood tests caught it! I am so thankful that my GP believed me enough to keep looking because he knew that something was wrong. I am thankful for the urgent blood tests and for the incredible care he always gives. I am also so thankful to my surgeon. He has seriously been incredible every single time I have contacted him. The medication he has prescribed for me had to be ordered in and will arrive today so I will be able to start that tonight. So that is what has been going on with me health wise. It’s a new situation and has been really scary for me and for my family to navigate. Times like these show me who and what is important.
People that love you – truly love you – They are important. It’s easy to love someone when everything is great but who is really there for you? I know who is really there for me! Our health and well being – well that is critically important. We only get so many chances with these things and once they are lost they are sometimes lost forever so I really want to explore you to take care of those you love and take care of you.
My summer clothes have started arriving! We hope to spend Christmas in Queensland with our immediate family – providing Covid restrictions have eased sufficiently by that time.
I wrote myself a letter before my surgery. I didn’t expect that I would ever share it here but I am doing so in the hope that it may help someone to decide to take the chance and have the surgery. I never wanted to let myself forget why I have made the choices I have made. When I found this last night I ugly cried. So on Thankful Thursday I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am for the life I have now 💞
June 16th 2018
I hope that you never forget the reason that you are about to have weight loss surgery. I know that you are absolutely terrified right now. Knowing you, you won’t forget tonight, but just in case your brain shrinks along with your body – I don’t want you to forget! You are sitting awkwardly at the dining table writing yourself this missive. You know you would usually sit in bed and do this but you can’t right now because there are two kids asleep in your room and you don’t want anyone to hear you crying. You are bawling because of all of the lost years that you can never get back. Your precious girl has moved out and you can’t get back the years with her but you still have a chance to be the mother that you always wanted to be to your boys. Tash please don’t just remember being afraid, remember why you are doing this. Be driven to become the healthiest version of you that you can possibly be. Remember that in amongst all of the fear you feel right now, it’s really fucking hard to reach the table!! Your belly is pressed hard up against it and your little T-Rex arms can hardly reach. You don’t want to live your life like this!
You know that you have to do this. Even though it terrifies you in every single way. You want so much more from life than what you have had. You don’t want to struggle to tie your own shoes or wipe your own arse! You want to be the mum that can run and play with your kids. You want to be able to go on adventures with them. You don’t ever want to hear another kid tease them because you are the “fat mum” ever again. You want a better job, you know you can do more but right now people only see your size. You want to be a better wife and have a better relationship with Steve. You want to be able to give yourself to him totally without always holding back because you feel frightened that one day he will decide that he can’t deal with your self loathing and your binge eating anymore.
But then there are the things that you want just for yourself. You want to be able to wear something that isn’t black. You want to wear pretty dresses and clothes that make you smile. You want to be able to stand to sit at the hair dresser rather than hating your reflection so much that you never go. You want to walk into a cafe and not worry about if the chairs are strong enough to accomodate you. You want to walk into country road and buy straight off the rack. You want to feel healthy and not like you are eating yourself into an early grave. Don’t give up. You want to sing again, you want to dance again. Keep going. Please don’t stop because you were made for more than what you have had up until now. This is all I can do for you. I can give you this chance and it is up to you what you do with it. Please write some wonderful chapters.
The sky was inky black and smoke grey clouds swirled overhead as she pressed her face against the chilly glass. Condensation formed from the warmth of her breath and the smell of winter assailed her nostrils. The ominous, rain laden clouds, heavy with moisture, seemed to choose that moment to release their bounty and sheets of rain beat down, punishing everything in their path. She slid open the latch on her window, opening it just a crack, to let the freshness of it fill her room. A gust of wind found its way in through the tiny gap and seemed to multiply in the space, blowing papers about and rattling posters that cling to her walls with blue tac.
She adored a good storm, it often felt like they matched her mood! Her teenage moments, she acknowledged, had been tumultuous lately. Her past and the secrets that she carried, combined with rampaging hormones, seemed to provide a perfect storm and when they happened they were a really pleasant way to escape.
Her mind bounced between traumatic memories, the things that her neighbour did to her as a child, the things that happened just months earlier and the fact that she has been acting out before that. They told her it might even be viewed that she had deserved it. Everything she had done would be brought up, did she really want to put her family through that kind of shame. Never mind what had happened or the wrongness of it. Her job was to protect all of the people she had hurt with her behaviour, she didn’t want to cause them more pain, did she. So she would suck it up. She would find a way to cope. She would try her best to hurt no one else, just herself and she would eat her pain.
The bottomless pit of self loathing was temporarily sated when she filled it with food. When she ate, she could feel the hands and the things that they had done to her just melt away. It was never long before the temporary euphoria of the food consumed would turn to dust. The sweetness of her coping mechanism turning acrid in her own mouth and she would hate herself for the food she ate. She would hate herself so much for consuming excess calories that she would be driven get rid of them, she would drive herself with hours of exercise to try to make herself tired enough to sleep. She would cling to the toilet bowl, eyes burning and gut clenching as she forced the food out of her stomach once again. She was tormented and so profoundly lost. It was 1992.
Let’s talk for a minute about the Cost of Bariatric Surgery. Many of us pay quite a sum just to have our surgery in the first place. But the costs that are ongoing are something that we don’t really talk about a lot. That’s not to say that WLS isn’t one of the best descisions I have ever made because it is!! But these are things I didn’t think of beforehand. Some of the things that I have replaced because of weight loss surgery include the following.
My mattress – I was in pain from lying in my “big me” sized mattress hole.
All my shoes – I am now 2 sizes smaller
All of my underwear 4 times over as I found out the hard way one can’t wear undies that are too big and not risk them falling off in public – yep it really happened 🤦🏻♀️
My car seat – this is a weird one and I upgraded my car because it needed an upgrade anyway BUT the drivers seat was broken because of my bum and my weight.
My lounge suite because I broke it 😔
My dining chair – I am going to have to replace the set but am making do for now.
My entire wardrobe because going from a size 24/26 to a size 4/6 means that nothing from bigger me fits me anymore.
My supplements and vitamins ongoing but for me the cost of my weekly food and vitamins and supplements is still less than what I used to spend per week on my food (I ate a lot).
Skin removal surgery – this shot of me there with the excess skin is current. That is after my radical tummy tuck – obviously I require revision surgery because my surgeon thought that a radical tummy tuck would be enough but it wasn’t. When you have as much excess skin as me it is unpredictable how it will respond.
New glasses coz the old ones fall off my face 😳
As for the plastics, I don’t disclose how much my surgery cost, but the following is a rough guide per area of the body and what you might expect to pay (after private health insurance and Medicare covers the hospital costs and a small payment to the surgeon and the gas doctor) THESE ARE AUSTRALIAN PRICES $1k-$7k is considered low cost. $7k-$11k is mid range. $12k and over is high range. That is the gap payment as plastic surgeons will charge you a gap fee even if skin removal is deemed medically necessary. The gaps vary from surgeon to surgeon. My recommendation is ONLY USE a PLASTIC SURGEON. If you have private health insurance are in NSW or don’t mind traveling, google ‘The Access Program’ if you want a lower cost option.
Would I do it again? Heck yes! Over and over!! I have a life now and I am so grateful for it.