The skin files – Part two

I have had some super mixed feelings about going ahead with this second round of plastics.

I do have major misgivings about the whole thing. I think that is probably very very normal and a natural thing to feel anxious over. I am not keen at all on the idea of bleeding again. It makes me super nervous and that is just the cold hard reality of my situation. But, in spite of all of my misgivings I am going ahead. My surgery is booked for the 28th of April and I am excited and terrified at the same time.

Tomorrow morning I have my consult with my plastic surgeon and I am going to ask him 5 million questions. I have been sitting down today compiling a list of what I want to ask because I think that it is reasonable to have a lot of concerns and to need some reassurance at this point. These are the things that I am going to ask.

  1. Can you please draw me up right now as if surgery was today because I need to know what the plan is going forward.
  2. After the bleed that I had last time, the returning to surgery in the middle of the night and all of the fear that I experienced I need to know how likely it is that that could happen again.
  3. The blood vessel that caused the bleeding last time – could the same thing happen with that one again.
  4. Where will my arm scars be and can you draw them on me please so I can understand what to expect.
  5. My side boob is the part of me that I am the most uncomfortable with – how much of that will be removed because I HATE it.
  6. Where are you taking the fat from to put into my boobs?
  7. How long will the surgery take?
  8. How long will I be in hospital
  9. Will I have a drain in and if so how long will I need the drain for (( I know if I need one that you cant give me exact times and just a ballpark is fine)
  10. Will I have a catheter in because I am scared of getting up too soon if I need to pee?

What else should I be asking do you think?

The Cost

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.

  1. My mattress – I was in pain from lying in my “big me” sized mattress hole.
  2. All my shoes – I am now 2 sizes smaller
  3. 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 🤦🏻‍♀️
  4. 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.
  5. My lounge suite because I broke it 😔
  6. My dining chair – I am going to have to replace the set but am making do for now.
  7. My entire wardrobe because going from a size 24/26 to a size 4/6 means that nothing from bigger me fits me anymore.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.
  10. New glasses coz the old ones fall off my face 😳
This is me now

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.

Me yesterday and me a lifetime ago
My dangly skin before I had it chopped off

ET and I are mates 😉

6th of May 2020 🌟🌟Warning GRAPHIC SURGICAL PIC🌟🌟

We are approaching the 2 year mark! On the 18th of June, it will be 2 years since I had RNY – Gastric Bypass. It has been a strange time. The changing, the growing, the turning into a different version of me. Dealing with the demons in my past and letting go of things and people that I didn’t want to let go of. In short – life is very different. But different, I am learning, can be a gift – it all depends how you look at it. The wonderful thing about choice is that we get the chance to move ourselves from where we are and position ourselves to have every possible chance to make life long changes.

2 years ago, wow, there is absolutely no way that I imagined that I would be where I am at right now. Getting to be an Australian size 4-6 was NEVER ever part of my plan. I had thought that it would be wonderful to be perhaps a size 12-14 if possible. I have enjoyed so many wonderful and unexpected blessings along the way to being a healthier me. Over the last 7 months I have noticed marked changes. Those who know me best can attest to this also. I have tried to put my finger on what triggered it. I have tried to work and reason it out, mostly without success – until I was chatting with one of a hand full of people that I consider to be part of my inner circle. That circle has 6 people in it. They are the people that I trust unquestioningly and that I know, like I know that I know that I know, love me, without judgement and that I talk to nearly on a daily basis. Here is what has come from our talk.

I realised that I have not allowed myself to process AT ALL, the fact that I was on deaths door when I had my plastic surgery last year. I had a radical tummy tuck with mons lift and muscle repair and a breast lift, reduction and fat grafting. Now I know that we can’t dwell on things because that isn’t healthy, but I am damaged by what happened to me and not dealing with that trauma isn’t healthy either. I need to talk about it so here goes.

I guess I knew it, like……… I knew that I was very very sick. But in truth I didn’t want to admit how close I came to not being here anymore. I didn’t want to have to think about any of it!!! I tried to avoid it, however I can now see that it has changed me in the most profound ways. When I was lying in the ICU, surrounded by doctors trying to get lines in to me and keep my oxygen levels from dipping any lower than they already were, they were asking me “Who should we call for you, do you understand what is happening, you are very very calm, are you sure you understand what is happening”. I am scary calm under pressure. When I was young this was NOT the case. But years change people and I don’t get loud or dramatic now. I go stone cold ….. but this wasn’t that – I was awake to what was happening!

In that moment did I understand what was going on? Yes of course I did. I was fully informed of my risks prior to my surgery. I knew that the massive blood vessels that used to feed my fat had not shrunk and that I had an increased risk of bleeding because of it. I knew that I had internal bleeding. I knew that they had to stabilise me before they moved me to the icu and I knew that the nurse looking after me stayed well past the end of her shift to hold my hand until they moved me. She had caught my head the second time I fainted and when I woke, lying in a crumpled mess of blood and my own urine she was still holding me. (Fun fact, when you pass out, if you need to pee …. well you just do.)She also carefully cut my blood and pee soaked night gown off me – it was too far gone to be kept. She reassured me that she would stay with me until ICU had me and she did. So I knew from those things that it wasn’t good. I have had a lot of surgery, been in hospitals a lot and I knew this was not a “usual” thing. Nurses are incredible people, they see that type of stuff on a daily basis and remain caring and thorough in their care. But she was going far beyond normal.

Pec muscles with skin hanging under it
After surgery with fat transfer – 7 months later all of the fat is gone, my body has eaten it all!!!

After the ICU stint and additional surgery was over, I eventually came back to the ward days later and found that my story had preceded me. One of the nurses that had been responsible for my care on the day it all happened, came, found me, hugged me and told me she was so glad that I was alright. I remembered her on sight and called her by name. She said “oh you remember!” I said “Yes, the doctor told me to focus on your faces and not let myself float off!” So that is what I did. There was a long period of time where they couldn’t get my blood pressure to read or find a pulse. That was not great. This was during the time when they were trying to stabilise me. I kept wanting to shut my eyes and sleep but they told me it wouldn’t be sleep if I did that so I had to stay awake.

Those pin cushion times

I knew what that meant. I fought to not let myself float off and tried so very hard to stay with them. Loud shoutings of my name brought me round time and time again. Multiple failures to locate veins because my body didn’t want to cooperate didn’t even bother me, I was being jabbed with needles and I didn’t care. I was fading away and I knew I was. In that moment I made some decisions. I did decide that if I woke up after the emergency surgery I needed to stop the internal bleeding, I was not going to live my life afraid of what people would think of me anymore. I wasn’t going to wear any type of face to please others and that I was going to be kind and assume the best of people no matter what.

So did I understand what was happening? Yes, I absolutely knew and I told the very lovely doctor that yes I understood, and as she held my hand she made no promises – which I appreciated! I loved the fact that she didn’t say to me “oh don’t even worry, you will be fine!” Because I was bleeding out on the inside and I wasn’t fine! I like real and value it when people don’t bullshit me.

An early look at how much excess skin I still had after my tummy tuck – it is worse now. My boobs are empty again and don’t have that amount of fullness as my body has consumed the fat that the doctor put into them when he did the reduction and lift.

No one of my contacts that the intensivist called were answering – it was 1 am so naturally people were asleep, but they were anxious to let someone know that I was not okay. In that moment my mind was drawn to the person that I knew would not answer me and as tears rolled down my face and my heart broke a little bit more than it had before, I knew who would answer me, I called my Dad. When I was a kid and was hit by a car he knew something was the matter and was frantically trying to get info before anyone knew what had happened. The phone rang once and he answered with “hello baby are you okay!” The intensivist was holding the phone to my ear as I said “no Dad I’m not, please keep calling Steve, try to wake someone up. They are taking me back to theatre, I love you Dad I have to go” and with that I ended the call. The doctor finally managed to get my Aramis to answer and he spoke to the doctor and went and got his dad. Steve ran into the ICU as I was being wheeled through the doors to go to theatre. Do they call families in to the hospital at 1:00 am very often? Well I already know the answer to that. They don’t. They had told me that I may be kept sedated – it would depend how things went. I don’t really remember waking up but I know it was hours later and I know that Steve was there all night waiting for me. Then he had to go, after sitting up all night waiting for news of me, to get the boys and drive them to Melbourne to the airport to catch their flights.

When I saw Steve’s face at around 11am that day the look of exhaustion and concern was so evident to me. He had arrived back from the airport to sit beside my bed in the ICU. I just wanted to cry for him. I know what it is like to sit in one of those rooms watching machines and listening for alarms that were going off very frequently. No family nearby to help him and carrying the weight of everything on his shoulders. Thankfully my Dad made provisions to take time off work and flew from the Gold Coast to Geelong to be with Steve and I. Our boys were being loved on by family in QLD and I got to rest, heal and think about all of the ways I would rewrite my story. I was going to really live! No more bench sitting! And most of all, how I would stop pulling my punches. So in that spirit let me tell you that the skin removal and tummy tuck surgery has changed my life and it was worth it BUT it was really fricken hard and many tears were shed over the process of my recovery! I didn’t know I could cry so much or that I would emerge from this so changed.

I am excited for the next chapter of my story. I am looking forward to how the rest of 2020 will unfold. Let’s face it – the first part has been less than ideal but I am getting ready for a comeback story! I am dreaming of days with family and friends, living with intention and purpose, being kinder and more open, taking less and giving more. Xx

No More Wallowing

There are a couple of things that have been on my mind lately and as always I am wanting to open up a dialogue about them. I can remember when I was first contemplating WLS again back in 2017. This was after my failed and horrendous lap band fiasco at the hands of a surgeon in QLD. I had my doubts that WLS was really going to be a good idea for me and I also wondered how effective it would be in the long term.

I do not jump into things without truck loads of research first. I read medical journal posts, I read the Monash studies, I read the US medical pages, I read THOUSANDS of posts from sites all over the globe (yes I am the info lover)!!! I read posts from normal people, like you and me, who typed things like “60lbs gone forever” “70 kilos gone for good” and I used to wonder, “wow is that true? What makes that true? I know people that have had WLS and regained……. so what is the difference? How do we define success?” On and on and on my questions would go. That rabbit hole does have a bottom but it probably isn’t always popular to talk about.

Eventually I got past asking my 56 billion questions because I was so tired of my life becoming more and more limited by my ever growing size! I also realised that no one, no surgeon, no matter how spotless their reputation, no WLS guru, no body could tell me that I was going live a complication free, thin life for the rest of my life after surgery! I wanted, for years, to not be responsible for my outcome. I was actually looking for some kind of reassurance that bypass or The Switch would be my “golden ticket” and I would be able to keep up my unhealthy relationship with food – just eat less of it. If I am honest, and it is only in the last few days that I have been bold enough to admit that my TOTAL reason for delaying having WLS again after my band was because I was frightened that I would have to change my relationship with food and I didn’t want to.

Finally I got to the point where I decided that any weight loss, however small, had to help! So in June of 2018 I bit the bullet, jumped up onto the operating table and had RNY. Since then I have learned a lot of different things! One of the most frustrating is that there isn’t a standard “one size fits most” approach in the way to walk the journey after WLS. Everyone has different thoughts and opinions – this makes it so interesting but it also can be very scary and frustrating at times. What I have learned is that I cannot eat the same diet I used to have and expect that my results will be good in the long term. What I eat has changed and will never be the same again. I have learned that for me – changing my relationship with food would transform my whole life.

I have learned that food is not my comfort, my treat or my friend, it’s just a tool to fuel my body and I have learned that I have to face my emotional shit and I hate that part!! I don’t eat my feelings anymore. This has been harder than I bargained for but I know it will pay off in the long run. I have also learned that sometimes their are complications that we just have to work through!! I didn’t plan to get as thin as I have so that has taken some adjusting to. But I am grateful for an amazing team and brilliant friend here that support me.

It is not about being a certain weight or a size for me. It’s about knowing how to work with my body, giving it what it needs to be healthy and how to be resilient when the challenges come. It is about keeping in mind the reason that I did this and understanding that I am not a powerless victim of circumstances. I decide how this story plays out so if I am knocked down then it’s on me to get back up. I have been knocked down for a few months now but I am back up again 🙂 I didn’t want to get back up. My heart has been broken and I wanted to stay down and stay hurting. What woke me is I have seen the way that my kids have been broken. The tears of my boys are the fuel that drives me and they NEED to see me get up, so I am! It’s okay to feel a bit lost at times, and it’s okay to say “I need help” it is also good when you can finally see clearly again. We got this guys and I refuse to wallow anymore.

6 Months Post Plastics

WTF Wednesday – I am coming up on being 6 months post my first plastic surgery. I am honestly very much in two minds about doing it again. I need revision – That isn’t me saying it, although it was obvious straight after my first surgery that I wasn’t as I hoped I would be, that is my surgical team saying I require revision as I am often asked about my excess skin and truthfully I believe that the amount I had and have is typical for someone that has lost as much weight as I have and is now as light as I am – With the other factors like my age and the fact that I have 5 children.

When I look at things objectively I know that I need to go ahead with my revision surgery – for the sake of my skin as I age – this is because I am still prone to skin infections and skin tears but I still have misgivings. It was not a straight forward recovery for me and I have not shared everything on here because quite honestly I had PTSD resurface and still dislike talking about certain aspects of what I experienced.

My surgeons explained to me that in someone that has lost as much weight as I have, the skin is damaged and will likely sag again requiring revision. Thankfully this is not as invasive as the massive muscle repair and clean out of previous scar tissue and old seromas that happened the first time around.

I do love living life without the skin apron and I love my lifted mons but I hate the loose upper abdominal skin and the fact that it still manages to pull and rip! My side boobs are to be dealt with in the revision surgery as are my arms. I don’t hate my flappy arm bits but the side boob makes it impossible to wear correctly fitting bras and I wear compression to hold it in every day.

I think it’s fairly incredible the difference that 6 months had made – I still swell from time to time but for the most part it’s hard to explain the difference that not having the apron has made to my life in terms of how much less daily pain I experience.

So what did I have done? I had ETT with mons lift and corset muscle repair (my thighs lifted quite a lot from this part of the procedure)

Breast Lift, Breast reduction with fat transfer.

My surgery was completed by Misters Ian Holten and Raf Acosta from Australian Skin Face Body in Geelong.

Part 2

We live with ourselves right? Like, I know things about me that NO ONE else knows. There are things about me, secrets that no one will ever know, things that I will take to my grave.

Things like – how many times I sucked Ice Magic directly from the bottle or ate peanut butter out of the jar, how many times I rubbed one out over Patrick in Dirty Dancing, the amount of times I thought about a beautiful girl back when I wasn’t sure if I liked guys, girls or both in equal measure, how often I escaped to the beach to sit and be alone because sometimes a girl just needs to hear the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks 🌊🌊 okay okay sooooooooooo it was more to do with my booty call and his proximity to the beach, but I did like that whole wave crashing thing too ….. I just like the rock hard surfer abs more 🤤😍

Do you remember those days? The care free days? The days when the worst thing that happened was that your best friend didn’t like you at that moment or the person you adored didn’t know you were alive? The days when you felt everything! The teen years!! Heightened hormones and everything that went along with it. Well I have found that the weight loss journey feels a whole hell of a lot like that! Still interested? Then read on my friend, read on.

I remember the day that I decided I was actually going to do this. I was going to turn my life around and have WLS. And just quietly – I didn’t really think that weight loss surgery would work. I had been the unfortunately recipient of a failed lap band that had been removed. I was TERRIFIED of going under the knife again! And things like that worked for other people but they didn’t work for me. The ‘genetic predisposition towards fatness gods’ had not smiled upon me! I was doomed to look like a beach ball with arms, legs and a head for the RESSSST OF ETERNITY!!!!! I was a bit like Pooh Bear …. I was “short, fat and proud of that” constantly “rumbly in my tumbly” and looking for something sweet ……. or savoury …… OKAY OKAY ….. I just LOVED food. But a little idea was brewing on the inside of me. I wondered what I would look like without all of the excess me.

In my adult life I have been fat for 95% of it. And in all honesty it was hard for me to imagine what it would be like to be a non plus size. I didn’t even know what that would feel like! So to help myself focus on all of the good reasons to move forward with the surgery I wrote a list of the things that I would do when I was thin. I was also a little bit intentional about writing things on that list that were for me and me alone. I know that may sound selfish but if you can remember what I was talking about last time – I knew that I had to make this change for me. Yes everyone around us benefits from our lifestyle change but this time it wasn’t about everyone. It was about me.

So I wrote a title for my list MY WHY and I sat and stared at the blank piece of paper and couldn’t think of anything!! WTF!!! It took a couple of days of staring at that blank piece of paper on my desk before I got brave enough to write my first WHY on it – To look gloriously hot in a pair of high waisted skinny jeans! I sat at my desk smirking and laughed to myself but in that moment HOPE bubbled up inside me, the dam broke and out poured all of the things that I secretly dreamed for myself. It’s not selfish to want a better health outcome for your life, it is NOT selfish to prioritise good health, it is not wrong to dream of being unhindered by excess self, of running a marathon, of going on a holiday to a tropical destination without fear of being sweaty and chaffed the whole time, it isn’t selfish to want to see your own genitals or dream of having hot sex up against the wall – but all of those things are just a dream when trapped in a morbidly obese body. So on and on and I wrote! By the time I finished my WHY list it was pages long. I can write a compelling argument – I even convinced myself that this was probably my last chance to ever have my WHY list.

My WHY list helped me overcome my first hurdle, the YOU BAD AND SELFISH WOMAN HOW CAN YOU DO THIS!! My WHY list was more compelling than the thought of WLS being 150% selfish. “Oh but its just so selfish to remove my income from the family for 6 weeks while I recover, and how can I consider doing this to the kids? What kind of monster am I to do something like this for myself? We could use that money for so many other things!” Armed with my WHY list, ever the voice of reason, the one and only Stevie J (hubster and bangable best friend) said “What will the future look like if you don’t do this?” He handed me my list and he smiled at me, kissed me on the nose and left for work! Ummmm what the fuck was that? How does he disarm EVERY single one of my arguments with a sentence? Can I encourage you to write down your WHY’s – Keep them with you. Let them motivate you both before and after surgery. Make sure that they are compelling enough to keep your focus.

So there began my determination to actually do something this time. It wasn’t going to be like every other time I had backed out of something, changed my mind, or just found it all too hard and put it in the “fuck it bucket” and ran screaming the other way. This time I was going to relearn what it felt like to look after myself, I was going to take my health back, I was going to be the me that I was on the inside – on the outside! I was so pumped for about 2 hours!! And then reality came crashing in around me. HOW THE HELL was I going to do this!! Why would it be any different this time? So, armed with the tiny little bubble of self love that was brewing in my heart, kept my WHY list with me at all times and read it a few times a day! That list became fuel to the genuine desire that I had to make steps away from my beach bally self – so I formulated my BE GONE FAT PLAN.

Step one of my BE GONE FAT PLAN was as far as I could go to start with. I had made an awful mistake with my Lap Band Surgeon years prior. This was the part that frightened me beyond words!! I didn’t want to make a terrible mistake again soooooooo. I set myself some Goals. I am good with that kind of thing – business background blah blah. I knew that I needed to be really specific about what I wanted. I needed to give myself a time frame in which to achieve my first goal which was “FIND GOD OR GODESS OF GASTRIC SURGERY” that I can trust to get this right for me. And so the challenge was set. FIND THE SURGEON AND I gave myself 4 weeks to do it!

It’s Quiet

We are at day 23 in the recovery process after the tummy tuck and I am going to confess that this week has been a huge jumble of emotions. I have found the quietness of the house to be disturbing. Being alone all day has it’s advantages but it is also lonely at times. I find myself torn between the instructions to “not do too much” and the need to do things like make lunches, cook meals, clean up and just generally be me.

As far as recovery goes – well really I couldn’t ask for better. I am healing beautifully, swelling is going down and all of that is going well BUT I am profoundly unhappy with the amount of loose skin that is left behind. My side boob is the most distressing part of this process. It is something that I am still tucking in on a daily basis and I was not expecting to still be doing that so that is disappointing. My tummy has loose skin too – going through what I have been through and still having excess skin to deal with seems like a really cruel joke that is just not funny. BUT …… I don’t have to tuck my tummy in to anything anymore. That is a weird feeling! Weird in a good way. And my mons has been lifted – WOW. Its there – like front and centre. Mine was covered by a skin flap for the last 23 years so it’s VERY strange to be able to see it there staring at me. I don’t recognise my body at all at this point and even though I am living in it, it is covered by a compression suit for 23 hours and 45 minutes every day so I haven’t really had a chance to get used to it yet.

I am now just using this brown tape to cover my incisions. Everything is all healed – I just have to keep them covered for 3 months. THREE MONTHS – why did no one say this!!! It seems a very long time but I am sure that it will be worth it in the long run!! ……… okay actually that last statement is a lie – I am probably going to have to have revision surgery to fix the things that are not right so it seems to me like I will be wearing tape on my body for half a year when it could have only been 3 months which I am now resenting in advance …. hey at least I can be honest about it!!

Anyway folks – until next time xx

This was me about 4 months after I had weight loss surgery and me during the week when my new swimsuit arrived

This morning when I was naughty and took my compression suit off for 2 minutes just to see how much my panties will cover of my gigantic scar

Day 17 Post Op

It has taken me so much longer to sit down and write this than I thought it would. The trauma of what happened after my plastic surgery is not something that I am going to forget in a hurry and I am still filled with fear and dread when I think about it. Yesterday was a great day. Yesterday I was feeling brave and confident and full of awesomeness over this process and beyond but today I feel very weepy. Its been a huge head game going through this process. I think it has been an even bigger head game than my initial weight loss surgery was. How that is even possible is beyond me but there it is.

Over the last 2 and a bit weeks I have been struggling to work out how I feel about all that happened with my surgery. About the fear that I felt and about how I am still feeling now. Bleeding internally is NO FUN. Fainting and peeing myself was no fun, being covered in blood from where my drain got pulled out was no fun. And watching my blood collecting in the other drainage bag on the other side of my body was not much fun either. In short I think I have been left feeling fairly traumatised by what has happened. So I do apologise for my lack of writing. I am still processing everything and will get back to things really soon xx

Friends

Oh my goodness – my friends have literally been the saviour of my sanity over the past few days. I am feeling a lot better. Coffee and hugs and flowers and just thoughtful beautiful people make my life so much richer!! Oh I love them! I am 9 days post op and I am starting to feel a whole hell of a lot stronger. I can see the light that is at the end of the tunnel and I know that I am no longer going into it! The drains came out yesterday afternoon at my appointment at my surgeons rooms. My wounds look brilliant and I am healing beautifully. These things are huge. They are huge because I have had a hard time healing in the past and I did not want to end up in a bad way due to poor healing. I continue to drink Tasteless Collagen Protein powder and I can say that all of my wounds are closed and even my bruising is going away! That is fairly shocking to me but there it is – aaaaaaaaaaaaaand now for the pictures and a little video that I did earlier because I tend to find that by afternoon I am feeling a little tired. Have a beautiful weekend everyone!

Love Tash xx