Thursday, October 12, 2006

Extreme Makeover: Yoga Chickie Edition


I am home from the hospital (or as the Europeans say, "home from Hospital"). I am down two unfabulously granite-like saline implants and one rather unsightly bony protusion on my nose. I have gained two silicone implants and a whole bunch of cadaver tissue, strategically placed, to cushion the space between my muscle and my skin, since there is precious nothing there, nor has there been for four years plus one month now. I also have two black, or more like purple, eyes. But damn, the nose looks GOOD. The breasts are muchly improved as well, but I know they will never be perfect, and I need to accept that. What I can hope for is breasts that remain soft (yes! they are SOFT NOW!!!!!), remain centered on my chest rather than careening out towards my sides, and mobility, mobility, mobility.

Immediately after a plastic surgery, you can see exactly what the doctor did. As the day wears on, it becomes less and less visibile, as swelling sets in. Even so, even now, I am thrilled.

My surgery experience was different from the ones I have had in the past. Different hospitals do things differently, I guess. In this case, I was given a room immediately and a bed that I stayed in for every moment that I was conscious (they took me off it for surgery but put me back on it afterwards). Funny thing: the bed was plus-sized and had a scale. It was meant for the bariatric band patients. Funny that. I looked like a small child on that big big bed with the big, giant rails. But I kind of liked it. I appreciated the irony, and I always can use a laugh.

I was taken to a pre-surgery waiting area at exactly the moment I was scheduled for surgery. THAT was quite different from anything I have experienced previously. No surgeon is ever on time in New York City, I am quite sure of that. There I was met by Julie's Best Doctor In the World (and mine too) and a couple of anesthesiologists who looked exactly alike and then became one anesthesiologist (not sure if I dreamed the second one, come to think of it). There, I was given an IV and the Versed began aflowing. I asked if this was the beginning of my anesthesia, as in, would I even remember being taken to the operating room? The anesthesiologist said, Versed is pretty strong stuff, most patients have no memory of getting on the operating table. THIS was VERY different from my previous experience with surgery, where I always climbed onto the table myself, was awake to see the flurry of activity around me and all of these amazing people dressed in white who were there to care for me, where I was given an IV with a sedative, but where I always felt the gas mask going over my face and where I always got to count backwards from 100 ("100, 99, ninety-ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy....zzzzzzzzzzzz").

I decided at that moment, "Nothing doing. I am going to be awake when I go into that OR, and I am going to enjoy watching all the folks scurrying around to take care of me, and I am going to listen to my vital signs being monitored, and I am going to count backwards from one hundreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....zzzzzzzzzzzz"

Needless to say, I woke up four hours later in the recovery room with no memory of anything beyond that prep room. I never saw the inside of the OR. Bummer.

I have little if any recollection of my doctor talking to me after surgery, except I believe he told me to stop moving my arms around so much - that part was EXACTLY like all of my surgeries in the past. Always the flibberdigibbit, I am. I really didn't know if the breast surgery was a success. For all I knew, he wasn't able to even get an implant into the right breast, which is the one that has the most contracted skin. I don't remember anything that he said about it. When I got back to my room, I took out a mirror and looked at my nose. I wish I could botle the emotions from that first look. I was surprised to see that my nose was shorter now. I didn't remember that being a part of the procedure that we had discussed. But I LIKED it. I was thrilled and so the surprise was a pleasant one. I could see that my profile was straight and smooth. Kind of like Drew Barrymore - that's who it reminded me of. And there was no swelling, no black and blue. Now there is major swelling and bruising around the nose. But the nose itself, as far as I am concerned, an unqualified success.

At this point, I still had no idea what the deal was with the breasts, and I felt a bit concerned, like perhaps my doctor didn't want to break bad news to me or something like that. My mom called me and told me that she had talked to him. He didn't use words like, "The surgery was a success." And he did say, "This was one of the hardest reconstructions I have ever done. Her skin was rock hard." But I got the feeling from my mom's report of my doctor's report that it was at least going to be an improvement from before. As far as I am concerned, if it is one iota different from before, then it was worth it.

Damn, my nose itches. It's in a splint. I look like a boxer after a fight. Itch itch itch. Nothing I can do about it. That splint has to stay on until at least Tuesday. Same with my drains. Yep, got the old JP drains. No surprise there. I have no problem with that, although they tend to gross other people out. I guess seeing one's blood and lymph dripping out of them down a tube and into a little plastic bulb can be a bit disconcerting to an observer.

So, back to the breasts. My doctor came to see me this morning, and he told me that when he opened up the right breast and removed the saline implant, the skin around the implant stood up on its own, like a volcano. A ring of hardened flesh, just standing there. UGH! I don't know how he dealt with that, but I was glad to hear that he did. And from what I can feel, it is soft. He de-scarred the area (this is called a "capsulectomy", I believe, where the implant capsule and the scarring is removed). He placed cadaver tissue over the places where there had been dents and adhesions. The other side was more straight forward.

But for now, they are soft. They do not stick out past my ribcage like they did before. They may even make some cleavage! I do not have striations of muscle visible under my chest skin anymore. It would be wonderful if this all stays like this and that time does not undo the good results. Sadly, some reconstructive surgery seems to be successful at first, and then over time, the results deteriorate - skin grafts fail, tissue gets fully reabsorbed. But let's remain optimistic.

I have to stay relatively quiet with my arms, but I should be out and about walking almost as soon as I want. I haven't much of an appetite yet. But I know that will come back an minute now.

I am very very happy.



CJ said...

Glad it went well and that you are so positive and happy!

Ursula said...

You are so brave. Thank you for sharing all this. I'm glad that you are happy.

Oh yes, you are so right - we say from hospital without article. I will repeat this article and no article grammer.

Have a nice day.

Caroline said...

It's nice to hear that everything went well, and that you're pleased with the results. :D

Tim said...

Hey YC

Sounds like you are on the othway to recovery

Good for you!

Timothy said...

Lauren - I hope the recovery is comfortable and speedy, but take it easy OK?

Also, I did that celebrity face thing -- the top comparision was Russell Crowe, but another one was Newman from Seinfeld . . . . How can that be?

Anonymous said...

Welcome home. I will visit soon.

Friend called "S"

Tova said...

my "stepmother in law" had to have her post mastectomy boob redone a few times due to scar tissue and twisting and all sorts of uncomfortable stuff like that. i was thinking about you the last few days and hoping that things were going well. i get a real kick out of your blog, it is so smart and funny, i feel like i should tell you how much i appreciate your sharing with the world and letting wierdos like me into your life in this way.
i had to go buy a new bra today. when i was pregnant and then nursing my second child i was a 38D on the way to a DD. post nursing 2 1/2 years later, i was a 38C. the other day a friend said to me wow i never noticed how flat chested you are! and i thought i am a 38C, that is not flat chested!! so i went home and tried on all my bras that i have not worn in a good while because yoga tops are more comfy than underwire, and i could not fill out my C cups. today i found out that i am officially a VERY unpert 36B, which explains why i look flatchested in an athletic bra. my point being, boobs are a wierd thing. we have a constantly changing relationship with them, i think. anyways, i hope you are enjoying your new ones. someday i hope to put my old ones back up where boobs are usually found.
recover quickly, but most importantly recover restfully.

yoga chickie said...

Thanks everyone for the outpouring of good thoughts and wishes. Tova - sounds like you know what I've gone through....and before all of this went down, believe me, my two kids and two years of breastfeeding did my ersatz breasts no favors!

samasthiti said...

If I knew your digits I would call and tell you how amazing I think you are, and maybe sing you a song!

Anonymous said...


Glad to hear that you're doing well and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

I suspect that the sleeping turtle will be anxiously waiting for your return to the mat!


Sara said...

Hey Lauren,
So it's the nose, eh? I was curious. ;) So glad it all went well... thanks for the detailed update. Glad you're happy and feeling good.
Now hopefully those new boobs won't interfere with yoga... we all know that's the measure by which we judge things, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,

I've been so busy lately, I needed to catch up. I'm glad everything went well! I won't recognize you the next time I see you on the street.

Feel good, let's get together soon, ok?


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About Me

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Northern Westchester, New York, United States
I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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