Sarah’s Weight Loss Journey – Blog entry #4: Tummy Tuck Nightmare

I was so excited to have lost 140 pounds!  Going from a size 22 to a 10 was an accomplishment I never thought I’d be able to reach.  So next step for me was the tummy tuck.  I was really excited up until the morning of surgery when I was sitting there in the pre-op room talking to the surgeon one last time. I suddenly had a really bad feeling and was scared to death. This was going to hurt!  She was going to do an extended tummy tuck so I was going to be cut almost all the way around…cut in half!!!! What was I thinking?  But I went ahead with it.  Looking back now, I can say it was one of the worst experiences of my life, and it was not the doctor’s fault. She was amazing!  It was after I woke up and was sent to a regular room that the nightmare began.

First thing, I am in excruciating pain unlike anything I had ever felt.  It was like I had been cut in half with a chain saw rather than a scalpel.  I think I yelled to the nurse that I needed pain medication and quickly!  She slowly waltzed back in at least 10 minutes later saying that she couldn’t find any orders from the doctor for pain medication.  You can’t even imagine what went through my head at that second.  If I didn’t hurt so bad, she wouldn’t be walking today!  I cried and cried and told her that I HAD to have something, to please call the doctor, anything. So she slowly walked out, came back in another 10 or 15 minutes later saying that all she could give me for pain was Phenergan.  I know my pharmacology, and Phenergan is NOT for pain.  I argued, cried, and yelled, and she shot me full of Phenergan anyway.  I’m not sure how long it took, but my surgeon finally got up there and told them to put me on a morphine pump and showed the idiot where it had been written the whole time.

So, things calmed down a little bit. Actually, most of the next day or two is a total blur.  I don’t remember much except them saying that I had to drink a glass of water and then I could go home.  I tried, and it went down slowly, but it hurt like it was getting stuck. I wasn’t too concerned a the time, but now I know I should have been VERY concerned!!!  Scott takes me home and props me in the recliner, which will be my ‘home’ for the next week.  I remember the pain being almost more than I could take every time I moved.  But, my first attempt at getting pain medication down was a complete failure.  It got stuck. My lap band was really really tight, if not closed off completely.  I threw that up, and after being cut in half, throwing up was torture.  A little later, I tried to sip some water, but it also came back up.  We tried crushing the pain meds up with a sip of water and even that wouldn’t go down.  I had antibiotics I was also supposed to be taking…and those weren’t getting down either.  I spent a lot of time just crying and sleeping hoping that maybe tomorrow would be better.

Next day was even worse.  I hurt worse, I could hardly get up to go to the bathroom, and still, nothing was going down.  After a couple of days, I was getting dehydrated, so Scott started calling around to the emergency rooms and the out-of-town bariatric doctors to find someone to take all of the fluid out of my band.  Nobody would touch me with a ten foot pole because they hadn’t been trained on the lap band system.

Next day I was desperate and it was getting pretty serious.  I was in so much pain my body just sort of shut off reality, and I was so dehydrated and weak, it was now an emergency.  We went back to my tummy tuck doctor and she gave me an IV for fluids.  By then end of that hour I already felt better.  She gave me some liquid pain meds and I think I got a few drops of it down.  But we had to find someone to take this fluid out.

Finally, I think the fourth day or so, Scott found a doctor in Wichita Falls that agreed to see me.  We drove over 3 hours in the car to his office.  He was a complete jerk and kind of creepy to me.  I didn’t like him, but he took all the fluid out of the band and charged me over $400 for this and that.  I was pretty angry, but relieved.  I could finally drink water, and eat, and I might live through this.

Things got a little easier over the next few weeks…it was still one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through, but probably just because I had to do it with no pain medication.  I would NOT do this again, ever.

Over the next several months, the wound healed, but the swelling was horrible.  With my lap band now empty, I could eat whatever I wanted, and I did… to the extreme.  I felt like I could make up for the nightmare by turning to food.  And I was just hungry all the time.  We went back several times to fill the lap band back up, but it never gave me any constriction.  I was gaining weight back quickly…but every ‘fill’ I did cost me $150 and they weren’t working. So I just gave up.  Over the next 11 months, I just got in the mind-set that I was just going to be fat again.  My belly looked great when it healed, until I gained ~50 lbs back.  Now it was flat still, but just big.  So, that led me to the sleeve revision surgery.  I had to come up with the 12K on my own this time…and found a wonderful doctor in Decatur, and we got it set up for November 22nd, 2011.  So this brings me to present day.  My next post will be the experiences up to this time with my new sleeve surgery.  Again, thanks for reading!



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