Monday, December 31, 2012

And So This Is Christmas

Phew, it is almost over! I have had so many Christmas celebrations this year that I am well and truly over it and ready for life to go back to normal. Well, not completely normal, I am enjoying the holidays from work of course!

Cosmo intently watching Connie put up her Christmas tree at the start of December

Our first family Christmas was at my place with my mum...

My version of a Christmas tree in a small apartment!

Me and AJ getting in the Christmas spirit

Heavily spiked egg nog

Connie cutting the turkey

Me filling up my glass from my awesome drink fountain

The delicious food: turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, corn bread, cranberry sauce and gravy... North American style for our Canadian family members!

AJ and my older brother

Me, my mum and my two sister in laws

Me and Connie back at her place (she lives practically next door so we tend to split parties up ove the two houses).

AJ proving that he is more like a dog than Cosmo, we call him scraps for a reason...

My younger brother and their (spoilt) dog Cosmo

Things go downhill when the singing starts...

We drove 4 hours to AJ's family house on Christmas morning... I hate driving with a passion and I even drove because sitting in the car for so long was too uncomfortable without something to take my mind off the pain in my back from my surgery.

AJ on Christmas day with his new little niece

Doing what all babies do and playing with the wrapping paper!

AJ's happy, he got the game he wanted

After lunch we drove a further 3 hours to my dad's place... 

Dad's version of a Christmas tree

Opening presents

Me on the hammock in my dad's lounge and being very worried I would bring the whole roof down if I broke it!

Dad carving the ham

The Christmas night feast

My younger brother and AJ

Me trying to recover from eating too much!

Always room for cherry pie...

Ah, something was funny???

Indoor cricket... probably not a good idea...

Me and Connie trying to look cute

AJ and my step mum choosing the Christmas music

Dad and I putting our feet up after dinner

Doing the twist... probably not something I should be doing after a body lift...

Boxing Day, relaxing in the sun at my dad's place

My dad's back yard

Cosmo playing in the channel at my dad's

Cosmo's little head poking up through the dam at my dad's, he thinks all the water is amazing!

One last family Christmas with my extended family at a winery in Daylesford...

Family wine tasting

My brother and sister in law enjoying the wine tasting

Yum, this was an amazing pinot, I bought a bottle to drink tonight on New Year's Eve

Delicious beer, of course many jokes were made about the name...

Me and Connie always take a few selfies

And that is it, a lovely, but exhausting Christmas with my family. I am very excited for 2012 to come to a close and start a fresh, bright new year.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

6 Weeks Post Body Lift


I am now 6 weeks out from my body lift surgery and I should be starting to feel a lot better and maybe even getting back into exercise by now. Unfortunately I seem to have overdone it in the last week or two and I have set my progress back a few weeks. I feel as sore and bloated as I felt at about 3 weeks post surgery and I have no one to blame but myself.

I am terrible at saying no to people and I constantly worry I will disappoint or offend someone by not being who they want me to be. I go along being all chirpy and normal and everyone thinks that I am OK because I hate for people to fuss or worry about me. Unfortunately that can lead to doing way more than I should be doing when my body is recovering from major surgery.

I am back to not sleeping because of the pain and discomfort of the swelling, which was fine when I was at home on sick leave, it's not fine when I have to maintain a full time job! I can barely stand up straight and my scar is burning like it is on fire in some places. I am very lucky that the damage isn't worse and that I haven't split any of my scars open.

I am really quite pissed off with myself because it is utterly stupid to put my body through so much when it is crying out for me to stop. Now with my birthday, Christmas and New Years in the next couple of weeks surely it'll be easy to put my feet up and rest... ha ha!

So enough of the 'poor me' carry-on, the more important question is how am I looking? Here is a photo I took of myself last week. This is the first (and only) time I have gone out without my compression garment. I did still wear a (cheap Target version) spanx bodysuit underneath my clothes, but I was much happier when I got home and could put my full compression suit back on. My surgeon has said that I don't have to wear the compression garment any longer if I don't want to, but I am much more comfortable with it on 24/7!

One thing is for sure, I have got to put the sweets away if I want to keep my flat tummy because I am a chocolate/ice cream/gingerbread/toffee eating machine right now. I am looking forward to a fresh start in 2013, but in the meantime I need to limit the damage!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

5 Weeks Post Body Lift

It has now been 5 weeks since I was sliced and diced for my body lift surgery. I would say that life has pretty much gone back to normal now, I am back at work, can go out shopping, socialise and have a few drinks. I am definitely not fully recovered though, after a few hours at work my abdomen starts to ache from being compressed in the seated position at my desk and I start to feel really uncomfortable and just want to lay out on my back. By the end of the day I am very swollen and sore, but that is still to be expected at this stage of the process.

The other day I ran across the road to beat a car and all I could think is 'ouch, I am not ready to exercise yet!'. Just jogging a few metres across the road was all kinds of uncomfortable. I don't think there is any exact time when you can start exercising again, you will just know when your body is ready. I am hoping that I will be feeling well enough to go on some walks over the Christmas break to build my strength up again.

I am still trying to keep pretty quiet because I seem to get tired very quickly, just doing the grocery shopping will leave me completely exhausted, but it is great to have an excuse not to have to help unpack the groceries! It is not the best time of year to be resting up because there is Christmas shopping, parties and nice sunny days to enjoy, but nurse AJ is pretty strict on me. I just hope by the new year I will be feeling more like my old self and ready to enjoy the summer.

I had a very nice surprise delivery from my surgeon late last week, he sent me a gift pack to pamper myself on my recovery. How sweet is that! You might notice that the brand of the gift pack is the same as my surgeon's last name, that is because his sister owns it, quite a talented family!

Last night I went to Kmart to pick up a few cheap basic tops to get me through my empty wardrobe stage and AJ made me try on this tiny little body-con dress to see what it would look like. I was too lazy to take off my compression garments so please excuse that terrible look, but here is the photo of me in a mini dress to give an idea of how my shape is coming along. I still have a lot of swelling on my back, but you can't see that in this photo. It is crazy for me to see myself with a bit of a waist, but I don't think I will be purchasing a mini dress any time soon!

Lastly, this picture is for my bloggy friend Cinders, she very kindly bought me an absolutely adorable PJ jumpsuit for my recovery. I kind of want to wear it everywhere though because it is way too cute to just wear to bed!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Post Surgery Follow Up

I had my second post-body lift surgery follow-up with my surgeon today. He took off my tapes and was immediately really pleased with how the wound was healing. He did notice I had some fluid on my back which he tried to get out with a needle but was unsuccessful (ouch). He said it will go down over time and I am really not too concerned. In fact, it made me feel better to know that there was a reason my back was still so swollen!

Waiting for my check-up.

My scar from the side. It's hard to tell, but my back is to the left of the  photo and my front is to the right of the photo (I have always had a pancake arse).

My scar from the front-- and more of me than you EVER wanted to have to see.

As you can see, I still have a lot of swelling, mostly on my lower back, outer thighs and sides. This is all normal and about 90% of swelling should subside by the 3 month mark and I will see my final results at the 6 month mark. How exciting!

My surgeon said I can stop wearing my compression garments now if I wish, but it's good to keep wearing them if I am happy to do so. Even though they can be painful in this heat (hello bloat), I will keep wearing them up until the 6 week mark and then maybe get myself a spanx binder that I can more easily wear in the summer. I actually feel more secure (not to mention thinner) when I am wearing my compression garments.

Now I don't have to see my surgeon for another 3 months... I almost feel normal again!

Monday, December 03, 2012

4 Weeks Post Body Lift

Today ends week 4 after my body lift surgery. By the end of this week I have really started to feel a bit more like my old self. I have to say that the absolute worst thing this week has been sneezing. I can tell you that there is nothing more painful or scary than sneezing after body lift surgery!

Thankfully, I am sleeping better this week, but I still need to sleep propped up by pillows and on my back. I am dreaming of the day I can sleep normally again. I think half my sleeping problems come from having to sleep on my back because I am normally a dedicated side sleeper. Also, I am not sure if it is the compression garment or the nightmares I have been having, but I have been suffering from bad night sweats and waking up dripping in sweat. I haven't even taken any pain killers this week so it can't be related to that, perhaps it isn't even anything to do with the body lift, who knows...

My movement seems to improve every day, but I struggle to imagine the day when I can bend over easily or do a sit-up, but I am sure I will get there eventually. Actually, I don't really want to do sit-ups anyway... The swelling is slowly going down but I am still puffy on my back, sides, tummy and outer thighs. The main swelling is on my back and, because I still can't stand up straight, I continue to look like a hunchback. It makes me look very top heavy, which I guess is a refreshing change from being bottom (well, stomach) heavy my whole life!

Photo taken 3rd Dec 2012
The weather has really been heating up here in Melbourne and life in a compression garment has not been very comfortable. It is fine when I am just lazing about the house with the air conditioner on, but when I have to wear clothes on top and get out and about, I get a little hot and bothered. I really can't complain though because it's much easier than having to deal with wearing that extra 6 kilos of skin my surgeon cut off!

After 4 very blissful weeks off to recover from surgery I am returning to work tomorrow. I am actually kind of looking forward to getting back into routine. I love being home and I can honestly say I haven't been bored for a single second, but I do need work to distract me from stuffing food in my gob all day. Despite getting a fill in my band on Saturday morning, I still managed to eat 2 sandwiches and 3 doughnuts today. I had 0.5 mls added to my band, taking me to 5.5 mls in a 10 mls band, but it obviously had very little effect...

In preparation for going back to work I have been shopping for long skirts and pants to cover my compression garments (they go well past my knees). I managed to pick up some cheap stretchy pants and skirts from Target and Kmart for less than $10 each-- this never happened when I was shopping for size 26 clothes! When I tried to put them away in my wardrobe it became apparent that I could not squeeze another thing inside and I had to purge...

I started by taking out a few hideous dresses that I always hated but continued to wear them because I had nothing else. Then it escalated until I had almost nothing left in my wardrobe except the few things that currently fit me. I put everything into piles and my mum is coming over tomorrow to take what she wants and then I will take the rest to the Salvation Army. It was a little sad to say goodbye to some of my favourite items, not to mention the clothes that I never wore because they were too small before surgery and are now too big... Why is sorting your closet always such an emotional experience? I am sure I will be much happier about it once I can go out shopping to replace the clothes that are too big, but right now it feels like a part of my life has been thrown out with those clothes. Too dramatic?

The piles of clothes to be taken away
I must end this and get some sleep before going back to work tomorrow. I just hope I actually remember to get up when my alarm goes of and go to work... and also what my computer password is...

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Body Lift Surgery Final Costs

As soon as I got all my receipts from my body lift surgery I sent them off to Medicare and my Health Insurer to claim any rebate I was entitled to for the surgery. I have laid out in the table below exactly what I paid and what I received back. As you can see, my out of pocket cost for the surgery came to $14,188.75.

This total is inclusive of the body lift surgery, a four night hospital stay, two compression garments and follow up appointments with my surgeon. I really don't know how this compares with other surgeons in Australia and overseas, but given how happy I am with my results, it was worth every cent.

Now I just need to find the money to start replacing my wardrobe because the only clothes I have that still fit me are my socks. This is a good problem to have!

Surgical fee $12,500$998.70$219.35$1,218.05$11,281.95
Hospital fee $1,138.50-$1,138.50$1,138.50$0.00
Insurance excess $500.00---$500.00
Anaesthetic fee $2,970.00$658.20$332.90$991.10$1,978.90
Compression garments $427.90---$427.90