First Bump in the Road: Ugly Belly

Well I am nearly one week out from surgery, and I have to say that my recovery has been a fairly smooth one so far.  I haven’t had any nausea, any vomiting or any gas pain in my shoulders or chest like my doctor indicated there might be.  I’ve been able to get in all my fluids (and then some) and protein each day, and have been walking a little bit more each time I get up and pace our condo.

Last night was the first night I slept without the abdominal binder that the nurses sent me home with when I left the hospital Tuesday.

The abdominal binder I was given in the hospital, also known as My First Corset.  It's what all the cool girls are wearing this summer.

The abdominal binder I was given in the hospital, also known as My First Corset. It’s what all the cool girls are wearing this summer.

This felt good because I was also able to sleep on my right side with a pillow tucked under my left butt cheek to keep me from rolling onto my left side. Sleeping flat on your back sucks, and I have a tough time doing it because I have lower back issues stemming from sacroilitis I was diagnosed with back in December.  Sleeping on my back was also beginning to hurt my right hip (specifically the backside of my pelvis), so getting to sleep on my side was like heaven.  I’m also still sleeping with my CPAP machine, so side sleeping is a bit tricky when you have to wear a mask over your nose and mouth.  I was able to do it successfully though and I was able to get some good rest.

Unfortunately, I’m feeling pretty miserable this morning. The incision where the JP drain was pulled was not stitched or Dermabonded so today it’s leaking “me juice.”  This is grossing me out more than just a little bit.  Thankfully the other night after I showered and patted it dry, we put a piece of Tegaderm on it so the stuff isn’t getting everywhere. I think after a bit, I’m going to peel the Tegaderm off, clean the area and put a sterile gauze and bandage on it so that the incision can drain.  I just don’t want the juices on my clothes.  Ew.

Also, my lower GI tract has been feeling neglected this week and elected to let me know that this morning after I showered. It has yet to let up.  My upper GI tract started the ruckus by growling and rumbling, and my lower GI tract responded in kind.  Thankfully, the bathroom was close by.

I am pleased to report, however, that the swelling in my ankles seems to be subsiding a bit.  I was really worried because since I’ve been home, my ankles have been really edematous even though I’ve been drinking water like crazy and I’ve been walking or moving my feet while sitting still.  I figured that the swelling was happening for a couple of reasons:  I was given a steroid in the OR to combat nausea (thank you, Dr. Nicholson!  I love you!) and I am at the midpoint of my menstrual cycle so my hormones are going crazy.  And those hormones are steroids too, so they cause water retention.

The thing about this process that has distressed me the most isn’t the swollen ankles or the diarrhea or the leaky incision–it’s the appearance of my post-surgery belly.

I took a picture of my post-surgery belly Wednesday after I took a shower because I wanted to remember everything about this process.  I nearly cried at how it looked.  I’ve decided not to share the picture here because it really, really disturbs me.  My left side is pinched in, swollen and just gross looking.  I am marked up with purple Sharpie and I have 4 other incisions that are at various stages of healing.  But it is the left side that bothers me the most.

As my husband said when he first saw it, “It looks like someone took an ice cream scoop and scooped part of you out!”

And it does.  This distresses me greatly because it is really, truly ugly.  The ugliness of it all is the main reason I have chosen not to share the pictures I took, because it is just horrible looking, and no one wants to present themselves in that light.

This is not to say that if I had known I was going to end up with an ugly abdomen I would not have done the surgery–this is not it at all.  I have been so accustomed to seeing a round, smooth belly for so long that to see it looking misshapen and deformed bothers me a lot more than it probably should.  My doctor’s PA told me that there was a deep stitch that would pop in a couple of weeks that would hurt for a very short time and then I’d feel lots better, so I’m wondering if this is the location of said stitch.  If it is, then I suppose I can be okay with it because I know that eventually the pain associated with said stitch will subside.  I’m just scared that it will be permanent and that I’ll be misshapen and I’ll need plastic surgery to fix the mess, and plastic surgery is not something I’m planning to ever have.

Hopefully the disfigurement of my abdomen is temporary and will subside.  Hopefully I can learn to deal with it and realize that this too shall pass.

Week two post-op is coming, and with week two, I’m hoping to have more energy each day, and to be able to do more around the house.  Sipping and walking, while critical to my recovery, are kind of boring and I’d like to be able to get out and about!  I just don’t feel like it right now.  Maybe by mid-week, because dammit, I have a Rotary meeting to go to this week.

4 responses to “First Bump in the Road: Ugly Belly

  1. I’m glad to hear things are moving along – but that’s CRAZY re: your stomach?? I wonder if I don’t have this internal stitch or something because I didn’t experience that?? I’m praying that everything goes smoothly, I’m sorry to hear you’re bummed about it!

    • It really is gross looking! The fact that everything is still swollen doesn’t help! 😦 The good thing is that I’m not the only one who has this issue–there are a couple of folks on the OH VSG forum that had this too, so I am guessing it is because every doc’s technique is different. So far things have gone smoothly, but this is just a small inconvenience.

      I’m glad things are going so well for you! You are rockin’ your sleeve!

  2. Hi! I found your blog from My Tiny Tank and have enjoyed reading about your journey so far. I had gastric bypass in December, and also had an indent with the incision on my left side. It did look like a crater! The other incisions were slightly puffed OUT instead of IN! However, the cool thing that happened is that as I lost weight and my stomach got smaller, it started to match the indention! Now you can’t see it at all…just smooth scars. I know we had different surgeries, but you might find that happening to you as well. Great work…keep it up!

    • Hi Karen!
      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad I’m not the only one that had the weirdy indent in my left side…it’s funny, the only other folks I’ve met that I have it are the ones who have the same surgeon as I do! At support group, we compare indents. 🙂 Thankfully now that I’m a bit further out, it’s starting to even out and it’s not nearly as bad as before. The incisions I have are starting to scar up nicely–there are a couple you can barely see now!

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