My Journey Through Surgery and Recovery - February 29, 2016





These photos were taken two days before my surgery. 
My husband Ransom took me to get a mani/pedi XOXO!


If you have not seen the video that I posted before my surgery you can see it below. I explain my surgery in detail, and I added in a few of my favorite makeup products too :-)



We got my hospital bed delivered and set it up nice and cozy in our living room. This was a life saver for when I came home from the hospital.


*PLEASE NOTE* 

SOME OF THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS AND VIDEOS MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS.


This is my journey through my 11th surgery since I was hit by a drunk driver while I was walking when I was fifteen-years-old. I had three knee surgeries, three shoulder surgeries, 2-level lumbar prodisc surgery, cervical prodisc surgery, two incisional hernia repairs with mesh, and now an abdominal reconstruction with mesh. 

I am posting all of the photos and videos that my husband took when I was in the hospital. Sometimes life gives us challenges and this is real life with no filters. I want to be open and honest about my experience and how I have stayed positive through it all. My hope is to show you that you can have an amazing, happy life no matter what you are dealing with. XOXO







Two months before my surgery I had gotten to the point where I had no energy and slept most of the day. The mesh that had moved through my abdominal wall was taking a major toll on my body. This photo was taken in the emergency room three days after Christmas when my blood pressure dropped to 58/38.

February 29, 2016
SURGERY DAY

This was just before I was wheeled into the operating room. I was finally able to smile and calm down after some sedation. I had just finished having a panic attack as they were preparing to insert my pre-op epidural. I was not really scared to have the needle inserted into my spine, it was more a rush of overwhelming fear and panic as I was only minutes away from surgery time. I was crying, shaking, and hyperventilating. The medication worked like a charm and they inserted the epidural. I was then wheeled into the operating room feeling much more calm.





Surgery complete and successful after almost 6 hours in the operating room. I had two surgeons working on me. I had a general surgeon Dr. Chukwumah who specializes in complex abdominal reconstruction. He removed the old mesh and did my full abdominal repair. He used a large sheet of mesh and inserted it between my abdominal muscles spanning from my ribcage to my pubic bone. My appendix were also removed during this surgery. I then had a plastic surgeon Dr. Babigian do the closure. Since this was my fourth abdominal surgery, he could not go through my old scar again. He used a new horizontal T-incision and was able to smooth out my abdomen by removing some skin. This procedure is like a mini tummy tuck, however the scar is positioned higher above my bikini line so the mesh could be inserted up to my ribcage. This is the only way to get rid of the old hernia lumps that had gotten so huge I looked like I was pregnant.









The walking epidural was helping to control my pain by localizing pain medicine into the surgical site. I was still able to move and walk.




Just out of surgery.




I was in Intensive Care for three days because my blood pressure was too low.







I had Reiki done twice during my hospital stay. You can request it from your nurses to have volunteers come and do a session on you. I am also a Reiki Practitioner and I used to volunteer at this same hospital. It is so relaxing that I would be out cold for hours!








Me and my Mama XOXO




My son, daughter, and granddaughter XOXO. My other son was out of state when I was in the hospital.






Me and my amazing husband! He stayed by my side for the full 7 days that I was in the hospital XOXO





My first time up since surgery. I was stuck and my legs wouldn't move. It was almost like I forgot how to walk. The nurse helped me by telling me to march in place and my feet were able to shuffle forward.








Of course the first thing I asked for when I got up was a comb LOL





Me and my sissy XOXO





March, 6, 2016

Finally being discharged and going home after 7 days in the hospital!





Walking after surgery is so important! I was walking a few minutes at a time 3-4 times per day. The medical walker made is to much easier for me to stay up longer. My husband cheering me on in this video was a great help too :-)



You can see the anchor stitches for the sheet of mesh up between my ribcage and at my pubic line.



I had two drains removed two weeks after my surgery. The drain in this video was the longer drain and was extremely painful (sorry for the F-Bomb LOL). The pain subsided in about five minutes. The other drain was much shorter and I barely felt it come out.






I am so grateful that my scar is healing so well and that my giant hernia belly is flat again!!! Now that the incision is not open anymore, I was told by my plastic surgeon to massage it 3 times per day. I use coconut oil, however he said that any scar healing creams are a waste of money and that massage is the number one way to get the best results.


BACK IN THE HOSPITAL
TWO WEEKS AFTER SURGERY

About five hours after the drains were removed I started having excruciating pain in my upper abdomen. My stomach swelled and I endured the pain for the next 8 hours hoping it would go away. Finally my husband called the ambulance and I was taken to the emergency room. They loaded me up with IV sedation and did a CT scan. All tests came back negative and my pain was under control so they sent me home. During my next five weeks of recovery I had five more episodes of this unbearable pain that would last anywhere from 4-14 hours and then I would feel fine. Since the IV medication had controlled my pain the first time, we decided not to go back to the hospital and treat my pain at home by increasing my pain medication until my spasms would stop. We called the pharmacist to find out the maximum dosage that I could take without overdosing. Then hours later my pain would be gone.



My husband Ransom is so loving, caring and supportive. He helped me get through every moment with kindness and humor. This video is a clip of him drying my hair after he gave me my first shower. Most days he gave me a sponge bath because I was too weak and he always made that fun too :-)



Hubby always so thoughtful trying to cheer me up and make me smile :-)


BACK TO THE HOSPITAL FIVE WEEKS AFTER SURGERY

April 5, 2016

During my fifth episode of severe stomach pain and swelling, I realized that I was getting worse instead of better. After three hours of increased narcotics and no relief, I had no choice but to go back to the emergency room. They loaded me up with IV medication and my pain was still out of control. Finally after 14 hours of watching me in pain, my husband demanded another CT scan. They originally did not want to do it because the scan five weeks earlier came out negative. Thank God for my husband following his intuition because they found a severe intestinal blockage!



This video is me 5 weeks post-op. These random episodes of intense pain, nausea, shaking, and swelling, would last anywhere from 4 - 14 hours with no break. It felt like I was in full-blown labor except the pain was in the upper part of my stomach and it would not stop. During my surgical recovery I experienced five of these episodes approximately once per week and no one could figure out what was wrong. I was eating fine and moving my bowels. In this video I was in the emergency room maxed out on IV sedation after 14 hours of non-stop pain. My intestinal blockage was finally confirmed after a CT Scan with contrast. 



They quickly inserted an NG Tube through my nose into my stomach to suction the buildup of fluid. I then projectile vomited over 2 liters of liquid that was trapped in my abdomen. I immediately felt 90% better after the pressure was released. Unfortunately I vomited all over myself and my husband who was standing in front of me during the procedure. And he still hugged and kissed me, joking that we had just taken our relationship to the next level LOL.



I was then admitted back into the hospital for 5 days. For the first 3 days I was not allowed to have any food or water and the NG Tube was suctioning my stomach. They also stopped all narcotic pain medication because they cause constipation and slow down the intestines. They proceeded with 2 enemas per day then added laxatives and stool softeners. Five days later, I was sent home on a low fiber/low residue diet for 1 month and need to take laxatives and stool softeners every day. As of today, I still have another 16 days left to go until I can start eating normal again. I am so grateful that I did not need another surgery to remove the blockage!




Finally my pain was under control after all of the fluid was out of my stomach. The NG tube was suctioning everything out of my stomach so my intestines could rest and no fluid would build up.



I was then transported an hour away to the hospital where my surgeon was so they could continue my treatment.




This video is of the second Nasogastric tube (NG tube) that I had removed during my recovery from my abdominal repair surgery. The first time it was inserted I was under anesthesia during surgery, however I was awake when it was removed. The second time it was inserted I was awake in the emergency room with my intestinal blockage. Personally this was one of the most painful procedures for me. Even after it was in place, it felt like razor blades were in my throat and the pain to swallow was unbearable. I was so glad to get this tube out that I started crying from happiness!!!



Me and my Mama XOXO
Feeling much better now that the tube is out!!



Finally going home after another five days in the hospital!!!








Seven weeks have passed since my surgery and a total of 12 days in the hospital. I am finally home recovering slow and steady. This has definitely been the most painful and challenging surgery compared to my past ten operations that I have been through.. I knew it was going to be tough and the recovery would be long. I also knew I had to get my mind in the right place before I had surgery. 

As soon as my surgery date was set, I started watching comedy movies non-stop. This helped to keep my spirits up and kept me distracted. I would not allow my mind to look into the future, because when I did, I would become anxious and scared thinking about my long and painful recovery.

My biggest lesson throughout this whole journey, is that our minds and our thoughts are stronger than we ever thought possible! No matter what kind of pain we are going through (mental or physical) we can control how we react. Our reaction determines how we feel. Don't get me wrong, I had my moments of crying my eyes out and feeling hopeless. Especially when I had to get admitted back into the hospital for another 5 days! I was pissed and I just felt like I needed a break! However, I quickly accepted what had happened and I started focusing on being positive and loving instead of angry and in pain. 

I concentrated on being grateful for everything! I am grateful for all of the love and kindness that my friends, family, and followers, are giving me. I am grateful for everyone who helped and treated me in the ambulance and at the hospital. I am grateful that I have such a caring, supportive husband who has been by my side helping me and showing me how much he loves me. I am grateful for my mother-in-law who slept next to my hospital bed after I got home until I could take care of myself. I am grateful that I am healing and I am feeling less pain. I am grateful that I can walk and finally take a shower by myself. I am grateful that tube is out of my stomach and I can eat again. I am grateful to be alive! 

We need to show love and kindness to ourselves and to others. And always, always, always, be grateful. Stay focused on the positive and the outcome will be healing and happiness. We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it. Sending love, prayers, and hugs, to everyone who is having a hard time or dealing with any kind of pain XOXO! 



Thank you all so much for your kind words and support! I will be sharing new posts from my archives soon, and resuming my style linkup #linkupwithlisa as soon as I physically can.


Share The Love XOXO!!!








8 comments :

  1. Hard to watch you suffer, Lisa. Touching to see the circle of love around you. Happy to learn you're on the mend and so nice to have you back in my Google+ circle. Great big hugs!

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    1. Thank you so much Cynthia!! I am feeling much better and focusing on healing as quickly as possible. Your kind words mean so much to me XOXO!!

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  2. Thanks for linking up to Top of the World Style. These photos all look very painful. I hope you are up and about soon. It would be too pity if you missed out the spring fashion. Feel better soon.

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    1. Thank you Nicole. Yes it was painful but I made it through :-) Still recovering slow and steady. Hoping I will be strong enough to host a linkup soon XOXO

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  3. I just read the story of your surgery and feel like we lived the same nightmare! I went in for a "easy" tubal ligation on June 1, 2015, as soon as I woke up I knew something wasn't right. I was in sever pain and the nurses just kept telling me it was gas from the surgery, fast forward to about midnight and I was writhing in pain, it felt like someone lit a match, put it in my stomach and sewed me up! My husband told me to take the pain meds and try to relax, within an hour I was on an ambulance headed back to the hospital. Long story short, the doctor accidentally cut my intestine and the bowel fluid was leaking into my abdomen eating me away! I ended up having emergency surgery to remove 6 inches of intestine and remove the fluid. I woke up with that horrific NG tube and it stayed in for 4 days, like you said I cried from happiness when it was taken out! After a total of 7 days in the hospital and no food until the 6th day I finally went home. However, now I have an incisional hernia at the scar and am getting it repaired in about a week. Reading your story I am now concerned about having it...did yours fail? did it slip? how so? (If you don't mind sharing that is)

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  4. I am so sorry that happened to you! I'm glad they finally figured out and fixed the problem. As far as my incisional hernia, I first had prodisc back surgery through my abdomen. After that herniated I had 2 different surgeries with mesh to fix the holes for a total of 3 pieces of mesh. Years later the mesh detached and moved through my abdominal wall and was touching my intestines. For this last surgery they removed the old, small, pieces of mesh and inserted a large sheet of mesh between my abdominal muscles. They sewed the mesh between the muscles and anchored it from my ribcage to my pubic bone. They did this so the mesh would heal into my muscles so it wouldn't move again. Today I am 11 weeks post op and my belly is still swollen and painful and I need to wear my compression brace for everything. Please remember that we are all different and our circumstances are different and our healing will be different. I would recommend talking to your surgeon and asking him every question that you can think of before your surgery day. I was not aware that my appendix would be removed but they were. Feel free to ask me any questions but please also talk to your doctor. I wish you luck and speedy healing XOXO

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  5. Hi Lisa,I came across your website after googling ways to lighten hair naturally. Using vitamin C popped up and your picture was the one I was drawn to first. I really liked the way you talked and described so candidly and honestly the various beauty products you had tried. You looked so beautiful in your photos I couldn't believe you were 47 with 3 lovely grown up children so out of curiosity I looked at your "about me" section. I don't usually bother with all that but in your case I wondered what your story was, never for a moment did I expect to find such a moving and quite frankly tough tale to read. This is the first, and probably the last, time I shall post on someones site but I my heart went out to you. After all you've been through you deserve to live a charmed life from now on!!! How you remained positive is beyond me though having 3 beautiful daughters myself I can imagine it is family that keeps you going.They are what matters and it was wonderful to see how much yours helped you through the enormous ordeal that has been ongoing for you for so many years. I wish you all the very best and hope you have a speedy recovery. And, another first for me, I'm going to check in every now and then to see how you are progressing! So keep posting if you can.
    Ann Lewis, from Surrey, UK xxxx

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    1. Hi Ann, Thank you so much for writing to me. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading your beautiful message. I am doing much better now 3 1/2 months after surgery. The stitches in my abdominal muscles are finally starting to dissolve as the healing process is painfully slow. My surgeon said that my healing will be complete at the 3 year mark. It seems like forever away, but I am looking at it like I still have another few years to continue feeling better. If he had told me that this was as good as I was going to feel I would have freaked LOL.

      It has definitely been a tough year. Sadly my dad just passed away last week from cancer. I am so grateful that I was physically healed enough from my surgery to be with him and hold his hand as he crossed over. The only way that I can get through the hard times is to trust that everything happens to teach us something. So I look for the lessons in all that happens to me and around me. I believe that we are all here to have a beautiful life and life is what we make it. Love and kindness is always the answer XO. Thank you again for your beautiful message. Sending Love, Lisa

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