Rick Genter's blog

My chronicle of my experiences, starting with my upcoming plastic surgery.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Let it drain

(With apologies to Eric Clapton)

Well, I went to see Dr. Gee this afternoon to have my drains inspected. One was ready to come out (yay!), but one wasn't (boo!). The right-hand drain had basically stopped draining; I was only getting about ten milliliters of fluid every twelve hours. The left-hand drain, on the other hand, still had some fluid - 25 milliliters over twelve hours - so he decided it should stay in. I go back on Monday morning to get it removed.

While I was there he also "cleaned up" my incision. This involved removing all of the clear plastic tape all the way around - which surprisingly wasn't bad. The tape's adhesive, while adhering well, didn't stick to what hair I have left (he shaved off a fair amount for the surgery), so it came right off. He wiped off the dried blood that was underneath; what's left is a very thin scar which is healing nicely and is going to be much less visible than I thought it was (and that I had seen in pictures of other people who've had this surgery). The material he used to close the incision is called something like "Tagabond" (I looked for it on the Web but couldn't find anything about it); he said he likes it better than Dermabond, and I have to admit it does an awesome job.

Anyway, after cleaning the incision and removing a few stitches which he said he used to "help contour my shape to match what it would have been if it had never been so out of shape", he re-taped it with more clear tape. Then he dealt with my belly button.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, part of this procedure involved the relocation of my belly button. For that part of my body he removed the skin around the belly button and pulled the skin from my lower chest down, cutting a hole in it to attach my belly button. It was taped and there was a cotton "plug" that was pretty much soaked with dried blood from immediately after the surgery. He removed that and threw it away, then cleaned out my belly button and re-taped it with the clear plastic tape. No plug this time, which was good; I didn't realize that I had a plug there and had explored it mostly by feel, and I thought he'd turned me from an "innie" to an "outie" :-).

There's been virtually no pain throughout this entire experience, but I think a lot of that is because a lot of the area - about four to six inches on either side of the incision - is almost totally numb. I am getting some feeling back, and I noticed even more today while he was working on me, but I think the human body is pretty smart, realizing that the stress of pain would retard healing, so why not just shut down the nerves while I heal and let the feeling come back slowly?

Removing the drain was interesting. As I had noticed, it was stitched in, and the first thing he did was cut those stitches. Then, without warning, he just pulled it out. The tubing went for several inches, and then there was about six inches of flange tubing that was about twice as wide as the tube coming out of me to help prevent the tube from coming out. All told he pulled what looked to be about eight to ten inches of tube out of me! I wasn't expecting that. On the other hand, it was good that he didn't warn me; he just pulled it out, so it was uncomfortable, but I didn't have an opportunity to tense up or suck wind before he did it, so it was done before I had much of a chance to react. The resulting hole bled for a bit, but after soaking one kleenex and replacing it with a pad to absorb the blood, it stopped bleeding after a couple of minutes. I removed the pad as soon as I got home.

And that was it. As I said above, I go back on Monday to get the other drain removed. When he replaced the binder he tightened it another notch beyond how I had it, and that wasn't uncomfortable, so the swelling is definitely going down and I continue to improve, so I'm happy.

On the way home I asked my friend Joyce (who was my ride) if we could stop by the Winchester Hospital Weight Management Program so I could say hi. Unfortunately, neither Nancy, my weight management educator, nor Kathy, the program administrator and the person who initially referred me to Dr. Gee, were there :-(, but I got to see both Holly and Emily (hi guys!), the other two health educators in the program, both of whose classes I've enjoyed in the past. It was good to see them and good to get outside; today was the first time I'd been outside since I came home from the hospital on Saturday, so even though today is a cloudy, rainy, muggy day thanks to the leading edge of Hurricane Ophelia, it felt good to be out. This weekend is supposed to be "iffy" as far as the weather goes, but I'm going to try and get out for an extended walk (fifteen to twenty minutes) at least once before going back to Dr. Gee on Monday. Then, when I see him, I'm going to press him to see when I can start becoming more active.

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