Reconstructive surgery

The time has come.  As I’m nearing 3 years post-transplant and my incision has been cut open wide twice now, my transplant surgeon and the head of plastics/reconstructive surgery at the Cleveland Clinic have agreed to flip the green light on fixing the atrocity that has become my abdomen.  As some of you know, it was badly infected after my first surgery, so the second surgeon tried to close it to look better when he was done, but there really wasn’t much to make a large difference without gutting the whole thing and starting new.  So that’s what we’re doing at the end of the summer.

Yes, we are gutting my stomach just like a kitchen, ripping out the old, putting up the clean and new. I don’t think this journey will be a fun one, especially as I’m not required to do it.  You just go along with show when your life doesn’t have a chance.  But this is 100% my choice.

I’ve looked forward to this day for so long, but now that it’s here, I’m not sure if I want it.

You see, my stomach boldly shows all of my battle scars.  The staples, stitches, tubes, and drains.  I trace them when I’m falling asleep sometimes.  They are the only proof of my story, the only souvenir these past years of hell have left me with.  I don’t like what it is, but I like the idea of having it.  I’ve come to learn to ignore it pretty well and have long stopped getting sick every time I get out of the shower and have to look at it.  It’s a nuisance and affects my clothes and my posture, and it’s not pretty, so you’d think the decision would be easy.  But all 90 gashes surrounding my bold Mercedes-Benz logo, and each big bump where a tube or drain once fell from… they each so fully tell my story.  The agony, the pain, and the rising again.  It’s very symbolic to me. [Every time I say Mercedes-Benz I think of my friend Jenn S. who said, “Well at least it’s not a Hyundai.” #transplantfunny]

I will follow-through, but I’m sharing my mental process here as I know a lot of us are being transplanted younger and younger, these things are becoming issues.  I have no indication that this surgery for this reason has ever been done before, so if you feel like me and hope  someone has had good results from this , then I’m happy you’re here reading along.  I pray my experiences partially influence the future of transplants where you soon won’t have to look like you’ve had a near-death experience from the lines and grooves of your abdomen.  The memories are bad enough in my mind.  I don’t need them tattooed all over my skin.

2 thoughts on “Reconstructive surgery

  1. Hi! I’ve been reading your journal and wondering if you could answer some questions as my situation is similar to yours. I just had TACE chemo which they told me wouldn’t hurt that bad and that I wouldn’t be nauseated…well I can barely take the pain but definitely cant take the vicodin they gave me as it makes me throw up. I just don’t think I can handle a transplant if I can’t take the chemo that is “not painful”. I guess I’m just looking for someone who had chemo issues too.

  2. Of course. I had chemoembolization when I had a liver tumor and the pain was UNREAL. What kind of cancer do you have? There are different pain killers they can give you – percocet, dilaudid, etc. For nausea, they can give you things like zofran or phenergan. An anti-nausea could prevent the vomiting and pain. Talk to your doctor. After my transplant, I had a pain pump with fentanyl in it which has never made me the least bit nauseous. There are many different drugs or drug combos your docs will have available for you. What kind of transplant are you waiting on? Liver is rough, but if you discuss it with your doctor, I’m sure they will have different options for you. Vicodin makes me break out in hives so that’s not an option for me either, yet my pain is well-managed. Let me know if you have any more questions. I’m happy to help! Amanda

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