Collecting Data - First Plastic Surgeon Appointment Update!

I went to my first plastic surgeon appointment. What a ride. I am writing this blog as I am online ferociously messaging other moms in Michigan that had this surgery and are also CrossFitters. After searching all day, I finally found one other woman that doesn’t live that far from me!! She is also adding me to a DR support group that has other CrossFitters in there as well. Not one single person that I have talked to that had this surgery has used physical therapy before or afterwards, which blows my mind. If you think you are disconnected from your muscles after having a baby, imagine how confused your body will be after this surgery? And all of the scar tissue! Anyway, I am so beyond grateful that I have learned so much over these past few years so I can set myself up in the best way possible for this, and hope I can pay it forward to many other moms that are feeling lost like I used to feel. It is just more motivation to get my business going!

It was just so weird for me to be in there. The first nurse took my blood pressure and we chatted. They really want to make it transparent that insurance isn’t going to cover any of this. I showed her my stomach and just couldn't help but say how crazy it is that this is only “cosmetic.” I am all for at least trying to get some coverage (hey, my organs aren’t supported and what if I got in a car accident?) but I got a clear “there is no hope” message. I was prepared to pay for it all anyway, so it’s fine. It just blows my mind.

So the doctor comes in and sits down and says, “okay, so we want to get this stomach looking better?” The first thing I say was, well, that is only part of it. I explained my athletic goals, my nervousness about putting a mesh in by my belly button, and then I cried. I swear to god he smirked as he walked to get a kleenex. I felt like such a cliche - the girl crying in the plastic surgery office. This probably happens to this guy on the daily. However, as we started to talk I did get a much better vibe from him.

So he starts to draw how he will do the repair. I am so mad I didn’t take a picture, but it was almost like paralyzed with panic...and... damn I was just SO vulnerable. I felt like my future was being delivered to me by the hands of some stranger. However, once he explained how he would fix the hernia, I calmed down a little. He would clean that area up and then pull the muscle over it instead of mesh. So then I kept asking him about heavy lifting and gymnastics and being able to hold my breath when I get above 85% on a lift. So he made a chart. I swear it felt like he took dramatic pauses and that my entire athletic future was hanging on his every word.

Here is what he drew on the board (he added the 110% after I told him I used to be a competitive CrossFitter) :

When I initially saw the 2 years at the end, my mind started racing. What I wanted to hear was that I would be 100% in 2 years. I could do two years. I have the right mindset for the long haul with a solid end game.  But then I saw him draw that straight line from 80% over from 6 weeks to two years, and it was a hard pill to swallow. I know I will never “bounce back” or be the same as I was before. I get it, but damn...

I told him I am working with a physical therapist now and plan to work with one after surgery. He seemed impressed with all of my plans. Anyway, after he felt my stomach, he added even more insight. First, he suggested I do it in the hospital so I can be knocked out completely so my muscles do not twitch during the surgery. It is more pricey that way, but I am 100% on board with that. I would stay one night in the hospital.  He also said my belly button has been through the ringer. It isn’t in its original spot and has been stretched out so much that it might not survive the repair. Once he cleans it up and blocks the blood flow in the hernia and all of might just scar up and fall off I guess? He said he can build me a new one if needed. Unreal. Then he said the skin above my belly button will still have stretch marks and whatnot. I said I didn’t care. He showed me the pictures of the long scars, and I said I didn’t care again. He said he would probably used my C section scar and just extend it from there. I think I made it pretty apparent that I didn’t mind scaring or a weird belly button. I just want a pretty flat, functional stomach. The entire time he was looking at me right in the eyes and for some reason by this time I did feel a little better.

Oh, and I asked him if this is the worst he has ever seen and he answered with a very confident “No.” If he has dealt with worse, then he has some good experience.   

So then after the doctor left, it was just the nurse and I. She was getting ready to take pictures of me and asked me if it “just took me a long time to finally come in.” I said that I have been doing physical therapy and just flew out to California to get a second opinion on my ability to heal this on my own. Then I straight up told her that actually many women might not need surgery and could heal through physical therapy work. And I explained that I am actually trying to prepare my body FOR this surgery, too. She looked at me with a very blank stare, but hey it never hurts for me to plant a seed.

Once I was driving home I realized this hypothetical 80% could mean a LOT of things and I started to feel much better. First of all, I was thinking about what I was doing in between pregnancies with a lot less than 80% function, along with what I am even doing right now at my very weakest. Second, I am becoming such a better mover from all of my physical therapy. I am recruiting the right muscles at the right times.  Third, I am setting myself up in the best way possible by rehabbing both before surgery and afterwards.

So let’s say this 80% theory is true, that still doesn’t mean the rest of my body can’t be at 100%. I just need to wrap my brain around this for a while then I’ll be strong and positive and ready to meet the next surgeon. I cannot wait to see if he/she has the same thoughts about my situation. My next appointment is in March, which is the same week I start my first Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism class!