Q) Why did you need surgery?
A) I was born with a congenital birth defect call pectus excavatum, I had surgery to fix it when I was 4, and the doctors back then guaranteed I would be "cured" and "fixed." I seriously never thought about it, until a year ago when I went to the doctor to figure out why I was sick all the time and we realized that my chest was caved in, pushing my heart over and sitting comfortably on top of my lung. So my wonderful doctor broke, removed and shaved down some bones and magically constructed a new chest!
Q) How is your health?
A) My health is GREAT! I saw my asthma doctor last week and he had wonderful-wonderful news. I NO longer have asthma, nor does he think I ever did. My lungs are finally behaving the way normal lungs should. Hooray! But. (Boo!) I still have a long ways to go, my lungs are pretty weak, and they don't have enough power to keep up with my body when I try heavy cardio. I have to work out and train my lungs just like an athlete trains and works out at the gym. How slow you ask? Like, coal turning into diamonds slow.
When I got home from the hospital I started walking around the house, then I managed to make it to the end of the driveway. Eventually I made it to the end of the block. And now…I walk about 3 miles a day! I also do some very light weights and I can't seem to get passed about 5 crunches without extreme and intense pain. But slowly I am building back some of the muscle tone that got jacked up during the surgery. Turns out, a foot of hose shoved & stitched in your belly really screws up a girls figure!
Q) So do you love the "new and improved dent free body?"
A) NO….well kind of. Maybe. I dunno, I have issues!
Let me explain: It took me 8 months to go from the diagnosis of, "you have asthma and 47% lung capacity" to being on the operating table-it happened so fast. My mind was just starting to grasp that something was really wrong with me. Then 7.5 hours later, I woke up in the surgical intensive care unit unable to breathe, and saw my so called 'new' dent free body with tubes, wires, and bars in it. I was in so much pain when I woke up from the surgery, I was drugged up, I was on morphine, had an epidural inserted in my neck, I had more pain medication injected into my IV 3 times a day. All that and I WAS STILL IN PAIN!
The surgery was so external, they took apart, and re built my chest using a metal bar. My ribs, collar bone and shoulders all sit differently, my back muscles are being pulled in new directions, my clothes are too small because my chest is a round, and not in the shape of the letter |B|. My stomach muscles have atrophied. And overall I am pretty weak.
The surgeon left my pleural-sack open (the sack that encases your lungs) to give my lungs more room to expand, but the side effect to this was I didn't have the pressure to talk, cough or laugh. Breathing was my enemy! Every time I took in a shallow breath, my bones popped It was so hard. My pulse ox (amount of oxygen in the blood) stayed between 65-70%, I could only take in 150cc of air into my lungs, 3000-4000 is normal.
Working on getting this body back into shape, I am starting to understand how intricate and complex this surgery turned out to be. I tried to wean myself off pain medication 2 weeks after surgery because I thought it showed weakness that I needed it. Ha!
For me, the hardest part of the surgery wasn't the pain, it was the psychological effects.
I missed the old me and wanted to pull a takesy-backsy. *sigh* but Chad said it was too late and that he enjoyed seeing pink toes and red checks. I felt so foreign in my own body, I had gotten so accustom to the landscape, I didn't recognize the scared up woman looking back at me in the mirror. It was ironic really, I thought my ragged and flawed body was beautiful, but it was actually killing me.
Chad took a picture of my pink toes.
When he got to see me after the surgery, it was the first thing he looked at, b/c they used to be black!
My mind just was not accepting the change! When I got home from the hospital, I couldn't bring myself to look at it, touch it, or even clean it. Eventually I got to where I would clean it, but only with my eyes closed tightly and head turned. Ha!
On a scale of 1-10 (10 feeling beautiful again) I would say I am at a 4. Walking, and working out has really helped me re-connect with this landscape.
I find some comfort knowing that most 30 year olds are starting to slow down and get lazy, but this new body and new level of energy, I am finding that I am the opposite.
Q) What are your, won't live without/wants to live without?
Won't live Without: 1) zune mp3 player. 2) my Chad 3)my faith
Wants to live without: 1)close minded people 2)Mcdonalds & walmart 3)people who don't recycle!
Great questions: keep em coming!
**Post published edit: the last picture was taken by my surgeon. Before I was wheeled down the long white hallway to a new beginning, my surgeon asked the husband and I if we wanted him to take pictures. Without hesitation the husband pulled out our camera (may it Rest In Peace) and my doctor slid it into his scrub pocket. It took me almost 4 weeks post operation before I could sit down and will myself to look at the pictures, but now, I am so grateful we took such thorough before and after pictures! You gotta remember where you came from to appreciate where you are now.**