In-Depth Update

I’ve been one month post-op, and things have finally settled down enough (between my chest and my legs) that I can give a true update and explain a bit about what happened.  You’ll remember from my last post that I had some major complications from my top surgery, but with my legs, not my chest.  Here’s how it went down:

I went in for top surgery on November 21st, and honestly, I was scared.  Irrationally so (what if I didn’t wake up from the anesthesia?), but scared nonetheless.  I was also super excited, like how could this be happening to me?  Usually I wax and wane over decisions for months–and that’s only over buying a new TV or expensive pair of shoes, not top surgery!  But I digress… The day of the surgery, everything went as planned.  I had my pre-op appointment at the surgeon’s office early in the morning, and then drove down the road to the surgery center.  My last picture of me ever with boobs:

I was then whisked away to surgery and was out for 5 or so hours.  I was initially told that it was supposed to last 3.5-4 hours, but I guess because my boobs were so big, and my surgeon was so detailed, it lasted a bit longer.  The surgery itself went perfectly fine, with one small exception:  When I came to, I was literally screaming with pain in my legs, My chest felt great, but I had never experienced such awful leg pain in my entire life.

For 48 straight hours, I screamed.  And cried.  And screamed and cried.  The nurses and doctors tried all different painkillers and combinations of meds, but nothing began to touch the pain.  It took a combination of Percocet, Dilaidud, and Ativan to even allow me to sleep.  The pain was so bad that even having something as light as a sheet over my feet sent me into a new fit of tears and screams.   At some point, people thought that the issue might be compartment syndrome, so the doctors measured the pressure inside of my legs (done by literally jabbing me with HUGE needles.  For those of you on T, think at least five times thicker and longer than a T needle).  The worst part about this, besides the incredible pain of being stabbed, was that the test turned up negative.  So yet another many hours of pain and screaming and crying.  At some point, they decided to do an MRI.  Sounds good, but no…the pressure of having my legs stabilized for the MRI was literally unbearable.  In addition, I was in extreme panic.  I couldn’t move, I was screaming in pain, delirious from pain meds, and they put huge headphone over my ears with music (I guess to help drown out the sound of the machine).  In my state, it was the last thing I needed.  After the MRI was over, I was hurting so badly and so freaked out, I literally cried and screamed for 20 minutes until my transport came, “I want my moooommmmmy.”  I kid you not.  For those of you who know me, when have I ever said anything remotely like that?

I guess the MRI came back positive because the next thing I knew (I think the next morning?), I was quickly taken away to have emergency surgery on both of my legs by a trauma surgeon.  The surgeon went in and cut my fascia to relieve some of the swelling and pain, and two or three days later, was planning on closing them back up with a second surgery.  But apparently my legs were still so swollen that he couldn’t sew them up, and I needed wound vacs attached to my legs to drain some of the fluid to reduce the swelling.

Each one of those canisters was connected to a plastic tube which was connected to each open leg wound, sucking the fluid and who knows what else out of my legs.

Finally, some of the pain and swelling had begun to subside.  Two or three days after surgery number two, I went off to surgery number three and was successfully sewn and stapled up.  Literally.

After being sewn up, I felt a bit better (much less screaming and crying), but I still had a big problem: I couldn’t walk.  Literally.  After this third surgery, I no longer had a catheter in, so I told myself that using a bed pan to pee would be no problem.  Ha.  Little did I know, it’s nearly impossible to pee while lying down.  The process to stand up was absolutely the second worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.  My legs were so damaged and (still) swollen, that merely sitting up in bed and hanging my legs over the side was excruciating.  Standing up wasn’t even a possibility.  But at the same time, I had to pee so badly that I knew if I didn’t stand up, I might pee the bed and then we’d have a bigger issue.  If I couldn’t stand up, how would they manage to change my sheets and clean my bed?  That was enough motivation for me to suck it up–I did not want to be lying in my own pee.  It took two nurses, my mom, and Alex to essentially lift me out of bed, when I basically was a dead weight, help me stand for a microsecond, and then plop me down on the commode that was set up in my room.  Talk about a loud screaming and crying adventure (and the extreme embarrassment of being basically naked and peeing in the middle of my room).

Fast forward another day or two after the peeing ordeal, and I was told that a physical therapist would be coming by to help me sit and stand up again, and maybe go for a walk.  There was success though, and I was shocked that I was actually able to stand on my own (with the help of a walker) and shuffle a bit.  Alex even captured a video of my first steps after this horrendous ordeal and being bedridden for over a week (the tiny girl behind me is my PT–god knows what would have happened if I had fallen over):

It was pretty much all uphill from there.  I went home a day later, barely moved between the couch and my bed, and had my every need taken care of by my mom and Alex.  Talk about be treated like a Queen (well, King in my sense)!  Of course I highly enjoyed it.  🙂

The main thing that I was looking forward to after getting home was getting the staples taken out of my legs.  When I left the hospital, my legs were wrapped in bandages and I still had the staples in (40 in the left leg, 44 in the right).  The removal process wasn’t too fun–think of 84 long bit thick ingrown hairs being plucked out of your legs, one by one.  Alex decided to capture this as well:

The craziest thing about this whole situation is that literally nobody knows why this happened.  All of the medical professionals I spoke with (doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, physical therapists, etc.) were shocked that something like this could have happened out of the blue.  Some speculated that it was because I had a long history of severe shin splints and the massaging cuffs around my legs during the 5 hour surgery somehow injured things.  Others thought that it could possibly have been due to some of the medication I routinely take, even though I stopped it two weeks prior to surgery, as ordered by the surgeon.  Others wouldn’t even venture a guess.  The important thing to me is that I honestly believe it’s nobody’s fault.  I absolutely love my surgeon–he’s one of the best in the field–and the work that he did, and I don’t blame him for what happened.  It was literally a huge freak accident.

Anyway, that was two weeks ago, and since then, life has been good.  I only have residual pain in my legs, and more than anything it’s just sore and stiff muscles and tendons.  My range of motion and flexibility is awful, but biweekly PT will hopefully fix that.  I can walk, and I can go to the bathroom and take my own showers (let’s not even talk about my mom having to help me shower, everywhere).

Regarding my chest, I could not have been happier.  My chest surgeon was truly amazing.  The pictures below are two-three weeks post-op, so my chest is still very swollen and a bit angry looking.  To me, after having who knows how large boobs (honestly, I didn’t know how big they were–I was always way too embarrassed to ever get them truly measured.  Had to be above a DD though), my chest looks awesome.  (The lighting also makes it look very odd.  There is a lot of swelling in the middle where the little crease is, and it looks like my right nipple area is sunken in–it’s really not though).

Unfortunately I don't have a shirtless post-op side view yet. But still a good shot to show how flat I really am now. The bottom area is just my shirt being bunched up a bit by accident.

If anybody wants more information about my surgeon, the procedure I had, the cost, etc., feel free to ask/email me.

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Posted on December 22, 2011, in General transition thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Looks so good, T-Pain!! Yay, you! (on sooo many levels!)

  2. Tracy, after all you’ve been through, I’m so glad you are okay. I’m also glad you ended up happy with your top surgery. That looks like a man’s chest! As a bonus, You have some cool macho scars on your legs too! Thank God you are okay. That is a scary tale! Merry Christmas!

  3. I’m so happy for you! Very sorry you had to go through all of that pain with your legs, though. I hope you have a speedy recovery. And your chest looks great!

  4. looking good man – glad things are going better!

  5. Wow, reading your blog makes it all real again. Love you – you are a real trouper! Mom

  6. Looking good, dude! Happy New Year!

  7. Congratulations. It looks good. I’m sorry about your legs though. I don’t even want to begin to imagine how bad it was for you 😦

  8. I am so sorry to read that you went though such an awful time but you look great and although I have no idea (yet) of what big boobs would feel like I do know and understand the need and desire to change what is wrong about our birth bodies. I am looking forward to SRS this summer.
    Thanks for sharing such powerful posts
    Juno

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