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I’ve had a couple of trips to Brisbane since my last post to see my plastic surgeon and have an MRI.

I was finding that standing or sitting for any length of time had become really uncomfortable so I flew down for the MRI. By the time I was home again, everything was very aggravated and it was uncomfortable to stand for longer than about 30 minutes. Whew, this was a little alarming. I felt like I was going backwards at the rate of knots.

During the MRI, the technician was very thoughtful and told me that the doctor reporting on the scan had come in during the scan and they had been able to see that one side of the flap is quite a bit shorter that the other side. I thought, Well that would explain what I’m feeling.

I waited with interest to hear what the report was going to say. After not hearing anything, I eventually contacted my plastic surgeon’s rooms and his nurse gave me the report. I don’t know the exact words, but the gist of the report was that there was no reason identified for my reported symptoms (or words to that effect).

It was a huge relief there was no problem identified that needed further surgery! I had been really dreading the thought of any further surgery but also had really hoped there was some solution that would help. But …. nothing seen. With a result like that, it would be easy to feel a bit foolish or that it may be considered I’m just imagining things. But I know what I can feel – it’s real.

So, apparently it’s “just” scarring. There is nothing that can be done from their perspective to give me any relief. The nurse told me this could continue for up to 2 years post surgery, so while it’s still scarring and tightening, it’s possible it will respond to massage. She suggested taking ibuprofen to manage the discomfort.

So, my plastic surgeon’s comment came back to me……this is just the way it is for me. I understand that no two flap outcomes are the same. My experience is different to everyone else’s and I’m doing some extra scarring.

I had a couple of days feeling put out, put on, pissed off……… poor me!!

Let me tell you that doesn’t sit well with me… very toxic stuff and leaves you feeling like rubbish.

This image, sent to me by a girlfriend, gives a really beautiful picture on how to keep it all in perspective. I’m not sure of it’s origin, but attribute ownership to the creator, Lena Horne.

I started to think about my expectations. When I first met my colorectal surgeon, (a man I greatly respect and admire) he was very clear about what was going to happen.

This surgery was to give me an opportunity to continue to live. Without it, my life was certainly over. No one could predict the future outcomes.

It would be major surgery that would take many hours with a team of people involved (it was and it did)

Very few people get through this without some sort of complication (Yes I had a complication)

I could be in hospital for 6 weeks to quite a few months if the complications were severe (I was fortunate to only be in hospital for 6 weeks).

This surgical team did an amazing job and put my body back together with what they had so it could continue to function. It’s up to me to make the best of it.

I remain extremely grateful for all they’ve all done for me.

There were no promises of anything – just an opportunity. It was never going to be a walk in the park.

So I sat down and had a chat to my flap.

Me: Hey flap how’s it going?

Flap: Pretty tight… why?

Me: Well I’ve just got the report back and there is no problem.

Flap: What? What do you mean no problem?

Me: The MRI showed there is nothing causing a problem.

Flap: I don’t mean to be rude but have you noticed that you’re a bit lopsided and puckered up?

Me: Um well yes, but that’s just the way it is. We’re going to focus on managing not on whinging.

I’ve done a lot of research online about muscle scarring and it seems there isn’t much more I can do apart from massage and prolonged stretching. One site said that scar tissue could have the strength of a steel cable… Yep, that feels about right.

I’ve had a couple of chats to my exercise physiologist and she’s recommended I really ramp up the massage and start swimming more.

So I’ve rethought my current rehab and have made some changes.

When I’m up and about, I do a 5-minute massage as close to hourly as possible.

                        I take ibuprofen as required

Regular therapy with the Sanakey

Some different stretches and sitting for longer periods.

I’ve started swimming as close to daily as I can. Sometimes I need a day off – I am an old lady you know. 🙂 I’ve started swimming with the 5.30am Friday group. That was funny. They’re all triathletes but very supportive and welcoming. They swim for 1-2km. Haha it’s going to take me a while to reach that goal. I swim and walk about 100m behind the pack. I’ve got the fins out and that will help me to swim a bit further.

And I’m going to get back on the bike (yikes!)

I think the cycling motion will really work that scar line so I’m starting to get cycling again. I bought a new bicycle seat that will give me the best comfort possible.

And I went for a ride.

I did 3.5km in 10 minutes. That made me laugh – there was a bit of symmetry with the numbers from my last 100km ride when I did 100km in 3.5 hours.

I paid for that for a few days so have put the bike on the wind trainer and I pedal for 2 minutes a day. I’ll keep increasing it and will give you a photo of me on the bike when I’m back on the road.

Initially, I had a few days where I was off my feet quite a bit. After starting this intensive massage program with ibuprofen to calm things down, I’m up and about again and ignoring the tension as best I can. As a friend said recently some days are diamonds and others are stones. I’m kind of fond of diamond days :).

I’m really hopeful these strategies will limit any further tightening and maybe, just maybe, in a few years it will soften off a bit.

So now I’m back to just doing the best I can with what I’ve got. I won’t be talking about this anymore. If you meet me in the street or ask how I’m going you’ll be told, “I’m fabulous thanks”.

Christmas is approaching fast and I hadn’t done much preparation. So I soaked some fruit in lots of brandy, cranked up the carols and made the Christmas cake. Lots of loud singing – I love Christmas carols. Our tradition is that I make a large cake and a smaller one for our daughter using my mother’s recipe. It was a little nostalgic. As you can see, Doug’s found the cake already!

I made my list and went out shopping. I had lovely surprise when a girlfriend rang and said she was in town too, so we met up, shopped and enjoyed a yummy lunch together. Lots of girl talk. Just what I needed! I have some wonderful friends.

We’ve enjoyed a few evenings catching up with other friends and are really looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. Our gorgeous daughter is coming home to spend Christmas with us and my elderly father with be with us for lunch. It will be full of love, joy and gratitude for everything we have.

I wish for each of you a Christmas full of love, joy and gratitude and a wonderful family time.

Nanette xx

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