This is part 4 of My Bariatric Life plastic surgery with Dr. Joseph F. Capella, Capella Plastic Surgery, Ramsey NJ.
My Body Lift with Dr. Joseph Capella
I was excited for my body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella (Capella Plastic Surgery). And I imagined how curious it would be to wake up much smaller than when I had “gone to sleep”, so-to-speak. All told, I had been through nearly 7-hours of body contouring, four procedures: thigh lift, breast lift, arm lift, and body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella. He had incised and stitched every appendage on my body. And Dr. Capella had incised and stitched my torso in several places. There were more than 400 stitches in all.
Feeling Fine in Recovery
I spent a couple of pleasant hours in the plastic surgery center recovery room after my body lift with Dr. Capella. Immediately I was fully conscious and talking with my nurses, who were feeding me turkey and applesauce. It was not at all like when I awoke in the recovery room after my tummy tuck, barely conscious and in terrible pain.
As I’ve stated previously, I had been through a 7-hour plastic surgery and had more than 400 stitches. Shockingly, I felt mostly good! Except my tail bone was on fire! This presumably was owing to my butt lift, which stretched the skin tight over my tail bone.
Owing to that, the nurse slipped a donut cushion under my buttocks to relieve the pressure from my tailbone. It did not seem to help. The pain was bad! Add to that, I could not tolerate the pain killers. Even with Zofran, an antiemetic drug, I felt very nauseous from any of the narcotics the nurses tried.
Feeling Fine at the Care Center
I was transferred to the care center where I spent the next four nights. And when I was able to care for myself on my own, I would stay at a nearby hotel for 10 night. Then I would be returning home to Indianapolis barring any complications. Most bariatric plastic surgeons, Dr. Joseph Capella included, require their patients to stay in the area for two weeks following body contouring plastic surgery — the window of time when most serious complications will arise.
Here Comes the Pain
At the care center I refused any further narcotics. They made me sick to my stomach and I was feeling fine anyway — so fine that I went online to blog about my body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella that very day!
But my elation ended when at 2am when I was struck with intense pain in my upper abdomen. This was the only area that was not operated on during my body lift with Dr. Capella! But the body reacts to trauma in odd ways. It felt as though there was pulling from the incision area of my lower body lift, and that the pain crept across my upper abdomen. When I touched this area I cried out. In fact, I cried on and off from 2am to 6am. It was awful. The pain was worse, of course, because I wasn’t on any pain killers.
On top of this, I was immobilized owing to all the incisions. My tailbone hurt like crazy but I could not move to takeaway the pressure. I couldn’t even wipe away my tear-soaked hair that clung to my face and neck. I questioned why I had let myself become incapacitated like this, and that made me cry even more as I lay there unable to move.
Then I am Humiliated
To make things worse, I was menstruating and both the aide and nurse at the care center refused to clean me. It was humiliating. I lay there immobile, in pain, and helpless, and the nurse and aide are making a stink about “They don’t do THAT.” They would not simply wipe me down and put the tampon in. Instead they told me to lay there on some kind of wee wee pad and bleed for 4 nights and 5 days. I did not understand, they change old people’s diapers and clean their private areas of pee and poop. So what was so unthinkable about cleaning me? Wasn’t this why I paying hundreds of dollars a night for nursing care?
I was glad that I brought cleansing clothes with me, but I could not reach all the way down between my legs to clean all the blood. It was a nasty experience to lay there in pain and crying and trying to take care of myself like that. Finally, I managed to get my tampon inserted even with the urinary catheter in the way. It is not easy to change a tampon with one’s arms all cut and bandaged and a catheter in the way. But the nurse would not help me with that either.
Relief in Sight
After the shift change, a new aid came by in the morning and asked me why I was crying. I told her of the pain I was in after my body lift with Dr. Capella, and of my ordeal with the aide and nurse the prior evening. Well, this sweet aide was compassionate! She got the day nurse and they both apologized that I had been mistreated, cleaned me and put in a fresh tampon. Yes, all dignity now had been removed. But as I was in pain and ill-at-ease, I was relived for them to take care of me in whatever way I needed.
It was actually quite funny because this sweet aide, who was in her 50s, had never used tampons. She watched curiously as the nurse had me bend forward at the waist and inserted the tampon. That was almost mortifying until the aide started to talk and filled my heart with laughter. She instructed the nurse to be careful and to make sure she left the tampon string hanging out. The aide was concerned that the tampon might otherwise get lost inside of me, and asked me if that had ever happened. The nurse and I did our best to explain why tampons don’t slide up inside your uterus. Anyway, the levity did make this embarrassing situation much more tolerable.
Later that day, Dr. Joseph Capella prescribed a non-narcotic pain reliever for me. It helped to take the edge off but was not strong enough for deep pain management. So I had another rough night of recovery.
Body Lift with Dr. Joseph Capella Unveiled
After that second night of recovery from my body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella things began to get much better. Dr. Capella came the next morning with his black bag filled with scissors and doctor’s tools. He proceeded to cut away the bandages and remove the gauze from my arms and thighs, which was painful as it had stuck to the incisions in areas. Then Dr. Capella removed the abdominal binder and surgical bra from my torso. Whereas I had looked like a mummy all wrapped up, I now looked like FrankenBarbie with all the incisions.
I was a little fascinated that my boobs were so hard from the breast lift. I recall rubbing them, unaware that I was not alone! Until Dr. Capella remarked that they were small but beautifully-shaped. They looked to be about a B-cup from my Double Ds. Other than that, I was disappointed that my body did not feel any smaller. I had thought I would feel tiny.
Later I had the nurse remove the catheter and had an aide give me a shower. I felt like a whole new person despite the four drains still hanging from my body lift incision. And I began walking without the walker, albeit hunched over. I had some minimal pain at the incision sites. But truly that night was my first pain-free night. And I slept like a baby.
Across the next two days I gained my stability and mobility. I was still hunched over owing to how tightly pulled was my body lift with Dr. Capella. But I was able to take care of myself. So I was released from the care center just 4-nights after body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella to spend the remainder of the two weeks of my recovery after body lift in a nearby hotel, alone and on my own.
Ups and Downs of Recovery at the Hotel
I booked an ADA room. The walk-in-shower with chair, hands rails next to the toilet, and safety features like that made it easier to take care of myself. A friend set-up all my things easily accessible for me. She put out all my food, water bottles, and open suitcase up high so that I could reach them. Bending down was not possible — even getting panties on and off was improbable. I kept my mobile phone plugged in on my nightstand next to the hotel phone — both within easy reach should I have an emergency… And I did.
Early in the am I was awakened from a dream with shortness of breath (SOB). It was pretty weird. I lay there for a while to see if my breathing would normalize. And I tried to fall back to sleep. Suddenly I thought “what if it is a pulmonary embolism?” and it was then that my SOB increased. I called Dr. Capella as he had had me promise to do, although I did not think anything serious was wrong. Pulmonary embolisms are an acute complication after body lift that require immediate treatment.
Dr. Joseph Capella said he did not want to scare me but that I should have the hotel manager bring the paramedics. My blood pressure and pulse were elevated but my lungs were clear and blood oxygen were good. So it was another manifestation of my anxiety and I didn’t have a PE. That is what I thought all along but both Dr. Capella and the paramedics said to always call for help when you have shortness of breath.
No serious complications happened across the next days of my recovery after body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella. At one week after body lift Dr. Capella pulled the first set of drains and I could stand more erect, although not fully. Dr. Capella was happy with how good my incisions looked and that everything went so well. I was in love with my thighs and mons pubis. And I looked forward to Dr. Capella pulling the last set of drains so that I could see my full body lift results in the mirror unobstructed.
Going Home after my Body Lift with Dr. Joseph Capella
If this were easy then everyone would do it. I have written how physically and emotionally difficult my journey through bariatric plastic surgery after weight loss has been through this article series. I’ve written about freaking out, being hysterical, trying twice to cancel surgery, set against the backdrop of facing this big surgery all on my own far from home, and following emotional trauma, and a battery of tests and doctors’ appointments to screen me for rare diseases, and clinical findings that my cortisol levels are high. What I dreamed would be an uplifting experience and major life achievement turned out to be a bat sh*t crazy emotional ride. Take heart; there is a happy ending. It just was not to be had anytime soon.
I flew home at the very end of October, some two weeks after my body lift with Dr. Joseph Capella on October 10, 2013. My hunch had told me to stay in New Jersey longer but Dr. Capella had assured me that was enough time. And as luck would have it, I had a serious complication my very first day at home.
Stay tuned for part 5.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life