Thursday night, I did something I rarely get to do: I sat down to watch a movie with my parents after the kids went to bed. During the show, I started feeling like my stomach was becoming rather hard and swollen, but I thought maybe it was because it was the end of a pretty active day. After all, things had been going swimmingly so far: I was 2 weeks out from my tummy tuck (during which the doctor removed 9 pounds of skin and fat!), and it had already been a week since I had put on my pre-quads clothes and amazed the doctor and his staff by walking into my post-op visit upright (rather than hunched over, as is usually the case after an abdominoplasty). The doc had examined me and called me a "toughie" for how well I was doing after what he termed "the worst thing we can do to you in this office." A few days after that appointment, I was running after my kids in the park and picking them up to pose for a family shot.
So I was surprised that I would be swelling so much and so quickly. I decided to get up, mid-movie, to check out what was going on, and was shocked by what I saw in the mirror: My lower abdomen was so distended that it appeared I was wearing an inner tube around my hips! I called the doctor right away, and after he listened to my symptoms, he said that I probably had a fluid collection, and that I should call the office in the morning so that they could use needles to aspirate the fluid. I asked what I could do between that night and the next morning to alleviate the problem, and he just said to get some rest.
I knew there was no way I'd be able to rest, though. My stomach was quickly growing larger, and I could feel my incision pulling as my skin stretched to accommodate the new bulk. I couldn't lay down and I wasn't comfortable in the recliner, but sitting in a chair or standing up all night weren't options, either. So I decided on the lesser of several evils, and sat down in the recliner with my laptop to ride out the night.
Around 1am, I finally dozed off. An hour later, I woke up in pain from the swelling. Just for an excuse to get up, I decided to visit the bathroom. On my way there, however, I started feeling nauseous. As soon as I got to the bathroom, I laid down on the counter, with my face over the sink, thinking I was going to be sick. The room was spinning, and I was so disoriented. I think that was the first time I passed out. Then I decided to sit down, but instead I passed out again and came to when I hit the ground hard. I laid there for a while, trying to regain full consciousness and figure out what was going on.
After a few minutes, I got up and told Ted what happened. We called the doctor, and he said he'd meet us at the ER. I was so relieved because this is what I'd wanted to do in the first place. Ted woke my parents (thank God, they were still here), and they came out in time to catch me in their arms as I blacked out again. This time, I thought I had died. It was the most peaceful feeling. Then I heard a voice saying, "Just a minute, just a minute," and I realized that my dad was holding me. I got a burst of energy and was able to walk quickly to the car for the half-hour ride to the ER.
At the ER, I threw up twice while they registered and evaluated me; my blood pressure was 70/40. The doctor determined that it was not fluid building up in my abdomen, but blood. He said that, very rarely (and, in his experience, never this long after surgery), a stitch can shear a blood vessel and cause internal bleeding. He said that he needed to perform exploratory surgery in order to find out whether this was the cause of the bleeding. At this point, I would have done anything for some relief, so at 4am I willingly submitted myself to my second surgery in as many weeks.
I woke up a few hours later to learn that an artery had been severed, and that's what had been causing my problems. The doctor was able to find it and close it up using the same incision he'd made during my tummy tuck. I lost a lot of blood (he ordered four units for me), but I hadn't needed a transfusion during surgery, after all. I stayed at the hospital another 24+ hours to heal up a little and make sure that I didn't need a transfusion before leaving. Thankfully, I recovered very well and was able to come home with all of my own blood this morning!
I still feel very weak, and my incision is very sore, but the doctor says that I should be back on my feet quicker than last time (since there was not any cutting of muscle in this surgery). My parents are here for another couple of days, and I'm hoping that I can get my energy back during that time. Please pray for me to make a quick recovery, and for Ted and my parents as they take over childcare duties in the next few days. We did not foresee this scary situation, but we are so glad for God's timing in this matter. It is perfect, all the time!