So I got a tummy tuck, did not (quite) die

By  | July 9, 2015 |  Comments | Filed under: Body & Beauty

A friend thought I was sick. Acquaintances have expressed their worry and a few with balls have outright asked me if I got a tummy tuck.

I got a tummy tuck.

You’re curious and maybe considering it for yourself, so I’ll recap. You go in for a consultation. You think, “hey, I’m not that bad. I’m doing this for me!” Then a muscley bro doc examines you and you find out you are in fact, disgusting. Worst case scenario. You look nothing like the 18-year-old latina models in the infomercial for the brazillian butt lift procedure that plays on loop in the cosmetic center lobby. You are an old troll mom.

You have a follow up appointment and pay for the surgery, thus commit  to it – not because you will ever be that Hustler spread on your doctor’s closed circuit television, but because you want to be human. The cost is two mortgage payments.

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The day of the surgery comes and you figure you’ll be down a day or two, no big. You strip down and a nurse, her name is Taylorr, always a Taylorr, takes humiliating pictures of you from every angle in all your glory. You are wearing no make-up, a hairnet, glasses and you are naked under surgical center lights in severe need of an umbilical hernia repair.

Taylorr leads you back to the OR, which in my case was not hospital shiny. It is a dank little room with a weird apothecary cabinet and could pass for the set of a podcast about anti-goverment theories. The operating table looks like a prop from your youth group’s haunted house back in ’92. (This is the best in Los Angeles, by the way. The doctor has over 300 five-star reviews and the anesthesiologist has an IMBD credit on Extreme Makeover.) Still, it is terrifying and you question your judgement as: a parent, a consumer, possible candidate for that butt lift thing. What were you thinking?

They strap you down in the crucifix position and administer drugs that make you drunk while you pray someone makes your kids feel special on their birthdays from now on because YOU GON DIE. This is it. You have left your family without a mother/wife/shuttle bus and all of your internet haterzz will do a jig.

Twenty minutes pass.

You have dreams, can’t quite recall them, then a vague recollection of a ridged, plastic pipe of some sort coming or going down your throat (unclear) and then you’re hoisted into a wheelchair having to pee. You cannot see. Someone has taken your glasses. You are a newborn baby. You are naked, confused, blind with medical lights, freezing, trying to cry but the sound won’t come, pathetically nice to every strange face and in dire, severe, slicing, excruciating pain.

This is day 1. Twenty minutes have not passed, it has been five hours and you are now missing part of your body.

“Your belly is flat! You are beautiful!” a nurse says cheerfully while you shiver in the fetal position. You are wheeled out to a warm, calm recovery room like a champion. It is like a birth. It is a celebration. You are bandaged from breast bone to naughty bits and you still really, really have to pee. You are a humble warrior and refuse the bedpan. You go on the potty like a human. For the first time since 2008, you are a full human being and you will be damned if mind-curdling pain will prevent you from doing human things, like peeing on a toilet after surgery. Also you are kind of embarrassed because your husband is just hanging there gawking at everything like a teenage wall hook.

You go home and lay in bed for a week and bliss out on pain pills while your children eat garbage and play with gleeful screenless abandon at some place called Magical Playground with the nanny, who out-moms you 10 to 1 because you can’t do that shit. Your game is all broccoli and iPad. No one bathes. Your husband eats In & Out burger for eight consecutive dinners and you weakly worry about his cholesterol as the nine inches of stitches near your nethers slowly scab over and you come to. You chuckle at “nine-inch stitches” because it sounds like Nine Inch Nails and then you hate the world as your three hundred internal sutures burn like a cheese grater ripping vertically through your abdominal fascia under your skin. No one is allowed to be funny until August or you will kill them.

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Magically, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of three enormous pregnancies, you heal. Eventually. You cautiously take off your bandages at day 5 to discover the rank smell of blood, but not the frankenstein disaster you were expecting. You look . . . good? Not quite the way you did before kids, but normal. Good normal.

You’re afraid to tell anyone about your surgery. Most people know. Everyone you have befriended since moving to L.A. does not have to ask, but there are a few curious Facebookers who want to know so they can judge. An old friend is worried you are actually ill and you feel terrible.

You consider keeping this off the internet. You fear it is Rich People Shit and you will be shunned and mocked, until you realize how absurd the fact is that this surgery is cash only. Viagra is covered under insurance plans because erectile dysfunction is considered an abnormality that should be medically addressed like heart disease or any other “dys” function of the human body. Why is it when a woman develops a hernia, muscle split and excess skin after childbirth, that too is not considered a dysfunction of her body? Why is it that only women have to pay a physical price for parenthood? Let’s not kid ourselves, the price is social and financial as well. Tummy tucks ought to be 100% insurance-covered in order to improve the quality of life of women who need them. Health insurance covers the health concerns of idiots who willfully explode firecrackers off their own bodies or who lodge objects up their own anuses. Why aren’t tummy tucks handed out like candy? It’s not like the women who wind up needing them particularly wanted to have their midsection look like silly putty. And why is access to quality medical care such a perennial issue of access to money in the first place- especially considering women’s financial situations are unfortunately, still largely influenced by who they marry. Is that fair?

As you wax your feminist thoughts that shall be crushed by commenters, you suffer the occasional twinge, stab, burn or worry, but you make it. You look in the mirror and you are not Grimace anymore. On day 25 you cautiously slip on a pair of non-maternity panties you bought on Amazon (they are not even beige!) and whip your hair back and forth. Well. You would whip your hair back in forth, but you are old, so you settle for a silent fist pump and mouth, “go girl” to the patchworked figure in the mirror.

You buy pants that zip and realize it was all worth it.

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