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I had surgery (update to "I lost 100 pounds!")

Discussion in 'Physical & Sexual Health' started by BobObob, Oct 29, 2018.

  1. BobObob

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    This is somewhat of an update to this thread about my successful weight loss, as well as my plans to follow up that weight loss with plastic surgery...

    I had my surgeries (lower body lift, breast reduction, and arm lift) 11 days ago, and things have been really rough thanks to the geniuses who performed surgery on me keeping my arms in the same position (in a T, like a crucifix) for all 9 hours of the surgery. I woke up unable to to move my arms or hands, and feeling like my hands were on my chest after someone moved them to my side. Spending the agonizing next day in the ER to have an hour long MRI and see a neurologist team thankfully revealed that the cause was probably the positioning, and that there is no evidence that of anything permanent, such as a spinal injury or nerve damage (as opposed to pinched nerves that take time to wake up). The neurologists estimated that it would take 2-3 weeks for my hands and arms to wake up.

    Currently, I have most use of my right hand and arm (how I'm typing this), although it's weak. However, my left hand is taking forever to wake up, and I can barely move any finger on that hand (which definitely is an improvement, but a frustratingly slow improvement). I am becoming increasingly impatient, as well as worried that my previously scheduled 3 weeks of medical leave from work will probably need to be extended.

    If it weren't for the hands/arms issues, my recovery would've been smooth. The surgeon, who has been performing surgeries for decades and is one of the most highly rated plastic surgeons online (on site like realself), said that this is the only case he's had with this issue (lucky me), but also that he's never had a patient in as little pain as I am in. For the last couple of days, I've been using nothing but aspirin for pain management, even sometimes forgetting to take a new dose.

    I hope this will all just be short-term suffering, and that the long-term results will outweigh it. It's hard to tell exactly what the long-term results will be, as the breast reduction will need a revision (which the surgeon said he'll do in a few months for no extra cost) and because it'll take time for my body to take it's final form (for instance, it'll take about 6-12 months for scars to heal). However, it will probably be worth it in the end.
     
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  2. Chip

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    Awesome news! You've been on a major transformative journey over the past several years, and it sounds like you're in the final stretch! Congratulations!
     
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  3. SoulSearch

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    I hope you continue to make progress toward healing.
     
  4. Beebee80

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    Congrats to you glad you’re doing better :slight_smile:
     
  5. BobObob

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    The progress has been very slow on the left hand. Wednesday was the first time I noticed the ability to move fingers on the left hand using the muscles in the fingers (previously, I could only slightly move them back and forth, which I think is with muscles in the hand). I've been experiencing increasing pain in the left hand over the last week, and my surgeon prescribed gabapentin to deal with it, but it takes a while to be effective. I'm hoping that this increasing pain is just a sign that the nerves are waking up, and not a sign of permanent damage that will affect me the rest of my life. I have appointments with a physiologist and a neurologist next week that will hopefully reveal that it's the former.
     
  6. Tightrope

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    I applaud you for your courage and wish you the best possible outcome.
     
  7. BobObob

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    I recently underwent further evaluation by 2 specialist who are experienced and knowledgeable about rare cases like this. The first specialist said the generally expected range for this type of injury is 6-12 weeks after the incident, with most people returning to working form in about 8 weeks. He was confident that my recovery would be on the shorter end of this range, and very confident that this wasn't a type of injury that's more long-term. He said that i just need to wait for myelin surrounding the nerve to regenerate.

    Unfortunately, the other specialist wasn't as confident when I saw him today. He feared that it might be an even longer-term injury due to damage to the axon of the nerve, not just the myelin. I'll have to wait for further tests to determine whether or not this is the case. If this is the case, I may even need surgery to fix the issue, and he guessed that there is about a 50/50 chance that I'll need surgery. This nightmare scenario has me worried about my long-term health, as well as my job (FMLA protections will only apply for 8 more weeks).
     
  8. BobObob

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    I'm not sure how mods feel about people updating their very old posts, but since I'm logged in for the first time in a while, and I feel like giving an update, I will...
    On the good side, my hands/arms are no longer paralyzed, and I never needed nerve surgery. I was able to return to work in Jan 2019 with only a few days of FMLA leave left.
    On the gloomy side, I have permanent nerve pain in my left hand/arm, mostly affecting the palm side of my index finger and thumb. Thankfully, doses of gabapentin each day are making life livable for me, the pain and numbness in left index finger is still high enough that touch typing is a challenge. There are also some oddities with this nerve pain. For instance, I notice that having hot water run over my left hand for a prolonged period of time increases my pain for a while, so I keep my left hand dry in the shower. Also, gently rubbing a certain area of my left forearm can make me feel that touch sensation on the palm of the hand.
    There has been no detectable improvement in my symptoms since Jan 2019 (when my medicine dosage hit it's max), and my neurologist confirmed that this means the damage is permanent.
     
  9. Chiroptera

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    I'm sorry to hear about this, BobObob. I know this sounds like a cliché message, but these difficulties must be a considerable challenge, indeed.

    The positive side is that you are getting the necessary medications and medical attention. So, while that doesn't make things perfect, it probably makes the situation a bit easier than if you hadn't access to those. Still a challenge though, of course.

    While the damage may be permanent, is there any way to further treat or reduce the pain, maybe? Or is it in a manageable level?
     
  10. BobObob

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    Aside from more medication, there isn't. The neurologist suggested radiofrequency nerve ablation might be an "out there" option, but that he's never done it for my type of injury, and that the evidence that it may help is shaky. Later, he decided against it on the grounds of insufficient evidence, and I decided to not push for it. He later referred me for a chronic pain management class, but when I attended one class, it was clear it wasn't for me. Most of it wasn't very applicable to my type of pain, and I don't think it would've helped much even if it was.

    The only other options are more medications I've already tried. Early in 2019, I was taking Amitriptyline and Venlafaxine (in addition to Gabapentin). I discontinued both, mostly because of side effects (dry mouth for Amitriptyline and lower sex drive for Venlafaxine). Also, my pain was improving so much at that time that I began lowering medication use under the assumption that the pain reduction was due to the underlying condition improving, rather than just the medication, but that unfortunately turned out to not be true.
     
  11. Chiroptera

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    If medication is the option available, then it would be good to keep talking to your doctor about trying different medications. Even if it doesn't solve the problem completely, there may be a way to reduce the problem to a manageable level.

    And, of course, as you probably know, it's always a good idea to see your doctor first. Deciding to reduce, discontinue or increase medication by yourself can be really, really dangerous.
     
  12. BobObob

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    Every decision on medication has been either approved by my doctor, or at least within the pre-approved bounds set by my doctor (e.g, doctor says I can use doses up to X, with instructions on how to safely taper).

    For anyone stumbling across this considering self-medicating... don't! It's a bad idea and dangerous. Gabapentin, for instance, can cause issues if not used properly, such as if you abruptly change doses (up or down) without tapering. If you think you need any of these medications, you should see a doctor (or similar licensed professional such as a physician's assistant) to get the best outcome.
     
    #12 BobObob, Mar 3, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
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