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It’s actually taken a month for me to write this post about my Lipoedema surgery. There’s a number of reasons for this. Firstly, I don’t actually own a laptop and I was on bed rest for the first ten days after my operation. This limited me to working from my phone initially. Then I thought of the readers who come across this post. I’m going to assume you’d like to see what the day actually involved, so I wanted to include some photos my surgeon, Mr Karri, kindly took for me when I was in the operating theatre. So I waited for these too. Then there was also delay because guess what?! I’ve been really busy actually living a life which I feel has been on hold for the last 16 years! That’s half of my life!!!
If you have stumbled upon this post first, I recommend starting with this post and work your way up to this point (they’re not long reads!
So here we are (finally) and here’s what happened on my day for Lipoedema surgery…
The Night Before
I didn’t sleep well the night before. This probably doesn’t come as much surprise. Most people would be anxious before a hospital admission. Except that wasn’t all. I’d also agreed for a fellow Lippy sufferer but who is also a Senior Producer for the BBC and her camera woman to come along and film my surgery. It felt like such a good idea at the time. Afterall, I wanted to help other women get the diagnosis they need. I hoped it would help the UK Government to recognise that although NHS Choices say that liposuction is the only real treatment for this debilitating disease. However, I was starting to feel like I had put additional pressure on myself for my big day that I probably could have done without.
I finally gave into the fact that I couldn’t sleep any longer, so got up and took some pre-op photographs. In hindsight, I wish I had taken more of these before my surgery day. Naturally cameras, in particular full length photos, are something I’ve always tried to avoid.
Had decaf coffee and toast before my period of fasting began.
Fasting began. Measured my legs for one last time.
Got the boys up and tried to remain distracted by them.
Took my final pre-op shower. Really took my time over this!
NB. You’re not allowed to shave on the day of surgery, I’m assuming this is in case you cut yourself and then raise the risk of infection.
Packed my final bits into my bag – you can see what I packed on this post. Took the compression garments out of their box to have a look and laid them on my leg. Haha didn’t have a clue how those tiny things were going to encase my gigantor calves and thighs!
Dropped James off with his grandparents for the night.
Went to the hairdressers! It might sound crazy to fit this in but I was so glad I did. She knew I was going into hospital for surgery so put my hair in two tight braids, this was incase I was unable to shower and wash my hair for a few days post-op.
Got to Goole Hospital where my Lipoedema surgery was going to be done. Checked into my private en-suite room.
(Gorgeous view of the countryside!)
Met the lovely nursing team who would be caring for me during my stay and was handed a food menu to pick from.
I was visited by a lovely anaesthetist who gave me a reassuring chat about what I should expect to happen. Then I met up with Jo and Jessie from the BBC and did a bit of filming prior to having my pre-op assessment with Mr Karri.
I realised just how utterly devastating this disease has been because for every question I was asked whilst being interviewed, I was horrified to let out my thoughts. It took over and I felt blank but not because I couldn’t think of what I should say but because there was so much to say I was overwhelmed. I confessed that I would much rather write about my experience then say the words out loud because that would somehow hurt me even more. In the past someone described my shape as just like a cello. Who knew that what they were actually seeing was a serious illness and one which would cost me so much. Not just the financial cost of the surgery as the NHS aren’t currently funding it but the cost on my self-esteem.
I donned my hospital gown and was drawn on with a very tickly pen! Mr Karri marked out the areas on my legs which needed addressing and then I was asked which areas in particular cause me problems. Like most women with Lipoedema, the skin on my calves and ankles is very painful to touch due to the build up of abnormal fat cells. Also the inside of my knees were extremely swollen and were painfully rubbing together when I walked. Additionally I had very prominent fat deposits on the front of my thighs. This affected my posture and made buying clothing very difficult due to my abnormal shape.
Time for surgery!! I put my dressing gown on over my surgical gown and walked to theatre. There I was administered a general anaesthetic and once under a catheter was inserted. I don’t actually recall what happened then until I woke up about 6:30pm. However, here is a photo of what went on on the operating table. This shows the tiny incision points on my right leg where the liquid was pumped in to create room for the abnormal fat cells to be removed. In total six litres of pure fat came out of me during the WAL process.
I was woken up by Mr Karri coming into my room to let me know everything had gone well during surgery. Couldn’t help it so I took the opportunity to have a quick peek under the sheets at my new legs in the compression tights which the nurses had put on me. I don’t even want to think about them putting on those tiny tights onto my limp body would have looked! (Pleased there is no footage or photos of that!)
I actually slept quite well that night but did have regular visits from the nurses to administer antibiotics to prevent infection. I didn’t need any pain killers though as I was still numb from from the anaesthetic used during surgery.
Surgery day number one was over – I was half way there to my new legs being completed!