It feels like it is time to wrap up my Tummy Tuck chronicles. Blogging this pilgrimage has been a great way to track my progress, and writing it out has proven to be a useful tool to help me sort through the thoughts and emotions that accompany plastic surgery. Pilgrimage is a word I choose purposely. Journey, process, experience – these words are tiny in their meaning, and have no right to be in a sentence that describes what I have been through. I chose ‘pilgrimage’ specifically for its true meaning: We pilgrim to a place that has religious or emotional significance.
In my first post titled ‘Meet Flap’, I examined why it took me years to get to a place where I was comfortable with the idea of being entitled to my tummy tuck, I stated: “For reason which I intend to discuss later, spending the effort and money on such an immodest venture was never, ever, in my cards.” Since this is my last post, I guess my jig is up. Here we go… I’ll let you in.
Before I do so, if you happen to be someone who is considering a full tummy tuck including muscle repair, but excluding another effective procedure of liposuction at ME Clinic, here are some ‘good to knows’:
1. Most importantly, DO NOT expect instant gratification. Although my belly is flat and tight, it is so swollen and puffy that I am way too big to fit into any of my pre-surgery clothes. ‘Swell Hell’ is the worst for the first four weeks, even with a tight compression garment, and lasts for about six months. In fact, plastic surgeons tell you not to shop for new clothes until six to nine months after the procedure (source: Elite Plastic Surgery).
2. While we are on the topic of swelling, be prepared for what ‘tuckers’ call: The Ken Doll. Ever removed the khaki shorts from a metrosexual Ken doll? The man has no penis. To preserve his modesty, they give him a generic bulge in place of any boy parts. Post-tummy tuck patients all suffer from the same pubic region swelling and that too can last for some time.
3. Which leads me to my third tip: Be prepared to be constantly horny. This is something that I have never heard another tucker say, but I’m blowing the lid off this one. With all that swelling and blood flow down in your pelvis, every movement and sensation is euphoric. If ‘not aroused’ is a zero, and ‘orgasm’ is a ten, I would say that I pretty much run at a constant eight. It’s fantastic and I can barely keep my hands off myself! I have recently discovered that lymphatic drainage massages are AMAZING for reducing post-op swelling, but I am secretly hoping my girl parts continue to run at an eight.
Ugh… ok, back to my pilgrimage.
Not letting myself think past the dreamy-I-wish phase of tummy tuck planning, had very little to do with the effort or money involved. It’s much bigger than that. Am I fortunate that I was able to afford such a luxury? Oh yes! But I couldn’t have done it without the help of a little friend I like to call The Royal Bank of Canada. Was there effort involved in planning sick time from work, child care, sleepovers with Gramma’s, friends to drive my daughters to summer camps and dance class, etc? Sure. But if you can find a way to beg/borrow/steal, and you have a half decent husband backed by a supportive friend or two, a venture like this may be an option for you. Unless you suffer from what I once did…
Despite having a beautiful home and a great salary, I grew up very very poor. I had a single mother, and my brother and I lived in ‘government housing’. Poor enough that I can remember the Salvation Army coming to deliver Christmas presents to my brother and me, and poor enough that I remember having to draw pictures of the toys I wish I had onto lined paper, then playing with the paper like it WAS that toy. When I wanted music, I’d draw speakers and tape them to my walls. When I wanted dollies, I’d draw their picture and cradle the drawing in my arms. My mom met and married a man when I was nine. No longer eligible for housing, we owned a house with him and we entered into the lower-middle class. Besides being many different shades of crazy, my mom was also disabled, so when she married my step-dad, she stopped scrubbing toilets and never worked again (unless you consider ‘getting crazier’ work). He became the sole and dominant power of authority when it came to money and how it was spent.
When you are raised on welfare, and then by a cheap controlling breadwinner, you constantly get the verbal and non-verbal message “Ask for nothing”. This I obeyed, for two reasons, 1. I knew the answer would be “no”, and 2. forcing my mom to be in a position where she had to say “no” only fuelled the fire. To save herself the angst of having to tell me “no”, she would just remind me MORE frequently that I didn’t need things. As a teenager, my mom would use her disability cheque to take me back to school shopping. I’d been schooled a thousand times that I was not to tell my step-dad what we bought or how much it cost. Then I’d hear her boast to him later that she was able to get me that new pair of $50 jeans for $20 making up cheap bogus prices for everything. My front teeth were so buck, that my bottom teeth would dig into the gums behind them and make me bleed. So when the time came for me to get braces, my stepdad’s insurance paid half, while my mom secretly paid the other half in monthly instalments. It was my job to rush home everyday and hide the mail, so that my step-dad would never see the statement. I also remember sitting in my guidance counsellor’s office in grade nine, with my mom, discussing my course selections and where I wanted them to lead me. Mom told him that University couldn’t be an option for me, I didn’t need it and we couldn’t afford it. Four years later, I applied for student loans and drank my way through College, but again, no one was to know how much I received or even the cost of my tuition.
If I am painting this picture correctly, I am setting you up to see the “Ask for nothing… you don’t need it” manner in which I was raised. Now, I shall ice the cake.
Perhaps as a by-product of her own “Ask for nothing” raising, my mom put very low importance on her grooming and appearance. In fact, when I compare her to my love of smelly soaps and shiny lace panties, I’d call her the anti-butterfly. Poor hygiene, wearing the same outfits since the 70′s, and a hairstyle that disguised whether her hair was unwashed or knotty, I don’t think my mom had the faintest clue how to feel feminine. Rather than openly envy women that were butterflies, mom would whisper to me and point across the bank, “Well well well, aren’t we a little high on ourselves!” or “Little miss fancy pants must just think she’s the cat’s meow!” My ten-year-old brain would register: Note to self – pride in appearance is bad. I even remember one time my mother sat and criticized my 14-year-old step-sister for being “gussy-ed up”… Kerri had taken a curling iron to her bangs and had on a pair of little golden hoop earrings.
Let me do the math for you – when you take an “Ask for nothing” family philosophy, then add a warped vision of what it meant to be a cat’s meow, this equals a fairly big hurdle to jump while trying to rationalize costly plastic surgery. It took at least a decade, and ironically lots of money on therapy, to get me to a place where I could spend money on anything that “I didn’t need.” It took me a very long time to overcome the feeling that although I may be worth $20 jeans, I was not worth $50 ones. And while the woman in the bank might be worth a cute jacket and great shoes, I was not and could not have them. I could go on for ages about how constantly preaching to children that they don’t need things or money spent on them screws with their sense of worth, but I’m wrapping this up. Sufficed to say, it is an interesting and lengthy process that went on in my head to get me to the point where I would consider plastic surgery.
Going through all eight of my blogs, you will come across many reasons and rationals for why I chose to remove my FLAP and consent to plastic surgery. On the surface, it is because I had a part of my body that was causing me such insecurities, that instead of admiring my muscular legs or my great rack, I couldn’t see past the FLAP of skin on my tummy. When you look a little deeper, it was about more than that. It was me, giving something to me, that I technically didn’t need. There are very few things that I do in my life that are not for my loving husband, my beautiful daughters or our fabulous life, and although surreal, this was just for me.
So I end this post and my bloggy journey with a note from me – to me (tears just sprang to my eyes at the thought of what I’d say): Thank you for deeming yourself worthy enough to give yourself such a powerful gift. Buried under all that stretched and dead skin, was a woman who is now beaming. A woman who cries tears of joy that you no longer feel secretly humiliated, and that you fought against the childhood programming that you were not worthy. Love the skin you are in Lacey, and don’t be ashamed to. There is no shame in what you have done. Enjoy every single second of your new-found pride.
May all of you give yourselves gifts that bear as much impact as mine has.
Editors note: For more women who have embraced their curves, please visit Human Mozaik to see real women who accept who they are.