And This Little Piggy Ran Wee Wee Wee! All The Way Back to Surgery!

AlrightAlrightAlright! Hope y’all aren’t eating anything right now cuz it’s about to get a little ew in here.

I’ve been walking around with my bellybutton sticking out for well over a year now, but my surgeon from Washington had gone in laparoscopically and told me that the mesh he’d previously installed for my hernias was holding fine so I should just chill. We moved to San Francisco, and with the Pandemic and applying to grad school, I kept putting off going to the doctor. Finally, the discomfort in my torso increased and I found a new family doctor who referred me to an endocrine surgeon, who sent me to have a CAT scan. Turns out I have not one, but three hernias, and much of my right abdominal wall is missing (hence, the recurring hernias). The endocrine surgeon said that she doubted she could just install another mesh because there wasn’t much muscle for the mesh to be attached to. She sent me to a plastic surgeon who specializes in complex hernia repair to consult with him about re-building my abdominal wall and working with her to repair my hernias. I met with him last week. By the time I finished telling him the back story of how I ended up in his office, beginning with my breast cancer diagnosis, he looked like a little kid in a candy store – I’m his unicorn patient. So many complications! So much fun! I had a flashback to my cancer surgeons when I told them I wanted them to simultaneously do a DIEP flap reconstruction during the bilateral mastectomy – they were practically jumping up and down with glee and anticipation, lol.

I was told that the muscle in my right abdominal wall resembled Swiss cheese. If they use synthetic mesh to repair, as had been used for previous hernias, it will only be a temporary fix due to my high hernia recurrence. Instead, I will have my abdominal wall reconstructed using a bioprosthetic porcine dermal mesh. Yup, you read that right. Pig tissue that has been decellularized and processed, so my body’s immune system will not reject it, will be implanted into my abdominal wall, and eventually my body will remodel it into my own abdominal tissue. I’m geeking out about becoming a human artificial coral reef, y’all. It’s just so science fiction-y! For temporary reinforcement, my surgeons will also add a second layer of absorbable mesh and then sew me up. Sadly, my BFF morphine pump may not play a role in my surgery this time around, because they would like to primarily rely on an epidural to paralyze my innards while I’m in hospital for the week following the surgery. Something about wanting my abdominal wall and the micro-stitches to be absolutely still after the trauma of surgeryblahblahblahdammit I will sorely miss my drugs.
So, I got the green light today – my team of surgeons have coordinated their calendars – and I will be celebrating my oldest daughter’s birthday on December 13th with a delicious dose of general anesthesia. We have plenty of time to light the candles, say the prayers, gather the chickens to be sacrificed, whatever tickles your fancy. Cross your fingers on the lucky 13th of December, send me good poop thoughts that week (cuz they will only let me leave the hospital if I can prove that my intestines are awake), and expect updates from me while I’m in there because I’ll be paralyzed (from the ribs down) but sober, so Markus needn’t be afraid I’ll write drug-infused FB posts and take away my phone this time around. After that, 2 weeks of healing on the couch where I’ll enjoy Christmas at home with my Lovies, my surgeons tell me I should be able to hobble to my school conference in January, and I should feel 100% myself within 2 months (i.e., mostly human, a little porcine).

I am now open to new nicknames – go ahead, throw them at me. Markus has been walking around saying “That’ll do, pig” and calling me “Babe,” but I prefer my old Bionic Woman label. Miss Piggy? Petunia? Finally, I might actually respond to “SuuuuuueY!” Also, I might have to quit eating one of my favorite foods, bacon, because…cannibalism…sigh.

So, there you have it. Hopefully this is the last surgery I’ll ever need for the rest of my life, sheesh. Now, you may return to your regularly scheduled programming. Uhbuhdee, uhbuhdee, uhbuhdee, that’s all Folks!

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