Post-op Cleft-Lift with Dr. Immerman

HurtButtHopeful

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Hey there everyone! I had my cleft-lift done with Dr. Immerman on 5/11/2023 and just wanted to give quick update.

5/10: My parents and I drove to Nashville on Tuesday night (5/9) and stayed in a hotel as our flight to Minneapolis-Saint Paul departed at 6am. We landed at 8am, rented a car and drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Eau Claire. The hotel we are staying in is about 10 minutes away from Dr. Immerman's clinic, and it is super nice!

5/11: I had my initial appointment with Dr. Immerman at his office, him and his staff have been so responsive and helpful. He made me feel at ease immediately, he has amazing bedside manner and I felt super confident in my decision to have my surgery done with him. After my appointment with him, I went and got checked into the Oakleaf Surgical hospital. These were some of the kindest, most friendly, warm, and attentive nurses I have ever had! All of them were complete angels, I have never been more comfortable and at ease before surgery. I could not recommend them enough. Dr. Immerman came to see me before surgery and just reassured me that I was going to be well taken care of. My surgery began at 12:30pm and I was alert and in recovery around 3:30pm. While in recovery Dr. Immerman came by one last time and let me know everything went well. I went over my post op instructions with my nurse and instructions for my drain and I got in the car and sat on my butt all the way back to the hotel!

5/12: This was the roughest day for me, I started to really feel the pain into the early hours of morning and the rest of this day was pretty tough. I reached out to Dr. Immerman and let him know I was in a lot of pain and he responded almost immediately and sent in a prescription for a stronger pain med. He is the best!

5/13-15: There have been incremental improvements throughout these days. I can tell walking is getting easier, getting up and down off the toilet is easier, shifting in bed isn't as taxing. I have cut down on how much pain medication I am taking, the last pain pill I took was at 7:30am! There is definite soreness but it is not worse than feeling the effects of pilonidal disease. I have been trying to increase sitting time each day, but it is still a bit uncomfortable. I am a little nervous to sit on the airplane for two hours on the way home since I am only really sitting for 10 minutes at a time right now. I do not see Dr. Immerman and get the drain removed until 5/17 so I am hoping I feel much better by then and more confident in sitting. It is definitely uncomfortable to sit but I am wondering how much of it is a mental block as well. I have not sat correctly in almost 2 years, sitting now just feels foreign.

One of the many things I love about Dr. Immerman is his understanding of the mental toll this takes on patients. One of the times he came to talk with me, we discussed the emotional side of this disease and he pointed me in the direction of some mental health resources. If I could go back to my 17th birthday when I realized I had a pilonidal abscess, I would've been on the first plane I could to go and see him! I am just happy I found him when I did, I could not ask for a better surgeon.

I have been taking stool softeners every day post surgery, though no luck in the bowel movement department yet. I am definitely scared to poop, the incision is farther down than I anticipated and I can feel how close the incision is to my anus. My fear would just be not cleaning myself well enough after pooping and causing problems, but luckily my (poor) mom has had plenty of practice wiping my butt!

The physical difference is very subtle, I can tell that the cleft is much shallower but it does not look nearly as bad as I thought it would. I think as time progresses and the swelling goes down, it will look even more natural but it does not look unnatural to me now. My mom said if the incision and drain weren't there, she would have to really examine my butt to tell the difference. This a huge relief to me! The scar will be lengthy but I think as healing progresses, it will just settle into my new, more shallow cleft.

The task ahead of me now is actually believing I have a chance at a full and active life! I wonder when the days of me worrying it will come back and constantly looking over my shoulder will be a distant memory. I am ready to close this chapter of my life completely, I wonder when I will feel safe enough and well enough to do that?
 
Hi! I am so glad you see on the other side of the surgery! For the flight back maybe you can sit on a travel pillow if that feels comfortable for you. It does for me.

After my surgery last fall I remember all these post surgery phases you mention like going back to using the restroom for a bowel movement and walking! I totally get what you mean when you say there could be a mental block. For the restroom I recommend the use of baby wipes. Just take things at your speed.
 
So glad you updated all of us, HBH! My son went through similar after his cleft lift in December. He still uses a donut shaped pillow - he‘s had 3 surgeries since the end of July so lots of recent damage to overcome. I’d definitely second the recommendation to have one for your flight home this week.

Re. the bathroom fears - I’d suggest ordering some Balenol - we found it on Amazon. Baby wipes, too, and I’ve been told it helps to adopt a “center to side“ motion versus front to back.

Hoping your voyage home is smooth as can be. Give yourself lots of grace - this is a major surgery, on top of months of discomfort and anxiety. Keep us posted!
 
5/17: Today was my first time seeing Dr. Immerman since surgery. Yesterday, I was in more pain than usual and noticed a peculiar smell. I was concerned about infection, so when I saw him today I let him know that something didn't feel quite right. He took a look and agreed there were some early signs of infection. So he kept my drain in, put me on two antibiotics and made another appointment to come back and see him on Monday the 22nd with hopefully a better outcome. :( I was feeling super discouraged earlier because I just want to be at home and any sort of post surgery complication is scary, especially when you have had issues with post surgical complications in the past. It's always so scary when there are setbacks, no matter how minor. I am so desperate to heal and feel better, but I am trying to stay on the positive side of things. I am grateful the infection was caught early instead of sometime after I flew home and with Dr. Immerman 13 hours away again.
 
5/17: Today was my first time seeing Dr. Immerman since surgery. Yesterday, I was in more pain than usual and noticed a peculiar smell. I was concerned about infection, so when I saw him today I let him know that something didn't feel quite right. He took a look and agreed there were some early signs of infection. So he kept my drain in, put me on two antibiotics and made another appointment to come back and see him on Monday the 22nd with hopefully a better outcome. :( I was feeling super discouraged earlier because I just want to be at home and any sort of post surgery complication is scary, especially when you have had issues with post surgical complications in the past. It's always so scary when there are setbacks, no matter how minor. I am so desperate to heal and feel better, but I am trying to stay on the positive side of things. I am grateful the infection was caught early instead of sometime after I flew home and with Dr. Immerman 13 hours away again.
Sorry to hear about this. The fact that the infection was caught early is good news. I had my drain in for two weeks post surgery. It was super annoying but at the same time I got used to it.
 
5/17: Today was my first time seeing Dr. Immerman since surgery. Yesterday, I was in more pain than usual and noticed a peculiar smell. I was concerned about infection, so when I saw him today I let him know that something didn't feel quite right. He took a look and agreed there were some early signs of infection. So he kept my drain in, put me on two antibiotics and made another appointment to come back and see him on Monday the 22nd with hopefully a better outcome. :( I was feeling super discouraged earlier because I just want to be at home and any sort of post surgery complication is scary, especially when you have had issues with post surgical complications in the past. It's always so scary when there are setbacks, no matter how minor. I am so desperate to heal and feel better, but I am trying to stay on the positive side of things. I am grateful the infection was caught early instead of sometime after I flew home and with Dr. Immerman 13 hours away again.
So sorry to hear about the infection! Such a good thing it happened when it did though, as you say. Hope you are feeling better with the introduction of the antibiotics.
 
Today is officially 2 weeks post-op and I am doing pretty well! My incision has opened some on the bottom, most likely because of the infection I had, but it is healing nicely. It isn't a gaping wound or anything, it's more like if you fell and scraped your knee on the concrete. Since it is so far off the midline, Dr. Immerman is confident it will heal as long as I keep it clean and dry. I was able to fly home on Monday, the trip home was a bit taxing but I made it and have just taken it easy since then. Moving around and sitting still feel a bit foreign but I am slowly adjusting and becoming for comfortable. :wigglebum:I will check back in with updates on my improvements!
 
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