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I know this is vain, but...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Pain Management
I recently had a pain pump implant (end of August). I'm fairly happy with the pain relief it has brought me (though they are still adjusting a few things), but overall it has gotten me off of the more heavy duty meds like Fentenyal, and allowed me to rely only on breakthrough meds. So, life is good right?
Well, here's my problem...I am having some hang ups over my own vanity issues with the pump. I am only 23-years-old, and and am slender, petite female, who has always had a flat stomach and decent figure. Now, with this implant, I feel like my stomach isn't something I want to show off anymore. (not like I was wearing around belly shirts or anything like that before. I'm a teacher so I dress professionally and conservatively during the week, and am a jeans and t-shirt girl on the weekends. But I feel like I am wearing looser clothes, and also don't want to look at myself in the mirror without a shirt on anymore because of how it looks to me.) Because of my spinal curve, my PM had to put my pump closer to my midsection (otherwise it would catch on my hip bone/rib) so it's about an inch to the left of my belly button. It sticks out about an inch under my skin because I don't have that much fat to cover it up. I have an approximately 6 inch scar across the pump area, and another scar on my back now where they drew up the leads. I think the scar draws even more attention to it, but I've been trying to use vitamen E oil to minimize the scarring.
I've had these random pangs of total sadness that I've lost the way that I looked before my surgery. Before I got the pump, and the doctor explained to me that it would definitely visibly stick out, I didn't care at all and just wanted to feel better. And of course while I am SO THANKFUL that it is helping, I'm still having these small feelings of regret about the fact that I'm 23 and am suddenly no longer happy about my shape.
I feel ridiculous for feeling like this, because I know that it doesn't look any worse than before I got this done and I was riding around in a wheelchair because my pain was so bad. My fiance has reassured me over and over that he doesn't notice it anymore, and that he doesn't care about it at all and is still just as attracted to me. But I think I feel it's more obvious than he lets on, based off of people's reactions when they first see it (usually they're shocked, as there is basically a hockey puck sticking out from my gut! I understand that it's not like they're disgusted, and just surprised seeing something unexpected like an obvious implant into someone (not an everyday thing to see), but I feel like that's adding to my self-consciousness about it)
I'm not sure how to let this go, because I feel ridiculous for feeling this way. I am not usually an vain person, but I am still sad about this one little thing. In the big picture I really don't care - you can bet I'll still be rockin' my bikini come summer!
But how do I make myself let go of the change that this has caused to my appearance, and accept that it's really not that big of a deal?


  • It's sad what you described as a change in your appearance but it doesn't have to show. Even when I was younger I never wore a bikini so no one saw my tummy and it is mainly because I was large busted so I didn't want to emphasize that. I'm sure there are many outfits you could wear these days the instyle clothes bunch up a bit at your middle or you can belt your top to cover your tummy. Of course it doesn't matter to your fiance because he loves you as a whole person. No one needs to see your pump unless you want close family to see. The most important thing is that you are painfree and I'm sure you are an attractive young lady. It truly is about acceptance of the new you and for sure you need to grieve for that part of you that you lost a sleek body shape but you've gained a way out of your wheelchair. It won't happen overnight but acceptance takes time. I wish you the best success for your career and your relationship. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • hi janie, of course you feel this way.your body has changed and for you not in a good way.The pain relief is a whole different subject.You have every right to feel the way you do.Yes, in time it won't matter anymore and you will become accustomed to it.Maybe even put on about 5 pounds would help kind of camoflauge it?Just don't go overboard if you do.Please don't be embarrassed about how you feel on your appearance.We all have a vain spot but I don't see this as vain.It's a change for you.I am so glad you have support by your side in your fiancee.That's a great help.I wish i had some sage advice for you but keep on being positive and know you are loved at home and from all of us here.Take care,and I am so happy for you in your pain relief!
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,347
    For starters, I dont think there is anyone here that doesnt understand what you are saying. It make perfect sense for you to have these feelings. Many people with cervical or lumbar scars feel much the same.
    And, because of the way society has conditioned everyone that the female subject has to look perfect, be the right size, perfect hair, etc. That makes it harder. Meanwhile, us men can slowly let ourselves go and thats not a problem.
    I guess the best thing you can do is wear clothes that best hide the bulge of the pump. To the point that you feel comfortable in the way you look in those clothes and at the same time comfortable the way the pump may been seen.
    Good luck and take care
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • It is awesome that the pain and wheelchair are gone! I really understand where you are coming from, because I spend a lot of time in a swim suit and shorts and live on a subtropical island. I am a diver and a beach bum and a gym fanatic. All of these add up to wearing clothing that will expose surgical scars and implants. All of which I have. Also short hair when wet, allows people to see my neck isn't a normal shape.

    I have always prided myself on the fact that I could wear clothing that exposes the midriff. When I get out of the water, the first thing I want to do is get my wetsuit off and get some sun. I have found that most people will ask once and then press on with life. I give them a quick down and dirty answer as to what the misshape is and that's it. Most of them remark as to they would never have known since they see me do "normal" things. After that, all is forgotten.

    People will only see disfigurement or a handicap, if they see it reflected in our eyes and our own emotions. If we "let it go" and just be ourselves, then that's all they will see.

    Be yourself and do what feels right! You have earned the right to be you!

  • janiel- That is what I brought up to the PM dr about getting an implant- another scar and a bump on my body. I already have 7 scars and don't want to add 1 more, unless it is out of my hands. But I have gained weight from all the meds, low activity and the swayback from the back surgery. /:) Well, I have to admit my sweet tooth is not helping either. :$
    I did not know how swollen my belly was until my PCP dr asked why my stomach was so bloated..Talk about feeling self-conscious. Another time, a stranger even asked when I was due. X( ..I handled it with grace but I sure felt weird.... :W ...jade
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  • Thank you all so much for your kind feedback. It's funny how just hearing 'it's okay to feel a little upset about it' can help so much more than someone just denying it doesn't look obvious. I think I just really needed someone to admit that yes, it is obvious, yes, it does stick up and attracts some odd looks if my stomach is exposed, and yes, it has changed how my physical appearance is. I think sometimes people who haven't been in a place to deal with scars and bumps and pumps and lumps, just try to appease and soothe, when really I just want someone to say, 'yep, that looks a little different.' For whatever reason, denial of an issue is way more upsetting to me than just someone being honest and saying 'geez, what the hell is that under your gut?!' (I think this desire for sheer unfiltered honesty is why I'm now an elementary teacher - there's no shortage of brutal truth in my classroom! :D )

    I did have an awesome revelation this week though. I went to my PM doctor to have my Botox injections in my back done. While I was there he recalibrated my pump a bit. I am on (*drum roll please*) 2.5 mg of Morphine PER DAY. I've been feeling so good lately, and just really haven't stop to think about how LITTLE medication is keeping me feeling this good. As of this past summer I was on Fentenyl, Vicodin, Percocet, Zanaflex, Lyrica, and almost monthly visits to the hospital to keep my pain levels under control. I mean - that's amazing to me that I could go from the amount of meds, using a wheelchair/cane to get around without falling, and making a regular appearance in the ER, to getting only a realitively nothing dose of Morphine to keep my pain in check. COOL! On the drive home from that appointment I told my fiance that I was really happy that I got this done, considering the minuscule amounts of meds that my body has to absorb. He gave me a big smile, and reminded me that that is the first time that I've said I was glad I made the choice to get the implant since I had the surgery itself. I think my perspective is getting a little clearer...

    Thanks all!
  • Do not worry one bit your beautiful just the way you are! Man if I was 30 years younger you fiance would have a fight on his hands! Ooops I think I hear the old bat stirring around. See what love conquers? ALL. You go girl!
  • Thanks Hurtz! That definitely gave me a smile - I'll let my fiance know he's got some competition for his "Pump Gal" as he calls me! You made my day! 8>
  • Hello,

    First, I am not some freak that likes looking at operation scars.

    I have fibromyalgia.

    I have been on disability for a few years with my illness finally making me homebound/bedbound. I am on morphine short-acting and long acting with fentanly patches, ambien to sleep and clonezepam to stop musle spasms and twitches.

    My Pain doctors suggested a pump implant, but the consulting surgeon didn't have any pictures of the operation scars, commented I was skinny, and I haven't been able to find any picutres on line.

    I keep getting promised if this works, I could get my life back, but part of my like was making some money doing acting and tv work. Nothing big-- but looks and fitting into a clothes matter.

    More important, the disease is an auto-immune disease that makes the body attack itself. I've had surgery to remove benign breast tumors, only to get scar tissue so big, my doctor thought they were tumors she removed.

    can anyone please tell me of ANY web-sites that have pictures of what the scars look like. the rep from the Implant Company promised to email me pictures TWICE and hasn't. I'm going to get a second opinion once I get approved for the operation.

    I'll have the operation even if I look like a shark bit into me cause I can't live with this pain anymore. I cry every night until the pills hit only to cry 3 hours later until I can take my next dose. My spouce is great. But fibroyalgia hurts so bad, he can't even hold me. I'm screaming in pain in an ambulance to get to the ER for a morphine shot and he can't even hold my hand cause if feel like he's breaking it.

    Last year we spent hundred of dollars on Air-condition bills we didn't have the money for because the fans felt like they were scraping my skin off. (the clonzepam helps that; and VISA!)

    If you can send me any information or would be brave enough to send me pictures of your operations, I'd be forever in you debt.

    Just send me a private message and I'll send you me email-- I only have one and it has my real name.

    I understand this is personal request. But you sound like you have gone through my fear and lack of inofrmation. I promise, if I have the operation--and I'm 99% sure I'm having it) to post my Pictures everywhere on the internet so no one have to ask anyone again.

    I have a skinny body everywhere by up top-- i'm 5'2 and 95 lbs.

    I have no fat on my stomach or back-- NONE. I've can't do physicaly activity, live off twinkies, and look like I do 800 crunches a day.

    If they could hide the implant in my chest no one would notice. Until I started reading other people's accounts, I didn't even know it could be placed in your stomach Because my surgeon said it's always placed in your back.

    thank you for you help and understanding in this matter.

    thank you again,

    If I'm so sick and life's so awful, why am I this vain: Three things I'm worried about:

    1. before I was homebound, I made money off of acting and doing minor modeling. I'm worried that "if I get better enough to have my old life back" I won't be able to have my old life back. I still get calls from my agents every once in a while, but I'm too sick and tired to work.

    2. I've had bad scar tissue problems with pervious surgeries (as menioned above) and since I'm very thin (putting on weight by choice in not a option-- I've tried)-- I can feel the lumps of scar tissues pressing against my skin from those surgeries.

    Since I have a auto-immune disease (fibromyalgia) that causes pain, I'm afraid too much scar tissue or scars from the pump implant will cause nerve pain the pump won't cure. Then I'll be worse than I am now. I can't even imagine being WORSE. I don't think I could survive more pain.

    3. I can post-op pictures of every other surgery on the web. Before and after breast jobs. What pace make implants look like?

    I'm skeptical of any surgery or any thing I can't get info on and of any DOCTORS that refuse to give info. I'm a great researcher-- where are these pictures? They are all cartoon pictures of the placement of the implant? WHY is this such a secret? That scars me!!!
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