Sometimes we can do all the right things and things can still go wrong. Our bodies all react differently to different things. Cindy suffers from an autoimmune disease – Lupus – here she shares her journey with us, and talks about the exceptional service she received whilst she was over 3000km’s away from her family.
Trish: Hey, everyone. I’m here tonight with Cindy. Now, Cindy recently had some plastic surgery with Dr Marcus Pyragius. We’re really keen to share her story because sometimes things don’t go perfectly, so it’s really nice to hear someone’s story whose journey wasn’t quite so easy. Welcome, Cindy.
Trish: Hi. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
Cindy: No worries, Trish.
Trish: So you’ve had some plastic surgery, so tell us a bit about your journey. What did you actually have done, and where are you from? Give us a bit of a background.
Cindy: I am from Queensland. I travelled to Adelaide to see Marcus back in August last year, after doing about a year’s worth of research for surgeons around Australia. We only have one in our town. I wasn’t a hundred percent satisfied there, so I went and visited Adelaide, where’s there’s plenty of surgeons, and I saw a few in one day and then flew home. Marcus was my preferred choice out of all of them because of how he made me feel in the consult. I booked my surgery for the 1st of February this year. I originally saw him for a breast reduction and lift and tummy tuck, and I wanted them all done at the same time. He advised that he wanted to do them separately, and that he would perform the tummy tuck first, and breast reduction second, just purely because of how he operates. He doesn’t like you being under for too long, which was fine with me.
I had my surgery on the 1st of February, which went extremely successful. I woke up and absolutely loved my new tummy. I’m not a fan of the pain pump, so I asked for that to be taken away straight away. Within 24 hours, he came back to see me to check up on me, and noticed I had a heamatoma. So I was put back into surgery on the 2nd of February, the next day, to fix that issue.
Trish: Was that this year?
Cindy: Yes. Yes. So a couple of months ago.
Trish: Did you know that anything was wrong, or did you just…
Cindy: No, he picked up on … I didn’t. I was pretty drugged up at the time. He picked up on it straight away with just feeling around my belly, because he was very good at, well that was only the first day after, but he was very good at checking on me every day that I was in hospital. So that was fine. And then he didn’t release me from, I was supposed to stay in hospital for two nights, but my drains were not under the 30mls for the two drains that I had, so we opted for me to stay in hospital purely because I was going to stay with a friend rather than going home.
Trish: So he has a rule that if it’s more than 30mls, he prefers you to not come home?
Cindy: He doesn’t mind you going home with the drains in, it was a choice that we made-
Trish: Okay, got it.
Cindy: … to my family, I was going home to a friend’s house, so I didn’t frighten the kids or anything with these drains going out of me.
Trish: Yeah, of course.
Cindy: So we opted for me to stay in there until they reduced. Now, they were actually quite high. The level of fluid that was coming out was quite high. They were about 150 each drain. It was about day five or six that they started to reduce, but still not enough for me to go home. Then on the following Saturday, so that would’ve been-
Trish: A week.
Cindy: … a week and a bit. Eight days or nine days. We noticed there was quite a bit of redness around my incision mark, and he put on some silver tape. He took off the normal tape and put on some silver tape. I don’t know what that is, but it’s a special kind of gauze that apparently helps. Within 24 hours, there was gaping holes in my incision, and ooze and pus. It was majorly, majorly infected. So he took me in for surgery again on the Saturday night. I had to cancel his date night with his wife for that surgery. I had a big clean out. It was actually a very long surgery. It was about four and a half hours of just a major clean and restitching. And then-
Trish: Wow. Wow.
Cindy: That was … He installed a V.A.C. dressing at that point, because this was my third surgery. He wanted just to make sure that these drains were doing what they should be, so he installed the V.A.C. dressing on that Saturday night. And then it was the following Wednesday, which would’ve been close to two, it was the 14th of February. It was Valentine’s night that I took him away from his wife again, and he had to come back in and do another surgery to remove the V.A.C. dressing and clean out the infection. So I had four surgeries in two weeks with…
Trish: Wow. What actually happened? Do we know what caused it, or is there an explanation? Or was it just something that happens? Or …
Cindy: Okay. I want to be perfectly clear that nothing Marcus did was wrong. I have an autoimmune disease. I have a pre-existing condition called lupus. We knew that if there was anything that could, like if there was any chance of an infection, which any surgery can have any type of infection, but someone that has an autoimmune disease where their antibodies attack them, it’s a higher risk. So the minute the infection kind of kicked in, my body took over and couldn’t fight it, and it went from what somebody normal would be able to heal straight away without all of those further surgeries, it just didn’t work that way for me. But, Marcus visited me every single day. He did not make me feel scared. He always told me he’s got this. He kept in contact with my husband, and would call my husband knowing that he wasn’t in Adelaide with me, and tell him what was going on after every surgery. He was fantastic. I couldn’t recommend him enough.
Trish: Wow. I mean, that sounds like over and beyond to me…
Cindy: It was a real touch-and-go there for a while. My husband said like even he was super impressed by the level of service. Because that Saturday night operation that we were all extremely worried about, and how open my wounds were, he did not finish operating on me until 11:30 at night, and he still called my husband knowing that he would be waiting for someone to update him on what was going on.
Trish: Yeah, of course. So you went in on the Saturday?
Trish: And you were in there for how many hours?
Cindy: I think the second surgery was about four and a half hours. The first surgery wasn’t much longer than that with the full muscle repair either. But yeah, he said it was basically like performing a second tummy tuck, because he had to cut another four inches of skin away that the necrosis had eaten away at the skin, as well as the infection underneath the skin that needed to be cleaned.
Trish: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh wow. Wow. What happened after that? So you were in hospital for how many days all up? So you had the first surgery on the Friday, the second surgery on the day…
Cindy: No. The first surgery was the Thursday. The second surgery was the Friday, 24 hours later. The third surgery was the Saturday, like a week and one day later. And then the fourth surgery was on the 14th. So all four surgeries within two weeks of each other.
Cindy: I was in hospital until the 20th. I wasn’t allowed home until the 28th. I was actually in Adelaide for one month, away from my babies. Away from my kids and my husband. But there wasn’t one day that Marcus did not check on me, or like call. Even when I had gotten out of the hospital, he would text to make sure I was okay, or he would call, or ask for a photo just to make sure that the skin hadn’t appeared red again. His level of care for his patients was just above and beyond what I expected.
Trish: Yep. Yep. Like, I just get scared, like imagine if you had’ve gone overseas, or …
Cindy: I was going to.
Trish: Oh, really?
Cindy: Yeah. Yes. I’m so grateful. They actually turned me down, believe it or not, because I have lupus. I’m really glad they did, because obviously, you know, with the private … I’ve got private health, and I was covered under private health. However, we’ve added up just the hospital stay, all the theatre costs, all the costs that would’ve been for him, the anaesthetist, we’re talking about $58,000 we were up for if it wasn’t all covered by private health.
Trish: Like oh my god, that’s just like amazing.
Cindy: These things happen to people all the time. Things can go wrong. It’s not always smooth sailing.
Trish: Yeah, no, that’s true. And I think what the difference between … I don’t know if it’s a happy patient and a non-happy patient, but like the fact that you were so well looked after. Something went wrong, but you were so well looked after that it kind of, and you understood that this is just something that happens, and there was no…
Cindy: Unbelievably. And like the Facebook groups that I am involved in, I stressed that every time they would ask me for an update, was that I 100% happy with my surgeon of choice. I was a hundred percent happy with the level of care that I received from both the hospital staff and him, and his staff. This was just one of those things. And, you know, the way that he dealt with it was better than I could’ve expected.
Trish: Yep. Yep. So basically, in that week between your second surgery and your third, sorry, your third surgery and your fourth surgery, it kind of just got … like it didn’t work. Whatever he was doing and trying wasn’t working because of your lupus. Is that right?
Cindy: Are you talking between the third and fourth surgery, or with-
Trish: Yes. Yes, sorry.
Cindy: The fourth surgery was purely to remove the V.A.C. dressing, because I’m not sure if-
Trish: Okay. Got it.
Cindy: Yeah. The… is actually installed inside your stomach, so he had to actually go in to remove it. It was supposed to be a 30-minute surgery, however he did say it was another two hours because there was more infection he cleaned out. But that, again, is just how pedantic and beautiful this man is. He wouldn’t close me up leaving any of it inside. He made sure it was all good.
Trish: Yeah, wow. Wow, that’s just amazing. And just secondly, when did you actually, so you were in Adelaide for 20, how many days?
Cindy: I was in Adelaide for the whole, I didn’t get home until the 28th. So I was actually in from the 1st of February to the 28th of February.
Trish: Okay. How was your family? I mean, how was your husband at the other end? He must’ve been beside himself.
Cindy: Yeah. Look, he’s … He’s a pretty awesome stay-at-home dad, I must admit. He’s pretty good. He didn’t really want to go back to work when I came home. The kids coped fine because he coped fine, I guess. But yeah, just worried, I guess. There was a week there that was pretty scary for all of us, and just him not being there was a bit hard. But, you know, we got through it.
Trish: So you are how many months post-op now? You’re four months, or three months post-op? Hang on…
Cindy: I have to count it from … Yeah, I have to count it from my last surgery, he said. So even though my muscle repair was never affected or touched, that was done on the 1st. So I’m actually 10 weeks post-op that tomorrow, but I’m actually only eight weeks post-op from my final surgery.
Trish: Okay. How’s things gone since you got home? What’s your plan from here?
Cindy: Yeah, I’m perfect. My scar is absolutely stunning. I’ve been opened four times in the same spot, and his stitchwork is just beautiful, so my scar is amazing. I am still wearing my binder, which is fine. I’ve taken it off for short bursts, but I don’t like it, so I put it back on.
Trish: It’s funny how it just gives you that, it’s like a security blanket, isn’t it?
Cindy: I think it is, I really do. Yeah, I think it’s more me. But I’m returning to like walking and stuff, like that’s not an issue. But I’m returning to boot camp exercise next month. He’s given me clearance. He’s said not until three months, just because of all the issues I’ve had. But I’m listening to him. I’m following his instructions because I don’t want to mess up his work.
Trish: No, of course, of course. You go through all that, and then that’s the last thing you want. Do you work at the moment? Or …
Cindy: Yes. Yep.
Trish: How did you go with work, getting time off work? What happened with that?
Cindy: I’m self-employed, so I just, yeah. I’m self-employed, and I have staff, so-
Trish: You gave yourself a holiday?
Cindy: Yeah, well, I wouldn’t say a holiday.
Trish: Sick leave.
Cindy: It’s the longest time I’ve had off since being in business for myself for six years. But you know what? The staff member that I’ve got, she really hit the ground running, and went from working two days a week to full-time hours while I was away.
Trish: Yeah, of course. Of course. All right. How has it changed your life? Apart from all the, like the stress that you must’ve gone through would’ve been, you know, horrendous. I know what it’s like when you’re away from home. Thank God you’ve got a, you’ve obviously got a friend in Adelaide.
Trish: But just the being away from home, and I suppose for me just thinking the fact that I suppose your husband would’ve been feeling more at ease just because he was in contact with him all the time.
Cindy: Well, when I … a hundred percent no regrets, I will say that. My body is … my self-confidence in what I see in the mirror is so different. I love it. The original reason I went to see Marcus was for a breast reduction. That was my main concern, breast reduction and lift. And when I said goodbye to him on my last visit, I mentioned that to him, and he kind of said it was too soon. He was a bit traumatised still. So he wasn’t ready to talk about it. But just today, he said yes. So he would have a plan. He’s got a plan for my breast reduction, and he’s happy to take me on again. He did say that I was his biggest challenge so far in his career.
Trish: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). It sounds like it, because it just … and I suppose some guys wouldn’t even have, and girls, probably wouldn’t even have that challenge in all of their career anyway, and he’s probably…
Cindy: Yeah. If there was a side effect, I found it.
Trish: Yeah, right. Wow, wow. All right. So you’re 10 weeks post-op.
Trish: You’re feeling really good. What’s your mobility like? Are you like fully recovered? Or …
Cindy: Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent. I was driving six weeks post-op. I move around. I do everything by myself. I can lift a load of washing now. I try and avoid it and leave it for my husband, but let’s be clear, I can. Yeah, no, everything’s pretty much normal. I’m just not doing exercise like I used to. I don’t know what my fitness level’s going to be like when I go back, but that’s the consequence that I get for having the surgery, and I’m okay with that.
Trish: Yeah. And I suppose it takes second priority because your muscle memory, you’ll get all that back anyway.
Cindy: That’s exactly right. It’s just a small bump in this road to better improving.
Trish: Totally, totally. All right. So you had your tummy tuck, so your next one is your breast reduction.
Cindy: Yes, 2nd of October.
Trish: Oh, good, so he’s doing it for you this year. So you’ll have a nice good, like a 10 month or so … eight-month break.
Cindy: Yeah. 8 month break. Yep.
Trish: All right, and you’re going to do the same thing. You’re going to fly down there?
Trish: Stay with your friend?
Cindy: Yes, but he’ll obviously, like part of his plan is to keep me in hospital a bit longer than what he would normally keep a patient in, just to keep that closer eye. He also had, when I was in that in-between stage of the third and fourth op, he got the Centre of Infectious Diseases involved, and called the head of the Centre of Infectious Diseases in to do a review of my infection, just to make sure he had me on the right antibiotics, was there anything he could’ve done better, et cetera, et cetera. The guy was a hundred percent happy with everything that he did. He would’ve put me on the same medication. He checked on me also every day. He’s in on the new plan for the breast reduction. They’re anticipating like a pre-antibiotic before, and the same antibiotic that helped me like straight away. So don’t wait for infection, just straight away put on the heavy antibiotic.
Trish: What was that called, do you remember at all?
Cindy: I don’t. I cannot remember. Because I was on IV for this particular one, which was different to what I went home with. I went home with Bactrim 8mgs. But the one that they had me on IV was different.
Trish: Okay. Okay. Yep. It’s just interesting to know, that’s all. I thought, “Oh, well you never know, it might be interesting for someone else as well just to kind of remember that name.”
Cindy: I know that quite a few people from the …
Trish: The group.
Cindy: …group are actually travelling now to see him, especially people that have the same sort of autoimmune disorders, just purely because of how well he looked after me.
Trish: Yeah. He could be the go-to guy for that.
Cindy: I’m not sure he wants to be the go-to for that.
Trish: I’m not surprised, but it’s really good that he’s happy to like take you on, you know…
Cindy: I’m quite surprised. Like I said, he’s only just agreed to it today. It’s taken him a good couple of months to agree to that. But I think he was sort of sourcing a plan before going in this time, so he has a bit of backup with how he’s going to treat things differently.
Trish: Yep, yep.
Trish: So basically, it’s great to let people know that, you know, things can go wrong. It’s the way that it’s managed that’s going to give you a happy outcome on the inside, or an unhappy outcome. So it sounds like the management of that was perfect, and you were very happy with that result.
Cindy: I a hundred percent agree, Trish. Because it really depends on the surgeon you get as to how you’re going to feel at the end. Because that could’ve been so much more traumatic, but I always felt safe. I don’t know how to explain it, but I always felt safe with him. My trust in him never faltered.
Trish: Yep. Well, I tell you what, I hope a few doctors actually listen to this podcast, because it’s true. It’s all about … Because people talk. Like, I’ve seen it all in the groups and stuff like that, you know? People want to share their successes, but they also want to share when-
Cindy: The negative stuff, yeah.
Trish: Yeah. And when someone goes over and beyond, and really looks after a patient, you know, like you can betcha, you know, just from people that you’ve spoken to, you know, there’ll be people that think, “Oh, wow, I’m going to go to this guy because I know he’s going to look after me.” So it’s, you know, although what was the challenge could actually end up being one of the … Actually, you’re probably one of those things. There’s always something in your career that you remember, and you’ll probably be that one for him.
Cindy: Probably. Well, there’s like two people from Western Australia, and a couple from New South Wales that have actually told him, “We’re coming because of Cindy.” That’s a big travel, Western Australia to Adelaide, you know?
Trish: Yeah, of course, that’s huge. Anywhere is a big travel. It’s a big decision to make. But at least here you’re in Australia.
Cindy: I honestly have not heard anyone say one bad thing about Dr. Pyragius. They’ve all been a hundred percent happy. But a lot of them are local with never any complications. So they do their two days in hospital, they’re out. The recovery’s fine. But yeah, it is when you get those results, “Oh my god, he really looks after you.”
Trish: Yep. Yep. Oh no, that’s fantastic. That’s so, so good to hear. So good to hear. And yeah, great that you’ve shared that story with us. So your next one, breast reduction. After that, are you done?
Cindy: Totally done. Totally done. I even considered not getting it done, but seeing as that was the first reason I went to see him, and after breastfeeding four kids, they’re totally southward bound. So yeah, I’m totally done after that.
Trish: Yep. Fantastic. I don’t blame you.
Trish: Oh, fantastic. Are you happy to send us some photos to put up and show us your end result?
Cindy: Yeah. I can… Yeah. Can I just send it through to you?
Trish: Yeah, yeah, yeah, just send it through to me. We’ll work all that out later. I just want to make sure that anyone who’s listening to this knows that if you want to have a look at the end result, it’d be great to just click on the blog, and have a look at Cindy’s photos that she’s shared. That’d be amazing.
Cindy: No worries.
Trish: And maybe we’ll have to do a bit of a follow-up with you after you’ve had your breast reduction.
Cindy: And a hundred percent no complications, fingers crossed.
Trish: Yes, yes. I’ll be rooting for you, for sure. The thing is, because you’ve actually been through all that as well, and he’s been through it, like there’s going to be stuff in place that, you know, it’s going to be … I mean, who knows? You never know, anything can go wrong. But the probability is probably being reduced by a hundred times possibility of something going wrong, you know? So that’s a good thing.
Cindy: And look, yeah, I just feel that my level of care is always going to be right up there anyway. Not that any patient’s, every patient’s level of care I imagine would be the same, but precaution-wise, he’s going to be on to it.
Trish: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Instead of a hundred percent, it’d be on 110% alert, for sure.
Cindy: That’s right. Yeah.
Trish: Sure. Yep. Awesome. Awesome. Oh, thanks, Cindy. Thanks so much for sharing. I know it’s a bit late at night, and you’ve just put your kiddies to bed, so I really appreciate your time in doing this with us.
Cindy: No worries.
Trish: Awesome. So ladies and guys out there, if you’re in Adelaide, or you want to travel, or if you’re looking for Dr. Pyragius, you can drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not in our Facebook support forum, just also drop me an email. I’ll send you a link to it, so you can sign up. It’s a girls’ only treehouse at this stage, so that one’s just for the ladies, but yeah, you’re welcome aboard. It’s a great community of women. Thank you so much, Cindy.
Cindy: Thanks a lot, Trish. See you.
Trish: No worries. Bye.