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I am writing!

Well, while I have good intentions to be better about blogging and all, my brain just doesn't multi-task like it used to. I AM writing. I have three WIP and I feel they are all solid work. So, I'll take that!

I continue to work my photography and enjoying that. And therapy is certainly part of my ongoing life.

Tonight I am off to a massage. Since I cannot have drugs of any sort, I am limited to "natural" methods of pain relief for the migraines that plague me. Thankfully, we now have a therapist who travels here once a week and I've been able to get in once a month for a treatment. I was utilizing acupuncture as well but we have to travel so far for a session that I am trying this instead. Either seems just as effective, though 1) I need a more frequent treatment and 2) when in the throws of a migraine, neither seems to relieve it. It simply has to "work itself" out.

Have you done either?

Stroke recovery isn't for sissies

So, I see it has been nearly a year since I professed that I would again be writing. Obviously, it didn't happen. It will. I know it will. Maybe not with regularity--something I am working on still--but it will happen.

To recap, I am now 1 year and 10 months into my recovery from the stroke and living with RCVS (vasoconstriction of vessels in the brain). And it is the hardest work I have ever done: mentally, emotionally and physically. Last fall we participated in an intensive program for aphasia (*see below) for 5 weeks. It was amazing and a great experience for myself and my spouse, as they have a caretaker component as well. It made a big improvement in my speech while highlighting some other issues, especially my handwriting. I still struggle with speech at times, when tired or under stress, in that I mess up my word selection and substitute an incorrect or same-sounding word.

Through it all, we've been determined to just humor it up and not let it beat us down. To that end, I have kept track of what I call my "aphasia funnnies". I thought I would share one or two:

Daughter showed me a picture she snapped on her cell phone of a spider running across her bedroom floor. Confirmed it to be a wolf spider and trying to discuss it further I was stuck.

Her: Go ahead and say the word you have
Me: It's a pervert to other spiders

She cries laughing so hard.
Her: You mean PREDATOR?
Me: Huh. Well. Either way, you don't want to be the other spider.

Seeing a local business with it’s windowed storefront bared to raw boards above the windows, I mused, “Looks like they’re getting a new...” I think for a moment, then giving up say, “...visor. A building visor. “
“Would that be an awning?”
“Maybe.”
We’re both silent for a moment. Then I say, “I like mine better. “



*Aphasia: is a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language. It can make it hard for you to read, write, and say what you mean to say

Maybe I've Forgotten How

It's been so long since I've posted here that I might have forgotten how.

I'm writing again. Or I am trying to write again.

I've been asked by my speech therapist to write an article about my experience with Aphasia and technology to submit alongside her for May, which is Better Speech and Hearing month. I agreed. But...I have not written cohesively in almost a year and this article is for the local paper. I'm not sure I want my personal experience out there when I have many, many mixed feelings about the support/lack of support from the community. Is this my chance to point out the lack of support? The need for technology and reach to rural areas to support therapies? Do I really want to be the voice? 

I struggle to be organized--not something I will overcome in a week or so. A result of the stroke.
So I am having second thoughts.

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Jul. 12th, 2012

When we traveled last year to Seattle we spent a day at Pike's Market. What a wonderful, funky, fun and fabulous place to people watch, idea gather, and generally have some laughs with family who appreciate a wacky sense of humor. So this is one of the treasures we found.  We wanted to buy it but the vendor was nowhere to be found. We snapped this picture and had to settle for it instead.

Slut Shirt

Juicing mom

Anyone who knows my mom knows that she is a lawn/flower bed fanatic (understatement). From the earliest she can work the ground in spring until snow flies in fall she grooms, pulls, weeds, cuts, coaxes, waters, trims, mows and obsesses over her yard and flowers. The mowing happens every week, no matter what. In part, she has a reason for this. My oldest sister, who lives with my mom, was born with many physical issues--one of which is total deafness in one ear and only 50% hearing with a hearing aid in the other. This means she can't hear snakes in the grass--yes, my mom's house sits in an area that has rattlesnakes. In the last 25 years that they have lived there they have had, maybe, five incidents of snakes in the yard. One of which is legendary, involving the scared shitless snake slithering quickly away from the patio at the back of the house and up into the prized lilac bush in the back yard. It was then that my mother let loose into the bush 5 times with the .410 shotgun. Five TIMES!  Poor snake didn't have a chance and the lilac bush did not bloom the following year (no lie). So this has left my mother with a fear and intense desire to keep the grass short enough to see her garden hose. Her reasoning is that if she can't see her garden hoses she can't see a snake.

Okay.

But she also drives the riding mower like she's competing in the Indy 500 and the only thing between her and the next snake is mowing the shit out of the grass. She even admits that she mows it short. Folks, we are talking mowing the tops off the worm humps! In high gear. My dad used to have to repair the garden hose (he bough repair pieces by the gross) because she wouldn't move the hoses first and would cut the hose into pieces (this is really a whole 'nother story). Anyway, in spite of overdoing last weekend and getting heatstroke and having to go to the hospital for IV's and being sick for 3 days to recover, ol' granny was out mowing yesterday. And guess what?  She "got too close to the lilac bush" with the mower and gouged her arm open on a branch. (Read this to mean that she was driving like a bat out of hell and was cutting in as close as possible to the fugitive harboring bush)
Well, other sister-"B"-who-lives-next-door went to the rescue--she bandaged the arm and mother went back to mowing. No, we don't try to dissuade her. Useless act--we just hope nothing gets hurt too bad to recover.
Within 5 minutes my mother began to have an allergic reaction to something--hands and feet itching and lips tingling. She made a few more rounds (cause nothing says determined and stubborn like ignoring your body's needs) before stopping to finally "get a drink". This is when she realized she had no voice. And her lips felt weird. She made it inside and phoned next door for my sister B, squeaking out that she was having an allergic reaction. My sister B responded with perfect timing and had mother in to the ER (8 miles away) within 10 minutes of that phone call. Thank goodness.

So this is how my yesterday went:

Up early. Eat mushy cereal. Take dog for a walk. Load stuff in car. Call mom and sister. I finally left home about 9 am to run into town. For those of you who don't know, town is Dillon and it is 67 miles away. I had two important errands to run then planned to be home by noon to beat the heat. Home means no bank, or other amenities--we only have a small grocery and gas station out here.

An hour later I had literally turned off the highway into the town when my cell rang. It was my sister B, whom I had talked to earlier to arrange to meet she, my niece, my mother and other sister for lunch.  This sister B was calling to say my mother was in the ER. Good thing she was there to run to the rescue when our mother had turned red, quickly swollen up (whole body--hands, feet, ears, face, throat) in a severe anaphylactic reaction. She raced mom to the ER where they gave her drugs to counter it. It took many hours for the swelling to fully abate and her voice to return to normal so she had to stay for observation throughout the day. It was a life-threatening reaction and the quick reactions by my sister B (including driving like another Indy 500 participant--look out Danika or chip off the old block?) and the actions by the ER staff were literally life saving. Mom had only moments--lips swollen and purple-blue, arms visibly swelling like a body builders, buttons popping, clothes ripping...

She is going to be okay. Phew.

So. What I want to know is...did the Oompah Loompah's take her to the juicing room?

I asked.

The nurse just looked at me real strange.

What? It was a fair question!

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It Was Time. I Guess

So I fiddled with my LJ settings yesterday. Moved some links around. And I did something I had thought about but resisted doing. I removed a link for a very special friend of mine. This felt very unloyal and hard but I had to. See, I often would click on the link to jump to her journal and read the very last posting--nearly 3 years ago. Just shortly before her life was changed drastically and horribly by an accident. No, she's not dead, she hasn't left LJ. She is simply no longer herself like she was and cannot manage her interests like she did before. None of this was her fault, she is an innocent victim in life and now she's living her life in a way she would have never dreamed. And while I have tried to remain a friend, she isn't really able to respond to that either, and that leaves me and others wondering how we can still support her or be her friend when we aren't sure we are really helping to heal her or if our visits just upset and confuse her.
It was a selfish thing, removing her link, but also an affirmation that it was time to accept that change in her--our friendship--life. And now I can't torture myself with seeing her writings again and again at will. Nothing can make you forget the special people in your life.

Well, almost nothing.

Randomness randomly flashing

So, I am progressing in my recovery. Awake more, less drugs, eating a bit better (still soft foods but attempting to chew hard stuff like scrambled eggs--snark) I believe, today, I sound less like a stroke victim and more like Elmer Fudd. I think that is better--cartoon character verses the other is always better, right?
I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.

I tried a soft  mozzarella cheese stick for an afternoon snack. Have you ever fed peanut butter to a dog? Well, nice visual treat for you today.

I went to the bathroom to pee and clicked on the light then cleaned my teeth. I went back a little while later and peed. And turned the light off. Oh yeah, time to get off the drugs. It cannot be old age. Nope.

So, in my drugged and hazy meanderings the last few weeks, I watched the weather channel a lot. Well, I saw bits of it. Anyway, at one point the meteorologist was speaking about the forecast of violent thunderstorms with the possibility of dangerous lightening.

Hum...I wonder, when is lightening NOT dangerous? Is there a good time to play with or in lightening that they aren't telling us about? I mean, I have lived my whole life believing that all lightening is dangerous and now, now it is like learning the tooth fairy stole coins from wishing fountains to leave under the pillow.

I am adding SAFE lightening to my wish list.

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Three Weeks out from surgery

June 14, 2012: Three Weeks

I saw the surgeon yesterday.

Let me set the scene. We walked into a very cool office, filled with soft music and soft couches—one with a blanket for wrapping up in if you want and a flat screen TV. They checked me in and we had waited only moments when the nurse came to get us. She is very sweet, asking me how I was and commenting on how big a trouper I was on that day because the reaction was so severe and how she felt so terrible for me. All while she walked right back, past the normal exam rooms and into the back. Into the procedure/preoperative room. Do you hear the scary music?!

Right outside where they did the surgery. Jaws theme plays.  AHHHH!

I am not kidding you; I broke into a full body sweat.

We're gonna need a bigger boat.

My cotton shirt stuck to my back. My wind pants stuck to my legs. I could feel water running from my scalp outward-- my neck, temples, and forehead. My face got hot, my upper lip wet, glasses slid down slick nose. Yes, the doctor was very gentle while examining me—with the exception of pressing my chin upward once so that my teeth met and applied pressure to the bite. I did not swear. But he did morph into a bulky cave troll for a moment. And black spots appeared. My hair was wet.

I continued to sweat profusely. I had to apologize—it was embarrassing. But nothing I could control. The day before I had snapped a rubber band on the braces and BH had replaced it for me and the same physiological reaction happened. I thought, at home, that it was due to the pain of putting on the new band as it had to stretch and pull a bit for it to come on. Turns out, any “work” in the area of the mouth causes it. Geez.

Result of the day? The doctor is quite happy with the outcome—I get he feels a sense of pride in his workmanship. He was all smiles. He said, among many things, that for treatment for sleep apnea he needed to get at least 7 mm from the bottom jaw and since he got 13 mm he considers that a curative treatment. Of course, he said there is still swelling and that will take time to fully dissipate. I can now take anti-inflammatory drugs and that may help. Taking them before interferes in bone growth and they can cause more bleeding.

The “burning on fire” sensation in my lower lip is normal. As are the sparklers and zingers in the skin and muscles of the chin and jaw areas. He explained that nerves regenerate at a very slow rate and each level of healing is characterized by different sensations. So what I do feel now is within what he calls normal and I can expect it to continue to develop and change in terms of pain type and levels. Uh, good? I guess. Tough to get excited about more or different pain levels. I am just not at the place yet where I am happy about the surgery. I told him that. He said that is to be expected. Another six weeks, he thinks, when my energy levels are up and I am sleeping more normally (without nighttime drug pain relief) then he expects I will come to realize the type of sleep I get is better. And THAT level of sleep will, in turn, help increase my energy. Okay. You say so. We’ll talk then.

We also talked about my sleep in terms of not just how I am sleeping (without interruption except when BH wakes me in panic that I have died) but the duration. He confirmed my suspicions about sleep patterns and developing new ones. Yes, my sleep pattern and body are so adjusted to being sleep deprived that it will take, according to him, about 6 months to adjust to sleeping longer and develop a habit of the normal and healthy 6-8 hours. At that time we will do a home sleep study to determine just how much the apnea has “disappeared”.

I still have stitches in the upper and lower gums. He said they should begin to dissolve in the next 10-15 days. So water pik stays on low flow flush setting.

I have a nodule under my right eye that is hard. This side is also more swollen than the left. He explained that the nodule is actually the location of the plate and that it should go away as the swelling goes. If not, we will go back and remove the plate at a later date.

AND he removed the double banding of the jaws and also said I can begin taking the bands off during the day and trying to chew foods! FOOD!!!!!!!

Bring on the crunchy dill pickles! Cucumbers! Melon! MEAAAAAAT!

Rigggght. That really just means that you can practice moving the jaw up and down. Don't put any food in the teeth. You can’t feel them, they are in a new position, so you have no idea when they come together nor how hard you are pressing. But you find out fast if you press too hard or in the wrong place.

I promptly bit into my lip.

To bite down on food--a Ritz cracker—hurt like hell. The gums are numb but the roots of the teeth work, as do the muscles working it all. And they ZING when you bite. I know that I need to do more and use them more and they will toughen up but holy crap. So will be taking it slowly with this whole eating thing.  I did graduate from a baby spoon to a regular fork. PROGRESS!

In some weird way, removing the bands was scary. I know it wasn't going to happen but it was like I was afraid that without them my face would fall apart--a funny thought, I know, but it also tells me I am having some issues dealing with all this. My mental image was one of me, like Pinocchio without Geppetto to run the strings, flopping my lower jaw while trying to talk or chew. Didn’t happen. I am a real “boy”!

But the result? Well, the bands were doing the work for the muscles. Now they aren't. Guess what? My muscles were screaming by 10 am. Cannot wait to put them back on tonight. I have to sleep with them on.

I also woke with a headache--sinus. I think the antibiotics will kick back in tonight/tomorrow and it will help--still getting gross gunk out so know that the infection is still active. The day point 5 without drugs might have let it flare up more…again. This time I am on 10 more days and if it still isn’t cleared up we will do a different antibiotic for a longer time to “hit it hard”.

I was in the yard this morning and pulled some weeds from around my rose bushes. I guess it was about an hour. And walked around the yard with BH for a bit before that, but due to antibiotics need to avoid much exposure to sun—and I burn easy anyway.  I was well covered and wore a visor. We came in for lunch and it had been a bit too long since food so I was shaky. We ate and I cleaned my teeth, brushing the inside of them for the first time since surgery, gargled and crawled into bed to sleep for 2 hours. BH crawled in next to me and slept too.

We are still on an interrupted sleep pattern for my pain management. If we drug me at 10 PM then by 2:30 I need another dose. This requires sustenance so the drugs don’t make me ill. Then back to bed for another 4-5 hours as pain is tolerated. In between, I get up about every 2 hours due to hydration outcomes.

Yesterday was also a long day, no sleep during the travel and tiring/stressful to see the doctor. So while today should have felt like a celebration, I was kind of just dragging. I also notice that I am struggling with attention span and thoughts...I am way more random than usual. I think the drugs and constant pain are infringing. I hope that is the cause.

Anyway, I can lick my lips now, brush my teeth and use a regular eating utensil. I’ll take it.

C2-SA is gone now for her summer job. She left Tuesday afternoon. I miss her and have enjoyed the time over the past few weeks even as I struggled with recovery. In spite of it all, we laughed a lot. We plan to skype tonight. HB goes to work on Monday (it is Thursday now). I will be on my own then during the day. I wonder what kind of trouble I can get into??????

Two Weeks Post Surgery

TWO WEEKS

It has been two weeks since surgery. I speak much better, clearer, when the drugs are on board and working better. Who knew? This knowledge might have changed my graduate school experience considerably.

On the positive-- I can eat more solid foods!  This means applesauce, pureed fruit, hummus, mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, yogurt (gogurts are real good right now), pureed beans (think refried) and rice/steamed soft veggies ground into paste, frozen yogurt and drinking lots of juices. Also, ensure plus is my best friend right now. This ensures (heheh) I get protein and vitamins. Think baby food. And I use a baby spoon (Thursday—the two weeks mark, I was able to open the teeth enough to slip the spoon in (upside down) and scrape the paste off.  This quickly becomes painful and tiring but the more I try the more the muscles will adjust.

So --to put me back together on the top jaw they used two plates in an upside down "Y". They start just below my eye, the tail of the "Y" extends alongside my nose then at the top lip it branches out into the top of the "Y" extending across the top lip area--one on each side of the nose. All incisions for this are on the inside of the mouth. On the bottom jaw, the plates and screws are at the mid-cheek and I had a small incision on the outside each which have healed and will be invisible eventually. BH removed the stitches Tuesday morning. I also have incisions on the inside bottom...top and bottom they run along right where your gums meet the cheek.  The stitches will dissolve but as of yet have not done so. I think as the swelling decreases more they will loosen and "drop" away. Swelling visible on the outside translates to swelling on the inside--gums, roof of mouth, soft palate, glands, inside of nose and sinus cavities.

But, the swelling and bruising have decreased by about half. I still sleep sitting up but on less of an angle. I now only use two pillows stacked up and one for a "ramp" with another under my knees. One thing I hadn't thought about (and there are many things like this the dr's didn't mention) is no lying on my side. Cannot tolerate any pressure against the face. Not sure when that will change.
A funny story--BH woke the other night in a panic. He couldn't hear me. He shook me awake then said, "I thought you were dead." We had to laugh at that--relief as I think this means success on the surgery-- no apnea, no gasping recovery, snoring or worries that I will not wake up. Trust me--it was funny at the time!

I walk when I am on the good side of drugs and pain. Tonight I managed nearly 2 miles. My legs are eager--my face not so much. LOL. The pain does overwhelm and that is tiring.

I did fall to a sinus infection--during surgery blood seeps into the sinus cavities. Over the end of last week and on the weekend I was having hot flashes. I have never had them, though am of an age where I could expect them (sorry guys--TMI). I attributed it to reactions to the drugs or anesthesia. I also had periods of becoming very chilled when moving from one room to another but the two reactions did not occur together. Sounds silly when written down but I didn't put the two together as a symptom. Tuesday I woke to intense headache/pressure and no doubt what it was. The dr called it in and teacher child driving for it got me some antibiotics. Thursday evening I suddenly realized I had been flash-free for several hours and all time since then. Duh. No more hot flashes. Menopausal friends--if only it would work globally!

Challenging still? The management of pain. I was prepared for the intensity of the pain but not the duration. With the nerves "waking up" (the analogy is when your foot goes to sleep and you get the stinging pain when you walk it off)--this is a continual event in the chin, lower/upper lip and cheeks. Movement (talking, swallowing, touching (walking makes the teeth "click" together) creates little stingers that couple with those popping bubbles or fireworks you feel when the "sleepy foot is waking" without escape or end. Did you ever eat “pop rocks”? That. In your skin. All the time. Randomly.
 
Also, since the jaws are in a new position, all the muscles in the face are in new placement. This means ALL movement (smiling, swallowing, talking, and sometime in the future chewing) is causing those muscles to be used in new ways. They tire quickly and the soreness is incredible.  A side effect of the movement is swelling--which adds to the pain. I have a high tolerance for pain and admit to...not admitting to it much. THIS leaves me no choice and I have come to realize that acceptance of it and staying AHEAD of the pain is much better.

I saw the orthodontist Wednesday. No, I did not open my mouth. He used a little tool to gently look inside the cheeks checking the brackets, rubber bands, incisions, swelling and bite. He said all is perfect and where we planned and wanted it to be. I return to him in 6 weeks to begin the finite adjustments of the teeth. I see the surgeon on this coming Wednesday. He will change the rubber bands and our expectation is that the teeth will stay "closed" for another 4 weeks.

The way it works is that the rubber bands attach to the brace brackets and form a closed box--top right front to top right back, then down to bottom right back, bottom right front and back up to the top. Two heavy bands on each side. This ensure even pressure on front and back of jaw/teeth.  It also means that any movement of mouth in attempts to open encounter resistance.  Mouth resistance training!  But quickly tiring.

No blowing nose,coughing,sneezing, yawning or laying flat or on the side. Puking while banded shut creates what a friend described as the "spray effect". I still think they should have given points for force, power and distance.  I will forever be known to them as the “Spewing Champion”.

I warned them.

Bet they believe me now.

Grossness factor? No brushing my teeth on the inside. I use copious amounts of gargle (Dr recommended a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, mouthwash and a cup of warm water) and also a saltwater gargle to help the inside cheeks heal from the constant rubbing irritation of the rubber bands. I also use the water pik now, at a no spray low flow--it is a gentle rinse.  At issue with this (and with chewing) is that I cannot feel the inside cheek or gums and can damage them easily without knowing it. But still, no brushing. Ugh.

Things I have learned:

  1. Drugs are good. Liquid drugs are better.
  2. Don’t look down.
  3. Don’t bend over.
  4. Don’t blow, sneeze, cough, spew or yawn.
  5. No licking lips. Buy stock in lip balm.
  6. Doctors gloss over. A LOT.
  7. Doctors don’t know. A LOT.
  8. Ask the nurse.
  9. Use a baby toothbrush—softer bristles, smaller head.
  10. Adult bibs are highly under-rated. Comedic family members refer to ordinary dishtowels as * singsong baby voice * “Momma’s little bib”.
  11. Small things are big and big things small. The blanket touching the face is actually a metal rasp attempting to shred chunks out. Missed birthday or anniversary? No big deal when spouse brings protein drinks and drugs every three to four hours for more than a week, covers you up, kisses your forehead and worries themselves to a frazzle. Now THAT’S  love.
  12. If you don’t feel good, poop. Sound advice written by a student to his ailing teacher. It translates to all ages. This one is free. Take it. Use it. Tell your friends.
  13. Not all food should and can be pureed.
  14. Chewing is a valuable aid in eating satisfaction.
  15. Bite size is not small enough.
  16. Daily vitamins should not be crushed and mixed with applesauce if you ever plan to enjoy applesauce again.
  17. Colorful straws with the bendy sections are good but lips that are swollen and numb cannot suck no matter how much you bend the straw in any direction.
  18. Television: hunting, fishing and the weather channels are good to watch when you have the attention span of an ADD goldfish. No plot. News sucks.
  19. Cooking shows are not good fodder. There are NO shows focusing on the myriad ways to cook and enjoy broth.
  20. Bras make poor vomit receptacles. Your one good white bra, when worn during/after surgery in which blood will collect in the stomach, stains brown when spewed into.
  21. Clean underwear and sheets are underrated.
  22. Family loves you but they still make fun of your big lips. Slurred speech. Confusion over time/day/location.
  23. It is ok to swig back liquid drugs like a dehydrated wanderer in a dessert –then, like a participant at a weight watcher convention throws back an illicit chunk of delicious cheesecake, follow it with a juice chaser to swish the syrupy bitter aftertaste away.
  24. Sleep when you get tired.
  25. Beef consommé is better than beef broth. I don’t know why.
  26. Dogs get sad.
  27. Opposable thumbs should always work.
  28. Laughing hurts. A good hurt.
  29. Ear canals swell, too.
  30. Remember number 1 and 12.

Surgery rambling

So this is a sort of rambling account. I may go back later and clean it up. Or not. Typing is not easy. See why at the end.

For those of you out of the loop, I underwent surgery for upper and lower jaw advancement to treat severe sleep apnea...

Ok- back to the whole surgery thing. I would be lying to say that I am not feeling some trepidation at this. I know there is a bone graft involved. The surgery itself is not frightening. I have had those before. It is the recovery that is daunting. I hope that it is better than I imagine it to be.

I have laid in a supply of foods that include ensure plus, juices, broths, applesauce, hummus, yogurt, milkshakes, fruit smoothies and some other soft stuffs like cottage cheese, refried beans. Mostly they tell me to be prepared for foods that can go through a tube from a syringe for a week or so. Then on to soft things.  Wheee.

Written Later:

Today is Sunday and surgery was Thursday at 8 AM.  Surgery itself was better than expected—lasting only about 3 hours instead of the planned 4. After, they laid me flat, allowing me to breathe on my own for a while and they saw no apneas episodes. So the doctor was quite pleased at that positive outcome.

In addition, they were able to move the bottom jaw 13 mm, three more than expected and the top 8 mm or 5 more than expected. No bone graft was required. Again, celebrating as it has now double the volume of air that can move through the airway.

However, it soon became apparent that the recovery would not be so smooth. As soon as they began to reduce the anesthetic I became violently ill. Of course, this is the one huge fear we had and the topic of many conversations between us, the doctors and us and the anesthesiologist and doctors and us.

They allowed BH back to see me each hour but by 4 PM it was evident that I would not be allowed to recover according to the plan (at the surgery center). Much discussion ensued that I was not aware of and finally I was taken and admitted to Community hospital where they continued to administer IV fluids, antibiotics and a variety of anti-nauseas drugs. Nothing worked. By 2 AM Friday morning the decision was made to stop all drugs, including those for pain and to open and allow the IV’s to flush the system. Finally around 6 AM Friday morning the world-class spewing contest was over. I was declared the winner; nurses no longer came close with full gowns and facemasks wielding basins like shields. I understand I was awarded points on volume, distance, force and frequency. And really, who can hit those crappy little pink basins with total accuracy? It was nearly a 24 hour ordeal.

In the midst of this, poor BH fielded calls from my mom, sister, kids and some others but was pretty stressed and worried. I had drafted some texts for him to send out and he forgot all about them so they remained on the phone. Thursday night he slept on a cot in my room so to be close. The doctors were uncertain of what to do as they had given me everything they could possibly give me. Even the patch that worked last time was ineffective. He was as relieved as I when it finally abated.

Once I was finally awake enough to challenge the surgical doctor, he admitted that I was the worst case of anesthetic sensitivity he had seen in over 30 years of practice. The floor doctor at the hospital concurred, as did the administering anesthetist.

Told you so.

Anyway, Friday I progressed well through the morning, was able to take some broth and juice and keep it down so I was released to come home. We were in a small time frame as the surgeon was certain that Saturday would be a bad day, typical in that the swelling would peak and along with that would be the pain. He really wanted us home when it hit, as he felt that I would rest better. I just wanted the hell out.  So we came home.

I have to say he was right. Yesterday was bad. But this morning was better, then the afternoon was hard.  I think this is following a pretty typical case now.

My teeth are tightly rubber banded together so I cannot open them. I have a 2-ounce syringe that I use to dribble liquids into my mouth. We are now on a 3-hour rotation for food and drugs—I take drugs every 4 hours but it takes about an hour to get food in so they don’t make me sick se we start at the 3 hour mark. The surgeon says to do this for a week.  One, to be sure I get enough fluids and to not allow the pain to get ahead of the drugs. We did that once. Muscle spasms in the neck/face ensued and that ain’t fun, folks. The doctor said by the weeks end I should be able to progress to a soft chew diet like applesauce and cottage cheese. They showed BH how to replace my rubber bands should one break. He had to do so today after I had muscle spasms.

One saving grace is that they move the nerve bed when they do the surgery and then place it back when they are done. This creates an interruption in the feelings so the face is pretty numb at first. This helps with the pain. Over the coming days the nerves “wake up” and that sensation can be painful. That is some of what today was about. My neck, chin, lower lip and cheeks are basically “novacaine” numb. My upper lip woke up today. Swelling is extensive, from the base of the neck to my eyeballs. Pressure bandages were removed in the night Thursday as the spewing continued but normally they stay on for the first 24 hours. This pushes the swelling away from the incision sites and helps with pain. So my swelling is more generalized across the entire face instead of pushed out toward the back away from the center of the face and also into the lips.

And boy do I have lips. Bubba Gump lips. Desert camels and Joan River are jealous.

I have two small stitches on each cheek, for the incisions where they placed some plates and screws. The bruising is becoming colorful, even on the chest where they did sternum rubs to try to rouse me. I don’t think they were gentle but I wasn’t awake so…I believe the bruising. I am pretty purples, greens, yellows and all those in varying shades.

I see the surgeon again this Friday if things aren’t progressing well—if they are ok then we won’t go. Then the orthodontist next week and the surgeon on the 13th for sure. Then again a few weeks after that (I cannot recall exactly what he said) and again at 3 months.

I am able to talk—a mumbling short word communication. They have said the more I try and do it the faster I will recover. The only time I haven’t been able to talk was when I hollered with the muscle spasms. Hot compresses are my friends for that.

Really, the surgery and after stuff have been what I expected. Pain levels and all—of course, that is taking out the whole sick for a day thing.  The REST of it has been about what we thought it to be. The time involved in eating or drinking has been a surprise. Imagine, if you will, trying to eat with your face full of Novocain—tongue, lips, cheeks, chin. Then clench your teeth together and use a little tube to deliver liquids to your teeth, tipping your head back while you try to suck it between your teeth, swallow and not drown. At this point sliding the tub along the cheek isn’t a doable thing as the rubber bands and incisions are too sore and in the way. And it runs the liquids past the tongue, behind it, and has choked me up once or twice.

Coughing is not an option I like.

Really, the worst is behind us and now it is just recovery. Eat, sleep, drugs—don’t do anything stupid.

Right. I think when I go back I am going to tease the doctor that I want to come in again and have my boobs done next time. I wonder how fast he and his staff will run?

*His nurse said that at one point she walked into the recovery room and there were peas on the floor.  We had eaten at an Italian restaurant the night before (12 hours before) and my linguine had delicious peas in it. Apparently I digest slow. I find this like a funny karma thing. You give me drugs and I give you peas.  I hurl them at you.

Did I happen to mention that in addition to all this, on Monday I had a small home accident resulting in a thumb/wrist that has a bone chip and possible dislocation? I have an appointment to see the orthopedic doctor and so my left hand/wrist is in a splint. They want the swelling to go down before they do anything.

I also turned 45.

What a week.

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Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you ~ Nietzsche

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