My life has been reduced to eating from a syringe and frozen vegetables held against my face to help with the swelling, but am I ever glad to be home.
I was released from the hospital at approximately 6pm yesterday evening after my surgeon was able to see me at around 4:30pm. She seemed visibily surprised by the shape that I was in, and was impressed when I scribbled on my notepad everything that I had consumed that day. As much as I could, I nodded in response to her statement that I seemed to really want to go home so after a quick check in my mouth to make sure things looked good (they did) she left me to find the nurses to have me discharged.
Thursday night in the hospital wasn’t as bad as I feared – I was starting to feel a little sore from moving my head and my jaw so I agreed to painkillers to help me sleep. My new best friend quickly became Cheryl the night nurse who was very attentive – I didn’t even mind that she woke me up almost every hour and a half or so because she seemed so concerned that I wasn’t in any pain. Around 6:30 Friday morning Cheryl came in and woke me up and told me to watch my eyes, that she was turning on the lights because we had work to do. The first thing she did was unravel the gauze dressing that padded my jaw and extended up around my head – it was a bit of a struggle when she was trying to get my hair from the tape and I feared that we were going to have to cut my hair but Cheryl persevered and left my hair in tact. She then removed my catheter which was the most discomfort that I’d had in the hospital (it’s presence and it’s removal) and after it was out, she grinned at me and said I wasn’t going to believe how good peeing on my own was going to feel.
A couple of hours later when Cheryl had left and the day nurse came in, I asked if I could do just that, and after 24 hours of not being able to get out of bed I was able to stand and make my way to the bathroom. And was Cheryl ever right.
That first trip to the bathroom was the first time I got to see myself in the mirror though and I very quickly had to chase away the feelings of panic and uncertainty that rose up in me when I stared back at my puffy, swollen face. I gingerly touched my cheeks and my jaw and reminded myself that what I was staring at was post-op surgery swelling and not how I was going to look in a few days when the swelling went down.
I think the thing I learned the most quickly about myself being in the hospital is how frustrated I got when I couldn’t do things for myself – it sucks being an invalid and laying around waiting for people to wait on you. But once I was shown how to unhook my IV and given the okay to get up whenever I wanted, I was in much better spirits for the rest of the day. I was more tired my second day then my first (post surgery) and when Tay showed up early in the afternoon (with my requested hairbrush and Ipod), I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon while he sat beside my bed and played Nintendo. I would open my eyes every so often to find him watching me sleep and then I’d drift again.
When we left the hospital last night, we stopped at my usual pharmacy to get my prescriptions filled but Tay returned to the car fairly quickly and said that they didn’t have my anti-biotics so we ended up going across the street to the Shoppers where we were told the wait would be 15 minutes. I slowly wandered the aisles looking for things I’d need (2 kinds of lip balm, soups) and feeling tired, I returned to sit in the waiting area for my prescriptions. 30 minutes later I was starting to get uncomfortable and feeling some discomfort so I looked at Tay and indicated as best as I could that the pharmacy needed to hurry up. We finally left the Shoppers an hour later and by the time we got home, I was very tired, very hungry and wanting to get food into my stomach so I could start my medications and get to bed. I threw a small, impatient, frustrated tantrum while Tay was on the phone with his father (thanking him on my behalf for the beautiful bouquet that his family had sent) and I was trying to make soup and figure out my tylenol dosage. Those few moments last night were the worst of it, and I think I’ve been mostly good since then, at least in the sense that I’ve gained back my independence and have been able to administer my own drugs.
I went to bed around 9, slept fairly restlessly but woke up at 4am feeling the best that I’ve felt so far. I could feel that my face felt differently and when I raised my fingers to my cheeks and jaw, I could feel the swelling had gone down – when I got up to check in the mirror, I could see for myself that it had gone down and I could very clearly see (despite some of the remaining swelling) the shape that my face is going to take once the swelling disappears completely. I was relieved by the sight and those few moments alone last night was enough to reassure me despite waking up this morning to more swelling, which my surgeon had warned me about.
Today’s swelling has been the worst so far, despite the ice packs on my face all day and it’s been awkward trying to talk. I’m still in no pain though, which is surprising everyone (including my surgeon) and the only pain medication I’m on is regular Tylenol, which I take every 4 hours. I also take oral antibiotics at the same time, and rinse my mouth out with salt-water. It’s an unpleasant twenty minutes or so as the antibiotics taste disgusting, but I’ve got the order down pat (antibiotics, Tylenol, saltwater rinse) so that I’m not left with the taste of the anti-biotics in my mouth.
The first thing I did this morning was to weigh myself – last Saturday morning during my weekly weigh in I was 157, but in the final days leading up to my surgery I made it a point to eat all my favorite things. Wednesday night’s meal was sinful – Kat and I started off with an order of cheese toast and Mushrooms Neptune (mushrooms stuffed with cream cheese and crab) and a strawberry daiquiri for me while Kat sipped on an orange martini while we waited for the others to arrive. Once Tay, Dave and Jackie arrived we ordered ANOTHER order of mushrooms which we ate with our ceasar salads. Finally, after prime rib, a baked potato, sauteed mushrooms and a glass of red wine, I was sufficiently full and turned down dessert but was not surprised to weight myself the next morning and see the scale read 159lbs.
Today, when I got on the scale, I weighed in at 155.5. Not exactly my method of choice to lose 3.5lbs in two days, but I got look for the positive in this whole experience :).
I was also able to shower this morning, shampooed and conditioned my hair and then dried it with the hairdryer which did wonders for making me feeling better. Put on fresh pajamas and promptly painted my toenails, which had been bare since the morning of my surgery. Any little thing I could do to make myself feel better, I’ve done and it seems to be helping. In fact, while curled on the couch reading this afternoon, I couldn’t really accept that I had at least a couple of weeks where that was all I had to do and that I wasn’t going back to work next week.
So all in all..doing okay. Relieved to know that my surgeon is happy and that everything went as well as it could.
Love and thanks to Tay for his care, concern and vigilance and his guest blogging to keep everyone up-to-date…and to everyone for their comments, calls and their wishes to visit – I’m sure I’ll be eager for the company in another day or so when the swelling goes down and I can talk a little better :).