Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 7: When all else fails, take a nap

Napping is officially my new favourite pastime - in fact it's become a necessity.  While I'm eating (and by eating I mean drinking) lots each day and getting some exercise, I need to remember that my body is still healing and getting over surgery and that I shouldn't push myself.  Luckily for me, Cindi reminds me of the fact that I need to rest and she has also joined the napping club.  

Today was no exception as my morning involved a lot more exercise that the previous few days.  We took a short drive to the local Medicare office to claim some of the money back on my surgical fees.  Medicare is the national health system in Australia which partly funds medical costs for all citizens (very different to Medicare in the U.S).  By the time we returned it was time for another early afternoon nap.  The evening was spent walking into Newtown (my local area) and even stopping for a quick beer at the local pub which I did not think I would be doing only seven days after surgery.

A friend popped over for dinner in the evening which consisted of take away food from the local Italian restaurant - and I even got my dinner from there as well.  You'd be surprised at what you can blend for dinner and it's been interesting testing out some new recipes, but more on that in a later post.

I'm now 3kg down in weight from the day I went for surgery, so that will be something to watch as the days go by.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 6: Pumpkin and spice and all things nice

I'm really happy to say that having major jaw surgery has not stopped me from being able to drink coffee, albeit through a straw.  And what a treat that my friend Cindi bought pumpkin spiced coffee with her all the way from California.  It's really become a lovely treat in the morning.

Today I ventured out for another walk (with my trusty minder in tow) for around 10 minutes and once again I was exhausted, but glad to be out and getting some sunshine and exercise.  My doctor had said that it will take some time for my energy to return and considering only six days had passed since my surgery I was not too worried.  Then we settled in for our afternoon/evening on the couch to watch movies.

No photo updates today but just thought I'd keep you up to date with my progress.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 5: It's all yellow

Today I've noticed a couple of things:

  • I'm becoming very bruised on my arms, neck and chest - a good sign that my body is healing.
  • My face is starting to tingle in different places and there is an itch I cannot scratch.
  • The shape of my face is changing each day and I wonder what the final result will be.
  • I absolutely need a shave although I'm also liking this rugged, manly look on me.


I'm getting quite used to this whole liquid diet and the weight is dropping off pretty quickly.  If there is one suggestion I can make to anyone about to go through this surgery, it is to bulk up beforehand.  I purposely put on 5kg (11 pounds), but I'm losing it pretty quickly and feel like I should be writing a Bridget Jones style diary: 

OK, maybe not.

Today I participated in a little outdoor exercise as I felt that the swelling had gone down enough to not make children scream.  And by a little bit of exercise I mean walking to the car and back.  This completely exhausted me.  Although Cindi and I are packing lots of nutrients into my smoothies we realised that I need more protein - cue an online order of 1kg of whey protein isolate.  We are by no means nutritionists - although Cindi does know a lot about health, but packing more protein and fibre into my liquid meals will ensure that I feel satisfied for longer while at the same time giving sustained energy release.  Compare that to sugars and carbohydrates that give a quick burst of energy that then decline rather rapidly.

Anyhow here is an updated photo of how I am looking so far.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 4: I wish they all could be California girls

Monday was very exciting as it was the day my amazing friend Cindi arrived from California.  Cindi has travelled all this way to take care of me for my first two weeks of recovery.  I said it before and I'll say it again - I'm lucky to have such amazing people in my life.  A friend of mine who stayed the previous night went to the airport to pick her up and in no time at all they had arrived back at my apartment.

Cindi and I have become a little spoilt recently with the frequency of seeing each other.  The last time was only four months ago in June when I surprised her at her home in California for her birthday.  And only six months before that I had spent Christmas and New Year at her home.  Regardless of only four months passing though, we drank coffee and talked for as long as we both could.  Cindi of course was quite tired (it's a long journey from her home in Napa to Sydney) so we both took long naps. 

In terms of my recovery - my sinuses are still very congested and I'm finding it a little difficult to breathe through my nose.  My face and neck are still swollen but I am in no pain.  I have no energy though so am trying to take my recovery as slowly as I can.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 3: There's no place like home

Sunday - three days after surgery and I was ready to go home.  In fact not only was I ready to go home, but I just had to get out of that hospital.  The food was boring, the bed was uncomfortable and I was completely bored!  I must have seen the same daytime TV shows over and over again and while I had brought my laptop, I had left my hard drive at home with all of my movies.

Luckily for me, the checkout process is just as fast as the check-in.  The nurse came and removed the valve from my hand and I removed (rather painfully) all of the sticky pads from my chest.  I packed (how did I end up with so much stuff) and waited for some friends to come by and pick me up.  I had time for a couple of selfies before I was collecting my drugs and on my way home.

Finally I was back in my own apartment and it felt good!  I made a smoothie before sleeping on and off for the remainder of the day.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 2: Oh what a (terrible) night

So I wish I could say that my first night in the ward was uneventful but it was actually quite scary.

Throughout the first day after surgery I had been experiencing reflux - this had made my already swollen and sore throat worse and in turn limited how much I could comfortably breathe.  The weird thing was that I kept feeling as if there was a lump at the back of my mouth that I couldn't swallow.  As my nose and sinuses were also completely blocked, it didn't make a great combination.

Late at night as I was trying to drop off to sleep, I suddenly felt as if the swelling in my throat was too much and I couldn't breathe properly.  I started to work myself into a panic where my heart was racing and I was sweating profusely.  I pressed the call button for the nurse who took all of my stats, but by that point I think I had worked myself up too much.  A doctor also visited and listened to my breathing and assured me there were no obstructions, but again this did not help.  It didn't fill me with a huge amount of confidence that neither the doctor or nurse seemed to know the actual surgical procedures I had been through - they knew I had jaw surgery but did not know that included a septoplasty, which when you are complaining about breathing problems would be very important to know.  And while I don't want to speak badly of the hospital staff - I was in a panic and yet the while all this was going on I felt as if the nurse would disappear for 10-20 minutes at a time while I was feeling as if I would pass out.

Finally at 1am, I asked if they could call my surgeon as I felt I needed his advice.  Around ten minutes later the nurse returned after having spoken to my surgeon who said that this was a normal reaction and that I could use a nose spray to try and relieve the pressure in my sinuses.  After hearing the advice that came from my surgeon I relaxed as I feel very confident in his care.  I finally calmed down and dropped off to sleep a couple of hours later.

In the morning my surgeon came to visit and I of course apologised for having him be woken up - he didnt seem phased at all.  I told him about the lump I could feel at the back of my mouth and he said this was soft tissue that is left hanging because my upper jaw was moved back.  Apparently it will tighten over time.  Knowing what it was instantly made me feel better.  He said that I could leave the hospital that day if I wanted to as they generally want you to leave as soon as you can (less chance of infection at home), but if I felt like I needed to I could also stay another night.  I decided to stay another night as I didn't quite feel ready to go home.

After he left I had the compression bandages taken off my face which relieved a lot of the pressure.  It did give my face a lot more space to swell though and swell it did!

I am not an animal, I am a human being, I am a man!

My drips and lines were also disconnected just leaving a valve in my hand - this added a great level of freedom as it meant I no longer needed to wheel around a whole bunch of equipment.   During the day I had some more visitors and my friends Luke and Sheryn dropped off some lovely flowers and books.  My other friends also returned with balloons.  I'm lucky to have such great people around me.

More updates to come....

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 1: Let me sleep!

I had slept on and off throughout the night in intensive care and by very early the next morning the place certainly was a hive of activity.  I always seemed to have someone poking or prodding me - either taking my blood pressure and other stats, putting antibiotics or fluids into one of the three lines in my arm or moving me around.  Of course they were only doing their job and making sure that I was well, but it was still really tiring!  To help ease the discomfort though I had my handy self-administered morphine, which I could press every 5 minutes giving me 1ml morphine each time.  Good times!

At some point early in the morning I was moved from my bed to a reclining chair before I was finally able to sleep for a while.

My surgeon came to see me mid-morning and told me that the operation was a great success and that they achieved all they wanted to.  If I remember correctly he said my upper jaw was moved both upwards and backwards 5mm in each direction, my lower jaw was extended forwards 11mm and my chin was repositioned outwards and downwards.  He also said that I had some bone loss in one area of my jaw and he used bovine bone in place of my own which my body would accept and fuse with my own bone.  His parting words to the team were that they could remove both the gastric tube and the catheter.  While it was not a very pleasant experience having either of them removed, I'll spare you those gory details and just say that I was happy once it was over!

After lunchtime I was transferred to a ward where I had a private room and I got to have my first liquid meal of fibre milk, clear consomm√© and water.  I also looked at myself properly in the mirror for the first time - it was not a pretty sight.  Everything was swollen and bruised - my face, cheeks, lips, neck and my arms where the lines were inserted.  On the inside everything was swollen too including my gums and throat - of course this is to be expected after major jaw surgery.

Sing to me, my angel of music!

I was feeling very weak so lots of rest and sleep were in order.  Having to wheel around a drip and grapple with five sets of lines each time I wanted to use the bathroom was tiring in itself.  Later on that afternoon Frankie came to see me in hospital followed by my friends Gerry, John, Jack and Daniel.  They brought me a lovely robe and lots of magazines to keep me occupied.  After another liquid meal I bedded down to try and sleep off the discomfort.