Facing Things: Day 4-5 post-surgery

Written on Wednesday, August 26, 5 days after surgery and 26 days after my accident.

Tuesday report

Good sleep last night. After the headache on Sunday night, I didn’t take oxy all day yesterday but took it at 10 pm. At 4 am just took TAD (Tylenol + Advil).

Woke at 7. No problem opening my eye today, a nice contrast still from the crustiness the first day or so. I feel a little sore somewhere in my upper lip, which probably means it’s waking up. My bruises seem to be already turning yellow/green, which I hope is a good sign that I’ve already hit peak bruising. We’ll see—could be there’s just a different color pattern when bruises come from duress rather than a direct hit. 

I’m far less swollen than I was on Sunday. My cheek is still numb on the surface, but underneath I feel pressure when I touch it, and it’s periodically tingling and zinging, so the nerve is alive. My nose is less numb. My top lip still feels fat and numb, but it’s tingling too. 

Wednesday update

Here we are — another day. I woke up easy enough but I’m still really tired. 

Honestly, the antibiotic is the bane of my existence right now. I’m supposed to take it three times a day, every eight hours. That, combined with pain meds that I can take every six hours, is a real pain in the ass. I’ve worked out my schedule to take both of them at around 10 PM. Then I just take the antibiotic when I wake up, but it means I have to wake up to take it before I might want to wake up—but I wake up already behind schedule. I can’t take the antibiotic like I do my pain meds—sit up, swallow the pills, and go back to sleep—because I’m supposed to take the antibiotic “with plenty of water“ and am not supposed to lie down for at least 10 to 15 minutes after I take it.

Oh—and I also have a chlorhexidine gluconate rinse. Chlorhexidine is a germ-killing solution that dentists prescribe to fight gingivitis, but I have it to keep the incision in my mouth clean. It tastes like strong mint mouthwash but leaves a metallic taste. I’m supposed to rinse with that after breakfast and at bedtime, which is all well and good. BUT I’m not supposed to use it right after brushing AND I’m not supposed to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after using it. Which means that basically just when food and drink are my only comfort/pleasure, and I’m taking pills on this weird overlapping schedule, I’m supposed to somehow eat breakfast, brush my teeth, wait 30 minutes, rinse with the chlorhexidine, wait more time, take pills. At bedtime last night, I forgot to brush early enough so I rinsed shortly after and hoped for the best. But then I couldn’t drink my usual cup of bedtime herbal tea because of the rinse. (If you violate this rule, the chlorhexidine punishes you by making the water or beverage taste super bitter.)

You know there’s no way most people are sticking to this routine! I’m a hyperorganized, regimented, rule-following maniac, so if I’m struggling, it’s tough.

Anyway, last night I took my pills at 10, sat up in bed and listened to an audiobook for about 15 minutes with the heat pack on my neck, and then went to sleep propped up on my three pillows. At 4 AM, my alarm went off so I could take more pain pills. I got out of bed, hit the restroom, took the pills, and lay down on my right side, still propped up, to return to sleep. At 7:20, I woke up when M crept into the room to say goodbye before he headed to work. I dragged myself out of bed and took the antibiotic, fed the dogs, and made myself breakfast—a smoothie and a cup of coffee. Now it’s 8:30 and I’m still working on the breakfast. I’d like to go back to sleep, but at 10 I need to take my next round of pain medicine, and I think it’s still a good idea to stay on schedule. I’m not in any severe pain but at times I have a sharper heavy pain at the cheek bone in my temple, the cheekbone under my eye, or in my mouth. But perhaps at 10 I’ll take a nap. 

Today’s look

My bruising continues to evolve. Starting yesterday, my face looks like I rubbed buttercups over the left side, which at least sounds like I had a lovely day rolling around in a sunny field somewhere.

My eye looks like a Frankenstein eye—I count at least 15 stitches beneath it—but the bruising from the initial fall, which used to look like I had a thick line of plum eyeliner right above my lashes and a bruise below my browbone, has mostly faded away to some deep pink splotches here and there.

My cheekbone is yellow-brown, but it’s hard to see the bruising because it’s covered in a collage of Steri-Strips. I think the Steri-Strips are actually below the incision, probably to hold everything so I can’t stretch or pull at my eye, either with my finger or just by wiggling my muscles.

This morning, the yellowish bruising extends again to the opposite side of the bridge of my nose—just inside my right eye. Even the lower part of my left eyeball is a little yellowish, which I can only assume is also residual bruising. But my eye is only a tiny bit tender when I move my eyeball now. On Monday, it actively hurt to move my eyeball around, so this is real progress!

Dragon lady

Let’s end with a story. I keep thinking about Yassi, the OR nurse who came in to introduce herself a few minutes before I went into surgery on Friday night. Mark liked her, but I thought she was kinda mean. She cut me off when I talked, which I didn’t appreciate—I preferred the warm chattiness of Lia, the preop nurse. M said Yassi is probably Israeli (I couldn’t figure out her accent), and then I could see it—a military badass.

Yassi stood by my bed, looking over my medication list. I was eyeing her many tattoos—a collection of really cool, realistic images of a snake skeleton wrapping around her right arm and several fishes swimming up the left, when she barked, “Marijuana? Every day?!”

I had included my microdoses of mostly CBD with a dash of THC on my medication list after diligently looking up all my meds and eliminating most of my supplementary supports for two weeks before surgery. Turmeric? Causes blood thinning; it’s out. Baby aspirin? Ditto. Fish oil? Same. Propranolol, the beta-blocker prescribed as an emergency anxiety relief, too. I read that it’s super important to be open about CBD and THC because it can affect the way anesthesia works in your body. People who smoke marijuana daily may require more anesthesia, which is not only more expensive but tougher to manage. 

“Yes, I take up to a quarter dose daily for anxiety—edibles only, and usually only 1.5 mg at a time,” I explained. (For the neophytes out there—and I’m using this term loosely because I am no stoner—a “dose” in retail marijuana is measured at 10 mg. I haven’t the foggiest idea how that relates to a puff on a bong or whatever, but again: not a stoner and operating legally in my state, with full knowledge and agreement of my NP who manages my meds. In a nutshell, though I suppose I’d test positive for THC, my mind hasn’t been altered by THC since the 1990s.) 

Yassi shook her head vigorously. “People who smoke marijuana every day—“

“I never smoke or vape,” I interrupted.

“Whatever. They come out of the anesthesia like—“ Yassi waved her arms ferociously— “a dragon lady!” 

Luckily, since she was the OR nurse, I was unconscious basically the entire time she worked with me. 

After I woke up in recovery, I remembered what she said and took offense all over again. (This is probably the most on-brand thing I could do, besides researching everything I needed to prepare for my surgery and more—to remember and be offended while still only semi-conscious.) 

The first thing I did as I came to was to secure my eyeglasses, which I’d been worried about the OR team losing because they made such a big deal about how they would carefully label them and put them in my chart.

The second thing was to ask the recovery nurses, “How did I come out of anesthesia?” 

“Oh, really easy, actually. Pretty fast, half-hour or so; maybe a little silly,” one of them answered.

I giggled. 

“Just like that!” The other said. 

Dragon lady, indeed.

Dragon lady.

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