Facing things: Day 7 post-surgery

OK, guys. Today is four weeks since my accident and one week since surgery. 

Throughout this process I’ve gotten so many comments about my wonderful attitude, and I confess it’s still there somewhere, but as I was getting dressed in yet another all-stretchy outfit suitable for lying around nearly all day, I realized that today I feel like a toddler who just wants to say NO to everything. No! No! No! 

I feel a bit like the cover photo above, a shot of the supports M installed last year to protect the tomatoes from hail. This year, the tomatoes have grown through them; the plants are so heavy that they broke the side of their protection. M put in a steel pole to shore up the wood, but the plants keep pulling the wood down, now driving the pole deeper into the ground. Growth and breakage working together and against one another. 

Here is my list of complaints today (written before my follow-up appointment and amended when I got home): 

  1. Losses: If I hadn’t had to have surgery, I would be feeling great today! Hey, if I hadn’t fallen, I’d REALLY be feeling great. I’m mourning the past me that would have lived in an alternate universe, where I would have enjoyed my staycation, taken up birdwatching this month, and finished out some work projects in a satisfying way. 
  2. Ennui: I’m restless and antsy and exhausted. True, I’m not your stereotypical Colorado keto-eating weekend warrior, but I have a really high energy level. I usually go go go. This is now four weeks that I just can’t. But I’m also bored with sitting around the house watching TV and listening to audiobooks (since even reading real books has been hard on my sore eyes). I’m not a napper — I think I have only taken 2-3 daytime naps during this entire four weeks — which makes it extra hard to pass the time. 
  3. Poor dogs: I’m tired of disappointing the dogs. We usually walk 2 miles every morning. Each day when I get dressed, they get all excited, and I have to tell them, “Not today, buddy.” I want to get out too, because I know it would help me feel better, but I just can’t. 
  4. Yoga: I’m bummed to have lost so much of the progress I’d made by doing regular yoga practice the last couple years. Right before this, I was stronger than I’ve been in a long time. I was almost ready to do crow pose! But I can’t really be upside down, and I’m too tired anyway, so I have to take a bunch of big steps back when I’m ready to restart yoga, which won’t be for at least a couple more weeks. 
  5. Discomfort that doesn’t even have a word: Oh, my face. I look funny. I have a yellow streak down the side. My left jaw has felt vaguely … tired … for four weeks. Everywhere from the left side of my mouth, through my cheek, my left nostril, my cheekbone, my temple, up through my eyebrow, feels … well, it hurts, yeah. It feels stiff from the swelling — I still can’t smile on that side. If I touch the skin, the skin is numb, but somehow it also hurts. And inside the skin, it feels tight, itchy, tingly, stinging. These symptoms are due to my banged-up infraorbital nerve, which “provides sensory innervation to the skin of the lower eyelid, side of the nose, moveable part of nasal septum, anterior [front] cheek and upper lip.” (A friend who is a speech language pathologist has offered to teach me some nerve rehab exercises to help revive the lil guy, but the very idea just pisses me off today. Maybe next week.)
  6. The numbness: Numbness from a knocked-out nerve feels like your body isn’t yours. Today my nose (which I still can’t blow, which is super fun at the end of two weeks of smoky air) felt like it was clogged up, but like, I can’t even tell exactly. Is that a crusty booger or is that my nose flesh? Luckily the hospital gave me a squirt bottle of saline solution, which I can spray in there to loosen things. (It was a crusty booger.)
  7. Antibiotics: I’m on cipromycin, a strong antibiotic that my system Does Not Like. The good news is that I’m not constipated from the opiates over the weekend … the bad news is that I’m the opposite of constipated. All the foods that are good for me to eat right now (soft diet, fruit smoothies, pureed vegetable soups, maybe some toast) are the opposite of what’s recommended to reduce digestive problems due to antibiotics — which apparently is, like, meat and rice? No, that is not happening right now. #cranky Update: Dr. D says I can stop taking it now! “They gave you a big dose at the hospital, and it’s been a good week.”
  8. Mouth stitches are so gross: I can feel the stitches inside my top lip; there’s a little loose thread dangling. I HATE dental issues. As a kid, my parents sometimes yanked out teeth by tying a thread to a doorknob; I had to have a dentist pull some of my baby teeth; and I’ve had to have a bunch of cosmetic work because, naturally, I have messed-up teeth with a bunch missing. When I got my wisdom teeth out (with just local anesthesia — what was that about?!) at age 29, I passed out one morning in the bathroom, and the dentist didn’t believe I was in severe pain until I came back in and they said, “Wow! That’s the worst infection I’ve ever seen!” My inner lip hurts, and I can’t even think about what’s happening in there without feeling queasy. Update: Dr. D says everything has healed well. She’ll remove any remaining stitches when I see her again in two weeks.
  9. Mouth rinse stinks: I still don’t like the mouth rinse at all. Update: I can stop using the rinse, Dr. D says, “Unless you like it, in which case go ahead.” Uh … no!
  10. Eye stitches are also gross: I’ve never had stitches where I could see them. At the corner of my eye, my skin is sort of puckery around the stitches and I can’t even. I’m going in today to have them out, thank God. Update: Stitches are gone. Now I can get the area wet and soak off the line of crusty little scabs.
  11. Having stitches out is gross: There are at least 15 stitches. That is a lot of snipping and pulling on the skin around my eye. Update: It wasn’t too awful. Lots of deep breaths. Taking off the Steri-Strips was the worst — ouch!
  12. My head hurts: I have a headache. Tired of it. 
  13. My period: It started. Because of course it did. All the more irritating because I’m edging through The Change and hadn’t had one in months and months. 
  14. The bills: They haven’t even come in yet. I don’t like the idea of paying the $6,000 or whatever I have to pay (and maybe more!), and I really don’t like waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Update: Ambulance bill is down to $600 (from $1,550). … Yay?
  15. Dread about my eye: I have a bunch of questions for the doctor. Like, my eye will close again all the way, right? Currently, when I shower, water leaks in. I think that’s because of the stitches. I hope. Like, am I crazy or is my eye still not sitting right? I hope that’s because I haven’t healed, and not because I’ll need more surgery later. Cross that bridge when I come to it. Update: Dr. D advised seeing the oculoplastic surgeon, Dr. S., in about a month. She says he’ll probably want to do something cosmetic, but she’d think we should wait 3-6 months … which is of course long enough for me to have a new health insurance deductible.
  16. Dread about my teeth: I have a dental appointment scheduled in late September. I didn’t knock out any teeth, but are they OK? I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, too. 
  17. Too many bridges: I dislike perhaps nothing more than uncertainty and waiting, and I have a lot of bridges ahead of me, waiting to reveal themselves only when I cross them. 

Yesterday I was able to get back to my daily qigong practice, which was nice. It’s a bit of movement and a bit of community (it’s an online Zoom class since the pandemic). I was fairly peaceful throughout, except one movement, which is called punching the dragon, when I found myself punching the imaginary dragon hard and thinking “No! No! No!” and crying a little. 

Day by day, bridge by bridge. Maybe today’s a good day to make a [beet (contains iron) chocolate (contains chocolate) cake / Irish whiskey milkshake / coffee milkshake with no booze because I thought we had whiskey but we don’t and even though that’s a better choice it’s a bit disappointing] and wait for tomorrow. 

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  1. Tracy
    August 31

    St. Teresa always said “paco a paco.” Little by little! Or as the great Bill Murray was told: baby steps 😘. Brave girl keep stepping!

    • Susanna
      August 31

      Baby steps!! You are so right. 🙂

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