Tuesday, March 5, 2013

there's an Elephant sitting on my face!

Hello!  I am sorry for taking so long to get to this update.  Honestly, the first week was so intense I couldn't focus on anything beyond "the Elephant sitting on my face."


Warning!!:  pictures are self portraits on phone.

Today is day 13 since surgery.  I must say I was so happy with the care I received at UNC Hospital.  Because of my past experiences with University Hospitals, I was very nervous as to the care I was going to receive post op.  They were incredible. 

Day of Surgery:
I was supposed to check in at 6:30 am with surgery scheduled for 8:30am.  At 8:28am they were rolling me back for surgery ... during the prep procedures learned my surgeon actually planned for me surgery to take 7 hrs rather than 5 hrs as previously stated.  Before they rolled me into the OR, the anesthesiologist put something to "relax me" in my IV, they put me on the OR table, I remember seeing a funny "O" pillow on the table, and that is all I remember until they were rolling me into my hospital room.  Because it is a teaching hospital, apparently there was a whole team of Residents looking at my mouth in the hospital room but thankfully I have no memory of that.  One of my major points of anxiety was the fact that most of the people I heard from who had gone through the surgery had major issues with nausea following the surgery... happy to say I had absolutely non of that!  Another area of anxiety was how the first night would go.  The Chief Resident Surgeon who was assisting, told me before hand "the first night will be the hardest."    After I was settled in my room, Henry left to get the kids and get them settled at home- that was at 8pm.  So, I was left to the care of my nurse who had other patients to work with as well.  That night went smoothly- my wonderful nurse Erin was there when I needed her with compassion. I was pleasantly surprised she could understand my "speech."  My face was wrapped with a compression mask (jaw bra) and ice packs, teeth banded shut and felt like an elephant was sitting on it. My lower jaw was achy and my neck muscles were very sore.  Pain meds took care of that.  I had to push myself to drink water but knew it was part of getting to go home.

Next morning they got me out of bed and took me to the Dental Clinic for x-rays.  Wow!  I got to see immediate results of the surgery.  Maxilla and Mandibular advancement with Genioplasty- pulling the tongue muscle forward 1cm.   My new airway was truly amazing.  How was I breathing before?  While trying to eat breakfast, I realized my tongue was numb, as well as my cheeks, lips, and chin.  Basically everything from my eyes down to my jaw line was completely numb.  Throughout the day I was able to get up, walk around, and take in fluids on my own.  So, when my surgeon came to check on me (his team of residents visited me at least 3 times throughout the day) he remarked how well I was doing and asked if I was anxious to get home.  Yes, I wanted to get home to my bed and family so he agreed to release me that night so, basically 24 hrs later I was on my way home.

Day 2:
Woke up to see the children before they were off to school.  They were not sure what to do with me :)  They kept looking at me like they were waiting for anything to happen... my face to pop off or something.  I think everyone was amazed how large my lips were... even I didn't think they could get any larger.

Flowers I got to look at while recovering that first week when I could do was sit and breath through the discomfort.

Day 4:
My face is a constant faucet.  The drooling is completely at a new high. Nose bleeds are constant and annoying.  I actually needed to get OUT of the house.  Took a short walk down the street, the kids were outside playing with friends, when Christa saw me, she called out "Hey everyone come an look at our mom!"  Apparently I didn't scare anyone too much.

Day 6:
 This is the worse bruising I had on my face.... pretty amazing to me.  My arms are black and blue from IVs but my face has only a slight yellow hue around the jaw line and neck.  Sores on the corner of my mouth are bothersome but the constant drool makes it impossible for them to heal.

Friend Stephanie came and took me to a movie: Safe Haven ... was pleasantly surprised by ending, glad it ended differently than most Nick Sparks movies.  That is why you will notice a bit of eyeliner and mascara.

Day 7:
Check up with surgeon.  Everything looked great... not infection.  Weight loss: 10 lbs.  Nights have been very rough because of congestion and pressure.... did I mention "the Elephant sitting my face?"  Well, he's still sitting there.  Dr. suctioned my nose and mouth.  Didn't feel great but was definitely worth the discomfort when he was finished.  I could BREATH!!!!  Up to this point I was still feeling pain in my lower jaw and breathing was difficult because I couldn't breath through my nose and everything in my mouth was swollen, breathing through my mouth made my mouth uncomfortably dry.  No more JAW BRA!!! and 1 less band on my teeth during the day!!!! YAY!  Next Dr. appt. 2 weeks.

Day 9:  
Melody came and took me out for quick errands and a little girl time.  Nose bleeds have gotten much better :)

Day 13:

So, I received 2 emails over the past couple days requesting updates... See, I was just really waiting to see if anyone was looking at the blog :)

I promise the next picture I will make more of an effort to not look like a pale face!  This has to be the longest I have gone without wearing make up since I was 16 yrs old.  Loving my new jaw line and chin.  Numbness:  still numb from eyes down- as if you made a vertical line from the outer corner of my eyes all the way down to my chin and all the space in between.  My bottom lip and chin are completely numb they began "itching" a couple days ago so I am hoping this means feeling is coming.  The left half of my tongue is numb but tingling today so that is good.

                 Swelling: definitely decreased...this picture seems to make it less obvious.. angle and lighting I think.  The swelling you cant really see remains around my nose and mouth.  Drooling has slightly decreased.  Still can't make my lips seal so this is contributing to the drool factor.  Since about day 8 I haven't had to take the strong pain meds and sleeping had definitely gotten better.  The Diet however is getting OLD!!!

See, I rewarded you with the longest post ever!!!



  1. You look fantastic!!! Congrats on making it through. Reading your post is such a flashback to my surgery. Well done and it only gets better from here:)

  2. Thank you Amanda!! How is your numbness? From your most recent post you look completely "healed." I remember at some point in your posts you mentioned how intense the process was.... you are so right! As well as I thought I had mentally prepared myself, I was completely thrown by the first week.


  3. Oh Rissa! You sound amazing. I did miss the start of the blog. I'm here now!!! I got side tracked with sickness and school starting for little miss. So, wow! I wish I were there to bring you flowers and take you out for girl time. Hang in there!! I love you!

    1. Dear friend! I wish I could be there to see Miss M in all her glory :) I feel the love.... hope to see you soon.

  4. Hi Nerissa, I have few questions, can I email you?
    Thank you!

  5. Hello Hannah:
    So sorry it has taken me this long to see comments. Yes, you may email me with surgery questions: nbehrman@bellsouth.net