The musings of a final year medical student

Sunday, 30 August 2015

4 weeks post double jaw surgery.

Every week I'm tempted to start the post with 'Wow!'. But honestly, so much seems to happen as each week passes by.

I am amazed that 4 weeks ago I had my jaws broken and repositioned in a 5 hour operation... I still find it hard to believe.

I need to be honest. Last week, I mentioned some wobbles in my mood. This week has been far worse. I wanted to shy away from words like 'depressed' or 'desperate', but that is the honest truth. And that is the whole point of documenting this recovery process. There have been days or certain moments where I have felt incredibly helpless, depressed, distraught and frustrated. I have had very negative thoughts at times. I have thought about not eating or not getting up in the morning because "What's the point?". 

I'll elaborate further. I was lucky enough to go on holiday with my family last week to Spain. Both the surgeon and orthodontist were confident that this wouldn't be an issue. It just meant that I missed one week of appointments. And physically, I am recovering extremely well. 

On our travel day out to Spain, it was very hard to have enough liquids. I calculated that I only managed 523 calories that day. The problem was I never wanted to drink as then I would need a wee. And that's not always fun when you're on the window seat of a crowded EasyJet plane, or at the stinky, un-cleaned airport loos. I'm sorry, but when it comes to toilets I am unashamedly fussy. 

Each day the family would go to markets, supermarkets, tapas restaurants and ice cream parlours. I tried initially to go along with them, but it felt too painful watching them eat all that nice food! I also really enjoy speaking Spanish, but I was so self conscious of my elastics that I didn't want to talk to anyone. My Dad would constantly nag me to go out to dinner with them, which eventually led to me bursting into tears. I was so cross because I LOVE going out. I love spending time with my family. I wanted to do just that. But I honestly felt like I couldn't, I felt too embarrassed. I would get tired very quickly, or my jaw would start to ache after a day of trying to talk. Even at our villa, watching them have BBQ steaks and banana whilst I sipped on canned chicken soup was not fun. As I describe it to you now, it doesn't seem like much. It's just food. But honestly, I had quite a few breakdowns of uncontrollable sobbing. I want my life back. In that sense, I'm not a very good patient! I want to go out, be active, meet new people. I'm an extrovert and I like being busy. But the physical pain, emotional pain and embarrassment takes away those joys. There were times where I thought: "What's the point of living like this?".

The trip home was similar, but this time I didn't even touch 500 calories. I just wanted to crawl into bed. We had to drop my Granny home, and at her house our extended family were waiting to meet us. It was lovely to see them, but I felt uncomfortable with the attention. I kept raising my hand to my face, and then realising it was pointless. My granny kept asking why I wouldn't let her make me a smoothie, but I was not going to sit down and let all my family watch me slurp and dribble whilst they tucked in on fresh homemade cakes and chocolate-dipped strawberries. 

One of my elastics had snapped that morning so I just wanted to get home and try to put a new one on. This absolutely failed. My orthodontist told me to take a picture and then just "figure it out" if this ever were to happen. It's impossible! I can't get to the back of my mouth, the broken elastics won't come away. I'm trying to ring the maxfax on call doctors at my hospital and see if they can fix it. This frustration prompted another meltdown. 

I start medical school on 1st September and I'm scared. Scared because I won't be able to go out or have meals with my medic friends, but I don't want to be lonely. I also don't want them to pity me or feel like they have to look after me. I want to go out and enjoy my life, but I really do feel like a prisoner to my recovery. I understand that that does sound incredibly over-dramatic, but it is truly how I feel. I want the old me back; that never stops talking, goes out all the time and always has an opinion to share. Plus, the old Kate loved her food!! 

In many ways I was completely unprepared for this operation. Yes, I knew I'd be in hospital around 3 days, that the first 3 days are the worst, liquid diet for approximately 6-8 weeks, elastics for 6 weeks roughly..... But I had no idea it would have such a psychological effect. I really hope anyone undergoing this surgery thinks long and hard about it before making a decision. I still don't think I could do this again. 

Above: day 22

Above: day 23
Above: day 26
Above: day 28


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