The musings of a final year medical student

Friday, 11 September 2015

6 weeks after double jaw surgery

Another week has gone by, but it has still been a challenge!

I am loving university life, but it is extremely challenging whilst I am recovering. I have no energy in the evenings and I am already a bit behind. I need to sit down and write up notes on 5 lectures this weekend. It has made me really upset to see my friends going out for meals and nights out whilst I stay at home. Fortunately my boyfriend has moved up to uni so I am less lonely now in the evenings. And this may be TMI to some people, but I have to honest about the recovery for it to be worth discussing: kissing isn't great. I still don't have full sensation of my upper lip, so it feels strange.... and to put it politely, I cannot do any 'passionate' kisses. You know what I mean. 

Today has been a particularly challenging one because for some reason my left jaw has been very painful. I haven't taken painkillers for a while now but today I had pain even when I wasn't talking or eating, so I had some paracetamol in the morning. The pain only got worse throughout the day. I now find eating even more difficult, and for some reason swallowing is painful. I've had some codeine this evening which has made me quite drowsy, but only given a subtle improvement. I have no other symptoms and the swelling is still going down nicely. However, if this pain persists or worsens in the next 24hrs I will ring the on call maxfax doctor and ask for advice. 

Food wise, I am still on sloppy solids. I have had a lot of Bisto microwave cottage pies which are very salty but yummy. In addition I have had lots of Angel delight, spaghetti hoops, canned ravioli in tomato sauce (cut up) and Smash. I also had a Mcflurry the other day which was great! However, I am only having the solids when I am in the house. It is too embarrassing to eat them in public; this is because I am constantly wiping my mouth, it takes ages which isn't practical because my weekdays are so hectic and I still dribble. I even feel embarrassed eating the solids in front of my boyfriend. I feel like a freak. When I eat these foods, there is no chewing involved. I can barely fit a whole teaspoon in my mouth, and then I swallow the food whole. So my food routine is currently as follows:
Breakfast - porridge or banana custard smoothie
Mid morning - large latte (thank God I can still have coffee!!!)
Lunch - chocolate milk
Dinner - cottage pie
Pudding - Angel Delight (it's all about the butterscotch flavour ;) )

In terms of sensation everything is back to normal except my upper lip lacks full mobility and my upper gums and palate are completely numb. One thing I forgot to mention is that every now and then I get a strange jerky sensation in my jaw, like a small twinge. They hurt but they don't happen too often. Sometimes it gets very cold and when my teeth chatter it absolutely kills. 

Most of the time my mood is great because I have lovely friends who keep my spirits up. However, I do get what I would describe as 'depressive episodes' where I feel trapped in a sea of negative thoughts. Sometimes you just can't think of things in a positive light. I am so bloody fed up of people saying "It'll get better". WHEN WILL IT GET BETTER. TELL ME THAT. IT HAS BEEN 6 WEEKS AND IT DOESN'T FEEL ANY BETTER. When will I be myself again. When will I no longer fight back tears as I try to eat a quarter of a teaspoon of mashed potato. 

It's important to stress that throughout the recovery of this operation I have relied so heavily on others. Initially I needed my mum to sort out all my pain relief for me and give me food. Once you are independent and can do things for yourself, the emotional support required is invaluable. I am so grateful for all my family, friends and my boyfriend for all the kind words and positivity they have given me. It would have been impossible without them.

So far at uni I have had one week of paediatric pharmacology and birth defects followed by a week of neuro. Seeing all the birth defects makes you wonder how anyone is brave enough to have kids when so much can go wrong, even if the stats are tiny. I also had a lecturer who insists we should read 50 pages of Kumar & Clark's Clinical Medicine PER DAY which is insane. If you study medicine you will understand! I am absolutely loving the course; everything seems to have a purpose now that we are starting all the pathology this year. 

Today MPs voted against the assisted dying bill which I am furious about. Blogpost on that to follow. For now, I am curling up with Angel Delight and a very reassuring and patient boyfriend who is managing to put up with my bad moods very well! 

My best attempt of an open-mouthed smile


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