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Oral Surgery, finally

            After Mom’s emergency second hip surgery, to revise the hip replacement that was put in two months earlier, my oral surgery was rescheduled to late August. I already had my medical clearances in place, and all of the medications I’d need for before and after the surgery, and the oral surgeon had already given me a rundown of what to expect after surgery: like, bleeding from the nose, swelling of the sinuses, bruising on my face, and a possible lisp because the temporary (3D printed) implant would leave a small space between the device and my gums. Oh, and I wouldn’t be allowed to blow my nose, or accidentally sneeze, for three weeks, because that would make the swelling worse.

“I know how to avoid sneezing.”

            My biggest fear leading up to the surgery itself, though, was the anesthesia. The surgeon had told me that they wouldn’t decide until the day of the surgery whether I’d be getting sedation or general anesthesia. He was voting for general anesthesia, because it would make his life easier, but I thought sedation might mean I could avoid having a foreign object shoved down my throat, so I was hoping for sedation. When I finally spoke to the anesthesiologist, a few days before the surgery, she told me that I’d have a tube down my throat either way, to protect my airway, and that general anesthesia would be better for the surgeon and easier on my throat. And I’d be unconscious when she put the tube in and took it out, so that might mitigate my fear of choking. I hoped she was right.

Then she asked me, with no warning, if I had access to an adult undergarment, i.e. depends, because if not they could supply one for me when I got there. What?! She said that I might pee under anesthesia and everyone would prefer it, including me and the staff, if I didn’t leave a puddle.

Eek!

First of all, no, I don’t have adult undergarments hanging around on a shelf – except for Cricket’s adorable pink reusable diaper from her incontinence episode, which would just about fit over my hand. Second, how did no one think to mention this to me ahead of time? Or maybe they kept it quiet because they thought this would be the deal breaker. As it is, the adult undergarment became my number one preoccupation for the whole weekend leading up to the surgery – who cares about pain! What if I pee on myself?!

When I met the anesthesiologist in person, she was lovely and friendly and way too energetic for someone who was about to put me to sleep. She gave me the adult undergarment to change into in the bathroom, under my loose clothing (aka pajamas), and then I was whisked into the surgical suite, where my legs were wrapped in anti-blood clot sleeves, and monitors were attached to my fingers, and my hair was covered with a surgical bonnet so it wouldn’t get sticky (?!), and then a needle was put into the back of my hand, and then I have no idea.

I woke up in the same room, with the same people removing the things they’d attached just seconds before (though I found out later that five hours had passed). Most of my thoughts when I first woke up, strangely enough, were in Hebrew. Where’s Mom? What happened? When can I go home? I couldn’t actually speak yet, because my mouth was filled with gauze, and my throat was rough, and I had ice packs wrapped around my face, but I found myself translating everything into English anyway, as if they could hear me and answer me. The closest I came to being able to communicate was a grunt or two and a thumbs up or down, though as I was leaving in my wheelchair the surgeon decided to give me a fist bump.

I don’t really remember the trip home, except that Mom brought out her rarely-used walker and our neighbor, the nurse, to help me walk from the car up to the apartment. I spent the rest of the evening in front of the TV, changing out the bloody gauze until my mouth stopped bleeding (mostly), and going to the bathroom every twenty minutes (I couldn’t find an explanation for the excess peeing online, especially since I could barely sip enough water to take my pain meds, but it receded along with the excess bleeding).

I didn’t sleep much that first night, because my nose kept running – the surgeon said it was fluid from my sinuses, and blood, rather than traditional snot, but either way it made it hard to breathe – and I had to refreeze the ice packs for my face constantly, and my mouth hurt, and every time I moved my head it all hurt even more. I was able to take the dogs out the next morning, though, wearing a loose face mask to try and cover my swollen cheeks, but I managed to forget my house keys and had to ring the doorbell for Mom to let us back in anyway.

The pain was so much worse than I’d been expecting, so I had to give in and take some of the oxycodone I’d been prescribed, but mostly I survived on ibuprofen and ice and the coziness of my puppy pile.

To make things worse, it turned out that my Mom, who had been having trouble breathing over the weekend and assumed at first that it was just an allergy thing, went to the doctor on my first day post-surgery and started treatment for a possible case of Pneumonia. The next day she went for a chest x-ray, which ruled out pneumonia, which meant that on my second full day post-surgery I was driving Mom to the emergency room so they could rule out a blood clot. She stayed in the hospital overnight, getting all kinds of tests, and was told that she had fluid in the right lobe of her lungs and some kind of hardening of the lung tissue, which would be investigated further with a Bronchoscopy (under general anesthesia, a week later, just to keep things fun).

The next day, while Mom was still finishing up her tests at the hospital, I drove myself back to the surgeon’s office to have my temporary implant put in. By then my cheeks were starting to deflate and had turned all sorts of interesting colors, but my face mask allowed me to feel largely invisible, until I had to take it off to be examined by various assistants. There was a lot of sitting and waiting, between examinations, and then the surgeon screwed in the temporary implant, using what seemed to me like a tiny Allen wrench. He made sure to tell me not to swallow anything during the procedure, which was helpful, because when he was finished screwing everything in place there was still one tiny screw sitting on my tongue.

When I got home, I wrapped my face in ice again (they gave me a cool little headband that wraps around my head, with pockets for the ice packs, which was much more comfortable than holding ice packs on my face with both hands), and I watched the recording of my online Hebrew class a day late, so jealous of everyone on the screen. Mom came home with updates on her hospital stay and then it was nap time, for everyone, puppies especially.

“Sorry, Mommy. No room for you.”

Each day the pain and swelling has receded a bit more, and I’ve started to figure out how to chew with my new teeth, and how to deal with the temporary lisp (ignore it). The freezer is filled with bought and homemade soft foods, like soups and casseroles, and, of course ice cream, so there’s a lot to look forward to. And when the permanent implant comes, in a few months, it’s supposed to fit better than the temporary one (eliminating the lisping issue), and be made of stronger material (to allow me to eat more than just soft food), so if I can make it through the next few months with some self-esteem left, I should be okay long term.

And pretty soon, I’ll be back in front of the classroom, with no time to worry about how weird I look or sound, because the kids will have so many more important things to focus on, like: He pulled my hair! She stole my favorite pencil! Can I go to the bathroom, even though I just went five minutes ago and I’m definitely not looking for an excuse to wander around the building, please?!

Wish me luck!

“Are you going away again?!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

90 responses »

  1. Sending good vibes your way. I hope you make phenomenal progress and improved quality of life!

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  2. Oh my. What an ordeal. Glad you’re on the other side of it. Must be that pup pile 💜 I have been slipping into that caregiving role with my Mom too. It is not always an easy thing. Here’s a great resource I found:
    http://www.gretchenstaebler.com
    Hope the recovery is swift and without incident.

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  3. Sounds like so far so good–and I hope it stays that way! I hope your Mom is OK, too. I think Cricket needs more chicken treats for watching over the both of you so very well.

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  4. Wow, and I thought MY dental procedure for a crown a few months ago was bad. (The dentist apologized by saying, “sorry for the waterboarding.”) Wishing you and your mother the best.

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  5. Oh my gosh, what an adventure for all of you! I am so happy things are improving and I hope you’re back to your regularly scheduled life soon!

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  6. My goodness! It sounds like a cross between a mechanical repair and surgery. I hope your recovery continues along a favorable timeline. Blessings to your mother, as well.

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  7. I’m glad it all got done for you! I hope your recovery is quick (and your mom’s as well). Oh, I bet the “extra peeing” was due to all the intravenous fluids you got over 5 hours!

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  8. Best of recovery and luck! Thank you for telling your story! XXX

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  9. Oh my, Rachel, what a traumatic experience. But bravo for going through with it, including dealing with your mother’s unexpected health needs, and to be able to write about it even with a few bits of humor. Slowly but surely the healing process will progress and you will reap the rewards of all this agony. Here’s hoping the healing time goes very quickly.

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  10. Whoa! Intense experience. Glad you are on the other side of it ❤️

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  11. Hope the recovery goes smoothly. And I do hope it’s nothing serious with your mom. Hugs.

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  12. Oh my! I think you survived this ordeal much better than I would have! (It was even hard for me to read, of course I am a total wimp.) Continued healing to you and your mom!

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  13. You’ll soon be fine and forget all about it.

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  14. What is the first food you want to eat when you get your permanent implants? I always crave caramels when I can’t have them.

    Hooray that this ordeal is finally behind you! ❤️💕

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  15. My goodness, what an ordeal, but it seems to be worth it in the end.

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  16. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

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  17. Good luck and wishing you an easy recovery!

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  18. Oh my, Rachel, you’ve been through a lot! Your explanations are graphic! I can feel your pain and imagine the scare of having your mom needing your care while you’re needing hers. Dear Gid, be with Rachel as she continues to heal and give her & her mom back their original strength! 🙏🏽❤️🙏🏽❤️

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  19. You poor Mum, and poor you after your own trauma. I know the pee syndrome…… I got caught the first time when I had my lumpectomy and thought I had it sussed when I had my mastectomy as I went to the loo before walking to the operating theatre. No dice. It still happened.
    Hope everything is on schedule for reduction in swelling and comfort in the jaw. Take care.

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  20. I like how you share the details including the information a lot of people might gloss over. I hope your recuperation continues and your recovery is complete soon.

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  21. You deserve the best of luck. I hope your tongue is long enough to avoid sneezing

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  22. OMG Rachel, that sounds like a dreadful experience but I’m sure the end result will all be worth it. Thank heavens for your wonderful dogs to help you through the process. Sending you supportive thoughts.

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  23. You poor wee soul Rachel. I had an idea it would be brutal and it was. Thank heavens you had the anaesthetic. You have a great positive attitude. I hope you and your mum make quick recoveries.

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  24. I hope both you and your Mom are feeling much better now, Rachel.

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  25. Sending you and your mom bear hugs
    ʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっʕっ•ᴥ•ʔっ

    Reply
  26. Wow. I’d say you’ve been through the worst of it, and quite bravely, I might add. I cringed at your descriptions of everything you went through. And now your poor Mom!! You two just can’t seem to catch a break lately. Prayers for you both.

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  27. Since I had been off line for August, I went back and caught up on your posts that I missed. What a lot of turmoil in such a short time. I send you and your mother lots of love. I pray that your mouth heals and that the procedure does help.
    Peace.

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  28. Well you have been through a LOT with all the dental work and with your Mum’s difficulties as well. Bravo to you for having come through it all with such a good grace. 💕💕

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  29. Rachel, thank you for the first person account of being a patient. In my book, Carrying The Black Bag, I tried to provide such accounts but you did it so well. Hope you are recovering well.

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  30. Overwhelmed reading this. Heal fast

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  31. So I love that your first post op thoughts were in Hebrew!! That said, I think you are absolutely amazing to be out and about helping care for you Mom two days after your had major surgery and anesthesia. Glad the pups are there to offer you lots of cuddles as you heal.

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  32. Geez, that’s quite a process for oral surgery. As someone who sneezes often, I don’t think I’d be able to curb that. But the adult diaper question, I’d feel insulted if I wasn’t over 70 and was asked that. I realize incontinence can happen at any age but still.

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  33. It sounds like the surgery went well and you simply need to sit back and wait … Good luck! I will have cataract surgery in 2 weeks and, of course, am nervous about it. I’ve been reassured by many of my friends who have gone through it that it is painless, and that immediately after it, you can see lots clearer!

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  34. Wishing you and your mom a healthy and pain-free September!

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  35. I’m reading this a few days after you posted it, so I hope you and your Mom are doing a few days exponentially better. I’m so impressed you did this–it seemed like such a big thing to anticipate.

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  36. Good luck with your recovery!

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  37. Wow, what an ordeal!
    Glad you’re on the mend, and hopefully your mom will be fine. It always seems like everything hits at once. Happens here as well.

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  38. I’m glad that ordeal is over! You were a real trooper…. I hope you heal quickly!

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  39. Keeping you and your mom in my thoughts and prayers. Glad you have the pups to encourage you!

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  40. Brave souls—all four of you. Wishing you all the very best for some l uninterrupted healing time filled with goodies and no medical concerns!

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  41. oh my hang in there!!! 💖💖💖

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  42. Woof! What an ordeal!!

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  43. You are incredibly resilient and gifted with a sense of humor. 💝

    Reply

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