Monday, 23 May 2016

The Plastic Saga II : A Consult Occurs.

I've written about my need for plastic surgery before. The other day I saw the surgeon and he ran us through the procedure; the necessity for it, the specifics of it, the errors that are present in my face. I will attempt to fill you all in on the facts, in super basic terms...
For both my operations I had to have my head sliced open. The cut was a question mark shape – from my hairline towards the back of my head, then back in on itself, then it ended just in front of my ear. You can just about see the scar if I push my fringe back; there's a fine line where hair won't grow and the skin surface is a little glossy. Then beside my left ear there's a little line of bubbles, a short stretch of shiny skin, but that's it. Doctors love to look at the scar, each bit of it, and comment on how neat it is. That's the word. Neat. They're amazed I got to keep the majority of my hair, that it is well concealed, nicely healed. 


For the past year or so, the year since my second op, I've had a somewhat problematic face. I had CSF escape through a hole of sorts between my bone and skin, so I essentially had a water balloon attached to my forehead for a few months post-op. I didn't mind. Much. It was quirky. Unfortunately it delayed my further treatment – for radiotherapy I needed a mask fitted to my exact facial specifications, and so I needed to wait for the fluid to dissipate. Very frustrating.

Long story short, when the CSF finally retreated after it was scared enough with an aspiration procedure and my general impatient hatred, I was left with a radio-ready face and...a dip.
A depression. A cavern. A hole. A defect. A dent. 
I have a cheeky heap of chub in the left side of my face, and then a hole above it, on my forehead, under my fringe. This is because there's no muscle where that hole is. Not any more. It's just skin over bone. It feels a little empty up there.
A little empty, but not that much of a bother to me. No, I am bothered far far more by the chub.
The heap. The jut. The lump. The wall. 
It makes my face uneven. Makes it wider. It moves when I chew, or clench my jaw. My clicky jaw. It sticks out in photos when I'm not prepared and don't do my carefully planned pose – that still doesn't hide it but makes me look a tiny bit less odd. It sticks out in photos when I'm genuinely smiling and don't care...until I see them later on. The only good point, really, is that it's made my left eyebrow curl in slightly more stylishly. 

It all made sense at the consult the other day. The muscle, the temporalis, is this huge fan-shaped mass that had to be cut through when I was operated on, twice. I've had compliments on the strength of that muscle from my surgeon. I blame my constant talking. One of my many surgery-related jokes.
So anyway, the temporalis has had to be 'peeled back' (consultant's words) a couple of times and the second time it was done it wasn't quite put back the right way. It's still folded over a little, under my skin, hence the jutting lumps. It needs to be 'hoisted up' (consultant's words).

The plastic surgeon wants to operate with my neurosurgeon at his side, in case anything goes wrong. He claims his part will be easy, however there could be complications what with the fluid and the hole in my skull, etc. etc.
I picture the two surgeons side by side in the pristine operating theatre, pulling on their plastic gloves and prepping for a team effort. Singing duets throughout, no doubt, and high-fiving when one of them aces a move. No no, I joke, I bet they'd be painfully serious throughout. They'd out-serious one another over and over. 

I have to be cut the same way as before, almost. Along the same scar. Now isn't it funny how we don't remember the exact feeling of pain, a pain we had once, we simply remember it hurting like hell. 
I remember being reclined in the passenger seat on my way home, eyes tightly shut, world spinning. I remember being readmitted to hospital at 6am after the ambulance had to come round the night before. I remember jerking in my sleep. I remember the private room. I remember retching constantly, the cardboard bowls in my hands filling up with next to nothing and the nurses observing. I remember the headaches, the inescapable pain, although I cannot remember the feel of them I remember the effect they had. I remember relying on oral morphine every two hours, I remember leaving hospital the second time with a bag of prescribed painkillers and a pat on the shoulder, I remember the overwhelming feeling that has been present ever since – if I have to go through this pain again, if someone tells me it needs to happen, I will quit. I won't do it. I cry when I think about it; when I imagine the prospect, the promise of pain. But I don't remember the actual feel of the pain.

So yes, I've lost control. Almost. Yet again. Once again my life is in the hands of medical professionals – maybe not as much, not as seriously, as it has been before, but...
A surgeon will have to help me out again, a hospital will have to put me up again, nurses will have to take care of me again, my friends will have to check in on me again, my family will have to be brave again, my blog will serve as my outlet again (oh no wait, that's the norm)...my life will have to be put on hold again.
Not as badly. But still. It will happen. I'll have to press pause. I'm out of it.
I'm applying for jobs now, easing myself back in, making long-term plans. I'm hoping to travel, to visit people and places I love. I don't want to delay that again, put things off for another year.
But...I want my face sorted.

I want to look in a mirror and be satisfied – maybe even delighted. I want this, I want to look like me again, and I want to be me again. This thing I have has taken so much of me away over the past two years, it's instilled so much fear in my heart as well as pain in my head, and now it's time to get me back. But to do that I suppose I have to go back. To being a patient. A perfectly polite and positive patient. A hopeful patient. A brave patient. I can do that. 

1 comment

  1. Grace, your write beautifully, I hope after the op you feel as lovely as you are x

    ReplyDelete

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