Monday, December 17, 2012

Breakout from the Hotel California

Perspective is a funny thing.

Just when you simplify things in your mind, or underestimate the difference it can make in the scheme of things, it sneaks up on you and takes your breath away, completely revamping your view, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for the rest of your life.

The morning of my surgery, the shooting in Connecticut happened.
It was so shocking and wicked I could hardly process it.
I was already feeling anxious that morning, and fearful of my jaw breaking in surgery, and making a stern effort to not let my PTSD get the better of me.  I was feeling sorry for myself, whilst trying to maintain my inner strength and prevent myself from having a panic attack.

And when I heard that a school was shot-up, and children the ages of my nephews and nieces murdered in cold blood and terrorized, my heart fell out of my chest.
I felt so helpless in the face of the overwhelming evil that this world can continue to come up with, and it paralleled my feeling of uncontrollability going into surgery, and taking a risk and not knowing the outcome.

I wanted to crumple beneath my desk and wail, but my body instinctively responded with resolve.
For some reason the Gettysburg Address came to mind--
We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.
I don’t know the higher purpose that the slaughter of innocent children can serve, but there is one.  There will be one.
And as for me, the suffering that I’ve undergone the last 2 years with metal implants in my jaw I was allergic to, shall not have been in vain either.
I am making it my goal to spread the word any way I can about implant allergies, their symptoms, my experience, and any information I can give to prevent others from going through needless pain.

It seems egocentric and a bit high-minded to tie a tragedy to my own surgery, but because they happened within hours of each other, they will always be linked together somehow in my mind.

About my surgery:
It went well. It went better than we could have hoped.
I’d like to attribute part of this to the fact that I threatened the doctor as he was putting me to sleep (I looked him in the eye and said “If you break my jaw, I will find you, and I will kill you”), but admittedly, the credit lies with his skill in surgery.  He isn’t good at diagnostics, and he’s a prick, but he is dexterous with a scalpel.

He took everything out of my jaw and packed cadaver bone into the holes he created.
I woke up during the surgery again, and it was painful and disorienting, but I held on.

And I felt an immediate difference after the surgery.
I read, for people with implant allergies that had the implant removed, that although it takes 6 months to a year for your body to return to normal and heal itself, many patients feel an immediate difference.

I have.
Right after the surgery I felt like a 5 pound barbell that has been dangling off my jaw was removed, and I didn’t even know it had been there—I was so used to it.
The boils and painful skin outbreaks I’ve been suffering, particularly along my jawline, have practically vanished overnight.
I just feel lighter, healthier, and more “me” than I have in a long time.  I can’t even explain it.
Although it is easy to slip into frustration and anger, at the fact that I’ve spent so much time suffering when this could have been taken care of ages ago, or even prevented to begin with, I am staying positive and just enjoying the sensation of relief.

Even the day after having surgery, I was less swollen in my jaw and face than I have been for the last year.  It is nothing short of miraculous.
And I’m back at work today. 
God really is great.

I have had an unbelievable amount of support from family and friends, and cannot begin to express my gratitude.  When I left for my surgery on Friday, my good friend and co-worker came to my department to escort me downstairs.  My entire department gave me a card they had signed and a gift card to Coldstone ice cream (knowing I would be on a soft food diet after surgery).  I was very touched.
I had many visitors and well-wishers after the procedure, and on Saturday was able to sit back and just feel blessed as I held an ice pack to my face and ate the banana bread my brother cooked for me while watching my nephew and niece seek the candies Eli and I hung on our Christmas tree for them to find.  Most of my in-laws came to see us and brought us supper, along with balloons, and a picture my nephew drew of Eli and I, proclaiming us the “best aunt and uncle ever!”
I laid in bed that night, holding my husband’s hand, crying tears of joy and saying “we did it. We made it through.”  After being sick for years and getting no diagnosis, besides being labeled a crazy hypochondriac, we got an answer and had the surgery to make it right.  And he stuck with me through it all.

This last weekend has made me realize that it should be a reflex that upon inhaling, we exhale gratitude,

And that gratitude is not just is own, self-contained quality, but the mother of innumerable other virtues.
We forget these things, and that's okay because something will come along to make us remember.  And although that something may not be easy, and could come in the form of pain or tragedy, it brings perspective, and perspective teaches us to tell those that we love that we love them, and helps us to appreciate the little moments.

I can honestly say I feel like I’ve been in the Hotel California for 2 years and have just broken out.
And baby, it feels good.
Like a face lift for my soul.

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