Post-Op Update #1
I am recovering in our rented New York apartment now from my long day at the hospital yesterday. (You can read my pre-op post here) I’m still extremely tired, swollen, and weak. (I’ll have my mom proofread this to make sure I don’t make any ridiculous typos in my medicated state.)
Yesterday, my mom and I arrived at the hospital at 10am to meet with my surgeon, Dr. Waner of the Vascular Birthmark Institute, and go over the game plan. There was approximately 10% of the venous malformation left in the upper half of my cheek, that could not be extracted through an incision because it was dangerously close to my eye and nerves.
- The most prominent part of the surgery was the “hitch” that was put in place to bring up the left side of my lip by a few millimeters. The mass of the venous malformation put pressure on the bones on the left side of my face for 19 years, so that side was not symmetrical with my right. The “hitch” involved an incision next to my left eye, a hole drilled into the bone to guide a synthetic material to the corner of my mouth. An incision at my mouth attached this to a muscle, to pull up the corner.
- The doctor used a laser treatment to attack the remaining veins, as well as smooth out my scar line from my previous surgery. This caused some major swelling and will have to be repeated in the future.
- The surgery in July removed a large portion of muscle that was replaced with a fat graft. After the swelling from that surgery subsided, it was clear that a little too much fat was left by my upper lip, and this time the doctor removed this bulkiness through the inside of my mouth.
- Facial Nerve Monitoring ensured that I would not have the same nerve paralysis as last time; in July, the nerve branches were stretched so much that they were temporarily paralyzed and I had no left side facial movement for a few months. Thankfully, that is not the case this time, and my nerves can continue to gain their strength back as I regain my facial expressions.
- Unfortunately, I was intending to have my nose corrected in this surgery because it had been pushed over to the right side of my face from the pressure over the years as well. However, Dr. Waner’s main concern was to remove the malformation and extra tissue, and said the Rhinoplasty would have to be performed at a later time with the help of another specialist.
Now I rest at home. Because my eye is swollen shut, I mainly want to rest and sleep but I do have plenty to keep me busy when I get bored. Gilmore Girls, books, my goodies from Fernanda’s care package in my previous post, and yes that is coffee in my water bottle. Even though I’m on a soft-food diet for 10 days, the doctor didn’t say anything about restricting coffee! I’m hoping to get outside tomorrow and maybe even walk over to Central Park the day after that. Fresh air does the body good, I just need to have enough energy to get there and back.
Thank you for your concern and messages; I look forward to reading them :)
New York News
The main purpose of our trip to Manhattan is my surgery this afternoon, but we had a day and a half to have some fun first! My mom and I were joined by our neighbors and friends Susan and Willy for a week in the city. After arriving yesterday evening we walked around Times Square (coffee in hand) in the rain. It’s still every bit as crowded and beautiful in the wet and cold night!
Sunday was gray and rainy in New York City but we were determined to go to The View restaurant for brunch, 47 floors up the Marriot hotel with a view of the city buildings and Hudson River. It was a gorgeous atmosphere with such great foods, we had to sample everything!
After brunch we walked around the enormous Macy’s tried on some way-over-budget dresses and enjoyed the decorated store windows. Once again it started raining on us and we walked 25 blocks back to our apartment soaking wet. All still fun though :)
Today I will undergo my second surgery this year on my venous malformation (extra veins that formed in all of the tissues and muscles on the side of my face). In July, my surgeon removed a huge portion of the malformation, and replaced some of the area with a fat graft. Today, he will continue to correct this side with some “smoothing out” of the fat graft, and adjustments to my nose and lip. After a stressful week of finals and travel and now surgery, it was a little obvious that I was nervous. Luckily, I have the best roommate :) Before I left school, she sent me off with a “Hospital Care Package” that I was able to open last night. She gets extra points for creativity with this one:
There were items under the specific taglines “So you are comfortable during your stay.” “So you don’t get bored.” “So you don’t get tired of hospital food.” “So you eat healthy stuff too!” Filled with all the hospital necessities!
Pajamas and slippers, coloring book and crayons, cookies and trail mix, hot chocolate and a water bottle along with a very sweet letter to calm my nerves. Thank you Fernanda! These will be great, especially since I am still allowed to recover in the “Pediatrics” Intensive Care Unit. I’ll be sure to share my crayons ;)
I’m sure I will be pretty groggy tonight, but I might post an update tomorrow. Wish me luck!
My Cross Country Season’s Somber Beginning
Today’s post is a little more serious than previous ones. I promise to amp up the optimism tomorrow! But in case you didn’t know, I am a cross country and track athlete currently on a collegiate NCAA Division I team. In May, I completed my freshman year with a 10k in the outdoor track & field conference championships. Today, I would/should be moving back to school to begin our team’s fall training had I not had this major surgery last month.
After the surgery on the left side of my face to remove as much of my venous malformation as possible, I was left extremely swollen (as to be expected with any surgery this intense). I was told not to engage in any physical activity for at least 3 weeks. Do you know how hard that is for an exercise addict??! That is like telling me to give up coffee! It was a tough situation: I need to heal to be able to run; I need to run to be able to heal.
I’m finally breaking out of the sit-wait-hope phase – yesterday I jogged for the first time in over 5 weeks! Granted, it was two very slow miles. A “warm-up” to my usual workouts. But it was more than I had run in a month, and I didn’t have any pain so I can continue to build up from here!
I’m sad to be missing out on the team activities, practices and bonding that will be going on at school for the next 9 days while I stay home and continue to heal. I feel like a benchwarmer. Except I’m not on the bench…I’m not even in the stinkin’ ball park! It has made me realize how much running is a part of my life. It’s something I’ve done EVERYDAY for 5 years, of course it is a part of my heart. High school races were such a rush… the ones where I broke a personal record or beat someone I didn’t think I could – I STILL look back on those with pride.
I am positive that there will be more races like this in my future. No doubt I will have to work overtime to play catch up, but I’ve done it before and I know I can do it again. I can’t wait to be reunited with my school and my team <3
(*These pictures were all taken before the surgery. I am not using post-surgery photos of my face until it has healed much more.)