Hello everyone! I am now post-op Day 11 and this is my update…
Dr. C’s office situation: I went for my first post-op appointment yesterday. I arrived and was pleased to actually have an appointment in the system (some of you know what I am talking about here)! He was behind but everything seemed to be running much smoother. He has a new PA that started about two weeks ago. I was told by other staff that she seems to be working out well. I believe her name is Laura Dorn, but don’t quote me on that! She was in the office when I was there, but I did not get to see her with my own eyes. I set up my follow-up for four weeks on my way out the door. Fingers crossed that all will be back on track.
Progress at home post-op: I went home after two nights in the hospital. I have some other medical issues that came into play or I surely would have been out after one night. I was very comfortable, all things considered. They sent me home with some pain meds which I used very sparingly. I needed one occasionally to help with pain/pressure from swelling at the skull base. I found it initially a challenge to sleep semi-upright but it was the only way for the first few days. I had purchased a wedge pillow at walmart. I actually slept with it and a cervical pillow my husband had the night before surgery so I knew what it would be like. I took full advantage of rest and did not push it in any way-which for me is difficult. At this point, my left cheek, jaw and ear are all still completely numb. This is allowing me to be able to eat freely and is a surprise because of other people’s accounts of not being able to eat solid food, etc. (more on this later) As the days pass, I notice my pulsatile(which is only on surgical side) is greatly diminished. It is still constant, but sometimes hardly noticeable. I did notice, if I get riled up, it also gets amped up. I had bilateral ringing which is now only on the non-surgical side. In the past day or so, I have noticed it has disappeared for periods of time. My husband is most impressed with the brain fog aspect. I was having delays in responding to questions (processing please wait) and now I answer immediately and clearly. I have noticed that I am talking faster and not searching for words nearly as much. I had severe pressure gradients and it was thought that the brain fog may be the most demonstrable improvement, and it very well may be so! It was one of my most worrisome symptoms. My visual issues are greatly improved. I was having disturbances multiple times a day and I can count on one hand how many I have had since surgery. I thought my vision was clearer initially, but now I am not sure. I have an eye appointment next week so maybe I can see if this is indeed the case. Although I am trying to minimize activity, I was able to do a round of errands with my husband with little difficulty. I have noticed that bending forward does still give me some wooziness. As long as I stay upright, I am good. I can now turn my head somewhat to either side without any pain, but still only about 45 or 60 degrees in either direction. My incision looks amazing. I got the clearance yesterday to get it wet and I look forward to a full body shower experience today! He told me to go ahead and put a warm compress on it for 20 minutes and pick off any yuckiness. It should be looking pretty great after that. I don’t know how long it will take for the stitches to dissolve but most of my incision is glued as far as I can tell. I was very hands off of the wound which is probably due to the area being completely numb for so long (more on that). So, I am very pleased with where I am at today. I cannot wait to see where this leads!
Pain Management: So, this was a weird scenario. I am hoping to help someone else who is as naive as I was. At my appointment yesterday, I learned that Dr. C. used a newer technique(for him, at least) to try to minimize post-operative pain. He said he lightly cauterized several nerves during the surgery (I am assuming this is similar to or the same as the ablation another poster was talking about for pre-operative pain control). I woke up with no jaw pain at all. My jaw opened freely. I could eat, drink, talk with no pain whatsover. I was numb from the top of my ear, across my cheekbone, all the way to my jawline and slightly down my neck on the surgical side. Today, 11 days out, the bottom third of my ear down to the underside of my jawbone running under my chin on that side is still numb. This definitely made for an improved experience. Since the incision area has still been numb, I was rarely tempted to scratch or mess with it. Once in awhile I would get an odd itch which was buried beneath the numbness so it was impossible to scratch. It took about a week to get feeling in the upper part of my ear and most of my cheek area. Definitely a good pain management tool in my eyes, Because I had no jaw pain, I was able to minimize the amount of pain meds required. In my case, that’s a good thing because even with minimal pain meds, I had a complete debacle.
The double-edged sword: So, here I am-happy as can be that I can eat and have no jaw pain or restriction of movement at all! It turned out to be a curse! I was eating everything and anything! I am a little person, but the meds must have given me the appetite of a giant! I also had the procedure at Stamford Hospital which has very good food (highly recommend the cheesecake). The night of surgery I had a street taco party in my room (brought in from outside) and indulged in several pork belly tacos. I ate like this for days. I had everything from pork ribs with kraut to a porterhouse steak when I got home. I am not bragging because…disaster struck. The whole time, I was taking senna and colace and probiotics. I am not a daily pooper (sorry) by nature, so I didn’t think much of it. I only wish my nurses would have advised me to reel it in when they saw what I was consuming before they sent me on my way. I was naive. I have taken opioids only a handful of times and had general anesthesia for short procedures even fewer. I did not know what I did not know! What a disaster! I thought I was going to the ER. I have never been in so much pain in my life! It was like a powder keg in my body and it took alot to get it under control. All that food was piled in my colon which was still asleep, top it with the massive amounts of liquids I consumed (because hydrate, hydrate, hydrate), and top it off with a huge balloon of air. It was such a shame that everything went so amazingly and then this happened because I am an idiot! It was three days of absolute torture followed by several days of misery. Today is the first day in a week that I feel almost back to normal. I share this tale because I do not want anyone else to go through this! If you are blessed to have a pain free jaw when you wake up-treat your diet like your jaw hurts like the dickens! Make sure you are pooping within a day or two from surgery. Like I said, I am not a daily kind of girl, so I did not think anything of it. I eat pretty high protein, low carb most of the time and my body uses most of what I eat for fuel. I am sure the change in my diet also played a part. Just please don’t be lured in by the joy of feeling no pain in your jaw and celebrate like I did. Save yourself days of agony. This would have been a walk in the park if I knew more about how pain meds/anesthesia affect digestion and motility. I know now and I will never make that mistake again!
Badges Earned: Longest Styloid 2023 11.43 cm
First patient to gorge themselves after styloidectomy
Most naive surgical patient
And you, my Eagle friend, get a badge for actually reading this far! I thank you!