I'll confess: I did a hap-hap-happy little jig when my surgeon told me I'd have to take six weeks off from work to recuperate from maxillofacial surgery. I seriously questioned how a simple little procedure, like realigning my jaw and chin to correct my open-bite, could require six weeks convalescence, but hey, whatever.
So I gave the good doctor, whom I'd christened Dr. Hottie (for reasons which the name implies), a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sort of smile. "Whatever you say!" I amiably agreed. "You're the doctor, the boss-man, the big cheese. And by the way, is that a wedding band I don't see?" Oh, but I digress. Six weeks off of work, you say?
I started making plans, big plans. Granted, I'd probably feel sluggish in the days immediately following the surgery, so this would be a good time to snuggle on the sofa, catch up on reading and watch all those movies in my Netflix queue. Then, after those first few days, I'd start writing my memoir, the one that has languished on the backburner all these years due to lack of time. During creative breaks, maybe I'd polish off a few scrapbooking projects, do some spring cleaning, schmooze with friends at the local coffee shop, and enjoy leisurely afternoon walks with my Greyhound, Elvis. Hey, I could even go shopping! What a treat it would be to peruse the stores without having to fight my way around the teenage swarms that monopolize the mall on weekends.
I was practically salivating, giddy with glee over the thought of six glorious, delicious, decadent weeks all to myself. Whatever would I do with all this time?
Never once did it occur to me that I might actually need to, uh….recuperate.
But it didn't take long for me to learn otherwise. You see, from my naive viewpoint, jaw surgery was like playing with LEGO® toys. I imagined the brilliant Dr. Hottie unhinging my upper and lower jaws, gently sliding them into their proper position, tweaking my chin, snapping everything back into place and voila, problem fixed!
I now suspect my scheming shyster of a surgeon, who has since been rechristened Dr. Pol Pot Beelzebub, took the lazy way out and simply smashed my face with a sledgehammer. The better to make his scheduled tee-time, I'm thinking.
Oh sure, I knew I'd be a little puffy, but I wasn't expecting my distorted black and blue mug to look like a ten-pound butternut squash. At least that's what it appeared to resemble, since I couldn't see much of anything, thanks to the glacier-like ice pack that swaddled my entire swollen face. Every time I moved, blood gushed from the nostril where the breathing tube had been inserted and my entire head felt like one massive, rotting, throbbing toothache. My jaws were wired shut, rendering it difficult to breathe and challenging to consume my liquids-only diet. And the coup de grace? My entire face, from the nose down, was completely dead-as-a-doornail numb.
This was SO going to screw up my plans.
Because I soon discovered that surgery tends to leave most patients with the energy of week-old road kill and with just as many active brain cells. Forget about starting my Great American Memoir. Who was on Regis & Kelly today? Was this the episode where Lucy and Ethyl pretend to be women from Mars? Which was more expensive, a cotton-candy machine, soda-jerk fountain, or juke-box? And when did "The Price is Right" host Drew Carey start looking so hot anyway?
Day after day, my codeine-addled brain seemed capable of nothing more challenging than trying to suck yet another banana and peanut butter smoothie through my wired jaws while watching "What Not to Wear" and "10 Years Younger." At least these programs served one useful purpose: a reminder to shower. Afternoons concluded with my new favorite discovery, Ellprah [-noun: Ell-pruh: the simultaneous viewing of Ellen and Oprah achieved through channel-jumping).
By week four I was starting to panic over my lethargic, swollen state: was something wrong? Would I ever feel normal again? But during a post-op appointment with Dr. Beelzebub, he reassured me that what I was experiencing was quite typical. "Most patients feel really lousy for the first four weeks," he said, "and then one morning, all of a sudden, they wake up feeling great!" Oh sure, like I'd ever believe anything this sadist might have to say.
But guess what? Exactly five weeks and four days after my surgery, I woke up one bright Sunday morning and something felt different. Something felt…right. I bounced out of bed and discovered that the mental fog had lifted and my energy had returned. I actually felt like going out! Doing things! Maybe catch a matinee or call some friends. The lower half of my face was still completely numb and would remain this way for up to several months, but hey, my brain was functioning and my body felt alive! What more could I possibly ask? Well, maybe just one thing:
I still have one week left before I return to work. In the meantime, if you're reading this, Dr. Hottie, all is forgiven. Why don't you (nudge-nudge-wink-wink) give me a call?