Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Perspective comes in little blue pills

...that look remarkably like Viagra, now that I think about it.

Curiosities of the past week:

  • my airway does appear to be much less obstructed than before the surgery - I'm breathing easier, and waking up more often without congestion. Interestingly, the air feels much harsher inside my sinuses at times, which is probably to be expected. One surgeon assessed my airway problems as being largely due to oversized turbinates and possibly spurs (?). The role of the turbinates is to warm and moisten air, and with them presumably markedly reduced in size, it's no great surprise that the air that hits the inside of my head is less comfortable.
  • looking all the way to one side or the other triggers discomfort that doesn't feel at all physical; it's more reminiscent of the feeling engendered by those remarkably disturbing doubled-face pictures and makes me wonder if my brain is sulking over suddenly having much less nose blocking one eye's view and therefore having more work to do to reconcile the images. I'm mostly aware of it when turning to look over one shoulder when driving; it isn't a situation that comes up very often.
  • my great paranoia of recent times has been that the surgeon took a quick look at my x-rays and decided that I needed the tiniest chin possible more than I needed my mental nerves and blithely destroyed the foramina on the way. This led to my sole Valium night of last week, but the following day, I managed to stab myself in the chin with a thumbnail and realize - somewhat to my surprise - that it hurt. I've since spent the occasional minute or five poking myself in the face with a pin to reassure myself that I have partial sensation in many places around the lip, chin and lower jaw, which I take to mean that the nerves must be intact, if traumatized.

That doesn't keep me from lingering fears, of course, but it's remarkable how effective the Valium really is. Even taking only one a week, when I've wound myself up worrying about something, it relieves the stress for days. The following morning - these things tend to peak in the witching hours - the same thought that was causing such angst hours earlier flies through the mind and is easily dismissed. Wonderful stuff, and it makes me wonder how earlier episodes of prolonged anxiety in my life could have turned out differently if I'd had it on tap at the time. I suspect I owe apologetic notes to family and more than a few girlfriends.

On the other side of the coin, paying such close attention has revealed that I only have partial muscle response around the chin; only one side wrinkles up. This generally ties in to my greatest irritation of the moment, which is the muffled quality of my speech. In quiet surroundings, when focussed on forming sounds correctly, I think I compensate adequately for the muscle and nerve impairments; the problem is more in social surrounds, caught up in conversation, when I forget the required conscious compensation (or just have too much to say in too short a time). I'm also not doing myself any favours by leaving the facial garment off for conversation following food; since I wear it most of the time, I'm probably more accustomed to the extra support.

Aside from that nuisance, the swollen area under the left corner of my jaw continues to give me mild gyp (again, psychological discomfort far exceeds physical), though extra photographs sent to the doctor elicited reassurance and exhortation to more vigorous massage - and still no useful response to weeks of repeated requests for receipts or confirmation of implants. I'm keen on an official letter, since I simply don't trust the man to have respected my concerns about MRI-safety going in, and I want to get new structural data to prepare a talk containing before and after 3d views. I'm burning up with curiosity over what exactly it was that he did to my bones.

That's also indicative of a generally improved outlook; I'm spending more time looking forward to having the face healed and plans for the rest of the year, and feeling generally more cheerful about life. I can manage a weekend in the city (though probably not an exciting one) and day-to-day work is likewise improving, though I still feel distinctly stupider than normal (attributable to low energy in the afternoon - I hope, though I find it faintly disturbing that I really enjoyed some zombie fic recently). Best of all, at current rate of use, I have enough little blue pills to last me a year!

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