Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Waking up in Recovery after Orthognathic Surgery


I remember flashes of light before waking up and remember vomiting and trying to sit up in recovery. I remember being held down and suctioned off. I remember not being able to breathe and being given my asthma medicine. But these were like images I was viewing not actually living. Then the next memory I have is opening my eyes to see the usual bright white recovery suite and a clock reading 4:30 in the afternoon. So I had just spent 8 hours in theatre. The freaky thing is, since visiting the hospital for those 3 years it had never once rained on the long journey there or back. But guess what on the day of my surgery whilst I was in theatre there was the biggest storm ever. Lightening, heavy rain, continuous thunder and then by the late afternoon around the time I came out of surgery the sun had come back out again.

When I opened my eyes properly for the first time, I looked up and said thank you god I survived. Something or someone had been looking after me that day. I am not normally a religious person but I had prayed leading up to this operation and I made a vow to pray every day of my life if I survived. The relief was wonderful until the pain hit. There was an immense, indescribable and horrific pain that covered my whole head and upper body. I was about to panic but told myself not to and remain calm. My breathing was quite restricted and I asked for my asthma pump using hand gestures to the recovery nurse. I had the bite plate still in place and felt very puffy. I could not move and my face was in so much pain but completely numb from the eye downwards. This was not what I thought this would be like. I felt swollen and the oxygen mask on my face was hurting as it was too tight.

I was only supposed to be down in theatre until 12:30 in the afternoon. Why was it 4:30 on the wall clock. Lin the recovery nurse was lovely and explained that it had taken longer than they had thought and Mr Matthews would come and speak to me. What had happened to me and what had gone wrong? They continued to monitor me and give me morphine. But this was having little effect on the pain levels. My eyes were blurry and I remember asking to be sat up a little more in the bed. I also remember craving blackcurrant Ribena. I hate the stuff normally.

I was waiting around 30 minutes and then I heard my surgeon’s voice in the background. I opened my eyes and his head was peering at me from above my bed. With the white background and bright lights he almost looked like an angel. The first words out of his mouth “you look beautiful”. First thoughts in my head “are you taking the piss” lol? My surgeon then explained that he was jetting off to Switzerland within the next couple of hours but the registrar and other maxillofacial surgeons would be keeping an eye on me for the next couple of days. He then told me the operation went ahead as planned and the upper and lower jaws were both moved to their maximal positions. He continued to say; however, they had accidently cut my trigeminal nerve as it was laying above the bone in a rather unusual and unique position. Apparently I have a unique autonomy and this was why they had severed the nerve. He said it took them a couple of hours but they managed to sow it back together and hopefully in time it will regenerate.

Mr Matthews then examined me and said he was so pleased with the results and I have hardly any swelling. He asked if I could move my bottom jaw forward to meet the bite plate but I could not. My surgeon then told me my upper teeth will be slightly further forward than my bottom teeth but it should not be noticeable.

To be honest, this was the last of my worries right now. I was so relieved to be alive and thanked the surgeon lots. He then tapped me on the shoulder, like he always does and told Lin to clean me up before I returned back to the ward. Charming lol. Lin went and got cotton wool, warm water and washed around my face. I was covered in sick, blood and iodine. It felt so refreshing and good to have my face wiped with water. I was then wheeled back to the ward. I could not wait to see my mum. I wanted to give her a big cuddle but I knew I would not be able to with the pain. When my mum first saw me being wheeled down the corridor she came and held my hand. She had a look of horror about her but I was not sure why. When we eventually negotiated all the door ways with the bed and the equipment, I was asked to sit up. I sat up and felt like the whole room was moving, I was not in control. I felt sick and my face felt like it was about to explode with the pain and pressure. I was flushed and I felt hot. Slowly the two nurses helped me to move across to my ward bed and plugged me back into my drip, oxygen, monitors and leg pumps. As I would be immobile for the next 12-18 hours I was fitted with a machine that inflated and deflated around my legs to prevent blood clots. This actually felt quite nice after a while. 

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