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Week 3: Start Your Grinnin’ !

Mon Jun 11, 2012

With three weeks of recovery behind me and a return to work coming in 7 short days, I’ve been on a tear to get my life back to normal as soon as possible. And this week there have been plenty of ways to spend my new found equilibrium.

Say Cheese: First, an awards ceremony at my kids’ school. Since I’m rarely available for these types of events, it was really a treat to be there! But I noticed during all the picture-taking (both kids won academic awards), my wife would tell me “smile more” when I thought I was already smiling! Turns out, the combination of numbness, hardware, and residual swelling makes my smiles seem a little less than completely sincere.

Going Camping: Next opportunity to spend some energy is camping with my son’s Cub Scout Pack in the forests near Pacific Palisades. The fresh air, tall pines and abundant sunshine really helped me forget that I couldn’t eat all that great camping food. Oh well….

Photos: I realize that I haven’t posted any reference pictures of my face in a while. I’ll blame the dizziness, the busyness, and the fact that the daily differences between these photos has diminished to imperceptible levels. So going forward, I’ll update the Mug Shots every week, rather than every day, at least until it makes sense to go monthly. That said, here’s my 3-week photos:

   

You may notice that my cheeks are starting to “hollow out”, and the swelling in my upper lip has begun to go down from previous post-surgery photos. My doctor has commented that my face looks longer since the surgery. Perhaps that has to do with a combination of the weight loss and the reduced amount of skin hanging from my neck. So far, I’m feeling good about the changes in appearance.

Pain: This week I’ve gone from a 24-hour Tylenol regimen, to an “as-needed” regimen. In fact, the last couple of days have been free from pain, and I haven’t taken any Tylenol. So, the end of the post-surgical pain management era is nigh.

Weird Sensations: I’ve had a few, mainly in my upper gums, roof of mouth, and numb areas of my face. I take this as a good sign that the nerves are regenerating, as all of these areas are numb to some extent. At this point, I don’t get very many of these sensations (maybe 1-2 week), but they are making their debut this week, and worth mentioning. The strangest thing is that I’m feeling an itch on the outside of my right nostril, but when I scratch it I’m reminded that it’s numb and impervious to scratching. This must be what Hell is like.

Energy: As I mentioned, I feel as if my energy is in the “normal range”. If I had to quantify, I’d say I’m 95% back in terms of energy.

Weight: Since losing over 12 pounds on week 1, I’ve ping-ponged between a 10-12 pound loss, which I’ve maintained through week 3. Not as much as I had hoped, but a welcome bonus to this whole process.

Mouth Stuff: I’ve spit out several stitches this week, and having checked this morning in the mirror, I can tell you that most of my sutures are gone and my wounds are healed. I think I counter 3-4 remaining sutures all together. I expect those to be gone soon. As I mentioned above, moving my lips around (i.e. smiling, talking, yawning, etc.) seem like very foreign movements. But as I exercise my muscles and jaws, all will seem more flexible soon enough, and I’ll lose the trout-pout permanently.

Food: I’m getting into a routine on the “no chew” diet. Lots of mashed potatoes, yogurt, chunky soup, Manwich sauce with finely ground hamburger, smoothies (vitamins, fish oil, calcium supplements, strawberries, and Sambazon juice), some whole wheat bread with no crust (for much-needed fiber), and bananas. One night during camping, the cooks prepared 20 punds of tri-tip steak on the grill. I couldn’t resist, so I threw a few pieces in my blender (yes, I brought it with me) and successfully ground it into yummy, swallow-worthy bits. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Next Wednesday is my 4-week follow-up. I’ll update then.

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