A couple of weeks back, I posted about having a LeFort 1 Orthognathic Osetotomy. Basically, I had my Maxilla (upper jaw) rebroken, in order to better align it with the mandible (lower jaw). Pretty straightforward procedure, but still not fun.
I’d known this was coming for about two years, ever since my first consultation with an orthodontist to address the alignment issues resulting from the bike accident. And something about having that much time to think, or about it being a bit more ‘optional’ than my other four surgeries back in 2008 (the initial Decompressive Craniectomy for my TBI, an initial LeFort Osteotomy for my facial fractures, then two cranioplasties to reinsert bone, then bolster the left temporal area of my skull) – this latest one had me a bit nervous. Part of me wondered why in the hell I’d invite someone to move my facial bones about again.
The surgery was about eight days ago. It took about 90 minutes and according to the doctor, went quite well. That first day, I felt far worse than I had after the cranioplasties (I don’t remember much about the others). I was really out of it from the anesthesia, and there was a lot of blood back in my sinus cavities. I’d sit up a bit and bleed all over myself (ick). But the next day, I felt better. And two days later I went for a nice long walk with my daughter, and felt even better.
Eating stuff that has the consistency of baby food isn’t fun, but not as bad or as hard as I’d worried it would be.
Two days ago, the doctor told me I could basically do anything short of running (too my jostling and impact), or chew food tougher than a ripe banana (need to allow the bone some initial healing time).
And this afternoon, I got a lesson in what recovery is about. I’m back to work, and finding ways to stay active again. I got the okay to ride my road bike. Standard cautions – don’t overdo it, etc. Today was beautiful – too nice to pass up a chance at getting a good ride in. So I rode into work, and took a slightly longer than usual route. I put in a good day at work, then took advantage of the sunshine, and aimed to take an hour-long ride home.
I’m still not 100%. Definitely feeling fatigue a bit more than usual. So I kept my perceived exertion rate modest on the uphill stretches, and just kept things steady on the flats. Downhill was interesting. I found myself nervous about picking up too much speed. I was very conscious of not wanting to lose control, fall, and yes – break my face. I’d felt some of this before, usually on long downhill stretches, but today’s apprehension was a lot more pronounced than usual. Really bugged me too. I’m no daredevil at the best of times, but I basically rode my brakes on most hills. When I got home, I was really amazed at just how much tension I was carrying from the ride.
And therein lies the lesson.
There are few miracles in recovery. Lots of good fortune – yes. But the thing I don’t always remember from my experience of 2008 is that a lot of this is about just staying with it. Time on your wheels, opening your heart and mind to fresh, positive experience gets rid of doubt and fear.
That’s what I’m telling myself now. Need to spend more time on my wheels.