***WARNING THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS IMAGES SOME MAY FIND DISTURBING***
One of the questions I get asked most is “How many surgeries have you had?” To be honest, I’m not actually sure but I thought today I would list the ones I remember. Also will talk about the lovely procedure I had today which might be on the top of the worst things ever list!
1) Jaw reconstruction #1
One of the earliest memories I have is being home after my first attempt at fixing my jaw. I know it was during the summer months because I don’t remember being bundled up or any snow. I remember being in the hospital getting special treatment from the staff. I remember what 8C of Hospital For Sick Children used to look like, the smells and such. What I don’t remember is the actual procedure or any pain. I remember being home an having to take lots of medication and a weird memory of my mom telling my older sister that I had an infection and would have to go back to have the reconstruction undone. I was seven at the time.
2) Rhinoplasty #1 (aka nose job)
I’m not 100% sure how old I was but before I had the procedure I remember Dr. Posnik and my mom asking me what would I like to change most. I had no answer for them, I think I said I didn’t really care, or I said my jaw. Little did I know they had already decided what was going to be on the agenda and I think they wanted me to have a sense of control. I was a pretty smart kid and didn’t buy it one bit! Dr. Posnik asked if I would like my noes done, my mom responded saying “yeah wouldn’t you like to be able to breathe better?” I’m almost positive I shrugged and said “I guess”, knowing full well the decision wasn’t mine. I don’t remember the procedure although i think I remember walking to and being in the OR. It was a long stay in the hospital they didn’t just do the procedure and send me home I stayed until I was fully recovered. One of the strongest memories i have of this stay is meeting a girl I think around my age named Tarra Stevenson, I have a picture somewhere but I can’t remember where I put it. It’s of the 2 of us in her bed with crazy plastic top hats on that we had just finished decorating with stickers. I had a cast on my face, yes an actual, honest to goodness cast like what they put on your arm when you break it. If anyone has had a cast on you know how heavy they can be, now imagine that on your face…I remember having the hardest time lifting my head. I blame some of my current neck problems on that thing. The other very strong memory is having a catheter taken out, it had been in for some time and I was suffering from burning sensation and pain. Of course I didn’t say anything but it got really bad on the day they were taking it out so I just held my pee in, mom and the nurses asked if I wanted to use it just before they took it out and I lied right to their faces and said I was good! They took it out, it hurt, they left my room and I told mom to help me off the bed so I could use the bathroom! She gave me heck for not saying anything but I didn’t care at that age I was already good at sucking it up and not saying anything. Tara got to go home before me, and I remember changing rooms to one further away from the nurses desk, I also played with a group of older patients and we got in trouble for making too much noise. It was one of the best times I’ve had. I never got the chance to play a lot with other kids while at home so I really enjoyed myself.
3) Jaw reconstruction #2
This one happened when I was 16, I was just finishing up grade 9 and was exempt from all final exams because the date of my surgery was at the end of the school year. It was on my sister’s birthday June 10th, 1996!There were days, and days of preperation for this one. My mom and I were in Toronto a lot and had to stay sometimes for a week, this was before Ronald McDonald house so we stayed at the hostel located across the and down the street from the hospital. They had a safe in the room where parents could leave their personal belongings locked up however it appears the staff were a bit shady because during one of the days we were there someone got into the safe (must have had a key there was NO signs of forced entry) and stole all the money my mom had in it. I’m not sure if she ever got it back, I also remember babysitting some of the younger kids while my mom and some of the other moms went to Honest Ed’s.
In those days you generally went the night before got admitted however I can’t remember if I did go the night before or if we got there really, really early in the morning. Everyone was there, my sister, and my mom. Since the first reconstruction failed they decided to take the tibula from my left leg due to it having it’s own blood supply and reshape it to a graft. I was in the ICU for about 4 or 5 days, I only remember bits and pieces and I’m pretty sure I had some weird hallucinations. I had an NG tube and was on a ventilator, I was so swollen I wasn’t able to open my eyes for a good few days but I don’t remember having a lot of pain. The only painful thing I do remember when being in the ICU was my left heel really hurt for some reason the had asked if I was in pain and I was able to write and tell them. I heard them say that the drainage tube shouldn’t be causing that paid. I had about 5 drainage tubes, on on on the bottom of my leg, one on the top part of where they took the bone, just below the knee, one on the right side of my ribs where they took cartilage, and a couple in my head and neck area. I had so much wanted to see my sister Crystal, I had wrote asking to see her but because she was also a minor they wouldn’t let her in so I had to suffer with writing notes to her however I was on some good pain killers and it took a lot out of me to write. I was happy to get the breathing tube out and that meant after another day or so in the ICU I was allowed to go up to a room. This is after Sick Kids had renovated so I got a nice room all to myself where my mom could stay in the room with me. She stayed as much as she could but she was not there every day. My sister was able to come visit me now which was nice and she brought her good friend (now my good friend) Becky with her, I remember going downstairs for MOCHA JAVA!! I was in the middle of a sentence when I fell asleep when I woke up only Crystal was there with me and told me Becky had to go. I had to get up and start walking which was nice but with a splint on my leg and my ribs bandaged up it was slow going but every day I set a goal to walk normally with the splint and I met those goals. The last drainage tube to come out was one near my head they gave me morphine before they did it, it didn’t hurt but felt so weird I asked to have it done again, we all had a good laugh. The rib area I will say was the most painful thing, even with all the pain killers I could still feel that so anytime I hear that someone has / had a broken or bruised rib I wince because I know that hurts SO bad! I was starting to think I should be a nurse around this time because one night a nurse gave me liquid Tylenol through my NG tube instead of just letting me take it orally, I told her that wasn’t the way to do it and warned her it wouldn’t end well but she thought she knew better and did it anyways. It didn’t take too much time for me to bring it back up, I called for help when I knew I was going to vomit but it wasn’t the same idiot nurse who made the mistake as I hoped it would as having to vomit through a small hole…well..I’m sure you can imagine it wasn’t pretty. While in my room one night the friend of another patient came in with home made cookies (his friend’s story is for another day) he probably should have given them to the nurse to distribute because not everyone would be allowed to have one (including me) but he didn’t and i gladly accepted, knowing fully well I wasn’t allowed since I was on a clear fluid diet at the time. I hid the cookie under the blankets and took tiny pieces off and shoved them in the hole that they leave you when your mouth is wired shut. I was in the hospital for about a month I want to say, I remember getting home and it was still summer, I remember going to the Multicultural festival here and having to carry wire cutters just in case of an emergency and lots of towels because I was always drooling. I got the wires out just before we took a trip (the fastest trip ever) to BC in August, we drove to BC stayed for like 2 days and drove all the way back, the days we spent there were awesome but not the greatest vacation ever!
4) Exploration operation
After the trip or before the trip to BC I can’t remember exactly i noticed that I wasn’t able to keep my balance as good, I was falling over and just unsteady. It came to a head when one morning getting up from eating breakfast I wanted to go one way and found myself against the wall in the opposite direction and the result was i broke one of my mom’s faviourte statue elephants, felt so bad. My mom made an appointment and I was seen by the ENTs at the hospital, after one hearing test they thought maybe I had too much wax in my ears so they took care of that and I did a second hearing test. The results were not that great so they had me come back so they could explore my inner ear. I went home the same day and it was determined that the graft they put in essentially made me deaf in my left ear as it had closed off the ear canal. Nothing could be done.
5) undoing jaw reconstruction #2
Over the course of months from June 1996 until November 1996 I went back to school, and thought everything was good, back to my old routine and looking forward to moving from our apartment to a really awesome town house and being allowed to stay at the same high school. It meant taking 2 public buses to school everyday but I was ok with that. I’m not sure who noticed the infection first, I know I didn’t feel like crap, I felt good however we noticed an unusual growth on the left side of my face that wasn’t getting any smaller. My plastic surgeon was called, and just after my classmate informed me I was leaking (the growth started oozing out nasty stuff) then the phone rang in my class advising me my ride to Toronto was there to pick me up. We got to Sick Kids in the early afternoon went right to 8C where my surgeon was waiting for me. We went to a treatment room on the ward used for burn patients he took one look at me and informed me I wasn’t going anywhere…I had not expected this, I had NO clothes, no PJs, nothing, just my school bag. He told me that the graft had once again failed, that my body was absorbing/rejecting it and he would have to go in and fix it. The next morning i had surgery to fix it but no ICU stay this time. and a short 1 week stay in hospital where everyday twice a day I had packing taken out and put back in from a hole at the side of my head. i was given morphine after the first time it was taken out the day after the procedure where the nurse cursed the doctor for really packing it in and when she yanked it out I cried it hurt so much. I got morphine before they went a head and tried to put new packing in and got morphine every time after that until it was healed enough for me to go home. I went back to school and every day after school a VON nurse came over to change the packing. The good thing about this procedure was that I missed the moving completely, when I went in to hospital I was living at one address when I came home I was living at another without having to do anything, well I had to unpack the boxes that were in my room but that wasn’t too bad. It was also the first time I spent 1 week by myself with no visitors I was the most boring week ever!
A few years after my jaw I started having a lot of sinus pain so I had to have my deviated septum repaired they also decided it would be a good idea to do another nose job! The day before the procedure my mom got a call that it had to be rescheduled because of an emergency case so I had to wait a few months I think however my condition go worse and the day after I went for a final consult and them pressing on my nose so bad, I became the emergency case. My face had swelled up and I had to put ice on my face. I was working at Tim Horton’s at the time and going to university, I had the procedure done on a Thursday, my Aunt took me and stayed until I was done and came back home relaxed for the weekend and was back to work and school on the Monday. It was near Halloween so I decided to use it as part of my Halloween costume at work and dressed up as a hippie and told customers that my character was beat up by police. Most of the customers thought it was just part of my costume..alas it was not! One of the first classes I went back to was with a professor who always came off as a bit cold, and uninterested. I always sat at the front because I can’t hear well or see well so when he came in that day he did a double take, stopped in his tracks and came over to ask if I was alright. I told him what had happened and called me crazy for being there but was always super nice to me after that day!
I’ve had other minor things done after this including having my sinus drained and deviated septum repaired again but these are the ones that I remember that were pretty intense. I had a lot of procedures as a baby that I have not much knowledge on.
**BELOW THIS PARAGRAPH IS THE IMAGE WARNED ABOUT**
Today I had to have the very back molar on my left side removed and had to go to an oral surgeon because my regular dentist didn’t feel safe trying to take the sucker out. I’ve had teeth taken out before (2) one at Sick Kids when I was younger with the use of “laughing gas” and the other at my normal dentist office with just normal freezing, both went well with very little pain. Today was a whole new level of pain / torture… I went in he froze me up but because of my anatomy they always have to put way more freezing then they think they will need so the number of needle pokes is really not fun and they were very painful. I thought that would be the worst of it, I was oh so wrong, he did warn me it wouldn’t be easy because of where it was, because I couldn’t open my mount very wide, and because the roots of the tooth were unusually long. It was seriously one of the worst things I’ve been through and that’s saying something, it was even worse than the time my mom accidentally pulled on my NG tube and ripped out a stitch, it was way more painful than the recovery of my ribs from the surgery I had to fix my jaw! After he worked on it for a bit and got most of it out he stopped, he told me that there was a small part of the tooth still in and he wanted an x-ray. After the X-ray was ready to view the brought it in to show me and informed me that he didn’t want to take any more out. Because of the 2 failed bone grafts what jaw bone I have in that area is very thin, he was very worried that he would fracture my jaw if he continued and he wants the part where the tooth was taken in to fill in and see how I heal to decide if the rest can stay in or has to come out. I asked him about the one wisdom tooth that I have if it’s safe or would need to come out I didn’t get a straight answer but he did say it would be way easier than the tooth he just took out that. He informed me that the one he just took out was the hardest one to come out of my mouth. It has finally stopped bleeding after almost 12 hours and I’m keeping up with the T3s I was given so I’m feel much better as I write this than I did earlier today!
This is most of the tooth that was taken out. As you can see a good chuck was missing.
In the waiting room after I was done, I noticed this artwork! It did make me laugh!