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Living in STL (Surgery + 7 days)

My wife and I ended up staying in an Airbnb with a full kitchen and multiple rooms thinking my family would come. Pro tip: they have a discount for traveling patients at some hotels around the hospital. Ask your hotel. That would’ve been cheaper, but I just didn’t have the foresight to leave the kids at home.

For the first few days, setup is key. You will buy tons of random stuff to keep yourself fed and first aided. My wife took care of it all.

  • Costco is a must for stocking your supplies. My wife picked up an Instant Pot and a blender to make soup. Good liquids is key. She also bought very dissolvable protein powder and added protein without sugar or other stuff. This was awesome for quickly boosting nutritional value required to heal. She made me some kind of soup everyday, mostly with meat or bones. Get a strainer and a skimmer.
  • We bought two sets of Costco towels. My wife also went to Walmart and picked up 8 of the same T-shirt for a buck each. I basically went through the T-shirts and towels each day, spilling food and drooling. My wife ran the laundry every 1-2 days.
  • Don’t forget to get several sets of feeding syringes before leaving the hospital. Movahed also has them at later appointments for replacements. These are the only way you’ll eat. You’ll go through around 4 a day. Washing those things was not easy. Make sure you don’t put them in the dishwasher; they shrink and get deformed and won’t work anymore.
  • I ended up getting a plethora of random first aid items, from hydrocortisone cream for a rash which developed, to tape and gauze, to Arnica gel for helping with swelling on the face, to Neosporin for the stitches.

My recovery, again, progressed well. After the first day at the Airbnb, I dropped all pain meds. I also stopped using the Clozepam to help me sleep after 2 more days.

My main issue was an unknown previous reaction to the antibiotic that I started to take post-op, and continued to take after discharge. Biiiiiiiig rash. Itchy. So because of that, we stopped the antibiotic. Since it’s an itchy red rash, I was advised to use Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream to treat it. Then I discovered I was allergic to hydrocortisone, as it made the rash even worse. That was not fun.

My mental capacity increased fast. Today at one week from surgery I woke up feeling almost normal mentally. My wife tells me the indication of my mental capacity increasing is how snarky I’m getting at her.

The drooling has gone down significantly. I still spill drool out at certain angles but it’s no longer as much.

Feeding is now easier. I can down the liquid at a higher and higher rate.

My breathing is amazing! The airway absolutely opened up behind my tongue where it was previously crowded.

After! (And will be better as swelling continues to go down)

There is still a very significant amount of swelling on my face and I’ve been told it will take months to drain. But I am definitely looking better and better.

My loving wife who attended to me

My face as you can see from my initial pics has completely changed. I will do the comparison when I get to a swelling reduction that makes sense to do the full side by side in the future. My wife finds it strange that my face is no longer my face. Lol. Where is her husband???

The time has been filled initially with a lot of sitting and feeling exhausted and slowly building up to walks. Lots of follow ups with Dr. Movahed’s office to do almost daily cleanings to keep everything super clean. The sutures are also checked each time and stitches near my ears were removed just today at day 7. They take the rubber bands off each time which provides an ahhhh and also put back new ones which have been looser than the initial gritting teeth level band post-op.

You also have to wear a belt around your stomach to keep pressure on it for two weeks after the fat graft. It’s ok, but definitely not great when you have an antibiotic rash underneath it. Combined with my syringe in a cup for water, a towel for drool, and pajamas because honestly I just don’t feel well enough to care to look normal, this is me walking in the malls in St. Louis:

Fashionable eh? I don’t care anyhow. Too tired.

The main thing I want is to get all the temporary hardware out of my mouth. Firstly, there is a splint plate that rests over your bottom teeth to align the top and bottom. A known side effect is it keeps your mouth partially open and it’s also hard to clean. I’m super excited to get that out at two weeks post-op next week. At that point I can then start doing soft foods. I think. We’ll see.

There’s no way I can return to work without some sustainable nutrition to keep my weight from falling like a sack. Also need to continue to increase my full day mental capacity and strength.

I also reaaaally want my nose cleared. That’s my follow up with Dr. Hartman, ENT. Then I can move to nose breathing. So excited for that.

Looking beyond, 3-4 months from now I’ll also have the hardware holding my soft palate together removed and hopefully in a year, the braces come out (yes!). All this gets handed back to the awesome Dr. Hockel again. First visit back with Hockel will be at 6 weeks post-op.

I return back home in a week. At least the kids seem to be doing fine. Kids are definitely more resilient than I gave them credit for. And lots of thanks to Auntie, Uncle, Grandma and Grandpa for taking the brunt of the care.


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