Tuesday, July 05, 2011

July 5, 1995

We are still in Colorado enjoying time with family - but I'm interrupting the trip posts to share this.

You know how there are some dates you just never forget? This is one of them for me - and I'm just sorta in the mood to write about this and remember.

July 5, 1995

I had just returned from a mission trip to Prague, Czech Republic and was exactly one year out of high school. On the Fourth of July, I remember eating a hot dog for dinner - and the next morning I had a date with my oral surgeon.

It was a beautiful Colorado morning as we walked into Penrose Community Hospital. It was early and I remember humming as we walked across the parking lot. Have I ever mentioned that I hum?

Yes, I hum. Lots of times I don't know I'm doing it and it used to drive my sister crazy! And, it may have driven a few of my school teachers crazy too because I didn't realize I was humming and they were trying to keep things in order - well, you get the idea.

Anyway, I remember going in and getting ready for my anesthesia. I remember them telling me to count backwards. And, then I remember waking up in the operating room. I saw my favorite nurses: Tracy and Suzanne. Everybody was busy bustling around - I don't think they had started anything yet - but were just getting things ready.

I remember them asking me if a couple of oral surgery students could observe my surgery and I remember my wonderful doctor - Dr. Salvo. Oh, he was the best!

Next thing I know, I'm in recovery writing a note to the nurse to thank her for taking good care of me. I wasn't feeling too good from the anesthesia. Since I was 19 - they allowed me to choose if I wanted to go into Pediatrics for a room of my own which is what I opted to do. I'd otherwise have needed to share a room.

So, I had my own room and some beautiful flowers and a few visitors. I had a couple of very important things. A notepad and pen for writing things down - after my dual jaw surgery, my jaw as wired shut for the next ten weeks. Right at first, I was so swollen that talking was not possible or understandable. So, I wrote notes to people.

The second important thing was a pair of wire cutters.

I had to have a pair with me all the time just in case I needed to cut the wires, if something were life threatening or I was choking - I would have to do this.

I remember that I had my nails painted and someone commented on how pretty my hands looked. That made me feel so good because I know I did not look pretty in other ways.

I remember being really cold and pressing the nurse call button where she responded over the speaker asking me what I needed. I just remember sitting there quietly hoping she would figure out that I could not talk to her. Eventually, I pressed it again and someone came and brought me a blanket that felt like it had come out of the dryer - heaven!

That's pretty much all I remember about the hospital. When I got home, my Mom and I got to giggling and it hurt so much for me to laugh/smile as it pulled at my stitches. It makes me smile now to think of it though - I would try to squeeze my cheeks back in so they wouldn't stretch and pull.

We had a special "cookbook" with recipes of things I could eat through a straw. I use the term cookbook very loosely! My Mom did get very creative though! I usually had Carnation Instant Breakfast or some kind of fruit smoothie (very thin) for breakfast. And, lots and lots of milk shakes - I know, such a hard life!

I think the strangest thing we made (which tasted so good at the time) was a cheesy hotdog pureed in the blender with some of the cooking water. I know it sounds nasty - but when you can only have liquids you get creative! My Mom also made beef stroganoff with baby food meat and that was good too!

Pizza was what I was craving more than anything! Especially when we were on vacation that summer and took the blender with us all over the place!

Ten weeks later, I went to get the wires cut - I remember my doctor asking me to open my mouth as wide as I could and I felt like it was huge and I could barely fit two fingers in there. We had pizza for dinner that night! It was hard to eat, but wow did it taste good!

He showed me exercises to do to retrain my muscles in my jaw.

You know, looking back - I am so thankful that I had this surgery. I feel better. I feel better about myself and I have a very expensive smile to show for it! And, I love to share that smile with others.

My parents sacrificed for me to have this surgery. With our insurance not willing to cover it (even though it was medically necessary and not cosmetic), it was a huge expense. I don't even know how huge - but I am grateful for the sacrifice and God's provision.

Random story here - but wanted to remember these little things to share with my children some day.


Mom said...

Dearest Monica, oh the memories this brought back! I am thankful that you remember some of the light-hearted/funny things that went with this experience. :) And it has helped me over the years to know that you are glad you had this surgery because, at the time, I had serious misgivings about the ordeal this was for you. And yes, you have a beautiful smile!! :) Love you lots, Mom

Wendi said...

I wonder if we were ever in Prague at the same time? I was there December of 1994 and then in the summer of 1995. Beautiful city!

I am glad that your surgery was helpful!

Anonymous said...

I had my mouth wired shut for 8 weeks because of a broken jaw. I totally understand when you say that you took your blender everywhere. My favorite food to eat from a straw (besides milkshakes!) was chocolate pudding that was liquified with milk. If you were like me, you were always starving and ready to eat anything that would it through a straw. I lost 20 pounds in 8 weeks. How much did you lose?

*carrie* said...

I didn't recall the day or year, but I was just telling someone last week you'd had this surgery. Eric has a cousin the same age as you who had this surgery many years ago, and they had a big extended family portrait done in the midst of it! Needless to say, "S" hates that photo. =)

Monica Wilkinson said...

Wendi: June of 1995 - we must've just missed each other! Isn't that something?!

Anon: I think I lost 20 pounds as well - my dr. was not too happy about that, he did not want me to lose that much. But, not much you can do about it when you can't eat much!

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Thanks for sharing that story :):) I can imagine how painful that was, literally, afterwards. you must have lots quite a bit of weight, too. I'll bet that pizza tasted really good. The only time I had oral surgery was when Igot my wisdom teeth taken out. I was living/studying in Germany at the time, so I had all four taken ou t for "free". Free b eing a relative term, since it was paid for by my German insurance card. But I didn't have to pay anything out of pocket. I was awake for the whole thing, but really druged up. I remember asking the surgeon at oen point, when will you finish taking out the one wisdom tooth. He responded "I've already taken out three, and working on the fourth" Oh my :) :) One of my friends met me at the dentist's office to awlk me home. We stopped at the pharmacy. The pharmacist looked at me with a grave face and said "Unfortunately you're going to ha ve to pay for the pain pills...it amounted to something like $3. I started laughing, because I was thinking it was going to be more :) :)

I can totally identify with m uch of what you've said here :) :) I wish I could get my front tooth straightened and fixed. Just don't have the money for it...but I un derstand how that can affec t confidence and such. Your post was really refreshing and honest ;) :) Thanks, Monica :) :) I love your sweet spirit and your love for God and your family :) :) That's what makes you beautiful :) :) Have a great week. Sorry f or th e extra long comment today :) L ove and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

Melissa said...

You do have a beautiful smile and I love to listen to you hum!

Michele said...

I had jaw surgery too! I also lost about 20 pounds. To this day I get nauseated when I see a can of Ensure! I had the same reaction as you when the wires came off and I opened my mouth a whole half inch.

Did you have the wire cutting scissors around your neck in the hospital? I did, but I was too groggy after surgery to find them when I needed them. I'll let you imagine what it's like to vomit with your mouth wired shut.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica,

Yes, I remember well that summer of your jaw surgery, too. I remember taking your family to a French Restuarant in St. Louis and there wasn't much there that you could eat, but we managed to get through it. You were such a BRAVE trooper about it all.
And yes, it certainly has paid great dividends in your beautiful smile and happy disposition.
Thanks for the memories.

Love you lots, Grandma

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing!: ) I'll forward this to my son. He'll eventually have to get the same surgery.
Christy S.

Mary Ann said...

My SIL had a similar surgery back when she was in high school. Probably around the same time you had yours. LOL!!! She recalls that she could make a bag of M&M's last a long time by sliding one in at a time and letting it sit there until it melted.

Now that I'm an adult, I can see more clearly the sacrifices my parents made for me. And I'm so grateful! They never complained even though money was very tight. Braces, being sick a lot as a child, an asthma diagnosis as a teenager, lots of food allergies...