The pathology on my mandible is finally back.
It’s all clear. The ameloblastoma was benign, the report confirmed, and there is no evidence of malignancy. They can finally rule out cancer for good.
We braved the wild wet this afternoon for my second post-op checkup with Dr P. We were to see him tomorrow, but his schedule is always changing and he could squeeze us in at Bondi Junction today. Poor Darren: another day, another lunch break foiled.
Dr P examined the fibula flap again. It’s still a good colour. The dissolvable stitches are slowly dissolving. The swelling is as good or better than when he last saw me. There is no sign of infection.
He also looked at the tracheostomy wound. It’s healing well, he said, but yes there is still granulations. We’re expecting the nurse will have another go with the liquid nitrogen again on Monday. The scar from my neck dissection is healing very well, he remarked. One of the steri-strips came off this morning and the scar is pink and fairly flat.
The jaw wiring needs to stay on for five to six weeks post-op, Dr P said. This ensures my bite is square and aligned and the (fibula) bone unifies properly to form my jaw. At that point, he will simply cut the wires at our checkup. In the chair, as dentists say. He’ll leave the braces on for another few weeks after cutting the wires.
By my calculation, the wire cutting will be mid-September. I’ll then have a bit more movement and be able to eat thicker puree, perhaps soft foods. I believe they put bands on the braces to ensure the jaw alignment remains correct. It won’t be until late September or early October that I return to hospital for day surgery to get the braces removed.
That’s when the fun begins learning how to manipulate the lower left lip and jaw permanently numbed by the removal of the inferior alveolar nerve. That I still have any control indicates that the mandibular branch of my facial nerve may only have been temporarily damaged. I have been practising drinking soup from a spoon and, well, let’s say I have a way to go there.
But I will have help from my speech pathologist. Remember I saw a speech pathologist back in July about dealing with my post-surgery dysarthia? While I do have a vague memory of her visiting while I was in intensive care, I only saw her the once. You see, it seems there was a mix-up and the hospital arranged other speech pathologists for me, not realising I was already accounted for. Someone eventually put two and two together. By then I’d been happily working with the new speech pathologist throughout the early days of my recovery. My original speech pathologist, Dr P’s receptionist said, suggested it might be better for me not to switch back mid-recovery.
I would have been very happy either way, but I’m sticking with the speech pathologist I saw in hospital. She – let’s call her F – called this evening to check on me as promised. I had forgotten to do the exercise to strengthen my swallow, but I’ll get on to that now. There’s not a lot more I can do until Dr P cuts the wires, but she is going to send some information to me so I can read up on what comes next.
In the meantime, her colleague also emailed me via the blog. They’d like to use some of the recovery photos from this blog and my mum’s blog in their pre-op visits with patients. I’m definitely happy to help others going through this sort of operation. I started this blog to help me get my head around it all and save us repeating ourselves, but it’s great to be able to share what we’ve learnt with others.
All-in-all, a quiet recovery day. It’s lovely to have visitors and get out in the fresh air, but also refreshing to spend a quiet day at home dozing on the couch while wrapped up in my beautiful recovery quilt. Mum has some photos over on her blog. It’s a gorgeous patchwork of golds, greens and creams. Embroidered on the squares are the elements that will help me on my recovery: dreams, hugs, kisses, laughs, patience, determination, time, family, healing, perseverance, courage, love. Annette excelled herself. It is truly beautiful.
And there is no better way to spend a miserable rainy day that wrapped up in my quilt with a good book. Time to get back to it.