In a little over a month, I’ll be back in hospital to have the titanium plate removed from my jaw. That’s Friday, 13 January 2012.
The surgery involves reopening the neck dissection scar that runs from below my ear to right under my chin. Three screws hold the titanium plate to my mandibular-fibula bone at each end. If the bone has not fused properly or needs more support, they’ll do a little bone graft or insert a smaller plate while they are in there. All up, I’ll be under for a few hours.
I’ll spend a few days recovering in hospital, probably until the Monday or Tuesday, and perhaps two weeks recovering at home. My face will swell up again, of course. But the swelling should go down over the course of a month this time around, rather than the three to four months it took the first time. I won’t need a tracheostomy to breathe this time either. Big sigh of relief on that one.
That’s the main news coming out of my checkup with my oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr P, last Friday. The other piece of exciting news is that, unlike Dr A, he thought I had some movement back in my lower left lip and he was hopeful I’ll get more. Time, he said, is a great healer and removing the plate might also ease pressure on the nerve.
I know my speech sounds fine. Everyone assures me of that. I also know that the lip is distracting. I’m asked more often than before to repeat myself. It’s a small thing in the scheme of things, but I’d love to get enough movement in the lip that the palsy can fly below the radar.
Getting teeth might help too. Dr P would like to wait for two years before going down the dental implant route. The likelihood of the tumour recurring is higher in the first two years, I gather, and there’s no point getting it all fixed up if they just have to rip half my jaw out again. I can get a denture and we’ll talk about that once my next surgery is over.
Bring it on!