I went out for my last run for a while Sunday afternoon. I started with a New Virginia Manor loop, but then wandered over to the Tuckahoe Elementary area to pick up my race t-shirt from the director's house, ten headed home. Exactly 7.5 miles- 6:40 pace. No matter how out of shape I was, I still managed to run that pace. Hopefully I won't lose too much of that basic fitness during this time off.
I haven't eaten solid food in six days. I can't feel the front of my chin, and it looks like someone has taken up residence in my neck. Swallowing even a bit of water, or ever-present saliva initiates a wince of pain in the top of my mouth and my throat. I haven't been outdoors for an appreciable length of time since before my last solid meal. My feet are freezing and almost numb.
It's all going to be worth it.
Monday evening I finally put what I hope to be an end to years of sleeping misanthropy. A series of surgeries hopefully corrected what was so wrong with my mouth and throat:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty- removing my tonsils, adnoids (already done, back in 1985) and part of my soft palate, including my uvula.
- Hyoid suspension- lift a bone in my throat, going through my neck to get there
- Genioglossal advancement- drill a hole in my jaw, pull my tongue muscles through it to move my tongue father ahead in my mouth
- Base of tongue coblation- cut out the back of my friggin' tongue, right out of my throat
I came to after surgery on Monday night, right around midnight, and instantly felt the difference. I could now breathe without the effort to which I had become accustomed. It was amazing. So were the painkillers. The next day in the hospital ran together a lot, and the big problem was that they didn't give me painkillers before I headed home, and a prescription snafu delayed delivery even more, so that night I went eight hours without drugs. Swallowing them when I finally got them was the most excruciating thing I had ever done, because I had to initiate the pain. Staying on a strict medication schedule was easy because I knew the consequences of messing up.
My swollen face, neck and chin about 72 hours after surgery, which means this was actually an improvement...
In the days since, I have pretty much just passed the time watching movies or napping. I am disappointed that I haven't been able to focus more. I would have liked to have used a lot of this time to read, but my attention span has been off as a side effect of the drugs. I am carrying on a torrid love affair with my Kindle, and my inability to perform has frustrated me. I wanted to be productive. Talking has been hazardous, because the threshold between comfort and pain comes very suddenly and frequently when I am making an important point. I do feel productive when my head reveals a defunct blood clot- not only does it clear up space in my noggin, but I feel like it shows progress in the recovery.
My mom stayed with me from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon, and all of that companionship was crucial. She supplied me well with soft foods and most importantly, was a second set of eyes as I finally decorated part of my apartment, having lived here for 14 months already. A simple series of three photos of Pittsburgh I took in 2008 on a narrow wall has made a dramatic difference in how my place looks and feels, and makes it a lot more comforting when I am stuck here for days on end.
My chin is still numb, but it is regaining feeling by the hour. It's better I not look too closely at what is holding my mouth together, because I am not sure I could fully handle it. Obviously, I can't eat solid foods, so my desire for them has only increased. I am able to eat pudding, jello, ice cream (though it doesn't taste good). A little bit my of sense of taste is altered, but the doctors assure me it will come back.
I badly want the following:
- pizza- primarily from Pomodoro or Cheff Geoff's- particularly the meatball pizza I had the day after NCAAs
- chicken kiev from the Eleventh Street Lounge in Arlington
- basilo linguini from Matchbox. I had this with Nora and Nadir the Friday before surgery, and I devoured it.
- chicken Parmesan
- a chicken sandwich and fries from Pizza Perfectta (spelling correct) in Pittsburgh with Craig
- my dad's chicken chili and my ex-girlfriend's stellar cornbread. Alex made chili one of my first nights back and I was so jealous I couldn't stand it.
- The Pad See Ew and the Australian strawberry liqourice Anne-Marie and I had a month ago or so
I do wonder if my relationship with food will change, though. So frequently I would eat something just to get some energy that I should have gotten from my faulty sleep. I can't go into it too much now because I am too hungry, but I wonder how it will change...
I am eyeing a return to work on Wednesday, but I'll go out into the world later today (Sunday) to go to a meeting. I can't wait to see how I enjoy normal life as a regular sleeper. Wiggy described his pre-tonsillectomy breathing aptly-- it was like someone had a hand around his throat. If I do indeed sleep better- every second of my life is going to improve. Waking up won't be as traumatic, I won't need a nap just to get started on something, the time I spend sleeping will be efficient. Running- man, I can't even begin to expect what I will feel. I survived 100+ mile weeks this summer feeling like crap. How much more will I enjoy it now that my body will recover when I sleep? There were times I would be running and spending more than enough physical and mental energy getting the air around those bulbous tonsils. To take a deep breath- I just don't know what to expect.
Saturday evening. The swelling has fallen dramatically, but I still look oafish. I need a shave, but with stitches in my chin, I am not risking using a razor, especially if the skin isn't taut.