There are people who love to star-gaze; I love to smile-gaze. I miss my smile, it’s difficult to look back on pictures and see how vibrant my smile was, and how beautiful my teeth were when I smiled. Yesterday I was looking for the picture…
Tag: Facial Paralysis
Every 3rd of July I am reminded of fighting for my life in The Cleveland Clinic. Four years ago today I was in surgery, literally hoping for a miracle. Little did I know the miracle was sitting right here in Arizona, with Doctor Lettieri.
On July 3rd 2014 I was rolled into surgery, Eric gave me a kiss on the forehead as they wheeled me into the operating room. Tears rolled down my cheeks onto the pillow, nurses kindly asked what they could do to help; shaking my head, watching them walk away I knew there was nothing anyone could do. Not even with the best surgeons on the face of the earth, no one could be able to bring my smile back.
The worst was still ahead of me, waking up in the recovery room after an eleven hour surgery I felt my head. It was full of staples, like a train track from one side to the other and down the back of my skull. My ear was pounding and swollen. I just wanted to see Eric and go home; after seven weeks in Cleveland I was depressed, sad and disoriented.
The next day, the fourth of July 2014 is a day I will never forget. No attending’s were in the ICU, the residents were in charge for the Holiday. Pain beyond my belief was surging through my body; a senior resident forgot to put orders in for pain medicine; I thought I would die on that day. I was prepared with letters to my children and dear husband. When the resident did not answer page after page to come to the ICU-I went further and further into a deep dark place, actually wanting my life to end because the pain was so bad. Nurses rubbed my legs and listened to me sing “Be Still My Soul” and “I am a Child of God” over and over again. It was an hour and fifteen minutes the senior resident finally make it to my room, followed behind him were other junior residents. He questioned my pain like I was faking; wondered why I was crying, and asked me too many questions; which I believe now was a senior resident showing off for the junior residents. I was gasping for air I couldn’t speak without trembling, he finally gave me the pain medicine. Even after the pain medicine was in my system my body shook like a baby, composing myself was difficult.
This is one of the junior residents Brendan Alleyne-he came to visit me after that incident and held my hand. The compassion he showed was nothing I will ever forget, I wish I could tell him what his acts of kindness did for my faith in the future of medicine. I’m thinking about him today, Dr. Lettieri is constantly telling me about the ego’s of residents, just like the senior resident I encountered at Cleveland Clinic. They forget who they are serving, I often wonder if he would have treated me different if I had been his mother, wife or child. Thank you Dr. Alleyne wherever you are today, I believe you are caring and sharing for your own patients now and hopefully learned something from this experience that will help you always remember patients are real people, with real families and a story to tell.
This is the REAL Dr. Lettieri–my Flip Phone Doctor is back-with his Converse, humor and beautiful blue eyes. After assessing my bruising and clotting, we have decided to wait a couple of weeks to see how it looks-we are not afraid of the blood clots traveling. My face feels like it did when I had Capsular Contracture in my breasts–extremely hard to the touch–but the bruising is almost gone. Dr. Lettieri said because of how much work he needed to do my face will take longer to heal. I will be undergoing a few more surgeries this year. My sinus reconstruction will be toward the end of the year, and Dr. Lettieri referred me to someone he said he would “allow to operate on his family’ If knew Dr. Lettieri like I do that is quite a compliment. He picked up his handy dandy flip phone and contacted Dr. Howard’s office to send me asap. It’s nice to have a surgeon who is humble enough to understand there maybe another doctor (who was trained by Lettieri) he trusts and admires. I told him how nervous I was to see a different surgeon, he explained to me on the next surgery Dr. Lettieri will be in attendance, but not for the nasal reconstruction, to perform the rest of the facial reconstruction. (and possibly to check in on me) So three surgeries in one if if works out.–Can’t wait for that recovery; if it wasn’t for my perfectionist surgeon he would have kicked my out and given up on my by now.
Dr. Lettieri is Italian and loves Canolis–so this is what I brought him today. The plate says “Be Happy Always”
As I waited for Dr. Lettieri, I realized they brought me into a surgical procedure room. This is the bright light he uses to see EVERYTHING–it’s pretty bright.
One time on my way to MIHS to visit with Dr. Lettieri, I watched 2 teens having full on sex under this tree. I honked; many times yelling at them to stop. I seriously would have given anything to have a hose and spray them down likes dogs in heat. I told Dr.Lettieri since it was happening just outside his window but off campus; his answer “Nothing surprises me here, I’ve seen it all” I shouldn’t have been surprised either; it did shock me. Today as I was leaving the Clinic I watched a van open and police officers escort a prisoner in an orange jump suit and shackled by his feet, secured with handcuffs on his arms.
I didn’t judge him, he was typical looking nothing to scare or offend me, in fact it made me want to show compassion for him, especially not knowing is story or the journey he has been on.
Yes I am definitely in a surgical room–what are they going to do to me today?
Bored……? Yes, soon Dr. Lettieri entered the room, stuck his large hands into my mouth to feel for the blood clot, and I’m pretty sure created another bruise. However, we are getting close to perfection he was very happy with the surgery outcome; still he has some follow up-but we need the swelling and bruising to go down, he thinks he can work on it at the same time Dr. Howard performs my nasal reconstruction; not crossing my fingers on that one. Dr. Lettieri hugged me and said “I will see you soon, we have been through a lot together but remember I’d let Dr. Howard work on me, you need to listen to me she’s good” I now have an appointment with her in the end of June–but l’m not having another surgery until I decide.
It’s been one week today since my surgery with Dr. Lettieri. He has text me several times–people may think that is weird getting text messages from your surgeon, and maybe it is a little. I don’t believe he has the time or capacity to do this with every patient he see’s but I’m blessed he checks in on me on a regular basis. Not only to tell me he needs to do more work on my face (really?) but he is also checking in on my spirits–I adore him. I even tell him “I love you” he’s been with me through half of the surgeries I’ve endured always hopeful always happy to see me. I’m not sure what it is like to have a genius mind working overtime 24/7 but boy am I glad he does–although I think he needs some rest, relaxation and a break. Funny thing is I don’t think that is physically possible for someone who does what he does.
Now that I am home, resting has been really hard for me. I got bored with television and could not concentrate …. or the shows were absolutely lame. I miss my grandchildren, they each bring a different type of joy to my soul.
Seriously? I’m a 55 year old grandmother with 7 beautiful grandchildren each bringing a different level of joy, laughter and respect from me….I don’t want them to grow up, I would like time to stand still, well maybe not this week–it needs to go fast but the faster I heal the sooner I get to play. I promised to teach them how to make my famous sugar cookies. I need to be healed and out of this bed looking normal–well really what is normal? Normal is boring too? I’ve learned so much about having facial paralysis through the eyes of my grandchildren–they never knew me looking any other way so they don’t stare, they don’t judge they just love their Bonbon. People can learn from children, I have unconditional love.
XOXO Monya Bonbon