Jody’s Jaw Journey – VI

On that Thursday, the day after I came home, I did a more thorough reading of the seemingly too many pages included in my discharge packet. On one page, I was told to schedule a follow-up appointment with the surgeon for the week after. On a different page, I was told to wait a week and then schedule a follow-up appointment with the surgeon. My pain was so minimal that I was willing to wait a week before scheduling that appointment. Meanwhile, on Friday morning, just 2 days post-surgery, this was the face that looked back at me from the bathroom mirror:

Man, I thought the bruising I experienced from the fall was ugly enough, but it was no match for the bruising I got from the surgery! This was much more bruising and much darker, but it did not last as long as the previous bruising had. Meanwhile, ever grateful that no one would look at me like I was crazy, I donned my mask whenever there was a chance I would see someone (even in the communal lobby when I went to check the mail). I did manage to make an appointment with my mechanic, who was crazy busy as it was, and learned that the check engine light was on because I needed to replace a camshaft solenoid (whatever that is!) to the tune, with tax, of almost $165. When it comes to vehicles, it’s been my experience that anything maintenance is always going to be costly, so I actually was almost pleasantly surprised at that cost only being that much.

On the Wednesday that marked a week since I’d left the hospital, I called to schedule my follow-up appointment. While I suspected I had gotten dissolvable stitches, I could still feel them in some places. I also had a place on the left side of my lower jaw that felt like the stitches had come apart and when my tongue ran over that space, I could tell that it felt different than the rest of my jaw. When the person answered my call, I explained that I was calling to schedule a follow-up appointment with my surgeon. The response I got was something to the effect that they normally don’t schedule follow-ups for the surgeons. I explained that I had paperwork from the hospital stating in two places that I needed to follow up with the surgeon, and that I had concerns about the stitches that hadn’t dissolved and the potential hole in my flesh where the stitches did not hold the spot together.

I finally got a scheduled appointment by phone for 3:30 PM on Friday, November 18th. About an hour later, I got a confirmation text of the scheduled appointment – same date but at 3:40 PM. It’s become obvious to me that the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing from having two different sets of instructions for when to schedule a follow-up appointment, but I decided I’d stick with the 3:30 PM time because I don’t mind being early somewhere, but I get anxiety if I’m not there a few minutes early, never mind late. It was supposed to be another 45-minute drive, so I left home at 2:30 PM. Since I was heading to the same town as the hospital, I did feel like that much of my driving felt a little bit more familiar. My GPS got me to the address on Eighth Street with about 7 minutes to spare (again, construction, one-way streets and school buses). I pulled up, to the address but was concerned, because the numbered building was merely a duplex house with no signage. I pulled out my paperwork and realized that it was I who had erred, that I’d let the GPS default to Eighth Street but the address I wanted was on Eighth Avenue. I corrected the information in my GPS and it reported back to me that I was 8 minutes away (so I would arrive at 3:31 PM). Of course, the GPS does not take into account the traffic, road construction and school bus continual stops. At 3:35 PM, I started calling the main phone number, wanting to alert someone that I was just a few minutes out but was on my way. I kept getting the message telling me to leave a message for a return call. After getting that same message three times, I dialed the main number and tried a different option from the menu and managed to get a live person. I was informed that I was already late, and I needed to get there before 3:45 or I would lose my appointment time. (It was another not rude but certainly not nice person I spoke to – perhaps that’s a qualification that employees have to have before they can be considered for a job?)

I got there at 3:41 PM and registered. Because I’m a bit anal-retentive, I had extra copies of every piece of paperwork I had been given since entering the hospital, so I save them time and cost by needing to make their own copies. I didn’t have a very long wait before I was called to go into an exam room.

Less than 10 minutes later, a man of obvious Asian heritage entered my room and introduced himself as Dr. Kim. I was expecting to see my surgeon but agreed to allow him to look inside my mouth. There was, indeed, a place on the top of my left jaw that had pulled apart and he said that what I could feel was a bit of a metal plate that was used to help connect my jaw. I obviously couldn’t see it, but I was pretty sure it was about a 1″ length that hadn’t closed correctly. Dr. Kim said he would give me Novocain and re-stitch it for me. And then the real fun (hear that word with sarcasm) started.

Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part V

Once the staff was informed I was staying, they started coming in to see me. My blood sugar was checked and was high (not surprising considering all of the sugar from the juice). Someone came in with needles and told me they were going to give me two needles in my belly. One was a shot of insulin and the other was a liquid blood thinner to help protect me from getting any post-surgery blood clots. I wasn’t happy about getting a shot of insulin, since I manage my blood sugar well with oral medication, but hey, if you were going to give me a shot in my belly anyhow, now is the right time to do it.

Another person came in with the cup of 3 Tylenol and a larger styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw. Eeech! The larger cup had thickened water in it. I got the pills down and handed that cup back to the attendant. I (nicely) said something about not being able to enjoy the thickened water and also, I didn’t think a straw was a good idea since I had stitches across my entire lower jaw.

About 2 hours after that, just after lunch, an attendant came in to tell me that they were going to start me on a painkiller. Now, I hadn’t asked for one, even though, when asked, I did say my pain was pretty constant at a 6 level, even with the Tylenol, but trust me, I wasn’t going to turn it down. She told me that I would be taking oxycodone, with which I was quite familiar. Oxycodone is what I was prescribed after I’d had my teeth removed prior to getting dentures, and it basically replaced what used to be called Tylenol 3, which was Tylenol with codeine. I didn’t want it for pain as much as I wanted it to knock me out and give me some real rest. The good news, in addition to that, was that I was now allowed to have non-thickened liquids (I may have said aloud, “Thank you, Jesus”). I immediately asked for a large cup filled first with ice, to the brim, and then filled with water, no straw needed. I guzzled so much of it that it gave me a case of brain freeze, and yes, I’d do it again!

Shortly after that, another attendant came in with a little cup of what looked like mouthwash and a plastic bin. I was supposed to gently swish it from side to side over my lower gums and then very gently spit it out. I was told I would have to repeat the process after I ate dinner. Not a biggie to me.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty uneventful. I was offered assistance with a sponge bath, but I declined. I’d taken a shower on Monday morning and didn’t think I’d gotten that dirty, plus I had a shower in the bathroom and was perfectly capable of bathing myself if I needed to. (Also, I know they are professionals, but I have body issues and prefer not to expose my body unless absolutely necessary). Meanwhile, I kept watching the clock, wondering when Dr. Rohloff was going to show up and let me know how the surgery went and what I needed to do and what I could expect in the next few weeks. There was a TV in my room, for which I had the remote, but I watch so little TV anymore that I wasn’t really interested in it. The pain pill didn’t make me drowsy, nor do much for the pain, but I got my Kindle out and would read a couple of chapters, then turn it off and close my eyes for a bit.

The three Tylenol tablets were dispensed every 8 hours, the pain pill was dispensed every 5 hours, my blood sugar was checked every 8 hours, and I received two liquid blood thinner shots that day, though I can’t remember how far apart they were. Donna, next door, was still coughing, but not as often and with a much drier cough, meaning not much of the continuous hacking. No one ever looked inside of my mouth or asked me if I had any issues. While the staff was amazingly kind and caring, I honestly could have been a patient with absolutely no recent surgery because no one seemed concerned about the fact that I had just had surgery other than to give me blood thinners and dietary restrictions!

Meanwhile, I spent much of the day awaiting a visit from my surgeon to talk to me about the surgery and anything good and/or bad associated with it. I didn’t totally give up on a visit until after 9 PM. By that time, I was back in the chair instead of on the bed, finding it much more comfortable once I realized it had a footrest like a recliner. I also had a pretty view out of my 8th floor window, at least until sundown. I sat there, feet propped up and blanket wrapped around my bare legs, dozing off at times and at times just resting. This was my view:

It was around 10 PM when my next dose of a pain pill was brought in. I actually turned it down and said that it wasn’t having any kind of effect on the pain, so I didn’t see the point of taking it. The (cute and charming) male nurse said that he could double the dose, since it was just a 5 mg. pill, and he nudged me into understanding that I had nothing to lose by trying it. So I agreed to the double dose.

And then, I slept. Sitting up in the chair with my feet propped up, a light blanket covering my legs, I slept. I slept for about 4 hours without waking for any reason, and when I woke up, I felt like a different person! I stayed in that position, still resting but not sleeping. When the (cute and charming) nurse checked in on me about 4 AM, I gave him a thumbs up sign and said, “Thank you. I slept.” He asked if I needed anything else, and I told him that I would love to have a cup of coffee but I doubt that the kitchen had any ready that early. He said he could get me coffee and asked me if I wanted 6 oz., 10 oz. or 12 oz. Of course, I went for the 12 oz. size, with 3 creamers. Oh my gosh, one sip and I wondered if I could get some coffee upon entering heaven, because it was heavenly good! When the nutritionist came in around 6:30 AM, I asked for 2 cups of coffee (thinking they would be small) and a bowl of grits. Now, suddenly, I couldn’t have grits, however! I ended up ordering oatmeal, and it was as bad as the coffee was good. It was very sticky, and the texture felt like it was only half-cooked. I took two bites, pushed it away, and prepared my two fairly large cups of coffee to enjoy, which I did. Meanwhile, with the uncertainty of discharge, I had to order lunch and dinner at the same time. Now being able to have regular liquids, I ordered some chicken broth, but when I asked, was told I could have neither crackers nor a plain piece of bread to put into it to add some texture. I was going to have the baked tilapia but was told that it would still need to be pureed. Seriously, tilapia is a very flaky fish and falls apart with the least amount of pressure to its flesh, but they still had to puree it? No thanks. (Fortunately, I would not be staying for lunch or dinner!)

About 10 AM, a person I wasn’t familiar with (which made me assume he was a doctor) came in with a bunch of paperwork, which was passed on to me with the statement that these were all of the papers needed for my discharge. I wasn’t surprised by being discharged. I’d already gathered up most of my belongings in preparation. I got out of the hospital gown and into my own clothes, then sat down to read all of the discharge paperwork. I was expecting someone would be coming to get me – with the standard wheelchair – to take me down to the lobby. I read the paperwork again, including the fact that I needed to be out by noon to avoid an additional day’s charges. 11:30 AM came and I’m still in the room, bag packed and ready to go. At 11:40 AM I stripped the bed and pillows of linens (hospitality training never fully dies, I guess) and at 11:50 AM, I grabbed my bag and left the room.

I found the elevator, took one to the first floor, and ended up in the main lobby of the hospital. I asked at the desk how I could get over to the emergency room area because that was where I was parked. Guess what? You can’t get there from the main lobby except by going outside and going around the building to the ER entrance. Fortunately, because of the size of the hospital and its parking lot, there were courtesy drivers to take people where they needed to go because the main parking lot was across the street, so I requested one. Mr. John took me around the building (it took 4 minutes driving time, so I’m glad I didn’t opt to hoof it!) and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw my car. I tipped Mr. John $3.00 and went to my car, unlocked it, threw my things inside and climbed into the driver’s seat. At that point, my mind repeated the words, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

The check engine light, of course, came on and stayed on and all I could do was hope that I would make it to the drugstore to pick up prescriptions (pain pills and mouthwash) and home. My mechanic’s garage is just a little over a mile from home, and if worse came to worse, I could get towed there using my AAA, so I just wanted to make it home. Thankfully, mid-day traffic wasn’t too bad and I was at the drugstore about 45 minutes later. I waited at the drive-thru window. When it was my turn, guess what happened? If you’ve been paying attention, you probably guessed that I was told the pick-up wasn’t ready yet and I should wait about 20 minutes.

I got my prescriptions after the wait, got home, grabbed my belongings and walked in the door. Belongings got dropped on the floor of my bedroom, coat hung on the doorknob of the front door, shoes kicked off and slippers acquired, a large glass filled with Brita ice cubes and cold Brita water was also acquired. and my butt hit the recliner. The rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday was resting, doing a little bit of reading, watching some movies (in pieces on Amazon Prime) and napping if I could. By Thursday morning, I was able to treat the pain with Tylenol and only took the pain meds at bedtime for Thursday and Friday to make sure I was able to sleep, and even weaned myself back to two doses of Tylenol, one when I got up and one mid-afternoon.

I assumed the worst was over… (and you know what assume does, right?)

Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part IV

I am going to assume that post-op, someone checked to make sure I was ‘awake‘ enough to be moved to recovery, though I don’t remember that at all. The next thing I remember was a dark curtain being pulled back, letting some light into a very dark area was when I first opened my eyes. A female determined that I was awake enough to tell me, “We’re just waiting for a bed to become available for you.” At the time, I heard the words but nothing really registered. It was only much later when I considered why surgery would have been performed without knowing whether I would have a room to recuperate in afterwards or not! That sent up a bit of a red flag, but I obviously was helpless to do anything about it!

The next time I remember waking up, I was in a patient room. There was a clock on the wall across from the bed, and it was almost 7:30 PM. My belongings had been moved from the bottom of the bed to a chair across the room. My patient room door was open, and I could hear the patient in the room next to me (her name was Donna) coughing almost continuously, that kind of wet cough associated with pneumonia or bronchitis, and then finally she’d get it coughed up. I tried to doze, but all I could do was doze because her coughing was loud and disruptive. At some point, I dozed off deep enough that I didn’t hear someone enter my room to leave me a tray of food. Now, it had been 12 hours since I’d had anything to drink, and longer since I’d had any solid food. I expected I would be given liquid and/or soft food because of my jaw having been operated on. On a plate under the dome was an ice-cream scoop size of mashed potatoes and a few small pieces of cooked carrots. I managed two small bites of the unseasoned potatoes but I really wasn’t hungry. What I did want was a cold drink.

I am anice person. I am anice person. Those two sentences initially appear identical, with the same spelling error. But one is subjective and one is objective. Sentence #1 should read “I am a nice person.” I want to assume that to be a true statement at large, but I know that I am not a 100% nice person 100% of the time, even if I don’t act upon it my “not nice” feelings. Sentence #2 should read “I am an ice person.” This sentence is 100% true 100% of the time. I will admit that, as I was mentally preparing for this hospital stay, one of the things I was looking forward to was being able to have ice chips as desired. I’d seen plenty of movies and TV shows showing these little cups of what looked like shaved ice served with a spoon, and I planned to take advantage of them during my stay. Later that evening, I asked for some ice chips, my mouth almost watering with anticipation. What I got was a cup – sans spoon – of what looked to be small, thin squares of ice (about 2/3rds the size of a Chiclet, if you’re old enough to remember what they were). Not at all what I was expecting, and despite being grateful for them, since I’d had no liquid to drink since at least 10 hours before, it was disappointing that they weren’t the kind of crushed, snow cone ice I was expecting and hoping for.

Around 10 that night, a staff member came into my room with a small cup that held what I was told was three tablets of Tylenol and a little cup with red juice in it. I took the pills and popped them in my mouth, followed by lifting the juice and taking a sip. Eeech! It tasted like cranberry (it was) but had the consistency of applesauce. I was not expecting that, and it took me a long moment before my mind could convince my throat to swallow. I questioned what I was drinking and was told that all post-op patients were subject to non-thin but still liquid diets because it had been determined that post-op patients tended to choke on liquid items. This was, indeed, cranberry juice, but it had a thickening agent added to it. (NOTE: By pure accident, I was on Amazon’s site and saw that there were several brands of food thickener available for sale there. It kind of freaked me out that this was a product that was popular enough for Amazon when I’d never heard of it before.) Fortunately, it was a small cup, and it was cold, so I convinced myself it was cranberry applesauce and quickly finished it off.

I dozed on and off all night. Strange bed, strange sounds, coughing neighbor and flat and plastic covered pillows all contributed to me not being able to fall into any kind of restorative sleep. By 4 AM, I was tired of lying in the bed, so I got up and sat in the comfy chair next to the bed and grabbed the menu that was on the bedside table. Yes, indeed, the hospital had a menu, just like a restaurant, and the variety was surprising considering that it was actually a hospital. I looked through all of the options. I wasn’t really hungry, but I was looking foward to coffee. The nutritionist came in about 6:20 AM (the menu said between 6 and 6:30) and would be taking my order for all three meals for the day. I had decided that I wanted coffee – 2 cups if I could – and a bowl of mixed fruit. I was told that I could have these items, but the coffee would be served with the thickener added to it, and the fruit would be pureed so that it was also thick and didn’t need to be chewed. It took every ounce of willpower not to throw a tantrum. I had to relook at the menu and mention items to see if I could have them, and finally decided on a bowl of butter-flavored grits (I like grits but seldom get them) and asked for apple juice. I figured I could convince myself that thickened apple flavored juice would be applesauce. After asking several questions and finding out I couldn’t have any kind of broth, I ended up ordering applesauce and cottage cheese for lunch. (NOTE: The cottage cheese was the large curd variety, which required me to do some mashing with my tongue against the roof of my mouth to break it into smaller pieces, thus not something that I, personally, would label thick and easy.) For dinner, I wanted mashed sweet potatoes, but was told I wasn’t allowed to have them, even though I could have regular mashed potatoes (HUH?). I ended up ordering mashed potatoes and pureed green beans (they looked like a small, green lump on the plate but tasted like green beans).

Breakfast arrived around 7:45 AM. I have to say that I loved the bowl of buttered grits! I got through the apple juice as well, and thus, earned the “clean your plate” award. Around 10:30 AM, after I’d crawled back into the bed to try and doze off again, a doctor (introduced himself as Dr. so-and-so) entered my room. I wasn’t asleep so I opened my eyes the moment I heard him entering. After introducing himself, he told me that, if I wanted to, I could go home that day.

Did your chin just drop and/or did your eyebrows furrow? I was in surgery at around 3 PM and it was okay if I went home less than 24 hours later? This is the face he was looking at as he said this (I took this at approximately 9 AM, after breakfast and had washed the dried blood off of my lips):

I was probably a little more terse than necessary when I explained that, #1), I had not slept the night before and felt exhausted and #2), I had yet to have had a follow-up visit with the surgeon regarding my surgery and prognosis. The only “treatment” I had gotten since the surgery was 3 tablets of Tylenol and I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to leave at that time.

He didn’t say much, just made a notation on his paper and left.

Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part III

I’d gotten my bestie to borrow a book from our local library that I wanted to read (she does their bookkeeping for them so is there once about every 10 days already) and I wanted to get it back to her to return. She starts work at 8:30 in the morning, so, after I had two cups of coffee, I put my overnight bag in my car and the book in hand and drove to her work parking lot to meet her when she got there. After that, I left immediately for the Bethlehem branch of St. Luke’s Health Network. I was so glad I had a GPS to direct me. There was construction that had restricted a part of the journey to one-lane of traffic, and as I sat waiting for my turn to move forward and maybe get through, my ‘check engine’ light came on. Now, I’d had a few times where the car would shut off on me when I was sitting still (not while I was moving) and my first thought was that maybe there was water in the gas line because we’d had an unusual amount of rain in the recent weeks. But, seeing that light made me nervous. I mean, who wants to be stranded in an unknown place and possibly end up needing towed to a garage (at least I have AAA) and being at the mercy of said unknown garage? There was a road to my left and since the traffic moving through the single lane hadn’t reached as far as where I was sitting, I made the decision to take that left and see if I could somehow get passed that construction area. (Did I mention how glad I was to have GPS?) I had enough sense of direction so that I knew I was going to have to make two right turns at some point to get me back to the road I needed to be on. I managed to make good judgement calls on when to make those turns, and I came back to that same road where there was two-way traffic.

The hospital was located in an area which, to get to it, meant a lot of one-way streets, street parking on both sides, homes right up to the edge of the street except for a narrow sidewalk. Between navigating that, the school buses and the fact that my check-engine light was still on, I was quite a bit anxious until I could see the hospital in front of me. I remember letting out a big exhale upon finding it, since my predicted 40-minute drive time was already at 70 minutes. Like most hospitals, the emergency room was off to one side of the building, and in another brief moment of luck, there was a handicapped parking slot that was open. I successfully managed to back my car into it, grabbed the placard and hung it on my mirror, grabbed my overnight bag and purse, double checked that I wasn’t forgetting something, got out of the car, locked it and proceeded into the ER.

I had a small wait in line at the reception desk (I was the third in line), and I learned that the lady behind me needed to go to the desk to find out where she could join her husband, who had just been brought in on the ambulance. Of course, me being who I am, I stepped aside and asked her to go in front of me. When it was my turn, I had the print-out from the ER in my area in hand and explained that I was told to come to this hospital and check into this ER. The female at the desk seemed confused so she asked me to have a seat and she’d get somebody to come talk to me. It took about 10 minutes before someone came to see me. I explained (yet again) why I was there, and she said I’d need to be registered and went to speak to the lady at the desk. I waited a half-hour for this lady to call me back over, then went and stood back in line again. I got registered and sat down to wait once again. At about noon time (I’d been there since 10 AM), I was called forward. I went into an office for what I am assuming was an intake, and I had to start at the very beginning of the story (my fall) and everything that had happened regarding it until the moment she spoke with me. (NOTE: If you’re wondering why I can remember the dates and events so easily, it’s because that information had been practically memorized by me having to tell it over and over and over again.) From there, I was sent into an exam room. A nurse (Christine) and a nurse’s assistant (Caily) came in to see me. They didn’t say much, but I got the standard hospital bracelet and a gown to change into. I put my overnight bag and removed clothing, etc. into a chair in the room. An hour later, I opened the exam room door and asked if there was a restroom I could use. There were two, and I went into the one that was farther away from the waiting room, thinking it might be less busy. A couple of times, Christine and Carly checked in on me, but the rest of the time I sat there and looked at the wall in front of me. I did have two different doctors come in to speak to me, who I later learned were trauma doctors who work only in the ER. Neither examined me in any way, which didn’t surprise me because they had access to my original set of x-rays that showed the broken and dislocated parts of my jaw. Shortly after 2:30 PM (it’s now more than 4 hours since I arrived at the hospital and 2-1/2 hours that I’ve been sitting in an exam room), I stepped out to again use the restroom. When I returned to the exam room, Christine and Caily seemed in a bit of a tizzy – they had come to get me to take me to get an MRI, after which I was being taken to the surgical wing. Hallelujah! My first MRI wasn’t bad in any way other than the machine being quite loud. Then I was put back into my bed from the exam room and pushed down the hall. Everything was happening quickly, and I was trying to keep my focus. When I got to outside of the surgery room, a woman came over and introduced herself as Dr. Rohloff, who would be my surgeon. Another person quickly introduced herself as my anesthesiologist, and a man walked over from security and I had to hand over my cash, credit cards and driver’s license for safekeeping. While that’s happening, another person is putting a bonnet on my head, another person is accessing a vein in my arm for the IV, another person is piling my overnight bag plus clear bags with my other belongings – purse, loose clothing, shoes, etc. – at the foot of my bed. They were ready to whisk me off and I said, “Wait a minute, please!” I had not had a chance to talk to the surgeon or ask any questions. She moved back close to me and I asked her two questions. I had other, probably even more important, questions, but everything was happening so quickly I couldn’t focus. I remember the bed starting to be wheeled forward, and I remember saying out loud, “Well, this is one way to make certain I don’t have time to ruminate and worry before surgery.” And then, I guess, I was out of it.

Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part II

For my own sanity, after the lame visit at the oral surgeon’s office (which was on a Thursday afternoon), I decided to put the whole broken jaw issue aside and start again fresh the following Monday. I’ve learned that the worst days to make phone calls to any kind of business are Mondays and Fridays. So, in actuality, I waited until the following Tuesday.

Armed with the paper about the OMS division from the oral surgeon’s office, I called the centralized office. I was glad that it was a centralized phone number because I wasn’t at all certain which would be the location that was closest to me. I got a voice mail and left my name and telephone number. I did not hear back from them that day, even though I had called around 10 AM in the morning. I called again the next day, and the call was answered by a live voice. I explained why I was calling and that I needed to schedule an appointment at the closest facility.

The female, though not actually rude, was a bit terse as she told me that wasn’t how it worked. She informed me that I had to go to the emergency room of one of the St. Luke’s hospitals, that they would be able to take care of the issue of the dislocation, and it would be up to them to determine if I needed treatment from the OMS. Well, gee! She made me feel like I should have known how the system worked. I asked her which of the four listed hospitals I should go to, and she said I could go to any of the St. Luke’s hospital’s emergency room. This was the first piece of good news I’d gotten, since there is one very close to where I live that was only built 2 or 3 years ago. I’d been inside once to visit someone, and I liked the atmosphere and brightness, as well as the somewhat spacious private rooms (in 1987, when I was in-patient the last time, I shared a room with another patient). And again, I didn’t rush about getting there. I’d scheduled some other appointments that I wanted to get out of the way first, including a hip and spine scan and an eye appointment. I chose to wait, as both of those were late on a Friday morning, and head to the hospital’s ER afterwards.

On the Friday that I’d planned for all of these ‘errands’ (October 21st), I made the spontaneous decision to get another COVID booster, since my previous one was back in February. Some little voice inside my brain was telling me that I didn’t want to go into any hospital where there were sick people without being current on the booster. So, I did that first. By the time I got out of my second appointment (good news, no real changes in my eyesight from a year ago!) and drove to the hospital, it was around 1 PM. I registered, then sat in the waiting room for 45-50 minutes before being led back to an exam room. The person who took me to the room told me that a PA (physician’s assistant) would see me first to collect information and then a doctor would come in. It was almost 10 minutes before the PA came in. (For those of you who remember the TV show Doogie Howser, MD, that’s how young he seemed!) I explained everything that had happened to date, from the x-rays to the oral surgeon’s office that wouldn’t treat me to calling the OMS division and being told I had to go through the emergency room, and therefore, that’s why I was there. I gave him the copy of the x-ray I’d had taken at the oral surgeons’ office, and because of the St. Luke network, I knew he could see the original x-rays that had been taken. He left the room after telling me he’d be right back.

This is where the story gets really frightening. I hear a female voice in the hall – not shouting but certainly not whispering – saying, and I quote directly, “Is that a jaw or a pelvis?” I assume the PA said (in a much quieter voice) that it was a jaw. This same voice, at the same level of sound, then said, “Send the patient to an oral surgeon”. I didn’t hear anything after that from her, though I suspect the PA told her that I’d already been to one, who sent me to OMS who told me I had to go through the ER.

The PA came back into the room a short time later and told me that the hospital there was not equipped for the kind of surgery I’d need and that the only hospital who could do that surgery was in Bethlehem (one of the four hospitals on the list). Meanwhile, this hospital wanted to get an IV started and give me a liquid dose of an antibiotic, and then I would leave there and was to go directly to the Bethlehem hospital’s ER.

I said, “No.” I told him that, first off, I wasn’t willing to have an IV to give me a liquid dose of an antibiotic that I could easily take orally. I also told him that I wasn’t able nor willing to leave there and go directly to this other hospital. In my mind, I had several reasons. First, I had no idea where it was but knew that it was far enough away that I would be getting there after sunset, and that made me uncomfortable. Second, I was not given any hint that I would be expected to travel directly to another hospital from there, and I was unprepared for any overnight kind of stay. I also alluded to the idea that, since I would be arriving there who knows how long after 5 PM on a Friday (having to drive to an unknown location during rush hour traffic, on a Friday, no less!), chances are that I would be admitted but not have surgery until the next day, causing an extra day’s stay that my insurance might decline to cover. I was willing to go the next day, but not that evening. Someone did come in and give me an antibiotic in pill form and told me a prescription would be waiting for me to pick up at my pharmacy (I don’t know, either, why they were giving me an antibiotic regimen without having done any kind of treatment but no big deal in the scheme of things).

I was told that was fine, but that they would have to discharge me, and I’d have to re-enter the system at the Bethlehem hospital when I got there. Only after getting into my car and looking at the paperwork did I see that, according to the hospital, I was being released AMA (against medical advice). What the_____?? Nonetheless, I was tired and frustrated and just wanted to pick up the filled prescription and go home.

(Side note: As is always the case, when I got to the drive-through to get the prescription, I was told it wasn’t ready and it would be about 20 minutes. That has happened to me with every prescription I’ve had sent there – I use mail-order for my regular prescriptions – and it’s always 20 minutes wait time to pick up a prescription no matter how long its been since it was sent!)

I dilly-dallied around and then returned to the window, picked up the prescription, and happily went home. I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted to the point that I ate a bowl of cereal, my only meal of the day. I started trying to pull things together for an overnight bag, but I just didn’t have it in me. I sat down in my recliner and thought about everything that had happened and everything that was waiting to happen. I ended up talking myself into waiting until Monday to go to the Bethlehem hospital. To me, it didn’t make a difference, but I convinced myself that the staff would appreciate not having to deal with a “non-emergency” patient on a weekend since weekends are always busier for the ER units.

I spend Saturday and Sunday over-thinking, and therefore over-packing, an overnight bag. I made sure all of my emails were caught up and I didn’t have any bills to pay, watered my plant, and all of those little things so that once I left on Monday morning, I didn’t have those things on my mind.

Jody’s Jaw Journey – Part I

My fall happened on September 8, 2022. I know that, when I finally got back up on my feet, it was 12:33 AM. I can already hear some (or all) of you questioning why I didn’t go to the hospital immediately. Well, here’s my reasoning: I didn’t feel comfortable calling the ambulance because it wasn’t a life-or-death situation. I was also thinking ahead about how I would find a way back home after I’d been released from the hospital. I have a bestie who would have come and gotten me, but…. she wouldn’t know I needed her until she got up, made her coffee and sat down in the living room to check her phone (where she keeps it to charge overnight). And, because I still struggle with asking for help, putting her out like that when she needed to shower and get ready for work made me feel awkward. I considered driving myself to the hospital, which isn’t very far and would have taken me less about 10 minutes. But, because I’d hit my head so hard, I wondered if I might have a concussion and didn’t think getting behind the wheel of a vehicle would be a smart move. So, I ended up just sitting upright with the ice pack covering the whole left side of my face.

As I mentioned, I had a type of pain that I’d never experienced before, but, while the goose egg remained in place, the pain on the rest of my face began to subside in under 72 hours. Proud of the fact that I’d worked through the pain on my own (I have a low tolerance for pain), I figured I’d made it through the worst.

On Saturday morning, I noticed some bruising on my face as a result of my fall. I took a selfie of it so I could send it via text to my bestie. I ended up taking a selfie every day for about two weeks as a way of tracking the bruising, which got a lot worse before it got better.

I was surprised to see the bruising occurring along my jawline (not to mention the black eye that came with it!). As I said, I’d only hit my head, but as I was pretty much pain-free after about 5 days, I just didn’t think about it being anything serious. I already had a regular follow-up appointment with my doc for September 29th (exactly 3 weeks after the date of my fall) and figured I’d tell her about it if I still had some concerns.

In my opinion, the worst of the bruising looked like this:

By the time I went to that appointment, most of the bruising had faded away, the ostrich egg sized bump on my forehead had reduced to a chicken sized egg bump, and I wasn’t taking OTC pain meds of any kind on a regular timeframe. My only concern was that I had what felt like a bone jutting down from my jawline as if it had been misplaced. After examining me, she suggested I get x-rays. Fortunately, there is an outpatient clinic literally right across the highway from the doctor’s office, so I went right over. I didn’t have much of a wait once I registered. X-rays were taken and I was on my way.

I have no idea how to read an x-ray, and in my lack of ability, I can’t see a single thing that shows a broken jaw, but here’s one of the five x-rays taken:

Friday morning, I got a call from the doc’s office telling me that my jawbone was broken in two places and also displaced. I needed to see an oral surgeon for further treatment.

And so, I began the often-frustrating task of finding an oral surgeon who takes my Medicare plan, once I had determined what my plan would and wouldn’t cover of the cost (fortunately, it was 100%!). It took what seemed like hours – first, calling the insurance company to find out if there was coverage for this kind of specialist and if I had a copay involved. Having learned that the answers were yes and no, I began the search. The closest one I could find was less than 15 minutes away from me; the next closest was about 25 minutes away.

Of course, being a “new” patient, I couldn’t get an appointment until October 13th. Again, having no pain and no longer having any bruising, I didn’t have a problem waiting another 2 weeks. Meanwhile, because I have access to my records from St. Luke’s – my preferred provider – I managed to copy all 4 x-rays onto a flash drive in order to make this appointment go smoother.

The office was willing to take the printed copy of the reading of the x-rays, but I was told they wanted to take their own x-ray, which was just one. I was led to an exam room, and about10 minutes later, Dr. Wallis (he introduced himself) came in for my exam. He took a quick look inside my mouth, took a good look at the x-ray that had been taken in the office, and informed me that they couldn’t treat me. Huh??? I apparently had to go through OMS, which is (fortunately) St. Luke’s division specifically to treat the kind of breakage I had. He gave me a paper with a central phone number and the four offices within the county where I could be seen. I was befuddled, to say the least, because this was an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery office I was sitting in and this Dr. is telling me they can’t perform oral and/or maxillofacial surgery on me. So, I took my flash drive, a copy of the x-ray they had taken, and a paper that gave me all of the information I needed for the OMS division of St. Luke’s. Since my appointment was at 2:15 PM and, in my opinion, a total waste of my time, I took the copy of the x-ray and the paper printed with information about OMS and left there feeling frustrated.

Jody’s Jaw Journey – Prologue

I’ve mentioned, briefly, about having broken my jaw and recovering from surgery to repair it. From the beginning to the end, each and every thing that happened must have been filed in the “make it a disaster” catalog of my life regarding it. There is a phrase people use that are the words “Cluster F–k”, and truly this whole event qualified as a CF. I’m going to be writing about the highlights, but it will take several posts, and I thought it might be helpful for me to provide some general information beforehand that will make the things I write about make sense to each reader. So that is what this simple post will do.

I ended up getting a full mouth of dentures about 4-1/2 years ago. From this experience alone, I learned valuable information about myself. The biggest learning process was realizing that I tend to trust authorities without question, specifically medical professionals. I don’t have their degrees earned with knowledge, and I have trust in the consideration that all doctors must take the Hippocratic Oath, specifically the part which states, “I will use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment; I will abstain from harming or wrongdoing any man by it”. When it was validated that some teeth needed to be removed and dentures used in place, I didn’t even think to question whether I would be having some or all of the teeth in my mouth removed. I ended up losing all of my teeth and having to get full dentures both top and bottom. The bottom denture has never stayed adhered to my gums, but I’d learned to not wear it unless I knew I would be going to be eating something that would require serious chewing, and then to take the loosened plate out of my mouth (discreetly, of course) when I was finished eating. I also always took my upper plate out at home.

That is important to know because it made a big difference in my fall and the events that came afterwards.

I mentioned in my post “Falling into Fall” that I had taken a fall. It is the second time that I had fallen like that, in the same location and the same way. I’d fallen at oh-dark-hundred hours on Christmas Day in 2020. That fall included some sliding along a wall, and the entire left side of my back ended up being black-and-blue as a result. I had a little goose egg on the side of my head, and a brush burn on the side of my arm from sliding across the carpet. As a result of that fall, my doctor and I have been talking ongoing about my problems with balance and what could be the causes and treatments for it. Unfortunately, there have been some other medical concerns that had taken precedence, so we have yet to form a viable plan.

This fall started in the same pattern but being aware of how I fell the last time, I adjusted my body into a more fetal position. When I fell, I hit a piece of furniture on the left of my forehead and crumbled down to the floor. It was again in the wee hours of the morning and long before daybreak. The pain on the side of my head where I hit the furniture was intense and unlike any pain I recall experiencing before. I grabbed an ice pack and laid my entire left face on it, forced myself to stay awake (I think the pain was the force behind it) for several hours, and immediately started taking 3 Ibuprofen every 3-4 hours to dilute the pain. I dozed on and off for the next 36 hours, and each time I woke, I grabbed the Ibuprofen and took another dose. It took those 36 hours for the pain to subside enough that I could stick to the every-4-hours dosage instructions.

And that’s the fall that started this whole CF…

Below, for your reference in the future of this story, is a photo of a perfectly aligned lower jawbone.

It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve

I’ve made it a point to listen to this song on YouTube on December 31st for many years. I don’t bother staying up until midnight or celebrating in any other way on this eve. And when I wonder what’s wrong with me that I don’t want to join the hullabaloo with anyone, I can listen to the words of this song and feel that it’s okay.

I’m including the link to the song that has the lyrics included, in case anyone else will be helped by listening.

The History of Thanksgiving

The “theory” behind Thanksgiving is based on the story that, on Thursday, November 24, 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag (an Indian tribe) came together to share a harvest feast. We Americans, over the centuries, have relegated the truth of the time before and after that date to the back of our minds, so that we can focus on spending time with family and friends, overeating the delicious fare that is prepared so that the meal qualifies as a ‘feast’ and then an afternoon of football and/or reading the inside of our eyelids. For the primary cook, it’s a chance to dust off culinary skills – the same applies to the turkey carver – and for the women, it’s a chance to gather together after the meal to divide leftovers, clean up and have a chance to catch-up on girl talk without interruption.

But the history of Thanksgiving shouldn’t be focused on that one particular day when the Pilgrims and the Indians seemed able to put aside their differences for a few hours. In fact, one professor at George Washington University has gone on record to say that most of the stories are myths filled with historical inaccuracies.

When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe offered an agreement to the arrivals. This agreement would eventually serve as a way to protect the Wampanoag tribe from their rivals, the Narragansetts, and, in exchange, would help to keep the Pilgrims safe from other native tribes. This pact was strained by infectious disease, the expansion of colonial land taken by the Pilgrims and the exploitation of Wampanoag resources. These tensions greatened into what became known as King Philip’s War. The effects of this war, over time, devastated the Wampanoags and shifted the balance of power from being equal into being in the colonists’ favor.

Even today, some of the country’s Indigenous people consider this day set aside to remember a coming together between the colonists and the natives as a day of mourning, rather than a day of thanks. It is a time for them to remember the history of their ancestors and a day to reflect on the racism, inequality and oppression they still experience in the present. In fact, there is a memorial plaque located in Cole’s Hill, a part of the town of Plymouth, that has been erected by the town of Plymouth, on behalf of the United American Indians of New England, announcing that the date congruent of the day we celebrate Thanksgiving shall, for them, be considered A Day of Mourning. This was proclaimed in 1970, and on our Thanksgiving Day, American Indians of New England will gather, not to partake of a feast, but to remember, with great sadness, what happened to the American Indians as a whole upon the Pilgrims alighting at Plymouth Rock in 1621.

For the record, it wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving was given the honor of becoming a national holiday, and it was proclaimed so by Abraham Lincoln as a way to promote unity during the Civil War.

Now, go watch your parades and enjoy your feast and time relaxing. But take a moment to stop and remember what this holiday was meant to be and remember that this feast, in history, created a war.