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In the early weeks after the operation, I would say the incision lines felt quite sore rather than painful but the regular analgesia kept it controlled. I managed on Paracetamol and Codeine and only considered stronger medication once. I needed to take analgesia for three weeks as on one side of my face I tended to get shooting pains into my head when I ate or spoke. There was bruising for the first 10 days or so but this faded quite quickly. I had no problems with bleeding or infection and the suture lines have healed very well. Initially, I was quite alarmed by the look of the incision under my neck which looked like the top of a small zip purse. This has taken time to resolve but it is now losing its purse-like ‘ends’ and moulding to the shape of my chin.
On the day of the operation, after the initial injection, I remembered absolutely nothing else until speaking with Dr Guest and the operating staff just before returning to my room. With no criticism of Dr Guest, I did not feel immediately thrilled with my face the first night after the operation and was quite reluctant to look in a mirror, wondering if it would still look like my face. It did not help when Dr Sasada said I looked like Ena Sharples (for those who remember early Coronation Street) – good job I have sense of humour. However, when I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror I was surprised to see little in the way of stitches, only some swelling. I mention this because others have said they were thrilled and I think it is OK to take time to get comfortable with your new face.
Everyone at the hospital was friendly and caring but I was given slightly contradictory information by different members of staff which made me slightly anxious. Also, not all the staff who entered my room used the antiseptic hand gel but nursing staff were very conscientious about this.
I slept very little the first night as I found the head bandaging uncomfortable and would recommend taking in a triangular pillow to support the head and back. Also a net or plastic bag for the drain bottles, as it was quite a juggling act to organise them when going to the toilet.
You will not need towels or shampoo and conditioner unless you like your own but a hairdryer would have been useful next morning. I did not wear the nightshirt I bought but kept on the hospital gown as I was bleeding a little from one of the drain sites.
Foodwise, only order what will fit through a one inch deep letterbox, with the emphasis on sucking rather than chewing. Soup, yoghurt, porridge, rice pudding were spot on and in retrospect I would have forgotten the sandwiches and ordered double soup and rice pudding. Apart from the inability to chew, I personally did not feel very hungry for several days post op (a bonus). I found light, semi-liquid snacks were better than “meals” with plenty of fluids.
I started to feel vaguely human about midday on the day after the op. Before this I felt tired, slightly flat emotionally and lacking in motivation to do anything as challenging as brushing my teeth (difficult to insert brush through my letterbox mouth). Dr Sasada’s advice not to do anything strenuous for several days was spot on – I did a lot of lying around on beds and sofas.
Although the nurses were very skilful and kind, I found the stitch removal quite sore and uncomfortable and in retrospect would have taken some analgesia before going for my appointment.
Others have complimented Mr Guest on his skill, with which I concur, but I had expected this having done my homework. However, what I really valued was his uncanny ability to reappear at key moments after the operation when things could have gone wrong. Having discharged me he came back later and, finding I had not left, sorted out one or two problems. He again appeared in reception and made sure I was being collected. This made a great deal of difference to my overall experience and I appreciated it.
Thanks to Molly who answered all my questions promptly and accurately. I would like to recommend the taxi company who took and collected me from the hospital (tel 07702112816) and Anne and Ian at Avening Guesthouse which is in Long Ashton, just outside Bristol who provided me with a comfortable refuge after the operation.
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