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The weeks leading up to my AMF were exciting although I was quite anxious at times. Kate (and then Mercedes) at me were great and very professional. I had many questions about accommodation, appointment times etc which were all answered promptly.
The day of my AMF
I arrived at 0830 at the Spire and was quickly whisked up to my room where I changed into one of those operating gowns and was fitted for embolism stockings (lovely). Both Mr Guest and Dr Sasada came to see me and my face was marked up for the procedure - much to my husband's amusement. I was then walked to the lift by an incredibly lovely nurse who escorted me to the operating room (do take slippers and a dressing gown). By this time, I was convinced I was mad but this is apparently normal. There seemed to be loads of people in the room but everything then happened very quickly - monitors, pillow under my knees and blanket over me. Someone kept hold of my hand all the time which was very reassuring. I felt a slight prick as the cannula went into the back of my hand and all seemed very relaxing after that. My face felt tugged and pulled and I remember my head facing one way and then the other. I knew I was chatting throughout - whether things were going ok - but I forget the detail. Then the nurses were wiping my hair and cleaning my ears and the tight bandage was placed round my head. Off in a wheelchair to my room and that was that. My recovery was amazing! I was given chocolate biscuits (which I ate really quickly) and water and then rested for a while until lunch. I had ordered a tuna sandwich which was delicious but took some eating because it was hard to open my mouth - the bandage is quite tight. I inspected myself in the en-suite bathroom and decided I looked like a nun but my face already looked so much smoother. The drain bottles were a bit of nuisance - quite large so a dressing gown with pockets is a good idea.
I stayed in bed all afternoon - Mr Guest and Dr Sasada visited me and were content with my progress. I watched television and dozed. Once the local anaesthetic wore off, I did take paracetamol and the nurses caring for me were wonderful. My blood pressure, pulse, temperature and blood oxygen levels were also monitored a regular intervals. All went well and I ate cottage pie and rice pudding for my dinner.
My first night
I decided to have codeine and paracetamol to take me through the night but was quite uncomfortable sleeping upright. Listening to the World Service helped though. The nurses also gave me intravenous tranexamic acid which helps with reducing bleeding and bruise formation. The second (and final) dose is given just before your drains are removed in the morning and this did make me sick as it was being administered. The drain removal was straightforward at around 0800 but my neck felt quite sore afterwards. My ears also felt that they didn't belong to my head! Mr Guest and Dr Sasada then visited again at around 0930 and gave the go-ahead for me to have breakfast. I told them about my experience with the tranexamic acid which they told me can happen with some patients. However, they do believe that the benefits (lowered risk of haematoma and reduced bleeding) outweigh the potential risk of sickness and I do agree with them. My bruising is minimal - just some from where the drains were removed.
I breakfasted on scrambled egg, toast, fruit juice and cereal. Very nice and very welcome. I couldn't believe how hungry I was. Then a careful shower and hair washing. I was very nervous about this and used baby shampoo. The area around the sutures was quite numb and felt very peculiar. The nurse then helped put on the antibacterial cream over the area which must be applied twice a day until the tube runs out. I took a long look at myself at this point. My face is much smoother, the jowls have gone and a rather swollen "me" has returned. My husband arrives to take me to our local accommodation. He can't believe how ok I look!
Third and fourth days
I live some distance from Bristol so we stayed locally in a relaxing cottage. I was very tired and went to bed in the afternoons because I just couldn't keep awake. My husband helped me with the cream application and I continued to take paracetamol albeit at less frequent intervals.
Today, I returned to the Spire hospital for a check up with Mr Guest and for the first sutures to be removed. All is going well and I feel a lot more comfortable once these are removed. My face is still swollen but nobody stares at me. I look like a fresher version of me. Just what I wanted. I will return to Bristol in a week to have the final stitches removed.
So to summarise, I'm very pleased with how everything has proceeded to this point. Mr Guest, Dr Sasada and all the team are very experienced, professional and reassuring. The Spire hospital staff are also wonderful.
I will try to update this post in a week or so once my sutures are all removed.
I'm now at home and all going well although I managed to poke the wound on my ear with an arm of my glasses today. Result - some blood running down my neck which quickly stopped. This was quite frightening so I'm very very careful putting my glasses on now. Mercedes also reassured me that I would be ok. Sleeping remains difficult because I find sleeping upright very uncomfortable but no painkillers needed. The bruises are now fully developed on my neck from where the drains went in and I'm still rather swollen but nothing worse. I am religious about applying the antibacterial cream with the help of my husband and the wounds are looking clean.
I returned to Bristol today on the train to have my stitches removed. I told the nurse about my glass poking incident and she said that everything looked ok now so not to worry. The stitches came out easily and with very minimal discomfort although it takes about 45 minutes because there are so many of them. There are scabs over my ears and I am advised to wash them carefully. No one can see my scars though - my hair covers them nicely.
Went dancing today - first bit of exercise for a while (apart from walking to the shops). I was very careful not to get carried away and it felt good to be moving although the sides of my face did throb a bit so I stopped after a while.
I've now seen a number of friends (who don't know anything about my AMF). One of them looked puzzled when she saw me but didn't say anything, another said I looked relaxed but another didn't appear to notice anything at all. Hmm.
My scabs have now fallen off - lovely. And I'm rubbing bio-oil into the scars and behind my ears. The skin feels very numb and a bit dry and I'm wondering how long it will be before the sides of my face feel normal. The scars are red at the top of my ears but the others are pink. There is also a certain amount of skin puckering behind my ears but I massage this carefully.
I've now seen many more friends and family, most of them don't say anything except I look relaxed and very well but one close friend (who did know about the AMF) said I looked amazing and that my jowls had completely disappeared and that I now had my chin back. Great! The effect is subtle and not over the top. I've been looking at photos of myself some 10-15 years ago and I would say that I now look me at that time.
The scars are now pink but are still noticeable. I don't know if the bio-oil is working on the scars but my skin does feel better for it.
Scars are still pink but are definitely changing. The numbness in front of my ears is starting to disappear now too. I am going to the hairdressers in a week's time and was contemplating having a completely different haircut from my usual bob. I think, though, that I shall wait a bit longer for the scars to fade. I shall also start wearing my earrings soon (I've got pierced ears). I tried this out a few days ago and they were ok for a few hours but no longer - the skin behind my ears is still a bit sore.
So at this point, I'm very happy with my AMF. I would say that my recovery has been steady and I've had no problems (apart from the glass poking incident). My scars are taking time to recovery but they look different every day. Everyone at 'Me' and the hospital has been marvellous and I've been so pleased with how everything has gone (and is still proceeding) and with my new rejuvenated face. I'll be seeing Mr Guest in May for my final inspection and will give an update then.
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