November 26th, 2019
My face is numb. My mouth bloody. My lip fat. I’ve actually never seen so much blood come out of my mouth in my entire life, yet still walked out of the surgery center on my own two feet, albeit shaken up and in major pain. Having no clue what procedures would be necessary when I flew to LA for this emergency appointment, the ability to simply function seems like a small win in and of itself. My reconstructive surgeon is a true hero. He knows the agony that my various facial injuries and complications continue to cause, the serious pain, the difficulty speaking, the trouble eating, the stressful confusion, the identity challenges — and has done the utmost to alleviate suffering and literally put my face (and life) back together since the accident.
Today, not only did he make time for a last-minute appointment on his jam-packed last day before the holiday break, but also took swift and necessary action to treat the mass of hard tissue within my lip that has been growing ever larger since my facial surgeries — which, among other things, removed the foreign body that was lodged inside since the accident. His staff couldn’t believe how big, how solid, how bizarre the mass in my lip has become so quickly, and he set to work examining first my eye (which we all agree is blessedly healing well!) and then my lip and mouth, of which the same sadly cannot be said. No one could have foreseen that this would be my body’s physical response to the initial wound, fallout and subsequent operations, but here we are, needing to take definitive action. He outlined in detail the risks of a likely-necessary next surgery, wherein he has to sever and reattach the main circular mouth muscle, undoubtedly impairing movement, surely demanding longer healing time and probably requiring additional speech and/or physical therapy. He said we could try another treatment in advance, explaining the potential benefits of injecting various needles and steroids directly into the mass to calm inflammation, break down tissue and attempt to alleviate pain, or at least prevent further growth, pressure or density.
I asked him what he would do if this were his face. Needles and injections starting today for the next three weeks, then we make a decision about surgery in 21 days. And so it will be. He mixed up cocktails and vials of who-knows-what for syringes, readied different sized needles and, with only local anesthesia, shot directly into the mass within my lip from a variety of angles. Blood filled my mouth, the degree to which I didn’t even know until I finally sat up— and it flooded out onto, well, everything.
I looked like a wrestler who had just lost a viscous match, my blood-drenched teeth barely visible behind the dripping red lips already swelling up enormously. That visual only seems fitting, as I feel battered, beat down, overmatched losing battle after battle. Thankfully, I have some damn good doctors on my team! Knowing not what the next fight will be or where or when or how intense, I have no choice but to continue onwards with every ounce of strength in body and mind that I can possibly muster.