What Do I Do? What Can I Do?
October 29, 2019
You need facial surgery ASAP. Schedule your eye and lip tomorrow. These must be operated on. Endure the pain to wait for further healing. Check back in a few months. Beware of muscle damage. This is too high risk. Skip the operations altogether.
WHAT DO I DO? How do I make a proper decision about my face when every single surgeon has a differing opinion? This is about the very functionality of my eye and mouth, as well as as reconstruction of the nerves, tissue and yes, shape, structure and appearance of my skin. I must make a choice in the here and now, but without the gift of certainty or luxury of hindsight, I fear the consequences and repercussions of whatever I choose, both immediate and with time as I age. How do I make the right choice? And how can I even know what that is?
I have sought out, scheduled, traveled to, spoken with and paid for personal consultations with no less than seven top surgeons and many more doctors, dentists and specialists – who have called additional doctors, colleagues, physical and speech therapists, friends and more to ask for nuanced advice and professional guidance on the best way to proceed. As with every aspect of my post-accident recovery, unexpected medical complications wreak havoc, this time associated with nerve, tissue and muscle damage, excessive scar tissue, as well as foreign still bodies lodged under my skin with fibrotic tissue amassing. Unless I painstakingly spell out every detail of the severity, scope, span and specificity of pressing surgical needs, which I do only for doctors and those who absolutely need to know, it is impossible to grasp. “How the fuck are we supposed to know what to do?” my mother aptly said when I burst into tears asking for help, as I attempted to explain the complexity of this mess amid utter exasperation, bewilderment and desperation.
Who should operate? Do I do my eye and mouth at once? Or hold off? Until when? Why? Best to do one part first? If so, which? These may but a few rhetorical questions to you (and PLEASE, for the love of whomever you believe in, don’t offer up any additional answers), but for me: THIS IS THE FUTURE OF MY VERY FACE, both functionally and visually.
A doctor called in attempt to comfort me, saying I was doing the sensible thing and that proper research would eventually take me to the right path. When? I got that all-critical second opinion, necessary third opinion, then the umpteenth one across six plus weeks of draining, in-depth, costly research spanning multiple cities — with surgeons poking, prodding, commenting on just how bad my accident must have been, what a freak event it was, and how well I did in my face — and I have just about reached my breaking point.
As if the dental process was not exhausting enough, when I finally found someone I trust in the oral field, made the final decisions, underwent surgery, and got the tiniest reprieve to barely breathe — now this: skilled best-in-class reconstructive, plastic and cosmetic surgeons proposing divergent courses of action, directly contradicting and adamantly negating other highly recommended top surgeons.
I get full well that there is no magic wand to determine the ‘right’ choice after trauma, or really at any moment, but these ongoing physical surgeries are supposed to be the relatively ‘easy’ part, before more complex neurological treatment and brain injury recovery. The stress around every aspect of this healing process is all-consuming, pain in my face only worsens, and sadly neither visuals nor functions are improving. This needs to happen, now. I sit here trembling, agonized, overwhelmed — awaiting a final phone call from one of the world’s best plastic surgeons and then I must harness fortitude, bravery and conviction to make the damn decision. But really, “How the fuck are we supposed to know what to do?”