Friday, June 22, 2012


Massachusetts General Hospital is a top-notch facility. Not only for its excellent physicians, but because of its proximity to Whole Foods and Pinkberry. My pre-op went from went from 7:45 into the afternoon.

Pre-Admission Testing Area
I called my mother to get some information on family reaction to anesthesia. She has hallucinations and my father had difficulty coming out of it. The doctors actually asked her come in to try to rouse him when they couldn't. (Anxiety level: 3) Can you see the doctor over my pale, unresponsive body looking up to the camera and yelling, "Don't you quit on me!!!!" (I can.)

They gave me a brochure with various tips: No ibuprofen or vitamins for 2 weeks prior to surgery, wear loose clothing the day of surgery, do not bring any electronics to the hospital (other patients' families will steal them.) Seriously? How f'ing hard is it to get an iPad? Who would take it from someone with a face that looks like a Mardi Gras float? Whatever. 

The lab took four vials of blood. I asked the technician what they were testing for. She replied, "Oh lots of things!" So I asked, "Really? Like what?" 

"Oh. All sorts of important things." Ok, can you test me for tolerance of vagueness? Because I think it might be low. Seriously, I never got a single direct answer. (Later that will turn out to be extra annoying.)

A women named Brenda came in to talk to me about anesthesia. She seemed bubbly and high-energy. She looked me over and started talking fast. She referred to me as "abby." I asked her if she meant "abnormal." (The movie Young Frankenstein is the ONLY way I caught her meaning.) Turns out I am not obese and have no other major health concerns. So I should be a "piece of cake." She went on to tell me no fewer than 6 stories (some about her hear dresser) that I could barely follow. Listening to her was like a stream of consciousness. All I could think is, "Please don't really be my anesthesiologist." I don't even know if she is. I'm praying she's admin. only.  After her, I met with a nurse named Peter who was the opposite of Brenda. He asked me all of the same questions (including in-depth characterization of my bowel movement – which I only usually get to talk about with my sister. I was so glad to have someone as interested in hearing about them as I am about talking about them.) He was awesome. I really, really hope he will be one of my nurses after surgery. He was very calming and reassuring.

How Many Impressions Do You Do?

The answer is eight. They did eight impressions of my teeth. I'm very tolerant of medical stuff, but this was gross.

Before they started, she said she was going to slather the area around my mouth with Vaseline. I said that was fine "I'm used to that from my pageant days." (Well, I thought it was funny.) Actually, she is very nice and lets me take all the pictures I want so I like her.

She first sprayed the trays with something from a can. It left a greasy residue on the paper (see below) so I'm guessing it was something to get the impression out easy (like Ass-flavored Pam). It sent crazy fumes up my nose (through the back of my mouth). I asked the nurse, "What is that horrible taste/smell? It's familiar, but I can't put my finger on it." She said, "Well, it reminds most people of nail polish." Yup!! That was it. It was like someone shoved a nail salon out through my nose. Vooof. Nasty.

It also left big tofu-like globs in the braces, but they give you a toothbrush kit that includes a dentist pick and needle-nosed pliers to get them out. All I can say is I WANT MY OWN PICK AND NEEDLE-NOSED PLIERS. It was the most satisfying toothbrushing of my life. Like sucking loose a piece of lobster x 10! Ahhh.

After that, more X-rays. If you don't know, you see a lot of doctors to prepare for this surgery. Apparently sharing x-rays is not an option, so everyone wants their own set and they want before, during, pre-op, and after – from the front, side, with jaw retracted and jutting forward. Seriously, LOTS AND LOTS of x-rays. They say its about as much radiation exposure as you'd get flying from one side of the country to the other. (But I also frequently fly from one side of the country to the other.) I'm starting to worry that I might turn into a buck-toothed version of the hulk. I did joke to the technician that I'd name the tumor after her. She said, "My name is Michelle, but everyone calls me Shelly." I am not kidding. She specified to make sure her "legacy tumor" is correctly named. I liked her.

Do I have anything in
my teeth? No seriously.
 It feels like something is
stuck in my teeth.


Dr. Messina did a bunch of measurements including my face bow. He put blue, weird goo in my mouth with a caulk gun and held a caliper-like thing to my head to take measurements. Ok. As I've mentioned before, I know I'm a goofy looking guy. I'm ok with that. I made peace with my face a long time ago. That's one of the benefits of getting older. Not giving a crap what other people think. Here's the rub. Dr. Messina is a new doctor to me and happens to be UNNERVINGLY HANDSOME. He looks like a TV doctor. So here's the thing. Who wants blue goo squirted into their braces and measurements taken of their face (that is so messed up it needs to be surgically corrected) by Dr. Squarejaw McHotstudly? It was a serious test of my self-esteem. Which I'll give myself a C- on. 

New Concern

So, Dr. McHotstudly said that because I'm so much older... (Seriously, just kick me in the nuts at this point.) Because I'm so much older, I will probably not regain feeling in my lower face. Crap. So here's the thing. First thing I thought about was kissing. Am I not going to feel kissing anymore? Weird thought, but I consider that a pretty serious loss in terms of quality of life. The next thing I thought was what about work? I teach people to do a method of communication that requires use of certain mouth configurations. Will I not be able to feel my articulation? I'm also a speech therapist. He said that my speech should not be affected though. It would affect sensation (feeling) not motor (movement.) I signed the consent form anyway.

The funny thing is that he then asked me, "So what is the lab testing your blood for?" OH MY GOD! I asked her like 3 times!!! Turns out I had to go back to the lab to get more blood drawn.

So, that was my pre-op. In the time I have left before my surgery, I've decided to go to Hawaii and to chew a lot while I'm there. Next stop Honolulu.

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