Ray Charles Dan on our neighborhood stroll.
Initially Dan's jaw muscles were really sore because the end of his incision hits right where those jaw muscles begin. Although he was hungry, chewing food was difficult. Every day that's gotten a little better and we've enjoyed eating some of his favorite foods. His taste buds just don't seem to be back to normal yet, so some of the food doesn't taste exactly right yet. The facial nerve, besides controlling your facial muscles, is also responsible for salivating. Since the tumor was very close to the facial nerve, it isn't a surprise that taste was affected from the trauma of surgery. We are so thankful that his facial muscle control wasn't affected that much, but he's been a little bummed that some of his favorite foods aren't hitting the spot like they used to.
The facial nerve also controls the production of tears. We've noticed that Dan's left eye which was the affected side isn't tearing up. For the time being we are using artificial tears to prevent his eye from drying up. The taste issues should clear up as he heals but the tear production may or may not come back. We just have to watch and wait.
Getting used to the complete deafness in the left ear has also been another adjustment. He isn't having much of a problem with one-on-one conversation but in noisy environments where many people are speaking, he has a hard time discerning who is speaking and what is being said. I'm also getting used to sitting on his right side so he can hear me. Since he had already lost 30% of his hearing prior to surgery, I was already used to having to repeat myself from time to time. ;) During car rides it seems to be more difficult for him to discern speech because of the noise and the fact that I'm on his left side as the designated driver. Docs aren't clearing him to drive for about a month or so until the risk for dizziness spells and vision problems aren't a high risk.
Although he's really not supposed to have alcohol for 2 weeks post-op, he couldn't help but just have a sip or two.
It's all about the small things.
Tuesday we went back up to LA for a follow up with a couple of Dan's doctors. His Internist gave him an A+ and said that he looked good. Then we headed over to the House Clinic to get his stitches taken out. Initially Dr. Friedman said that the incision looked good but he would like to wait a few more days to take the stitches out. Since we came up all the way from San Diego he didn't want us to waste another trip and so he decided to take them out. Dan's stitches were called a 'baseball stitch' and really did look just like their namesake. He had about twenty in total and they came out painlessly.
His incision actually looks a little weirder and as we discovered attracts the attention of an older demographic....oh yeah, and has the ability to scare young children. Yay!!
We are trying to enjoy a little bit of down time as much as possible but for all of you who know Dan, I have my hands full trying to hold this one down.
We have learned so many things so far from this whole journey - the value of a strong mate, the importance of good family and friends, and the power of a positive attitude & strong convictions. We have gained more empathy for others going through health challenges and chronic pain and have come to know the power of a generous and giving spirit. This whole journey has been totally overwhelming and exhausting but on this side of things we can say it has been an invaluable learning experience that we hope can help others going through the same thing.
To 6 more weeks of REST & RECOVERY!