Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Recovering With the Best

Our dog Lexi, who has been
napping with me this week.
   Last Wednesday I had my wisdom teeth removed and it was quite the experience. The surgery itself wasn't so bad; I was under general anesthesia so I did not feel a thing and the hospital staff were all very kind (my surgeon was fantastic). I am not always never the easiest patient, so being surrounded by supportive doctors and nurses is crucial for me. When my nurse started the process of putting in my IV, I was a train wreck. The last time I had an IV inserted, it was in one of those delicate veins on the top of my hand, and multiple nurses had to poke me several times. There ended up being blood on my hand, the bed, and the floor. But this time around was much better, because my mom was with me, there was only one nurse, she agreed to place it in the crease of my arm, and she even used lidocaine. I take every little blessing I can get.

     The worst part has just been the recovery. Luckily, I have not had much arthritis in my jaw lately and it has not seemed to flare postoperatively, which is a huge relief. I think the pain I'm experiencing now is normal, but it is always a struggle to know how much pain is too much since I have no one else to compare myself to. Unfortunately, in the midst of my medication-induced brain-fog I forgot to give myself my Orencia on Sunday night and only took it last night, so my knees, elbows, and wrists are pretty upset with me, and my right ankle even joined in the protest this morning. I looked down at my pitiful knees last night and audibly said, "Can you not," but then I just felt crazy and it certainly did not help the pain so I think I am done talking to my joints for now.

Kayla sitting in bed with me and knitting for 
a whole day while I did basically nothing but
cry, sleep, and spoon-feed myself a smoothie.
     The best part of recovery has been the people who have surrounded me with constant love and smoothies. On the day after the procedure, my friend Kayla (see Confessions and The Chronicles of Prom) came over and basically babysat me for 8 hours, which was incredibly generous of her, because I looked terrible and was reluctant to eat or sleep and there are so many other more entertaining things she could have done with her Thursday. To be honest, I don't remember most of the day, so unfortunately I don't have many funny stories to tell or moments of kindness to highlight, although I am certain they exist. Kayla texted me later to tell me that I started crying about my lips, which I thought the surgeon screwed up until about 48 hours ago, so I'm sure I was fun to put up with. Despite forgetting most of the day, I do remember trying my very best to stay awake in the afternoon, because I felt like it would be rude to fall asleep while she was there, but the pain medicine really knocks you out and I was struggling to even keep my eyelids open for more than a couple of seconds. After several attempts to logically convince me that I needed to go to sleep, she gave me some concise but firm ultimatum and I gave in. When I woke up my parents home and Kayla was gone (although she left a sweet text). Homegirl stayed with me until my parents got off work even though I was asleep. If that's not generosity, I don't know what is.

      As if that wasn't enough kindness for a year, Kayla took me to an appointment on Friday morning and came over with my friend Emily on Saturday night. The Friday morning appointment was hands down the most humiliating experience of my life, and that's saying a lot because I once didn't realize that buffalo wings were made of chicken (instead of buffalo) so I texted everyone I knew because I thought that no one else knew either. I was only having a TB test read at the appointment and picking up some forms for college, but I literally cried the whole time because the pain meds and hunger were making me so emotional. Everyone there probably thought I was crazy, but you gotta do what you gotta do and sometimes you gotta do it while you're all in your feels.

    All in all, my friends and parents have been so generous with their time this week. My friend Julianne, who recently had her own wisdom teeth removed, has been texting me advice, answering all of my questions, and assuring me that I will regain my mental health once I am able to eat normally. My mom stayed home with me the day of my surgery, and on Friday after Kayla dropped me off at my house I called my dad and both of my parents came home again. When Emily came over she brought me my favorite smoothie with a sweet "Feel Better" message on it, and my friend Taylor took me out to get smoothies on Monday (it seems like a lot of smoothies, I know, but basically all I can eat is smoothies so don't judge me). Faith is super busy with an internship this summer, but she still took the time to Facetime with me (pain meds make you miss people A LOT and I basically felt like I was going to die if I didn't get to talk to her). Finally, my whole youth group was over at my house on Sunday night, but I stayed upstairs because I was tired and weepy and afraid people would just laugh at me. But when I came down towards the end of the night, every single one of them gave me a hug and they were so nice to me even though I was a mess. Quality human beings.

     The most dedicated person of all this week has been my mother. She has held me, made me "mush" (the limited category of food I'm currently surviving on), taken off work, and kept me on track with all of my medicines. She's also dealt with all of my crying, and there has been a lot of it so that is an impressive feat.

     From the eyes of someone who is chronically ill, the pain from a wisdom tooth extraction is so minor compared to the everyday pain of arthritis. And there is so much hope in recovery! I can be certain that even though my mouth hurts now it will hurt less tomorrow. I will stop having appointments with my oral surgeon soon. She is seeing me in a window of my life - the summer I am 17 - rather than watching me grow up as my rheumatologists do. Instead of getting worse with time, the brokenness heals with time. The healing process is such a simple concept, yet it is also impossible to imagine when most of my doctor's appointments revolve around long-term care. I think I would be a much different person if I knew that at some point my arthritis would go away. Knowing that it won't takes a toll. And while remission is certainly possible and I may even be on that path myself soon, symptoms can come back at any time; there are no guarantees. So even though I am not enjoying the pain or recovery process, I am enjoying the ability to recover and I am feeling normal in that sense.

     Find people who will be nice to you when you are a mess. Find people who will love you when you have chipmunk cheeks and ice wrapped around your head. Find people who will love you when you can't stay awake even though you want to talk to them. Find people who will love you when you cry over Facetime because you miss them so much. Find people who will love you even when you are about to move away. Find people who will love you when you don't feel like yourself. Find people who will love you when loving you seems like an impossible task. They exist, they are worth having around, and they are so easy to love.

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