After the Closure

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June 1, 2017

Pasadena Palms Hospital

One hour post-surgery

Y’all. I’m not trying to brag or anything. But I’m kinda killing this recovery thing. Every hour I have to walk the hallway. And dammit. I keep having to ask Marge to keep up. “You’re slowing my recovery, Marge,” I’ll say. And then I just tell her it’s the morphine talking.


June 1, 2017

Morphine Induced Chatter via FaceTime


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June 1, 2017

Can someone please tell me why I’m feeding myself? With a syringe. I thought that was supposed to be Marge’s job. She’s clearly trying to slow my recovery.


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June 1, 2017

Can you believe my belly fat is now up in that TMJ joint?  Seriously.  It now replaces my completely defunct and displaced disc that God gave me. Dr. Piper is like a genius. But did he have to leave that drain tube sitting there. And shave my side burns. Great. Can’t wait for those to grow out.


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June 2, 2017

All kidding aside….for now at least. Glory be to the One who makes us brave. The One who teaches us real love. The One who gave it all. And the One who will continue to carry me on this amazing adventure. Thanks for all the prayers, friends! So grateful for Jesus and for all of you.


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June 2, 2017

Winning at recovery, y’all!  Jeff Thompson, Dr. Piper’s P.A, says I’m free at last.  Time to head to my home away from home in Coquina Key. With my syringe. And Ensures. And start this life of closure. I am so excited!


leaving

June 2, 2017

Free at last. Swollen left face and all. But dang it. No more morphine. We’ll see how that goes. Ten minutes out and I’m already missing that pump!


June 2, 2017

First night home. This Demerol, y’all. I’m surprised I could even take this selfie. Swollen face. Tired eyes. 7pm. It’s time for bed.


June 3, 2017

Day three. Little blacks eyes have appeared. My face is deformed with asymmetrical swelling. I slept great. Then Marge rang the medicine bell loudly at 7am. Hated her at first. Then realized my left side hurts like hell. So I like her again. After Demerol. And y’all. One more thing. My abdomen is so swollen, I look pregnant. Which is scientifically impossible. And anyways, I asked him to take extra fat from that area. He must have decided otherwise. Great. Oh, and I promise I’m smiling in this picture. Can you tell? 


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June 3, 2017

I put on make up. Made me smile. So we went out and about. Tyrone Square Mall. Not sure why. But it’s dinner time. I have my meal replacement shake. Glucerna. All I could find. And they have….well, food. 


June 4, 2017

Not gonna lie y’all! Today was a rough day. Pain. Irritability. Nausea. Frustration. Until I remembered I love to laugh. And realized that I can still laugh. And so I laughed. With my mama and little sister all afternoon. Over nothing. Goodbye hard day. Hello laughter.


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June 5, 2017

Hey Y’all! It’s me. Only unwired. I got to brush my teeth and swish with saline water. And talk. For like 15 minutes. I’m caged back up now. Until the next 15 break. But the best news of the day….I have not one. But two. Two bowls on Panera soup in the backseat. And in another couple hours, the cage comes off again and I’m going to eat the hell out of that soup. I mean drink. Drink the hell out of that soup!


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June 5, 2017

My first real meal since May 30th. I’m drinking the hell out of that Broccoli Cheddar soup. Panera is pretty much my favorite place right now. Best damn soup ever. At least on this day.


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June 5, 2017

Ok. About these splint breaks. I hate them. They aren’t breaks at all. They’re more like torture activities with a few minutes, seconds even, to throw actual food down your throat. I mean swallow.  Don’t tell Dr. Piper, but I’m beginning to wonder if my #jackedupjaw is even more jacked up now. Surely the surgery worked, right? Because seriously. Demerol no longer heeds the pain. Oh no. Marge is calling. She says it’s time for torture. Grrrreat. Hopefully, I’ll see you on the other side. Godspeed to me.


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June 6, 2017

Y’all! Doesn’t my mama look so beautiful? I gotta tell ya. I’m one lucky gal to have a mama like her. Today has been the hardest yet. For both of us. She awoke early to the sound of my cries. And since then has wiped several tears. She’s watched me as I’ve endured physical therapy every few hours. Crushed pills and vitamins and food so I stay alive and healthy. Drove me to see Dr. Piper for nerve blocks and chiropractic care. Took me outside for walks in the rain. Laughed with me when I needed most. And the best part. The part I really needed today. She’s helped me keep perspective and stay mindful as I’ve found myself spiraling down a path of fear and weakness and negativity. I love this lady so much. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the best mama a girl could ask for. He knew exactly what He was doing when He gave her to me. No one else could handle this craziness.


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June 6, 2017

A walk on Pass-A-Grille beach. With my mama. At sunset. God’s beauty is overwhelming. I am grateful.


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June 7, 2017

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And I don’t have bad days. I cried more than I laughed. I hurt more than I felt relief. And I felt frustration beyond any I’ve experienced in my life. I prayed hard. So hard. But today. This day. I woke up with no pain. I did my first round of therapy with less discomfort. I ate….rather, swallowed…my favorite breakfast things. Eggs and grits. Cooked perfectly by my mama. And as I took my last bites, I looked out the window as I do every morning, afternoon, and evening here. And what did I spy? A beautiful rainbow. And not just any rainbow. A full rainbow that extended high above the water below. And that’s when I knew that all the prayers. The love. The support. The positivity. From all of you. It’s God’s promise revealed. He is for me. Not against me. And He will always keep His promises. For all of us. Today I feel like I’m finally getting my life back. I still have a long way to go. More than a year even. But the road to recovery is here. And it’s wide. And beautiful. And colorful. And all mine. Today I am still. And I know.


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June 7, 2017

The kid at Walgreen’s just told me I looked like Hannibal Lecter. Mama and I died laughing. We agree with him. You probably do, too. Welcome to my new normal. I think I’m going to have fun with this!


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June 8, 2017

Y’all! Best news ever. Dr. Piper. The man with the mustache. My hero. He gave me an A today. And he never gives As. Barely even B+. See. It wasn’t just the morphine talking. I really am winning at recovery!  And now I get to come home. Home. The place that dreams are made of. Watch out, my girl! Mama’s gonna drive you crazy with kisses tomorrow. Big, fat, Hannibal Lecter kisses.


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June 9, 2017

And we’re off! #jackedupjaw repaired. Awarded “A” in recovery by the world-renowned Dr. Piper. Band placement and physical therapy mastered. Marge killed it with the pill crushing, food mushing, and care taking. Not trying to boast….too much….but I think we did a pretty damn good job. Peace out, St. Pete. It’s been real. But my girl is the realest. See you in three months, Dr. Piper!


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June 9, 2017

Finally. Mama’s home.


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June 9, 2017

Sister and my girl nailed it. Piper mustache homecoming balloon. So good to be home.


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June 11, 2017

You know. Just wearing a heating pad. With my mouth closed. Coloring. With the kid. Sunday Funday. Or whatever.


June 12, 2017

Y’all! Check this out. It’s Milestone Monday. I moved up a peg on my Therabite. My first peg advancement. Right on schedule. I can now open my mouth 2″. That’s right. Twelve days post-op. I get to do this five times a day during my 15-minute band breaks. I also have to eat…I mean, swallow food….and brush my teeth during this time, too. I’m like Speedy Gonzalez. Like that’s a surprise. And I have yet to even finish a LaCroix. Pains me. Oh, and yes. That’s me humming “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as I complete my required 30 pumps. I learned this from an awesome #jackedupjaw support group. Humming the song plus six more pumps equals therapy speed perfection. And y’all know how I feel about getting things right. And one more thing. Don’t let the smile fool you. It hurts like hell. But it’s necessary. And I knew that once I was done, I’d get to swallow eggs with cheese. My favorite. And because I’m already learning the ropes of this recovery thing, the eggs were freshly prepared and awaiting me. Because I’ll be damned if I’m wasting one second of my 15 minutes of freedom.


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June 14, 2017

Finally. Vitamin D. And palm trees. And a pool. Even though I can’t get in. Until that silly abdomen incision heals. This morning was rough. Feeling sorry for myself mostly. Feeling the effects of that damn second peg on the Therabite. Feeling like staying in bed. But we suited-up. My girl. Big sister. And me. And we’ll be here. Until it thunders 45 miles south or north. Even east or west of us. And believe me it will. It’s June in Florida after all. Then the lifeguards will blow their whistles. And the pool will close. But when we pack up. Head out. I’ll have a different perspective. I won’t feel sorry for myself anymore. Like I did when I walked in. I’ll be grateful I have access to a pool. And sunshine. And palm trees. Anytime I want. I’ll also feel lucky to have a Therabite. And hope for a future. Of burgers. And kissing boys. And eating Kind bars. Anytime I damn well please.


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June 15, 2017

Just Marge and I this afternoon. In the car again. And it’s a good day. A really good day. We both curled our hair. And put on makeup. Probably been five days since we did all that. So we feel pretty. Not too much #jackedupjaw business today. I took my drugs like I’m supposed to. Trying to keep up with that #winningatrecovery thing. More like #jackedupbrain as we head to see Dr. Silliman. Another hero of mine. My brain doctor. The one who deals with my other health blessing. That MS of mine. Regular checkup. Another trip to be reminded that I’m scientifically crazy. I kinda like being scientifically crazy. Explains a lot. Am I right, y’all? It’s ok to agree. You know it’s true. Oh, and per usual we’re loaded to the gills in the back. Not Marge’s fault this time though. The littlest sister and her sidekick bought a house yesterday. For their dog really (don’t ask). So we bought them a little. I mean, big gift. For the girls. Not the dog. I think they’ll like it. Just as much as we like our hair. And makeup


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June 16, 2017

Sister bought us matching shirts. And you know what they say? God is our anchor! Amen to that. I’m not sure I’d make it through all this closure if He wasn’t on my side. Because seriously. This mouth shut thing is getting a little frustrating.


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June 17, 2017

Last day with big sister! She was my saving grace for two weeks. Made sure my girl was showered and dressed and brushed her teeth all while keeping her entertained. I’m forever grateful. It better not be two more years until we meet again, sister. Or else. Well, I don’t know or else. But something. So come back soon to your Florida family. Oh, and guess what. I survived my first out to eat meal. I didn’t get much time to swallow food and the lighting in the bathroom sucked. But I did it!


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June 18, 2017

I’m spending some time alone today. At my house. For the first time since May 24th. Because I’m not quite independent yet. And I live with my mama. It’s been one hell of a month. An eventful one. Of adversity. And pain. And joy. And laughter. Even through tears. But when I think back since I was last here. When I think back to when I was last independent. All I really see is love. Love of a father and an incredibly wonderful woman. Love of an adoring and caring auntie. All of whom made sure our little nugget was too busy having fun and being engaged to miss her mama. These polaroids I found are proof of that. Love of my own father who even texted me to my make sure I was ok. And he hates texting. The love of a grandfather who played pool and old maid and made BLTs so I could rest. The love of a papa who allowed his body to become a jungle gym for hours on end to entertain both me and Stella. The love of a sister who took me shopping and made me laugh and helped me stage IG photos of food and let me curl her hair. The love of a sister who continually told me how cute it was every time I tried to talk. The love of a my almost sister who recorded the best conversation of my life. One I will watch until the day I die. The love of my co-author who let me vent and bought me a juicer. The love of my best girl who texted me pictures of her little love to cheer me up. The love of friends who came to the rescue when needed most and who continually told me how beautiful I was when I felt like Hannibal. The love of neighbors who gathered my mail, watered my plants, and even bought me a peach tree. The love of a second mother who helped walk my morphine-induced ridiculousness down a hospital hallway more times than we can count. And most of all. The love of my mama. Who wiped my tears. And held my hand. And fed me. Crushed pills. Smashed food. And watched me take a shower in case I fell. And walked with me. Chauffeured me anywhere I needed (need) to go. And listened to me. When I was supposed to be listening to her. And yelled at me when I deserved it. And told me stories. And made me laugh. And supported me. And loved me. And helped me keep perspective. Every step of this journey. Like she has my whole life. And will continue to do. Man, do I love my mama. And all the wonderful people God has blessed me with in my life.


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June 21, 2017

In honor of National Selfie Day, I’m getting real. Vulnerable even. I’m sharing my current personal hygiene struggle. I’m sick of brushing my teeth. Every single band break. Five times a day. Seriously. I don’t even like to brush my teeth twice a day. To be totally honest, I don’t like to brush my teeth at all. Anyone with me? Don’t panic, y’all. I brush my teeth. Under normal circumstances. Twice a day. I’m not gross. I’m just pissed about this whole excessive brushing thing. And you know what. I’m gonna lose it if I have a cavity in 9 months. For real. So cheers to sharing selfies today. You know, cause I never share selfies.


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June 22, 2017

My girl and I set out on an adventure today. Three mile bike ride to the pool. Not quite three weeks post-surgery. Because I’ll be damned if I lose at recovery. Even if it means it nearly kills me. Which it almost did. Which I realized about 300 feet in. We made at least 17 stops along the way. Some for her. Most for me.


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June 24, 2017

Marge and I. Back in the car again. Ride along for me. She had to hit up Home Depot. For small fencing. And y’all know she bought the entire lot. Just like when she finds a shirt she likes. And buys one in every color. I promise. Gotta admit I was flat worn out after this trip. Major milestones yesterday. Bumped up a notch on that damn Therabite. Up to 3″ now. Ouch. And would you believe I can hear that belly fat squishing around in there now. I swear. It’s like sound of a fresh piece of bubble gum in your mouth. And I kinda like it. Sounds to me like #winningatrecovery. Which I am. Also, notice anything different about my mouth? Front bands gone. Less awkward stranger stares, too. And. Best of all. Fifteen minutes now added to my five daily breaks. What will I do with all this time? Enjoy the hell out of it. That’s what. So anyway. We made it home. Me half dead. And Marge got all her fencing. She better not ask me to help her put them up. Y’all know I’ll have to say yes. And then. Well. I’ll definitely need a two-hour nap. Like an old lady. Or more like my littlest sister.  Who kinda is like an old lady. Pray for my family, y’all. We done lost it.


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June 25, 2017

I woke up really frustrated today. Tears. I kinda hate the splint. And this closure. And my teeth hurt. But my girl and I went home for a bit. Because, you know, we’re still living with Marge. And we went out back. I looked at the sky. And thought. How lucky am I to be alive. This is a long journey. And I know there will be ups and downs. But God is looking down on me. And I am looking up at Him. And together, we’ve got this. Oh, and in a couple days, I head to the mountains of North Carolina. Now that’s lucky!


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June 26, 2017

I think I’ll buy stock in this Kanka stuff. I’m only a month into braces. And I’m addicted. Big time, y’all. Kinda like I used to be with Advil. This stuff is so good, I almost feel like they shouldn’t sell it over the counter. It’s like a narcotic for mouth sores. So basically, I traded one addiction for another. Oh well. On the flip side, I haven’t had a headache in almost three weeks. That’s like a lifetime record for me. No joke. But mouth sores. They’re here for a while I think. Nine months or so. Damn. Maybe even longer since the braces stay in for who knows how long after the closure. So here goes. Hi. I’m addicted to Kanka. Because nothing is going to stop me from #winningatrecovery Phew, glad I got that off my chest.


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June 27, 2017

Beech Mountain, North Carolina. My family’s vacation condo. Finally. A place to convalesce. And breathe. And heal. I may never come home.

sunrise

June 28, 2017

I’m not trying to brag. But y’all! I mean, really? God’s beauty is mind blowing! There’s something about being in the mountains that makes you realize just how small we really are. And just how insignificant those trivial things are. The ones we worry about. Complain about. The things we wish were different. Or better. The things we want. And obsess over. Like a closed mouth. Or cuter shoes. Or a bigger house. A prettier face. Better body. And clothes. And husbands. Or boyfriends. Like our neighbors have. Or friends. Or the strangers we see in the grocery store. This view makes me trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Going through exactly what He intends. On the path that He has designed. I hope it does for you, too. And you know. Marge keeps telling me I won’t shut my flapping mouth. But y’all. I’m listening. I woke up to this view. And heard everything I needed to. Look for the light today, friends.


June 29, 2017

Today is 28 days closed, y’all! Twenty eight days. I’m not going to talk about how many more I have to go. Not important. But what is important is what you see in this picture. I’m figuring out this “have mouth splint, will travel” thing. Like today. I whipped up a green and berry smoothie. Threw it in my #jackedupjaw cup. Then took it right on with me in the car to save for later after a few hours of sightseeing and shopping. And wouldn’t you know. Everyone got hungry about three hours in. And so we stopped at this great sandwich shop in Boone. I took a leisurely stroll back to the car. Picked up my smoothie. Headed back to the restaurant. Closed mouth and all. And guess what? There was a very nice bathroom to un-band and use my Therabite. With copious amounts of wipes usage, of course. And when the food arrived, Stella and I took our first bites of lunch together. In public. In a restaurant. Truth be told. I would have rather had her BLT on sourdough bread. But I enjoyed every sip of that smoothie. And every bit of eating out. I’m like getting normal, y’all. Well, almost. Ok, I’ll never be normal. But I ate in a restaurant today. With my kid. And it was awesome!


July 1, 2017

Not a bad view for a band break, huh? I’m a little over four weeks post-op and learning this “have splint, will travel” thing. It was a busy day with family and 4th of July celebrations up at our vacation condo in the North Carolina. Shortly after I did my exercises on this rock at 5506′ up, we took the chairlift down. The next is my favorite picture of yesterday.

I was feeling so much joy. And I got to talk all the way down the mountain. Normally. I sipped my smoothie lunch. In between words. Many words. And it was delicious. The best part was the chairlift guy at the bottom. He was happier to see me un-banded than anyone thus far. “She can talk,” he yelled! He needs TMJ surgery, too. But in his words, “I ain’t doing that mess.” And y’all! I have to be honest. I’m smiling big here. But tears came a couple hours later. At a shag dance party. Where the music was so loud even normal people couldn’t hear each other. And well, I realized my limitations. Big time. I love to socialize. And talk to strangers. Connect with people. And it was lonely inside my head. With words that I wanted to share. Connections I wanted to make. And it was hard to just sit and listen. I had to remove myself. The frustration was just too overwhelming. And it brought me to tears. Big ones. But my daddy came to my rescue. And he reminded me that this is temporary. And it is. And I’m strong. A warrior. And I can get through this. And if tears come somedays, that’s ok. Because it means I’m paying attention. And feeling all the feels. Today I haven’t turned off my heating pad yet. And it feels so good! I might just sit here and leave it on all day. We’ll see. One hour at a time.


July 5, 2017

I love this girl so much. Because she wears ruby red slippers to an Independence Day community event. And will still wait in line forever to have her face painted. And then chooses the smaller, princess bouncy house. Because it looks more fun, she says. I love her because she always spreads joy around the house. Even when I’m cranky. Or downright grumpy. Because I’m frustrated with my closure. Or have PMS. I love this girl because she loves Jesus. And sees goodness in every situation. And every person. I love this girl because she (tries to) read my blog. And politely tells me you should never start a sentence with the word and. I love this girl because she still wants to hold my hand as she falls asleep. After we’ve said our prayers. And Our Father. And I especially love this girl because she is my greatest cheerleader as I am hers. And yells, “go mama,” as I successfully swallow (kinda) pizza for the first time. In a noisy restaurant. Because to her. That’s just what you do. For people you love. I’m so proud of her heart. And so proud to be her mama.


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July 8, 2017

Because everyone needs a little reminder of their goals. Intentions. Purpose. And focus. Just listen. I might even get a tattoo of this reminder. Because I need it. Listen.


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July 14, 2017

As if having my mouth closed for nine months isn’t enough, Florida Blue (BCBS) thinks this is a fair reimbursement for a $32K medically necessary surgery. I mean, a girl has to eat again. And kiss boys. Burgers. Kind bars. You know the routine. I’m appalled. Insulted. Never mind broke. I’m (kinda) ready to fight the good fight. If I could just get this damn splint out my mouth, y’all! Silver lining….I’m now up to 45 minute breaks. That’s a whole extra hour and 15 minutes of freedom a day. It’s the little things.