Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bring on the bone saw

About a month and a half ago, a friend of mine asked me when my jaw surgery was going to happen. The answer was, "I have no idea."

My jaw has been finicky as of late. In October, I missed a ton of work because of the nasty migraines and muscle spasms I was getting. Stress fires up my jaw issues, so I took some measures to reduce stress, which the pain more livable, but still ever lingering. I was starting to feel frustrated. I had been waiting for this surgery for almost two years and it was getting to the point where I just wanted to get it over with.

My friend's question prompted me to do some investigating - how much longer would I have to wait, really? Here in Saskatchewan, you get placed on a surgical wait list and classified according to whether your case is an emergency, urgent, or elective. Mine is considered elective. While I do live in a world of pain, I am in no risk of dying, and I don't expect to be prioritized over someone with, say, a broken back or an invasive cancer.

I had expected to wait awhile. But they don't tell you your surgery date until about one month in advance, so you have no idea how long you really have to wait. The last time my orthodontist called my surgeon, his office told him that the surgery would be "late fall, early winter."

So, this fall, I stopped auditioning for plays and musicals, I avoided making plans too far in advance and I focused on getting myself healthy in preparation for the surgery. Fall passed. Early winter passed.

I called the surgical wait list hot line to find out what was going on. They told me the wait for my surgeon was an average of 21 months and I had been put on the wait list in July 2006. That meant I was actually looking at April 2008 for the surgery.

I know it gets pretty cold here and all, but even in Saskatchewan, that's no longer "early winter."

I thought my surgeon's office would have a better idea, so I phoned them to get their take on it. I got a call back saying that his wait time was actually more like 24 months, so the surgery would likely be in June.

Great. I imagined a beautiful summer with all my friends in bikinis at the beach and me trapped inside wearing twelve rolls of gauze wrapped around my face. (Not that any of my friends go to the beach or wear bikinis, because this is flippin' Saskatchewan, but it's the principle of it.)

Then, a month ago, I got another message from the surgeon's office. They have a date for my surgery after all: February 12. Of this year.


I didn't know how to feel. Excited. Freaked out. Elated. Scared.

And then there was the practical stuff. I'd have to take time off work, book a bunch of physio and acupuncture appointments, mentally prepare myself for the fact that they're going to take a freaking bone saw to my face and not only change my bite, but my whole appearance. My face is going to look different. After the surgery, my jaw will be wired shut and I'll be on a liquid diet for weeks. I won't be able to talk or chew properly. It's going to be a long and difficult recovery.

But in the end, it's all going to be worth it. Wish me luck, Internets.

Or as we say in the biz, break a jaw.

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