Ocean with large rock formation

One year post operation: Tiny scar and a numb face

A year ago last month, I had surgery for some facial fractures. This injury included some nerve damage on the right side of my face. I wrote about when it had just happened. In the last year, I’ve had to change some of my expectations for recovery. This is my follow up on post operation recovery.

The downsides (which were mostly pretty manageable, though some were a little more scary than others)
  • For one, I thought that my nerve damage would heal more quickly. The doctors couldn’t say that it would heal completely for sure, only that it should heal properly. Much of my upper gums, lip, nose and part of the cheek are numb or have limited sensory reception. The muscles that I use to smile feel strange and stiff on the right side as well. When I run my finger across the skin, it feels somewhat tingly rather than the normal sensations. The strangest thing is that I can’t really feel when I have food stuck between my gums and my cheek on the right side. This means I have to check with my tongue to know just how much food is stuck there.
  • Second, I thought that the double vision would be completely gone by now. I still have slight double vision to the extreme right, but it is mostly better now. This was something that resulted directly from the surgery. Whereas, the nerve damage was there before the surgery although not to this extent.
  • Third, my right eye still doesn’t move completely normally. I sometimes feel that it can’t open as widely as the left one. I also feel that the right half of my upper lip had gotten much thinner within 2-3 months the surgery. Though, I haven’t checked old photos if this is true.
Closed eyelid with small scar
The upside

Post operation recovery has been pretty simple for the most part. I was able to do everything I normally did very soon after the surgery. There are those few things that I’m waiting to see if they’ll improve (see above). But other than that, it’s been pretty smooth.

  • On the positive side, one thing that I think I’ve taken for granted was that I was able to play ultimate as soon as I was off of medication and was feeling normal again. I couldn’t see well for several weeks and had to wear my glasses while playing, but that was better than not being able to play at all or having to rehab for months before getting back on the field. Yes, it was annoying to not have been at my best for Worlds, but I think I’m over it now.
  • I also took for granted the amazing work by the surgeons. I had hoped that the scar would be smaller than it is, but I really should be happy that it isn’t bigger. They did everything they needed to do with one tiny cut on the eyelid, and a small cut on the inside of my mouth along the gums. The scans show the titanium plate under the eye, and it is actually pretty long. It goes the length of the underside from the front of the eyeball to the back. I’ll try to post some stills from the CT scan, but they are on a DVD back home in New York.

1 year later

Me one year after my operation

I don’t take selfies often, so bear with me, but at least my face isn’t puffy anymore! It felt a little bloated for the few months after the surgery. I do feel like my jaw on my left side feels bigger because I’ve been chewing on that side more, but it doesn’t seem noticeable. I don’t mind having the scar anymore. The nerve damage is hopefully still on the mend, though it is hard to note progress in this area.

There isn’t much I can do about it, and it’s a part of my history now. Even though it was caused by a silly accident, it is what it is. At least now my 3 metal plates are a point of conversation with strangers and potential dates!

Have you been going through a post operation recovery? What has it been like for you?

Photo credit: Featured image above by Andrew Phillips