The Longest Month

17 Nov

Just over four weeks ago I happily trotted into elective surgery. I agreed to Maxillo Mandibular Advancement (MMA) as the best chance of preventing my appalling sleep apnoea. Success will mean my wife can sleep in peace. Success will mean I can benefit from a night asleep and rise without exhaustion. I say “I agreed” because I had to sign several permissions including the use of bone material from other locations and photography of the operation, some of which I have seen: good focus and plenty of clear detail. I heard a full explanation of the procedure and the recovery expectations from the highly experienced and tremendously qualified surgeon: a leading Maxillo-Facial specialist.
A full explanation of the procedure and the recovery process which I understood perfectly. I understood intellectually exactly what would happen: my jaws would be broken and pulled forward approximately 10mm. My face would change somewhat but the benefit would be the increased  airflow into my pharynx. Metal plates would be fitted into my jaws to set them in their new locations and scaffolding would be placed into my mouth as a set of splints and wires while healing progresses. There will be pain as a result of this surgery. Obviously there will be pain and discomfort. I understood nothing.

I understood exactly what would happen but had no idea how much pain and discomfort might be involved. The surgeon told me, hours after the operation, that all had gone as planned, no problems occurred, I would recover in the ensuing four weeks and the benefits are immediate: I should be sleeping perfectly already. The X-rays taken a week later confirmed the increased pharyngeal space: I am cured. Maybe.

I am happy to say I agreed to this procedure, I was and I still am, grateful to the surgeon for adding me into his programme which has helped many people. He definitely explained fully the process and the results expected. I must also say I had no understanding of the reality. I have been unable to write coherently since the surgery because I have been unable to think coherently or to concentrate for any time on anything. I have never previously suffered such constant torture, not for hours let alone weeks. If I had a choice now, I doubt I would agree. I kept a journal as frequently as I could in an effort to displace my discomfort, to occupy my mind away from the aching, itching, burning, stabbing pains which I am still feeling almost five weeks later. My next posts will be that journal: the procedure might be worth the pain, I have yet to discover the benefits but anyone considering MMA might want to read the slightly negative report before committing themselves to the irreversible procedure.

I go now for the next dose of painkillers: every few hours, day after day. The nerve functions will take months to return, I am told, while those nerves do not work, much of  my face being numb, random pains plague my lips and nose.



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