Friday, July 24, 2009

The Weather in Maine is Disastrous

Here is the new HLS!

Plenty of people have requested an update and I hate to disappoint people (to a fault) so here you go. Thanks to everyone for the comments. It’s highly amusing to me what everyone comments upon and what piques people’s curiosity. Keep the emails and comments coming!

All parts of my head have been responding very well to the recovery plan. The swelling and pain have both decreased significantly. I have been taking Motrin for the past 3 days or so, and, have slept through the night without having to wake up for the middle-of-the-night dosage. I would say that is great progress!

I can still feel were the incisions are along my gums. They feel heavy and thick like I just had Novocain. I also still do not have feeling in my lower lip and chin, although I think I am improving every day and gain a little more feeling. Sometimes it itches – although not on the surface, but on the inside. Very hard to scratch! Also it tingles at times and that is just plainly a weird sensation. There is no better way to describe it.

Eating is still a challenge. I am quite tired of the soft diet. I don’t want anymore Jell-O or yet another smoothie. Yogurt, shmogurt! Have had some more pasta, some Asian (pad thai), lots of lobster bisque and lobster stew, which surprisingly my pancreas has tolerated. Mom is making her classic lasagna tonight. I will try a little but will stick with my leftover pad thai so that my tummy doesn’t give me any issues. Would love a crisp salad with tomatoes and peppers. Sigh.

The weather has been cold and grey for days now. Not overly pleasant or conducive to happy thoughts. Hoping this weekend to see the sun.

Everyone (self included) has been behaving for the most part. That includes Mom and the dogs. I know this is really no fun to report about, but the weekend, and my healing, is not over just yet.

Love to all,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quote from my Mother: “I’m Doing Two of my Favorite things: Drinking and Swinging!”

This was told to Jill while my Mother was on the front porch sipping a Manhattan and swinging on the front porch swing at the house in Ogunquit.

So here we are in Maine…I know I’ve been a bad little blogger so I will give an update on the progress this past week.

Fortunately I have continued to heal very well. I have thought at times this past week the pain management reminds me of the beginning of a Dickens’ novel – it’s been both “the best of times and the worst of times.” Percoset is really the Holy Grail of Pain Meds. Those were gone by the first weekend. Next, the viocoden – except it really does not provide the same magic. The good news is I’ve done so well with healing, that by this time I am off all prescription meds right now and have moved on to OTC Motrin. Wish me luck with that!

The swelling has decreased significantly and in fact, if you didn’t know me well, you may think this is normally what I look like. I still have swelling around the incisions, and my bottom lip and chin are still numb.

I’m trying to do my best of moving beyond the “nursing home diet” of butternut squash, creamed spinach, and mashed potatoes, but it is still hard to eat. Of course I have had many wonderful soups, broths, etc but I’d love to be able to chew and have one of the wonderful soft, fresh, lobsters that everyone keeps eating around me. Mom and I did scarf down fresh angel hair pasta with a jar of Ragu last night. After not eating for a week it was scrumptious! I’m mildly embarrassed to admit we devoured the entire package! Ooops.

Now, to entertain you:

The other night I went to wash my face with a spray on cleanser they gave me at the hospital. While in Good Sam’s, I quite enjoyed it as it was quick and soft and made a nice lather. I thought while healing I would stick with this until I was well then switch back to my regular Clinique face soap. When I got to Maine and have become far more cognoscente as compared to when I was in the hospital, so I decided to read about my new happy face cleanser. Especially since I had thought it had said “Face” cleanser on it, but now that some of the drugs have worn off, I see I was mistaken – instead it has this word I don’t recognize, “Perineal.” It does say its Ph balanced, which is good, right? And that the cleanser is for “sensitive skin” which is on your face, right? I decided to read the back of the bottle, which reads, “…skin cleansing with ingredients designed to dissolve fecal soils resulting from incontinence.”

I was washing my face with butt cleaner!

The weather has been beautiful and Mom and I have made several trips to the beach. We had a wonderful visit from Kim and Ryan from home (NY State), although it was much too short. Thanks also to Jill for bringing me up here last Sunday! I’m so glad she was able to stay and hang out up here for a day. This evening, I am looking forward to seeing my old friend Justin from back in my NYC days…

I’ll sign off now but just say that Dr. Ferraro has been very pleased with the results thus far. Wait until you see me!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Beach vs. Brockton

At about 12:30pm yesterday when I had my toes in the sand and feeling the warmth of the sun on my body, I looked over at Julie and said something like, “This sure beats staring at the pale pink walls of my hospital room at Good Sam’s Hospital!” She agreed.

After getting into the ocean up to my shoulders (did not feel it would be wise to “dive in” given the swelling/narcotic intake/other surgical circumstances) I decided I truly am having a miraculous recovery, based on the fact that 5 days after having major surgery I was sunning myself at the beach…

On that note, I am continuing to heal wonderfully well. The swelling is decreasing every day, and I have been able to notice a change even from morning to night! I cannot wait to fully see the beautiful new jaw line Dr. Ferraro has created for me.

The pain is still manageable but I’ve had some ups and downs. Here is where I get to do one of my favorite things in life: Blame My Mother: When I had my first surgery with Dr. Ferraro in April of 1989 (I was 17), the narcotics and I had quite a lovely experience together. Yes, we had a very happy, loving entanglement, me ‘n’ percs. Until I tried to punch her because she wouldn’t let me have another pill. Thus began her “anti-percoset” campaign. At the next surgery in August of 1989, Mom did her best to pry the percoset out of my grips as soon as she could. Narcotic painkillers are a necessity for surgeries involving facial reconstruction, and this one in 8/87 proving far more intense than the last. This led to a desperate plea from us on a quiet summer weekend paging as many Doctors on call at Children’s Hospital who may have been able to prescribe or assist somehow with the intolerable pain I was experiencing. Of course Mom does not seem to recall this episode quite as vividly as I, so last week she immediately began asking how many percosets I’d taken, as though the physical pain of having incisions and bones repositioned was incidental.

When Julie brought me + meds home on Thursday, I looked at my friend percs and realized there were only twenty in the bottle. This combined with the nagging about narcotics from the family matriarch caused me to hear my Mother’s voice inside my head: Must Scale Back! Since I take the percosets at the 12 and 6’s, and the Motrin at 3 and 9’s, at midnight on my first night home I only took 1 percoset. At 6am on Friday I took just 1 percoset again. Bad Idea. By the time I could take 2 again at 12pm, I was in significant pain and realized I had lost my “pain base” that I had built up and had been moving forward with for the past few days. Now I had to rebuild and hope that overnight I would be able to get rid of that painful “edge” I was feeling...

The happy note here is that since then I’ve been taking my pain pills right on time and following dosage correctly like a good little patient! The other positive factor is that Dr. Ferraro did prescribe more pain meds since I was running low.

Although Friday was grand at the beach, today, after Big Ivy (don't worry, Lil' Ivy is not jealous) returned home, it appears as though the girls needed a significant “nap” for a few hours. It was as though we had been out all night partying – except we had only had smoothies on the deck and watched tall ships sail in the harbor with Kim Z. Here’s hoping, during the 5pm Smoothie Hour, that the happiness finds me again for a full day of fun tomorrow as we head to Ogunquit…

More later from another state!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Eagle Has Landed in Chelsea!

Yes, I am home! Julie actually brought me home yesterday, and after getting groceries and plenty of meds, I was finally sitting on my roof deck by about 3pm, and she and I were drinking a delicious blueberry smoothie.

I owe a million thanks to many people. In fact, should I be fortunate to reproduce and have both a girl and a boy, I think they shall be named Julie and James – for very good reason. Both have gone above and beyond in providing care for me and assisting with other important aspects of my life (such as caring for Big Ivy) and for bringing the FUNNY!

As many of you probably have heard, the surgery was an unbelievable success. I could not have asked for better results than have occurred. Both Dr. Ferraro and I are overjoyed at both the level of jaw opening I’ve received but also the new shape and form of my jaw-line. I think the results are going to be astounding once swelling decreases.

I am actually functioning amazingly well. I am up and about and moving around, caring for myself far better than anticipated. For this I believe I have all of you to thank – I have received such incredible love and support from everyone that I truly believe I am benefiting greatly from all those positive wishes. I deeply thank you all for thinking of me and sending me your love. I am truly feeling it. It just means so much and has made a tremendous difference.

It’s hard to write coherently while taking heavy-duty pain meds. I am still very swollen but it has decreased significantly since Monday. The other day I looked like Fat Albert, and today I look like either a pug or one of those fishies whose bottom jaw juts forward, since my bottom lip and chin area are the areas that are most swollen based on where the incisions are beneath the line of my lower teeth and gums.

I have exercises from Dr. Ferraro to help increase my jaw opening, plus a mouth rinse I made myself with peroxide, cepacol, and water. I want you all to know I am storing it in a martini shaker… The pain is manageable, and I currently staggering the narcotics (percoset) with the anti-inflammatory (large dose of Motrin). Let me tell you the pain lets me know when it is “time” to take more meds! I have already begun to wean down the amount of painkiller in the night, but we’ll see how that goes the next few days.

It’s a beautiful day here in Boston, and I am fortunate to have such a great friend in Julie, who not only wants to go to the beach today but also is agreeable to take me! It will be a short trip, but still, I am overjoyed at the fact that 5 days after having major surgery, I am able to stick my feet in the sand!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Update - moved to a regular room

I spent the day with Heather yesterday. It was quite interesting.

When I arrived (about 8:30 am) she informed me that the Dr. had already been there and said he thought the surgery was a great success. Taking a look at her I agreed. She looks good and just has bandages around her chin and some swelling around her jaw and lower lip. She was still going strong on her morphine pump and the narcolepsy was still in full effect. Watching her dozing off while speaking and eating was particularly interesting. Many times I was sure that the broth or jello would end up all over her as she spooned it toward her mouth and then started snoring. Unlike the night before she would stop the sentence she was in the middle of and continue it when she woke up which was very helpful.

She has bursts of energy and is completely coherent then dozes off for a short nap pretty quickly shortly thereafter. She pleaded with me to go for a walk and when we got back to her room she slept for a bit. I had to keep warning her about not entertaining me and overdoing it.

At about 11am they took her off the iv's and morphine and gave her two percoset tablets. They kicked in pretty quickly and she was feeling no pain while the morphine wore off.

When they began intubating the individual in the room next to her it got very loud and we closed her door until the flower deliveries began arriving. She especially enjoyed the chicken.

At about 3p she was moved to a room (419) on the 4th floor by an adorable college student named Matt. She asked him all about his studies and made sure to put a plug in for Northeastern too. She also suggested (to me only) that he could return without his pants on. I didn't pass the suggestion along.

When she arrived in her new room the bed by the door was made up and she asked Matt if she could have the bed by the window. He checked and confirmed that yes, she could. He made it up and she settled in.

Since she had a private bathroom now she wanted to look in the mirror. She was impressed with the Dr's work and concluded that she looked like Fat Albert (her bottom lip is very very swollen).

Shortly after she settled in the housekeeper came in to clean the other side of the room and kept up a lively conversation on her cell phone while doing it. Later the nurse fought with the IV machine being used to deliver her meds but it all worked out in the end.

We spent the afternoon reading J14 and reviewing our numbers in their numerology quiz. According to their very scientific methods Heather is a problem solver. We also had a great time watching the robotic medicine cart drive around the hallway.

As if on cue the second dose of Percoset kicked in at 6 pm and the sun came out. Heather ordered her evening meal from room service as if she were dining at Arrows in Ogunquit and when the "water ice", jello, broth (consomme), ginger ale and apple juice arrived she attacked it with vigor and a little less dozing off. She was also happy to use the "April fresh" mouthrinse.

All in all she is doing very well. She does get tired and need to remember to take it easy but is thankful and said that she is feeling the positive energy everyone is sending to her.

I just received a text from her this morning and she broke down and is paying the $7/day for the television now and waiting for breakfast.

If you wish to visit please call her cell phone first to see if she is up for it.

Monday, July 6, 2009

ICU update

ICU Update!

Heather is out of the recovery room and in ICU at Good Samaritan Hospital (i mentioned the wrong hospital earlier in the day). She looks great , is cracking jokes, and tends to fall asleep mid sentence - to be expected when morphine is being pumped into you. She is monitoring her pain and doing OK. Having L'il Ivy with her has brought great comfort. She will be in the ICU through the night and will hopefully be moved to a regular hospital room sometime Tuesday morning.

While waiting for Heather's surgery, one really must visit the waiting room on the second floor. There you can see some of Brockton's finest. Isn't it ironic that so many people in hospitals need to go out for a smoke - especially when their voices sound like on of the characters from the Simpson's? Not only that, but is it necessary to call EVERYONE you know from the waiting room and tell them your news in your LOUDEST voice?

OK enough of my rant - this is what waiting around for many hours does to a person. But anything for a friend. I must say, it is quite entertaining for the visitor to witness Heather's narcolepsy.

Well, she is going to get a good night's rest tonight and is in great hands with nurse Suzanne.
Night all!


I just heard from Julie who is at the Hospital and Heather is out of surgery. The Doctor said that every went very very smoothly. Heather is slowly coming out of anesthesia and Julie will be seeing her shortly. More information as it becomes available.

Hi all!

Heather was admitted to Carnitas Hospital Monday morning, and after sitting around for quite a few hours was wheeled into the OR. Dr. Ferraro said it would be about 2-3 hours for her surgery. She was in good spirits and has really enjoyed L'il Ivy (her stuffed golden retriever). Will keep you updated as news comes in!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Surgery Details

Thanks for checking in to my blog about my upcoming surgery. Since this is my first post, I thought I should provide a general outline of the operation on July 6th with many helpful details. I will write some history of the situation at some point over the weekend, but that takes patience and maybe some adult beverages to help with the process of exhibiting the written word about my condition.

On the morning of July 6th, my wonderful friend Julie (not saying the rest of you are not truly wonderful) will take me to Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, whereby valium will be immediately introduced to the scene. At about 10am, I should be fully anesthetized and wheeled into the operating room. From that point onward, my life is in the hands of my highly capable surgeon, Dr. Nalton Ferraro. He has been my Doctor since I was 16, and has performed 4 other major surgeries in the past.

Incisions will be made inside my mouth along the line where my gum is attached to my skull. Based on the bone and muscle structure around my face and jaw, the corronoid bones in front of my jaw joints have grown thick, wide and long extending upward into the other parts of my skull. Dr. Ferraro will cut them back to the normal size for a 37 year-old woman. He will also lift and activate the muscles surrounding my jaws on both sides, to help mobilize my jaw. The goal is to help increase my jaw opening to hopefully 30 millimeters.

Some of you are aware of the surgical procedures I’ve endured in the past. In 1994 Dr. Ferraro rebuilt my jaw line and gave me a beautiful new chin. Sadly, with the progression of time, my chin has shifted towards the left. Dr. Ferraro will reposition my chin, and insert plastic into my left jaw line to help regain symmetry, adding an additional plastic to what he placed in my jaw in 1994.

Lastly, Dr. Ferraro is going to inject medically approved Botox into various muscles in my cheeks to hopefully weaken various facial nerves to assist with great symmetry. We did try this about 15 years ago, with little success. Please send positive vibes for a better reaction this time.

Julie, Jim, Jill and Lily will all have information and be able to update the site, so that you will all know how my operation is progressing.

Jim can be emailed with specifics at

Thanks for reading. I will post myself when I am able.

All my love, Heather