I had a follow-up call with Dr. Zukowski this past Wednesday. So far, he's happy with the progress he's seeing, and he has assured me that I'm doing well with my recovery. Some very good things came out of this week's call.
First, and most important: I only have to massage twice a day, instead of three times. I was so excited when he told me that. The massages are becoming a lot easier to bear, as the pain levels have gone way down in the past couple weeks. But each one still ends up taking the better part of an hour, and it's a bit of a hassle to shoehorn one into my workday. Now that I don't have to worry about them other than when I wake up, and sometime after I get home for the evening is a big weight off my shoulders.
Up to now, I have been wearing the support garment when I was at home. It had gone from a major hassle to a nuisance, though it may have played a part in a couple of brief blackouts I had. Dr. Z said I didn't need to wear it at all anymore. That simplifies my maintenance a good bit, and it should also help my skin recover - I've had some really dry patches under where the garment laid across my cheeks.
I asked about the low-sodium diet I've been on, and he said that I could probably go back to eating about whatever I wanted, except for super-super salty foods. I specifically asked about pizza, and he said it is back on the menu! It's been so nice to eat foods that taste like something for the past few days. I've missed them so!
One new part is that he wants me to begin using minoxidil along my hairline incision, to try to kickstart the hair there to start growing again. I haven't gotten to the pharmacy to get the medication yet, but plan to do that tomorrow evening.
He wants to talk to me again in two months, so I'll be on my current recovery regimen for at least that much longer. It's much more livable and less intrusive than it was previously. It doesn't hurt nearly as much as it once did, and I'm starting to see a lot of progress as a result of my efforts, so it doesn't feel like nearly as much of a burden now.
On a purely nuts-and-bolts level, the swelling is down quite a bit now. I'm starting to see a bit of definition in my cheeks, and my jawline is starting to show hints of... something. The sutures in my under-nose incision have stopped coming out, so I think they've all either dissolved or I've pulled them out. There are still some sutures hanging out in my nose, but they are coming out bit by bit. A few more sutures are poking through my hairline incision, but they're being a bit more tenacious than the others. The major incision lines have faded quite a bit, to my eye, and hurt quite a bit less when I massage them. My skin is getting back into good shape, since I'm able to moisturize consistently. Feeling is coming back slowly. Most of the still-numb part of my scalp itches constantly, and it's having hints of feeling. My lower lip is starting to get hot/cold feeling back, though when it gets a sensation, it pushes that sensation to a large part of my chin. So rather than not knowing what's going on when eating or drinking, it feels like I'm drooling all over myself whenever I put something in my mouth. It's terribly disconcerting. But it's progress.
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