Today I started facial therapy for the nerve transplant in the right side of my face. I had a sling installed in my nose>eye socket>lower right cheek, and nerves harvested from my right thigh and transferred to my right temple feeding into my facial muscles. I’m just glad someone knows how to do all this. It makes perfect sense when they explain it to me...but then thinking about it later and I’m like WOW. they did what???
The craziest part is it’s working. Barely...but I could see and feel the little muscles in my face moving, and trembling.
I don’t even know how to explain the feeling of seeing part of your face move that hadn’t moved for a year snd a half. It’s honestly not been something that’s even bothered me. I’m so far past the worry that people will look at me differently....I can’t even really see them to even know. My eyes look I’m two totally different directions, and are paralyzed...so it’s pretty obvious somethings going on. I can’t stand and keep my balance...so not being able to smile is pretty low on my list of worries.
It’s funny though because everyone is always so concerned about my expectations. They never want to get my hopes up. My therapist today was like okay Me Sheppard, I just want to be clear here that we are going for kilometers of movement. MILLIMETERS.
I was like Ok. And she asked ‘do you understand that? Do you know what a millimeter is? Can you show me a millimeter on this ruler?
Ummmmm. Ma’am. I can’t even see your damn ruler, and I don’t care if my mouth moves 1/10 of a millimeter. So we good.
And then she starts testing my face for reaction while telling me that facial transfers generally take 12-18 months for the nerve to complete in the face. I have been having feelings in my face since early April. Benton massages the areas the surgeon told us to rub almost nightly. I do my little exercises three times a day. I can feel my face. I kept trying to explain that to her as she prepared to test the muscles. The first she tested was in my nose where the sling is attached and holding open my right nostril. It started quivering immediately. And she said oh wow. And she moved on...wow. And on...oh wow. Basically everywhere is starting to work except my right eyebrow...which is the farthest away from the nerve, and I never expected to work anyhow.
So basically it’s all starting to work...but I’ve adapted over the past 18 months to use the left side of my mouth for everything. So now I have to start retraining my brain to use both sides as evenly as possible.
So back to the straw. I have to drink at least one drink a day using the center of my mouth. That sounds ridiculous...but it’s extremely hard to get a seal around a straw like that. It takes me back to the hospital when I’d have to pinch my lips with my fingers in order to drink. And after all that work I’d barely get a sip of water.
But it’ll all be worth it.
After therapy Tommy & Brenda wanted lunch (it was 11:45 … way past lunch time) so we headed to marina variety store. As soon as I knew where we were going my stomach fell out the truck. It was the first time being back there without Trey. I just kept thinking to myself hold it together Thomas. Hold it together. Because once I start to lose it....it’s lost.
I don’t know how to describe my feelings. But it felt so incredibly good that T&B offered to take me to therapy…I had thought about it all week. It hurts so incredibly much that Treys not here to see me improve, that’s probably the hardest thing to deal with. So having them want to be a part of my life means everything. It really really does.
back to the straw struggle...
I remember while still in the hospital all droopy faced I was worried about all of it, and Trey just kept saying don’t worry about it. You’ll adjust. Just don’t worry....I never really did thanks to Trey.
I’ve never really worried about any of this, I’ve always felt like it would all workout...and it would be what it would be. I have bouts of anger, and misery, why me? WHY WHY WHY? But, they’re very rare. I feel so so lucky to be here today. I want to do everything I can to improve. I want to do everything I can. I refuse to sit around and be like woah is me. Ho hum deedle dum.
It hurts being totally dependent. But, that makes the parts where I am independent so much better. Doing the laundry, cutting the grass, housework...that all may seem trivial to you. But it’s so gratifying to me.
It’s really made me look at life, at priorities, and at what is meant for me now. Because cutting the grass is nice, laundry is nice...but I feel like there’s more to life. There’s more to be done. I don’t sit around well. I need some purpose in life. I need more. I need to be pushed, and do some pushing. I feel like I was given this second chance in life and it can’t be wasted...