Thursday, March 12, 2009

Immense Gratitude

Regardless of how tired or sick I feel at this point, I had to write this blog post tonight. I am writing tonight because I have received so many e-mails, calls and Facebook comments that I wanted to let everyone know the immense gratitude I feel for your concern, warm thoughts and best wishes. I really do appreciate all that everyone has done and has written to me. Thank you all so very much!!! So here are some more details of what actually occurred. Late last Friday one of my molars on the lower left side of mouth began to hurt significantly. It hurt so badly that if I touched it with my finger I would practically hit the ceiling in pain. Unfortunately but the time this occurred on Friday it was too late for me to get to the dentist as they were already closed. Saturday morning I called the emergency line for my dentist and got their on-call dentist. He assumed I had an abscessed tooth and prescribed an antibiotic and pain-killer for me. He told me to get in the office as soon as I could on Monday morning. By Saturday afternoon/evening my face had started to swell and I also began running a fever. Sunday was hell but I made it through the day. Monday morning I called the dentist and go an appointment scheduled for 3:00PM Monday. As expected I was diagnosed with an abscessed tooth. The tooth involved had taken heavy damage from my nightly tooth grinding and it had been capped the year before. I had a root canal performed and everyone assumed things would be great. Unfortunately for me, my fever spiked after I returned home from the dentist office. Tuesday morning I awoke to my face heavily swollen right under my chin. The swelling near the tooth had subsided to some degree and this new area of swelling was painful and large. I figure it was still OK as I seemed to feel a little better during the day. Unfortunately, the fever came back that night and when I woke up the next morning the swelling was even worse. I knew I had to go back to my dentist. I got in to see my dentist at 11:00AM and he immediately referred me to an oral surgeon in Parker. I got that appointment for 1:00PM. The surgeon upon seeing me thought it was best that I head to the hospital and have a CT Scan of my neck. The way he characterized the situation was that he felt I had a significant abscessed infection in the soft tissue of my neck that resulted from the abscessed tooth. He said that it was a “potentially life threatening situation” as the infection appeared to be moving so fast. His concern was that the pressure the swollen area was applying to my wind pipe could very rapidly cut off the entire wind pipe – which would of course cause me to die. My CT Scan was at Skyridge Hospital in Lone Tree at 2:30PM. When the CT scan was complete I went back to the waiting room to wait for a copy of the test on DVD. The oral surgeon was there waiting for the results also – that concerned me a little – though he said the hospital was on the way home and he wanted to address the issue ASAP. He told me he would call me within the next hour to discuss the results. I headed home and waited for his call. His call came very quickly. He wanted me to be at Littleton Adventist Hospital for surgery at 6:00PM Needless to say I was kind of stunned. I got all the arrangements I needed to have made for Zack and I talked things through with everyone I needed to and headed to the hospital. I arrived at 6:15PM and went through a confusing registration and check-in process. Things had gotten messed up because it was done so quickly and so late in the day. Thankfully my sister-in-law Celinde is a partner in a medical practice on the hospital campus. She met me at the admissions area and helped get things straightened out. (She knows everyone there!)

(Celinde took this in the per-op area before I went in for the operation.)

They had me go to a regular room first because they expected me to stay overnight. If the procedure had been done earlier in the day, in all likelihood it would have been done out patient. But because it was so late already – they wanted me to stay the night. I got to my room – Room 452 around 7:15PM and quickly got changed into a hospital gown as the pre-op nurses were calling up for me already. I got on a cart and they took me down to the pre-op area. Once there, the anesthesiologist and oral surgeon meet with me to explain all the risks and had me sign all the consents. Having signed as many consent forms as I had in the prior 3 years for Patty, I didn’t have a lot of questions concerning these consent forms. After that they gave me some Versed and I of course started acting goofy. I remember the cart ride to the OR, moving over to the OR table and then having the mask placed over my face for the general anesthesia. After that I woke up in the recovery room and I felt great. Half of my mouth was stuffed full of gauze so I had a hard time talking but I remember saying goofy stuff to the nurse and just feeling kind of good. The actual procedure only took 40 minutes and I was in the recovery room by 9:00PM. After about 20 minutes I was transported back to room 452. After hanging out for awhile I felt totally awake. The incision didn’t really hurt that much but I could sleep at all, so I asked the nurse for some medication so I could fall asleep. She got some for me and I was out like a light in no time. I was awaken numerous times throughout the night. Since I was post-surgical they were checking my vital signs every hour for the first four hours – which sucked. In the morning I was very anxious to get out of there, but the doctor didn’t come by until almost 11:00AM. He pulled the gauze out of the mouth and told me that the nurses could have done that during the night. Oh well – I survived it. He looked at the incision, changed the dressing and said “Go Home”. Once the nurse got the paperwork together, she pulled out my IV and pointed me towards the door. It was weird in the fact that they didn’t even make me go out in a wheelchair. I have a follow up appointment at the oral surgeon tomorrow. Hopefully things are moving in the right way because I really don’t like dealing with this stuff. I don’t want to have to be operated on again. I don’t want to have to put my family and friends through this again. I think it definitely took a little bit of a toll on Zack as he had a difficult day at school and got himself in a bit of trouble. I can understand – the little boy is having has had to see so much with Patty so I am sure there were lots of worries and concerns in his mind about what might happen to me.

(Self-portrait once I got home.)

Anyway – that is the story of the operation. I am going to sign off now as I really want to get some rest. Once again – thanks for all the calls, e-mails, and concern. It has been greatly appreciated. Thanks and peace to all!

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