...and today's outing was back to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, for physio and speech therapy. I know my way around quite well now and in fact, got stopped and asked for directions by someone in the hospital today - maybe they saw that I was wearing Crocs and thought I was theatre staff!
Physio was fine - I have more exercises for my shoulder to stretch the muscles a bit more and found out that all the work I did at bootcamp had built up my pectoral muscles so much that my shoulder blade was being over-ridden, so there are some exercises I now have to do to redress the balance! I had anticipated that the physio might be a bit painful but in fact it was fine - another appointment next week to monitor progress.
On to speech therapy and, like last week, the focus is on achieving symmetry and trying to stimulate messages to the brain so it remembers I used to have facial nerve activity on the left-hand side of my face! Good news on the eye closure - not only is my left eye closing more than it did last week, but it's also closing quite briskly, which is a good sign. Again, I know this doesn't mean that it's going to return to what it was, but it is encouraging that it closes well and it means I don't have to tape it at night or - worst case - have another operation to sew weights to it to help it close. We spent some time experimenting with taping up my cheek and eyebrow to give my face some support and help prevent muscle droop, which is a real possibility as the swelling and bruising gradually disappear. That was quite fun, like having a diy face-lift! The gel and electrodes came into their own because I am now the proud "owner" of an electrical stimulus machine - ooh err, missus! I have to put gel on two little electrodes, position them on my forehead and then I get zapped with an electrical pulse. 10 minutes today, 20 tomorrow, then 10 extra each day till I get to one hour and then stay at one hour for the next several months. In a few weeks' time, I might attach extra electrodes to my cheeks to see if it stimulates some recovery. My lovely speech therapist, who specialises in facial palsy cases, also discussed hairstyles with me and responses to make to people who wonder what has happened to make my face like this. She is a real gem and makes me feel so much better about how I look because she can see the improvements since last week. One thing she did say was that nerve recovery is notoriously slow and that they need to see how much spontaneous recovery there is before they do any surgery to try to improve how I look, or to introduce some animation to the left of my face - so it may not be for two years, which feels like a long time to have such a different face. I still find it odd that, when I talk, only one half of my mouth moves, because I feel as if I am moving both sides of it. I need to just accept that this new face is my normal now.
It's amazing how tiring all this is - I came home and felt that all I wanted to do was lie down and sleep, so I can't see me returning to normal party animal behaviour for quite some time yet! Resting is good, though, as it helps my body recover and helps me get ready for the next stage of oncology, my radiotherapy. On the plus side, the radiotherapy will make my (admittedly fairly impressive) scar fade :-D
I hope you are all impressed that, despite low energy levels and being at home all day, I have not succumbed to the dubious delights of Jeremy Kyle (aka Jeremy Vile)......bad teeth and bad tattoos seem to be the order of the day for those who appear on there, as far as I can tell!! Being at home is a good excuse for listening to music, Radio 4, reading and - latest project - working out how to download free books to our new Kindle. Anyone able to help???
As always, my life is made more comfortable and happy by the constant support of my lovely family and friends, who make me feel cared for and (in the case of my husband and children) beautiful (I keep telling them they need eye tests!). It does help, so much, to have support and positive thoughts and prayers so please carry on doing what you are all doing so wonderfully well!