After my first surgery, I looked like–according to my poor traumatized daughter–I’d been beaten up. All I noticed was how open my eyes were. Sure, there was a lot of bruising, but for the first time in years my eyelids fit snugly against my face. I also had three small metal bumps across the top of my head. (It occurs to me that if you have a queasy stomach, you may want to skip this post.) The bumps were the heads of screws that were basically holding my forehead up. My grandchildren were fascinated when I showed them. My children, not so much.
Although at the time the brow lift and upper and lower eyelids had seemed like enough, a year later I was back in that same outpatient wing dressed in compression white stockings and a one-size fits none open-back gown. I do worry about that–why do they want it to open in the back if I’m lying on my back? Why not have gowns that open in the front for surgeries on your back and in the back for surgeries on your stomach?
Anyway, this time the surgery involved more than my face. In the spring of that year I had torn the meniscus in my knee dancing. The doctor assured me that the repair was minor arthroscopic surgery. Said I would walk out of the hospital that afternoon. Unfortunately I had to take his word for it since my crystal ball was in the shop. In the meantime, I figured if the recovery was that quick, I might as well have a few more cosmetic things done at the same time.
See, I didn’t want to have surgery on my knee, but I did want to get the rest of my face put back where it belonged. The brow lift had done a lot for my eyes and forehead, but my cheeks were swinging below my jaw bone. I know this because one day while we were dancing, I stopped suddenly and happened to look in the mirror. The skin on my face kept moving quite independently of my jawbones. No, I am not kidding. Sigh.
My two surgeons decided that while one worked on my knee, the other would lift the rest of my face and inject some of my own fat into the area around my mouth. (My mouth was beginning to look like it had been gathered onto a piece of elastic.) My plastic surgeon (also knows as the saint in my family because we really aren’t sure he’s mortal) would also remove cysts from my left thumb and right middle finger. (Too much salt water as a child I guess. It looked like I was growing barnacles on my hands.)
And all of this would have worked out fine except the orthopedic surgeon decided–without my approval–to do another very serious surgery called microfracture on my knee in addition to the meniscus repair. Now, if he’d have asked me I would have said, “no, hell no” because the recovery time for that surgery not only involved three weeks on crutches, it also lasted about a year longer. I didn’t have a year to spend off the dance floor–I’m not exactly in the springtime of my life, you know?