Numb and Number: Or, Healing is Not for Sissies

It’s now been five weeks since my surgery. Although I look almost normal, with some visible swelling on the right side of my face, I still feel as though I am wearing a mask.


I can tell the numbness is going away by the sometimes tingly, sometimes sharp messages I’m getting from the nerves in the affected areas. As my doctor described this, it’s like the “pins and needles” you feel when your foot or something goes to sleep and it starts to “wake up” again. Still can’t do lipstick by “feel,” or who knows where it would end up?

And now I have been advised to do some jaw stretching exercises to regain some range of motion there. This is really hard! I have a stack of tongue depressors rubber banded together that I place in the opening I can manage now, then wiggle the stack up and down, teeter-totter like, in an effort to make the opening a little bigger, slowly and gently. I’m afraid my lighthouse imitation days are over, and if you never saw me do it, well, too bad. I might be able to pass the torch to someone else in the family. In any case, not only can I not do the lighthouse, I find that anything with alcohol or anything mildly acidic does not feel too good in the healing areas. These days I am more like Ms Kleenex than Ms Barstool. If you’ve seen me lately, you’ll know what I mean. The drippage factor is out of my control, and I give everyone fair warning. I’m told that this is just the way it’s going to be, since things have been rearranged and removed up in the area where such things originate. (My husband assures me that it’s not as bad as I think it is, but I have to disagree, speaking as the new Kleenex Queen around here.)

In the last week I saw both my docs and got a good report. I’m healing on schedule and taking appropriate care. One thing I discovered is that I need to build up my iron supply, which would explain my sudden craving for spinach.

I hope that with lots of spinach and some iron gluconate, I can get back to my former energy level and strength in a couple of months or so. As I am finding out, healing is not for sissies!




During my last visit with my surgeon, I asked if he could show me what he’d done during my surgery on a model. He brought in a model of a skull, and–alas–was happy to demonstrate where he’d removed this and that–and my immediate reaction was, why did I ask?



Still rocking the mushy foods, and have a great supply of healthy soup. I’m hoping to gradually advance to intermediate chewing. The road will be long, but I’m feeling lots of love and support from so many. And I’ve got Ziggy to cuddle.


me and Ziggy










But seriously?  I’m hoping no one will take any more pieces of anything ever again.


17 Responses to Numb and Number: Or, Healing is Not for Sissies

  1. Brenda says:

    Beautiful and artful, with your touch of wry humor. You looked lovely and intact the other night. Xox Brenda

  2. Cathy Sweetman says:

    Thanks for the update Risa. You look beautiful, despite the enormity of the surgery and the arduous recovery. Ms. Barstool will return, and I look forward to her writings and recommendations.

  3. Elizabeth Fishel says:

    Your good humor and spirits are still all in one piece–keep up the good healing!

  4. Beth Havey says:


    You are a heroine. You’ve been so strong and compliant (MDs and RNs love that) and your reward–to be healing on schedule. I toast you and say YOU LOOK MARVELOUS, Beth

  5. This is the time to slurp down a lot of milkshakes with no penalty, right? I am with you as I just hit week 8 post knee replacement. The pins and needles gig is tough. One day you’ll look back and ….. well, I hope you’ll remember no pain.

  6. Christine Bertko says:

    Risa, I don’t remember the lighthouse imitation! How did I miss this?

  7. Carol says:

    You’re big time brave, girl. Warm healing wishes and love

  8. Marcia says:

    You amaze me, dear sweet Risa! I hope sharing your journey is healing…you are an artful journalist/blogger & your audience is so glad to know you are on schedule & bravely facing your day-by-day recovery….love, Marcia

  9. Cindy P. says:

    Still the same ol’ Risa … how do you do it?!

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