Optional Pre-preparation Instructions:
0.1 Have obstructive sleep apnea.
0.2 Undergo maxillomandibular advancement surgery.
0.3 Wait until the second week after surgery, when you’re permitted to consume only liquids.
- Uncap an ample mealshake.
- Roll a paper towel into a tube, long-ways.
- Insert the tube into the Ample.
- Spread the tube into a funnel.
- Release a scoop of protein powder into the funnel.
- Shake the paper towel side-to-side until the powder all falls in.
- Add cold water to the Ample until it’s half-full.
- Recap the Ample and shake it vigorously in multiple positions.
- Return the Ample to upright and tap the bottle to settle the powder at the bottom.
- Open the Ample and fill it with water up to the top of the label.
- Recap the Ample and shake yourself vigorously in multiple positions.
- Drink and enjoy!
(Optional final step: Use the Ample to swallow an antibiotic and two pain pills.)
I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.
On Monday I underwent sleep apnea surgery. I wasn’t afraid. I trusted my surgeon.
I had my first post-op visit today. I’m healing a half-week ahead of schedule. My surgeon removed most of the rubber bands holding my jaw closed. He said my muscles were still too weak to hold my jaw in place. He showed me how to replace bands that snapped.
Two hours later, I moved a band to make my right and left sides symmetrical. My maxilla, lower lip, and parts of my chin went numb. I had recently regained feeling in these parts, having lost it after surgery. Losing it again concerned me. My speech deteriorated. I sweat in fear.
I sent a message to my surgeon. Those can take days to return. I called his office. They close at 5. I called a doctor I knew. She said permanent nerve damage can’t be done overnight.
I believe her. I still feel panicked. Each sensation in the chin prompts terror. Sure, they remind me I have sensation there, but they also feel like a stretched nerve. Worse, I still feel pain from the surgery and can’t separate the normal surgery pain from any pain I might have caused. My mind spins:
- Will a stretched nerve always regain sensation over time, just as happened in the days post-surgery?
- If properly-placed bands are holding my teeth in the right position, will I definitely be all right?
- How much leeway do I have in the band placement? (I.e. I am pulling my jaw forward slightly more than when I left the doctor’s office. Is that safe?)
- Did I cause myself permanent nerve damage?
I’ve never dealt with questions like this before. They terrify me.
Thanks, Dad, for an incredible day. More connected with you than I’ve felt in memory. Your stories that weaved from place to place—about which I sometimes ask, “what was the point?”—today, the sharing was the point. Maybe that’s always true.
Am I focusing on the present because I’m having intensive surgery on Monday?
Right now, I’m afraid. Not of death, but life:
- What if improving my breathing isn’t miraculous?
- What if I fail?
- What if I die?
Death I can deal with. It’s failure that’s unacceptable.
I’m donating my tomorrow to high school kids. Teaching, mentoring, engrossed in giving.
When I could die at any moment, why do I hop stepping stones?
- “But Kid, the best stepping-stones are rock and their own right.”
I didn’t think about any of that today. Just talked with you, Dad. And I loved it.
On Monday I go in for Jaw Surgery. If I die, I want my tombstone to read, “Died doing what he loves.”
I’ve never seen a footnote on a tombstone. Nor ellipses. I’m updating the medium. The joke makes it more palatable.
I joke because I’m afraid. I’m afraid because it’s frightening. I’ve never been closer to death than I will be on Monday.
I’ve always mused on death. I wrote my first auto-obituary at 13. The same way some people use the largesse of space to decrease their anxiety; I use death to accept depression. When I wake up late enough that I feel grumpy, the phrase “death and taxes” echoes in my mind. It reminds me of two crucial elements – timeliness and humor. One makes today matter and the other makes life worth living.
I’m spending tomorrow and Sunday advising a local high school youth group, and Saturday with my dad. If I die, let it be known I went out doing what I loved.
 Self improvement.
I struggled through five doctors over ten years before one correctly diagnosed me with obstructive sleep apnea.
It’s subjectively difficult to tell if something’s wrong with you because corroboration requires a doctor’s agreement. If they don’t see a problem, perhaps nothing’s wrong. Then again, perhaps they’re incompetent, or perhaps you didn’t communicate it clearly. Most doctors see a lot of patients, and communicating a subjective experience to a second party is very difficult. And even if you can’t get second-party confirmation, it’s still really your experience.
I pee frequently. Frequently enough that my friends comment on it. This causes me concern. I don’t know that there’s a problem, but I suspect something’s up. I could see a urologist, but that’s a minimum of two visits at inconvenient times to someone who I’ll probably conclude is incompetent.
Some doctors are great. Most are god-awful. It’s hard to know before seeing them. I’m delaying, which isn’t the logical choice, but it’s easier than calling medical offices. I’m solving my sleep now—one issue at a time. I hope I don’t come to regret waiting.
I hate my sleep apnea.
Hate, hate, abhor.
I can’t breathe when I sleep so I awaken repeatedly,
Nap on the daily,
and feel beat.
A lived life must be more than annoyance and suffering.
Ten years a-questing
To fix breath, life force, qi.
The first doctor declares me a statistical anomaly,
Second finds nothing
In a test improperly run.
So I find the right team—
The world’s experts, wouldn’t you know?—
Who spot it immediately, can solve it in a day…
As soon as I can get on their booked-years-out schedule.
The process is the punishment,
The surgery the solution.