Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tooth-Hurty Appointment

Some of you (none of you) have asked me how my recent surgery went - the surgery I had yesterday - and since I haven't actually updated my blog in months I thought I'd kill two birds with one boring stone.

The story begins about a week ago when I was going for a routine post surgery checkup (the op I had a month back). Luckily for me this checkup coincided with the morning that some bone, from my skull, started to poke through the gum. The surgeon agreed with my non-medical opinion that we needed to sort the fuck out of this situation so I was booked in for some fixing.

Above is the before and after pic of what I like to call my mouth.

I opted for a local anathetic because I'm tough like that and after a bit of numbing and injections the team went to work on fixing my face. Being as I was fully conscious for the whole operation I was able to observe quite alot of what was happening to me.

First of all there was the important task of selecting the tunes for procedure. They gave me a choice of either George Micheal or Micheal Jackson. Unfortunately - as I was biting down on something at the time - my cries of 'kill me now' were interpreted as a big yes for the now deceased king of pop.

Stage two involved cutting open my gum and removing the bone graft within. I was quite surprised to find that this involved a screw driver and a pair of pliers - apparently dentistry is the new carpentry. After a bit of effort the offending bone was prised free and the cause of the gum protrusion could be determined.

It seems that my skull started repairing itself form a layer of new bone that pushed the grafted bone out of my face. Anyway this new growth hadn't taken to the antithetic and was mightily painful regarding the whole slice and bone removal part.

The exposed cavity was sanded down a bit and cleaned while the bone graft was reshaped, drilled, and then put back in with longer screws this time for some reason.

Finally as the antithetic started to wear off I was stitched up and cleaned and sent on my merry way. Starting to feel quite a bit of pain once outside I made my as quickly as I could to the nearest chemist to pick up my precious drugs. By now the anithetic was almost completely gone and I was in a fair bit on pain - I nearly passed out while waiting for the presciption to be prepared. Eventually the drugs appeared and after some sweet sweet opiates the pain started to become bearable.

Not much pain today (the next day) but lots of swelling. Have decided to take the day off to recouperate and have tried my best to spend my free time relaxing but productively:

I only had three pens (two biros and a dying orange highlighter) and the only photo I could find was of the Hon Heather Roy who smiles coquettishly from a fridge magnet that we have for some reason.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Hong Kong

About a month ago I started on my Christmas trip home to wintery Scotland; to break up the epic distance, and lessen the jet-lag, I took a two day stop over in the port of Hong Kong.

Normally my standard game plan for such a holiday would be this:
  1. Wander around a bit
  2. Get lost
  3. Look at guide book and decide on something to do/see
  4. Get lost some more
  5. Get bored
  6. Find something else to do
  7. Repeat until too tired to stand
But since I was feeling tired/lazy and I'd booked the trip through an agent I arrived with pre-planned itineraries.

Phase one was to get my hotel. As with most of my trips the hotel was at least two classes above what I needed, contrast - if you will - the image of a be-shorted, unshaven, Scotsman, carrying a large hiking pack on his back and several other bags in hand; against the rest of the clientèle with their designer suits, expensive cases, and unwillingness to carry anything for themselves; no wonder the staff looked nervous when I walked in.

Day one involved a trip around the harbour areas with some Australians whose accents made every sentence seem like a complaint. This involved going up Victoria Peak via a cable car ride which makes the Wellington one look flat.

From there we went to Aberdeen to look at how poor people live and took a San-Pan ride around the harbour area. After that we went to some jewellers then some market and then some other stuff.

At night I reverted to my stock plan of exploring the city by getting lost in it. Hong Kong looks pretty cool at night especially when half the skyscrapers all have massive Christmas lights on them.

The next day was scheduled to be a trip around one of the more rural islands which on paper sounded like a wasted day of things-I-can't-be-bothered-with. However it turned out to be a pretty top day, possibly because the group I was with was a mix of Scots and Kiwis.

It started out with a gondola ride up to a Buddhist monastery which boasts the biggest statue of Buddha in the world. This was actually a pretty cool place, the area was really nice, the statue was massive, the temples near by were pretty cool, and all the rest of the stuff was good.

Next we went to some fishing village. I'll admit I didn't enjoy this much being vegetarian and all.

Pretty sure did other stuff too but can't really remember much about trip other than being dog tired all the time.

Had to worry about flights home for most of the trip as the flight I was going to get had been cancelled due to snow two days running. In the end I was lucky and the flight left as scheduled. Arrived at heathrow to find massive queues everywhere and cancelled signs up for pretty much every flight. Helpfully the information signs told people to leave the airport and try rebooking which was cock-all use to me.

I joined a check-in queue at random and was lucky hear someone call out for passengers going to Edinburgh. What they'd done is cancelled all flights because of snow but then were going to put on a much bigger plane which somehow made it safer.

Got home to Edinburgh and stepped out into -11 temperatures, pretty cold. Tune in next time for more grammatically poor tedious adventures of Andy.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

CSI: Wellington

The other day I tried to figure out just exactly what happened to me that fateful day; what could turn a man from being upwardly mobile to the hideous monster that lives and breaths today?

Arming myself with the twin powers of guesswork and spotting-the-obvious I set off up Makara Peak to do a little detective work. I recognised the track, I could vaguely remember cycling up it, I regoconised the corner where we stopped to let everyone catch up but couldn't remember whether we continued uphill or turned off the track. My instinct told me to turn left off the track. My instinct was wrong.

Half an hour and some backtracking later I continued uphill and eventually got the a familiar junction where the track began. Thirty seconds later I got my first clue:

Teeth marks on a pole - perhaps left by a bear or airborne cyclist.

Turning around to survey the scene I carefully studied the landscape to precisely ascertain how these marks could have been made.

Wrong way indeed

From just these two elements I was able to cunningly piece together a scene in my mind which explained everything.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

McDowall Early

In a previous blog I touched on the concept of 'McDowall Earliness' which is a genetic defect that causes McDowalls to arrive stupidly early for any given appointment. Just how early varies proportionately with the importance of the event:

So the more trivial things in life demand less earliness; project meetings require five minutes of waiting in an empty room before anyone else turns up, meeting friends at the cinema necessitates at least fifteen minutes of hanging around, while an international flight ends up with a full two hours going by before the check-in desk even opens.

It should be pointed out that this earliness is a naturally occurring phenomenon and is totally beyond the control of the sufferer. It is impossible for me to arrive late for things like interviews or doctors appointments no matter how close I attempt to cut it. If, say, I had a dentists appointment at 12:00 and it takes 15 minutes to walk then I'd leave at 11:45, yet due to some complex and imaginary physics I'd still arrive at the dentists at 11:42 and have to wait an extra 18 minutes on top of the obligatory 30 minutes that I'd wait anyway.

The only real way for me to be late for something is to either set off after the appointment, or to get the dates/times wrong [writers tip: this sentence is an example of a technique called foreshadowing].

Well today I had a hospital appointment - which ranks at around 7.4 on the importance scale, so I'd probably be around 20 minutes early. The first mistake I made was not to properly read the appointment card: the allotted time was not 14:00 so my brain concluded that the appointment was at 14:30, had my brain been less lazy it would have read the remaining two digits and discovered the correct appointment time of 14:10.

So with my safety net gone I waited for the bus into town which to my surprise turned up on time albeit with a 'Not in Service' notice on the front. Fifteen minutes later I'm on the next bus which is full of old people and smells faintly of urine. Realising I'm cutting it fine for my connecting bus I get agitated by the number of slow embarkers getting on the bus - elderly people and mothers with pushchairs.

Not to worry I reach the bus stop just in time to flag down the bus that should get me to the hospital. My first clue that it wasn't exactly the bus I needed was when it didn't go exactly the way I expected, the second clue was when it stopped in an unfamiliar part of town with me being the only passenger. As it turns out the bus was only doing a partial service so it didn't go to the hospital.

That's okay I've still got ten minutes until my appointment, I ask the driver the way to the hospital and she tells which direction to walk in. I starts walking but I'm concerned that I can't see the hospital which is normally pretty inconspicuous being a multi-storey building in a relatively flat neighbourhood.

I decide to run, and pretty soon after I decide to stop running as:
  1. It's 20 degrees outside and I'm wearing thick jeans.
  2. Running is hurting my skull.
  3. I don't know where I'm actually going.
Thinking outside of the box I ask a passer by for directions, they say it's quite complicated and recommend doubling back and getting a bus. So I double back but don't know which bus to get so I set off to find a taxi which I wee while later gets me to my destination.

I'm sweaty, tired, and late but at least I've made it. I report to reception and the nurse seems confused, I show them my appointment card and my second mistake is unveiled. The second mistake I made was not to properly read the appointment card: the appointment is for December and I have just achieved a new record for earliness - one whole month; all it cost me was $30 and my dignity.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Day Four

Today I left the flat twice. The first time was to go shopping for more pillows on which to sleep. I got the pillows but also got incredibly agitated in the store, broke into a horrible sweat, swore at an old lady, and generally had a miserable time of it.

The second time I left the flat I went for a short walk and felt like curling up into a ball and sleeping on the pavement I was that tired.

Later I watched the Phoenix get destroyed by the Central Cost Mariners then wrote a blog entry about my shitty day.

Friday, 12 November 2010

My Nip Tuck In Tedious Detail

This believe it or not is an improvement

Well I survived my stay in hospital and I have a new metal face to prove it.

Day One


I get up and get ready for the day, this doesn't take long as I'm forbidden from eating and everything's already packed so all I need to do is shower. Krys has been kindly agreed to drive me in this morning despite the unsocial hour so we set of at 6:30 just in-case there are any traffic surprises to deal with.


No traffic issues and I'm at Hutt Hospital, I'm early but not McDowall early (a special measure of early that varies directly with importance of event; a casual coffee being at the small end of the scale counts as being ten minutes early; catching a flight entails at least five hours of earliness - I once was over a day early for a flight but that was more to do with crossing date lines than anything else). I arrive in the ward and I'm told to take a seat but no sooner has my bum hit the cushion than I'm being escorted into my specific ward to begin prep-ping for surgery.


I haven't drank anything since this morning, this is the longest I've water-fasted ever, my head hurts. A nurse gives me some gowns and tells me to get dressed as I should be up soon.


I've been wheeled down to the theatre rooms and I'm waiting for the previous patient (pronounced PASH-SHENT by the transfer nurse) to vacate so I can get done. The transfer nurse has confused England and Scotland so I'm fielding questions about cricket and whatnot with as much grace as one possibly can in such a situation.



I'm on the table and the anesthetist has spiked my vein and is preparing to put me to sleep. I'm given some gas which I'm told will make me woozy while they inject the anesthetic which will put me to sleep. For some reason I take this as a challenge and decide that I'm going to fight the anethetic and stay awake as long as possible like a child who doesn't want to go to bed.


Andy is completely unconscious and oblivious to everything around him.


I'm waking up somewhere (in the waiting area I think) and I'm taken back up to the ward. I feel clammy, disorientated, and clammy. I get some water which I find almost impossible to get out of the glass as I can neither generate the suction nessecary to get it through the straw nor contain the liquid within the confines of my mouth long enough to actually swallow it.


I spent the next few hours in and out of sleep. A nurse gives me double ice-cream and jelly and I'm starting to feel a bit more human.

During the surgery I seem to have developed an awesome neck bruise that surrounds my head like one of those Tudor frills but made out of jaundiced looking flesh; weirdly this disappears overnight.


I'm sleepy but not sleepy enough to actually sleep - plus the guy in the corner is watching Iron Man 2 while simultaneously hosting a coven of Maori women - so I put my ipod and listen to some podcasts in the hope that I'll be lulled to sleep by the sounds of Frank Skinner and Dave Gorman. This nearly works except for just as I'm nodding off some machine Iron Man 2 guy is hooked up to starts bleeping - its a portable vacuum thing that he forgot to put back on to charge.


Still awake I continue listening to pod casts and nearly succeed again in getting to sleep. Again Iron Man starts bleeping, apparently he's been out for a fag and has made the same mistake again.


Nearly to sleep again, this time Iron Man seemingly has a hypnagogic jerk and wakes me up again.

Day Two


It's morning and the good news is that we all should be able to go home today. I'm showered and dressed and sent down to see the dentist for a painful check-up which all goes okay.


I've been given the all clear and I'm free to go. I'm feeling pretty strong so I decide to forgo the offers of transport I've been given and take public transport instead. This also gives me the opportunity to score some drugs and pick up groceries on the way back.

I spend most of the rest of the day at home either sleeping or bleeding out my nose.

Day Three

The general swelling in my mouth has gone down overnight leaving only swelling in places where modifications have been made to my mouth. This is good and bad. It's good in that my face is less puffed out and some feeling is starting to return to my mouth. It's bad in that now my tongue is free to explore more of what's been done. The swelling has, so far, stopped me from seeing what's been done to my mouth/jaw but now my tongue can sort of feel part of it and it makes me quite nauseous.

I've consumed more drugs today than I did yesterday and had many showers to try and shift the general icky feeling I've had all day. Had a shave, that didn't help, just hurt.

Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Maxilla - The Moustache Bone

Well I've just had potentially my last solid food for the year - some disappointing Marmite on toast if you must know - and now the doctor imposed food embargo begins. I'm off the food since I'm going in for surgery tomorrow, proper plastic surgery at that. I've never had surgery before - or anything requiring being knocked out- but I have passed out at parties so I roughly know what to expect: dehydration, confusion, strange and new metal plates attached to your skull etc.

Figure 1: Some 'Le Fort Type 1' fun

The above video shows a Type 1 Le Fort Osteotomy, mine's a complex type 2 so it'll be similar but probably I'll have a Bon Jovi backing and more explosions. (Those of a female persuasion are not advised to watch the video - it puts a whole new angle on the 'got your nose' trick).

All things being equal they reckon I'll be wearing jaw wires for about five to six weeks which could mean I have to cancel Christmas this year but I'll play that by ear. I'll let you know how it all goes - assuming ghosts can blog.