I am on the other side of the surgery which was performed on April 20, 2020 by Dr Samji in the Silicon Valley in California.
Before the surgery I reached out to this community and it has been my compass in the uncharted territory of Eagle’s Syndrome. The whole entire community and this site has provided tremendous support for me! I want to personally thank @Isaiah_40_31 in taking the time to speak to me and provide most valuable information of the process, expectations, First Hand experiences, and just the voice of someone who is on the other side of the fence.
Since the outbreak of COVID - 19, which for California the epicenter was in my county (Santa Clara County), a lot of things changed for procedures being performed by medical professionals. We were ordered to shelter in place quite early therefore my original surgery was still scheduled until the day before, when Dr Samji called me and explained that he is postponing it due to shortage of sterile surgical equipment. The reason my surgery was still on, is because it is not elective since my pain and symptoms couldn’t be managed using non surgical methods.
We rescheduled the surgery for April 20 and tried to manage my symptoms with an increased dose of Gabapentin (up to 3 a day). The side effects I had to Neurontin, were increased or new anxiety (could have been amplified because my Vagus nerve was affected by my right styloid process), restlessness, and occasional insomnia.
With a lot of prayers with my community and support from my husband, family and friends I was ready to put this surgery behind me. I was uneasy about all the possible risks that can materialize but had strong faith that God will guide all of us in the process, faith in my surgeon who has been nothing but a a superhero in my eyes, and the support team from Camino ENT.
On Monday, a week ago, I showed up at the Silicon Valley Surgical center and signed in. Got checked for COVID-19 possible symptoms, filled out the questionnaires and forms, and spent some time praying to help me with the stress I felt. The administrative staff were amazing and I was made very comfortable by the level of compassion they showed for the situation, where you can’t have a loved one next to you.
A nurse MarieClaire picked me up from the waiting room and helped me get setup in the pre-op area. MarieClaire had amazing bedside manners, but I feel like her and the staff in the pre-op area were going the extra mile to keep us comfortable. I know that a lot of facilities are very professional, but this one definitely had an element of compassion towards everyone I could see that really enforced my strong faith in the process that will take place. She stayed with me and other nurses stopped by to ask me how I felt, until I was ready to be taken to the operating room.
Dr. Samji showed up, with a bright smile on his face even though I wasn’t his first surgery of the day. He helped me by answering some follow up questions I had. His energy was amazingly reassuring. By this time my confidence of the process is beyond my expectations and overran my fears!
Next was the anesthesiologist (Don’t remember his last name unfortunately for me), who came by and went over what I should expect. He had a great attitude and handled my questions with an ease that made me feel a lot more comfortable. I only asked one thing of him, I said " My husband will most likely wait with his phone camera on, hoping I’ll have a Taylor Swift moment after the anesthesia and cry over a banana. Please make sure that doesn’t happen to me?! I’ll never be able to recover". Even though this was a joke, he really handled it well (after laughing of course) and told me that he’ll make sure I metabolize the anesthetic soon after I am out of surgery.
At 9:40AM (surgery was scheduled for 10AM) they took me into the operating room. Once again Dr Samji covered the details with everyone, asking for confirmation of the side we are operating and the procedure we are doing. That and a nurse name Sara(h) is the last thing I remember.
I woke up around 12:30PM by another nurse. Even though I was a little hazy, I knew that this was the time to perform the test if I can drink, chew, swallow and move my lips, tongue, eye lids etc. My head felt really clear and I started with ice chips (worst thing you can do is go too fast and choke), and moved to crackers and a 1/2 a cup of water. The nurse offered me my first dose of Percocet, and based on everyone’s recommendation I wasn’t going to play a hero and I took it. I was hungry and couldn’t wait to get home to eat something.
I sat on the bed and got dressed quickly. Then, while another nurse was by me, I got up, because I knew I needed to sweat this off a bit before I get out of the facility.
The hand over process was great and my husband was armed with all the information he needed to make sure he takes care of me.
While in the car, I texted my family, friends and co-workers, and made few phone calls to let everyone know that the surgery was a success. Once we got home, I took a 20 minute nap and got up and was ready to start my day. We went out for a two hour walk (great way to get rid of the anesthetic in your system) around our neighborhood. When we came home we had some dinner (I ate a soup made of veggies with little meat in it and I chewed even though I know I should have tried to go liquid)…
The rest of the day we spent video conferencing with our friends and family who supported us tremendously during these times.
I wasn’t in pain like I expected so the next day I wrote to Dr. Samji’s office and asked if I can just move to Tylenol with Gabapentin and he said yes if I don’t feel pain. So as of Day 1 after surgery I was off the Oxycodone which really helped me stay focused and active during the day.
My jaw and part of my neck has been numb and is just starting to get the sensation back. I came back to work (working from home, mainly conference calls etc.) the day after the surgery and haven’t stopped since. On day 7 I started developing the first bite syndrome, which is intense but I think that Gabapentin helps me so I increased my dose to 2 times a day instead of 1. Dr Samji prescribed a dose of 3 times a day, but asked me to assess myself if I really need it that often or 2 will suffice.
Sleeping hasn’t been a problem for me, even though I am belly down sleeper. I also suffer from Asthma and sleeping on my back is not ideal, but this hasn’t bothered me at all. I bought two wedge pillows to use for my head and legs. They are modular, so you can adjust them in height and position to help you get to your best comfort.
This is to help alleviate pressure from the lower back and help with staying in position.
Icing has been crucial to this process and I have been doing it every day in the evening. On day 7 is the first time I didn’t go to bed with an Ice pad around my neck.
If anyone needs any tips or help, please let me know. I just went through this and I can share a lot more information where needed.