39 Years Old, The Worst Car Accident of My Life. New Orleans, LA

It was September 4, 2015, and I was at the very...

It was September 4, 2015, and I was at the very start of my 86 mile commute to school. I'm a chemical engineering student, and I had an 8:30 class that Friday. It was the day before a holiday weekend, and I didn't expect traffic to be bad. I was in traffic, a complete standstill, when I sent a text to my fiancé: "Traffic on bridge." That was my last memory. My next memory was September 6, a nurse was telling me to breathe. I was intubated, in excruciating pain, and couldn't speak. I looked to my left, and saw my fiancé sitting on a chair beside the hospital bed that I was laying in. Within about 15 minutes, the endotracheal tube was removed, and Jason told me that I'd been in a severe car accident, and my car rolled while airborne, and landed on the roof. I'd broken all of the bones in the upper part of my face (eye sockets, orbitals, cheekbones, nose, part of my skull, a section of my scalp was ripped off, I'd bitten through both of my lips) and I broke a bone in my hand. No major, permanent damage, and – although I don't remember it – I was conscious through all of it, I even signed my own consent-to-treat forms. The surgeons took 9 hours to close up my head and facial wounds, but I did not require a skin graft. January 5, 2016, will be my first meeting with the reconstructive surgeons, and we'll schedule the 2-5 surgeries that will be required to make my nose and sinuses and eyes work properly. None of this is cosmetic surgery, per se, but a cosmetic surgeon is volunteering his time and services to do a lot of the surgeries, including the scar revisions. I'll keep you all updated as I have my reconstructive surgeries.

Almost forgot… pics of the car!

I'm starting to get nervous about my appointment tomorrow with the plastic surgery fellow and the oral and maxillofacial surgery fellows. They'll be looking at my recent (last Wednesday) imaging and deciding how many surgeries I'll need. Apparently, anything they want to do to try to bring my face back to its "pre-accident" state will be covered, and the plastic surgery fellow will do a rhinoplasty as well as the septoplasty while he's in there, because my face is so destroyed that he can't do one without the other. I guess that's the benefit of going to a teaching hospital!

Surgery finally scheduled! First one will be February 8 at 8:00 am

After many delays, we have finally scheduled my first surgery. It will be the day before Mardi Gras (here in New Orleans that's a HUGE deal! But, my fiancé's business closes on Monday and Tuesday of Mardi Gras, so he will stay with me overnight in the hospital with me, like he did after the accident. Surgery will be 8-10 hours, and I'll have about a 3-5 days in the hospital afterwards. This is going to be a HUGE surgery, but its success is very important to the future successes of my subsequent surgeries. I'll be having a two-piece PEEK implant put under my eye, to bring it up and forward, and that will be put in through my lower eyelid. The other piece will go up into my cheek and it will be placed through an incision inside my mouth into my cheek. Bonus: no visible incisions, no scars! Yay!
The next part is the tissue expanders: There will be two rectangular ones that will each hold about 200 mL and they'll hopefully create two tissue flaps that will be large enough to meet in the middle of my forehead, which will allow them to remove the scar tissue on my forehead. The one in my nose will be to stretch the skin (which is scar tissue, all of it) to pull down onto the lower portion of my nose, which hasn't healed well at all. It will be all scar tissue, but uniformly-colored, smooth, and vascular scar tissue, and will look okay on my nose. The reasoning behind that is because all of the other typical places where a reconstructive surgeon would want to get a skin flap to cover the nose are all unavailable, i.e., Middle of the forehead, above the nose, cheek beside the nose. They're going to allow my tissue expanders to heal up for around two weeks, then they'll start to add saline to the expanders to start the process of expansion. They'll add saline every week or so, "to the level where the patient is feeling discomfort." Greattt… my nose is really badly broken, tithe point where I still cannot touch my nose at all. I am a bit concerned about how much pain is going to be involved with having a constantly enlarging cylinder constantly pressing on my extremely sensitive nasal bones/cartilage. I can't think of things like that, I have to remain positive. This is the first big HUGE step toward getting to look like myself (sort of) again. I'm excited. I'm going to have to go through a LOT before I get there, but I'm finally going to be on my way in nine days now!

Thank you, everyone, for your support. It really means a lot to me.

I'll post pics and updates as I can as soon as I can!

Hugs from Kari!
LOTS of doctors

My main surgeon will be Dr. Shahrouz Zarrabi, he's an oral/maxillofacial surgeon (I have been seeing him every week to ten days since shortly after the accident occurred. He's the main surgeon, but the attending surgeons who were there when the ambulance brought me in – Dr. Andrew Megison and Dr. Peter Rowan – will take part in my reconstructive surgeries as well. Dr. Mark Welch and Dr. John Phillip Nearly (all of my surgeons are DMDs and MDs) are the department heads of the oral/maxillofacial surgery department, and I saw them a couple of times while I was healing up after the accident. I'm in VERY capable hands so far.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
2 out of 5 stars Wait times
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