The Removal

On Friday the 22nd, the doctor called and told us that surgery was scheduled for Wednesday January 27 @ 8:15.  Like the doctor said he was going to go to war with the cancer.  The surgery changed a little bit to this date.  The doctor was now going to try and preserve my facial nerve.  Instead of cutting it and then taking a new nerve and putting it there he was going to protect it.  Not that big of a change, so I just counted down the minutes to the surgery date.

I have had too many surgeries for any 24 year old man should ever have had.  I have gotten two knee surgeries and one on the biopsy of this tumor.  I was not nervous at all about the knee surgeries.  I am not sure why but I was not scared of what complications could have happened or the actual process of the surgery.  The biopsy surgery scared me a little bit because of the location of where it was taking place.  I was not really worried about the outcome of it because I did not think anything could be wrong.  This surgery scared the hell out of me.  I didn’t care if the facial nerve got damaged, or the fact that I was going to lose my hearing in my right ear, but what I was nervous about was what ELSE will they find in there.  Who knows where else this tumor grew?  It could be spread everywhere.  I voiced my concern to Chris, one of the nurse practitioners, about the situation.  He responded by saying we took many, many pictures of it, so we have a great idea of where it is.  That eased my worries, but still something did not settle well.

The family and myself left at 5:30 in morning on Wednesday to get to the hospital in the city.  It is amazing that without traffic it takes about 25 minutes to get into NYC from Ridgewood.  I got in my gowns and started to get mentally prepared for this operation.  Everyone in my doctors’ entourage were there to greet me.  All of his residents and doctors who are right under his wing.  There are probably around 5 or 6 doctors.  They told us about going to the tumor board again that morning to discuss what to do.  Everyone was in high spirits and ready to go to work.

After this whole trip, I believe that I do not have veins in my body.  Of course thats not true, but jesus these nurses had so much trouble trying to stick me with a needle.  I think finally one of them put three tourniquets on me to find a vein.  I was laying on the operating table and then BOOM!!  you are waking up in recovery.  I had no idea what had happened. The first twenty minutes I was vowing to myself that I would never get surgery again, but soon after I actually felt pretty good. The first thing that I noticed was my bite.  I finally had a normal bite and my teeth aligned with each other.  Before the surgery my teeth were a little off because of the tumor.  It is amazing how this simple and minute thing could make me feel sooooo much better.  I could not really feel my face.  I could not tell the time.  I had my pain killer bomb to press.  I was thinking to myself how I wanted the paper to do my Kakuro.  Kakuro its like Suduko, but a little different.  I saw one of the doctors and he told me that the surgery went well.   I finally got moved to my own room and got to see my parents.  I still did not actually know what really happened or how long it was, so that was the first questions I asked my mother.  The surgery actually took six hours long.  The reason it took so long was because of how extensive the tumor was.  Oh Great! My worst fear came true.  That still did not matter because the doctor was still able to remove the whole thing out of my face.  WOOHOO!!  However, he could not preserve the facial nerve, that is gone.

Now it was just recuperating time.  I was to stay in the hospital till whenever I can do what a normal person can do.  The days went by.  I would get up and move to sit in the chair.  I would get up to walk around a little.  Some doctors would come see me and tell me how well I looked and how the scar was looking good.  Most of my family came to visit me.  Annie finally got home from Thailand and she spent two days with me.  There was nothing special about the hospital.  Annie actually brought me cards that our students in Thailand made for me.  I steadily progressed day by day.  The doctors said I could finally go on Monday.  There was one more thing I still had to do.

Well, because I lost my facial nerve my face does not work to the best of its ability.  My eye does not shut completely.  It is very important for my eye to shut because it protects the cornia of the eye.  Here was the doctors’ plan.  The doctor was going to make a slit in my eye lid and put a small little gold weight there to make the lid close all the way.  This was one more procedure for me to go through and then I was able to head home.  On Monday morning we got discharged from the hospital and off we went to the next building for the eye weight.  I was not put under so that made me happy.  The docs numbed up my eyelid and started to get to work.  After about 15 minutes it was all done.  I finally got to leave NYC and head home.  Thank god.

This is the first step of this long, long journey, but so far so good.  The tumor is gone and thats ALL that matters.  I will rest up for the next 2 to 3 weeks and get mentally prepared for my next challenge that life has handed to me. Here are some up pictures of my fresh battle wounds.  One pic is of the scar on my face.  One is of the cut on my eye lid.  One is the pic of my stomach of where they took some fat for my face.

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  1. Daren
    Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Good shit man. I like your attitude and how you talk about preparing yourself mentally. It seems like such a strange thing to do but that mental preparation can be so crucial. Very cool.

  2. Jon
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    Matt- To see you remain sooo positive while going through all of this is truly an inspiration. I told Anna to let me know when its a good time to get in touch…stay strong man, you’re in my prayers.

  3. Ally
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink


    Congratulations on your big success, man! We miss you like crazy. We’re thinking about you all the time and sending our love from the other side of the globe. Hopefully I’ll see you again in a few months back in the dirty jers. Keep truckin.

    Love Love Love. Ally.

  4. Megan and Jenna
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Hey Sayles!
    We’re in lunch and Jenna came up with the perfect plan to make u feel better! we would sing ring of fire to u, but unfortunately we have no idea where u are… Sooo we are going to sing it in a message. Alright so picture us in our terrible voices at the top of our lungs like we always used to sing it:

    “I fell in to a burning ring of fire
    I went down,down,down
    and the flames went higher.
    And it burns,burns,burns
    the ring of fire
    the ring of fire.”

    haha 🙂 hope you’re feeling better!

    The Lunch Crew,
    Megan, Jenna, and Amanda (in spirit she’s off doing homework she didnt do last night. what else is new???)

  5. Mrs. Sutton
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you have had a rough couple of months. We all wish you well for a full recovery. See you in the summer.

  6. China Rider
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Matt Man – You’re a epic soul, bra. Always have been. This has been a large dose of life and it’s humbling indeed to bear witness to the grace with which you’ve sojourned forth.

    The journey has a log way to go but you have kept such good faith – it will abide for you. Just to let you know what you already know – you have a vast posse of excellent souls in your coner and to be thus surrounded by so much loving family, friends, and support, it’s a blessed thing.

    You are daily in our prayers. The Grrl and I are serving Mass this Sunday and since I get to do the intentions, This Mass is for You.

    Many hugs! Unca P, ( China Rider ).

  7. Jess H
    Posted February 5, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    In a flash my dream from last night came back to me- and it took place in our neighborhood from when we were kids, though in a house upstairs from Wilkes/Bagelicious (dream reality…it was also kinda in Sausalito, CA, but nonetheless!) You walked in and were so healthy and healed and your family was part of Wilkes and it was just so joyous.
    I like how you have so much support around you and the best doctors NY has to offer. and you seem so clear and open to laying it all down. yes yes- you are the gold pei/ace.

  8. Ethan
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Permalink


    It’s so great to see you are doing well. MP misses you more than you can imagine. We’re thinking about you all day/everyday. I know Greg is in touch with your dad, but please let me know when we can be in touch. We wanna take your ass out to Parkwood like the good old times 6th Period last year.

    Stay strong, brotha. We have some more Mets games to go to this summer!

  9. Cally
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Hey Matt long time no talk- I randomly stumbled upon your facebook page which led me here… I’m so glad you’re recovering from this mess and I love how positive you are being! Sounds like it’s been a long road even if it has only been a few months or so but I’m glad you found the best doctor’s out there, sounds like you were well taken care of! It brought such a smile to my face when I read how you wanted to do kakuro when you woke up, I remember you taught me how to do sudoku that one summer, and how every time we would go to your house you’d always be sitting there burning incense and doing your sudoku! I miss those summers in LG when we would all hang out. If you’re sticking around jers for a while now i’m sure you guys will be up to the lake. We live in chestertown now, loon lake, exit 25 so it’s super close and i’d love to see you, i’m sure tim would too. Anyway if you are up let us know, and if not, know that i’m thinking of you anyway!

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