the adventures of jaw surgery

This blog is meant to record my long and treacherous path to a perfectly functioning smile. When I learned that I would have to have my jaw broken, I scoured the
internet for stories of others who had already undergone the same thing. To my surprise, there weren't many complete descriptions of the whole process. Hopefully, this will provide people in similar situations with details, facts, and stories that will maybe help them face their own surgery. Mostly, though, this is a way for me to express, vent, and entertain myself for the duration of this ordeal. Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 15, 2013

8 Months Post Op - Braces off!

It's been 8 months since my surgery, and a couple months ago they took my braces off! Now is just the first time I've had time to post about it. It was all worth it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Almost at the 6 month mark!

So, it's been a while since I've posted anything and I finally have some time to write because of Thanksgiving break. I went back to school about a day after I could start chewing again. It was rough not having my parents around to make me good food, and my typical school diet consists of Taco Bell and Subway. My stomach did NOT like me the first month or so after the surgery. First of all, it was not used to having to digest much of anything at all. I ate very small and mushy meals for two whole months...solid food was a shock. Also, my body was not used to eating full portions. I lost 20 pounds during the 2 months I didn't eat because I didn't eat much at all. These plus the fact that before the surgery, I chewed super super slow because my teeth didn't touch, and was suddenly eating things really quickly caused some problems. I felt nauseous and had stomach problems almost all the time. I didn't ease into it like I probably should have. I was starving for real food! But if I had to do it again, I would probably start by gradually increasing the solidity of the foods I was eating. But oh well. I still have more stomach problems than before the surgery, but I think I can attribute that to all the stress I've been dealing with this semester. It was hard to go from laying around all day, doing nothing, to just jump back into my usual schedule of classes and gigging. BUT I am SO glad I went through with this. The difference in my appearance is great. It's not noticeable to many people because it wasn't a huge change, but it's noticeable to me, and that's all I wanted. The best part is that my teeth are finally straight and they touch! It's really nice to not be able to stick my tongue out when my teeth are fully shut. I get my braces off in a couple weeks and I could not be more excited. I will do another post then, but for now, here are some before and afters! Befores are on the left, afters on the right.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Days 30 - 40

Ok, so nothing much has changed, just thought I'd post this funny before and after. The first is from a week post op (I was attempting to look like an ogre), the second is after my mom made me get a mall makeover last week. Awesomeness.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Days 15 - 29

Four weeks down, three to go! Until I can eat, anyway. Probably another four to five months till the braces come off, which is somewhat depressing. I haven't posted for the past two weeks because not a whole lot has changed. I still can't chew on anything and my face is still puffy. I do look more normal now, which has allowed me to go out in public without being self-conscious. I also got my surgical hooks removed at my orthodontic appointment yesterday and it was truly exciting. My mouth is no longer being ripped to pieces by those sharp metal posts. So far, I've had my doctors tell me a couple of things that are not consistent with most of what I've read of others' experiences with jaw surgery. The first thing is that I will be able to eat after seven weeks, not six like I've heard almost everyone (including the nurse at his office) say. I know one week isn't a huge deal, but I am dying for some real food. The other thing is that my orthodontist told me that even though my teeth are almost perfectly straight right now, he has to leave the braces on for six months. On various dental, orthodontic, and oral surgery websites, it says braces can be removed anywhere between 3-6 months. My surgeon has also said this multiple times. To just be wearing braces for so long without them actually doing anything is incredibly irritating to me. Is there a reason for this? After a total of over 8 years of these evil things in my mouth, I am more than ready to get them off.

Anyway, overall this experience has gone smoother than I expected. At times, it does get extremely frustrating, and I feel like I'm super paranoid about something going wrong. But I like my bite and my profile much better now, and I think once this is all over I will be so happy I did this. I think my swelling has gone down enough to do a before and after. I'm still swollen, especially under my jaw line, but it's cool to see the slight difference that makes me feel 100 times better about my profile.

Front before and after...not very different

Left and right profiles before and after...the difference isn't huge but it's noticeable to me and I like it lots.

More later!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Days 9 - 15

So, it's been a week since I last posted and a lot has happened. Let me start by discussing the nastiest part. Hematomas. EW. A hematoma is basically a pool of blood trapped somewhere. In my case, at the site of the incision/breakage. After the surgeon sewed me back up, my veins decided to keep bleeding. The blood was then trapped by the sutures and had nowhere to go. As it sat, it coagulated to form hard  lumps on my face. At first, I couldn't really feel them due to the massive amount of swelling I had. But as the swelling went down, they became more noticeable. Then, they started popping. Right after I posted my last entry on this site, I got up to take a shower and noticed a weird taste in my mouth. Blood. Lots of blood. I freaked out. I was bleeding for a few hours, and didn't know what was wrong. It was strange, because my swelling had gone down considerably after all that bleeding. I told my dad that I would go to the doctor the next day (Thursday) if it hadn't stopped. Thursday night, I started bleeding again, and Friday morning I was in my surgeons office. He told me it was the hematomas working themselves out. Nothing to worry about. So, ever since then I randomly start bleeding. It doesn't last too long anymore, which is good, because it's disgusting. But the stupid hematomas are still here, making me retain my fat kid look. Especially from the side. Hopefully they will work themselves out in the next week. 

My surgeon said that my swelling right now is down 1/3. He says by my appointment next week I should be down 2/3. I'm hoping that will be enough to allow me to feel comfortable in public. Right now, it's not enough swelling to KNOW something's wrong with me, but just enough to wonder if I'm really ugly, or if I have a slight deformity. My head is sort of the shape of an eggplant. I will admit that it's starting to get to me a little. I just can't wait to look normal and do normal things. I am also getting really tired of this diet. My appetite has almost left completely and I never want to eat. It's become more of me forcing food down my throat. It's just tasteless. I'm not sure if thats because it's all the same texture and mostly the same type of things, or if it's the antibiotic because that makes my mouth taste metallic. Whatever it is, I would like it to stop. I lost a good 10 pounds in the first week, then gained about 5 back. I'm guessing it was mostly water weight I lost initially. But now, I have lost the 5 back again, so I'm still at 10 pounds lost. That's at least something positive! I started at about 143, and now I'm at 133. Goal weight is 125 and I feel like I will have no trouble reaching that after I'm recovered.

In other news, our power went out AGAIN last week and our air conditioner was broken for 4 days in 100+ degree heat. I couldn't sleep and have been incredibly tired the past few days. I think everything culminated last night. I felt extremely nauseous and burnt out. But after sleeping for an entire day, I feel a little better. All in all, things are going ok. My bite is still straight, and the doctor says everything looks good. This process is really long and frustrating, but I know it will be worth it. I have an orthodontic appointment tomorrow and I'm weirdly excited about it. Maybe just because it will get me out of the house and I will be in contact with people. Anyway, I'll leave you with some photos from this past week. Enjoy!

 Days 9 - 12

 Left profile - Day 14

 Right profile - Day 14

 My face today - Day 15

Days 12 - 15

More soon!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Head is Still a Bowling Ball and I'm Craving Chips and Salsa AHHHHH (Days 4-8)

Ok! So I've made it a week and a day...excitement! Here's a rundown of what happened:

Things were going swell. I wasn't taking any pain medicine whatsoever, I was sleeping alright and getting a decent amount of food into my system. Then, on Friday afternoon, the skies turned black and all hell was unleashed on northern Indiana. We hid in the basement and watched trees get ripped apart. The basement might have been scarier than the storm. I used to tell my friends it was a dungeon. Anyway, the power went out and we soon learned that over 100,000 people were stuck in the same situation. No power, anywhere. We sat in the dark and hoped for the best Friday night. Saturday was filled with board games and movies on my computer which still held some charge. By Sunday, the house was over 80 degrees and I was not feelin it. We got a hotel downtown. It had a great view, which was a plus, but I had to walk through the lobby and risk making people think the zombie apocalypse was truly happening...a definite minus.

The first four days starting top right, top left, bottom right, bottom left

 I have always hated sleeping in hotel rooms. The blasting air conditioning never fails to make my throat hurt and give me a bit of a cold. After one night, I started to really feel like dirt. I wasn't eating much because we didn't have the blender or any of the food I could eat. To make matters worse, I tried eating some pasta from a place down the street and it must have been too much for my mouth to handle. All night my mouth throbbed and ached with pain, and I felt like a limp and feverish noodle. I tried to ease the pain with the Mario Brothers.

The power finally came back Monday night. It was so nice to sleep in my own bed with my little fluffy dog. In the morning, I had to go see my surgeon for my weekly post-op check up. He said everything looked good and he took the two rubber bands that were holding my teeth together off. I thought it would hurt, but it didn't at all. He said I could take them off whenever I eat or brush and that was honestly really exciting. I can eat my assorted mashed food items about 10 times faster now, meaning I can eat a larger amount of food. This is good because for the first week I think I was probably between 500-600 calories a day or less. I did lose around 10 pounds in 7 days, which is kind of awesome. But I can't be losing 10 pounds every week.

Last night my family and boyfriend decided to go to the of the few outside-of-my-house activities I can do seeing as I still look like a monster. It was nice, even though I got eaten alive by mosquitos. Today is the Fourth of July and I think we're going to have a cook out. I will be eating noodles, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Nom. KFC really has THEEE best mashed potato/gravy combination. Maybe that will help me keep my weight up. Any-who, here are some photos. The swelling is still pretty prominent, so I cant really be sure of what I'm going to look like yet.

Here's day 4 through 8...the swelling has seemed to start to plateau.. meaning it will take a while to get from here to normal again :(

Left side profile...the difference is small but I can see it! Sooo wishing the swelling would disappear

Right side profile lookin HAWT

My teeth are touching its amaaaazzinnn!

That's it for now! I'll update again in a few more days. Happy 4th! Amurica.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surgery Day to Day 3

So, I haven't really been up to writing anything down for the past few days, but after countless bottles of strawberry LaLa, Ensure shakes, blended up soup, and runny mashed potatoes, I think I'm finally ready to get some writing down. I'll start with the big day:

June 26, 2012

I woke up around 7:45 and took one last look at myself in the mirror before getting in the shower. It was weird to think that after 22 years, the face I would see staring back at me after today would be different. Not unrecognizably different, I know, but different all the same. I felt a little afraid that maybe different will equal bad, and this whole thing will be for naught. I was also second guessing myself. Do I really need this? I've survived without it this far. What if I really do have the bone-dissolving incurable disease that my first orthodontist said I had? Then this wouldn't even matter. What if I'm really just vain and spoiled and want a perfect smile, when maybe I don't need one. After looking through blogs and blogs of people who require jaw surgery, my case is pretty minor. Some of them need double-jaw surgery, huge movements made, months of swelling and agony....but I couldn't dwell on all of this for too long because soon my dad was shuffling me into the car. Off to the hospital. 

I got there, checked in, said hello to my grandma who had probably been there about 20 minutes before us, and all too soon was taken back to the pre op room. There, the nurse talked to me, asked me some medical questions, and started the IV. Once the IV was dripping right, my dad and grandma were allowed to come back and sit with me. My mom was texting from the conference she was attending in North Carolina, and I could tell she was just as freaked out as me. It was strange being in the hospital, hooked up to all these machines, and being completely healthy. 100% fine. Willingly accepting pain and weeks of bedridden boredom. My anesthesiologist (who had a very interesting name that reminded me of "Barbosa" from the Pirates movies) came in and talked to me for quite literally 30 seconds. I asked about nausea and told him I really didn't want to throw up, and he responded by saying "Yes, the chances are high. You are a female, and young. We have rescue medication for that." I wasn't sure if he had interpreted my question right....rescue medication? What did he think I had just asked? What were my chances high for? I decided not to think about it as I said goodbye to my dad and grandma and was wheeled to the operating room. It was about 40 degrees in there and looked like the set of an ER scene. Huge lights hung from the ceiling, countless machines beeped and lit up, and shiny instruments of all kinds littered the tables surrounding a single bed in the middle of the room. This "bed" was barely wide enough for me to lay on and I asked the nurse what the chances of falling off during surgery were. She said I wouldn't fall, and my doctor walked in and asked me questions to keep my mind off the surgery. "You have any siblings?" A brother. "Younger?" Yeah. I wasn't very talkative, so he came over and squeezed my foot instead. It was strangely calming. "You will feel very woozy soon," the anesthesiologist said to me before asking the nurse for a scalpel and forceps. Suddenly the world was spinning violently and I told the nurse I didn't feel well. Then it seemed like every muscle in my body was contracting all at once. It was extremely painful and I yelled that I felt like I was having a heart attack. The nurse looked slightly concerned for a second, and then I heard the anesthesiologist say he gave me something. She said "It's ok, he just gave you something," which was not exactly comforting or informative, but then I was out. 

I woke up in some room that I'm still not sure the name of. It sounded like I was surrounded by other hospital patients. I heard coughing, puking, moaning, everything. But I felt fine and kept falling in and out of sleep. I remember pressing my morphine button twice and them telling me they were giving me something in an IV, and then I was being wheeled to my room. Once there, I saw my dad and grandma again. They told me that the doctor said everything had gone perfectly. My bone broke the way it was supposed to, and my bite looked good. My dad said that since my bone was so dense, there was no way that I had the disease that my orthodontist had diagnosed me with a few years ago. I felt relieved to be out of surgery alive and functioning, and I fell back asleep. Throughout the day, my grandparents, boyfriend and brother came to visit and I talked to them all as best as I could. I was actually feeling pretty good for most of the day. Then they gave me chicken broth, and it was disgusting. I'm sure that is not what made me puke, but I did shortly after. Blood. Nasty. But after that, I didn't feel sick again and fell back asleep (my brother and boyfriend stayed overnight with me and slept on the same couch, which made me laugh). The next morning, the doctor came in to check on me and said I was cleared to leave. My boyfriend's mom came to visit and brought some magazines, then I watched Stick-It while I received my last IV dose of antibiotics and a steroid shot in my leg, then I was ready to go. I got wheeled through the hospital in a chair big enough to sit 4 of me (a bariatric chair, the nurse said) and people stared at me as I exited the lobby. I looked like a monster. Here's a cute shot.

We had to stop at my surgeons office to take some xrays, and once we arrived, the nurses let me know that my swelling was the worst they had seen all month. Oh boy. They took the xrays and I asked if I could see them. Once I looked, I knew that the surgery was worth it. 

Here's before:

And afters:

It was crazy to see the movement in my teeth, and feel them touching together. I secretly chewed a piece of potato stuck in my soup today, and it was the weirdest thing ever. I have never been able to cut through something like that!

Anyway, yesterday was day 2. I had ground up chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, and a yogurt drink called Lala that I have grown to really like because it helps the disgusting medicine go down smoothly. I laid around and watched 21 Jump Street then fell asleep. Today has been equally uneventful. I ate more blended soups and potatoes, and drank some Ensure. I also played my brother's xbox and am currently about to watch another movie. My biggest complaints right now would be my nose and the time it takes to eat anything. My nose is bloody and pretty stuffy from all the tubes they shoved down it during the surgery. Congestion with your mouth clamped together is not fun. But it's getting better and hopefully by tomorrow (exciting day 4) it will be almost non-existant. The eating thing is frustrating, but at least I like soup. I cannot WAIT to sink my teeth into a burger. Or pizza. Or even Taco Bell. Everything sounds so good. Grrrr. Oh well. I will wait it out and continue to lose weight, just to gain it all back again. I would guess I've lost about 6 pounds, but I don't really know or care. The road to recovery is slow and uncomfortable, but I think this will be worth it in the end!