Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 28 - VIDEO: Jaw Surgery Explained

There are really no changes today in anything....no improvements, except maybe a little bit more feeling has been gained in the roof of my mouth...and definitely no interesting stories to tell.   My life is now revolving more and more around normal things and less and less around my jaw so I don't have as much to talk about on here anymore.  This is a good thing!  As my friend Roey knows though, I'm really good at filling up a page when I have nothing to say, so no worries about my blog yet.  However,  I will take this opportunity to post a rather interesting video I happened to find.  My bite was slightly different than the one in the video, but the procedure is identical and the before and afters very similar.  So basically the video quickly shows the purpose of the braces and how the surgery is done...all using very cool animation so you will not see anything that would disturb the faint of heart. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 27 - work is getting easier!

Today I went to work... and, when I left, my mouth was actually not that sore! happy day!  I think I could have worked more than 4 hours, but that might have caused the soreness to return so maybe its for the best I still have short shifts.  I felt so good when I got there though! I made tons of calls and talked to tons of customers and no one said "sorry, can you repeat that?"  thrilling!!! I would like to note though, that my very first day back to work, one of the first customers I spoke with made a point to tell me that I had a very lovely voice.   This wasn't someone who knew I had jaw surgery trying to comfort me...this was a totally random guy out of the blue who goes "wow, you have a really lovely voice!" yep. Made my day.  ....of course, he may just have been trying to get in good with his mortgage company.....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 26 - Feeling Normal Again?

 I woke up today with feeling back in a small patch of the roof of my mouth. Its just a patch..but hey, its a patch! Now if only my chin would catch on....

I'm happy to say that I'm really starting to finally feel like myself again. I'm over the post-op blues and all that, thank goodness, and I'm excited to start classes on Tuesday!  Finally I'm able to get by with little or no painkillers, my talking is tons better (though i still kind of have a slight lisp if you listen.grrr), and my energy is starting to really come back. I don't think I'm up for anything too crazy yet..But I just feel a lot better.   But, unfortunately, even though I'm feeling better,  I know I'm really not better yet.  When bones are just broken, they take around 6 weeks to heal and I'm not even at 4 weeks yet.  But jaw surgery is a lot more than just breaking a bone, there are gaps in some places where new bone has fill in, and that takes a lot longer than 6 weeks.  -- Thats why chewing isn't allowed, I still have to wear rubberbands to keep everything in place, why talking for extended periods of time is exhausting, and my mouth just feels uncomfortable most of the time + my chin & lip being numb drives me crazy.  I said i was STARTING to feel like myself...I didn't say i was completely there yet, but its definitely encouraging to feel some improvement.

Day 25 - If I can't chew it, I'll swallow it whole

Hello... Today I attended a scholarship award luncheon.  Now, I've really tried to avoid events that involved food the last few weeks.  I haven't been 100% successful, but I've put in a good effort.  However, since I was one of the scholarship recipients, I was obliged to attend.  I've never won a scholarship before so really the whole thing was pretty neat.  It was a very nice event....friendly people, nice hall, pretty tables, great lemonade and of course... delicious food. *sigh*  One person can withstand only so much temptation.  Everyone has limits and can be pushed over the edge. So....I went through the buffet line and got some food. I of course avoided things like salad or the stiff green beans and anything else that was hard...But i did get some mashed potatoes and pasta (this is now allowed, like the scrambled eggs), and...... some chicken & beef. I was starving! I couldn't help myself!  Its not like I chewed them or anything though because, #1 I don't think I'm capable of making chewing motions and #2 if i tried to chew anything I would probably re-break bones in addition to breaking some that were never even broken - definitely not a road I want to go down.  So what I did is cut the meat into suuuuuuper tiny pieces, like maybe the size of a cheerio or two, and just swallow these pieces whole.  Honestly, food isn't that satisfying when you can't chew it, though.  You just don't taste it as much as you would normally.  It just sort of passes by your tongue and then its gone.  No enjoyment at all. But at least I wasn't hungry. :)  In the whole scheme of things, I'm not really sure i broke any rules anyway.  I didn't chew anything, and the pieces were so little they were practically blended, so I think I'm good.  Gosh i really just want to eat a normal dinner  again!  When this is all over, I will never again take chewing for granted!!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 24 - my tongue shrunk

One thing I've been noticing the last few days is that my tongue has shrunk.   It definitely does not stick out as far as it used to.  This isn't really an issue since I don't make a habit out of sticking my tongue out or anything like that....but you know how sometimes you sort of lick your teeth to make sure there's no food or anything stuck in them?  Well, my tongue doesn't reach my top teeth anymore to do this.  I guess, technically, my tongue didn't actually shrink... that's not actually possible, is it?  I'm thinking the issue is more that my top jaw is just farther away than it used to be since they did move it forward.  I dunno...I'm hoping this isn't a permanent condition.

oh and on the motrin - I made it a whole day without taking any! its not like my mouth felt good or anything... but it didn't really hurt so thats a happy thing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 23 - still numb

So, I've noticed that my lower lip has been catching on my braces a lot.  It never really used to before.  Perhaps the surgical hooks have something to do with that?  Either way, the inside of my lip is quite torn up and blistered and nasty.  It looks quite painful, but I wouldn't know since I don't have any feeling back yet.  Its weird because i never even know when my lip is caught, unless i happen to catch it in a mirror or something.  hmmmmm I'm not sure if I'm ever going to get used to all this numbness.
I've decided its time to start tapering off the ibuprofen now.  Even though its pretty harmless, after taking it so regularly for a long time it is possible to slightly damage your liver I guess (thats what my mom told me anyway).  I'm pretty sure that I haven't reached that point yet...But if i can get through a day without the motrin, why not?  So i already took some today at 10:00am and 2:00pm..but, no more after that.  Its almost 1:00am now (yes yes, i'm going to bed in just a minute) and I'm doing fine...So we'll see how much of tomorrow i can get through without it.  I will be working for a few hours, which involves a lot of talking and I'm not opposed to taking some in the event of severe, moderate any pain though at whatever cost to my liver...but we'll see how I do. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 22 - orange creme freeze ♥

I wasn't sure what to title this post.... so I titled it my favorite drink from beaners.  Perhaps its not the most creative title ever....or maybe its just so incredibly creative that no one understands.  Or maybe I just drank one so they were on my mind.   Yep.  Actually, that orange creme freeze is slightly noteworthy because it marks the first time I've been able to successfully drink from a straw.  Its possible that I may have been able to a few days ago... But i just didn't have the opportunity.  As of day 15, however, I was definitely unable to. So there's some progress for you! yes! So yeah.  thats about it for today.  There are  lots of normal life things going on... but not really at all relevant to a jaw surgery blog so I will spare you.   yep.. ooh, so my mouth didn't hurt very much today! that's something worth mentioning!! life is good.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 21 - three weeks!

Three weeks! woohoooo.  I don't think there's been any major steps in recovery in the last week.  Every day I make slight improvements with talking and control over my face and with regaining energy...But  no improvements in regards to getting feeling back in my chin, lower lip and the roof of my mouth.  Thankfully, the tingles aren't as bad as they used to be.  They're still there occasionally though... it kind of feels sometimes like my hair is brushing up against my chin or something is tickling it, but when I try to rub  it away, nothing is there and i don't feel the rubbing - just the tickling still. Very weird.  As far as pain goes, its still there as much as before.  I still take motrin every 4 hours, but that doesn't usually eliminate the pain completely.  I usually end up taking a tylenol 3 sometime in the afternoon and a vicodin in the late evening when the pain is the worst after a whole day of talking.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, though... I really don't like tylenol 3 and especially not vicodin,  I, personally, prefer to be as awake and alert as possible during the day, so drugs just don't work for me.  I always end up putting off taking them for so long that my mouth hurts pretty bad by the time I finally give in.  Today, I went on the phones at work for 4 hours.  I was really glad to be on the phone, but the talking ended up being more than I expected.  My mouth was pretty sore and i was pretty tired.  Maybe I'm not quite ready for it yet... but i'm doing 4 hours again on Thursday.  I figure it'll get a little easier every time I go to work.  Thats what I'm hoping anyway.  I am assuming that my mouth isn't going to hurt forever.... Just not sure when it stops.

k....now, just because i'm in a pretty awesome mood right now, I'm going to tell you one of my absolute favorite jokes ever.

Why did the bubblegum cross the road?

Cause it was stuck to the chicken's feet!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 20 - Life is what you make it

Orthodontist appointment today. I saw another girl there and i overheard that she was having jaw surgery in 6 months.  She looked so excited.  I felt sorry for her.  I wanted to go over and burst her bubble, but I didn't.  I just felt bad knowing that someone else was being tricked into jaw surgery without knowing what it was like.  The assistant who was with her made it sound so great.  I remember hearing that wonderful little 'jaw surgery is fabulous" speech.  pffft. If that girl knew what it was like, she wouldn't have been so happy.  She's thinking "ohh boy my jaw is gonna be fixed and the world is going to be a wonderful place!" no. its not like that.  yes, your jaw will be fixed, yes, you will be able to eat properly, yes, your smile may not look a little off anymore.  but no, the world will not be a wonderful place.  Not for a long time anyway.  No one told me that before my surgery.   Actually, my mom may have told me.  But she told me while she was completely freaking out, so I didn't really listen.  I chose to listen to everyone who was really positive about the surgery instead.  I came into it with the "i can do anything and get through anything" attitude and figured i'd recover 5 times faster than anyone else ever had from sheer willpower.  I was definitely tricked.  I guess its not all horrible, though...Life is what you make it, mostly.  If you have a good attitude you can get through pretty much anything... But it would be kind of dishonest to say I've had a fabulous attitude every day since my surgery.  Sometimes when your mouth hurts cause you have 7 broken bones, and you've had a headache every day for almost 3 weeks and you're hungry and tired, you just want to sit and complain a little bit.  Thats partly what my blog is for.  It lets me vent a little bit so i can get it out of my system and go back to being in a good mood again. Writing is therapeutic.  But really, in the whole scheme of things, my life is pretty darn amazing and I feel kind of lame for complaining at all.  I suppose absolutely anyone at any point in life could sit and complain about any number of things at any time.   Everyone should just get a blog.

 ANYWAY  Back to my orthodontist appointment.  The assistant didn't say anything to me.  I think she may have been a mute.  Either that or she just wasn't very friendly.  Maybe she was having a bad day.  I'm not sure.  It was kind of weird though. The doctor did talk to me though, and thats what we pay for. He said I did a great job keeping my teeth clean.  I feel like I should have gotten a star sticker or something...but no.  I was hoping to get some looser wires today, but they just gave me more tight ones.. boooo.  But, the doctor decided that October 19 was too far away to go without another appointment (and i agreed), so now I have one on September 20.  That means only 1 more month of surgical wires! Which means only one more month of rubberbands! (i think...) Still kind of long... But not as long as October 19 would have been, so that made me happy.  Of course, I still have an appointment at the Mayo Clinic with my surgeon before the one with the ortho.  I'm so excited to make the long trek back to Minnesota for the fourth time this year! haha. not.  There actually is a certain McDonalds somewhere in Wisconsin that I'm kind of looking forward to stopping at, though.  Its soooo fancy!  Really fancy! It doesn't feel like a McDonalds at all, except it smells like french fries - that's not a bad thing though.  Earlier this month when i stopped there though i got some lemon gelato and it was absolutely delicious.  Definitely looking forward to that again....and its something that someone who's had jaw surgery can eat! yay!  Yep.  Anywayssss....after my ortho appointment, i came home, had a strawberry shake (because thats what i eat everyday) and went to work again, just for a few hours though.  I was really excited though because I got to go back on the phones!  It was a little tiring to talk so much, but i loved it! I love my job. :)  I'm really excited to get to a point where i can work my whole regular shift without getting tired.  That will be absolutely wonderful.  Yep.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 19 - bored

I'm running out of things to say.  Nothing new has really happened in the last few days. The old things, however, are getting really old.  I'm getting really impatient with the recovery process.  I feel like I've wasted the entire last month of summer.  I haven't been able to do ANYTHING.  I've had to cancel events and just stay home cause I just don't have the energy.  Its sad.  I should have done this in the middle of February so I wouldn't miss summer, but then i would have missed school so that wouldn't really work either.  Sometimes in life, you just can't win.  I definitely feel like there's no way to win with jaw surgery.  The end result is supposed to be worth it, though.  I'm crossing my fingers on that one.  I was pretty happy with the way I looked before, so now looking different is just weird and I'm not sure I like it.  Its just not normal to wake up one day with a different face.  The surgical wires on my braces right now aren't helping either cause they're more...well, there's just more metal in my mouth than usual. The difference between surgical wires and regular wires is.... a regular wire is just a wire...and surgical wires have a million little hooks attached to them so that rubberbands can be hooked on to them.  So now its like I don't have teeth, just gobs of metal pretending to be teeth.  I'm not going for it.  Anyway... so thats about it.  There are no new developments in my recovery.  I'm just getting reaaaaaaally bored and kind of frustrated.  I really just want to be better and function normally again.  That's not too much to ask, is it?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 18 - :(

I'm hungry.

Day 17 - rubberbands again

I went to work today for the first time since my surgery.  I was only there a few hours...but it was good to be back.  Even though my shift was really short and kinda wimpy... i was tired when i got home and had to take a nap.  blahhh  Also i didnt take any painkillers since i wanted my mind to be all there, so my mouth got a little sore.... I really like my job and my coworkers so it was nice seeing them again though.  I didn't really get to do my regular job though.  Generally, I talk on the phone to customers my entire shift, however, considering the current condition of my mouth, I instead worked on some "projects".  Projects are very exciting things. I'm not even going to go into how exciting they are on this blog because then you would lose interest in everything else.  haha. not. Anyway.  Even though projects aren't that fun are super fun, I am really looking forward to getting back on the phone.  I have an orthodontist appointment on Monday at which I'm hoping to get some new rubberbands that are looser... or at least attached differently so I can talk better.  We talked to my surgeon today on the phone and asked how long I'd have to wear the rubberbands.... He said until the  6 week point at least, maybe a little longer but I'd know that for sure when i go for my 6 week appointment with him.  He said my orthodontist may choose to give me different rubberbands to adjust the position of my jaw depending on how things were going.... They may be more loose...But its all up to them and their judgement.  However, even if they do choose to have me wear different rubberbands, Dr. Riek wants me to continue using the tight ones he sent me home with at night.  fun fun.  So tonight I finally gained enough courage to take off the rubberbands again for hygienic purposes.  If you happened to have read my last post about rubberbands, you'll know what a terrifying experience this is.  It wasn't as bad this time because I knew what to expect, but I certainly did not enjoy it. Even with the rubberbands off, I still can't open very wide.  Currently, I'm using a little tiny toddler toothbrush because a regular sized one doesn't really work....and even as tiny and pathetic as it is, i still have a really hard time getting it in my mouth to brush the insides of my teeth.  My jaw is just stuck.... I have to really force it to get that toothbrush in....and thats when things get uncomfortable and scary.  Since when is brushing your teeth a scary thing anyway?   Anyway, when i took out the rubberbands, I noticed that they had stretched out a little and were considerably larger than the un-used bands.  So, for the sake of my jaw, I sacrificed what little improvements I'd made in my speech and switched to the tiny ones.  Definitely more restricting than I've been used to the last few days.  I really hope that wearing the stretchier rubberbands wasn't detrimental to my mouth... hmmm I think i'm probably okay...I wish people could recover from jaw surgery faster.  This is just taking too long.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 16 - steak dinner????? PHOTO

Dear Family,

As you may already be aware, I've recently had jaw surgery.  This procedure was quite major and two weeks later I have not yet recovered.  Even though I'm doing a lot better, I still get tired quite easily.  For example, two days ago I decided to see a movie and shop a little bit with a friend.  I had a great time, but even though the visit was pretty short, I was exhausted and still haven't been quite right since then.  Thats okay though... the only things that I've had to do are try to rush through entire seasons of tv shows before the library expected them to be returned.  My main complaint is the current food situation.  I've been on a liquid diet for the last 2 weeks and I'm getting sick of smoothies and cream of chicken soup.  Only within the last couple days have I been able to eat small amounts of things like scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes.  These soft foods have been a wonderful improvement, but it takes an incredible amount of time and effort to consume them and they still really aren't that satisfying.  Now, I know that the diet isn't your fault...  Its just the unfortunate consequence of jaw surgery.  However, during this period of time while I recover..... Is it really necessary that you enjoy all of my favorite meals?  Just tonight you had a steak dinner.  We almost never have steak dinners!  Are you trying to make this more difficult for me?  From this point forward, I am requesting that the entire family eat only smoothies, soup, applesauce, scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes.  I believe that in order to be more close as a family, we should not isolate any one person and that's exactly what's been going on here with the meals.  I may be forced to take drastic measures if I see anymore of my favorite meals on the table over the next few weeks.  Thank you.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 15 - smiling!

Today has been one of the more painful days for some reason.  The last couple days I've been able to get by with only 2 motrin every 4 hours.... But today i had to take tylenol 3 a few times in addition to the motrin, and i still didn't get the pain under control.  I could have taken a vicodin, but it makes me so sleepy that i wanted to avoid it at all costs.  The most likely reason i can think of for my mouth hurting is that some of the nerves are finally waking up.  Like I've said before, i've had zero feeling in my chin, lower lip, nose, my gums, and the entire roof of my mouth.  Because of the numbness, I pretty much haven't been able to open my mouth at all...only slightly.  I can't describe how weird it is to have no control over parts of your face.  Imagine tapping your chin and not feeling anything.  Imagine trying to make a smile that shows your teeth and being unable to. Its very strange.  However, today I've begun to have more control over my face.  Its still numb to the touch and I cant, for example, rub my lips together when i put on lip balm, but I can definitely sense some improvements.  I think I can talk a little better, I can now make a kissy face (because thats exactly what I've been waiting to do for 2 weeks....) and I can (my personal favorite) make a smile that shows my teeth. Its an awkward smile... but a smile nonetheless!  So even though today I've had to deal with a lot of pain, I'm smiling!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 14 - the two week point - PHOTOS

You might be able to argue that tomorrow is actually the 2 week point, since my surgery was on a wednesday and today is tuesday... But you can also argue that its day 14 so thats what i'm going with.  So, in honor of this 2 week point, I'm posting some photos.

I do look a little different....but there is still some swelling to account for, even though it has gone down drastically. I think also part of the looking different is that because of the numbness I cant make the expressions that i normally make.  I've been told not to make any judgements on my appearance until the 5 week mark at least.

no changes to my  weird  fun personality of course. :)

Over the last 2 weeks I've covered a lot of ground.  I've gone from looking like an orangutan (really, thats not a joke...) to a pretty normal looking person again.  I've gone from only being capable of consuming liquid meds to taking pills. (score!) I've gone from needing vicodin every 6 hours, to barely once a day.  I've gone from being too weak to stand up myself and only being able to stand for 5-10 minutes at a time and needing to sleep every 2 hours, to now finally being able to get through a whole day and walk around as much as i need to.  I've gone from waking up every few hours during the night, to now being able to sleep a whole night normally.  I can also now talk pretty well, drink out of a cup and kind of use a tiny spoon.  Also, just today i decided that some scrambled eggs would be okay...so i broke them into extremely TINY pieces so i could #1, get them into my mouth which still can't open very wide and #2 swallow without chewing. It felt SO good to eat something other than soup or a smoothie, even if i couldn't chew it. We're making progress!

Still though..
  • no feeling in my lower lip, chin, the roof of my mouth and parts of my nose
  • annoying tingly feelings in my chin...they're definitely worse at night when i'm trying to sleep
  • headaches almost all the time
  • i said i could talk pretty well....but its really not 100% there
  • Just like the talking, my energy is almost all back, but still not 100%
  • i can't make a smile that shows my teeth
  • jaws still rubberbanded shut   -see last post....
  • And the worst....I still can't chew

I've come a long way... But I still have a long way to go... Thank you so much to everyone who's sent gifts and cards by the way!  Nothin' like love to make you feel better. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 13 - Rubberbands

Today I tried to eat soup with a spoon.  I started with a small spoon, but it was too big so I switched to a baby spoon.  That still didn't really work. I mean, it kind of did... But with these rubberbands in, I just can't open my mouth very wide... and definitely not wide enough to get a spoon in.  It took me over half an hour to eat 1 can of soup. Kind of ridiculous.  So after this experience, I decided it would be okay to take off the rubberbands just for a few minutes so I could brush my teeth better.   This ended up being one of the scariest few moments of my entire life.  At first when I removed the bands I thought "hey look! i can talk a lot better!"  then i thought "OHMYGOSH MY LOWER JAW IS GOING TO FALL OFF!!!!!" because thats what it felt like.  Both of my jaws felt very loose and insecure..like they weren't really attached to my head.  I know that they're actually screwed into place... but it still felt pretty shaky to me.  I could still barely open wide enough to get the tooth brush in, but, with my mom standing by for emotional support, my teeth were successfully brushed.  I am very nervous to repeat this experience, though.  The last 2 weeks i've been itching to take these rubberbands off thinking that everything would be fine and dandy if only i could throw them away... I was wrong. Very wrong.  I love my rubberbands now.  I now know the important work they do.  They're keeping my jaws attached to my head.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day 12 - Why is there smoothie on the ceiling?

Today began like any normal day.  I woke up, took some painkillers and began to eat my breakfast smoothie.  Strawberries, bananas, Greek yogurt, milk, honey, & some protein powder are the main ingredients I believe. Now, while i can drink regular liquids like water or orange juice out of a cup normally, I can't drink anything thats thick like soup or a smoothie so I was using one of my syringes.  Let me first mention that those syringes are often a lot of work to use.  First you have to use a lot of strength to pull the smoothie into the syringe, then you have to again use some strength to push the smoothie (or whatever) back out.  Sometimes during this process things go wrong.  Like the other day during a syringe malfunction I punched myself in the nose.   Today...

[click photos to enlarge]

While i was squeezing smoothie out of the syringe and into my mouth, there was apparently more pressure than the straw could handle.....The straw was pushed off the syringe and well...the smoothie went with it. I'm really amazed that there was enough forced to get the smoothie all the way up to the ceiling!  Everything happened pretty fast.. But I know i saw that smoothie fly through the air and it was pretty crazy. 

This is the culprit!!!

Most of my life is really pretty boring... These weird things just keep happening to keep things interesting I guess.

Day 11 - I drank out of a cup!

Today, I took a major step.  I graduated from drinking from a syringe to drinking out of a cup.  Yes, a cup. I was very proud of myself.  My lower lip is still totally numb so I can't feel the cup at all...so a lot of concentration is required to make sure I don't spill all over the place.  My wonderful, supportive brother Stephen informed me that drinking out of a cup is a skill most people have already acquired by the age of two.  However, he has not had jaw surgery and doesn't understand the challenges that come with it.  I still can't eat from a fork, but I'll be working on that shortly.  Well..its not really necessary until I can eat solid foods I guess.  Still on that fabulous liquid only diet.

Friday, August 13, 2010

day 10 - tingling! gahh! - PHOTO

I'm glad to say that I had another pretty good day.  I've been taking a lot less vicoden and i think that really helps.  The vicoden really drains my energy and my mood along with it.  Unfortunately though, even though I am feeling better, there are still 7 broken bones in my face and vicoden is still a necessary evil for the time being.... just not every 4 hours like last week.  I'm more at every 8 hours right now.. Sometimes longer - with motrin every 6 hours of course.  I'm very glad to say that I am 100% through with all liquid meds though. I've finally gotten a new prescription for vicoden pills so i'm pretty happy.  Not only is liquid vicoden the most disgusting thing you have ever smelled or tasted in your entire life, it also burns my throat.  Nothing like the element of pain to distract you from a nasty taste.  But thats all done with now. :D   Now, my most urgent complaint is regarding the tingles in my chin!!!  They are horrible! they kept me awake until 2am last night!!  Up until now, they have been little tingles - kind of funny feeling but not horrible.  Now they are getting to be more than I can take.  Take your cell phone, make it vibrate, and hold it to your chin.  Imagine feeling that vibrating constantly all. day. long.  That is essentially what I've been dealing with. blah.

I've started to see people today though.  Thats pretty cool.  I went over to my grandparents house in the afternoon for a short visit....then later my aunt and cousin came by - thank you for the orange creme freeze! mmmmm.  It was really good to finally see and talk to people instead of just laying around watching tv all day.  Any one else is welcome to visit me, too! Please do! :)

here's what i looked like today.  still kind of weird.  my upper lip is especially swollen..far more so than my lower lip. kind of odd.

And this is the lovely bruise on my left wrist.  There was apparently some sort of tube shoved into my artery to keep track of my blood pressure during surgery.  I would like to point out that this is a week and a few days after my surgery and the bruise is still this ugly....it was much uglier before. MUCH uglier. Note:if you look at your computer screen straight on, you don't get the full idea of how dark it is. tilt your screen back if you can to see its true ugliness. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

day 9 - photo!

Hello. I remain committed to telling only the facts on this blog. I may attempt mix in some thematic elements, of course, but the facts of surviving jaw surgery will always be told.  Yesterday those facts included some complaining.  Actually the last week has included a lot of complaining.  Thats okay though, because today - no complaints! I had a very good day.  =)  I woke up at 7, took a wonderful shower,  then I did my hair and put on some makeup for the first time since before surgery. (the hair and makeup were for the 1st time...I assure you I've taken plenty of showers the last week).  I also then proceeded to put on jeans and a regular shirt.  So for the first time since before my surgery i looked kinda nice instead of a frizzy-haired orangutan in pajamas. My swelling has also gone down a lot so that I no longer, i repeat, NO LONGER look like an orangutan.   I am now enjoying *full* cheeks and Angelina Jolie lips.  Yes. I look like a movie star.  i bet you wish you had jaw surgery.

Okay... so maybe i don't look like a movie star. ....Actually, this picture was taken with Henk (my best friend's husband) in mind.  He called me a dork last time i did the thumbs up...pshhhh I'm not a dork! I'm just enjoying life! 

But anyway.  I had my first post-surgery follow up appointment today at my orthodontist.  Because my surgeon is 9 hours away in Minnesota, the majority of my follow-ups will be here in town.   So my ortho and her assistant (i never know what to call all those girls at the orthodontist... they're not nurses...they just do most of the work...anyway..)...said i looked great.  The assistant thought it was actually 2 weeks out of surgery instead of only 1 week because the swelling is so under control. Two other "assistants" also made a point to see me before i left so see how I was doing.  Having jaw surgery makes you popular at the orthodontists office i guess.  But yeah, they were all impressed with my recovery. Thats good i think. Its been an insanely rough week, but if I'm a week ahead of the game I'm happy!  Yep. After my appointment, i went to the library. My first public appearance!!  I picked up some dvds...came home... had a yummy smoothie that contained no less than 500 calories (haven't lost any weight so far) and by 11:00 i was totally exhausted so i slept for a while.  The rest of the day has included watching The Office and chilling and more sleeping and more smoothies...all of which i consider elements of a satisfying summer day.  

day 8 - i swallowed a pill! whoah!

Hello. day 8 wasn't very fun. I barely slept at all the entire day so i got to savor every wonderful moment. That sounds kind of cynical and depressing. I'm really actually quite up-beat and chipper (just had my vicoden so i might be a little slap happy too).  But....complaining on here is a little therapeutic.   It is my jaw surgery blog after all so i do have the right to moan the agonies and woes i suffer.  In fact, not only is my right, it's my duty.  Some other poor, unsuspecting individual could somehow stumble across this blog looking for insight into the jaw surgery experience before he makes the decision to undergo it.  Now, I could never forgive myself if i were to give that poor, unsuspecting individual the wrong impression that could lead him to making the wrong decision, and that wrong decision would impact his very life.  Yes...I must continue to complain. Lives depend on it.  SO that being said... uhmmm.. today sucked. I am getting better, which is a good thing, but each day I'm learning more and more that the better i get, the worse i feel.   Sure my face isn't swollen 5 times its normal size any more, I can stand up by myself now and I have some feeling back in my face.  I'm more awake and able to function more...But I'm not awake and functioning enough to be satisfying. Its only tempting me.   Now I can smell the dinner my mom is cooking for the family...and unlike before, I'm actually kind of hungry now.  Do you know what its like to walk downstairs, see your family eating chicken and broccoli and corn on the cob and it smells sooooo delicious, and then your mother hands you your dinner - a cup of cream of chicken soup. Its kind of disheartening.  And the aforementioned family doesn't even appreciate what they've got!  Half of them probably didn't even eat all the chicken on their plate.  What a messed up world. So yeah.  That was a tough moment today.  Then i choked on my vicoden, motrin, and water no less than 5 times.  Coughing is similar to laughing. (see last post)   BUT, I've made progress! real progress! i swallowed a pill today! two pills! amazing!!!!  It was really hard but I did it. I can't wait until I'm completely proficient in this whole pill taking thing so I can completely abolish the use of liquid meds.   The reason pills are tricky is because #1, I can't open my mouth very far to put the pill in, and #2, once its in its hard to get it to the back of my mouth and swallow cause,  like i said, i can't open my mouth and the roof of my mouth is mostly numb. Its easy to lose a tiny pill in your mouth when you can't feel it.  I know dozens of people who are perfectly normal and can't swallow pills... So in my condition, I consider swallowing pills an accomplishment. yup. Okay... my vicoden is really setting in now so I'm going to sleep. goodnight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 7 - I punched myself in the nose. oops.

I've hit the one week point. yay. The first week is supposed to be the worst so I'm glad to be through it.  I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty miserable.  Especially the first few days, if you had asked me, I would have told you that I was tricked into this surgery and would never have done it if I had known what to expect.  Glad to be through those days.  Recovery still really stinks though.  I'm sick of liquid meds a million times a day, I'm sick of sleeping all the time because of the meds, and I miss popcorn!!! The absolute worst thing though, is that I can't laugh.  I really like laughing...it always makes you feel good. If you ask my brother, he'll tell you I'm always sitting by myself laughing at nothing.  He used to accuse me of chatting online with people in the middle of the night because there was no way someone could laugh that much by themselves.  But yeah.. no chatting. Maybe I'm just crazy....But I have a lot of funny thoughts! But now I can't laugh.. It has happened a few times, but it hurts SO BAD. oh.my.gosh.  Every bone in my face aches and I can feel the stitches tearing against my braces.  Its horrible.  So every time i've laughed so far, I end up crying too, from the pain.  Its driving me nuts! Earlier today one of those laughing/crying moments took place.  I was trying to suck some cream of potato soup into my syringe and it just wasn't working.  Something must have gotten stuck in the straw part because no soup was going in or out.   I was pulling and pulling and pulling with no success at all when  the syringe finally broke.  All of the force from my hand pulling the syringe was released and it flew back, hitting myself quite hard in the nose...Just like in tug-of-war when the other team decides to let go of their end of the rope so you fly backwards with your end.  Ouch. my nose hurt so bad! Its been pretty numb all this time, but some of those nerves woke up then. Honestly, I thought I had broken something or messed up part of the surgery.  Evidently I'm okay... but you never know! Of course the whole situation was so ridiculous, I ended up laughing...which caused even more pain in addition to my poor nose.  Do these kinds of things happen to other people too?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 6 - same old stuff

Slept a ton today....didnt get out of bed until 3:00. Just woke up a little every few hours to take my antibiotics and pain killers.... I might have eaten some peaches around noon and then went back to sleep.  With all this vicoden and sleeping i can barely remember anything!  Thank goodness my mom is keeping track of my drugs and food for me and changing my ice pack regularly. I would be totally lost on my own.    Anyways.....i DID get out of bed eventually and take a shower....brushed my teeth as best as i could (which wasnt very well i'm afraid..)...went downstairs and watched tv a while...had an orange creme freeze from beaners...fell asleep...went back up to my bed....facebook...talked to my best friend a bit on msn...  had some more drugs...a little cream of chicken soup.... a little apple sauce....and thats my day.  The point of all of this is to say, you can't really do much when you have jaw surgery. You just sit there and stare...or sit there and sleep. Its pretty boring and ridiculously exhausting.  Swelling hasn't really gone down much in the last 2 days, but i do have slightly increased feeling in my lips. Starting to get tingles in my cheeks as well as my chin (lots more chin tingles) and the roof of my mouth kind of hurts.  And thats the update.  Most exciting blog ever.

I made a really bad mistake on this day.  I went 12 hours without vicoden, only motrin. I thought i was doing okay till i woke up in the middle of the night with agonizing pain, probably the worst its been.  The issue now is that with increased feeling comes increased pain because there are, in fact, 7 broken bones in my face.  Note to self: stay drugged up as much as possible.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 5 - home!

It was good to sleep in my own bed last night... more comfortable than at the hospital...But it is still hard to find a good position to sleep in.  Whenever my head is a comfortable position, my back is killing me.. No idea how to solve this.  I spent a lot of the day sleeping regardless. I did sit outside for a while and play the piano a little bit.  Standing for very long makes me nauseous though so my "exercise" is a little limited. I can stand up by myself now, but I'm still very weak and don't really have much of an appetite.  For breakfast i ate some peaches and cream of chicken soup...doesn't sound very breakfast-y but i like how they taste and calories are calories so yeah, i eat what i can.  I was able to chat with a few friends on facebook for a bit, that was nice. I can't wait to actually see people again! No idea when I'll be fit for work though.. My job is talking on the phone to customers constantly...so it'll probably be a few more weeks before i'll be up to that.  I have been talking quite a bit though. My lips and jaws don't really move much... but my tongue is in perfect working condition!  The quality of speech..ehhh well, i'm understandable - most of the time.  Bs, Ms, and Vs are hard to say....or any letter that involves using your lips very much. But i do manage pretty well. :)  My face is still pretty swollen...but is slightly better.  The skin is starting to kind of peel off my lips. It apparently can't handle stretching to the size of texas and going back to normal (well..maybe normal isnt the best word to use yet...)  Probably the most gross part so far is the inability to brush my teeth. I'm going to be working on solving this issue VERY soon. Tingles in my chin are becoming more frequent...still irritating...Still no real sense of temperature on my cheeks, right side of my nose is still numb.  I have some bruising on each side of my chin, but its not horrible.  I definitely can see the resemblance between myself and an orangutan at this point though. 

Day 4 - Going Home

Saturday:  After a "good breakfast" of some cream of chicken soup, pureed peaches and a little yogurt i was pronounced good to go whenever i felt like it.  I was a little hesitant to leave because #1, the drive home takes 10 hours and #2, even though there are a lot of annoying things about the hospital, there are a lot of little conveniences too...Like a whole menu of pureed food, cable tv, my own bathroom, an ice machine that grinds ice just perfectly for my ice pack, and (one of my favorites) a little face mask that blows out cool, moist air.  This helped me so much with breathing! I didn't really wear the mask, since my face was so swollen anyway but I set it near by so it blowed towards me.  I loved it! Anyway....because of the long drive, we left around 9:00am I think.  It was good to be finally free of all IVs in my hands!  My left wrist especially is still really sore though and quite bruised. Its like i got  in a big fist fight or something.  The car ride home was less than fun...we drove our Toyota Rav4, and those seats are NOT designed for comfort in any sense of the word.  I think I'm going to have a permanent back-ache as a result of that car trip.  We stopped semi-regularly at McDonalds to change my icepack and to take my meds.  I have vicoden, motrin and amoxicillin.   The vicoden is definitely the worst tasting. It burns my throat too.  The other 2 drugs aren't so bad though...the motrin might even taste a little good, kind of like a smoothie.  Inevitably, after driving for so many hours, i had to use the bathroom... which meant going into a mcdonalds.. I wasn't thrilled about this because of my freakish swelling...But you gotta do what you gotta do...and it wasn't so bad i guess.  Anyone thinking of having this surgery better just plan and putting any and all of their vanity on a shelf for a while because its not a pretty thing.  You look like a freak and thats just the way it is.  That being said, I cannot wait to not look like a freak anymore!  I don't want to give small children nighmares...and I'd like to be able to eat without spilling down my chin and not even knowing it because I'm numb.  I miss feeling normal.  Jaw surgery stinks. I know i should look try to look down the road and see myself at a time where i can say "this was worth it" but its hard.  I'm not sure if i would have had enough guts to have this done if I had really known what to expect.  Praying for fast recovery!!!!!

Note: i do try to read over what I write on here... But i am heavily under the influence of vicoden, so I know i'm probably missing tons of grammar errors and saying a lot of things that just don't make sense..  please bear with me! :)

Day 3 - Still in the hospital

Friday:  I would say this was the most painful day... i gave it at 4/10. That doesn't sound so high i guess... But i think i have a pretty high pain tolerance so I'm not sure if my scale is a little off to someone else.  But i will give discomfort a 10/10!  Swelling peaked in the morning...and it was bad. My face was probably about 4 times bigger than it normally is... my lips so big they curled over. I felt gross and looked pretty gross too.  Dr. Rieck visited me around 7am again...he said he could check out of the hospital later that day if i felt up to it, or i was free to stay another day.  I didn't really feel up to it so we opted to stay another night.  Time in the hospital goes by soooo slow though! Minutes seem like hours! You feel like it should be 8:00 at night, then you look at the clock and its only 2:00.  I was able to eat some breakfast though... Pureed peaches again along with some pureed eggs.  I ate all the eggs... but they were kind of gross. The texture was just weird...very gritty.  I didn't order those again.  I really like the peaches though.  Pretty tasty. Not really a whole lot else to say about the day.  I took my liquid vicoden every 6 hours... some other antibiotics and meds to help with the swelling through my IV. ...Went for a walk or two to the court yard and back.. Took another shower at night... And thats about it. I decided the best way to pass the time is to just sleep as much as you can.  I've started to get tingles in my chin...very annoying but this means that my nerves are intact and I'm on the way to getting full feeling back. yay!  My chin and lower lip are totally numb though... so i can't scratch or rub away the tingles! I can feel my upper lip, and the left side of my nose (the right side is numb). Feeling in my cheeks is kind of weird. I can tell if i'm touching them... but i can't tell if my ice pack is cold or not. Not sure why this is. I slept a little better this night...but still very disrupted by the nurses. They have horrible timing! 

Day 2 - Day After Surgery

My doctor came to see me at 7am...said everything looked good and as to be expected.  I felt like crap...But at least the doctor was happy. My left hand was really super sore from whatever it was they shoved down my wrist so he checked it out to make sure there wasn't any nerve damage..I wasn't even aware that there was a risk of that..yikes.  I was still hooked up to IVs on both hands, but Dr. Riek took the lovely tube out of my nose... thank goodness.  Its really weird feeling a tube slide up from your stomach, up your throat and out your nose. Really weird. So now my nose and throat are sore because I had the anesthesia line down one nostril and the blood draining tube down the other and I guess during surgery they took the opportunity to straighten out my septum so that probably also had something to do with the soreness/numbness in my nose too..as well as the constant blood dripping out. yuck.  I didn't even know anything was wrong with my septum..sheesh. Dr. Rieck also took the super tight rubberbands off and replaced them with some slightly more  flexible bands that allowed me to open my mouth enough to get a straw in. So now with these changes, it was time to begin the liquid vicoden through the syringe. Nasty nasty nasty. Purple grape juice works pretty well to get rid of the after taste though... then you need to rinse with water to get rid of the grape juice taste.   I feel like you never quite get rid of the taste of whatever you just drank because its so hard to swallow. blahh.  Goals for the day included walking to the bathroom....taking a walk in the hallway...taking a shower...and eating something (i had some cream of chicken soup, some pureed peaches and a little bit of strawberry shake).  All of these goals were met, but drained pretty much all of my energy. I couldn't even stand up by myself i was so weak. I was able to drink a ton of water though.. The doctor told me at his evening visit that I was doing better than any of his other patients had before with the liquid intake.  Pain for the day still never got above a 3/10 but again I would rate the discomfort at a 8/10. I only woke up 3 times during the night though, opposed to every hour, so that was good..But still not very restful.  Having nurses always coming into the room, pumping your IVs with meds, taking your blood pressure, listening to your heart is very disruptive to sleep. I'm not a fan of the hospital.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 1 - Day of Surgery

Wednesday: You could call this day 1. It started much earlier than any day should though.  I had had my last dinner the night before, a delicious gyro at a Greek cafe, I wasn't too nervous... But I didn't get the best night sleep ever. Maybe a little more nervous than I thought I was. My mom and i stayed at a hotel directly across the street from the hospital, so at 5:30am we walked over and I checked in.  Shortly after i was escorted up to my personal prep-room with a lovely gown all ready and waiting for me there.  A hospital chaplain stopped by and prayed for me...that was nice but definitely gave me the chills and things started to seem very real.  Next stop was a rather large room full of people all prepping for surgery. I'm talking rows and rows of beds of people... all awaiting some sort of surgery.  This is when you start meeting the nurses, your anesthesiologist and your surgeon also stops by to say hello and go over everything with you.  I was given some tight support stockings to wear to make sure I didn't form a blood clot and a rather stylish cap to cover my hair.  Next thing I knew, i was saying goodbye to my mom and being wheeled off to the operating room. They slipped an IV in my hand, pumped something into it...it felt like fire was rushing up my arm! ouch ...and that's the last thing I remember.....The surgery itself lasted 6 to 7 hours.. pretty long but at least I out for it. :) I vaguely remember the recovery room... But not really.  I wasn't really very conscious until i was in my own room and even then i wasnt very aware of my surroundings for a few hours.  I remember being very uncomfortable though.  I had an IV for medication on my right hand.. an IV in my left hand for who knows what reason, a clip on my left middle finger to keep track of my pulse... Both of legs were wrapped up in some special stocking that squeeze them to keep blood flowing and these were leashed to the end of the bed.  Then I also had a tube from my nose down to my stomach to drain the blood that made its way down there... and there sure was a lot of it.  That night was very rough... I woke up every single hour, very uncomfortable.  "Pain" isn't exactly the right word to describe how I felt..i think i told the nurse the pain was a 3 out of 10 after I'd had some morphine and who knows what else... but the discomfort was definitely  a 9 or 10. The swelling that takes place is just so incredibly major, there's no way you can sleep like nothing while dealing with it.  The tube down my throat and the tight rubber bands holding my jaw closed didnt really help things much. Breathing was difficult along with swallowing. Very horrible feeling.  Around 2am we also discovered that morphine wasn't the best drug for me and caused some icky nausea. Not cool.


Hello... welcome to my blog.  It seems sort of popular for victims of jaw surgery begin a blog charting their progress... So here I am.  I think the main reason people make these blogs is because, after jaw surgery, there is literally nothing you can do...except go online. At this point, I'm a few days out from surgery so I'll be backtracking a little.

SO reason for jaw surgery:

Open Bite
      My top and bottom jaws only touched in the very back.. This makes biting into an apple pretty much impossible... along with biting all the way through the lettuce your sandwich. Aside from normal chewing, the incorrect position of my jaws cause too much stress on my back molars than normal in addition to some facial muscles.  Aside from normal chewing and my overall well being... open bites.... well..they just don't look quite right.  I don't think most people noticed, but especially when i was younger it was quite weird.  It was actually when I was 8 years old that I was told jaw surgery was in my future because of my strange bite... 10 years later, I had grown into my mouth a little better, but my profile was a little off.


Like I said, my orthodontist and I have known about this surgery for 10 years so a lot has gone into getting ready for it.  Step 1 was an upper jaw expander [VERY good thing I had this taken care of before surgery!], step 2 was braces on my top teeth to correct what damage the expander had done... Step 3 was just wearing retainers for a long time. Step 4.. getting x-rays taken at the orthodontist every 6-9 months to track my growing.  No one was going to do jaw surgery on a growing mouth... thats slightly counter productive.  Finally, fall of my freshman year of college, the orthodontist pronounced my growing complete, and a lovely full set of braces were installed. yay. Here i am, when all of my friends are getting their highschool braces taken off, just getting them on.  Oh well. After 5 months of braces, I had my first consultation with my oral surgeon, Dr. Riek at the Mayo Clinic. Why Mayo Clinic? Because they're the best.  When we're dealing with a major surgery, why settle for less than a top notch surgeon at a top notch hospital? Anyway, later in June my orthodontist decided that my braces had done their job and my teeth were now ready for surgery..The date was set for August 4th but was preceded 2 weeks by another appointment with Dr. Riek to take extensive molds, x-rays, and photos of my teeth, as well as give me some dietary guidelines to follow the surgery..... And that wraps up my 10 year orthodontist history in a nutshell. Other surgical preparation involved reading tons of other blogs from jaw surgery victims/survivors to know what to expect..I don't think you can ever fully prepare yourself though, its just too much to comprehend.


Well....I don't know if i can exactly explain the procedure very well..Let me show you some pictures so you can better understand the problem though:

Lower jaw is more prominent than the top.

kind of a weird angle, but this is my bite. you can see the top jaw doesnt fit nicely over the bottom.

.....Because i know you wanted to see this. yay for photobooth! Really though, this is me with my bite completely shut.  barely any of my teeth meet!

Okay,  so the problem is incorrect alignment of the top and bottom jaws...  this is how mayo clinic describes the surgery on their website:

Maxillary Osteotomy (upper jaw surgery)
In this procedure, the surgeon makes cuts below both eye sockets so the entire top jaw, including the roof of the mouth and all upper teeth, can move as one unit. The teeth and jaw are moved forward until the upper and bottom teeth fit together properly.
Once the jaw is realigned, tiny screws hold the bone in its new position. These screws are smaller than a bracket used for braces and become integrated into the bone structure.

So thats what they're doing in my mouth.  Basically sliding my top jaw forward.  They're also setting my bottom jaw slightly back though.  This involves removing some of the bone...i can't find an article explain it though so you'll just have to use your imagination.  Before surgery the doctor talked about #1, bringing my cheek bones forward with my jaw, #2 adjusting my chin somehow so it would still look balanced with the new facial changes and #3, widening my top jaw...However, none of these three things happened because everything just fit together so perfectly.  I'm VERY happy about this, especially the top jaw widening, because that would have seriously delayed recovery increased discomfort during recovery.  When we're talking about breaking and moving bones, nerves, and muscles.....less is definitely more.