Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 52 - Atkins? South Beach? Jaw Surgery?

A lot of people ask if I lost a lot of weight the first month when my diet was slightly drastically limited.  Before the surgery lots of people like my grandmothers were insisting that I over eat and gain lots of weight so I would come out in the end okay.  Actually, now that I think about it, my Greek grandmother/yaya has always been a big food not too much of a change there.  However, its really not healthy for your weight to drastically fluctuate so I chose not to go down that road and instead go with the maintenance thing.  And, believe it or not, I didn't lose very much weight at all - only 5 pounds.  I've lost just as much weight with having the stomach flu for a few days... So considering I barely ate for a month, I think I did pretty well.  I've read a lot of jaw surgery blogs though, I don't think most people lose much more than 5 pounds either unless they had some extra weight already.  One guy said he lost 30 pounds and I thought, "oh my goodness! I'm already pretty slim.. I'll die if I lose 30 pounds!", but I read further and discovered that he had intentionally gained the weight pre-surgery and at the end came out around 5 pounds less than he was originally.  The trick to maintaining your weight while recovering from jaw surgery is very simple.  Its the same secret that applies to your weight at any other point in your life.  Ready?  All you have to do is.....make sure you're getting good nutrition and count your calories!  It can be tricky to get enough calories in, but its not impossible.  I recommend investing in a good protein powder and adding it to your shakes and smoothies. (trust me, you'll be drinking a lot of these).  I used vanilla Muscle Milk.  It has tons of vitamins in it, even more calories, and you don't taste it when mixed in your smoothie.

So while we're on the topic, I'll give you a good smoothie recipe.  This is the smoothie that kept me alive. I had it almost every single day and I think its safe to say I'm a little sick of it now...but it was good for the first couple weeks..

The 500 Calorie Smoothie

1/2 cup frozen strawberries - 50 calories
1/2 frozen banana (slice it up, then freeze) - 50 calories
1/2 cup whole milk - 75 calories
1/2 cup GREEK GODS plain yogurt - 130 calories
1 Tbs - strawberry jam - 100 calories
3 Tbs - MUSCLE MILK (vanilla) protein powder - 100 calories
One really good smoothie   - 505 calories


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 49 - Goodbye Surgical Wires

I had an orthodontist appointment today.  It involved a handful of people looking and poking at my mouth.  Pretty fun.  Actually, I was scared that after everything my poor mouth went through during that appointment that I was going to have to undergo a 2nd jaw surgery.  Thats kind of the way most orthodontist appointments go I guess.  I always walk in feeling great and excited to be getting one step closer to having my braces removed, but I'm grabbing for my ibuprofen as I walk out the door wondering, "Is this really necessary?".  At least everyone at the office is very friendly and nice.  I wish they were mean horrible people, though, because then I could hate them for hurting my teeth. But no, we're good friends.  I've been going there for 10 years so they've pretty much watched me grow up and that office is my home away from home.  Anyway...enough rambling. The most important thing about today is that my surgical wires have been removed. Hallelujah!!!  No more poking! No more food getting stuck in them!  No more looking like I don't have teeth, only gobs of metal! If only the would have taken off the braces with the hooks...then I would have been reaaally happy.  But this will do for now, I suppose.  Those surgical hooks didn't come off without a fight though.  I recall them being extremely painful going in too...Is that normal?  But yeah, they're out and a normal wire has replaced them along with one of those fancy little rubberband chains across my top teeth.  Luckily that rubberband chain is CLEAR instead of some obnoxious color.  Why call anymore attention to your braces than the braces themselves already do?  Thank goodness for clear. As far as the other rubberbands that are attached to both the top and bottom jaws go.... I enjoyed 4 short days of freedom, and now my orthodontist has mandated that the wearing of them be reinstated. Wonderful.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 46 - 6 week appointment with my surgeon!

No posts the last few days because I've been busy driving back and forth to Rochester, Minnesota.  We spent 12 1/2 hours driving up on Thursday, and spent 11 1/2 hours returning on Friday. Thats a lot of driving. The focus here, though, is on the few hours I spent in between all of that driving at the Mayo Clinic meeting with my surgeon.  Because Mayo is so far away, I've had two follow up appointments with my orthodontist instead of my surgeon and since everything has been going smoothly that's worked out well.  However, we made the journey to see him for my 6 week followup.  Just as I thought, everything is looking great and my bones are healing very well.  No issues whatsoever! Here are some questions I asked:

How is the numbness progressing? .......As to be expected. It takes about 3 months to get most feeling back, but it won't be 100% until the 1 year point.  It could potentially not come back 100%, but whatever I have at one year is probably what I'll have for the rest of my life.  As for now, the right half of my chin is healing far faster than the left.  There is a line directly down the middle of my lower lip and chin that divides zero feeling, and a lot of feeling. Its kind of weird but kind of cool.  The feeling isn't quite normal though, but kind of tingly. I'll take it over zero feeling though!

How much longer do I need to wear rubberbands for? ........Completely up to the orthodontist.  From a surgical standpoint, they are no longer necessary but if they are necessary for orthodontic purposes, I'll continue to wear them as my orthodontists instructs.  I've taken full advantage of this and haven't worn them since yesterday morning after my appointment.  =D ....This also applies to the surgical wires.  The orthodontist is free to take them out whenever they wish.  I'm hoping this is on Tuesday.

Is my energy coming back normally?  ....Pretty much.  Jaw surgery is major, you lose blood during surgery, your body spends a lot of energy on healing, and your diet isn't normal so you don't receive the nutrition you're used to so it takes a while to be 100% again.  But because my parents were concerned, I had some blood drawn to see whats going on...just in case.  Most likely my blood just is a little low on iron and this can be fixed with a better diet or iron supplements.  No big deal.  I'm not expecting anything too noteworthy to come back with the blood test.

When can I chew normally again?   ....Now. I'm now allowed to eat anything I want without risk of damaging anything.  However, the jaw muscles are super weak so just because I'm allowed to eat anything, doesn't mean I'm capable of it.  For instance, I'm pretty sure if I tried to chew an almond that it wouldn't work.  But say, chicken - that's something I can manage easily.   Now that I've been given the go-ahead, I'll be giving that jaw lots of big work outs!   

And that basically sums everything up.  I had some x-rays and photos taken.... so be watching for before and afters!!!

My fantastic surgeon, Dr. Rieck and me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 42 - 6 weeks! picture!

Six Weeks! woohoo! I have posted a picture to celebrate this wonderful day because everyone knows that blogs with pictures are more interesting.  Really, anything with pictures is more interesting, and if you're me, pictures of food are particularly appealing.  Thats why I view my Nom List daily.  I love looking at it.  But anyway, as of Sunday night I'm finally back home from our family vacation and am adjusting back to normal life very well.  I worked my first full shift yesterday, which involves 6 hours of solid talking on the phone and I accomplished this without any jaw pain or anything! I don't even think my jaw was that tired.  Definitely a good sign! Being able to work my full regular shift is a major step of improvement for me; it makes me feel a little more normal again. =)  I'm also a sophomore in college this fall and  really enjoying getting back into my classes.  I love being busy... and after a month of recovering and doing absolutely nothing, functioning normally and being busy again is WONDERFUL.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 40 - Snap

Today i snapped a rubberband for the very first time.  It felt weird, but I enjoyed the freedom its absence gave me.  I've come a long way since the old rubberband days. A very long way.  The rubberband snapping is kind of exciting though, because this means that my jaw is gaining more mobility and is able to open wider than I could before.  Progress!!!  I can't wait to stretch my jaw open super wide again and for yawning to be more comfortable.  I really dislike not feeling normal.  After 40 days though, not feeling normal has almost become normal.  *40 Days*  That seems like so long... It certainly feels like forever.  What a journey... Anyway, I'm not sure if this is really related to jaw surgery, but I certainly feel that I've relapsed a little in regards to my energy.  Yesterday my family went on a bike ride that began in going up a pretty steep hill.  I've gone up that hill hundreds of times and it's always been a drag.  Its pretty much impossible to ride your bike up it, although a few years ago I was able to.  I felt like i should have made it into the world record book or something.  But anyway, after going up this hill I felt like i was going to die. I was breathing hard and nauseous and about ready to collapse.  I was obligated to continue on the bike ride for another 2 hours, though.  It was a very exhausting experience and upon returning back to the condo, I slept for about 4 hours until dinner.  I really feel like I should have regained more of my energy back by now... My mother thinks I don't have enough iron in my blood and wants me to have a blood test when I go to Mayo for my 6 week appointment later this week.  We'll find out what's going on then I suppose... Maybe I'm just really lazy and have let myself go this summer, though.  I can see my blood test coming back with results that say something like "You're perfectly healthy and normal.....for a lazy couch potato who hasn't walked across the room in 6 months".  I think I like blaming it on the jaw surgery better.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 38 - Tasty

I know it sounds crazy, but ever since my surgery my sense of taste has been heightened.  The flavors in whatever I eat are definitely more intense than they were before.  Some things that I used to enjoy are now too spicy.. I don't like spicy. Even aspirin tastes really bad now!  I didn't even know aspirin had a taste.   I was sure that my tongue was going to die after all of that liquid vicodin but I guess not... The only possible explanation that I've been able to come up with is that my nose was straightened out along with my upper jaw so that my airways/sense of smell are in better condition now.... And everyone knows that your nose affects your sense of taste.  Maybe its all in my head though.  Actually, it technically is all in my head. haha bad joke. Anyway... I guess this situation, like any other, has pros and cons.  The cons being that some things taste funny or bad now.... and the pros are that tasty things are infinitely tastier! mmmmm I think I'm going to go drool over my Nom List now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 36 - The Nom List

I'm really starting to crave foods other than scrambled eggs and smoothies.  Sure, I've eaten a few other random soft foods too, even cheesecake made the list.  But while the cheesecake was quite delicious,  there's just been a big gaping hole in my life ever since I haven't been able to open up the pantry and eat whatever I wanted.   I've felt empty inside.....literally.

Of course, my family keeps the Food Network on the tv every waking hour so I get a lot of opportunities to think about the foods I miss.  In honor of these foods, I have assembled "The Nom List".  It includes the foods I have especially missed and am looking forward to eating again someday. 

Strawberries in general would be fabulous...but since we're using our imaginations, lets cover them in chocolate.

Roasted chicken, strawberries, pineapples, mandarin oranges, almonds...mmmmm. i get this at Big Apple Bagel. its the best.

america's favorite cookie

Who doesn't love steak?

I enjoy cheesy broccoli with my steak

Chicken fajitas are deeeeelicious!

I always had issues biting into gyros pre-jaw surgery... I'm hoping that these issues have been dealt with.

i love grapes.

i don't eat s'mores regularly, but i don't appreciate not being able to in case i was in the mood for one...


apples with peanut butter! so good!

chocolate covered espresso beans are little pieces of heaven

I definitely miss my Yaya's baklava

I don't need fancy food... a simple ham sandwich would be nice

my favorite cereal....very crunchy.


i can eat ice cream...but not the cones... =(

I'm a big fan of healthy food.


i like to eat them dry with raisins.

Its very possible that i will fall in love with whoever sends me a box of chocolates in the next month.

All right...thats about all the food I can take for now.  Any suggestions of things i should add to the list?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 34 - Yawning is Contagious

Have you ever noticed how you always seem to yawn whenever you see someone else yawn?  Or when someone talks about yawning?  Or when you read about yawning?  Did you just yawn? I did.  I've been yawning all day long and its driving me crazy.  Believe it or not, yawning is quite uncomfortable after jaw surgery.  I'm not exactly sure why or how everything in my mouth works, but for some reason after jaw surgery you can't open your mouth as wide as you could before, but these yawns are really pushing the limits.  I'm impressed with these rubberbands the orthodontist gave me for not snapping after being stretched so much.  Anyway, yawning kind of hurts and the only solution I've been able to come up with is just to sleep all the time.  Only problem with that solution is it doesn't work... So now the question is, when will I be able to yawn again without enduring such anguish?  Sneezing is another thing I'm wondering about.  It doesn't hurt to sneeze most of the time, but it sure feels strange.  According to a bunch of random websites I just found on Google, a sneeze travels at around 100mph and, I don't know about you, but to me, that seems like an awful lot of force to be blowing through such a compromised location as a broken jaw.  Of course, if you watched that video I posted, you'll know that my jaws are very securely bolted in place with some pretty serious screws.  At $104 a screw, they'd better hold my mouth together. Anyway, let me know if you know any cures for yawning.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day 32 - My One Month Anniversary! - Photos!

One month of jaw surgery recovery down!  It feels good to say I have the first month behind me.  I'm now a third of the way through the recovery process, as its supposed to take about 90 days.  I think that the first month is the toughest though, so I'm planning on relatively smooth sailing from here.  When I had reached the one week point I felt that I had come a long way, but the one month point is an even longer way.  Life is so much more normal at this point than its been the last few weeks.  Its still crazy to say I haven't chewed food in an entire month though.  I challenge all of my non-jaw surgery readers to do that!  I'd like to see you make it a week. =P  I'm kind of wondering how much longer I have to go without chewing though... 


Today I kind of tried to gently chew a noodle, just to see what happened, and I found myself unable to.  My poor, feeble jaw simply lacked the strength to penetrate a noodle.  That might be even more ridiculous than my inability to bike for an hour.  On a side note, I paid the price for that biking today. My jaw was quite sore for the first time in about a week and I had to take some Tylenol 3.  Anyway,  I still have a long way to go in regaining strength in my jaw.  I can't imagine what would happen if I tried to chew a steak if a noodle is too much for me. Overall energy...I'll put it around 80%.  I'm pretty much back to normal unless I do anything that resembles exercise.


The swelling has mostly subsided, most people probably wouldn't even notice it.  I don't even think about it that much anymore because I'm just used to looking at my face everyday, but my cheeks definitely haven't gone back to normal size yet.  The other day, one of my coworkers who hadn't seen me in a while or know that I had jaw surgery asked if I had been stung by a bee on the right side of my face.  Now, my mother has been stung by bees on her face recently and my face is no where near as swollen as hers was, but I guess mine are still kind of puffy if you look close enough.  I definitely feel puffy when I first wake up in the morning.  My face is kind of stiff and its a little harder to talk, but the swelling goes down by the afternoon.  I've been told to expect slight swelling for the first 2-3 months.


Is my chin still numb? Yup.  I'm pretty sure the feeling on the far right side of my chin is thinking about coming back soon though.  If I touch it, I don't feel anything, but when I tap it, I know that my chin is being tapped and thats more than I can say for the rest of my chin.  The feeling in my in my palate is about 90% at this point.  Once it started coming back, it came back in chunks each day.  I'm hoping my chin will do the same thing..But I'm not exactly sure what to expect.


I'm not sure if the rubberbands deserve their own section, but I am still wearing them.  They really don't bother me that much.  I've only worn two this entire time, so really not that bad.  My surgeon told me that I was allowed to take them off during the day for a couple hours if I wanted, but I've been wearing them 24/7 anyway.  I just haven't felt very adventurous.  I'm no longer scared of brushing my teeth though! I take the rubberbands off without suffering from any emotional trauma and I can open wide enough to get my tooth brush in my mouth.  This is wonderful for hygiene purposes.  As far as speech goes,  I think I'm 90% back to normal.  My S's might sssssound a little like that ssssnake in Jungle Book, except not that bad.


here are some photos of my wonderful new smile!  A little cheesy perhaps...but with these nasty surgical wires on my braces, I either have to smile really big or barely at all.   I'll vote for big and cheesy every time.

well..thats not really a smile... but you can see my underbite is no longer!

grrrrrr! fear my teeth!

no more underbite!!!!

(click any photo to view a larger version)

I'm excited for month #2!  I have my 6 week follow up appointment with my surgeon coming up on the 17th, and then my surgical wires will be removed by my orthodontist on the 21st... So I have some things to look forward to!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 31 - not ready for marathon biking yet

My family is currently on our 11th annual vacation to Mackinac Island and I've been once again reminded that my energy has yet to be completely restored.  We arrived here yesterday during a torrential downpour and were forced to ride our bikes (no cars on the island...) to the condo we're staying at.  To say we were all soaked and chilled to the bone would be an understatement. To say that I was hungry would be another, since there's not much here to eat if you can't chew.  I'm really not sure its completely fair to go on vacation when one member of the family can't enjoy going out to eat, but no one consulted me, so here we are.  Today it continued to rain quite hard, which was unfortunate considering it was Rachel's birthday. We did manage to go on a bike ride though, but it was 8 miles long...and this was when I quickly became aware of my lack of stamina.  We had barely reached 4 miles before I was winded and feeling a little sick.  I've never really been the kind of person who exercises regularly, but I found it rather ridiculous how quickly I became tired.  In my defense, I will note that it was extremely windy and it took great strength to ride against it.   By the time we got back to the condo, my legs felt like jello and I may or may not have shut myself in my room for a couple hours to lay down.  It was not long before my mom called me for dinner, though.  I wasn't quite sure how that was going to work out... but I joined my family in walking downtown to some random restaurant anyway.  It of course began pouring shortly after we left the house and we found ourselves soaked again.  Nothing like sitting in a restaurant with wet jeans plastered to you and your hair dripping onto your shoulders.  And in regards to how the food worked didn't really.  The menu was very unobliging to those recovering from jaw surgery.  All I was able to eat was a small serving of mashed potatoes that came as a side with my mom's dinner.  When we got back I was able to eat some scrambled eggs though, so don't worry, I'm not going to die of starvation......yet.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 30 - Jaw Surgery Blogs - lots of them!

hello hello. We're at day 30! Pretty exciting! This is kind of like the one month point... but since my surgery was on August 4, I'm going to be celebrating my one month anniversary on September 4.  I thought it made sense. So be waiting for pictures on Saturday! =D

Updates as of today...hmm....Well, i can definitely sense more feeling come back in my palate.  yay!   Chin and lower lip (and gums) are STILL 100% numb though!  sheesh! I touch my chin no less than 10,000 times a day to test it for any returned feeling, but no luck. :(  I haven't had any tingly feelings in my chin recently though, so I thought that maybe those were over with.... But no, they came back in full swing today causing me much grief. *sigh* Lets pray that this is but a temporary relapse.

So, I know that a few if my friends have been following my blog (thanks guys!),  but yesterday, thanks to the new blogger stat feature, I learned that I actually have quite a few other readers from all over the world. I thought that was pretty neat.  For a while I wasn't even sure if anyone was reading except my best friend or if i was just sitting here rambling away to no one.  Even if no one read, that'd be okay with me just because I really enjoy writing and journaling.. But either way, its cool to know people are reading and I really appreciate the support I've gotten from my friends.  Recovering from jaw surgery is almost more of a mind game sometimes than actual physical recovery, so its really nice to have friends encouraging you.  Just like anything though, trying to relate what you're going through to someone who's never experience it before can be kind of tough sometimes.  This is where all of the other jaw surgery bloggers come in...and if you google "jaw surgery blogs" you'll find an abundance of them.  Its really cool to read other people's blogs and see how their recovery compares to yours and check out their milestones to give you an idea what to expect yourself.  Very helpful!  Two of my favorites are.... Double Jaw Surgery,  and Makay's Jaw Journey,  and, just 2 days ago, i found a cool jaw surgery messageboard!  I know that must sound so lame to anyone who hasn't had jaw surgery..But its neat for the rest of us who have!  Also, I'd like to mention that the mentioned messageboard had a contest/drawing going on during August where people uploaded their before and after pictures and one lucky person would be randomly selected to win a $20 giftcard. ...I entered on the very last day, and somehow won! woot woot!  Life is great. :)     But anyway, thanks to everyone who's been reading! ..And thank you, blogger stats, for letting me know you exist. :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 29 - $$The Cost of Jaw Surgery$$

An itemized bill came in the mail today covering my surgery and hospital stay. Literally everything that happened in the hospital down to each individual shot of vicodin and each individual screw in my face.  All of these fills up about 4 pages and while I'm not going to copy the whole thing down for you, because that would be ridiculous, I will highlight some of the bill for you.

1 Jaw Surgery - $13,589

4 Plates - $1,020

22 Screws - $2,294.50

Miscellaneous Surgical Supplies - $2,567.50

Anesthesia Supplies - $517

3 Nights in Private Room  - $4,590

The below are some drugs i was given, I'm not going to count how many shots of what i was given, so i've just listed how much 1 unit of something cost.

1mg Morphine - $71.50 

8mg Dexamethasone (steroid to minimize inflammation) - $127

1 gm Cefazolin (antibiotic) - $63.60

15 mg Ketoralic (anti-inflammatory, like motrin) - $127.20

15 ml Vicodin - $44.60 obviously i was given several other drugs, and there are various other charges on the i said, the list fills up 4 pages.  But i think its interesting how much things actually cost. Imagine if every time a nurse came into your room and said "Okay, here's your pain killer, that'll be $71.50 please".  Maybe you'd think twice about that shot of morphine?  Depends on how much pain you're in I guess... =P But no, the nurses just come in every 4 or 6 hours and pump your IV with all sorts of stuff and you just see it on the bill later.  And did you see the screws? They averaged at $104 per screw!  I think Home Depot may have better prices.....  Interested in what the total charge for everything is?

$30, 646.75 (see edit below...totally was actually about double this number)

read that again.  thirty thousand six hundred forty-six dollars and seventy-five cents.  Thats what jaw surgery costs (at the Mayo Clinic anyway). 10 years ago when the orthodontist told us I would need the surgery, not a penny of it was covered by any insurance plan because they considered it cosmetic.  Things have thankfully changed now with insurance companies because the surgery is definitely NOT cosmetic, but has an actual medical purpose. i mean...i looked pretty good before the surgery right? I would not have gone through all this unless i really, really had to.  So, thanks to our wonderful insurance company, out of that $30,646.75, we only had to pay $180 for the $60/night upgrade to a private room instead of sharing with someone else.  I'd say we got out pretty easy.

Edit:  We got another bill a few weeks later for another 20 or 30k... i gotta pull out the bill to give you an exact number but yeah, pretty much double the amount i previously gave.