Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Six Weeks Post Op

No pics today.  Sorry. Bad hair day and too tired to do anything about it.  Yesterday I woke up at 4:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep so thought I would be tired yesterday, but no...tired today.  Hmm.  Also had trouble sleeping last night but not because of apnea or my teeth or anything.  It was the wind.  And the rain.  Sounds silly but the winds were so strong I thought the roof would come off and the rain was, well, it was a West Coast Winter storm.  Anyone in Northern California or Oregon and  Washington knows what I mean.  Hate it. Big time.  Especially up here on top of the mountain.  Winds are really strong.

So, six weeks.  Bruising gone.  Swelling still hanging in there slightly.  I really do think I am still clenching.  I wake up with my teeth not touching each other, but my molars are aching like they were touching.  I tried putting heat on my jaws after breakfast and it seemed to stave off the usual migraine that comes with the jaw inflammation.  Good tip.  Hope I remember it, ha!

I can chew, even turkey meat if it is moist, but I have to cut it into tiny pieces and take it easy.  My open faced turkey sandwich at lunch looked like a toddler's plate.  All cut up into tiny little pieces.  Jaw is sore on left side after chewing turkey.  Ground meat is easier but it gets caught in those pesky knots in my stitches along the sides of my teeth.  Really a pain to get out.

I really feel pretty good overall at the six week point.  I feel ready to go back to work after New Year's next week.  For me that is freelance translating, so it means sitting with my laptop all day, not heavy work.  Just heavy mental work.  Russian to English.

My hip (from the bone graft) is much, much better.  I can walk, go up and down stairs, no problem.  Today I  even did my exercises for my back and knee (had knee surgery for cartilage tear earlier this year).  No problem with the hip.  What a relief.

See the surgeon tomorrow.  Can't wait actually.  Hoping he will release me to my orthodontist so we can get this party started again and move those upper teeth into final position.  The spaces they left for surgery left me with a big overbite and they are both bugging me.  I must be getting better because I am complaining so much.

Still numb in the chin and lower lip but it feels different this last week.  Like it is trying to wake up.  My muscles move better in the chin and lip area now.  But it feels different talking.  I guess moving the lower jaw out so much would make a difference.

Baked bread yesterday.  Jules Gluten Free Sandwich Bread.  Soft and slightly sweet, it makes a great breakfast bread and it is nice and soft.  Easy to eat.  Still starting my day with a shot of prune juice.  Have to say that it is more pleasant than other ways of getting things going.  Have to make sure I have adequate protein to go along with it though.  Had a sugar crash today after breakfast.  Not fun.

On to week seven.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Five Weeks Post OP

Day 38
Wow! Today is Day 38 post op.  Swelling is nearly gone, just a bit in left cheek and right jowl.  Bruising pretty much gone.  Some of my stitches inside my mouth have been reabsorbed into my skin and the biggest and most annoying knot fell off (I think I must have swallowed it).  Ugh.

I can floss all my teeth, but it still takes a long time to get the ones in the very back.  Mostly it is because my muscles are not used to moving that way yet and some of the stitches along the top of the upper gum line have little string ends hanging down and I accidentally pull on them instead of the floss...big ouch.  So, I have to go from the top down, which is more difficult for me for some reason.

I can open my mouth more than one finger, but not quite two fingers.  I am chewing a bit, although still find softer food more appealing.  Most annoyed that I couldn't eat roasted vegetables from PCC the other day.  Even microwaving them, they didn't soften enough.  Bummer.  Discovered that tofu is just as annoying as scrambled egg for getting stuck in my brackets and wires.  Major pain to clean it all out.  My teeth cleaning routine now is to rinse about six times with warm salt water, then brush, then rinse, then floss, then rinse several more times.  It is truly amazing that food particles will come out on the last rinse after all that, but they do.  Go figure.

Numbness.  I am no longer numb in my cheeks for the most part and my upper lip is pretty much ok, although lately the stitches pinch a bit there.  Still have occasional wake-up pains and pins and needles.  The area of pins and needles is moving around to different spots.  Makes sense.  I have a little more feeling back in my lower lip, but still can't put my lips together to spread lip gloss, for instance.  Very important stuff here.  Still have numbness under my eyes, but it is much less than before.  Ditto for my lower lip.  My chin.  A story unto itself.  The middle of my chin is still numb, but now I can feel it when I dribble water down it (which is sadly, still pretty often). The sides of my chin are gradually waking up.  The right side more so than the left.  I have some feeling below my lower lip on the sides.

Pain.  The pain is not so bad and it comes and goes.  Wish I could say my headaches have disappeared, but I would be lying.  Not sure why I am still having headaches.  They are not as frequent as before but still seem to come in the morning or middle of the night.  I think they are dehydration related (got to drink more water) and maybe I am still clenching, although I am not sure my teeth are clenching but maybe the facial muscles are trying to clench, if that makes any sense. When I wake up, my mouth is open, but my molars hurt.  Sometimes I have nerve pain in my teeth.  It doesn't last long.  If it comes in the middle of the night, I take some Tylenol and that helps.

Hip pain and discomfort (bone graft related).  My hip is so much better!  I can walk almost normally.  When I try to walk at my normal pace, I feel some stiffness and pain, but it doesn't stop me like it did.  So wonderful not to walk like an old lady.

Chewing.  Yes, I am chewing.  Last week I made roasted chicken thighs and could eat the meat.  Then I went to PF Chang's and ate some shrimp and chicken in the GF Shanghai Noodles.  What a treat.  This week I made brown rice pasta with Bolognese sauce (with ground beef and pork).  It was to die for.  So good and so easy to eat.  So I decided to make turkey and stuffing and cranberry relish for Christmas Day.  I am going to have that Thanksgiving dinner I missed if it kills me.  I did decide to skip the dessert though.  I am down 8 lbs and want to keep losing and I weigh in the day after Christmas.

Next week is the six week mark and I see the surgeon again on Thursday.  If he doesn't release me I will have to reschedule my orthodontist appointment for the following week.  I am actually anxious for an adjustment.  I can't quite put my lips together comfortably yet and part of that is due to the spaces between some of the upper teeth.  Can't wait for those to be closed up.

On to Christmas.  Won't be exactly the same, but at least I won't be putting on the usual 4-6 lbs.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week 3

Day 26 Post Op...a smile
I'm almost there.  Can begin chewing in three days at week 4.  Week three was busy, so no time for posting.  Our house went back on the market on 2 December and we had a flurry of showings, so was cleaning and straightening and getting out during the showings.

Also this week I was able to start eating better food.  Some scrambled eggs, soft tofu, tuna fish salad (very wet) and soft fish.  Went out to dinner for the first time and went Japanese.  Miso soup, steamed rice (pretty difficult to eat without chewing), grilled salmon (even more challenging) and sake and green tea ice cream (easy to manage).  Lost another pound this week despite eating the new foods.  Was very careful to keep up my Weight Watcher tracking.  It would be so easy to just give in and eat hot fudge sundaes, but thought better of it.  With the fish it was best to take really tiny pieces because it wasn't cooked soft enough.  Made oatmeal yesterday and today and that was a huge hit, both with me personally and with my poor digestive system.  It's much happier now.

Saw the doc this week and he was so happy that he said I don't have to come back for three weeks and  he took me from 4 elastics to 2. He even said I could take a break from them sometimes if I want.  He couldn't be more pleased with my progress.  The only challenging thing this week has been my hip.  Still limping from the bone graft thing, although it seems to be gradually improving.  The doc suggested hot baths and that gives immediate relief, but then things go back to where they were pretty quick after that.  The pain has eased up, so although I still walk at a snail's pace, I am not in constant pain. That's good.

Major swelling in the face is gone but still have some and the bruises are still not completely gone.  Hoping they will be next week.  I am having shooting pains in my teeth off and on.  Think it is wake-up nerve pains.  Cheeks are mostly back to normal with just a bit of pins and needles stuff near the chin.  Chin is still numb as is lower part of lower lip.  Still feels icky to put lipstick on the bottom lip.

Talking is still not normal but sometimes people can understand me.  Depends how many "B" and "P" and "M" sounds are in the words.  I still feel like my lower lip is twice its normal size and am shocked to see it isn't when I look in the mirror.

I can floss nearly all my teeth now.  The very back molars are still too hard to get to unless I really push my cheeks back hard, but then it hurts, so I think best to wait until nothing hurts.  Hard to believe it will be a month since my surgery later this week.  Feels more like a year, Hah!

Got to go now and make dinner.  Imagine...baked salmon, sauteed spinach and roasted yams. A real dinner, even if I can't chew it yet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 20 Post Op

Day 20
Almost to week 3 now.  Here are the latest pics.  Had to take them myself in the mirror and couldn't get the flash to stay off, so they are not ideal, but you get the idea.  Swelling continues to go down.  Bruising just about gone.

Eating some fun stuff now...mashed potatoes, deviled ham, scrambled egg, pudding.  Tried to get some meat into my diet last week and tried baby food.  Take my word for it, don't go there.  After that fiasco I looked up recipes online for deviled ham and made some yesterday. Much better.  Although the saltiness of the ham was surprising.  I guess a couple weeks without processed food and your palate changes.

Satisfied a couple of soup cravings in the last couple days.  I have been thinking about Julia Child's Cream of Mushroom Soup for days.  I finally had the energy to make it last night.  In fact, I think I overdid it last night in the activity department.  I started the mushroom soup, then got potatoes going for mashing, then made the deviled ham.  So last night we had mashed potatoes, deviled ham and cream of mushroom soup.  It only took two hours on my feet in the kitchen.  Yes, that was silly, but what a meal that was. Voila.

Mushroom soup
Mashed potatoes and deviled ham

Ok. So I have to admit that I could not eat the mushrooms as pictured in the photo.  Too big and not soft enough to eat without chewing.  But after dinner I pureed the rest of the soup for later meals.  The deviled ham was easy to make in the food processor: lean ham, mayo, dijon mustard and sweet pickle relish.  Process it until it is a spread.  Easy to eat without chewing.  BTW, if you have never tried cream of mushroom soup from scratch, you are really missing something.  It is heaven itself.  Julia's recipe is fussy, but if you follow the instructions exactly, and I mean EXACTLY.  Lots of straining and pouring hot into cold and not the other way around, but definitely worth it.

Today I had to go out at lunch as our realtor was showing our house (yes, I am insane enough to be selling a house at the same time as having this surgery).  I thought about where I could eat and not embarrass myself too much.  I picked the bar at Purple Cafe and had their to-die-for tomato soup.  It is mostly tomatoes and olive oil.  I had a full bowl and proceeded to eat it with a teaspoon.  It took about 30 minutes, but I did not dribble down my chin...yay!  Of course, it wasn't enough so I had to have a mashed potato chaser when I got home, but hey, I went out to lunch and didn't embarrass myself.

Planning to rest the remainder of the day and have leftover soup and mash for dinner.  On to week 3.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Two Weeks Post Op

Week 2
 I'm two weeks post op and feeling a whole lot better.  I'm mobile, off the serious pain meds, driving myself to doctor appointments, shopping a bit, and drinking from a real cup/glass now.  I even graduated to soft food...a bit.  I had scrambled eggs for dinner last night.  In honor of my new status, I thought I'd dedicate this post to the things that made my life easier during the first two weeks.

Food syringes.  The hospital gives you a syringe to get water and juice that first night. Takes a long time to get anything down this way, but at first, it was all I could manage.  

Sippy Cups.  These are the cups with the lids that toddler's use so that they drink without spilling the liquid all over them.  Jaw surgery patients are eating at the stage of a toddler too, so they work.  Although, I still recommend a towel bib under the chin because I still managed to drip even with a sippy cup.  Also, at first I couldn't use them because they have a flap in the drinking spout that keeps things from leaking out.  I couldn't get any liquid with it there, so we modified my cups to remove it.  In the beginning, one sippy cup of smoothie or juice or soup was all I could get down.  Later I could do two cups of soup.  Each sippy cup holds 7 oz. of liquid so it makes it easy to count how much you are getting.

Toddler Spoons.  These tiny spoons are the ones I used to try to eat things like pudding or soup.  I couldn't really open my jaws enough to use them until after the first 10 days.  Now I have graduated to a teaspoon.

Toddler toothbrush.  Really necessary and even these are not small enough at first.  I just started to be able to open my jaws enough to brush the insides of my teeth a few days ago.  Now I can floss my upper front teeth (very carefully).

I bought a 6-pack of sippy cups at the super market. But because my husband hates washing dishing by hand, he bought another 6-pack.  It's quite a sight to see them lined up and ready to go.  You'd think we had a baby in the house and not a baby-boomer recovering from jaw surgery. 


Off the hard pain meds

Taking off and putting on elastics myself

Had some of my hip bone graft stitches removed and got permission to take a shower without covering the incision!

Got permission to blow my nose!

Got permission to use a straw.

Started trying to eat soft foods like scrambled egg and pudding.

Drove myself to the doctor, etc.

Made another batch of soup from scratch (Spicy Carrot-Lentil).

Dusted the house (our house is for sale; having a showing tomorrow).

Cleaned my bathroom.

Put make-up on.

Went to Starbucks and drank a latte (carefully; in the car, looking in the vanity mirror to make sure I hit my mouth!)

Weird things happening:

More little wake-up pains in my cheeks and lower lip (have some feeling in the top part of lower lip)

Pain at the incision points above and below the gum lines. Not sure but think this is the nerves waking up.

Still feel like I have a cold.  Nose is dripping or congested all the time, but I can still breathe.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 13 Post Op

Day 13
Had a couple bad days so didn't post.  Not sure if it was dehydration or what, but I had a three-day migraine on top of the jaw muscle pain.  Didn't feel like posting, taking a photo or much of anything.  Got pretty down and questioned why I did this.  Then the headache went away and I realized that the jaw muscle pain was easing up.  Funny how the lack of a headache can turn things around.

Yesterday was good.  Today was even better.  I managed kind of a smile.  The sun came out today and I had my first solo trip out today.  Went to see the Orthodontist for the first time since the surgery. Drove myself.  Everyone in the office was nearly giddy with excitement to see me.  All the assistants wanted to see how my face turned out.  They were more excited about my face than I am.  I'm not used to it yet.  Dr. Y. says I still have a little swelling that needs to come down, so I'm not seeing the final result yet.  He took x-rays and photos today.  He showed me today's photos and x-rays as well as the initial ones he took in June 2009 and the ones after my lower jaw widening surgery last year.  Pretty amazing.  My teeth line up now and my airway is about three times as large as it was.  No wonder I don't snore anymore.

After my doctor visit, I had my first coffee since the surgery.  Think about it, if you can't feel your lower lip or your chin, drinking hot coffee or tea is pretty dicey.  I went to a drive-thru Starbucks and got a soy latte.  Then, because I wasn't sure I could drink it while driving without spilling it all over me, I parked and took a sip while looking in the mirror to make sure I didn't miss my mouth!  First sip was heaven.  Second sip I must have gotten cocky.  It splattered all over my black raincoat.  I took it easier after that.

I had a really big day today.  I managed to run all my errands, orthodontist, bank and grocery store.  Then after lunch I made a big pot of spicy carrot lentil soup.  I really need to get more fiber in my diet and I love this soup.  Pretty tired now.  Going to rest until dinner.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 10 Post Op

Day 10
Well, I made it. Day 10.  Thought it would feel better than this, but what it is isn't too bad.  My ortho told me that the TMJ joint is at its weakest on Day 10.  I am not sure why that is, but I'll take his word for it.  I see him on Monday, so I'll ask him.

Today started alright, but the last several days seem to involve a lot of pain in the morning when I take the elastics off to eat and take meds.  I actually think I feel better with the elastics in.  Weird.

Accomplishments today:  got my own breakfast and tried to take my usual complement of supplements.  The latter didn't go so well.  Choked on the larger supplements, especially the fish oil.  Ended up throwing them away.  Later on I choked on a tylenol capsule. At lunch I started in on another one of my pre-made soups...the borshcht.  Whisked in a generous dollop of sour cream then added chicken stock until it was the right consistency to drink.  Mmmm.  Until I choked on a piece of beet that came through the sippy cup.  And beet soup sprayed out all over my lap.  At first I thought it had gotten on my heated throw, which I adore, by the way.  Luckily it only got on the towel I had spread over me like a bib.

Later on after things had calmed down, I managed to wash all my sippy cups instead of leaving them in the sink for my husband, change the dressing on my hip (where they took the bone graft) and took a shower.  Actually had the energy today to take a load of dirty clothes down and wash them.  Made an eggnog milkshake for my afternoon snack.

I still have some swelling and bruising and pain in the lower jaw.  I think parts of my face are waking up. The numbness is gone in some places and is less icky feeling in others.  The worst is still the chin and the lower lip.  Some times I can drink from a cup quite well, others, not so much.  Can't seem to drink out of a water bottle.  It's like a faucet, right down the chest.  I thought I would be able to sneak some pumpkin pie yesterday (just the filling) but it hurt too much to open my teeth (even with the elastics off) and even after I got some in my mouth, it hurt trying to deal with it.  So, I look almost normal but I have a long way to go. Wonder what the pain is all from if I am still numb.  Muscles being stretched? Will have to ask the doc.

One weird thing I forgot to say after the 1-week visit with the doc.  The spot of dried blood on the bridge of my nose is where they put a screw (!) in to line up my midlines (upper and lower jaws).  Really creeped me out.  The doc was so excited to tell us about it.

That's it for now.  Time for a nap.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 9 Post Op, Thanksgiving Day

Almost 10 is tomorrow.  The first milestone.  Had to get through today first.  Unfortunately today was Thanksgiving Day.  And while I have so much to be thankful for, it was still the most miserable Thanksgiving in living memory.  No food except soup and smoothies.  No family or friends here.  Hard enough for anyone, but I am a foodie, and a great cook.  And Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. But we did nothing.  It was as if it didn't exist.  It was horrible.  And I had a bit of an incident with my elastics today which jarred the left side of my face and was really painful.

But enough feeling sorry for myself.  The good news is that I had these pictures taken and what do you know? I kind of look like myself again.  I may not be able to smile, but my lips are normal size again and there is only a bit of swelling left.  There is a lot of bruising on my neck and some on my jaws.

The other good news is that I am sleeping like a normal person machines, no snoring, no waking up every hour on the hour.  Just blissful sleep.

So here are the first before and after shots:

Day 9 Post Op

Before Surgery

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 7

Day 7
Made it to my first weekly check up with my surgeon.  I am actually happier than I look in the photo.  My cheekbones are starting to reappear and my neck is a riot of color...mostly yellow-green. I am using heat on it now.

My surgeon says I am the perfect patient.  All I can say about that is he must have a lot of not-so-perfect ones.  I'm just trying to follow the post op instructions and show up on time for my appointments.

Really have the hang of the sippy cup now. Not using the syringe anymore.  Yesterday my hubby made me a chocolate milkshake, using hot fudge sauce for the chocolate.  Wow! I originally thought I would avoid milkshakes because I didn't want to get too focused on sweets during my recovery.  But I was feeling a bit sorry for myself yesterday and was quite hungry, so changed my mind.  The milk didn't even bother me.

I think variety in your liquid meals is key.  Today I tried a potato-leek soup with a spoonful of sour cream (full fat) and it rocked my world.  I even got a tiny spoonful (baby teaspoon) of pumpkin pie filling past my rubber banded jaws.  So, maybe Thanksgiving won't suck so much after all.  Going to make an eggnog smoothie next.

Oh yeah, I've lost 7 lbs in these seven days.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 5 Post-OP

No smile vs. smile, such as it is
Here I am five days after.  You can see how colorful my face is in the color shot.  Although there isn't that much bruising.  Just a little around the mouth and some in the neck and upper chest.

Starting to see my face emerge, still really worried it will end up looking "horsey" at the end.

Major accomplishments for today:

* took a shower and washed and dried my hair
* no nose bleeds
* getting better at drinking soup and smoothies from a sippy cup.
•  took my meds without choking on them

 Slept a lot today.  Really glad I made some soups from scratch ahead of time.  I usually have a smoothie for breakfast, soup for lunch and dinner and another smoothie in the evening so I can take the pain meds.  Thank god I am a good cook.  Those soups were incredible, especially the butternut squash and apple one.  Don't think I am getting adequate protein yet, but I think I am getting enough fluids.

On to day six.  Living for day 10.

Day 4 Post-Op

Day 4

Here's a recap from 4 after surgery.  My old face is starting to reappear, but I still have that Horsey look.

I managed to get more fluids yesterday.  This is the hardest part of the wait!  Swallowing the pain pills and anti-biotic capsule are the toughest.  It is hard because they don't want me trying to open my jaws against the rubber bands.  But if I don't open them a little, then I can't get the medication in.  On top of that, I have a lot of trouble swallowing them once I get them in my mouth.

Still think the best way to get a high-protein drink down is to use a syringe.  I can sip apple juice from a kid's sippy cup or from a juice glass (very small).  Even so, got to have that towel or bib under my chin since a lot of stuff runs out of my mouth. I managed to get two cups worth of banana smoothie down yesterday plus a cup of butternut squash soup,  2-3 cups of apple juice, and of course, plain water.

I have noticed that some of the numbness is going away.  I can feel my upper lip and a bit of the lower, but it really feels creepy touching it.  Ditto for the rest of my face.

As the swelling goes down, I am having more pain, so am still taking the pain pills. Also still sleeping in the recliner.  Hip pain is minimal (from the bone graft).  Just a dull ache when I get up from the chair.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 2 and 3

Wow, the swelling really got bad, right on schedule.  Throat is still sore, but not as bad as before.  I have rubber bands holding my teeth together.  The surgeon put them on.. They gave me a tool to help put them on myself, but I haven't tried it yet.

Still falling asleep a lot, still having the nosebleeds.  It is really hard to eat or drink anything.  I have to use a towel as a bib for overspill.

Still really swollen and tired.  Here are the pic's from yesterday.

Day 2                                         Day 3

Day 1

Made it through my jaw surgery.  Surgery day was not that horrible.  All the icky things they do to you (like putting a nasal gastric tube up your nose) took place in the OR while I was already asleep.  I have no memory of them taking the tube out.  Only the sore throat.

Was really fearful about the nausea afterward but they gave me an anti-nausea patch and later on in my room in the hospital they gave me more anti-nausea meds.

I did have more pain than anticipated.  But the drugs took care of it.  It was mostly uncomfortable.  Every time I walked to the bathroom, I got a nosebleed. I slept off and on that night.

That weird strap on my head is a cooling mask.  I highly recommend it.  Really helps to keep the swelling down.  You rent the machine and it sends continuous cold water through the mask.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Surgery tomorrow

Most of today I was in a state over my upcoming surgery.  Even got a little teary-eyed at my last check up at the orthodontist.  Then I read or heard a couple comments from people who either think I am only doing this to get rid of the CPAP machine or who have said they would never consider doing such a thing to get rid of migraines.  Strangely enough, my fear and anxiety left me after that because I realized that these people have never walked the proverbial mile in my shoes.

If you have never tried sleeping with a machine forcing air into your lungs at night, you just don't know.  Even if you have, you may not know the true hell I have been through for the past year or so.  Not everyone has a good experience.  Not everyone can wear the nice little nasal pillow mask or even the smaller nasal face masks.  My orthodontist insisted I wear the full face mask and wanted my jaw to be relaxed while I slept.  My bite was so out of whack that I had to try to let my jaw go slack at night.  When it worked, I didn't clench my teeth or overwork my facial muscles,  but in order to get it to work, I had to pull the straps on the mask so tight that it hurt and I woke each morning with welts on my face from them.  Also, if the pressure was too great on my cheekbones, it caused a migraine.  The forced air gave me reflux and woke me in the middle of the night several times feeling like I was going to vomit into the mask. Nice, huh? Just live with it, eh?  I would wake up belching air, or I would be overcome by claustrophobia and be unable to breathe with the silly thing on my face.  So more often, I only got a few hours a night with the CPAP.  The rest of the night I would clench my teeth and wake up with another headache.

I have had migraine since I was 12.  I have tried just about everything to get rid of them, including doing nothing.  I have this to say to anyone who thinks what I am doing is extreme:  you haven't suffered enough. If you get 6-8 of them a year like I used to in the "good old days" you don't have the right to say anything to me.  When you get to the point where none of the preventative drugs work, none of the over the counter drugs work anymore, and you are getting 15 or more headaches a month (that's 50% of the time) that nothing will relieve except a triptan drug, which are dangerous to use more than twice a week, and this goes on for 10 years or more, then you can come talk to me.   Add to this mix the possibility of losing your teeth or being on a soft diet for life then having surgery to correct your bite and fix an underdeveloped jaw no longer seems extreme.

I am tired of being a prisoner in my own body.  I want out.  One way or another.  Bring on the surgery. I am ready for it.  Recognize something?  This is me fighting back. This is me really P.O.'d fighting back.  If you've ever faced me in bogu when I'm fired up, then you know.  That's where I'm at right now.  Not backing down.  Ever.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The beginning: four days before surgery

Ok.  So I guess I'm doing this.  I debated whether I wanted to live my surgery journey online or not.  The thing is, other people's blogs have helped me so much that I decided it was the right thing to do.  For starters, I am older than most people who have blogged about this, so maybe that helps some of you.  Secondly, I am gluten-sensitive so that adds another dimension not often covered on these types of blogs.

So here goes.  I am fifty-something (that's as much as I am willing to say) and I had braces at age 12-13.  My migraines also started at that age.  I had four teeth removed before the braces went on.  Back then that is all they did to correct a small jaw.  Then my wisdom teeth came in sideways a few years later  (impacted) and had to be surgically removed.  This happened as I was graduating from high school.  My Mom suggested at that point that maybe I needed to go back into braces.  You can imagine my response.  I was headed off to college and was having none of it.

Fast forward 20 years or so.  My classic migraines started to taper off but these other headaches that I thought were sinus related or allergy related got worse.  I was taking LOTS of Excedrin for these headaches and Sudafed too.  It worked for awhile.  Then it didn't work anymore.  Then I realized that I had cracked nearly all my molars and needed crowns.  The dentist suggested a night guard.  I bit through them.  My dentist in WA state suggested a different kind of night guard that he said would cure my headaches and keep me from clenching and grinding (bruxism) my teeth at night, which was the cause of all the cracked molars.  Well, all that did was move the pressure to my front teeth.

I went to a neurologist for my migraines who put me on all kinds of medications.  I discovered the triptan drugs (which kill the headache but can only be taken twice a week).  I tried all the blood pressure meds as preventatives.  I tried Topamax.  I quit drinking Diet Pepsi and avoided all aspartame and nitrates.  I discovered I was gluten-intolerant and had potential food allergies to eggs and almonds and  a whole lot of other things.  Finally my dentist commented that I had a unique bite.  I was afraid to ask him what he meant for about six months.  I have had dentists mess with my bite by shaving bits off my teeth before and it seemed to make things worse.  Finally I got up my courage and asked him what he meant.  He said he was amazed I could chew a meal at all!  I asked him what we could do about it and he said "braces, but let's hold off a bit" .  Six months later he suggested I see Dr. Y, who is a functional orthodontist and a really nice guy.

Dr. Y. took all kinds of impressions, x-rays, photos, etc. and gave me the bad news that the removal of so many teeth in the past had made my jaw even more unstable and that braces alone would not solve my problems.  My jaws were too small for my mouth and  I needed orthognathic surgery.  Basically, this means that I needed my jaws moved forward and adjusted to correct my crazy bite.  This would also open up my airway and cure the sleep apnea he thought I probably had and help me keep my teeth.  This last part was very important to me, as you might expect.

This news was pretty extreme and I did a lot of research on it.  Then I agreed to try a bite splint for six months.  By the end of the six months I was grinding less and had fewer headaches.  So, having proved the theory, I went on to stage 2: braces.  Unfortunately after a year in braces, Dr. Y said that I needed a minor surgery on my lower jaw to widen it before we could proceed with the big orthognathic surgery.  So fast forward again and my lower jaw has been widened 7 mm.  The surgery was done in my surgeon's office and it wasn't so bad.  I wore an expander on the lower jaw and after widening the jaw, they gradually closed up the spaces between my lower teeth.

So now I am ready for my BIG surgery.  They are going to advance both my jaws and do a bone graft (from my hip) to make the new jaw placement more stable.  They are going to correct all the strangeness about my bite.  As a result, it is also supposed to give me a better profile, make my nose look smaller and take up the slack skin in my neck, making me look 10-15 years younger.  Who wouldn't like that?  Most importantly, it should cure my sleep apnea, and hopefully stop the clenching and grinding of my teeth at night, lessening the migraines.  Oh, yeah, I also had to have botox injections in my lower jaw to keep me from clenching after the surgery and ruining all their work.  Not fun, let me tell you. They have to use an entire vial of botox in each side of the lower jaw.  It hurts.  A lot.

So here I go.  My gluten intolerance meant that I had to make a whole lot of liquid meals for myself before surgery.  I have all kinds of soups and hot cereals thinned out with soy milk (milk gives me problems too), so I have buckwheat cereal and several soups in the freezer ready to go.  I will be on a liquid diet for at least 10 days after the surgery and on a soft diet after that for awhile.  My future posts will not be so long, unless I am bored silly during recovery.  Here are the before shots in all their glory.