Two Steps Forward, One Step Back…

I’m really late blogging this week. I was supposed to have my check up on Tuesday but the area had insane flooding so I reschedule for yesterday afternoon. After my less than awesome appointment I waited until today to blog. I’ll back up a bit though. It was great getting my chin bandage off, and once I finally got all that glue off (which was a major pain to get off), it was nice to be able to actually feel my chin! It’s still numb, but feel it with my hands.. haha. It’s crazy tingly most of the time and feels like it’s freezing. I like to keep heat on it when I can to help the swelling since it’s driving me totally insane. I love my profile, but straight on I look like a hot mess. The swelling is just nuts. I know it’s only been a little over two weeks, I just am excited for it to go down a bit. I had to continue with the two rubber bands I had, changing them once a day, which was going great. I loved being able to finally take them off to get my mouth really clean. It’s so gross what gets trapped in my splint/retainer. I also finally mastered drinking from a cup, so no more syringe for drinks! Another exciting turn of events was finding that I could use a shallow spoon to eat ice cream. I’m getting SO tired of using a syringe to eat. As much as I blend stuff, it still gets clogged or just doesn’t move smoothly then I end up making a total mess. It can be very frustrating!  I finally got to meet up with my friends and go to the mall and such. It was nice to get out. My one friend gave me my absolute favorite compliment… “if anyone can do this it’s you”. I remember my friend/tattoo artist told me that when I was pregnant when we were talking about my goals to do it natural. That statement really just made me feel awesome so hearing it again was great. It fuels my motivation to keep positive… that is… until yesterday….

I can hardly blog about what had been going on before yesterday because everything has changed! I was so ready for my appointment and anxious to hear what I could do differently this week. Well…. I go in and they say my stitches and everything looks good, and my chin looks great, and they could tell I have been taking good care of myself (yay, point for me!) … but.. my bite wasn’t lining up properly on my left side in the back. The splint was made to position both my top and bottom teeth into the place they should be given a proper bite. They just weren’t quite in the splint correctly.. he tried to move my jaw around (yipes! luckily it didn’t hurt) but my muscles were starting to “remember” improperly. Then he says “you are about to hate me”.. He wanted to band me closed to get my in my splint. So the other doctors puts a gazillion rubber bands on my teeth to get me in the proper alignment. It wasn’t too bad in that moment but so weird that I can’t budge my mouth at all. He continued to say he wants to keep in banded for a week..  Bye Bye Cups… Bye Bye Spoons… Bye Bye Talking… I’m back to square one. I left on a positive note thinking “that’s fine, I want everything to be perfect”.. but as the night went on I just got totally bummed out. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it’s painful too. I’m having shooting pains my the new joints of my jaw and my ears have stabbing pains. (Which is normal because your jaw muscles connect up by your ears so it says you can feel like you have an earache). I went from doing so well and hardly ever taking pain meds to being miserable and probably going to have to take the strong stuff. Usually I’m a mind over matter person and can tune out discomfort but for some reason this is really getting to me and driving me crazy. I’m just thinking about Tuesday when I can finally get them off. I hate not being able to brush well, it feels awful and not being able to talk sucks. Oh, and it’s been 17 days and I’ve lost about 7 pounds. Not too bad!

9 Days Post Op

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11 Days Post Op

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12 Days Post Op

 

 

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14 Days Post Op

 

 

 

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15 Days Post Op

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16 Days Post Op (Banded Shut)

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(Today) 17 Days Post Op

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One Week Post Op

I made it a week! Woohoo! The past few days since my last post has had some ups and downs. The other day I was feeling hungry so I decided to try blending some spaghetti-o’s. That was totally disgusting… I couldn’t handle the taste nor texture so I heated up some “Amy’s” brand broccoli cheese soup… although good it was super spicy for some reason and made me cough, also gave me instant heartburn so that was a no-go. I resorted to some chocolate milk with protein shake in it. Later that night I heated up some cream of wheat and I just couldn’t seem to eat that either. It was just a bad day for food! I was definitely feeling it the next day then… as I sat around my husband kept asking me if I was okay.. I was but just felt a little off. I napped and then ate something and felt better. It sucks because it makes a 100% difference if you eat well, when I do I feel great. It’s just finding those things that actually appeal to me that is hard. The tomato soup I had the other day I had again today but it was just too salty and my tongue is getting super sore. Tonight I had normal broccoli cheddar soup and added milk to thin it, and it was super good. It’s just hit or miss! My backup always seems to be a glass of chocolate milk.. I’ve only lost about 3 pounds so that’s not too bad. I just have to keep exploring different options. One thing that a friend reminded me of was freezing bananas and then blending them. It makes an ice creamy texture and I add greek yogurt and milk, super good.

I still have an annoying cough that comes and goes and drives me totally nuts. I also still have numb lips so the drool is still flowing. I noticed last night that my neck is crazy bruised! I was pretty shocked when I noticed, turns out after asking the doctor that it comes mainly from the chin procedure and that bruising can sometimes go all the way down past your collar bones. My chin has been really tingly, like when your foot falls asleep, and feels like lots of little knives pricking it. Let’s hope that means feeling will be coming back soon! I went to the doctor today to get my bandage off… I must admit, I totally freak myself out. When I look at myself in the mirror I’m like “who is that?!” Of course I’m still very swollen so I can’t wait to see after it goes down a bit. The doctor said I look good and my swelling is actually on the lesser side than he’s seen, so that’s good. He also changed my rubber bands (I only have one on each side) and I now have to change them once a day. My lip ended up bleeding on one corner when he did it because they are so dry, as is my skin in general! Every now and then I feel a throb in my cheeks and certain areas of my teeth. It’s not a pain, just a little reminder that feeling is trying to come back! The heating pad really helps. He also took out the stitch on each side of my cheek. They made one incision on each side to help put in the screws. I’m going to add a picture of a diagram of what they did.

Even though I slept terrible last night, I felt really good this morning getting up and ready to go out, I actually felt nice having my hair done and make up on… removing that bandage was just crazy though. A side note on the sleeping thing.. I still have to sleep propped up to help with swelling and it sucks.. I woke up frequently last night to readjust. I really can’t wait to document the changes that come this week. I hope that by next week I can maybe meet up with friends with confidence that I’m not going to be drooling everywhere or be stared at (by strangers not them!). On a side note, my son went back to school today and did great! It was adorable when I came out from getting my chin strap removed.. he kept looking at me and saying “mommy!!” and smiling while staring at my face… it was like a “there you are!” moment… so cute. And as always the hubster is doing a great job taking care of us. There is nothing more frustrating than when you get all of your cups and syringes settled, your heating pad in place and covered up only to find you forgot something in the kitchen… Thanks Brad ;)


diagram-of-faceDAY 6 

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Neck Bruising (sorry for the crooked nose shot)
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7 Days Post-Op

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Post Chin Bandage Removal… YIPES! (I had a thick layer of glue still on my chin, covered with fuzz from the cloth I attempted to remove it with!)

You can see the incision mark on the side, as well as bruising on my cheek and neck

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Day 5/6 Post Op

What a difference a day makes… That’s the one cool thing about these types of surgeries. While, the recovery definitely sucks, each day can bring so much change. I must admit at day 3 I was thinking “oh my goodness, why did I do this… there is no way to “hurry up and get better”” Yesterday was so much better, after I blogged I ended up eating some tomato soup.. so simple, I blended it just because it was a little chunky and it was the most amazing thing ever. Eating made me feel so much better. I was able to use my syringe to eat it, and then even thinned out some pudding to eat as well. My lips are looking a little more normal and the swelling elsewhere is going down a bit. As the swelling decreases my bandages are sort of sliding so I am beginning to now see that I may have a bit of bruising on my lower cheeks. The doctor told me to try to keep this bandage intact until Tuesday so I will find out then! I’m very excited to see this new chin! It’s so weird, I start vaguely remembering things from the hospital. Like I now remember them having to do a bladder ultrasound on me. I remember the nurse commenting on my tattoos. The only thing is, I don’t know if she did it because of the surgery, or because they shot sinus medication straight into my veins.  I also had to get a shot in the butt upon exiting! I’m sure after seeing my doctor on Tuesday more things will come up.

My night times are weird. I always get coughing fits which are the absolute worse, then worry that I am moving my jaw around too much. I sleep propped up but still worry about how I am positioned so it makes for a restless night. I do get sleep, once I finally fall asleep! Today was good… I thinned out some yogurt for breakfast which was a huge disaster, mess wise. I had it down my entire shirt and all over the place… I had to take a bath afterwards because I just felt like a complete mess! My nose is still driving me nuts, it’s very running and then stuffy. I’ve been taking the sinus meds they gave me but don’t know if they help or hurt the situation really. I have this weird obsession with cleaning out my nose with a q-tip… gross I know. I have had my septum pierced for like 7 years so it’s just something I’ve always done. Well, the things that come out from your nose with this surgery, as well as SARPE, is totally disgusting. I told my friends it was like afterbirth but from your nose… your welcome for that.

I actually went out and about today! I had to send my husband to Target so I decided to go with him and my Malak to the playground (luckily no one was there), and then we sat in the car while Brad went in the store. It was nice to get out but I was pretty exhausted afterwards. As you can imagine brushing your teeth sucks and is nearly impossible immediately following this surgery. You also don’t have a clear access way to your throat but I decided to risk it and tried to gurgle some salt water. Again, complete mess but I’m so glad I did. I have this splint that is attached to my top teeth and stretches across the roof of my mouth which acts as a cast. It felt really good getting that all cleaned out. I have also resorted to tying hand towels around my neck like a bib. The amount of drool that runs out my numb lips is pretty ridiculous. I hate using paper towels and I was going through them so fast I definitely recommend using old towels. Well, that’s about it for now, I had a movie date night (on the couch) with Brad last night, we watched “The other woman” , it was really good.. I think we may watch another tonight! Below are some pictures from yesterday and today!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Gotta have my Starbucks!!

Double Jaw Surgery – Day of Surgery and few days after

So, Monday August 25 was my surgery day. I was to be there at 7:30am so we had our son stay with a good friend. We got there, and got all checked in and waited…. We actually waited forever, I was just ready to get started. I didn’t get taken back to the anesthesia prep room until after 10am. We then waited then for about another hour. While in there they asked me several basic questions, the “pre surgery interview”. Then I got my IV started.  The man who did it was about to retire next week and had literally been doing this kind of thing for 20 years, that didn’t stop him from blowing a vein though! He said every time he does an IV for someone that isn’t his case he blows it, he said he jinxed himself… thanks guy! So we went to the other wrist which went fine.  My surgery nurse came in and explained what was going to happen next and told me I was going to have a catheter put in! I had no idea this was going to be happening, she said they do it once I’m asleep and that hopefully she would get to remove it before I came to.  The anesthesiologist came and got me prepped and by 11:30 Brad was sent off and I was in surgery. It ended up taking 4.5 hours and they moved both my upper and lower jaws, fixed my septum (shaped it up), and gave me a chin piece (genioplasty).  I think they also did some liposuction under the chin to compensate for the movement. I don’t remember recovery at all and didn’t get to see the hubby until 6pm! Not sure what was going on  for an hour and a half but they said everything went great. The doctors said that I’m going to love it (they got to see it unswollen).  I don’t remember much from that night besides them giving me tons of IV meds and constantly having to use this rubber suction thing in my mouth. My lips were humongous and swollen… a few people that came to check on me asked if I had my lips done too! They hadn’t taken the catheter out right after surgery so I remember having that taken out which wasn’t a big deal really. I slept a lot and ended up overhearing my nurses talking about my meds…. turns out the one nurse gave me oral medication through my IV. They didn’t tell me right away but they kept checking on me and my IV. I’m sure she got in trouble because even though I was groggy I heard her come in later and the other nurse asked if she was okay.. this was pretty scary! The head nurse and pharmacist came to talk to me the next day and said that if there would have been a reaction it would have happened by now and that the only change was in my heart rate which sped up a bit. They were keeping me monitored and they felt I was okay but were still concerned and wanted to be sure I knew they wouldn’t let it happen again. They also had to move my IV to a new location.  My whole surgical team was told and all came to talk to me at one point, very scary. I was able to go home on Tuesday around 2 and I was still pretty sleepy and out of it. Besides swelling I was bleeding a bit from my nose and mouth that first and second day. There wasn’t a whole lot of  pain, just a lot of discomfort… and then of course I saw myself in the mirror which was terrible.

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Day two: 



10592933_10152646474015349_4436554988486339473_n10347721_10152646474570349_8541613759371491139_nOnce being home I’ve kept ice on my jaw as much as I could stand using the “jaw bra” they gave me. Also have been taking all the meds which got annoying quickly… having to drink all that medication is just awful, especially when they are such large quantities and you are hungry for real stuff. Another annoyance was that my mouth and throat would get so dry and the medicines would burn causing me to cough… not fun. On day three I was finally able enough to bathe… I had felt gross and my hair was filled with dried blood, the bath definitely helped. I was able to be up a few hours, then sleep a few pretty much for 48 hours. Once 48 hours is up you can start using heat … that felt great on my cheeks and chin… the feeling was starting to come back and the ice made it feel like I was being stabbed. Now I alternate between ice and heat depending on how I’m feeling.

Day four/five: 

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As you can see I’m still a hot mess. I’m supposed to leave this bandage on until my checkup on Tuesday so I’m excited to see what my actual chin looks like. My chief complaints would have to be all the medicine, having to drink from a syringe, and my nose being stuffy. One of the meds is for nasal decongestion… but when I take that my nose runs like crazy and if I don’t it’s stuffed up… lose/lose because you can’t blow your nose. The constant drooling isn’t too fun either. I’ve used soo many paper towels and tissues it’s crazy. The swelling has gone down a little bit and I have more energy today. My ears have started to ache though, which I read is because your jaw joint is right by your ear which may give you pain and pressure feeling like an earache. The doctors told me how important it is to drink your calories (and not to just drink water) so I think I’ve only lost about a pound and a half. I’ve been drinking tea, apple juice, chocolate milk and protein shakes. It’s hard to think that I’m not going to be “normal” for 2 months… super hard. I just keep looking at the small steps each day. My husband has been doing an amazing job taking over the house and helping me with my prescriptions, ice and heat packs. Oh, and did I mention I can’t talk? I can mumble… and some things come across but I’ve been doing a lot of texting and note writing!  I’ll be sure to check back in as I can!

 

The time has finally come… New face time

I feel like I start out all of my blog entries with “I haven’t written in forever…”, and yet again that is true. Finally the day has come after literally years of waiting, I’m ready for my jaw surgery. I had my SARPE done two years ago when they widened my palette. That experience really made a dramatic difference in my smile and now this next double jaw surgery should make a drastic difference to my face. The plan is to move my lower jaw forward and rotating it a bit (My bite is crooked to where I can’t close my teeth on one side), then take the front jaw down and also move it forward. There will be screws placed on both sides to keep things in place, and I will be wearing a splint that gets wired to my top braces. Since they are moving my jaws a little more that the average case, they aren’t sure if I will have to actually get wired shut, or if rubber bands will be put in place. I’ll be staying one night in the hospital assuming the pain and bleeding are manageable. It will be a liquid/soft diet for at least 6-8 weeks until my jaws get healed enough. We thought at first I may also need a chin piece added to correct my profile, but after looking at everything the doctors think just moving the jaws will be enough. 

This all happens tomorrow morning! I’m so anxious/excited. It’s something I have wanted done forever and just can’t wait to finally get it done. At first I thought it was all cosmetic, but after reading several blogs I’ve realized how much more it is than that. People never realized how difficult it was to eat with misaligned jaws until after they had this surgery, headaches subsided and it took less effort to eat and talk. These are things I really never thought about! I do suffer from headaches stemming from my jaw, and am a pretty religious fork user (I use forks for everything, pizza, sandwiches, cupcakes… ) I guess it will be pretty amazing to be able to bite into a sandwich properly! Granted, I am very excited for the cosmetic side too. I have always hated my profile because of my chin, nose and my lack of cheek bones. Even after the SARPE surgery I noticed a change in my face and really can’t wait to see what I look like in a couple months. As of now 6 months post jaw surgery I will most likely also need my nose fixed but we are playing it by ear. The surgery tomorrow is to last about 4 hours, then I go to recovery, then to my inpatient room. I am going to make my husband take a picture of me after because I had a hard time finding that type of information. I am going to try to blog as much as I can and be warned, the next couple posts won’t be too pretty (I probably won’t post again until I’m home from the hospital). I know my family is extremely nervous and doesn’t necessarily want to see the pictures of the next couple days, so I will only post on my blog for now!  Here are a few pictures of my before, along with a picture of my husband and I from last night just to redeem myself after these awkward close ups.. lol

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Oh… there’s my pen…

…I seemed to have lost it for the past, year… is that right?! Yes, a year since I’ve posted an entry, how crazy.

When I started this journey two years ago, the goal was to be about finished by now. I was supposed to have had my second surgery this past summer, which obviously didn’t happen! My ortho forgot to have me get a tooth pulled on the bottom to get my “mid-line” lined up so I got that done in August I believe. Since then I have been waiting for the gaps to close on the bottom from that removal, and once my mid-line (the center of your bottom teeth lined up with the center of your top teeth) good to go I will be ready for surgery. The only thing that sucks is that now my husband is deployed and I really wanted him to be here for it. It requires several trips to the hospital to prep, and a night in the hospital after the procedure, then about a week of not being able to do much, and six weeks total healing time. That all is pretty hard to do with a nearly 4-year-old. So if I’m ready before July I have a big decision to make!

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on this whole process though. It’s funny, growing up I was never really ashamed of my crooked smile, and was never made fun of (to my face at least). I was a happy kid and actually really liked to smile. That continued throughout junior high and high school. I was obvious self-aware of the situation and always had the need to overcompensate for the fact but am glad for that because it shaped who I am today. The few things that were said definitely stuck with me. My senior year I was the yearbook editor and had to collect everyone’s votes for the character traits (most popular and so forth), I remember one boy voted me best smile. I think I tore up his paper and thought, “wow, what a jerk”, I never wanted anyone to see that because that would give them the chance to say or think something hurtful to me. It was when I went to college that I became very self-conscious because no one knew me, they were going to judge my looks. Again, no one really said anything. I remember one frat party some guy asked “who brought snaggletooth?”, I pretended not to hear him and saw my friend hit him in the arm out of the corner of my eye. I just went about my business but obviously never forgot. After college and moving around in the military I would be around friends who would see someone with messed up teeth and say things about their teeth being jacked up, to me…. I was always so confused as to why they would say that around me. I would never say a word, but trust me, it was those things that made me revert to all the closed mouth smiles.

When I finally got my braces, a day I had been waiting for as long as I can remember, I was again a little self-conscious but happy at the same time. It’s actually crazy how many compliments I get on my smile. From my ortho, waiters, the gate guards…. It’s definitely made the process much more positive. It also helps that I’m not even capable of a closed mouth smile anymore.. ha… Since I am again playing the waiting game, my blog may meander a bit off topic… that is, if I don’t lose my pen again….

I have been set free!

Well, I finally got my expander out last week! I haven’t posted in forever because nothing was really changing. A new archwire here, a new bracket there, nothing too exciting. But last week definitely was, getting that darn thing out! It hurt like heck, they had to get the strongest assistant in the office to get the bracket off the one side. It was cemented pretty good apparently, but it felt like they were ripping a tooth out. It was so cool to feel the roof of my mouth though, it felt so different! After 6 months of not feeling it, it was liberating! It’s crazy to be able to utilize it while eating now too. And I can finally say my name without sounding like an idiot, which is always a plus. Now I have brackets on every tooth and all kinds of power chains added today. Nothing hurt while getting it done, but my teeth sure do hurt this evening. It really is crazy how much teeth can move in such a short time. The little gap I had on the bottom is gone now.

Now it’s just the waiting game until the next surgery occurs. I’ll be getting both upper and lower jaws rotated… yipes! Below is the picture of me last week after the expander was out, as well as what the expander actually looks like!

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