Getting over an underbite

blogging my way through double jaw surgery

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Day 21

I had another follow-up visit today. Things are going well; I was in and out pretty quickly. They put two new bands on where one had popped off this week. Here’s where I’m at right now:

The surgeon offered to take my bands off today and see how it felt. Honestly I was a little scared to do so. Especially after he described how my lower jaw muscles kept trying to make my bone go the wrong way during surgery. I found out today that thankfully they are still in the right place. I suspicion I would know it if they relapsed. So anyway, I went with his recommendation to wait another week (actually week and half) before de-banding.

My stitches are all gone now; they have discreetly dissolved over the last week. It’s bumpy lumpy where they were, which is weird if I happen to put my fingers in my mouth, but he said that will smooth out over time.

I can’t really use a straw yet. It’s too much strain on those lip muscles, since my upper lip is still mostly numb. But the bottles are working fine.

ImageI’m back to sleeping in the recliner at night. This is proving to be my best way to sleep. I’m not sure I want to attempt the bed again for a while. I had some rough nights there and I’d rather not risk it. I’ve had two good night’s sleep in a row in the recliner, with pillows. Since I’ve only had four good night’s sleep total in the last three weeks, you may understand why I’ll continue this for now.

I reported to the surgeon on how much better I can breathe now through my nose, especially my right side. I love the fact that I am not a mouth breather any more. He said they straightened my septum (which I knew was slightly deviated).

The only thing is now it feels it little bit lopsided the other way, and I can feel the bone underneath is not in the middle. It’s hard to explain without showing you, and I’m not sure I want to show you a picture up my nose. I did remember to ask the surgeon about it today. He said it may even up on its own, or it may stay that way. It’s hard to tell until we see how I end up in 6 months or so. He said if needed he could do a simple procedure, going in through the same incision places, and correct the nasal something a rather… um okay I forget all the technical terms. Anyway it would be fixable but I’m not sure I would want to, if it came down to that.

Little tiny pieces of the numb area starting to return feeling. It’s very strange, like there’s something I need to wipe off my face, yet there’s nothing there. I learned today that just as the numbness may take 6 months to go away, the swelling also may take 5-6 months to gradually diminish. It will be a while before I see what my “final” face will be.

So in light of that, I think I’m far enough along to show an updated before and after photo. I think the angle that showed my underbite the best before was the smiling side profile. Here are two photos exactly 3 weeks apart. Not quite the same smile, as I can’t go as wide right now, but you get the idea.

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My nose has definitely changed, which was unexpected for me. I suppose I’ll get used to it. It is definitely an adjustment to forever lose the face I’ve had for so many years. I’ll be honest, when I first came out of surgery, and I looked in a mirror, it felt ugly. I did have enough presence of mind to realize that how I looked after surgery would not be the final product, so I put off judgment. In the meantime I have looked in the mirror a thousand times, trying to get used it. And to be honest, I don’t really need to pass judgment; this is my face now – how I end up is how I end up. The change is a part of getting my jaws fixed. It’s just going to take some getting used to.

Here’s a before-after frontal shot, three weeks apart. One of these days I’ll take some better pictures, with an actual camera.

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Day 18

I’m starting to count down the days til I get all these bands off. I’m pretty sure they will come out on the appointment on January 10. Ahhh, THEN I will be able to start “eating” soft foods. At least thicker things that what I’m eating right now. As I mentioned, the doctor said if I can fit it in, I can eat it. However it didn’t take long to find out that not much fits in. Over the days I learned what consistency the food needed to be (very thin). We add milk, chicken broth, or vegetable broth to everything to make it thin enough, and to get more protein in my diet.

Some people have been wondering what I can eat, so I thought I’d share a little.

Breakfast: I always have a smoothie made with fruit, yogurt, juice and milk. I just change up what fruit and what juice to keep it varied. For fruit I normally use peaches, pineapple, pears or bananas. For the juices it might be pineapple, V8 Mango, Naked Red etc.

This is my blender set (Cuisinart)

This is my blender set (Cuisinart)

Lunch and Dinner: I always have soups. Usually it’s 2-3 different soups each day between the two meals, and usually two servings at a time. Soups I’m eating this week: potato leek, tomato, sweet pea, potato/cheese, broccoli/cheese. Again, everything gets broth or milk added to it and pureed. I use the terms lunch and dinner loosely. Some days it feels like it all runs together.

Snacks: Fruit juices, jello with juice, pudding with milk (on both of these, if you add enough liquid, it doesn’t set). Also my husband makes some kind of dessert involving condensed milk that is really good but I don’t know what all is in it.

What hasn’t worked: For convenience sake I have tried some baby food meals, with added broth to make it a soup, and added seasonings. Unfortunately it is still bland and blah even after doctoring. Too bad because they seemed great in theory. Also plain broccoli soup was not good. Definitely have to have cheese and more to make that work.

All in all I am doing okay with the liquid diet. I try keep it varied so I don’t get bored with it. Though I probably will be bored with it anyway in a couple of weeks. The main thing is to feel satisfied, maintain my weight, and keep my energy up, all of which are happening.

I didn’t take a picture today, but here is one from last night.

Day 17

Day 16

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Mine was a little different but still nice. At Christmas breakfast and dinner, I passed the food instead of eating it. I sipped soup from my honey bottle and admired how pretty all the food was.

In the last few days, there have not been any big changes. But here’s where I am right now:

The area that is numb/swollen is starting to have some movement to it. The edge of the numbness has receded slightly under the eyes. I can also move some front muscles a little, and feel them! It’s so strange to feel those muscles move! It’s the ones I’d use in making sneer face. Hopefully I won’t need to use them too much. 🙂  And I’m just happy I’m not as puffy around the eyes any more. The right side of the face is slightly more swollen and still very tender to the touch in places. Probably a good thing I’m numb; it could be much worse.

Nights are still hard sometimes, and I expect they will be for a while. I try to make sure I am good and tired when I go to bed, so I can fall asleep quicker. Sometimes I just lay there, tired and awake. Last night I had to put in the ipod again to help me fall asleep. I wake up frequently, adjusting my head so that it’s straight again. A couple people asked me if I’d use a neck pillow, but honestly it would put too much pressure on my jaw. Anything that scrunches my neck up or touches my jaw can make it hurt.

During the day there is a slight level of tiredness all the time. I assume this is because I am still in recovery mode.

I feel like I’m doing pretty well over all. Yesterday I was talking with my husband about people asking is the surgery worth it. I said I would recommend that you not ask any patient that in the first couple weeks. We are experiencing all the pain of it but not any of the benefits yet. I think once one starts experiencing the benefits it will seem so worth it. For example, I can already tell that I can breathe better. One of my hopes for this surgery is that it would open up my air passages so I could breathe through my nose better. The congestion has cleared enough I can already tell a huge improvement.

Thought I’d put up a comparison picture to see how I’ve progressed. This is Day 5 and Day 15.

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Day 13

It’s hard to believe it’s almost Christmas! Where have the last two weeks gone?!  Ha…

Today I am fresh back from my first follow-up appointment. I know, it’s Day 13! The doctor and nurse were not too happy with the appt. people putting my first visit out that far. But it’s all well. The doctor was very pleased with my progress, saying I’m further along than a lot of people are, with decreased swelling and congestion already.

He replaced two of my bands and I could feel the tightening immediately.My jaw has been sore since. oh well. It’s like clenching your jaw tightly for a few minutes over a tense situation, before you realize what you’re doing. When you do realize, you relax and maybe rub your jaw. Well there’s no relaxing. The tenseness stays. The other areas it hurts is at the bottom jaw where the bone was cut (near the ears) and is now growing back together. It’s tender to the touch and just aches sometimes. My upper lip hurts frequently, especially after anytime I use it or rub it. It sort of burns. And then there’s the whole frontal face; the swelling causes constant pressure. It’s tight, like a mask has been poured onto my face then frozen in place. Or maybe like I got hit with a baseball bat. A little like I’ve forgotten to wear my retainer for a week, and then jammed it in and left it overnight. I have gotten used to the pressure, and try to ignore for the most part. It’s still a relief though to feel it easing up even slightly over the week.

Anyway I had a whole list of questions for the doctor. Here are some of them:

  • How long will my stitches last? They will start coming out on their own after a week. I have seen this starting and glad to see it was normal.
  • Do I have to still sleep with my head elevated? Not much unless you feel it helps with the swelling.  I will keep it somewhat elevated because my swelling still increases overnight every night (then goes back down).
  • Can I turn my head to the side when I sleep, or do I have to stay on my back? Best stay flat on your back. Your jaws are not healed yet, and too much pressure could make the bottom bones pop out of place.  Yikes, I will definitely keep trying to keep my head straight all night. It is hard; before the night is through I am always stiff and wishing for another position badly. I don’t sleep well in the early morning hours.
  • Can I try using a straw now? Yes, no problem. That should open up eating possibilities.
  • Can I drive, and are airbags a problem? No problem driving. Airbags will bruise you but not put your face out. Apparently since my jaw is reinforced with titanium, it’s stronger than ever.
  • How long will my splint stay in? The whole time you’re banded (4 weeks). Oh well. The liquid diet continues.
  • Can I blow my nose yet? Nope!  just thought I’d ask…
    Imagetitanium plates like they have in my head. Did a quick search, apparently you can order these from China. I don’t recommend the same search. I saw things I really shouldn’t have.

They took x-rays and put up the before and after side by side so I could see them. I have 18 screws in my top jaw. That’s nuts.

I missed lunch (how would I pack a lunch for the car right now??) and didn’t get to eat until 4:30. My stomach growled the whole time. But hey, my stomach growls if I am awake more than 15 minutes at any time of the night! I have to ignore it sometimes. We would have gotten home sooner if it weren’t for interstate snarl/accidents/craziness. Afterwards I had a lovely visit from my friend Heather. She and my husband have both made me laugh a lot today; I may regret this later. Laughing really hurts the sore part of my face. But it’s hard to turn serious at will.

So here are a couple of progress pics today. The lighting’s not the best; the camera card reader on my computer quit working. So these pics are with the webcam on the computer.

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Day 11 Getting better

This morning I woke up thinking that yesterday was a turning point for me in recovery. Nothing big happened yesterday; rather it was a number of small things together that contributed to this.

It worked out to get my ortho’s office to replace the broken rubber bands (instead of driving all the way to the surgeon). Another one popped while brushing my teeth in the morning. We rushed to get to town before they closed at noon. When I arrive the nurse was very pleased with how I looked. Kept telling me I was not swollen. Look, I say, here and here. No, you are not swollen at all compared to other people. She gave us extra bands and showed my husband how to put them on in case it happened again. I left feeling that my jaw was so much safer and encouraged by the nurse.

We go to the grocery store after that and I still manage fine. I just walk slow and hold onto the cart sometimes. It was a little bit of torture seeing all the food I would love to eat, but it was good I went since we spotted some new things to try. We went to the allergist for my monthly shot, but they were closed for a staff Christmas party.

I was very pleased with my stamina getting out and about. I wasn’t overly tired even after I came back. And then there’s the matter that I left the house without a notebook & pen. I made it the whole trip without my safety communication blanket. I’m so happy that at least my husband and the nurse could understand me enough.

I’m convinced the swelling is starting to go down. I can see & feel a difference now from a week ago. The swelling always gets worse at night, for reasons I don’t understand. Near bedtime every night, the pressure will start to build, which is why I have been doing pain meds before bedtime, so I can sleep. Last night I skipped them. It didn’t feel any worse. No meds! I love it. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, but it’s manageable.

ImageAlso I made it through the entire night! I slept all night!!! I only woke up to check the time here and there. This is a first. I was a little worried at first. I was ready to crawl into bed and discovered my ipod had run down. Listening to music or the TV is the only way I’ve been able to fall asleep at night. So I stayed up to give it brief charge, redoing my playlist while I waited. It worked!

Also I see that the whole blood clots draining from my head is lessening some. As my head clears my congestion lessens. I no longer wheeze with every breath. aaaaahhhh relief.

Now I will say this. While yesterday I did well physically, emotionally I didn’t do so well. In fact I was in a little bit of a pity-party mode. I tried to snap myself out of it but that is easier thought than done. Anyway today is a new day and I’m feeling pretty good about the whole ‘had a good night’s sleep’ bit.

So for something different today I thought I’d try recording myself. Not sure if you’ll understand me but I’ll try it.

 

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