One year later…

It’s hard to believe but it’s officially been a whole year since my double jaw surgery. In honour of my one-year anniversary I thought I’d write a post.

Exactly one year ago today, on March 26, 2012, I was being wheeled into a six-hour surgery that would see my bottom and top jaw both moved to different positions. I then spent the next two months recovering (you can read all about that in my previous posts). Reflecting on the whole experience I feel SO fortunate. Over the years I’ve read many blogs by people who went through similar surgeries and not all of them went as smoothly as mine.

I honestly think I can attribute the success of my surgery to the amazing care I had pre- during and after surgery. There was the fantastic team at Dr.Milne’s who made me laugh through the humiliation of having braces in my twenties, the amazingly talented Dr. Butterfield and his team at Argyle Associates who answered every single one of my questions and who let me know I was in safe hands all the way, and of course, my wonderful, beautiful mother who fed me through a syringe, let me sleep in her bed and generally did absolutely everything for me the first four weeks after surgery when I was incapable of functioning.

There was also my five sweet siblings who visited me, brought me presents, and even made me homemade soup, my Grandma who welcomed me into her home with open arms for my final four weeks of recovery, my father who took me on long drives to pass the time, my mother-in-law who took me on field trips, my colleagues who sent me presents and held down everything at work, and of course, my much-adored boyfriend who loved me the whole way- through three years of braces and two months of drooling. I truly am blessed to have had such wonderful people at my side and I thank God for that often.

So enough of my gushing, I know you’re really just here for the nitty gritty details! Amazingly I don’t really have anything to tell you. Besides the obvious fact that my face looks different, it’s almost as if nothing ever happened. I gained back the weight I lost almost the moment I could eat, I have the feeling back in 99.9% of my face and I’m even (almost) used to seeing my profile in the mirror. Every so often when I’m putting on makeup I feel myself rub against a screw under my face but it doesn’t hurt at all, it just seems a little weird.

It’s really crazy to think that I have this huge milestone in my life over with. Yes I still wear a retainer at night (and will for life) but other than that there’s no remnants of this momentous surgery. Considering I spent close to a decade researching it, wondering about it and worrying, it’s so odd to just have it done. No more braces, no more looking at other people’s before and afters fantasizing about what my face will look like, and no more self-consciously trying to hide my under-bite. A part of my life is over and honestly I couldn’t be happier.

I obviously can’t guarantee that your surgery will go as well as mine but I’ll tell you one thing, if I could do it all again I would in an instant!

Bye for now friends!

Here’s some final photos for you:

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The Braces are Off!

Hi all,

It’s been forever since I’ve been on here so I thought I’d give you all a little update. On August 17th (almost a whole month ago) my braces finally came off! It was pretty much the best day of my life 😉 Surprisingly getting the braces pried off my teeth actually didn’t hurt much (maybe because I was so overcome with excitement). My teeth did feel HUGE for the first day but apparently that’s a common feeling. Having them off just feels so amazing and makes me feel like an adult again. And honestly, now that they’re off, it almost feels like I never even went through this whole ordeal.

So now that the braces are gone I still have to wear a retainer full-time for the next 4 – 6 months (after that it’ll only be at night). I’m fine with that though because I get to take it out when I eat and when I take pictures 😉 Plus it’s not NEARLY as ugly as my braces were!

I’ve been to the surgeon in the past month and he said everything looked fantastic. I also went to the dentist last week and he said my teeth looked a lot better than most people’s do after braces come off, however I do have three little cavities along the side of my teeth that he said were probably caused by the braces so I’m getting those fixed soon.

So honestly, I really don’t have much else to say now that the braces are gone, the surgery is over, I have my new face etc. For all of you sitting on the fence, wondering whether or not to go through with this surgery I say DO IT! It’s really been a life-changing surgery for me. I feel so much more confident and I can’t stop smiling. I know that the experience seems huge and scary but it goes by so quickly and you’re left with life-long results.

I’ve been super blessed to be so supported by my family, boyfriend, friends and workplace through all this. I’ve also been blessed to have a great orthodontist (Dr. Milne) and an amazing surgeon (Dr. Butterfield). I am so truly grateful for all of the love and help I got throughout this transition. I’ve passed a milestone in my life and it makes me so happy I could cry.

I hope that people keep stumbling across this blog and that it helps them through their own personal journey. I just checked today and since it’s beginning (almost 6 months ago) this blog has had 5,426 views, wow! I really hope that the people stumbling across this are being helped by it, and of course, I’m always still around to answer questions 🙂

Well best of luck to all of you who have yet to start your journey, here’s some photos from the last month below:

The day my braces came off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much more comfortable with myself

Four Months Later

Hi everyone.

I know it’s been a LONG time since I’ve wrote in my blog; you see I’m really good at starting things but not so great at finishing them. However I’ve been encouraged to write once again because somehow I’m still averaging about 50 visits a day so clearly there’s some interest out there 🙂

When I last left you I was just about to go and get my splint taken out so I’ll pick up from there…

I had my splint taken out just over 6 weeks after the operation. It was a pretty disgusting piece of plastic after being in my mouth for so long and even had little chunks of food stuck on it in places – gag!! Once it was out my surgeon took some x-rays and said things couldn’t be looking any better (always nice to hear). I spent the walk home talking to myself out loud just so I could get used to my tongue moving in that direction again. I was a little scared at first because I still had a pretty bad lisp but that gradually went away after a few days of adjusting.

After my splint came out I was finally able to eat again. The first solid food I tried was French fries – bad idea!! I felt so sick afterwards since my stomach hadn’t had anything even remotely greasy in the seven weeks prior. I was also VERY disappointed when I first started eating again because it felt so weird and unnatural so I could only eat a tiny bit before giving up. For the first few weeks after my splint was removed I stuck to liquid meals for breakfast and lunch and only attempted solid foods for dinner. This was going great for me until I mentioned this to my surgeon who told me that this was not the way to go. He told me the only way I’d get used to chewing again is if I did it all the time. Of course he was right and now I’m at about 90% chew function four months after the surgery (eating chips and certain breads are still a little awkward and messy).

Right after my surgeon took out my splint I had an appointment with my orthodontist who put an arch wire into my upper braces and then took my wire with all the hooks out of my bottom teeth. He then replaced this with a wire that simply has two hooks. I now only have to wear two elastics on my teeth at all times (though I went to the orthodontist today and they said I only actually need to wear them at night now…yay!)

Going back to work was pretty tough for the first little while, especially because everyone wanted to talk to me the first week and my jaw still got tired out VERY easily! Gradually I got back into the routine however and now I’m doing great! Honestly it’s like the surgery never even happened!

I just regained the rest of the sensation in my face about four weeks ago. When I told one of the ladies at the orthodontist office she was pretty surprised, apparently it often takes longer for all the sensation to return so that means my surgeon must have done a very good job manipulating my nerves. I can still tell I had surgery however because when I touch my lower face it still has a weird tingling feeling. Also, whenever I scratch the side of my nose I can feel the screws underneath…weird!!

I went to the orthodontist a couple weeks ago and he fixed me with a new wire on top to finish closing the gaps and put some weird, super thick metal thing on the bottom to also help in closing the gap. At my last visit they had scheduled me to have my braces taken off on July 31 – I understandably was ecstatic and have been eagerly counting down so I was a little disappointed when they retracted that date and said that I wouldn’t be ready to remove my braces by then, sigh. Although, after wearing the braces for three years I know it’s worth it to wear them a little longer in order to get that near-perfect smile!

Hmmm, so all in all that’s pretty much it. I was still taking Tylenol/ advil for pain until about the 9 week mark and now I don’t take anything. The scars in my mouth seem to be all pretty much healed up and mentally I feel pretty good!

I saw my surgeon yesterday for the four month follow up and he said my bones are fused together perfectly, awesome!! Things really couldn’t have gone any better with this and I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received!!

If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Check out my pictures below and thanks for reading!!

All the screws in my face

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About three months after surgery20120727-081401.jpg

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Before and afters (pics on the right were taken this week)

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41 Days Post-op

So I thought it was about time that I updated my blog since it’s been a couple weeks. The good news is I haven’t been writing because there hasn’t been many changes to report on and you know what they say – no news is good news!

I saw my surgeon last week and he said that things couldn’t be looking any better (this is a great thing to hear from the man who broke your face). He kept me in my elastics so I’m still putting those on; two during the day, a million during the night! Luckily he gave me a huge pack of new elastics though so there are no more multi-coloured bands in my mouth!

So wanna hear some really good news?! I get my splint out on Thursday!!! That’s exactly three days away! I am sooooo excited to start trying to eat again and to brush my teeth properly and to not sound like an idiot! Up until a couple days ago I had visions of chomping into nachos right after the splint came out, however, after reading about other people’s experiences, it looks like you’re not right back on the chewing train once it’s out. Some people talked about going out for mashed potatoes after their splint came out…mashed potatoes, ugh!! I’ve decided that I’m going to order a very small pizza for my Grandma and I that night and I’ll cut it into little pieces and see how that goes. Obviously I won’t be able to eat the crust but I’m hoping I can eat the rest. It’s going to be so weird to chew because my teeth are in a totally different position then they were before my surgery.

I’ve also (unfortunately) read that it still takes some time for some people to talk normally again after the splint removal because your tongue is adjusting to its new position. I was really hoping to come out on Thursday talking like a normal person but ANYTHING has got to be better than talking like this. Although I’ve gotten used to sounding like an idiot, talking still wears me out, plus, when I have to repeat something or talk louder (which I do often as my Grandma is heard of hearing) it’s a struggle. It’s really hard to project your voice with a huge piece of plastic in your mouth so I have to talk slowly to make sure I enunciate each word. Let me tell you, I’ll never take talking or eating for granted again!!!

So I told my mom that I was nervous that random food would fall out of my splint when they take it off since it’s so easy for stuff to get crammed up there and never come out even though I’m meticulous in my cleaning (disgusting, I know). So I decided to do a little internet searching on this and found out that when the splint comes out it is often coated in bio-film and sometimes even mould EWWWWWWWWW! I’m so glad I didn’t read about this until three days before it comes out because that is just the nastiest piece of info ever!

Alright, so enough about my splint, how about what I’ve been eating. Now that everything I eat doesn’t have to be drank out of a squirt bottle I have a few more options. I’ve been eating lots of macaroni and cheese with butter, ice cream, ensure and baby food, and the other day I even went as far as to mash up chickpeas and mix them with rice and butter. This was quite delicious, however the half an hour that I spent flossing the rice out of my braces made me question whether it was worth it 😉 I also ate the inside of a piece of garlic loaf the other night at my moms, it just smelt soooo good that I took the soft bread out little piece by little piece and slowly ate it that way – no chewing required. I’ve also started making coffee and putting it into a Gatorade bottle so I can squeeze it into my mouth every morning. Before the surgery I had given up coffee altogether and only drank green tea but it turns out green tea tastes TERRIBLE through a squeeze bottle so I’m back to my coffee chugging ways (it takes me about two hours to drink a coffee this way FYI).

There are certain things that I’m pretty positive I will never eat again in my life. For example, just looking at a can of soup, no matter what flavour, makes me want to vomit. Somehow, drinking salty soup through a squeeze bottle has totally turned me off for life. I’d be quite happy to never, ever eat soup again. Just thinking about it makes me shudder. The same goes for: brown beans, blueberry baby food, any type of veggie baby food, and although I haven’t reached the point yet, I won’t be surprised if it takes a couple years before I crave ice cream and macaroni again.

As for sleep, I haven’t been sleeping that well although it’s slowly getting better. For about two weeks it was taking me hours to fall asleep every night and then I’d wake up several times during the night and be up for the day at 7. This was no good because the lack of sleep was leaving me feeling worn out. I ended up taking sleeping pills that were designed to help with pain relief and after a few restful nights of sleep because of them I went off them and my body seems to be getting back on track. It still takes me hours to fall asleep but at least once I’m asleep I stay asleep now. I kind of wonder if my subconscious was afraid to sleep, I mean maybe there’s some part of my body that was aware of the fact that my face was being reconstructed while I was knocked out for six hours during my surgery. I know if I actually stop and think about the surgery it gives me a feeling of anxiety. Just knowing what they did to me kind of freaks me out. I’m obviously totally glad they did it but I’m even gladder that I’ll never have to go through that again.

Hmmm other than that not much to report on. I haven’t lost any additional weight but I have maintained the 13lbs weight loss which is surprising considering the amount of butter, cheese, crushed chocolate bars and ice cream I’ve incorporated into my diet but hey, I’m not complaining, I’m actually looking forward to bikini shopping this year 🙂 Also, I ran into my best friend’s Grandpa the other day (he’s known me since I was about 7 and I’ve stayed at their house a bajillion times) I talked to him for a few mins but he seemed like he had no idea who I was. So I told my friend and she asked him and it turns out he really didn’t have any clue who I was lol. It’s still so weird to me that I look so different to some people. For me, I’ve been looking in the mirror every day, looking at pictures, etc. so I feel like I don’t look that different but it must be significant enough if people still are having a hard time recognizing me.

Physically and mentally I’m feeling pretty fantastic. I’m LOVING being home and have even started house-hunting around here (White Lake/ Arnprior area). I’ve decided that I’m willing to do an hour each way commute in order to be close to family and friends again (especially since I’ve discovered there’s a bus that takes you right from Arnprior to downtown Ottawa…who knew). It sounds cheesy but I feel like my life has been so enriched by being able to see my family on a regular basis. I’ve been slightly depressed in Ottawa for awhile which I attributed to my lifestyle but now I realize a lot of it was just loneliness and boredom. Here, even though I’ve had full days to do nothing, I haven’t been bored for a single second. There are always people to visit, walks to take, conversations to have, Sunday drives….. I’m so happy being here and I don’t want to wait until I retire (you know about 30 years from now) to move back. I’m glad my surgery has given me the opportunity to be home again.

In other news…Today is my last full week off from work, I return next Wednesday. Obviously I have mixed feelings about this. I really like my job and the people I work with so that’s nice but at the same time it’s work, so you know! Luckily my summer holidays are booked and they’re spread out over June, July and August so I can attend various weddings so I think that will make the transition back easier. If I didn’t have the splint in my mouth I probably would have returned this week as originally planned but with the splint still in it just would have made it too difficult to communicate. Luckily I work with some pretty amazing people so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them again.

Well that’s pretty much it. I promise to update again as soon as the splint is removed because I know a lot of jaw surgery patients have questions about that (myself included). See you soon!

Another before/ after – this is from two weeks ago

Mmmmm coffee 

Still my favourite on-the-go snack

 Presents for some friends – I used my new-found arts and crafts skills lol

Visits with my niece and my nephew

Days 23 – 26 – A change of scenery

Well I realize it’s been awhile since I posted so I thought I better take the time to write, especially considering my last post was so depressing!

Things have been going really well this week. I moved out of my mom’s and into my Grandma’s a couple days ago which was really good for me (even though I cried the whole drive into town). At my Grandma’s I feel like I have to get out of bed and do something with my day because I feel bad staying in my room ignoring my Grandma all day. This has been good because when you get out of bed you actually do stuff. I’ve gone for a couple walks now, cruised around with my dad, cleaned my car (it’s spotless), read some books, gone for drives, visited some friends, worked on my Web sites and taken quite a liking to arts and crafts.

It’s also been nice being here because I lived with my Grandma when I was a teenager. As my Grandma said (with a big smile) “it’s just like old times”. And it really is. I feel like a teenager again, just a much better behaved teenager. I’m actually here in my room before my Grandma sets the alarm at night and instead of being out gallivanting with my friends I’m sitting around doing puzzles. My Grandma would’ve loved if I was this good in my teens!

So what’s new? Well I bought the best little product the other day. It’s a single-serving Hamilton Beach blender and it’s perfect for my baby food/ Ensure diet. I dump everything in, blend it up, and then there’s a different lid I can put onto it which makes it into a sippy cup – no more drinking out of messy squeeze bottles for me!

I’ve also discovered that I can eat Dairy Queen ice cream blizzards if I let it melt a little. This has opened up a whole new world of flavours for me (so much so that the girls in the DQ seem to recognize me now). Today I got smart and bought a container of ice cream along with a couple (well six) chocolate bars so I can make my own blizzards in my little blender. Much cheaper with more candy, mmmmm! I realize this will probably make me gain back the whole 12lbs I lost but whatever, my boyfriend doesn’t like boney girls anyhow!

Today I also ventured into unchartered territory. I was sitting around when I suddenly had the biggest craving for macaroni and cheese. I decided to give into the craving and headed to the grocery store where I bought the smallest noodles I could find along with the smallest minced tomatoes (I also picked up some spices and cheese). I got home, boiled the pasta for forever so it was really soft then mixed in the cheese and tomatoes and guess what?! I could eat it (well swallow it). I do have one piece of pasta stuck behind my splint that I just can’t get out but it was so worth it!!! It was like eating real food again. I followed that with a home-made blizzard and now I’m so full and content!

As far as my face goes, it looks like my swelling is pretty much all gone. I even have my wrinkles back (they had temporarily disappeared when my face was swollen but unfortunately came back once it went away). The best thing is, I’m actually starting to like my new face. Everything on it just seems so even and lined up now. My nose definitely looks different (it’s wider) but it has a certain cuteness to it, and my eyes still seem quite large. At first I thought maybe that was all in my head but quite a few people have commented on them now. My theory is, because of my underbite, they were always further back in my face, but now that there’s no protruding jaw my eyes are more front and centre. I can’t really comment on how my mouth looks yet because the splint is still in and makes it look different than the final result but that will be out soon too.

My siblings have been amusing through all this. My little sister showed up to my Grandma’s the other day while I was cleaning my car. When she looked at me she said “wow, it looks like you’ve decided to live again”. She was of course referring to the fact that I actually had real clothes on and makeup but it was funny because I actually feel that way now too. I was definitely moping for a while but now I’ve decided to own this new face lol. My little brother on the other hand is still a typical little brother. We were standing next to each other the other day and he looked at me and said quite matter of factly “your face looks scary”. He then went on to explain I looked like I had a skeleton face. It’s funny because I know that sounds pretty mean but a) he’s a 13 year-old male, and b) I kind of know what he means. Sometimes my top lip sort of gets pulled up on my splint, when you combine that with my large eyes and my wide nose it does sort of resemble the traditional skeleton drawing.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this in my last post but I’m pretty sure I’ll never have feeling in my upper gums again. This of course can be attributed to the fact that they cut straight through those gums. No matter how hard I poke them I can’t feel a thing. I’ve also been grinding my teeth a lot lately. It sounds really weird but when I do it, it feels like I’m moving my teeth and they’re in turn scratching my gums. It also sort of feels like I’m bouncing my upper face, the part that was cut through (when I mentioned this to my mother she looked like she wanted to hurl). I swear I can feel where they sliced through my gums – not in a painful way but I can feel it. My teeth have been hurting the last few days (probably because of the grinding) so I’ve been taking a few Advil a day again.

Another thing that has to do with my lovely jaw surgery – they certainly didn’t give me enough elastics to get through two weeks. My elastics have started snapping and breaking and the ones that haven’t broken are quite loose, making me feel like I can open my mouth far too much during the day. To combat this (while saving myself from driving the hour to my orthodontist’s office) I went and bought really tiny hair elastics. They’re really colourful (which looks sort of funny) but I find that if I put two of those on during the day along with two of my surgical elastics, it closes down my mouth quite nicely. At night I also add a few but there’s already so many elastics on my teeth at night that my mouth doesn’t shift much.

I really have gotten used to the elastics and I put them on quite easily now. The only time they’re annoying is when I’m exhausted at night and about to jump into bed and then remember that I still need to put them all on. The elastics are pretty handy when it comes to convincing myself to get out of bed in the morning however. Once I wake up I just want to tear them off and brush my teeth. I swear, no matter how well I brush and clean the night before, every morning you wake up and feel like something has died in your mouth (I know that’s disgusting but I’m trying to be nice and honest for all of you jaw surgery patients). I also find that my throat is very sore every morning which must have something to do with my mouth being locked down because it doesn’t hurt later in the day.

In the name of being honest, I’d also like to remind all of you people drinking out of a bottle (like me) make sure you check yourself in the mirror carefully before going out. After being out for about four hours today, I came home, looked in the mirror, and realized that I had a nice long milk-crusted stain running from my chin all the way down my neck; how attractive.

So before I go I’d like to leave you with an amusing (and completely non-jaw surgery related) story. My Grandma has had someone try to break into her house a couple times in the last few months. Of course, when I heard this I told my mom that I hoped someone would try to break in while I was there so I could give them a piece of my mind. Well, the other night I was laying in my bed at midnight, almost asleep, when out of nowhere the radio came on in the kitchen full blast. I of course was convinced someone was in the house. So what did I do? Did I run upstairs to confront the intruder? Nope, I pulled the blankets over my head and cowered there for 15 minutes. Finally, when the radio still hadn’t turned off I called my mom (while still under the covers) and made her stay on the phone with me while I went and investigated. Turns out no one was in the house and the radio has done this quite a few times. Also turns out I’m sure no hero 😉

To wrap this up I’d like to say that the key to my positive attitude the last few days has definitely been keeping active. It makes a HUGE difference to be doing stuff everyday even if that stuff is simply arts and crafts (something I never realized I enjoyed until now). I think it also really helps me to be surrounded by my amazing family. It’s really going to be devastating for me when I move back home. I LOVE living with my boyfriend but I really miss being so close to family. Luckily for me we’re planning on buying a house this year so we’re definitely going to have to look for one closer to home (even if it means a gruesome commute to work every day). I really see this jaw surgery as a blessing. Not only has it gotten rid of the bite I’ve been self-conscious of for years (while hopefully improving my speech and chewing functions) it’s also given me a chance to really reconnect with my family. I feel like I’ve had a second chance to be 16 again and this time I’ve made sure to spend every second with the people I love instead of squandering my time away with people who really didn’t matter in the end. Being home is sort of like being wrapped up in a nice, safe, cocoon and it’s going to break my heart when I have to leave.

So for all of you out there still trying to figure out whether or not to get this surgery I say do it! I know I’m still in the early stages (not quite a month in) but I already know I made the right choice.

Thanks for reading!

This is my skeleton face that my brother was referring to

Most amazing product – one minute it’s a blender, the next minute it’s a sippy cup

My very colourful elastics (whatever does the job, right?)

 Some of my arts and crafts projects (I’m such a geek)

Me about three days ago (so 23 days post-op)

One of the great things about my recovery is I’ve had a lot of quality time with my nephew

Sharing some laughs together

This is me today, 26 days post-op 

For those of you who didn’t see my “before” pictures I’ve put this together for you

Days 19 – 22 – Who’s the girl in the mirror?

I just read my last blog post where I said I was so happy I had this surgery done, which is rather funny because unfortunately I’m singing a slightly different tune today. In fact I have a good old case of the post-surgery blues.

Now I know I told myself I wanted to be optimistic through this whole thing and not have any pity parties etc. but I don’t want someone to happen across this blog while they’re going through the same thing and think, “why was her recovery so smooth sailing.” Because the truth is, although I’ve been doing pretty well up to this point, there’s still a lot of doubts in my head.

My unhappiness really started yesterday. I finally went out in public with a friend and, while out, I saw three people I knew. All three of these people looked right at me and walked right on by, not a flicker of recognition in their eyes. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal if they were just casual acquaintances but the three people were 1) someone I went to elementary school and highschool with, 2) an ex-boyfriend’s mother and 3) one of my cousins!! You know, the type of people who should recognize you when you see them. I lamented to my friend how odd this seemed but then she told me that she didn’t think she’d be able to pick me out of a crowd of people if she didn’t know I was there.

This really bothered me because before I hadn’t focussed very much on how much my appearance had changed. When I went into the surgery my surgeon told me the changes to the front of my face would be minimal and that you would really only see a difference in my profile. So it’s really disconcerting to look in the mirror and see a different reflection than the one I’ve been looking at for 25 years. Half my face is still numb and I feel like it looks like someone injected a whole bunch of Botox into my face. My lips have a weird, frozen look to them and my cheeks are still chubbier than usual because of the swelling. Even my eyes and nose seemed to have changed. I know that the swelling is still supposed to go down more and that I won’t actually know what my final results will look like until 6 months to a year post-op but I’m still scared that I’m going to continue not liking my face. Before surgery I never once considered the possibility that I wouldn’t like the result. After all, I’ve been told for years that this surgery is necessary and every single person in the orthodentist’s office as well as the surgeon’s office always talked about how much I was going to love the results and what a difference it was going to make etc. so the fact that I currently dislike the results is not something I expected at all.

On top of not liking the way my face looks, my splint is also causing me a lot of grief. Since you’re all just reading my blog and not actually listening to me speak you have no idea how ridiculous I sound right now. Every time I open my mouth I feel so stupid because it sounds like I have a horrible speech impediment. I don’t mind so much when I’m talking to my family because I’m comfortable with them, but when I talk to anyone else I’m always certain they’re thinking about how dumb I sound. At least my friends know why I sound like this but talking to anyone who doesn’t know I had surgery is just sooooo embarrassing, I’m always afraid they’ll have no idea what I’m saying or think that I’m mentally deficient. Basically talking with a splint in is like talking with a big rolled-up sock stuffed into your mouth.

Lastly on my lists of complaints is the whole no-food issue. Now this was fine for the first two weeks or so but we’re into the third week now and I’m starting to REALLY miss food. I miss the texture, the variety, even the social aspect. I never realized how much of my life involved food until I couldn’t have any. We’ve tried being inventive, my mom even liquified spaghetti for me last night, but the truth is, nothing tastes as good in liquid form as it does whole. All the joy of eating is gone when you’re just squeezing mush down your throat.

Okay so those are my complaints for today. I’m sorry for being such a downer but I just think anyone going into this should know exactly what they’re getting into. Luckily, after being all upset, I did a little research and found that the way I feel isn’t uncommon for jaw surgery patients. A lot of others seem to be slightly traumatized by seeing their appearance change so drastically so quickly and going from a healthy normal person to someone who is constantly tired, can’t eat and can’t talk. From what I’ve read 3 weeks is still relatively early in the healing process so I really shouldn’t be judging the results already so I’m going to try and remember that and keep my chin up.

Now that I’m done whining I’ll actually update you on the last few days. They’ve actually been pretty eventful and have seen me get out and about quite a bit. I spent the night at my boyfriend’s parents house on Saturday so it was really nice to visit with them. It was also nice to spend the night beside my boyfriend for the first time in 3 weeks. It’s been hard only seeing him once a week or so but I know it’s better that I’m recovering at my mom’s and grandma’s as opposed to at home.

On Sunday my mom packed me into the car with the kids and took me on a nice long road-trip. We went to Lake Clear (one of my most favourite places in the world) then we drove to Barry’s Bay and stopped at interesting landmarks along the way. This was good because it got me out of the house and kept my mind occupied. We were out so long that we decided to stop for dinner along the way. My mom and the kids got french fries from a fry truck (I know, they’re evil) and I ran into a grocery store to get some cough medicine (I’ve been fighting a cold the last couple days which probably hasn’t contributed to my less than stellar mindset). While in the grocery store I found the best thing EVER! In the baby food aisle there was something called Banana Vanilla Yogurt and it came in a squeezable bag. For a jaw surgery patient on a road trip, food in a squeezable bag is amazing!!! I had that with a chocolate milk for dinner.

Monday I went with my mom to Ottawa, then went out with my friend for a bit to buy a baby shower gift. Today I laid in bed most of the day and read until three when I went for a drive with another friend before touring the backroads by myself. I am so thankful for my car right now. It gives me the freedom to be alone for a little while and driving around in the beautiful countryside really helps to ease my mind.

So as far as jaw surgery progression is going, this is what I’ve noticed/ done over the last few days.

  • I’ve finally thrown out my syringes and now use squeeze bottles for everything. I can eat and drink much more efficiently this way.
  • My skin is really oily. At first I thought this was probably just the diet I’m on but after a little more research, this seems to be a common side effect of the surgery. Apparently the steroids they gave me can cause oily/ pimply skin and it can last for up to SIX MONTHS!!
  • I did try solid food once this week. I scrambled an egg and cut a piece of toast into a bunch of pieces and soaked them in butter. Well it was a good effort, this really didn’t work very well and wasn’t worth it. I only ate about one third of the stuff on my plate.
  • I’ve discovered that I can’t feel my upper gums at all. I can dig my fingernail right into my upper gums and have absolutely no sensation. I guess this makes sense since they cut right through my upper gums but it’s so weird. I have a feeling I’ll never have sensation in them again (who really needs to feel their gums anyway, right?)

So I thought I’d leave you with this quote before you check out my pictures. I heard it while listening to music and driving today and it really struck a chord because although I’m a little down right now I still know I am such a lucky girl and I have so much to be grateful for in this life!

“And this is my beautiful life
 The only thing certain is everything changes 
 As hard as it gets I know it’s still amazing to be alive
 It’s a beautiful life” – LL

My failed attempt at solid food 

My “not so little” little brother and my awkward face

I dressed up so I could feel “normal” again but my face just looks so frozen

You can see some of my swelling in this pic

My oily skin – I never had this problem pre-surgery

Two side profiles – I’m REALLY hoping that there’s still some swelling in my neck because I hate the turtle neck look I have going on

These are what I eat out of. I label them – one for pop, one for water, one for sweet and one for salty because they hold tastes really well and spaghetti-flavoured water just isn’t that great 😉

The awesome squeezable baby food I found. I was able to eat right out of the container!!

Days 16, 17 and 18 – Elastics Time

Hey everyone! Sorry I haven’t checked in for a few days but I didn’t want to write about my elastics until I’d had the chance to test drive them a little.

On Tuesday I headed to Ottawa with my little sister so I could see my surgeon and my orthodentist. It was the first time I’d been behind the wheel of my car since the surgery and it felt so nice! My sister and I took turns driving though so I didn’t get too tired!

The visit with my ortho went well. It was the first time I’d seen him since the surgery and he was happy with the way things were progressing. The girls in the office said I looked great for only two weeks post-op which was nice to hear since they see these cases quite often. I won’t see my ortho again until my splint is out (so another 4 weeks or so).

Next we headed to the surgeon’s office. We waited for over an hour for my appointment but all was forgiven when I found out he’d been working on a little girl who’d knocked out all her front teeth. Hearing things like that makes me SOOOO grateful that the work I got done was pre-planned and not because something traumatic happened to me first.

My surgeon felt around my face first and said that I was indeed still swollen. Then he checked out how my teeth were with the splint and he said they were fitting into the splint perfectly. Next he told me the best thing ever; for the next two weeks I have to wear elastics BUT I only have to wear two elastics during the day!! Those two are on opposite sides of my mouth and they stretch over four of my spikes (two on my bottom, two on my top). They definitely make it pretty hard to talk but there is still some movement possible. Also, I’m allowed to take them off when I eat and when I brush my teeth.

At night for the next two weeks I have to “lockdown” my mouth with elastics. This requires me putting about ten elastics on my teeth to make sure my mouth doesn’t move at all. The whole process takes about a half hour because I need to brush my teeth, clean my mouth than string the elastics onto my spikes (a rather tedious task). I felt a little claustorphobic the first time I put them on but I sleep with scissors beside my bed so I feel safe 😉

For those of you not familar with elastics, they are used to “train your bite”. Since I spent my whole life biting a certain way my muscles might continue to try biting that way. By having the elastics on I’m showing my jaws and teeth where they need to sit in my mouth.

I was REALLY surprised when I found out that I wouldn’t have to be locked down during the day. From what I’ve read, some people are locked down 24/7 for 4 – 6 weeks. The fact that my surgeon can get the same results with so much less inconvenience to me makes me adore him even more. Honestly, I have the best surgeon EVER!! He’s been an absolute dream through this whole process. He’s clearly good at what he does because this whole surgery in general has been waaayyyyy less painful than anticipated and it’s only 18 days later and I can already tell that I love the results. Plus he’s so patient and answers all my questions and is always cheerful and now he’s giving me the same results as other people without all the hassle of being locked down. I’d recommend him to anyone in a heartbeat! (I guess if I’m going to recommend him, I should give you his name 🙂 He’s Dr. Butterfield and he’s part of the Argyle Associates Group in Ottawa, ON)

So now that I’ve told you about the elastics there’s not much more to update although I’m finally off all my meds. I don’t wake up and take a painkiller anymore and the only one I’ve taken in the last few days is an Advil and that was only because I had a headache (persumely from my teeth clenching together with these elastics).

I tried eating some homemade soup tonight, and well the taste was really good the texture grossed me out because it kept sticking to the roof of my mouth and my splint. Regardless, my mom made me eat it all because I’m down 12lbs and she doesn’t want me losing anymore weight (aw moms are still moms no matter how old you are).

Alright, before I go I’m going to share with you one amusing thing that happened to me today. After I had my shower I put on some lip lotion thing and went to rub my lips together (you know, like you do when you put on lip chap) and then I realized that my lips don’t touch, at all, so I had to rub it in with my finger. Two minutes later I look at the container to see what the lotion does and lo and behold it’s supposed to plump your lips. This made me laugh out loud because really, do I look like I need plumper lips right now!

Other than that I’m doing fantastic! Soooo glad I had this done!

Day 16 (checking out the new elastics)

Day 17 (elastics on for the night)

Day 18 (I can still see some of my swelling in this picture)

 

Locked down (you can see why I’m glad I only have to do this at night)

Days 14 & 15 – Cupcakes and Smiles

I hope everyone had an awesome Easter weekend! There’s nothing like a good four-day weekend to liven up the spirt (for me it’s more like a six-week weekend but who’s counting).

I find it really hard to believe that exactly two weeks ago today I was laying in a hospital bed after my surgery. If someone had told me I’d feel this good only two weeks after having my face reassembled I don’t think I would have believed them but honestly I feel pretty awesome.

On day 14 I finally dragged my sorry butt out of bed for awhile. I went for a ten minute walk and sat in the bushes for a little while with my sisters, the fresh air was nice. I also baked some cupcakes but only managed to decorate four of them before my sister decided I looked too tired and she sent me to bed (who knew cupcake decorating could be so tiresome). I also moved myself out of the bedroom for a few hours and onto the couch in the living room; baby steps! I think it’s a good idea to slowly reintegrate myself back into real life instead of lying like a bump on a log in the bedroom.

Today was Day 15 and we had Easter dinner at my mom’s house. The smells almost killed me! Having not eaten solid food for two whole weeks now, watching a delicious dinner be prepared was rough. Stupidly I tried a little piece of a cupcake and sucked on an olive, both of which got stuck behind my splint. Now let me tell you, you NEVER want to get something stuck behind your splint. I spent a good 40 minutes gargling, using the water pik, flossing, even swishing gingerale around in my mouth in hopes that the bubbles would dislodge the food. Eventually, after I sprayed my mouth for about 10 minutes straight it dislodged but that was not fun! I have no idea how people can progress to soft food before their splint is out, there’s no way I’m going through that everyday – I’ll just stick to my liquids.

I did get rather creative later this evening though. There was one piece of lemon meringue pie left and I looked at it and thought, hey, I could eat the filling and the mousse. So little spoonful, by little spoonful, I put the filling of the pie in my mouth, squashed it under my tongue and swallowed, mmmmm. This of course got my sweet tooth going and I decided to try a cupcake as well. Obviously I couldn’t eat the cupcake but I sure could lick the icing off. Yum!!

So what’s going on with me now besides food cravings? Well I still wake up with jaw stiffness but it’s not very bad. My upper teeth still ache a bit but that’s almost gone. My lips are super dry so I carry vaseline with me everywhere and given that I can’t yet close my lips or feel my chin I still drool a little. I’m presently dripping on my keyboard…I know, sexy, right? 😉

I have one good bit of news for you jaw surgery surviors currently struggling with swelling…the majority of mine is gone!! I looked in the mirror today and I actually feel pretty! My mom even took a picture of my profile today and even though I had a goofy face on it still looked so nice because there was no underbite making me feel ugly, I finally feel attractive! My little brother told me before he went to bed tonight that I look normal again, so I musn’t be imagining this whole swelling gone thing.

For all of you thinking about getting this surgery – I absolutely recommend that you just do it! For all of you currently suffering through the first two weeks post-op, it gets better, I promise!

I’m off to the surgeon’s and the orthodentist’s tomorrow to get my elastics put on so stay tuned. Night all!!

Day 14

Cupcake goodness (hey you’d do it too if you hadn’t ate real food in two weeks)

See the thing about having a numb chin is I had no idea I had cupcake all over it when my mom snapped this pic 

Me today without icing on my face (I even put on makeup)

Day 11, 12 and 13 – Lots of sleep

So I thought I’d post; not because I have anything interesting to say but because it’s been three whole days (so much for my daily blog).

So I spent most of Day 11 and 12 in bed sleeping. I really had no idea that I could sleep this much until I had the surgery. I think this has probably been one of the most frustrating aspects of the surgery for me because anyone who knows me knows I’m a real go-getter. So waking up everyday only to nap two hours later has been very odd for me. On the bright side I know this means my body is healing and I’m really lucky to have the time to heal! I’ve read about some people who’ve gone back to work/ school after two weeks and I just can’t believe it! I can’t even get out of bed for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Luckily, today I woke up ready to go and I spent four solid hours working on a Web site I’m putting together. It’s REALLY nice to have a hobby like that after this surgery because there’s only so many books you can read and so many shows you can watch. For example, on day 11 in between naps, I read an entire 400 page novel from start to finish and yesterday I watched an ENTIRE season of a television series; wow! Without this Web site to work on sometimes I think my brain would rot!!

So what else is new? While I’ve weaned myself down to only one oxy pill a day and I take it first thing in the morning because that’s when the pain seems to be the worse. For the rest of the day I just take a mixture of Tylenol and Advil (I feel like a junkie, you should see all the pills in my purse ;)) As far as pain goes, I’m doing pretty well. My top teeth and my gums have a constant, pulsing ache going on but that’s because my splint is pulling them into different directions so they’re just aching as they settle into their new places. The corner of my lips also hurt a lot but I keep them slathered in Vaseline so it’s not that bad. My jaw surprisingly doesn’t hurt much at all but I think that’s because I finally put a limit on the amount I was talking. I realized that the talking was not only wearing me out but was also KILLING my jaws! For all of you who know what a blabber mouth I am, this has been quite a big change! Other than that the only thing that seems to hurt is my nose and only if I touch it; I’m a pretty lucky girl! I also thought I’d mention, for all you other people going through this, this is about the time your stitches start falling out. I didn’t know about this at all so I was pretty shocked when a stitch fell into the sink; I even called the surgeon to make sure it was alright (he probably thought I was a dumbass).

Other than that, not much going on here. I got to visit with my baby nephew tonight so that made me smile. Also, my super awesome sister made me six kinds of homemade soup today; how amazing is that?! I’m soooo excited to eat something other than baby food and ensure! On the topic of food I’m down 7lbs; not too bad for someone who’s been laying in bed for 12 days! One other thing, I swear I could almost see my cheekbones today if I tilted my head a certain way – yay!!

Anyhow I hope everyone is gearing up for the Easter Bunny! I’ll make sure to drink a chocolate ensure to celebrate the holiday!

Day 11

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Day 12

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Day 13

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The yummy soup my sista made me

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Day Ten – Owwwwww

So today was a rather uneventful day. I headed to my Grandma’s this morning while mom was at work. My Grandma is an amazing woman. She’s 85 years-old but she was lugging the vacuum all around her three-story house when I got there. Anytime I offered to help her she just scoffed at me, she’s definitely not your average frail old lady!

While at my Grandma’s, instead of taking a nap I decided to play with my beading kit. I made a bracelet for one of my bestfriend’s and one for me with my boyfriend’s name on it (I know, I’m such a child). I had decided that today I was going to start weaning myself off the oxycodone because I’m running out soon and I wasn’t going to refill the prescription. I took a pill when I woke up but at 12, when I would usually take another one, I just took an Extra Strength Advil instead. After an hour of trying to get over the discomfort I finally caved at 1:30 and took the oxy after all. It was so weird when I wasn’t on it. It was like I could feel where every cut in my mouth was and how it was peiced together – not pleasant at all! Mom is going to call the doctor tomorrow and see if they will indeed give me another refill on the oxy or at least give me something stronger than tylenol/ advil because clearly I’m still in more pain than I thought.

This afternoon my dad came over for a visit which was nice. He stayed for almost an hour so that’s great becasue we rarely visit for that long but on the other hand it was kind of bad because the combination of talking to my Grandma this morning and my Dad this evening makes for a very sore jaw! Ah well, the heat packs are on them right now and it’s making them feel better and making me feel sleepy.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, not because I want you to feel sorry for me but because I want anyone else going through this to know that it’s okay to cry sometimes. I’ve been doing a pretty good job at sticking to the good attitude thing but tonight I had myself a little cry. Why? A combination of things really. My jaw has been aching for the last few hours, I feel weird cuts in my mouth when I run my tongue around, plus I posted a before/after picture on my Facebook profile today and someone commented and said “Booooo why did you do that?” Now I know the guy who said that wasn’t trying to be malicious, but one thing people should know is generally, anyone who opts to go through this surgery is already a very self-concious person. Then they get the surgery which is major trauma to the body + wonky drugs + stress and a swollen face that makes you even more self-concious. So a comment like that can just send an already unstable person over the edge. Please people, understand that someone that goes through this surgery is going to take months to heal and look “normal” again and they’ll have lots of self-doubt along the way so don’t make it even harder on them by making them think they made the wrong choice and telling them essentially that they look bad.

Anyhow, now that I’ve got that out, I also discovered something else today: my stitches. I lifted up my top lip and realized that there were stitches all through the top of my gumline and through the gaps in my teeth. Essentially my face has been stitched back onto my gums; so gross!

On the brightside, I tried out my new waterpik today and I loved it! It really makes it much easier to get under my splint and I highly recommend it to anyone getting this surgery.

That’s all for now folks, night!

My stitches

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My splint (this is why I talk funny – the thing is huge)

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Off to my Grandma’s

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My bracelet creation

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