Thursday, January 23, 2014

5 Weeks Post Surgery

Today I mentioned to a coworker that it had been exactly 5 weeks since my surgery. He replied, "Wow, already? That went by fast."
"Get a metal bar installed in your mouth. You'll feel differently about time."

Things seem to always be changing. Some symptoms last a day, others a few days, and the throbbing is still going on 2.5 weeks later. The front teeth throbbing has actually gotten about 90% better. My teeth only throb once or twice a day and not for as long. Before, they were at it all day, every day.

I am pretty sure the throbbing is caused by my front teeth trying to come back together. Most of the pain is localized to my central incisors (front 2 teeth), and kind of radiates out from there. I measured the gap yesterday and it's down to 4mm from 5.5mm! That's a lot of movement for 10 days.

As far as other pain, for the last day I've had some pain on the upper ridge of my cheekbone, just on one side. No idea why.

Upper gums are still numb, 99% of my nose is back now, the rest is back to normal. It feels like only a small spot on my nose is numb now. When my nose is cold while I'm curling, it feels like there's something in my nostril. Very weird and distracting.

I read a comment on another jaw surgery blog that recommended trying to whistle in order to break up the scar tissue under the lip. The first time I tried, I could barely purse my lips. Now I can kind of whistle. I still feel some tightness in my lips. I think part of it is getting used to how my teeth feel under my lips now. 

Anyway, did you notice I went this whole time (except for the first paragraph) without mentioning how much I hate the RPE? I will begrudgingly admit I am getting used to it. I roll my eyes when I see other bloggers mention it only took a day or two to get used to. It took me 4-5 weeks to stop thinking about it when I eat.

I feel like my talking is getting a bit better too. I noticed it's hard to pronounce the letter V, because my front teeth have been pushed forward. My open bite is very inconvenient and I'm still accidentally spitting out food all the time. It's embarrassing going out to eat. I'll be chewing and then some food just makes its escape. I also still need to chew with my mouth open in order to chew. I'm just all-around really gross to eat with right now.

Anyway, the photos.

Looking pretty much normal

Still slightly swollen

Showing off my very open bite

Is it just me or are my teeth coming together at a bit of an angle?

Overbite from the side. I can't wait until this goes away forever. It's one of the things I hate most about how I look.

Award-winning smile (not yet). Look how off the midline of my face is. Either my mouth is too far to the right or my nose is angled left. Either way, I'm definitely not winning any symmetry awards.

And yes, I did get a haircut and dyed it dark. Not really digging it but it'll do.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

4 Weeks Post Surgery

Hard to believe it's almost been a month already, but here we are at 4 weeks. Sorry it's long, I am writing this with future SARPE "victims" in mind!

For starters, there is only faint bruising left on the left side; the right side seems to be gone completely.

Some swelling but I think you'll see in the photos below that I look more or less normal to the untrained eye. I can feel I'm still swollen when I wash my face. My sinuses are still tender and feel like they're filled with air or something.

The numbness has really come down this week, which I am happy about. My cheek apples were the most numb before and now it feels like they have most of the feeling back, if not all of it. My gums are still numb and there is about 90% feeling in my nostrils.

Front teeth are still throbbing hourly or so. I took 2 Percocet last night as I overdid it with the chewing yesterday, and even that makes no difference with the throbbing.

So, I've been overdoing it with chewing lately and I think it's a bad idea. My teeth, even my lower teeth, are still tender and chewing harder foods makes them just ache. However, I am happy to say that my palate is starting to feel more stable, even just in the past few days. Yawning was uncomfortable as I think your palate stretches a bit when you yawn, and the RPE obviously doesn't. I was feeling a lot of pressure on my teeth when yawning. I also seem to be able to push my lower jaw forward without any pressure on my palate anymore.

My lisp also seems to be improving, and people are quick to tell me I don't sound as bad as I probably think. I find because my voice is different due to the lisp, I pay a lot of attention to sound of my voice. Annoyingly enough, the hardest thing to say is my own name, leading to a lot of repeats of it, which causes me to feel self-conscious.

I'm having a hard time keeping my spirits up about not getting braces until possibly June. I wasn't self-conscious about the gap at first but now I notice myself trying to keep my mouth closed whenever there are people around who don't know I had surgery. My facial muscles are starting to come back and I'm a person who smiles a lot, so I know the gap is becoming more and more visible as my lip gains more movement. However, I will say that compared to ALL of the blogs I've looked at, I have the smallest gap. Some of them have a gap as wide as a front tooth, if not bigger.

Speaking of smiling, it's a very weird feeling. I don't know if it's because my front teeth are pushed forward more, because of the incision, because of the numbness, because my smile is wider, or all of the above, but I feel a lot of pressure on my upper lip when I smile. It feels like my lip is going to split open. I never realized how much I smile until this, and I find myself forcing a straight face just to avoid the discomfort.

Okay so that's enough talk for now, here are the photos.

I've noticed that the centre of my top lip lines up weird with my septum. It's more noticeable when you can see the gap, which is not centred, either.

Looking much better from the side.

5.5mm gap

I can finally smile like a normal person, gap notwithstanding. You can see here my septum and gap don't line up perfectly. I'm assuming braces will fix that back up.

Before and after...not the hugest difference but still noticeable. You can see by the centre of the expander how much wider my palate is. Also, you can see a big difference comparing the width between my front 6 teeth, especially my lateral incisors and canines. I'm excited to get the expander off; it's going to feel like a total real estate upgrade!

Before and after smile...obviously a work in progress! I think things are looking a bit wider; look how far apart my canine teeth are now! Both these photos were me smiling my widest, so you can see on the right I still don't have full control of my facial muscles.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Weighty Matters

Our weight is a pretty sensitive thing, isn't it? I had 16 years of sweet ignorance before the lifelong, society-induced battle caught up with me.

I have two siblings and fortunately for them, they inherited my dad's "eat anything, never gain weight" metabolism. I was not so lucky, as I inherited my mom's "look at cake, gain weight" metabolism.

When I was a kid, you would have assumed I was going to end up like my siblings. I was tall and slender, with skinny arms and legs. Then the big P hit: puberty. Still, I really didn't think about my weight. I remember being proud every time I stepped on the scale and the number had gone up. At the CNE one year, I played a Guess Your Weight? game thing. I think the guesser thought I was 100lbs but I was actually 114, and I was absurdly proud that I was heavier than I looked.

Me at 14, terrible at accessorizing

In high school, I started gaining about 5+ pounds a year. I still thought I looked pretty good, though. I'd never cared about my weight before.

The year I was 16, I remember having a conversation with one of my friends. I can't remember what we were talking about, but I remember she told me I had "a little extra to pinch" or something like that. I'd never, ever thought of myself as fat before and suddenly, someone was telling me I was, kind of. At the time I was probably 125-130lbs (I'm 5'5½"), so obviously not even "kind of" fat, but I didn't see that at the time. All I saw was hips, thighs, stomach. I started internally freaking out. No longer did I pass over myself in the mirror when dressing, I started scrutinizing everything and deciding I hated my entire midsection, mainly my hips. Before writing this, I went through my journal at that time of my life. I wrote long tangents about how much I hated my body.

That summer, I started an extreme regimen to get skinny. I tried to eat as little as possible, and bike as far as possible every day. I wrote down everything I ate and felt proud when my calories reached only a few hundred that day. I would bike 2+ hours a day as fast as I could handle. A very slippery slope, and I knew it. I must have gotten distracted or bored with it, fortunately, because that was my only foray into disordered eating and exercising. Interestingly, looking at my journal during this time, I talk frequently about how I felt close to having a nervous breakdown. Our family was having huge, loud, mean blow-out fights nearly everyday. My family was always threatening to send me away to a group home. I hated my mom and my brother, and screamed at them constantly. I hated everything going on around me. I will admit, I was a difficult teenager. I never realized until tonight that the disordered weight obsession mirrored dysfunctional family fights (my parents separated a year later, BTW). How I never developed a full-fledged mental illness escapes me, although as a teenager I always felt I wasn't normal. I think my frequent volunteering at the community theatre and my determination to move out fought off what could have been a lot worse for me.

Me, on the far right, at 16. Not a great photo but the only one I can find from when I was 16.

At some point later on when I became a "woman," I realized I needed to learn to love my body, because somebody said so. I don't think I've ever achieved this. I don't think I know how, I don't know if I'm capable of it. I don't even know if I agree it's necessary. I know I feel proud of myself when I lift weights, but love? That's a strong word. I don't hate my body anymore, I guess I just feel ambivalent towards it. I know I love cake, and my feelings about my body don't even come close to how I feel about cake.

In the 12 years since I was 16, my weight has fluctuated about 20lbs up and down. I get serious about being healthy, but then cake. In the past 5 months, I have learned that the way I naturally want to eat leads to weight gain, and it's a long road trying to change that.

Today I stand 123lbs, less than what I weighed at 16, and I do not love my body. In fact, its continued flabbiness and my continued dissatisfaction over it bother me deeply when I look in the mirror. I still hate my hips. Honestly, I thought I would look better at 123lbs. This is a number that 5 short months ago, I would have been fucking ECSTATIC about seeing on the scale. And now that it's here? Meh. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy I'm here, but a switch didn't flip inside me where suddenly I loved my body. I think that's a very popular misconception with weight loss. It's not a magic wand that fixes all your problems. You just become a skinnier you with the same problems. That said, I don't think I have "problems" per se, just a continued dissatisfaction with how I look.

This year, one of my new year's resolutions is to start lifting weights again. It's amazing what feeling physically strong can do for your self-confidence and not to mention, for carrying in the groceries. The weight lifting needs to wait until I have less pain in my jaw, though. In the meantime, I'm going to try and think of something positive about myself whenever I catch myself staring disappointedly in the mirror. Maybe I might even learn to like my body more, I don't know. All I know is I need to do something or I will end up gaining all the weight back and learning nothing.

Anyway, I don't think I even really touched on what I meant to talk about when starting this entry. I meant it to be less about me and more about people in general, but alas, I'm not very good at talking about people in general. I hope this doesn't come off sounding like I'm still 16 years old, and I especially hope you don't think I'm pushing some kind of "omg u gotta love urself!! real women have curves!" agenda, because I'm not. This is simply a history of me and my weight. And before you harass me in the comments, no, I don't think I'm fat. I've actually never thought I was fat, just flabbier than desired.

Me as a toddler, picking my nose and sucking my thumb: exactly zero fucks given.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

20 Days Post-Surgery

Tomorrow is 3 weeks since my SARPE surgery. The time is flying!

I went back to work this week. It's been very tiring. I'm getting way less sleep on top of walking, talking, and laughing most of the day. My coworkers joke around quite a bit and on Monday, I had to go straight home to take a Percocet because my mouth hurt from laughing so much. Admittedly, not a terrible problem to have.

I don't feel like I've really made any progress since last week. I'm still just as numb as the day after surgery. My incision doesn't sting except for the odd little pain here and there. I'm getting a lot of random sensations in the part of my face that's most numb: on the right side just to the side of my nose. Sometimes it's itchy, sometimes it throbs, sometimes it tickles. I know that's a good sign but it's so distracting! As I type this, it's doing some weird tingling mixed with throbbing.

Due to talking more, I am having more pain in my palate and upper teeth. My upper teeth have been throbbing a lot, which they didn't do when I was at home resting.

Anyway, today I had a checkup with the orthodontist. He said everything looked good and my palate has widened to exactly where he wanted it. I don't have to turn the key anymore, and he threaded a wire in the RPE keyhole to hold it in position.

I was a little disappointed because on all the blogs I've read, people get their braces put on about a month or two after SARPE surgery. My orthodontist is telling me I won't be getting braces until the expander comes out in 4-6 months. Bummer. I'm pretty sure these are going to be the longest 4-6 months I've ever experienced. I'm sorry if you're a prospective SARPE recipient, but the RPE friggin' sucks. I've been pretty positive and optimistic about everything else but I loathe that expander. I sound like an idiot, I chew like an idiot, it takes me 30 minutes to eat a small meal, it's always in the way, it always has food stuck in it. 

On the bright side, at least I won't have the expander AND braces to figure out chewing with. Another good thing is the orthodontist said the gap will start closing on its own now that I'm finished turning the key. Unlike a lot of other SARPE bloggers, the gap doesn't bother me that much. The gap combined with my very open- and over-bite looks pretty terrible, but what embarrasses me is my lisp. Ugh.

Here's what I look like today.

My swelling and bruising are mostly gone, though some remains.

I see that I still look pretty chunky around my chin. I've noticed it's exceedingly difficult to push my lower jaw forward, so I think there's something going on, like perhaps my lower jaw is further back than it was. It would explain the double-chin look I have going on lately.

Still having a hard time smiling.

17 turns, plus some during surgery?

In other news, today would have been the day I'd talk about my weight loss progress. I decided not to do an actual progress post because I haven't done much in the past month to try to lose weight. I also didn't want to highlight the fact I have lost weight, but only because I haven't been eating as much. I don't want to promote weight loss via starvation.

The good thing is that I am at a point where I had to buy myself all new pants as absolutely nothing fits anymore. It's really nice to have pants and jeans that actually fit. 

Hopefully I can return to the gym sometime soon, though it still hurts just to walk.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Year in Review

2013 was a pretty great year!

January was pretty uneventful, although I did start going to the gym again. I also redeemed a free 45-minute "makeover" thing I had for Sephora.

Holy makeup, Batman

I also started another sewing class with my mom. I started working on a dress that I've never finished. I'm probably just going to pay a tailor to finish it for me since I'd likely mess it up.

Not a whole lot happened this month either, but my mom and I did get food poisoning the night of the Academy Awards.

I started a quilting class with my friends. Yeah, still not done this either. The quilt is a sampler and the finished blocks look like this:

This was a fun month because my quilty friends and I went on our quilting guild's trip to the International Quilt Show in Cincinnati. You know you're meant to be friends if you can have 4 people stay in one hotel room (2 double beds, 1 bathroom) and you're still friends after 3 nights of that. We had a great time and are planning to go on the 2014 guild trip to the Quilt Canada show in June. 

Left: Aisles of shops at the quilt show. Right: Highlight of the show for me: two of my favourite things: clear electronics and Bernina!

Another great month! Anthony's birthday, my birthday, Beer Fest, and a trip to Mexico!

Beer Fest drunk is the best drunk.

Relaxing in Cancun.

Giant Mrs. Fields birthday cookie. I have the best boyfriend in the world.

Right before parasailing!
I also started playing soccer in May. As I wrote about at the time, I was terrified to start playing again due to a bad experience playing as a preteen. Soccer ended up being a blast and I can't wait to play again this summer, hopefully with the same team.
Also, another fun thing that happened this month was that my mom and Anthony's mom finally met for the first time (we'd only been dating 3.5 years)! We went to a really nice buffet and I hope to do it again this upcoming Mother's Day.

After playing a few soccer games, I realized I couldn't deny my breathing problems any longer. I'd always known I had a problem, which I assumed to be exercise-induced asthma. I finally went to my doctor and he agreed I have exercise asthma and gave me an inhaler. It made a huge difference and I was able to run faster and longer out on the soccer field. He also referred me to an actual respirologist who agreed with the diagnosis and I now take Singulair, which has helped immensely (and I am not getting paid to say that).

This month I also reunited with two friends from high school. I didn't have many friends in high school and have kept in contact with even fewer, two of them being Kelly and Amanda. The three of us hung out one night in June and it was even more fun than high school, and this time included beer! I've hung out with both of them individually since and it's been awesome, I'm very glad to have them in my life again.

Relatively quiet month, though I did cross an item off my baking bucket list: rhubarb!! I made a rhubarb pie and a rhubarb cake. Both were yummy!

Photo does not do tastes justice.

This month started out fun when my cousin got married, and I was a bridesmaid for the first time ever!

The lowest point of the year was in August. Anthony and I went to Kincardine for a relaxing weekend but ended up witnessing a car accident that killed both drivers. I'd never witnessed anything like that before and I struggled for a month or two after. It was a huge reality check and I think has made me appreciate life that much more.

We did manage to have a nice time in Kincardine considering, though I don't think we'll be rushing back to Kincardine anytime soon.

Just before getting ourselves two giant ice cream cones in downtown Kincardine.

Toward the end of the month, Anthony and I started a weight loss bet. The bet was only for a month but we've both continued to lose weight. Oh, and nobody won the bet because neither of us made our goal weight by the end of the month. I think we're both still winners, though. Anthony has lost almost 30lbs, and I've lost about 25. Pretty awesome!!

Day before the bet began...

I started playing indoor soccer this month. In the beginning, I would get SO tired. The first time, I came home, drew a bath, and lied in it feeling like I was going to vomit. Last time I went, I barely broke a sweat. I'm so proud of how far I've come.

I also started eating low carb early in the month. Initially I was pretty freaked out by the idea but it's been going well and I really like my new way of eating. I eat so much healthier when I can't rely on bread and other carbs to fill me up. 

I started playing hockey for the first time ever! I love it, I wish I started when I was younger!

Curling started back up too. This is my 4th year playing and I'm only just starting to feel decent at it.

My awesome hockey jersey

My sister and I made infinity scarves in October.

Not much, just getting busy with hockey, curling, and futsal going on 3 nights a week, plus going to the gym. My sister and I started booking our braces consultations and went to all of them this month. I had 5 consultations, and we both picked the same orthodontist.

I went for my consultation with the oral surgeon and the very next week, had SARPE surgery to widen my upper palate.

Christmas was nice and relaxing.

By the time I went for SARPE surgery, I'd lost 24lbs! You've all seen enough photos my surgery and my weight loss so I won't bother with it.

This year went by so fast! In 2014 I'll be turning 28 and I'm hoping to continue to get in better shape, continue eating healthily, and continue to develop my sewing skills.
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