Thursday, June 25, 2015

2 Weeks Post-Op Double Jaw Surgery + Sliding Genioplasty

Wow, 2 weeks already! The first week felt like a lifetime, and the second week flew by.

I kept pretty busy over the last week. I've been trying to get out and do one normal person thing per day. This week I visited my mom, hung out with my sister, and saw some friends.

Today is the first day I woke up without any pain at all. The pain in my right TMJ is gone (woo hoo). I went all the way until about 5 or 6pm without taking anything. I went out to a store with my dad and the drive plus talking was enough to bring on some pain.

Nothing has really changed since the last time I wrote. From now on, I will likely only update once a week unless there's something else worth writing about.

There is now nowhere on my face that is 100% numb. My chin is probably 95% numb; I can slightly detect pressure on it, but it's very uncomfortable. It also throbs about 22 hours a day. My lower eyelids are about 90% numb; slightly more feeling than my chin but not much. My palate and gums are still numb as well, which is very odd when I drink something too hot. It burns my tongue and select areas at the back of my mouth, but that's it.

Still eating 3-4 times a day. I want to focus on eating slightly healthier things this week. I discovered how easy it is to make drinks out of donuts, brownies, and cinnamon buns. Not a good path to stay on. In total I've lost 7lbs, which is what I put on over the last 2 months knowing I'd be without my favourites for awhile.

One positive side of this surgery is that the skin on my face looks amazing. My nose has been very oily but my cheeks and forehead are clear and so much healthier looking than normal. My usual skincare regimen involves washing my face twice daily, using lotion after washing, and wearing makeup. Since surgery, I wash every other day (maybe once per day max) and use witch hazel 1-3 times. No makeup (except eye makeup) and no lotions.

Anyhoo, here are some photos and a video!

Pre-surgery left; today right. Wow, my nose is much wider, although I'm confident some of that will shrink when the swelling goes down a bit.

Greasy! The side is also more swollen.

Jawline is coming back on this side!

Pre-surgery vs last night. I still can't get over how good I look from the side now...and this is my more swollen side. Honestly, it makes me giddy when I see how different I look! It's already a big boost to my confidence.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Unexpectedly Jaime Crappy

Since getting my surgery, there have been a few crappy things I didn't really anticipate.

1. Having nothing to do and all the time in the world. I took 6 weeks off work. Here I am on my 9th day off and I have no idea what to do with myself. I'm normally a restless person. On Saturday mornings, I wake up and get right to work doing errands. I don't like sitting around doing nothing, so that part of my healing has been unexpectedly annoying.

2. Having the time and energy to leave the house but being too embarrassed to talk to strangers. My lips still don't really move when I talk, so the letters M, P, B, F, and V are a struggle. Anthony insists I sound fine and have nothing to be embarrassed about, but it's easier said than done.

3. Being unable to smile or laugh. I can chuckle, but if something gets me right in the funny bone, it's excruciating. I have to avoid anything too funny. I started watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix but had to shut it off since last week because the episode I was on was too hilarious.

4. Being worried all the time that something isn't right with my teeth. This is a common one for people with braces and/or who had jaw surgery. I generally trust my orthodontist and surgeon, especially since both have been working (and working together) for a long time. But I'm no stranger to the idea that there are risks and complications, and it's entirely possible something could go wrong. And when #1 above applies, it gives one a lot of time to think and obsess.

5. Seeing or reading about other people who can smile, eat, or talk better than I can at the same point I am post-op. I watch YouTube videos of other jaw surgery patients and some of them can talk so much clearer than I can right now. Or they're talking about already eating soft food. Or they can close their lips completely. While the rest of us are on liquid diets for 6 weeks and having to repeat everything we say, they're already so much more back to normal. I guess it's good I took a ton of time off work...

6. Waking up every few hours to squirt water into my desert mouth. Since my lips don't close yet, my mouth gets dried out while I sleep. Since I came back to Sarnia, my sleep has been much lighter, causing me to wake up every hour or so (usually only for a few minutes). I squirt some water in my mouth and go back to sleep. In the morning, I'm surprised to see how much water I actually drank overnight! Last night I probably woke up a good 6 or 7 times.

In other news, I got a phone call from my ortho's office today. My ortho and surgeon were conversing and apparently decided I need more hooks and elastics. Thus far, I'd only had 2 elastics which is very uncommon compared to every blogger and fellow jaw surgery patient I'd read or talked to. Most people have several elastics holding their jaw closed, while I've been here all willy-nilly and loving it.

I was in the orthodontist chair for nearly an hour getting poked and prodded in all the tender places. Just having someone rest a finger on my chin is very painful. It's 6 hours later and my face is still unhappy with me. The whole thing put me in a funk tonight.

I am definitely having a "this sucks" day. Hopefully I don't get any surprise phone calls tomorrow!

Monday, June 22, 2015

11 Days Post-Op Double Jaw Surgery + Sliding Genioplasty


I haven't made a post or video in the last few days since virtually nothing has changed, except the swelling is down a bit more.

Since you last heard from me, I spent a few more days lounging around Ann Arbor before coming back to Sarnia. Anthony had to go away on a work trip. Yes, it sucks being married and living apart, before anyone asks.

Hanging around the apartment with my dad is not nearly as comfortable as recovering at Anthony's. For starters, I only have a 21" TV and basic cable. The most comfortable place to spend most of my time is in bed, which I dislike, because my room is hot and I don't like being in bed all the time.

However, it is nice to be reunited with my cat, have access to my car, and the option of visiting friends or family.

A few days ago, I was inspecting my new bite in the mirror and I noticed my left side is VERY open; as bad or worse than pre-surgery. I spent 48 hours panicked I was going to need a second surgery. I'm not the worrying type but I honestly couldn't stop thinking about it. Fortunately I had an appointment with my orthodontist today, so I knew I'd get an answer. My orthodontist said it's perfectly normal and so far, everything looks great. He even complimented my brushing. So basically the appointment went much better than anticipated!

A funny story before I get to the benchmarks. So, I live with my dad. We don't really talk much outside of day-to-day roommate stuff, so he doesn't know much about my surgery. I realized how little I must have talked about it when we had this conversation last night:

Dad: So when do you get it out?
Me: Get what out?
Dad: I mean, when do they cut the wires off?
Me: What wires? Ohh, I'm not wired shut! I just can't talk because of the swelling.
Dad: Oh. You going back to work tomorrow?
Me: I don't go back to work until July 27th!
Dad: Ohhhhhh.

Anyway, the benchmarks:

Energy: Still about the comes and goes. I feel good in the morning and get tired by late afternoon. I've been lying down for an hour nap lately. I try to get out of the house at least once a day; it does wonders for my sanity.

Sleep: I had a bizarre sleepless night a few days ago, but other than that, I sleep about 7-9 hours straight through, waking up once to take some Ibuprofen. Still sleeping sitting up on my memory foam wedge.

Pain: My right TMJ aches every morning starting around 4am. My chin also throbs most of the day and night. I've also been getting a daily headache. That's about it...all of it is very manageable with Ibuprofen.

Swelling: coming down at a snail's pace, of course.

Numbness: My lower lip came back the other day but the feeling is still quite dull. I think my nostrils have also come back quite a bit as well. I have very faint feeling in my lower eyelids and I can detect some feelings of pressure on my chin (which feels awful).

Muscle movement: It's getting slightly easier to close my lips. It makes rinsing with the Chlorhexidine much easier as well as eating and drinking. I'm not really drooling anymore unless I'm looking down at something (so no sewing for me just yet).

Eating/drinking: I eat 3 times a day: an Ensure for breakfast, and generally soup for lunch and dinner. I made one of the recipes from the Dinner Through a Straw book my surgeon gave me. It's a pureed potato and cheese casserole. The book said it made two servings but it filled an entire ice cream container and it's very filling, so methinks two is going to be more like 15. I've been able to drink more water lately as well.

I have not had any alcohol or coffee since surgery, although at this point it's probably fine to indulge a bit since I'm off the Percocet.

Other: I bought some vanilla syrup so I can make vanilla iced coffee so I will be doing that sometime this week. I try to have things I can look forward to doing. I'm also looking forward to being able to have an ice cream cone, and to riding my bike. I think I'm going to wait a few more days before pulling my bike out of storage. It's going to be quite a chore getting it out, and I'm still a bit scared of going over bumps.

Here are some photos! No video since I don't feel up to it tonight.

Lips are getting closer together every day. The bruise on my neck is nearly gone.

Profile My nose looks much smaller than it used to (though it's hard to tell in the current photo above). It's still a different shape than it was pre-surgery but I kinda hope the new shape sticks around; I like it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Days 5 and 6 Post-op Double Jaw Surgery and Sliding Genioplasty

The last 2 days have been much better than the 2 that preceded them. I'm feeling slightly more normal and I actually find myself hungry, which is kind of a nice feeling after 2 days of nausea.

Anthony and I made the 340 mile round trip yesterday to see my surgeon in London. My surgeon and the assistant were both impressed with how little swelling I have and how much feeling I already have back. They installed a temporary hook on my left central incisor (front tooth) to help torque my jaw over to the right. It was uncomfortable while they were poking around my swollen, sore lips but I felt better about it when my surgeon said, "I'm amazed you can even feel that."

They took my x-rays which I will post below. I have to say, I was shocked when I saw I have 2 large screws in my chin rather than the usual plates. Ever since then, I can't stop visualizing my face having a drill taken to it. My chin, in psychosomatic revenge, has been extra sore. My chin is actually throbbing as I type this, which I can't be too mad about because any feeling at all is a good sign.

I was smart and brought 2 Zip-N-Squeeze bags with me. You know what works great in a Zip-N-Squeeze? A McDonalds vanilla milkshake. It was the fastest I've eaten anything in days.

Once we got home, I was pretty tired. We did manage to take a walk around the block...I think. Unless that was day 4. It's all starting to blur together.

Today was also uneventful. More Netflix. I'm not a TV watcher but I have definitely gotten my money's worth out of my Netflix account this past week. I'm almost done season 3 of Orange is the New Black, and I've started watching Grace & Frankie, which in some ways is actually funnier than OITNB.

Anyhoo, here are the benchmarks:

Swelling: slowly coming down. I started taking bromelain again and I've been using heat packs 2-3 times a day for about 15 minutes at a time.

Numbness: Upper lip is probably 90% back. Only half of my lower lip is back and that half is tingly. Cheeks are fine, under eyes are still numb, nose is fine except for my nostrils which are about 70% back to normal.

Facial movement: I can make a snorting face (if that makes sense) briefly. I can feel my muscles move when I try to smile but it hurts. Laughing is very painful and makes my muscles ache and the incision sting.

Pain: in my right jaw joint and in my chin. Taking less Percocet and more Ibuprofen, but going 5-6 hours without meds today. Talking gets tiring very quickly and I have to take breaks from it.


October 2013 (pre-treatment) vs June 16, 2015. Please join me in a round of "holyyyyy craaaaaap." Check out my chin! Ugh no wonder it hurts.

What you are looking at:
Upper jaw: plates on either side of my nose. Outside of those are 2 wires threaded through the bone to allow flexibility.
Palate: You can see my transpalatal arch wire running along my palate and hooking into 2 teeth
Lower jaw: 2 plates
Chin: scary looking screws
Teeth: brackets with the arch wire and tons-o-cavities


24 hours post-op.

2 hours post-op.

Even though I'm super swollen, I am already liking my new profile.

Bruises and double chins.

And from the archives...

Pre-treatment and the day after SARPE.

And last but not least, please watch as I drool down my chin and don't notice for the entire duration of the video. Sigh. It hurts too much to spend another 8 minutes talking.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Days 3 and 4 Post-Op Double Jaw Surgery + Sliding Genioplasty

Hello! I have made it through the better part of 4 days post-surgery.

Day 3 was brutal. I woke up with a bad taste in my mouth, and was having a hard time eating or drinking due to nausea and severe pain. In the early afternoon, the pain peaked and I ended up crying for awhile, which makes the pain and congestion so much worse.

The day is mostly a blur of weakness, nausea, and Netflix. I felt better briefly in the evening but the nausea came back in the evening. I had a good night's sleep but I felt pain when I woke up. I think I might need to start setting an alarm to take Ibuprofen or Percocet in the middle of the night.

This morning (day 4), I was even more nauseated, and could barely stand to swallow water. I decided to have some Gatorade and see if that would help. I lied on the recliner while the nausea escalated. I didn't vomit during SARPE so I figured I wouldn't this time either. Wrong. I got up and knew it was coming. Mentally, it's excruciating. Physically, it happened very quickly, and wasn't painful. I instantly felt better.

I lied on the recliner for a few hours, hoping my system would settle down. Anthony went out and got me some Gravol (antinauseant) and I have been doing much better since I started taking it. I drank an Ensure shake (from the bottle!) and had a small bowl of soup (with a spoon!).

I'm hoping I don't go downhill again because my human being should have to go through what I just went through. If it means taking Gravol a few times a day for the next few days, I can live with that. I decided to stop taking my vitamins until I'm eating more and can stomach the pill salad a little better.

Getting some new tingling in my cheek. Jaw joints still feel sore. Some yellow bruising on my neck.

I think the swelling has gone down ever so slighty.

Here are some photos!

Bruising on my neck

I made another video as well:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Surgery Day up to Day 2

I'm alive! Here's what I've been up to since Wednesday night. It's going to be long.

Anthony picked me up in Sarnia and we were off to London for my last night of normalcy. We had dinner at Moxie's and then had a beer at Toboggan Brewery. It was a really nice night.

I literally set 6 alarms that night and I lied in bed absolutely petrified I was going to sleep through them. I only got maybe 2-3 hours of restless sleep.

Finally an alarm went off around 5:10am. We got up and walked over the hospital (I had gotten us a hotel nearby to avoid double parking fees). From there, everything went pretty quickly. I got called into the pre-surgery area within minutes and hooked up to an IV. Anthony and I had some time to sit there and chill out before they brought me away around 7:45am. Before SARPE, I lied on my stretcher in the OR hallway for an hour, so I expected that again. Not so...I wasn't even in the hallway for 5 minutes before I found myself hoisting myself onto the operating table. The assisting resident surgeon was so young, oh man. He looked like he was my age (29). They put the oxygen mask on me and off to sleep I went.

The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out and I was SO HOT. I was totally out of it but I was ripping my blankets off me and struggling to break free of my fiery bed covers. I could hear the nurses say, "I think she's hot, get the blankets off her. Oh wow, she's drenched, poor thing." My gown was soaked in sweat!

The first few hours after surgery were absolute hell, I can't even sugarcoat it. The surgeon had told me he was going to pump me full of freezing before taking me off anesthesia. I was so frozen I couldn't feel my tongue or any part of my mouth. My mouth was so dry and I needed to swallow, but I couldn't feel anything. I also felt like I couldn't breathe. All I did for about 2 hours was stare at the clock and tell myself I must be breathing because I could see the clock ticking. I felt like I was going to die at any moment.

Because of the angle I was lying at, blood kept trickling into my lungs. Along with staring at the clock, I spent the 2 hours wheezing and coughing up blood, but it was going nowhere because I couldn't swallow. Every time a nurse came to check on me, I complained I couldn't breathe or swallow. Eventually they brought my surgeon over who said he wasn't concerned about it.

They asked me a few times if I was in pain which I was not, so they decided to wheel me up to my room around 1 or 2pm. I really wanted to see Anthony. As the nurse was getting me settled in, Anthony showed up. At that point, I got emotional and had a panic attack while struggling to breathe. :( I don't know why, but the nurse seemed unconvinced by my whining and pretty much ignored my pained wheezing. I decided to try and be more positive after that when she came in the room, and she got much friendlier with me from then on.

My nurse didn't want to give me water until I could prove I could swallow, but I needed to moisten my mouth before I even tried. I poured a bit of water in my mouth and was able to swallow. You can't even imagine how happy I was. I'm not sure what time that was...maybe 3pm?

The rest of the day was spent lying in bed. The hospital no longer offers in-room TVs so I watched Netflix on my phone (couldn't reach my iPad). I watched The Intouchables, one of my favourite movies. They brought me dinner and I was able to drink the apple juice and tomato soup, with a spoon even. I didn't have any elastics in which is unusual compared to all the blogs I've read.

Anthony came and went a few times. I was doing okay with just the nurse's assistance so I wanted to him to go out and enjoy himself in London while he had the chance.

I was able to get up a few times for a walk and to use the restroom.

I slept on and off from 8:30pm-7am. I brought earplugs and wish I had put them in, as it was pretty noisy in the hallway. My surgeon came to see me in the morning. He showed me how I've spent 29 years of my life holding my jaw to my side to compensate for my asymmetry, so I'm going to have to learn to hold my jaw over to the right from now on. He put on 3 elastics on my brackets and said it would help. He told me to take them out to eat and brush my teeth, but my lips are so huge and I am managing fine leaving them in. I also forgot to bring the spare elastics with me to Ann Arbor, oops. I see my midline has already improved since yesterday.

I didn't anticipate I would have to consciously hold my jaw in the proper place and it sucks. I would probably rather have the splint and/or surgical hooks to hold it in place for me.

The surgeon told me the surgery went really well and that it actually went faster than planned. I think it was about 3.5 hours but I'm not totally sure (he booked the OR for 4 hours). Everything went according to plan: Lefort I, bilateral sagittal split osteotomy, and sliding genioplasty.

Now that I'm in Ann Arbor, I've been staying in bed watching Netflix. It's pretty boring and my back is hurting from being propped up for 2 days straight. Really wishing I owned an Ultramatic bed right about now!

So far, everything I've bought has come in handy except for the large syringe and the pure Lanolin. They gave me ointment at the hospital for my lips so I've been using that instead.

Swelling seems to have levelled off as of yesterday and surprisingly, I haven't bruised yet. It's been weird looking in the mirror and seeing a different person! My profile looks totally different. I am excited to see the final product.

As far as my bite, I really can't feel it right now so no comment on that yet. I am worried I'll bite down on my swollen cheeks so I haven't been too keen to practice biting.

Feeling is coming back a little bit. I can feel my upper lip now and my lower lip is about 50% feeling. Chin area is at 0%, cheeks are about 80%ish, lower eyelids are 0%.

Here are some photos and a video!

I am so excited to see what my face is going to look like and to get back to normal life and normal eating.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pre-Surgery Video

I made this video last night to talk about preparing for surgery, which is TOMORROW!

I'm off to London tonight with my husband where I will eat a delicious "last" supper before surgery and hopefully get a good night's sleep.

See you on the other side, folks!
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