Archive of ‘2014 Jaw Surgery’ category

Jaw Surgery Recovery-13 Weeks Later

Me in a restaurant 8 months after my first surgery. Although I'm thinner than I am now, I had a lot more swelling.

Me in a restaurant 8 months after my first surgery. Although I’m thinner here than I am now, I had a lot more swelling.

Me in the same restaurant only 11 weeks after my second surgery. Although I'm still heavier than the first photo, I think I look a lot more normal and have less swelling.

Me in the same restaurant only 11 weeks after my second surgery. Although I’m heavier than in the first photo, I think I look a lot more normal and have less swelling.

Hi everyone! So I don’t know if I actually have anyone who reads my blog enough to know I missed last week, but if I do, I apologize! I have been so busy trying to juggle school, student senate, and my health problems. However, I haven’t done an update on how I’ve actually been doing recovery-wise in a while. So without further ado…

Jaw Surgery Recovery – My jaw has been healing up pretty well. A piece of plastic broke while my jaw was wired shut which caused the top right section of my jaw not to move out completely. For a while they thought they were going to have to go back in to re-brake that portion of the jaw. However, braces and rubber bands have saved the day! Since my top jaw is actually still broken (I can feel it wiggle when I brush my teeth with my electric toothbrush), they were able to use braces on the back of some teeth and pull that bone out. Now all that’s left to fix is my cross bite and some teeth still aren’t touching in the back. My doctors assure me this can all be fixed with braces.

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Appreciate the Little Things

bite appleYou know that bite mark you see when you take a big bite out of a sandwich or a cookie? That perfect chomp that is an exact mold of your teeth? Don’t take that for granted.

I never saw my own perfect bit mark until I was 15 years old, after I healed from my first double jaw surgery. When I looked down at whatever I was eating and didn’t see a mangled curve of poorly placed teeth, I burst into to tears. Everyone was asking if I was okay, wondering if I hurt my jaw. My mouth was full, so I just pointed and mumbled, “I can fee my feef!”. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy except for my grandfather, who only has one leg due to a car accident 20 years ago. (more…)

Off Antidepressants and Feeling Overly Emotional

Woman CryingThere are mixed feelings when it comes to antidepressants. Some people feel they are given too frequently to people who simply don’t understand that you can’t be happy all of the time. Others feel it is a necessary drug and many people do actually have the problem of a chemical imbalance in their brains. No matter which way you feel, I think we can all agree that taking medication is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly.

About two years into my treatment for chronic pain, it became painfully obvious that I was, in fact, depressed. I spent almost all day sleeping, was not a happy person, and frankly I had thought about suicide. I went to a psychologist and was prescribed an antidepressant as well as referred to an in house therapist. The medication (and therapy) did help some and I continued the medication up until my second surgery in November. (more…)

Six Weeks Post-Op, Sleep Week, and Deaf People

Me at six weeks. Noticeably less swelling.

Me at six weeks. Noticeably less swelling.

Almost six weeks post-op and I haven’t posted for about a week. Let me tell you why.

So after I had my jaw unwired early I was sent to the orthodontist who informed me that after 12 years of braces, two jaw surgeries, and five years of pain my bit still might not fit together. Yes, I was angry, but more than that I just felt sad. I know I’m not dying of cancer and it could be a whole lot worse, but can’t I just catch a fucking break?! Wtf jaw?! Just fit together already! Stop screwing me over! GRRR!

*Takes deep breath.* Anyway, in order to get it as close as possible they are using braces on the back of my teeth and rubber bands to pull my STILL BROKEN jaw into place. And let me tell you, it’s as freaking painful as it sounds. Right now you can actually wiggle the bones in my top jaw, that’s how loose they are.

So because of the pulling and prodding of my bones (which by the way also hurts the broken sinus bones) I have had to take more pain medication than usual. Because of the upped dose of narcotics, I have been asleep for the past week. Yup. That’s my

Had a blast with my mom and twin brothers at the Mission Inn. (The Deaf event was down the street.)

Had a blast with my mom and twin brothers at the Mission Inn. (The Deaf event was down the street.)

entire explanation. It hurt, so I was asleep. (more…)

Surprise! Jaw Unwired Early

Taking my first bite of food in a month. It hurt a little, but was extremely satisfying.

Taking my first bite of food in a month. It hurt a little, but was extremely satisfying.

So before my one month post op I had gotten pretty impatient with the whole only eating liquids thing. So I started breaking off pieces of solid food and shoving it in the space where my wisdom teeth are missing in the back. I obviously did this because I was hungry and wanted food, but unfortunately that resulted in breaking the plastic splint on the back, right side. I ended up cutting my pointer finger up pretty bad from the loose wires too. I also broke several rubber bands and one wire holding my jaw shut. Needless to say, I was glad I had an appointment.

When I got to my appointment my doctor seemed totally unconcerned. He decided to remove the plastic splint altogether, which was pretty painful with all the tugging and trying to open my mouth farther than I wanted to (my jaw is locked shut to a certain extent). He surprised me by just putting three bands in my mouth so I could open my mouth about an inch. Which means NO MORE STARVING! I then commenced plan “Eat Food Because Jaw is Unwired and I’m Hungry” that I described in a previous post. This mostly meant eating mozzarella sticks and seasoned fries from Denny’s right after I left the doctor’s office. It was freaking delicious. (more…)

Day 28 – Jaw Surgery Swelling Progression

In case anyone needed reminding, this is what I looked like days before my surgery.

In case anyone needed reminding, this is what I looked like days before my surgery.

As I am approaching the one month mark of my surgery (the official mark being my second post-op on Tuesday), I thought it was important to share my experience with swelling. It is always hard dealing with such a big change in your appearance, especially since it’s not a good one. So I decided to share with all of you the nitty-gritty photos, starting with the in-hospital post-op photos. My lips were extremely swollen and were cut up very badly, so that’s why they are so damn big. However, the swelling goes down quickly.

Now, I’m at the point where the only swelling is in the apples of my cheeks. My cheeks are still numb, along with my nose and upper lip/gums. I’m starting to get back feeling in my lip and it’s sort of painful. However, it is nice to be able to feel my lip again mostly because I’m tired of not being able to feel it when I drool. Don’t underestimate how much that can suck. (more…)

My (Basically) Service Dog

My terrier mix Winnie

My terrier mix Winnie.

You all know what a therapy dog is, right? It’s the golden retriever who acts as eyes for its blind owner. It’s the Corgi who alerts others of its owner’s seizure. Or in my case it’s the terrier mix who offers emotional support, as well as alerting my parents when I need help.

I found my dog Winnie at an adoption event in town. We originally went to get a dog my mother and brother had seen earlier, but when she had already been adopted I started looking around. I’d love to say my eye went right to her and I knew, but that’s not the case. I first saw another dog who looked calm, but when I approached proved to be too hyper for our household. When I turned away, I saw her. She had a long dirty, but beautiful, white blonde coat and was curled up while the other dogs were barking at whoever passed by. (more…)

A Starving Patient’s Dreams of Food

My jaw is wired shut. No, not just wired shut; my jaw is wired, then my teeth are blocked from behind with plastic, and then banded strategically shut. What does this mean? I’m STARVING!

The first thing I wrote when I got home from the hospital

The first thing I wrote when I got home from the hospital

In the hospital and the first week home I could only take liquid medicine along with my liquid diet. This meant that any pill/capsule we couldn’t get in liquid form had to be crushed/opened and mixed in with water and/or my other medication. And let me tell you, opened/crushed pills taste nasty. I had to wake up every four hours to take this medication, and because I didn’t want the medication burning a whole in my stomach, this also meant I drank a fair amount of chocolate Ensure every four hours. Needless to say, as soon as I didn’t have to take the medicine so often, I decided to never drink another Ensure again. (more…)

Jaw Surgery Number Two HURT!

On the “My Story” page of my blog you can get background info about what happened to me. Long story short: had reconstructive maxilla facial jaw surgery, caused chronic pain for five years, so I just had jaw surgery number two. And let me tell you, jaw surgery number two hurt like hell. A billion times worse than surgery number one even though this time they only moved one jaw. Why, you ask? Because of chronic pain. Unfortunately, over the past five years I have been on all sorts of narcotics; most recently being percocet and fentanyl patches. When you are on pain medication for an extended period of time, you have a higher tolerance to pain medication. This means if you have, say, a highly intrusive seven hour surgery, you’re going to need more pain meds than your average Joe.

UCLA was absolutely fabulous during and after the surgery, but all of my doctors highly underestimated just how much more pain medication I would need. My first memory in the hospital is me in a recovery room writhing and screaming in pain. I do not have another memory until two days later when there is a pain pump attached. Now, even with that pain pump AND the oral liquid medication they gave me through a giant syringe I was still in awful, horrendous pain. I just kept repeating,

Me three days after surgery with swollen face and lips.

Me three days after surgery with a swollen face and lips.

“If I had known, I wouldn’t have done this. I could have lived with the chronic pain”.

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