Monday, December 22, 2008

Month 7 - Not making much progress anymore

So went and had some studio shots done to hand out for Xmas. Family has all the old photos and I don't want to look at them anymore! lol Amazing how many people tell me how much younger I look. In the top photo I look like a high school grad not an MBA grad.

Still no change really in the situation. The puffiness hasn't changed much. My teeth are a less sensitive now. Am able to use my Sonicare brush again. Bottom lip still a bit numb on the right. Hope it doesn't mean it is permanent. I have feeling there but it is still creepy to touch. Like when it is coming out of being asleep. Feels tight all the time like it is dry. No amount of chapstick can help it though.

3 more months of braces, can't wait! Keeping fingers crossed I get the feeling back completely. It has still all been worth it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Month 6 - Not much change

Nothin much has changed in the last month. Lower lip still numb on the right side and cheeks are still puffy. Been having problem with the jaw though. When I yawn it seems to come out of place on the left side and hurts really bad when I close my mouth and it pops back in. Doc thinks it is just a muscle issue since I am under stress and probably grinding my teeth at night. He says as long as the pain is in front of my ear I should be ok. Have to keep an eye on it. Talked to Ortho and she thinks braces will come off in March.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Month 5 - Still on a path to recovery

Well it's been over 5 months now. I am still numb on the right side of my bottom lip and the right side of my chin. It's better then it was. Maybe only 5% number now. Still feel stiff in my cheeks where the plates are. A couple teeth are still sensitive in the same area as my lip. Had to have a tooth grinded a bit this week and it was very uncomfortable.

They moved a couple of my brackets. Those teeth hurt now that they are moving again. Looking forward to the braces coming off. Doc said it will probably be between January and March. This time I better wear my retainer!

Hope you are all doing well. Let me know if this is helping you. Send me an email with suggestions or comments. Analytics tell me that I am reaching you guys all over the world. Spread the word, I am here to help :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Month 4 - When will it end?

Sorry again for the delay. Lots of personal issues going on. This kind of surgery and recovery can take a toll on ones life. My bf moved out and since it was his camera I have not had too many photos taken lol

So it has been 4 months now and I am still numb. Doc told me today that it may take up to a year. It is getting better and better each day so I am hopeful it's not permanent. My cheeks feel a little tight. My bottom lip on the right side and the chin on the right side are still tingly. The stiffness in my chin has gone down quite a bit. It still always feels tight on my lip. As if they are really dry and shrinking. No amount of chapstick or lip balm helps though.

I can eat pretty normally now. No issues. Feels weird on some of the bottom right teeth since the nerves are still repairing so I tend to chew on the left side.

I can still feel the holes in the bones on my chin. They are filling in but I can still tell where the gaps were. Supposed to take at least 6 months for them to fill in completely.

Getting used to the new face. Luckily the hair is getting lighter and so not such a drastic change. I like the cut now. The jawline is smoothing out so I don't feel so masculine.

Keeping my fingers crossed that recovery continues!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Week 11 - The saga continues

Here is the photo I took for my badge for my new job.

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted. Today marks 11 weeks since my surgery. Got way off track. Had a death in the family and started a new job. On top of working on my MBA thesis and some personal issues I have been so overwhelmed!

So as far as recovery goes.....

Still some numbness on the right side of my bottom lip. I can at least feel that I am touching it now but it feels really odd. When I stroke my lip lightly it feels like I am actually touching my chin. The nerves are connecting oddly. When I drink something cold it feels like there is water running down my chin when there is not. My cheeks are a little numb but only like 5%.

Mostly I am dealing with a lot of stiffness all over the lower part of my face. I have to make faces all day to loosen up the cheek muscles (say CHEESE!). I look like I am lowing kisses to everyone while I am driving home to help stretch out the lip muscles and skin. I rub some vitamin E oil on my cheeks to help massage them as well.

Still debating the changes to my hair. Still not feeling very comfortable in my own skin. It's looking a little more normal to me now that more of the sweeling has come down. I think the bigest part is the jaw line. I am used to one smooth line from ear to chin and now I have some swollen areas under my cheeks, then the holes where the bone was cut, then a swollen chin. The bone is starting to fill in and the chin is starting to smooth out so it is looking more feminine. Keeping my fingers crossed that it smooths out completely in the future.

I am able to eat some hard stuff now. I can eat chips as long as they are not too thick. Still can't do croutons or anything. A few teeth on the right side bottom are very sensitive. Same area as the numbness in my lip and chin. So when I chew things I tend to chew only on the left side. Getting used to drinking from a straw. Not wearing the elastics for now. Doc said they will have to back on later in my treatment.

So life is about 85% back to normal, at least I am making progress. Tingly weird numbness much better than the complete lack of anything. Keeping my fingers crossed that none of it is permanent. Will wirte again around the 13th for the 3 month anniversay :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Week 7 - Back to the grind

So been back to work for a week now. Really hard to get back in the routine of waking up in the morning. Hard to remember to prepare my lunch and all. Not like there is anything in a vending machine that I can actually chew. Oatmeal packets are your friend.

So it's been interesting seeing people I haven't seen in 6 weeks. Most of my team knows I had surgery and they all like the way it looks. Getting a lot of compliments. There are some people who just looked at me oddly and asked why I look so different. People think maybe it's just my hair. One person actually didn't really recognize it was me. Creepy talking on the phone because it rests on my chin which I still can't really feel. Can't talk for long periods of time. Mouth was very sore by the end of one day. I could barely talk.

Got an adjustment from my chiropractor last night and now the blood seems to be flowing much better. She also has some low level cold laser that help stimulate the nerves. Right after my appointment I could feel the blood flowing in my chin. Now the feeling is much better now. Still can't feel anything on the skin but at least I can feel the pressure underneath now. Not so puffy feeling now. Tingling is a lot worse.

Was able to eat a burger tonight fairly normally in small bites. Have some pain in one of my teeth when I bite down but wasn't too bad. Even had a salad the other day. Still have to cut my sandwiches into 4 strips though and usually have to tear off the crusts.

Finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Week 6 - Recovery period over

Having issues with the camera so I didn't get a photo taken this week.

So it's been six weeks and my disability period is over. Back to work. So not looking forward to it. Had some mis-communication about when I am supposed to start. The paperwork releasing me had different dates each time.

So this week I started biting my lower lip every time I ate. It was so swollen that the biting was becoming more frequent. Put a large wad of wax on my bottom teeth to stick my lip out and away from my teeth. Worked pretty well.

Chin still pretty numb. Right side of both lips also numb but at least they are tingling. Have shooting pains in my chin as well as the phantom itching that doesn't go away no matter where I scratch.

So after six weeks I still can't eat normally. Can't open my mouth wide enough to insert anything. Teeth still pretty sore trying to chew with the front teeth. Looking forward to being able to feel my face again...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Week 5 - Identity Crisis

So today I attended a good friends wedding. Was the first time many people got to see me with the new look....

So here is an issue I never expected...

I feel like a stranger in my own body. I look in the mirror and do not really recognize myself anymore. I can't really see what the "new" me looks like yet since the swelling is not gone yet and some bone needs to fill in. Also does not help that there are portions of my face I still can't feel. Try and kiss my boyfriend and it feels strange.

I warn all of you out there that if you are having this surgery or something similar, do not make other drastic changes. 3 days before my surgery I dyed my hair. The lady says this is my natural color according to my roots. However, for my entire life I have been a redhead. This is my "identity". Apparently that changed over the years and my natural color is a dark brown. This started the crisis. I have also been highlighting my hair for many years, so looking at this single tone of dark brown is throwing me off.

My whole life I wasn't able to close my lips and my upper lip was cherubic and heart shaped. Now with the surgery I can close them and the upper looks very different. When I smile I see 6 straight teeth not just the front 2. The right side looks puffier than the left. My chin is much larger than it was before and a different shape. Where they cut the bones in my jaw there is an indention. Behind it some swelling. There used to be a straight smooth line down my jaw. This is no more.

So on top of the new hair color and new face, I have lost about 12 lbs from the liquid diet and all. So even my body has changed. Boobs are smaller, thighs are smaller. Sounds great but it just adds to the differences. I went out and bought some dresses since I am thinner and since I normally don't wear dresses this adds to the strangeness.

So we have new hair color, new facial structure, numbness, new wardrobe....So why did I run out and cut my hair shorter? Everyone likes it. I can look in the mirror and see that I look very good. It feels like the "after" photos on one of those extreme makeover shows. Yes, looks's not ME! I have spent 30 years building one identity and now almost overnight there is this new person staring back at me in the mirror. Wonder if the people on those shows feel the same.

It's frustrating not being able to get back to normal. Part of my identity was my career and now being off for 8 weeks, even that is gone. Hopefully when I get back next week the rhythm of it all will help me get used to the change. Looking forward to the day when I can chew my food without so much thought and effort, kiss my love with no strangeness, and touch my chin and not feel like it is a strange object on my face.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Week 4 - Some semblance of normality

Saw Dr. Poor for my post-op follow up appointment. I took some photos of my xrays from before the surgery and after the surgery. You can tell which are the after ones because of the wires and other hardware. One photo is of the model they have in the office to show how they cut the jaw bone sideways not across the bone.

So had a couple more interviews this week. The 4 hour one was really hard. Pretty sore afterward. Brought some Ambesol with me to numb the sore spots. Almost done with the antibiotics. The swelling is mostly gone. Have to start stretching the muscles. Can't look up all the way since the muscles on my neck are stretched out. My tongue still won't stop pressing up against the roof of my mouth constantly. A little better but still annoying. Have to remember to put it down to allow the blood to flow.

The numbness is much better. I can feel about 90% of my right cheek. The left cheek is about 70% back to normal. My chin is much better. Still only about halfway there. The tingling is not so constant. Doesn't keep me up at night. My lips are about even with the feeling. They both are about 80% of normal. Still hard to give kisses. My gums are still numb. Starting to stimulate them more since they look very light pink.

The sutures are finally starting to dissolve. Seemed to take forever. Now I can move my lips and stuff without pulling on the sutures. Have some weird skin flaps sticking out. Not sure how they are going to heal. Not chewing on the back one as much.

So the 2 weeks of soft chew are done and I am slowly working in some real foods. Actually at at In&Out on Monday. Only ate the top bun with the cheese and meat. Tore it in little squares. had to check each fry and tear off the crunchy ends. Later that night I had some orange shrimp Chinese food. Can finally feel my teeth a bit so it's easier to chew.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week 3 - Many steps forward, one back

So it's been 3 weeks since surgery and I have the wires off. I am now able to eat soft foods failry normally. By the end of the week I was able to get rid of the mirror. Can open my mouth much better. Still don't know if I have something on my chin so my boyfriend has to let me know. Getting feeling back in many areas. The tingling is much better. Still hurts to talk for long periods of time. My upper cheeks are not used to having braces so they are pretty raw.Had a 2 hour job interview and it wasn't too bad. Over the phone they didn't really notice anything wrong. Most of the swelling is gone so it's not too noticeable by strangers. Occasionally I can't get things out properly. I slur some words but I warned them up front so they wouldn't think its permanent.
So I did take one step back. I have an infection in my lower left jaw. Small acute area of swelling that is sensitive to touch. I was really tired all weekend because my body was trying to fight the infection. The antibiotics are odd. Have to take them every 4 hours and can't lie down for 30 minutes after. So when I get off track I have to wake up at odd hours of the night and sit up for a half hour. Not good for the sleep.

Looking forward to the day everything gets back to normal.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Week 2 - Recap

Wow, I can't believe it has been 2 weeks since the surgery. Amazingly, I can say they went by faster than expected. I know I would not have felt this way had I been wired shut for 4 weeks. If that was the case you would have much different posts here. I feel for those who have had that experience.

Looking back I realize, although I seemed prepared, I was not. In some cases I was over-prepared. I have a freezer full of frozen soups that will probably be tossed. Don't see a reason to drink a pureed soup when I am no longer wired. I had not anticipated the difficulty in swallowing at first. If I had known this I would have had an idea that I would probably not be able to handle soups until day 5 or 6. When you first get home you can only swallow a few drops at a time so there is no way to get much down. Ensure was my best friend for a few days but it got old fast. However, there is nothing else out there that can give you 250-350 calories so easily. But don't stock up, I have an un-opened case that I may never drink. Your caregiver can always buy more for you later. The Ensure website has some recipes to try as well.

The biggest thing was that I was just not hungry. Even now with the wires off I eat very little. Maybe it helped that I had some extra fat stored up ;) before the surgery. I did lose 10 lbs. Theoretically this is 35,000 calories burned. I still had the energy to run small errands and go on a quick trip. So, don't force yourself too hard to take in the calories. Try to at least start your day with an Ensure and keep on top of your fluids. The Ensure+ will give you the vitamins to help with healing as well as 350 calories. Remember your juices for vitamin C, preferably OJ with calcium. Remember you have a lot of bone to grow.

You will still be limited for awhile on what you can do. Make sure you ask for help! Today I went to Petsmart and had a nice employee load the bags of cat food into my cart, onto the check stand, and into my car. There is no shame in helping. Go ahead and tell them why and they will be happy to help. Be patient. This is only temporary. Everyday things get a little better. You will have a little more feeling here or there, the swelling will go down a little, the bruising will look better, you will be able to swallow a bit easier, talk a bit easier. Celebrate these little milestones on the road to healing. Look at the numbness as a good thing, you would be in more pain if you weren't so numb. Look at the tingling also as a good thing, this shows you are healing and it is not permanent.

This will be my last daily post. I will post weekly from now on. Not much is visibly changing day to day and the worst is behind me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 14 - Lazy day

Today I had such big plans. Bf was coming back from a trip and I wanted to have the house cleaned and all. Like usual during this I didn't get much of anything accomplished. One thing to remember during this is that you are healing and it should be your primary focus. Do not feel guilty or punish yourself for now accomplishing things. There is a reason you get 4-6 weeks of disability. You will have plenty of time later to get things done.

As you can see from the photo, things are getting back to normal. I can kinda smile and the swelling is not to visible from the front. From the side I just look like I have some kid-like chipmunk cheeks. Most people who don't know me won't have any clue. The bruises on my chin are down to small spots and the yellowing on my throat is almost gone. Hard to believe how much has changed in less than 2 weeks.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 13 - Rest

Back from Reno, very tired. Luckily the trip was only about 24 hours. Got home and took a 4 hour nap to recover.

Had a burrito for lunch. Scooped out all the beans and stuff. Cut up the tortilla into little tiny squares. Added a little milk to soften it up. Also added a bowl of mexi-rice.

I can finally close my lips fairly easily. My right cheek is almost back to normal. Most of the puffiness is gone and I have feeling in most of it. Left cheek still has some time to go. Still very little feeling in my chin. The tingly feeling is the worst in my chin on the right side under my lip.

Not much else going on.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day 12 - A small getaway

Today I went to Reno to play some bingo. Had my first meals in public.

For breakfast I had a bowl of cream-of-wheat, an over-easy egg, and a bowl of cut up bananas. Later I had some biscuits and gravy. I just cut up the biscuits into little pieces and saturated with gravy. For lunch I had a bowl of chili with some nacho cheese added. For dinner I had catfish, mashed potatoes, gravy, some creamed spinach. I started with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. Had to scoop out all the chicken though. Cut up the noodles and ate them. Added a couple crackers and let them get mushy.

Was more successful than I thought it would be. I set up my little stand-up mirror on the table so I could see where to put the fork. Since I still can't really feel my lips and stuff it is hard to know if I have the food in the right place. Plus I can't tell if I have food all over my face. You can eat a lot. Just remember, you can't chew very well so everything needs to be easy to swallow whole. Cut stuff up into little pieces or make it soft enough to mush with your tongue. Put very small amounts on your fork. It will take some patience. Think it took me 30 minutes to eat a bowl of chili.

Luckily the people at the airport let me bring on my Gatorade bottle. It was empty so they didn't seem to care. This is the only bottle I can drink out of easily. Still can't drink out of a cup. The nice people at the restaurants filled it for me a couple times too.

Overall the day was good. Was nice to have some distraction from the constant tingling. Better then sitting at home all day

Friday, May 23, 2008

Day 11- A day for rest

So I slept in until 11am today. Went to my chiro and did some laser therapy to help the inflammation in my jaw. When I got back I fell asleep for like 4 more hours. Apparently the 11 hours I got last night were not enough. Body is catching up for the limited sleep for the last 2 weeks. Was able to sleep flat on a normal pillow last night with no issues.

Today I am doing much better. Been doing my facial exercises often. Now I can touch my entire face. My cheeks are finally not so stiff and my chin has a small amount of sensation back. Still pretty numb feeling but at least I can feel the pressure now.

Rinsed out my mouth last night and this morning with some warm salt water. Seems to help toughen up the skin. Now I am able to survive without all the wax all over my mouth. The slurping is also much better.

Making progress!

Day 10 - Eating

So in the car ride home from my parents I took my first stab at eating. We had stopped at the store to get some baby spoons. You know the kind with the rubber ends. I had a Jello snack size. Eating is not easy. Do not expect to get the wires off and go share a nice soft meal somewhere at a restaurant. First off you can't open very wide. Secondly you still can't feel much of anything so you have to watch your self in a mirror to eat.

I was able to grab small pieces of Jello and put them on the end of the spoon and kind of scrape it off with my teeth. This was very messy. No one will want to watch you while you eat for awhile. I ended up with pretty red Jello all over my front teeth. You are basically trying to just mash stuff into the gap in your teeth now.

When I got home I couldn't wait to make some Mac'n Cheese. I made it full calorie style. Whole milk and all the butter it called for. I needed some calories! So I waited for it to cool down and I attempted my first bite. Also not easy. I kinda had to spear 3 or 4 noodle and shove them in. Mostly they just slide down the fork. Again, get some baby utensils. The forks are short so the food can't travel far down the tines. I was more successful trying to put it in side ways with the fork. It took me over an hour to eat one large bowl. I had cheese all over my face, lips, and teeth. Not to mention mashed into my braces. Had to eat with a mirror propped up in front of me.

Later I grabbed some pintos and cheese from taco bell. This was a bit easier to eat. I grabbed one of the baby spoons and scooped out one bean at a time. I turned the spoon upside down and carefully shoved the spoon into my mouth and licked off the spoon with the tip of my tongue. Took me about 30 minutes to get through the bowl of beans. I had bought a bunch of stuff at taco bell and this was all I could get down.

Here I was thinking I was gonna get all sorts of calories now. The Mac'n Cheese was about 400 calories and the bowl of beans was only 160 calories. At least the beans have 9 grams of protein in them. hope fully tomorrow I am more successful.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 10 - Liberation Day!

Today is the best day ever! Got my wires off today. Had my x-rays done early this morning and my wires came off at 11:30 AM! I am so excited. I kept thinking what if something is wrong and they don't take them off!

It was a little painful. Doc was poking around at the sutures to make sure they were not infected or anything. Kept pulling on my lips and stuff. While he was pulling on the wires my jaws were a bit sore. If you can take some liquid Motrin before you go. If you don't have any then make sure you bring some with you. They gave me a 600 mg IB before I left to help with the soreness.

He then left me a toothbrush and some mouth wash and told me to brush well. This was very hard. I could not open my mouth wide enough to really get the brush in there. You should bring one of the children's toothbrushes with you to help with this. Feels so nice to have a clean mouth again. Also feels nice to not have all those wires poking my cheeks and lips.

Once I was done he came back and put the rubber bands on me. I will have to wear these 24 hours a day for 4-6 weeks. Have to take them off to eat and to brush my teeth. These are really not easy to put on and take off. Especially since my lips are still so sore that it hurts to pull them back a bit to see the hooks.

Speaking of lips, the bottom one seems to almost be back to normal size. Still no feeling on the right side and partial feeling on the left. The upper lip seems to have full feeling on the left and none on the right. The right is also still puffy. I look a little lopsided now. Left corner of my mouth is pulling back while the right is pulling down.

Doc also gave me some exercises to do. I am supposed to regularly try and wiggle my nose. This will help me get some feeling, movement, and muscle control in my cheeks and sinuses. I am also supposed to pucker my lips like a fish regularly. This will help with my cheeks, chin, and lips. This one hurts for now since it makes the raw, sensitive skin on the inside rub against my braces. The last one is just to open and close my jaw. Even without the bands on this is hard. The first two exercises you can start doing right away. Obviously, you can't do the last one until the wires comes off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Things to Have at Home Post Op - draft

Here is my checklist of items to have at home while recovering.


Lip Balm
Ortho Wax
Stuffed animal
Facial moisturizer
Travel pillow
Bed Wedge
Heating Pad
Liquid pain medications


Dry Erase Board
Ipod (w/headphones)
Bell/ Bike Horn


Zip and Squeeze
Magic Bullet Blender
Protein Powder
Ensure drinks
Milk (whole)
Sherbert/Ice cream
Liquid Vitamin
Baby utensils

Recovery/Personal Care

Ice Packs
Bags of Frozen Peas/Corn
Jaw Wraps
Mouthwash (no alcohol)
Child size toothbrush(s)
Nasal Spray
Antibacterial hand cleaner

Day 9 - Emotional Roller Coaster

Woke up with a stiff neck as usual. Went to my orthodontist today for a checkup. She was amazed at how well I have healed. She said usually those who come in after a week are still black and blue and puffy. I have very little bruising and most of the puffiness is gone.

Took some Codeine when I got home so I could go back to sleep. A couple hours later I was awoken by the most dreaded phone call of them all. The Dr. needed to cancel my appointment to get my wires off. All week I have been counting off the days. Today was 9 days down and only 2 to go. They were supposed to come off on Friday. For some reason my doctor would be in the OR all day and had to postpone my wire removal until next week. I pleaded for them to be able to do it tomorrow since it will have been 9 days. She said that the nurse refused since he wants more than 9 days usually. She asked if I wanted to reschedule and I asked if I had a choice. I made a comment about removing them myself on Friday and hung up.

I cried and cried. I was so upset. Life was so unfair. How can I live another 4 days like this!! Monday is a holiday so the appointment would have to be on Tuesday. George came in and held me while I cried. I felt so helpless. I can't stand the Ensures anymore and soup is not enough! How was I supposed to get my calories up pure liquid!! I was actually trying to figure out if I could take them off myself on Friday. Even if only for 5 minutes to brush my tongue and stuff. Maybe I could cut the splint so it wouldn't stick out so much...

Then my phone rang again.....

I heard the magic words, she got permission to schedule my wires to be taken off tomorrow! All I had to do was reschedule my x-ray appointment so I had my records before my appointment. I immediately had George call the x-ray people and they moved my appointment to 9 am tomorrow. Called back the Dr. and was able to schedule my wires to come off at 11:30 am. Will be cutting it close but I will make it!

So instead of getting them off 4 days late, I will be getting them off a day early!! Woohoo!

Saw my chirpractor again and did some more laser therapy to stimulate the healing nerves. Was able to get down some potato soup with extra butter and milk.

Major Annoyances and Issues - draft

No one really warned me about the splint. I knew there would be one and it would be between my teeth but I did not know it would be wider than my teeth as well. If you think back to a time when they gave you one of those soft wax strips to bite down on, this is what the splint is like, except it is hard plastic. Its kinda like having mouth trays in that do not conform to your teeth on the inside. So my tongue rubs against it all day. I have this little area on my tongue where I had it pinched in my teeth. This area is like 4 or 5 taste buds on my tongue that are swollen. Very sharp pain. This is never going to heal since it rubs on the splint all day. Plus my tongue can't comfortably rest in my mouth. Under the splint feels wrong and over it feels wrong.

The other major thing is the incessant tingling from the numbness. I know this means it is healing but it is so annoying. It never stops. Hard to close my eyes at night because the nerves behind them and on my cheeks are also tingly. The best position I have found is to have an ice pack wrapped under my chin and a heating pad wrapped around my forehead really low.

My lips are extremely puffy and raw. I had places in my lips that were bleeding they were so raw. This makes it very hard to talk. I have found the best thing is to count your lips in a heavy layer of Aquaphor then cover each lip in a small strip of Saran Wrap. This seals in the moisture and prevents the Aquaphor from coming off in the middle of the night or on the straws while drinking. In one day I saw a huge decrease in puffiness.

You will be slurping a lot. Others may get very annoyed after awhile listening to this. Until you can get control over your tongue and lips this will continue. I am 2 days with the wires off and I am still slurping. Other option would be to just drool all over lol

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 8 - 1 week Post Op

So it's the 1 week anniversary of the surgery. I can honestly say it went by faster than I expected.

Last night I did not sleep very well. Went entirely too long without pain meds this morning. By the time George came back from his workout I was so stiff and sore that I could barely move to get my own pain meds. Need to make sure we have alarms set and I stay ahead of the pain.

Today I was on a mission to get the ounces and calories. Had an Ensure plus in the morning. Later in the afternoon I had some of my frozen Minestrone and was able to finish it all. Also had some Orange Juice. Was tired of the bland stuff so I made some Tortilla soup. Actually was able to finish about 12 ounces of this. Unfortunately soups are not very caloric. I added a pad of butter and some whole milk to the soup to help out. I was able to get to 64 ounces of fluids but still only had 700 calories.

As of today I have lost 10 lbs. They had said I would lose 7 off the bat, but any higher and I should be concerned. Well considering how many calories I have each day it is not surprising I have actually lost 10 total so far.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 7 - Into the outside world

Sleeping on the wedge is very hard. Kills my neck trying to support my head all night. Going to the chiropractor to get it fixed up. My dad has come out to take me on some errands. We spent some time at the chiropractor and she adjusted my shoulder to get rid of the knot. Also used some cold light laser therapy on my to stimulate the nerves in my jaw.

We went to Walgreens to pick up some liquid Tylenol and a heating pad. Also stopped by Kaiser to pick up my Codeine refill. Was hoping to go off the Codeine so I could drive myself around. Tried the liquid Tylenol but it is horrible. Takes 2 full table spoons and burns my mouth so much. Now I have just cut back the Codeine to 1 tsp every 6 hours.

All the getting out made the day go faster. Still only 600 calories today. 40 ounces of fluids. I took some dentist pliers and bent the surgical hooks down so they don't poke me anymore. Now I can take most of the wax off and keep everything clean. Only two dabs of wax where the wires are twisted now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 6 - Home at last

Headed back to my house today. Back to my kitties. Set up the air bed in the living room so I can sit back and watch the DVR comfortably.

Have cut back the pain meds to 4-6 hours between doses. Only need the ice once in awhile now.

Took a shower which helped a lot. Having the warm water on my face got a lot of the blood flowing. Was able to ignore some of the incessant tingling for awhile at least. Was also able to get some of the dry skin off my face.

Otherwise things are going pretty well now. I can take care of most things on my own. Tomorrow is my first day on my own. Didn't eat much today as usual. My ears are both popping now so some of the pressure is going away.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 5 - Not so good night

Had a pretty miserable night. My face feels like it is burning. Not sure if it is frostbite from too much ice, the nerves just coming back, or something else. Can't really get any sleep. When I lay back I instantly fall asleep. Not a natural one, more like a drug induced brief coma. I blink and the next thing I know I am awake. This is usually because I have choked, my head has dropped, or just from the pain. All of them usually means I jerk awake and feel a pull in my jaw. Can hear it creak and of course I have to tell myself I am not slowly breaking it apart.

I have not been cleaning my teeth and gums as well as I should be. As a consequence I woke up this morning with left over tomato soup left over in my teeth. It was so rancid it was making me sick. Have to make sure I keep everything clean and rinsed with the mouthwash.

So good news is that the numbness is starting to wear off, at least it increases my chances that it will not be permanent. Bad news is that the numbness is wearing off so now I can feel the acute pains, not just the general pressure from the swelling. The pain meds have me swimming in and out of consciousness and I hate the feeling but the pain is getting so bad my time consists of waiting for 2 hours to tick by for next pain med dose.

Read that the twitching and breathing problems are due to overdose from the drugs. Time to cut back. Cutting back to 1 teaspoon every 3 hours. Barely got 200 calories today.

By the end of the day I was feeling a little better. Steamed my face for awhile and was able to finally take the dressing off my chin. Feels like I have much more movement now.

Hung out outside on the patio for a few hours. Dad and George went on a drink run and brought me back a bunch of drinks. I am so sick of the milky stuff, need some clear-like liquids. They brought me some Gatorade. Looks like the Kellogs Special K protein water has the most calories.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 4 - Today feels like a good day

Woke up feeling hopeful this morning. Was able to get 3 or 4 hours of sleep at a time last night.

Got up at 7:30 in the morning. Was able to get down a Latte Ensure this morning. Had a bunch of water.

Created a spreadsheet to track my ounces and calories today. Something pretty basic but very helpful. As you can see my good day started out with a bang but after the Ensure in the afternoon I couldn't get much more down. Just not hungry. Can't take any more Ensures. Tried some soup but everything is too thick.

Here is today's excerpt:

Date Time Item Ounces Calories
16-May 7:30 AM OJ w/Pain 2 25

7:50 AM Latte Ensure 8 250

9:30 AM OJ w/Pain 2 25

9:30 AM Water 6 0

11:45 AM Water 6 0

11:45 AM OJ w/Pain 2 25

2:00 PM Water 6 0

2:30 PM OJ w/Pain 2 25

2:45 PM Vanilla Plus Ensure 8 350

4:15 PM Water 4 0

5:00 PM Water 2 0

5:30 PM OJ w/Pain 2 25

7:30 PM OJ w/Pain 2 25

9:00 PM Water 2 0

9:00 PM Soup 2 25

10:30 PM OJ w/Pain 2 25

10:30 PM Water

Subtotal 58 800

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 3 - Journey continues

Didn't get much sleep last night. No more than 2 hours at a time. Basically went through the same cycle over and over. Take my meds, put on my ice and fall asleep. 2 hours later ice has gotten warm and pain meds wearing off. Wake up and start again.

Did not eat or drink much today. Can barely swallow more than a few drops at a time. Got 25% of an ensure down but thats about it. It's 104 outside. So uncomfortable. Moved out to the recliner in the living room. Very comfortable.

At one point today I could barely breathe through my nose. I had been warned that I would be stuffy but I hadn't noticed it much yet. So I remembered that the class suggested to clean my nose with a 50% diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and qtips. I did this and pulled out a large chunk of nasty dried blood and snot. Every since I can breathe! My ears are still pretty plugged.

Went for a walk tonight when it got dark. Was able to walk to the end of the block twice and back. Sat outside with some stray kitties for a bit.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 2 - Home from Hospital

I was let go from the hospital around 9am. I was given some nausea medication and pain killers right before I left. I got home climbed into bed and passed out. Woke up a little while later and needed more ice and pain meds. I have to say the Tylenol with Codeine tastes horrible! After many trials and errors we found that the best combo was 2 teaspoons of meds and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Otherwise the pain med burns so much going down that you will choke. The worst episode of choking was on the pain meds.

I started out slowly to make sure I wouldn't get nauseated taking the meds. 4 teaspoons is hard to take at once. This also leaves a period where you are tapering down to nothing before you can take more. I have found the best way is to take the 2 teaspoon concoction every 2 hours. At night we cut open a Benedryl capsule and add the powder. You can just pour the pain meds, OJ and Benedryl in a little cup then slurp it into the syringe.

The pain is very minimal. What you feel the most is the pressure and tightness from the swelling. I cannot have the ice off my face for more than 5 minutes. I feel like I have to have it on at all times or my face gets tighter. I am using the jaw wraps with the gel packs. I alternate the location.
  • Under my chin to reduce the swelling in my neck, this helps with swallowing
  • On my chin, to help with the swelling on my jaw
  • Across my mouth and cheeks, to reduce the swelling her and loosen the lips
  • Across my nose, this helps reduce the swelling in my sinuses, which helps with breathing
  • From the top of my face the the bottom vertically on each side
Haven't had much to eat or drink today. No clue how I am going to get to 2000 calories.

Tips and Tricks for your Hospital Stay

They give you these large ice bags that hang on either side of your head. These will come in handy while at the hospital. However they are very cumbersome and do not rest well on your face. I highly suggest you get the jaw wraps from the zip and squeeze people along with the bags. Each of the bags has a tie at each of the 4 corners. When they first give them to you they just tie the top 4 together and the bottom 4 together. This leaves a large knot at the top of your head which slides on and off your head too easily. I found over time that it worked best to tie the front top two together tightly so they rest above your forehead and the back top 2 together so they rest near the back of your head on top. This allows more of a ring around the top of the head to support it. This also allows the bags to rest more on the front of your face and not across the ears. For the bottom you just want to tie as tight as possible. I suggest bringing something to hold the two pieces across your mouth so the bags rest on your cheeks. Something like a safety pin, a jaw wrap, or a scarf will work. The ice is a little chunky so make sure you knead it before applying it.

The other thing I highly suggest is one of those U shaped travel pillows. With all that heavy ice hanging from your head you need something to support your neck. I kept trying to tuck the pillow under my neck and tilt my head up. Later I got this pillow and it worked wonders. For the hospital I suggest you turn the pillow upside down. So the bottom of the U is under your neck and the legs of the U are at your ears. This will keep your neck supported and hold up the ice as well. The travel pillow I have has a little zipper in the back so I could remove stuffing if it was too big.

I also brought with me a large stuffed fluffy cat. This served two purposes. He brought me comfort but also served as a good place to rest the arm that had the IV. Originally it was in mt left arm under my elbow. This spot was eroded and started pumping into the skin not the vein. they moved the IV to my right hand. The little kitty supported my hand in his nice cushy belly. A small travel pillow will also do the trick.

You should also bring your syringe-like feeder thing. This will help with the water, juice, and soup broth they bring for "dinner". You are so swollen and out of it nothing else really works at this point.

You might as well go to the hospital dressed in your PJs are something else comfy to go home in. You will not really get a chance to change into anything else until you leave. I never touched my robe or slippers.

They provide ointment for your lips 3 times a day but if you want it more often I suggest Aquaphor and some Qtips to apply.

Recap of what you should pack for the hospital:

  • U-shaped travel pillow
  • Scarf/jaw wrap/pin
  • Mirror (to see the damage and apply lip stuff)
  • Ipod/earbuds (I suggest the Detaching the World, all volumes, acoustic guitar for massage and relaxation)
  • Aquaphor and qtips
  • Small travel pillow (rectangular)
  • Syringe feeder
  • Your fav juice (they bring you apple, grape, cran)
  • Something cozy to go home in

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day 1 - Post Op Experience

So I woke up from the anesthesia and all I recall is someone sticking tape to my chin and Dr. Poor swimming above my head saying my name over and over. At first I panicked because I could not breathe through my mouth very well or through my nose. Thought I was gonna suffocate. They calmed me down and I was better. Was very hard to swallow.

Something didn't feel right. I was convinced they had pinched my tongue between my teeth. I could move it one direction but not the other. When I tried to swallow it was hard because the tongue was stuck. The nurse called the doctor but no one really believed me. They thought I was having the usual difficulty swallowing. So I wait until a morphine dose kicked in and right before I fell asleep I pulled as hard as I could to get my tongue out. Luckily it did. Now I could move my tongue in all directions and swallowing was a bit easier.

The staff was very attentive. I would say too attentive. I was never left alone for more than 90 minutes. DO NOT EXPECT TO SLEEP MUCH! They were waking me up to give me Morphine every 2 hours. I had to pee every 2 hours. They give you anti inflam drugs and anti nausea drugs every 4 hours. They also come in to check your stats (BP, heart rate etc.) every 4-6 hours. These usually do not correspond properly. I had a roommate so when they were not helping her with something she called for and waking me up, they were waking her up to help me. I don't know why they thought 4:30 am is a good time to wake me up and make me stand on a scale to see my weight. I basically spent the night swimming in and out of a Morphine stupor.

Something else which hindered my sleep was the humidifier they had on me. It was pumping water along with oxygen into my lungs. Since you had a tube down your throat this is supposed to help keep your throat moist and not so scratchy. However, it is very loud. Also after a few hours the water began to condense in the tubing. When it did this the apparatus made a "knocking" sound which would wake me up. I would then have to tip the tubes back and forth to drain the water into the bag. I also found it was making me cough deep in my chest like I had pneumonia. Also not helpful for sleeping. Around 4am I asked them if they could turn it down or check it because it seemed to get noisier. They ended up turning it off. My pulse ox didn't go up so they were happy and I was happy and most of all my roommate was much happier.

I was very grateful my mom spent the night in the chair next to me. The biggest help was having her there when I had to pee every 2 hours. I was so out of it from the drugs I couldn't walk to the bathroom and didn't want to bother a nurse to unplug the IV either. Luckily they had one of those little chair like toilet things next to my bed. Was much easier just to stand up and use that than have to walk all over with my tail hangin out my robe. But if your loved one does plan on staying let them know they will also not get more than an hour of sleep. Mom brought a book and a flashlight. They gave her a blanket and a pillow. Around 6 am I felt so bad because she looked so tired I tried to not wake her and go to the bathroom by myself. I was fairly successful.

Only once did I feel nauseated. I had gotten up to go to the bathroom early on. With all the moving around I started to feel sick. Luckily I was able to sit back and breathe and nothing came of it. Called the nurses and they quickly came and gave me more nausea meds.

They let me go home around 9 am. Twice they brought me Jello and I was really curious how they thought I was supposed to eat that.

In my next post I will have some tips and tricks and what to pack for the hospital....

Day 1 - PreOp

So it's the big day. Woke up at the crack of dawn and headed down to the hospital. Check in was pretty simple. Headed upstairs to the prep area. Mom came in with me. They gave me my gown, booties, and pretty little hair net. I put everything and hopped up into my bed.

Even though it said only 1 visitor they let my dad and George come in and sit with me too until they were ready for me. Nurse came to prep me after a bit. Gave me some liquid (tasted like sweet tart gone bad) and a couple pills. These were to settle my stomach and lower my blood pressure for surgery. She also prepped me for the IV. They injected the area with Novocaine to help deaden the area for the IV. The prick hurt a little but the push of the Novocaine hurt worse. Didn't feel the IV at all though. She sadly informed me that she had bruised me.

The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me as did Dr. Poor's assistant. Soon they were ready to wheel me away. Family was able to follow me up to the doors of the operating rooms. Hugs and kisses were exchanged. Dad told me I could still change my mind if I wanted.

They wheeled me into the little recovery area prior to the surgery and that is when it finally hit me and I started crying. What was I doing? What was I thinking? What if I didn't make it? What if it went wrong? What if I don't like it? Dr. Poor came to say hi and calm me down. Assured me I was in good hands.

They wheeled me into the operating room and slid me onto the table. Put some blankets on me. Asked me for the 20th time what my name and birthday was and why I was there. They were impressed and laughed when I used the fancy terms. Everyone said hi and I was soon fast asleep.....

Monday, May 12, 2008

My last supper....

So the surgery is tomorrow morning. Have to be at the hospital at 6am for a 7:45 surgery. This is it, my last real meal for 6 weeks!

George and I packed everything up to head to my parent's place. They live near the hospital and mom was taking the week off so this will be home base for awhile. Laid everything out and showed mom how things worked. Tested out the wedge they bought me for the bed and everything seems set.

We headed out to Black Angus for my last supper. I opted for some crab cakes for an appetizer. Had the 6 oz Filet Mignon, salad with Thousand Island Dressing and baked potato. Of course we had to get a crappy waitress who didn't pay much attention to us after taking our orders. Our steaks showed up before our salads did so I was not able to savor my last salad for 6 weeks. She also did not bring us bread until we asked for it still not until halfway through the meal. Otherwise it was very good.

We got home and I tried to get to sleep early. George and I usually don't sleep well in a queen bed so I planned to sleep in the King with my mom. Dad is still recovering from Gall Bladder surgery so he was sleeping in the recliner in the living room. Mom had taken a nap earlier so she could not sleep and was keeping me up with the light on and constant page turning of the book. I went in with George and was able to get a few unrestful hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 5am...

Before Photos

Here is the before photo of my very gummy smile and double chin:

Side view of chin:


Last trip to Ortho - evils of surgical hooks

So today is the day before my surgery and I had to go to the orthodontist to put on the little hooks to hold the wires. These things are torture devices. If you can wait until the last possible moment to get these put on. They had wanted to put them on 2 weeks ago and not I am so glad I said no. They stick way up past your teeth and do wonders on the inside of your lips and cheeks. I had to cover both the upper and lower row entirely in wax just to survive the night.