Monday, December 26, 2016

1 Year


Right before. With glue still on teeth. Polished Teeth.
SURPRISE! I GOT MY BRACES OFF!!!! 364 days after my double jaw surgery, I was freed from my metal mouth cage. I knew for a few weeks now, but I was trying to surprise my mother so I couldn’t let it slip on the blog. I am SO over the moon about this and I can’t even describe how happy I am with the results.

I went in the morning before I was scheduled to get them off because I had a very small, but a noticeable gap in between two of my teeth. I figured that if my braces were coming off the next day, I only had one day to make any last second tweaks. I knew how easily my teeth move, so I just had them throw a power-chain across the front and it closed the gap up almost instantly.

I went in the next morning, OH WHAT A GLORIOUS MORNING. I’ve heard it can be painful to get braces off, but it was really nothing compared to everything else I’ve endured these past two years. Once they popped the brackets off, they took a good 30 minutes to grind all the glue off and polish my teeth. I was super worried that I would have really yellow teeth, or yellow teeth with weird white spots where the brackets were, but that wasn’t the case. I was very pleased with how white my teeth were considering how much they’ve been through. Obviously, I’m still planning on whitening them a little more, but it’s nice to be able to smile confidently right away. After they had polished everything, I went back for retainer impressions. I hadn’t had to bite into that goop since I had braces the first time around (age 10). Then they sent me to the lab again to get final scans and my “after” picture for the wall of smiles.

I came back at about 3pm to pick up my retainer. The top fit
gloriously, but I had to take new impressions because the bottom one didn’t fit for some reason. The next morning I went back and picked up my bottom retainer and I was finally set. I have to wear it for 18 hours a day for a few months to really make sure my teeth are staying in their place, but then I can move to just at night.

AH IM JUST SO HAPPY! This is the best Christmas present that I could ask for. During the few days leading up to Christmas, I kept having flashbacks to how miserable I was exactly a year ago from whatever moment I was in. I remembered how on Christmas Eve I literally thought I was going to die because I felt so weak and hadn’t eaten in three days. I almost made my mom take me back to the hospital. Today I laughed about it (well kinda, it's still kinda too soon, so we like cringe laughed and were grateful that it was over). It made me really grateful to be past it all and moving on with my life.  The only thing I really have left is my final appointment with my surgeon. He may or may not want to get rid of my chin dimple. We’ll see. I can take it.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive throughout this whole journey. Before and After pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

11.5 Months

*sheepishly sneaks back, avoids the fact I haven't kept up with the blog and was MIA for 4 months*

I'm just gonna jump back in. I still have braces. My birthday passed, Thanksgiving passed, and I still have metal in my mouth. ALSO, it has been quite an interesting few months.

I went in at the beginning of October and I was told that they wanted to implement a "slingshot plan" on me. Like what even is that, right? I got a whole schpeel on what TAD's are (Temporary Anchoring Devices) and was shown a diagram of what they wanted to do to me (omg).
Mine was slightly different looking
Basically, they wanted to screw in two TAD's to the roof of my mouth, then attach a sling-shot shaped wire that would attach to two rubber bands, that would attach my front teeth and pull them back very slightly. I guess even though my teeth are straight, my front teeth were still 2mm or so, too far forward. Using this method, they could pull them into position without compromising the angle. Awesome concept, its proven to work, my orthodontist has done a million of them. So I said, okay fine. I've come this far I might as well. I scheduled my appointment and went in to get this done. Disclaimer: My description of this experience is not a dig at my orthodontist in any way. I'm just describing what happened to me personally. They numbed the roof of my mouth with a few shots which was fine; unpleasant but nothing major. Then they screwed the first screw in. I couldn't feel it, until the last couple turns. Since the screws were 8mm long they butted up against or may have pierced through my sinus cavity. I could feel the last couple of turns as it hit some nerve in my nose. It wasn't excruciating, but I started tearing up from the discomfort. Second screw goes in, same thing. Then he decided he didn't like the placement of the first screw, took it out, and put another one in. That sucked, more tears. Then it was another hour of keeping my mouth open (which is still hard to do even 11 months after surgery) while they glued, shaped, and attached the slingshot portion. Not a fun trip but I knew it had to be done and that it would help me. Two weeks go by, it's annoying and gets food stuck in it but it's not a huge deal.

Yep, you bet those came from my mouth.
UNTIL the morning that one of my rubber bands breaks. I freaked out. It was Saturday and I knew I wouldn't be able to see them for at least two days. So in fear that it would pull unequally on my teeth, I figured I should cut the other one off as well. I didn't think much of it, but called first thing on Monday morning. They were closed so I went in first thing Tuesday morning. I fully expected them to replace the rubber bands and send me on my way, but NO. With my luck, there was a slight problem. When I first got the screws in, my doctor described it like this: When you hang a painting on a wall, a very small nail can hold a large amount of weight perfectly fine. But once you take the painting off the nail, the nail comes out of the wall very easily. When I took all the tension of the rubber bands off of the screws, THEY STARTED COMING LOOSE. They told me the screws were too loose and they needed to take them out even though my teeth hadn't fully moved yet. Now this is the one part I wish would have been different. They removed the screws from the roof of my mouth without numbing me at all. It was extremely painful and it was made worse by the fear that they might have to re-do the entire procedure. But this time God smiled down on me and the doc told me we weren't going to put them back in. The holes healed up fine within a few days and didn't get infected or anything. (its the small victories)
Awww look at the gross yellow teeth :)

YIKES. I was mostly upset because I had to go through so much discomfort in such a short span, only to learn it hadn't worked all the way. I would love to be an advocate for this procedure, but I honestly didn't have the greatest experience with it. It has worked for many other people and extreme cases, I was of course just a rare case.

I got my next set of wires and was told to come back in a month. I had my most recent appointment last week. I was really hoping to get my braces off before the end of winter break but at this point I don't even care anymore. Originally I was only supposed to have them on 4-6 months after surgery. This is month 12...whats 2-3 more right? I still have two sets of sure smile wires left, but I might be able to skip straight to the last set next time. Even my younger siblings are getting their braces off before me. ugh. At least I don't have any extra contraptions in my mouth anymore. Just gotta wait it out. The finish line is in sight people!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

7 Months Out

I found an old picture where I had a similar styled selfie, so I put my old mouth and current mouth side by side for a little comparison.
WOW sorry about that. It's like I fell into a coma or dropped off the side of the earth or something. You'd like to think that, but once again, I've been so very busy. By popular (or just a normal amount) of demand, I have returned to update you on my face.

Since we last talked (...4 months ago...) A lot has happened, but also nothing has happened. By that I mean my life has been so full and busy, but guess what...I still have braces. Long story short, I went in for the 4 month appointment, and I was told I should go in for another set of suresmile wires and start another plan. So I did, and I went through 3 more sets of wires to get everything all nice and perfect. Then I left for camp for two months, which I'll say more about later, and was told that I could get them off the week between coming back from camp, and heading back to school.

So that brings us to today. This morning I went in bright and early knowing I had done a great job and not broken a single bracket, KNOWING for sure that today was the day I'd bloom into a beautiful butterfly. But then I sat down in the chair, and the doc came over and I did not hear ooh's and ahh's from him. Rather I heard the oh's and the ehh's. He told me that there were a few things that he wants to fix because although they feel good, my teeth aren't aligned perfectly yet. This means a whole other suresmile plan again and who knows how many more months of braces.  I was so frustrated that I started to cry in front of him and honestly gave a little attitude like, "Well don't I get a say in this?" and I was about ready to just demand he take them off. But I remembered that as much as I wanted them off ASAP, I hadn't even had them for two years and some kids have them for like 5. I just really wanted to get them off before school started, but I guess that wasn't in the cards for me this time. I had it all planned out too, the first thing I was going to do was buy an apple and take a big bite into it. But that will just have to wait.

Okay so I worked at a Christian Kids Camp this summer and one of my favorite ice breakers was to tell the kids of my titanium jaw. They'd ask all sorts of questions and then I'd tell them I'm practically a cyborg. Also while at camp, I WAS SUCH AN OBEDIENT PATIENT. I avoided all apples, tough candies and anything that might possibly break off a bracket. I also took fabulous care of my teeth, ask my roommates, they had to listen to the waterpik engine late every night. And I also told like everyone and their mother at camp that I'd be getting my braces off today...and once again I feel like a doofus.

So now I start dealing with the mental let down of not turning into a butterfly- juuuuust yet.

The only traces of the surgery left at 7 months out, is that my face is still loosening up in places and I still can't open up as wide as I used to. I never realize it unless I try to whistle, make absurd faces that I used to be able to make, or eat a large sandwich.  Everything else feels 100% normal which I am so SO grateful for.

They're gonna give me a call in a month when my sure smile wires come in, and I'll see what the time estimate is from there. At this point I'm just hoping to have them off by my Birthday and no later than Thanksgiving. I'll let you know when I know lol.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Survival Tips for Recovery

I've spent a quality chunk of time on this- trying to recall every last teachable moment from my recovery. What worked, what I regret doing/not doing- YOU'RE ABOUT TO GET IT ALL FOLKS. If you've read all of my posts throughout recovery, you've probably picked up on some of my recommendations. I'll try and address all aspects of recovery as to answer all your questions and help prepare you for what is to come.

Prepping for Surgery:

If you're going ahead with this surgery, I assume you've had all the crazy extensive "before" pictures taken for the records. I wish I would have taken my own, because I don't know when/if I'll ever get a hold of those. I would suggest taking your own pictures of your teeth and face shape before you get braces, after you get braces, and about a week before surgery. When this is all just a memory, you'll look back and wish you had pictures of before. Plus it will make you appreciate the changes even more.

Here's my list of items to get before the surgery.

  • $1 Picnic Ketchup and Mustard Bottles- you can find them in the dinning section of any Walmart. I used these to eat and drink everything for the first two weeks. (I got so used to them that I forgot I looked insane in public when I would drink from them) You can also purchase them in clear if you can't handle the fact that it looks like you're drinking ketchup. 
  • Mira-lax or similar powdered laxatives. You won't really be able to swallow pills for at least the first week, otherwise I would suggest regular laxative pills. Mira-lax is SO important. The hospital heavy narcotics will stop you up real quick and eventually make you nauseated. The sooner you can clean house, the better...
  • Recliner/Lazy Boy- If you don't already own a recliner, borrow one from a friend or buy a second hand one somewhere. I tried to prop myself up in bed with pillows, but it just wasn't comfortable. You will most likely be living in this recliner for the first week, so make sure its comfortable and can lean back well. 
  • Neck Pillow- This was a LIFESAVER for me. My neck got super sore after the first night of trying to sleep with real pillows propped all around me. I slept 100 times better after I got one. It also helps with the nasal draining and bruising because it keeps your head tilted up while also supporting your neck. 10/10 would recommend. 
  • Humidifier- I recovered in a very dry climate so I found this especially helpful. It helped the drainage in my sinuses and just made me feel a little more hydrated.
  • Water Pik- If you don't already own a Water Pik, WHY NOT??? I actually got one about the
    time I got my braces on, but didn't ever use it. About a month before surgery I got it out and tried it. I. was. shocked. at the amount of food that came out of my braces even after brushing. The Water Pik in general made me feel like I was getting a cleaner mouth, but it was essential during recovery. You can't get a brush in your mouth for the first two weeks or so, so I used the Water Pik on its lowest setting with the little tooth brush extension. It obviously wasn't as good as really brushing your teeth, but it made a difference.
  • Boob cream / Vaseline- Yeah I said it. Go out and find yourself a nice tube of nipple cream. It works wonders on your poor swollen lips. Make sure to get the kind with Lanolin in the ingredients. If you get Vaseline, I recommend the Cocoa Butter flavor, it's a lot more pleasant and smells nice. 
  • Baby Burp Rags- In the spirit of feeling like an actual infant for a week, invest in a pack of burp rags. I would say use regular towels, but these were so soft and convenient, they might just be worth the splurge. I propped one of these bad boys under my chin and it did a fine job collecting all my drool. Its also nice to have one handy when you're attempting to eat or drink anything. 
  • Comfortable clothes- This one is pretty self-explanatory, I only changed clothes once the first week, but it helps to have soft clothes that you're comfortable in. I also had a robe which was nice because it made bathroom trips easier, if you know what I mean.
  • A bucket- Either for trash or for possible vomit, this came in handy for me. Not to scare you, but its a good idea to keep a bucket near-by just in case you can't make it to the toilet in-time. Not everyone gets sick, but its good to be prepared.

Food Recommendations:
Sadly, your surgeon will probably inform you that you are not allowed to chew ANYTHING for about 6 weeks. This seems like an eternity, and for the first month, it is. Especially when you start to get cravings for anything and everything that you absolutely cannot have. So you will need to be mentally tough. And if you can't its okay, I cried during a commercial for Cupcake Wars. No shame.

While there are a million things you CAN'T eat, lets focus on all the things you can.  

Is apple sauce a food group?
  • Apple Sauce
  • Baby food (stick to the fruity ones unless you can stomach mashed peas)
  • Juice (or a juice, apple sauce combo)
  • Gatorade
  • Chicken/ Beef Broth
  • Milkshakes (thinned with milk)
  • Very very well blended soup purees (add water if you need it thinner)
  • Ice Cream
  • Fruit Smoothies
Seems like almost nothing right? Well this is the stage where you'll probably drop a few pounds. But don't fret, you'll be able to eat more soon!

I'm obsessed.
After the first 4-5 weeks:
  • Ramen, noodles in general
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Soups with soft vegetables 
  • Very soft vegetables
  • Cooked Fish
  • More Apple Sauce
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Anything mashed up with milk (cake, cookies, brownies) :)
At this point, you can really eat anything you want as long as you can mash it against the roof of your mouth and not chew it with your teeth. Then, once your surgeon thinks your palette and jaw are stable enough, he'll clear you to start experimenting with chewing. Learning to chew again is a strange thing and can get frustrating. But stick with it and practice chewing by chewing gum when permitted. It'll help you train your jaw muscles how to move again.

 DO's
  • Have someone to take care of you for the first week. A friend, a parent, sibling, significant other, whoever you are comfortable with seeing you in your most vulnerable state. I can't imagine having gone through those first 72 hours without someone's help. 
  • Drink as much water as you can. The first three days are pretty much a clear liquid diet. I wasn't really even that hungry because of my nausea. 
  • Take FULL advantage of the suction stick when you wake up from surgery. When you finally come to in the Hospital, they should give you a suction stick so that you can suck up excess blood that might be in your mouth. DO IT. I didn't start using it until about halfway through the night. And by then, who knows how much excess blood I had swallowed. I didn't swallow enough to make me sick, but I think it added to my nausea. 
  • Get up and move around the house. Being stuck in a bed or recliner for a week isn't much fun. I did a daily lap around the house to feel accomplished. Eventually I worked my way up to mile long morning walks at about 3 weeks out. 
  • Have a full supply of movies or TV shows ready to be binge watched. There was no way I was going to have the mental capacity to read a book, but I was able to handle quite a few Disney movies.  
  • If they offer to write you a prescription for anti-nausea meds to have at home, take them up on it. I didn't think I would need them, but then I got home and was so nauseated that I couldn't even take my pain meds. At least have them so that if you need them, they'll be there.

DON'Ts

  •  Crying. Don't do it. At least not for the first week or two. I found this out the hard way when my roommate called me to tell me she had gotten engaged. I had only been home from the hospital for a few hours and was still pretty drugged up. I couldn't control my emotions and started blubbering like a baby. My sinuses started draining all the blood and gunk that was in them, into my empty stomach. Pretty much right after that I got sick and threw up what little I had in my stomach. So try to be as chill as you can during the first week. About the time they tell you its okay to blow your nose again is probably when its safe to cry. 
  • Don't blow your nose. This really only applies to the people who are having the 3 piece upper done or someone who also had a deviated septum repair. It sucks, and its super hard, but don't do it. I recommend getting Q-tips and cleaning your nose out as needed. Just don't blow. 
  • Don't wait too long to take your next dosage of pain meds. This is especially important the first week. Try to stack them within 20 minutes of each new dosage so that they don't wear off and leave you in pain. 
  •  Don't feel sorry for yourself for too long. Afterall, you did pay them to do this to you. You get like a 2 week grace period, then after that you should probably toughen up a bit.


BLOGS THAT HELPED ME A TON:

Please keep in mind that everyone's experiences are different and some people heal at different rates than others. These were all super great resources that I used to help inform myself before surgery.

https://roxsjawsurgery.wordpress.com/
https://www.doublejawsurgery.com/
http://mymilliondollarsmilee.blogspot.com/
http://survivingjawsurgery.blogspot.com/
http://www.twojawsurgery.com/p/recovery-timeline.html


I hope these tips help you with your recovery, each of the blogs above have their own lists and tips that helped me. It's good to look at them all because you can learn from others mistake and find what will work best for your recovery. I wish you good luck in your recovery, and remember that it WILL be worth it. :)

3 Months Out

I apologize for not posting for a few weeks, but hey, now I have a lot to update about!

That's me cheesin' on the far left.

I had my LAST WIRE put in yesterday! That means that I'm only a month away from possibly getting my braces off!! The Doc said everything looked really good, a "Grand Slam" in his words. He also had me switch the locations of where I wear my rubber bands, are from my front teeth to the canines. I look a little less crazy now. While I was at the orthodontist office, they pulled up my before pictures and it blew my mind how bad my bite used to be (and my face lol). They told me when I get the braces off, they'll give me copies of all the before and after pictures so you can all laugh and point at the old me.

I'm pretty used to my smile and face now! All the swelling is gone and I'm loving how all my teeth fit together. Chewing is almost normal again. I've eaten tougher meats now, steak, shrimp, sausage and its gone pretty well! I'm eating chips now, which takes a little more effort, but its doable. I'm at the point where there's almost nothing I can't chew except for raw vegetables and nuts.

I have FULL feeling in my face (hallelujah). The only numbness or nerve tingles I still experience are when I'm brushing my teeth. My gums are still in the process of coming back so sometimes I brush a spot and it'll send tingles through my gums. That's fine with me though, I'll take numb gums over numb face any day. The stiffness is also slowly disappearing! I've been practicing whistling and I think its been helping. My lips now close and look relaxed without me having to force them. AND I can successfully do the duck face, so my selfies may once again be fabulous.

You bet I captured this masterpiece.
I hiked down to Havasupai falls (in the Grand Canyon) and my face was 100% fine. No throbbing, no pain issues, nothing! My friends and I hiked close to 30 miles total in 3 days. If nothing happened with that kind of exertion, I think I'm good now. Side note: If you're ever considering a big backpacking trip, I would HIGHLY recommend Havasupai Falls.

I went on a trip with my College Honors Program, and while I was getting to know everyone, I probably told my jaw surgery schpeel at least 20 different times. I have the short explanation on lock now. Other than when people ask me about it, I usually forget that I even had the surgery! Its so freeing, but now I'm just dying to get the braces off. I'm long over these yellow teeth too. The day after I get my braces off, I'm getting a deep clean and then whitening these bad boys. I can't believe I'm already at this point in the grand scheme of this whole process but I'm extremely excited for it to be over. :)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

8 Weeks Out

I went to visit my brother, we look more like twins now (even though we're not)
As of today, its been exactly 60 days since my surgery. TWO WHOLE MONTHS. I've been one busy girl; being a full time student, working out, running a website, my schools athletic Instagram account, and working in the game room. Also this was the week when I was finally cleared to play volleyball again! I was so pumped to be on the court again, but then I actually jumped into a drill and I was instantly reminded of how out of practice I was. I am SO thankful that I waited the full 8-9 weeks as suggested by my doctor, because the first ball that was served at me, I took to the chin. I kid you not, it bounced off my arms and hit me square in the face. I guess I've been away too long because my depth perception and reaction time were SO off.

I went in last week for an Orthodontist appointment and once again, he said everything looked good. I apparently only have one more top wire and then I'm technically done. Then they re-evaluate me and see if they want to make any last minute changes, and if not, then the braces come off next appointment! I can't believe how soon it all is- MY BRACES COULD BE OFF IN TWO MONTHS. And if time keeps flying like it has been, that's super soon.

Updates!

Chewing:

I've started chewing more tough and crunchier things lately. Its almost the end of the 9 full weeks so I've been testing the waters a bit more. The good news is that nothing really hurts when I bite into anything. I've ripped of pizza bites, although its not a clean bite because I'm still timid, its still a bite! I've chewed more meats including chicken and ground beef, I had some soft sausage as well. I've been attempting to eat sandwiches with soft bread and that is going well. I've also tried eating cereal again which is divine. After I hit the 10 week mark, I think I'll be in the clear and eat whatever I want without fear of dislodging something.

Exercise:

I'm back into full fledged beast mode! Two weeks ago, when I would jog or run, I could still feel pockets of swelling in my face jiggling. Now there's nothing at all and I can do every exercise that I was doing before. No problem!

Breathing:

The doc said most people report feeling a better sense of breathing after the surgery because when your chin is pushed back it closes your airway. I never thought I had any issues breathing and I never snored so I haven't felt any improvements. I seriously cant tell any difference in my breathing whatsoever.  It was a nice thought though Doc.

I'm going to post my tips page in a few days, I've put a lot of thought into it so its taken a while to compile. But hopefully that can be a huge help to some of you as you prepare and get through surgery!


Saturday, February 6, 2016

6 Weeks Out!

Yeah I almost forgot to post this week... that is proof that life goes back to normal!

My Surgeon kindly agreed to take a picture with me.
I had my 6 weeks post-op appointment this week. It was my last appointment with my surgeon until my braces come off. They want my to come back so they can take their "after" pictures and brag about what a good job they did on me. I'm super excited for that appointment because that'll mean I'M FREE. Also I'm hesitant to post any before pictures because I feel like it'll take away from the whole dramatic "before and after" unveiling. So stay tuned for that post. At my appointment, I was expecting him to clear me to chew whatever I wanted. But he wiggled my upper jaw, said it was still a little loose, and told me to continue the soft food diet for the remainder of the next three weeks. They say that my bone will be 100% healed at 9 weeks and I'll be good to go! Chewing to my heart's content. They also cleared me to start exercising as much as I want, meaning lifting weights running and exerting myself. I'm not allowed to play sports for two more weeks because if a ball were to hit me the wrong way, my face could move and eventually heal wrong. So as much as I hate not being able to train with my volleyball team, I think I can wait at the cost of my face.

I'm keeping super busy as usual so time flies and I occasionally forget I had the surgery in the first place. My speech is back at about 95% normality. The only time I feel like I have a lisp or awkward movement is when I'm smiling and trying to talk at the same time. My upper lip still has a tiny little bit of stiffness which is still prohibiting me from closing my mouth when its relaxed. Don't get me wrong, its definitely improving, but its not normal yet. And my chin feels pretty stiff still but I don't really need my chin for much at the moment. This is the best news yet....THE NUMBNESS IS ALL GONE! Even though there are still areas that have some tingling left in them, there isn't any place on my face that has no feeling. I can't even tell you how happy this makes me! (Shoutout to my Surgeon)

Let me preface this next part by saying I am so extremely happy with my results. I'm only 6 weeks out but my bite is perfect and fits beautifully. However, like I have read on other blogs, its been kind of a trip getting used to my new face. Its really psychological and it's not that I don't like myself when I look in the mirror, but its freaky. I saw myself one way for 20 years and now I look different. I tried not to make a big deal out of it or tell anyone, but I had some rough days these past few weeks. I've also had some freaking bomb days where my confidence is through the roof. Here's a picture of me on a day I was really feeling myself lol. As a side note, now that people are used to seeing the "new me," the general consensus is that my face looks thinner in shape. That it looks slimmer. Looking at pictures I feel like my nose looks wider when I smile, but maybe there's still swelling I don't normally notice? Only time will tell!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Weeks Out

The first picture of me taken by someone else (since my surgery)
Good News friends, it does get better! Once again I blinked and a week flew by. I am so thankful for the distraction of school because it helps me to feel normal again. Today I yawned super big, and for the first time it didn't hurt. I think the popsicle stick stretching is paying off. I can open my mouth up about the width of two fingers. While this seems painfully small, I feel like my mouth is at max...openness I guess? IT FEELS WIDE OKAY. And then I look in the mirror and realize its almost nothing. I thought school would drain me, but it really didn't, so I did what all recovering jaw surgery patients do, and got a job. I like to keep busy so why no be paid too, right?

I had an Orthodontist appointment this week. He and all the assistants said I look great, but I think they are obligated to say that since I'm paying them thousands of dollars to fix my teeth. This visit, they were scheduled to fix a bracket that came off during surgery. They couldn't fix it last time because I couldn't open my mouth wide enough and it hurt like hell. So they fixed it and changed my bottom wire. I'm now on track to perfecting my smile and being done with braces once and for all! There's a small chance I'll have to go through the whole 'Sure Smile' process again depending on how drastically they feel my teeth need to move. If so, Ill get them off in June. If not, probably April!

Havasupai Falls baby!
I also have been attempting to exercise more. When I can fit it in, I try to walk on the treadmill or on campus. I tried to really push my heart rate on the treadmill (just to see what would happen) and I quickly realized why they want me to wait a while to exert myself. I could literally feel the roof of my mouth and my jaw pounding. So for at least one more week, I'm not gonna try jogging or lifting weights. I recently went with one of my friends to our local lake and did a mild hike around there. Its was beautiful and it was really nice to hike again. In April, I have the opportunity to hike the Grand Canyon down to Havasupai Falls. I'm stoked but I'm realizing I need to get in amazing shape as soon as I'm allowed to. The hike is 2 miles down and 10 miles into the canyon. I've heard its super hard and I'm basically a pile of dough right now... so I need to get on that.

I've had a week of realizations too. When I was hiking, my friend took a picture of me and I realized it was the first picture of me that hadn't been taken BY me. It was so crazy to see myself from a different view and see how different I really do look. I think it will still take a while to get used to my new face. My friends are slowly getting used to it, but I have a feeling my mom is gonna freak when she sees me for the first time again. Heck, I still stop and stare at a mirror when I see myself. But the best part is honestly that my teeth all fit together. Something else kind of blew my mind this week. My speech is ALMOST normal again which means, people don't know anything happened to me in the first place. I met a gentleman today and I realized that, he will never know what I used to look like. No person that I meet from now until I die, will ever know the face that I had for the first 20 years of my life. They will only know who they see before them now. And I don't know why, but that was crazy to me! Not that I'm a new person now, but I'm slightly less self-conscious now. I think that when I get my braces off, I'll have waaaaaay more self-confidence. I really can't wait for that. :)

I only have one week left until I'm "technically allowed to chew." 6 weeks is almost here!! I've been trying to force myself to experiment with chewing my pasta, but its so foreign and weird. While I can chew through the noodles easily, I don't have control of my cheeks yet. I've discovered that we literally rely on every mouth muscle to eat our food. My lips still don't close comfortably. Today I was stretching my face, AND SOMETHING POPPED. It didn't hurt or anything but it was so. weird. It might have been nose cartilage or maybe it was the tightness under my nose releasing? I don't know, but if I suddenly have all my feeling and control back, I'll be attempting to pop my face more. I should also note that my bottom lip has been super sensitive and it hasn't gotten any better yet. Even putting on chap-stick is still uncomfortable. My gums are slowly coming back; I can feel all my bottom gums, but my front top ones still have no feeling. All the numbness is my face is gone! I'm super surprised because most people have at least one patch of numbness somewhere on their chin. The only thing still slightly numb is the upper left lip. Go figure. But lip, I love you, I need you, and I want you back. Please come back to me.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Month Out

Wow how time flies! I woke up and was like, "HEY. You made it a month with your new mouth." So I gave myself a little pat on the back and went back to sleep. Just kidding I had class- that's right I started school again this week. Its been interesting seeing and hearing everyone's reactions. Some people say I look pretty much the same, others are blown away at how different I look. Its really quite entertaining running into people who didn't know about the surgery, and watch them scan my face trying to figure out what is different. I've been trying to avoid bringing the surgery up to anyone and everyone I meet just because I feel like I'm oversharing and because its difficult to explain to a stranger. Plus I didn't want people thinking that I was just seeking attention. So I only tell people if they ask, or if I start to talk weird and have to explain myself.

8 Popsicle sticks wide.
Its been glorious to be able to eat soft foods again. I've had a lot of soft pasta, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. Since I've been cleared to smoosh food against my palette again, I've transitioned into the phase of "if it fits, I'll eat it." I can only open my mouth about the width of a finger. So if I can get it thru that gap, I'll eat it. Things I've "tongued" to death include, soft cookies, PB&J sandwich, pancakes, and Tuna. Its uncomfortable but it beats a strictly liquid diet. I've gained about 3lbs back which is good because that means I'm on my way back to my healthy weight.

I've started trying to get my jaw mobility back. I read somewhere to use Popsicle sticks to lodge your mouth open. So far at my best, I can open 8 Popsicle sticks wide. I do this about once a day for 10-15 minutes intermittently. One minute in, 30 seconds rest. If It starts to feel normal, or no longer hurts, you can add another stick and repeat.

I go back to the Orthodontist office next Monday. I'm hoping I'll be able to open my mouth wide enough for them to fix my missing bracket and replace my bottom wire. One thing is for sure, I'm going to take a percautiously large dose of IB Profin before I sit in that chair again.

The Numbness is actually really going away. I can feel almost my whole chin again! My bottom lip is still tingly and sensitive, but my upper left lips is still kinda numb. The stiffness is starting to subside, probably because of the face exercises. I still can't close my mouth comfortably, it still feels forced and looks weird. I'm sure its only a matter of time before I get it all back! 

Also, no matter how much I brush, I think the damage is done. My poor teeth are a dingy yellow. They are healthy and clean though, just stained from having braces and from not being able to brush for two weeks straight. I can't wait to get them cleaned and whitened when this is all over! :)))


Friday, January 15, 2016

3 Weeks Out!!

Can I get a WOOT WOOT?
This Gelato really hits...the SPOT...
It's week three and almost everything is getting easier. I am more active, taking in more calories, and getting even more into my Netflix shows.. yeah, while I've been getting out more, its also exhausting. So for the time, Netflix is still my go-to for relaxing. Plus I'll be returning to school in a week, so I'm enjoying all the screen time I have left.

Today was my three week appointment with my Surgeon AND my first post op appointment with my Orthodontist. First stop was the orthodontist, and what I thought would be a short, sweet, "wow, looks good" appointment, quickly turned into an hour long cry fest. He poked around, and stretched my mouth more than I had hoped. He decided that I was ready enough to have my segmented pre-surgical wires taken out and replaced by the usual single braces wire. Sometime last week I figured out that I was missing a bracket on my right back molar. Turns out it came out during surgery, and they forgot to tell me. So I spent most of the week freaking out, thinking the thing had somehow entered one of my open mouth wounds and was lodged in my face forever. ANYWAY, my orthodontist wanted to replace this bracket but after lots of jaw stretching and tearing up on my part, he could not get his tools down there to fix it. I was relieved because I had already had my mouth open to max capacity for 30 minutes. So they just replaced my top wire and told me to come back in a week. Its not the orthodontist's fault that I'm such a baby, so I'm thankful that they're so flexible with the timeline of my post-surgical braces appointments. :)

I'm adoring my new profile. :)
Next up was the Surgeons office. It was a magical visit. As soon as I sat down in the chair, *POOF* my surgeon appeared. He had me open and bite a few times and wiggled my top jaw to
make sure it was stable. Then he said the words that I had been dying to hear for weeks, "MASHED POTATOES." But it didn't stop there-oh no. He continued on to say I could even start to chew very soft foods. He said I could have Mac & Cheese, oatmeal, soft pastas and Ice Cream. I was NOT expecting him to tell me I could chew anything at all until 6 weeks so I was totally caught off guard. I literally got teary eyed when he told me. Partially because I was already emotional from the traumatic appointment before, but also because my brain partially shut down from happiness overload. You try going three weeks on a strictly liquid and mush diet, and then come talk to me. They told me everything looked good, answered my questions, and said they'd see me in three more weeks.

In celebration of this milestone, my mom took me to get Gelato! I asked for a sample but it was too big to fit in my poor wounded mouth. The lady looked at me like I was psycho as I tried to open wider to shove the sample in. Nothing, not even weird looks, was gonna stop me from eating gelato... That night I got KFC mashed potatoes and mac & cheese. Let me tell you, wow. Mashed Potatoes never tasted so good. I tried to chew a cheesy noodle but quickly lost it in my cheek. This is gonna take some serious time and patience to re-learn how to chew again.


Numbness and Stiffness
The numbness is slowly going away as I get sensation back. Its not quite feeling yet but really prickly when I touch parts of my face. I've figured out that my speech is awkward still not because of the numbness, but because of the stiffness. The Doc told me that the stiffness will go away with time and I'll eventually be able to close my mouth without looking forced.

Pain & Swelling
I switched from my fluffy pillow to my flat pillow and the next morning I woke up feeling super swollen and in some pain. I think that maybe sleeping completely flat is not the best idea yet...switching back to my fluffy pillow as we speak. In general, the swelling is like 95% gone. Only I can tell there is any left. My pain is really only in the morning when I wake up and its just a dull soreness. Now that I've started chewing soft stuff, I have a little more aching but its tolerable.

At least its not creepy anymore..

I go back to school this week which should be interesting. My biggest worry is just my talking, but I doubt anyone will make fun of me. I just wish I didn't have to introduce myself in every class. I'll probably end up telling everyone I had Jaw Surgery just so they don't think I'm having a stroke. I feel like I have 98% of my energy back now, and I'm on my way to getting back to a healthy weight. I can't wait to start lifting weights and running again! In about 2 weeks I'll be allowed to jog/run and lift light weights. Still not too much bending over, but I'll make it work! Life is starting to slowly feel normal again and I'm excited to be with all my friends again. I'm hoping time will start to pass quickly so I can get to the part where I get my braces off. :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Two Weeks Out!

My emerging profile

For those of you still keeping track, its been 14 days since my surgery.

In the grand scheme of things, I've had a somewhat pleasant experience so far with recovery (compared to other people). I've read about people who had complications and lingering problems, but I've encountered very few issues. This isn't to say I haven't had my fair share of minor "pain in the butt" problems, but I'm realizing how blessed I am to be recovering well.

So what's changed over the past week?

Eating 
I've self-graduated myself to eating my soup mush with a spoon! I take my front bands off to do so, and I don't know if my surgeon would approve...but I do it anyway. I also used a straw properly for the first time!! Milkshakes taste so much better through a straw than through my ketchup bottle. It might be too soon, but I've started mushing up pieces of cake with milk so that I can have my cake and eat it too (haaaa).
I've discovered over the past week that a lot of foods don't blend well. Most foods actually. I've learned that I like a lot of foods because of the flavor/texture combo. Once you take away the texture and blend, lets say a pizza, it just becomes salty mush... Thanks, but I think I'll just wait to enjoy pizza the correct way. :)

*side note* I'm only on week 2/6 of no chewing, and I didn't realize it would be this hard. Prepare yourself to be bitter anytime you see someone eating anything..

Talking
Other than eating, this has been the most frustrating part of recovery. My mouth is slow to move and still is very stiff. I am now 90% understandable, but I sound and look ridiculous when I talk. I do mouth exercises that I read about online (make a kissy face, then open as wide as you can) but I can't really tell a difference yet. My smile is less creepy than before, and it doesn't hurt to laugh anymore. I still feel like one of those ladies on TV whose had a ton of botox injections.

Sleeping
I got my first few nights of solid sleep this week! On Sunday night I was told I could lose the incline and sleep flat again! It's really a miracle how much better I feel the next day when I've had a full nights rest. Not to mention you heal in your sleep. I actually find that my face feels most tingly when I start to fall asleep. My body is just itching to get better!

Numbness

I've seen other bloggers make these to explain the numbness in their face. So as of January 5th, 2016, these are the locations of the numbness that I feel in my face. A lot of full feeling has come back to my cheeks, but my chin is still pretty numb. I labeled it as sensation because I can feel when my finger is on it, but it mostly feels like tingles. The red is where I am still completely numb. Its extremely annoying in my nose because there's lots of nose itches that refuse to be cured with a scratch. Not super fun, but also not a huge deal. The progress is slow, but each day I have a little more sensation/feeling in different parts of my face. The patch under my eye is confusing when I put makeup on, but I'm sure it'll come back with the rest of my face. 






Pain
The pain is totally manageable now. I only take some IB Profin before bed, and as I feel necessary during the day. The bruises on my chin are also starting to disperse and get smaller.

Swelling
The swelling is about 88% gone. I can feel my jawline and all the bumps and bones. Most of the swelling left is in my cheeks and chin. Most people say I look normal, but I look in the mirror and see the layer of chunkiness. I just want to be able to see my cheek bones more defined. Once I can see them again, I'll know the swelling is all gone. This is going to take a while as the swelling can take up to a year to completely disappear...ugh.

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS
  • I brushed my teeth with toothpaste for the first time.
  • I've gone out in public about 5 times now (and survived)
  • My teeth touch on both sides now
  • I'm eating more which gives me more energy
A couple days ago I got really discouraged. I'd been laying in bed or on a couch for over a week. I felt sluggish, unproductive and worthless. I started going through other people's blogs again, seeking some sort of encouragement. The best advice I found was to give myself small goals to complete for the day. Walks, showers, small chores, art projects, and rewards are all things that I've started incorporating into my day. When I make a list and check things off as I go, I'm able to look back at the end of the day and see that I accomplished something. It's been really helpful in lifting my spirits and helping me to feel like a contributing member of society again.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One Week Out

Okay so its really been 8 days, but for the sake of this blog its been a week.

Quite a lot of progress has been made in the past 4 days! First the drooling got significantly worse, and now it's pretty much gone. I am gaining back feeling in my face more and more everyday. I can now feel the entire right side of my upper lip, along with random patches all over my cheeks and chin. It feels so weird when the nerves are regenerating! There's lots of tingling and sometimes a little prick of pain. On my chin it keeps feeling like I'm drooling, but then I wipe and there's nothing there! Its quite a trip.

I had my one week post-op appointment yesterday. I had a list of questions a mile long for my surgeon. The first thing he said was "Dang, I got you really good didn't I?" He was referring to the large bruises I've had under my chin. He said that most people only get a little yellow bruising but I bruised pretty badly (I WOULD be the one to bruise like this lol). He looked around, told me to bite and told me it looked fantastic. I was extremely worried going in because I've noticed that my teeth are only touching on my right side. My surgeon explained to me that it is TOTALLY normal and that when more of the swelling is gone, my orthodontist will be able to move my teeth around again and make everything perfect. He said I have absolutely nothing to be worried about, and it will all be corrected in time. So I feel a ton better about that. Then they took an X-ray of my face and for some reason I think its the single coolest thing I've ever seen. I even posted in on Instagram...I'm sure some of my friends were grossed out. It shows all the hardware that's now permanently in my face (my upper jaw, lower, and chin). ITS SO COOL.

Just call me the Terminator.
In other news, I got new pain meds AGAIN. I switched from taking 1000mg of Tylenol 4 times a day to 800mg of Motrin 2-3 times a day. Its a huge relief for me because IB Profin works better for me anyway. My pain is manageable and the swelling is still going down, but at an agonizingly slow rate. I'd say that I currently look like I have just gotten my wisdom teeth out. Also with the my nerves returning, its been a little easier talking. My lips move a little better but my smile is still the creepiest thing on the planet. Its so awful because my life is usually full with so much laughter, and now that I'm feeling back to my old self again, I'm laughing all the time. This wouldn't be so awful if it didn't hurt so dang much and I didn't look so creepy when I do so. It's the worst when my creepiness makes the other person laugh harder, so then I laugh harder, which makes me squeal in pain, and make the other person laugh even more. I guess this is a good problem to have though.

I don't know why, but I keep torturing myself by watching food shows. I think that maybe since I can't eat the food, that I can stimulate all the other senses involving food and be satisfied...this is not a working theory anymore. Sorry Bobby Flay, I'll see you and all your friends when I can chew again.

Tonight I'm going to see if I can brush the outside of my teeth with my baby toothbrush. The doc said it was okay, and if I can tolerate the slight pain, then I'm going for it!

I'll post pictures once the swelling goes down a little more. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

4 days out

Since I'm officially over "the hump" now, I get to ice as I please. I've been experiencing more pain today than I have all week. I think its because my nerves are starting to regenerate and I can feel more of my incision sites and where they actually broke my face. The bruising is starting to go from a dark purple to a yellowish color and is sliding down my neck. I've upgraded, once again, to taking pills rather than the liquid Tylenol (thank God!). The pain only dulls though, from like a 7, to a 4 or 5. One the the blogs I first read about had said to prepare yourself for one of thee most undignified recoveries ever. Its day 4 and I think I can back this up by now. I've started doing this totally awesome thing where I drool non-stop and I can't feel it. Its really quite the party trick. Today I started wearing a baby burp rag like a bib... along with this I also handed over my dignity card. I feel like an infant, or a really really old person who can't control their bodily fluids. I have no pride left and have given up on caring if my family sees me in my decrepit stage. So that's fun.

On the positive side of things, my nausea has been gone and I've had quite the appetite! This is great because I can start to gain some of my strength back. It's really hard though because I'm still on a liquid diet and haven't even graduated to soups or shakes yet.. My calorie count is still extremely low and I can feel it in my body when I try to walk around the house. I weighed myself and I've already lost 6lbs (yikes). The downer about finally having an appetite is that I want to eat EVERYTHING. I now spend my days avoiding the kitchen and turning the TV off when food commercials come on.
Its only day 4 of 42 and I'm already planning the day where I eat anything and everything I want. :)

Cravings
Pizza
Meatball Sub
Bread in general
KFC chicken
Peanut butter Kiss Cookies
Hot dogs
Sushi

I also laughed really hard for the first time today. It hurt my poor face muscles so bad, they havent tried to move at all since surgery and to jolt them out like that. It was awesome to laugh again, but wow my face is sore already. Maybe this will help me get the feeling and movement back though, so I will continue to laugh and smile until I can't take it anymore. No pain, no gain right?



The First 72 Hours...

(warning. this post gets gross. just keeping it real)

Let me just start out by saying....oh....my gosh.

On all the other blogs I've read about this surgery, the people tend to disappear and not post for a while and I always wondered why. Now I know why..

Coma or jaw surgery?
I woke up from surgery and I was super drugged up. It was great, they gave me morphine whenever I wanted, anti-nausea meds, IV fluids, the whole shebang. I was never in a lot of pain (cuz of all the nerves they cut) but the swelling was RIDICULOUS. The nurse would wake me up to use the bathroom and it felt like my face weighed 50lbs. I also happened to be in an inpatient-room with two other kids who also had under gone jaw surgery that day. The poor boy at the end was sick most of the day but then slept most of the night. The girl next to me was very quiet but her family...was SO loud. I remember at one point I told my mom to make them leave. I might have made a couple of death threats under my breath, but hey, who doesn't get grumpy when they feel like they've been hit by a train? Another thing that was interesting was that they gave us all suction straws (like at the dentist) that we could use to suck all the excess blood out. I definitely should have used mine more because all the blood I swallowed made me feel ill.
Drugged swollen me...lol


Okay so the hospital, not that bad. It was once I got home where shiz hit the fan. I'm not about to sugar coat this people, so strap in. Basically I was in a vicious cycle of medication. I had to take a laxative because all the narcotics stop you up and make you nauseous. This is common post-op protocol and you'd think by my third surgery that I would have figured out the importance of this. I was nauseated for the entire three days. Honestly, I would have rather have been in pain than nauseous. Because I constantly felt sick, it took every effort in my body to try and consume anything. I needed some sort of food in my stomach before taking pain meds, but I didn't want to eat. So then I'd be in pain AND nauseous. Then after about 12 hours of taking the Tylenol with Codine we realized that my body was having a reaction to it. My heart felt like it had been racing all day and I couldn't sleep at all. We called in and they told me to just take kids Tylenol instead. That stuff was awful and I had to take a ton to get the correct adult dosage. Then my sinus decided to join the party. I got extremely congested and then mucus started flowing into my stomach...making me more nauseous. The ice bags that I had been strapping around my face were getting old. At night I would wake up and rip them off feeling claustrophobic and unable to breath. I eventually got sick the second and third night, which is awful when your mouth only opens 2mm and you can't spit. Christmas Eve was probably the worst. I was so tired, and I hadn't eaten anything and I basically had decided I was going to die. Like no joke, I was doing the math and I was convinced that I could no longer attempt to take care of my body. I told my mom that if I was still like this in the morning, she HAD to take me to the ER. I was praying so hard just for one thing to go my way, and then it happened. God gave me a Christmas Miracle.

Before and immediately after surgery. The swelling actually got wayyyy worse than this.


I woke up the next morning and I was able to go to the bathroom!!! This immediately relieved my nausea and I was able to eat! My dad found adult liquid Tylenol so I didn't have to take the awful kid stuff anymore. The swelling had gone down a little and since it had been 72 hours, I didn't have to ice 24/7 anymore. I took a shower and wow, I've never loved a shower more in my life. I was more alert, able to watch TV, and even text all my friends back (finally, sorry guys).

They told me once I got past 72 hours, "the hump" they called it, that the worst would be behind me. I'm so glad that was true because that was the longest 72 hours of my life. I may be overstepping here, but I think childbirth just might be a breeze now...


Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Tomorrow...

Well shoot. Here we are.

Just one more thing to get food stuck in...
Today I had my last Orthodontist appointment before surgery. This was where they took 2 hours to put on what are called "surgical hooks." These bad boys are for nothing more than to irritate the living daylights out of my lips. No, I kid. They're so that when the surgeon is done making my mouth all pretty, he doesn't have to sew it shut. I guess they used to have to wire people's mouths shut, but now they can just put rubber bands to hold everything in place. They're not even hooks though, just a little stick with a ball on the end (thank God). I have to keep them on for 3 weeks after surgery, then I get normal brace rubber bands.

God's gift to man.
Today is ALSO my last day of chewable freedom...And boy did I take advantage of it. Krispy Kreme for breakfast, Chick-Fil-A for lunch, and MEXICAN FOOD for dinner. Even though I know I'm going to lose weight from my liquid diet, I still felt kind of guilty eating all the bad food. Whatever, I'll thank myself for it after only 24 hours of smoothies and shake.

How am I feeling? You know when you promise your mom you'll clean the toilet? And then you realize that you are terrified of germs and that it was a bad thing for you to volunteer for? But you gotta do it now, because you already committed to it. And now you're just absolutely dreading it because you know how much its going to suck. But you have to do it NOW, there's no turning back, because there's guests coming to the house tonight and you can't let them sit on your dirty toilet! So you do it and it sucks, ohhhhh it sucks so bad. But when its over you feel accomplished and you even get a compliment on how clean the toilet is (that's weird). It's all fine and dandy now, but you will never volunteer for that again...apply that metaphor to jaw surgery and that's how I'm feeling. The surgery is happening tomorrow, there's no question about that. I'm not even nervous for the surgery itself, just the recovery. My doctor keeps telling me that it won't be as bad as I think, but it doesn't sound like a walk in the park to me. What is getting me past the dread to recover, is the fact that the end is in sight! In less than 5 months, I'll have my braces off and put this chapter of life behind me! I'll be able to bite things, and smile with pretty brace-free teeth. That, along with all the support I've been getting from everyone, is what's making me believe that I can get through this alright.

I'll try to post as much as I can during my actual recovery along with some pictures. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated because as Greys Anatomy has taught me, anything can happen during surgery...


Here's to hoping for the best! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

One. Week. Away.

I keep telling people that I'm nervous but for some reason I have this sense of calm about the whole thing. Maybe its because everything has been explained to me so many times, that I have nothing left to question. Or maybe its because of the hundreds of other blogs I've read to help inform myself of what to expect. I'm sure it'll be the minute I'm sitting in my hospital gown, getting an IV stuck in my arm, that it'll all hit me at once and I'll really freak out.

I remember when I was a little kid, I told myself that I would never have any surgeries in my entire life. Surgeries were for reckless people who did dumb things to get themselves hurt. I fully believed I was invincible until my senior year of high school;  I had two surgeries in one year. First I had knee surgery to repair a torn patella tendon, then I had one for the removal of my wisdom teeth. Perhaps these previous experiences with surgeries are contributing to the lack of emotions I am feeling. All I know is that it will all be worth it when it's over...

OKAY, MOVING ON.

Let's get to what you people really came here for. THE PICTURES.

I don't have access to all the crazy photos that they make you take before the procedure, but as soon as I do, I will for sure post them (along with the after pictures). What I have here are the before and the PREDICTED after side shots. This is what my profile should look like when the swelling is gone. The lighting is terrible, but if you are able to zoom in, you can see where my chin really ends. My results may be more or less drastic than this but this is their prediction.

Pretty cool technology to be able to predict the outcome. So excited!

"What's the sitch?"

Okay. So here is my particular situation. I'll try to explain all the big doctor terms in small words, so you can leave your Merriam Webster on the shelf.

I have a "Stage 2" (whatever that means) Open Bite. I have a "weak chin" because either my jaw never grew up with the rest of my body, or its actually grew backwards. This all means that my teeth touch in the back but not in the front. When ever I explain this to people, I show them that I physically can't touch my front teeth together, and they usually get it.

So what does this mean procedure wise? It means that in order for me to bite correctly, I will be having Double Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. During my many appointments, the surgeon showed me a model like this (right). The first step it to slide my lower jaw forward. But sliding my jaw forward wouldn't fix the bite. In addition to moving it forward, they will also angle it upward to match my upper jaw. Next, they'll be separating my entire upper jaw from my skull in order to widen it, and to correct the ever so slight tilt in my upper jaw. They'll reattach it, throw in some screws, and make sure my bite fits perfectly (yay). Then they'll move on to my chin. They literally cut my chin bone off and pull it forward as far as the surgeon sees fit. He claims he has an eye for it and honestly, I trust him. Then they put some more screws in and they're done. My surgeon said start to finish, he can do the whole thing in under 2 hours. I will have minimal swelling when I wake up and not be in much pain (or so they say). This is because during surgery, they have no choice but to sever lots of my important facial nerves (don't worry, they'll grow back). As cool as it is that I won't be able to feel the full extent of the trauma my face has endured, all the other blogs say the numbness returning is extremely annoying. I guess I'll have to wait and see for myself. 

"But what about all that metal in your face? Won't you set off airport security alarms?"

Actually no. All the plates and screws going into my face are made of titanium. I guess titanium doesn't set off metal detectors or whatever.

Monday, December 14, 2015

"How'd this happen?"


 GREAT QUESTION.


Well it all started in a Galaxy Far Far Awa- ahhhhh gotcha. No but really, this whole thing started a long time ago. I have no idea if this had any effect on start of my mouth issues, but I sucked my thumb until I was about 8 years old...Yep I was a thumb-sucker. My mom tried everything short of just cutting the damn thing off. I was in third grade when I got a thumb guard, (right)
I always got food stuck in it. Yum, save that for later.
that I finally quit for good. They slapped some braces on poor little third grade me and sent me on my way. I was literally the only 3rd grader in my school who had braces and I was mortified. About a year later they finally realized that braces alone weren't fixing the damage that 8 years of thumb-sucking had done. So off came the thumb guard and on came the palate expander (left). They cranked that thing for another year until they assumed my bite was wide enough, then off came the braces and the torture device. I got my braces off at about 11 years old (the time all my friends started getting them on) and I thought that I had finally gotten the last laugh. But oh was I wrong...

Worst. Pain. Ever.
Fast forward about 5 years and...Wow, would you look at that. My mouth was messed up once again. I had lost my retainer after about a month, and at the time, no one was talking about how important retainers were. Guess what...my teeth all moved. I was about to enter high school when I really started noticing the awkward gap between my upper and lower teeth. I could stick my tongue through it and drink through a straw. I remember one car ride I mentioned it to my mom and we soon returned to the orthodontist. I thought that they would be mad because my teeth had moved, but they were so perplexed by my mouth shift, that they sent me to our local Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon. We had a consultation, they told me I'd need surgery if I ever wanted to bite right, but the price tag drove us away. I was going to have to live with my open bite until/ IF we ever found the money to make it happen. I gave up hope for the correction of my face forever. I didn't think about it much except when I tried to bite foods or if I saw myself in pictures. I always noticed in pictures that I would have a double chin. I soon realized that I basically had no chin... or as the doctors call it, a "weak chin." I became very self conscious of this which was super fun, especially going through high school.
How I felt 24/7

Freshmen year of college, I got pulled aside and told that, SURPRISE, you get to have the surgery after all. I was literally in shock though. Like, I was happy because it meant good changes, but I also might have started crying because I was scared of what kind of surgery that would mean for me. It also meant that I would have to be THAT kid in college with braces. Of course by the time you get to college, everyone else has already gotten their braces off and have perfect, amazing, white smiles. Just my luck that I would have braces book-ending the normal time for people to have braces... awesome.

So here begins the adventure into my Jaw Surgery journey.

Really? Another Jaw Surgery Blog?


Dang right another Jaw Surgery Blog.

If you have come across this blog, Congrats! You are probably in the FREAKOUT stage of finding out you are getting jaw surgery. (Don't worry, we all went through that stage) Your surgeon probably warned you about blogs like this. But if you're anything like me, (and I assume you are because you're here) you've probably been frivolously scrambling through the internet trying to find out what might be in your near/distant future. I can't tell you exactly what your experience will be like, but I'm here to tell you about mine. Maybe...just maybe, I'll be able to help you get through your journey by teaching you what to-do, and what NOT to do after jaw surgery. So lets do this thing.

Happy blending my friends...