Thursday, December 18, 2008


A jaw surgery chat site/support group I subscribe to is all a-twitter becuase someone dared ask about how soon after surgery you can have (looks around furtitively) oral sex.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Freedom! Terrible freedom!

My braces came off today! Huzzah!

My doc doesn't do it in house; he's does it off-shore over at the hospital. Not sure it saves anybody any money, but I don't care. I'm all for being *completely* sedated during the process. I hated having packing pulled out of my nose following my brain surgery, I despise it when they shove that fiber optic camera down my nose tot check out my airways, and really, the thought of getting to live through the sensation of them pulling WIRE out of my FACE was just too much. Hells no.

The proceedure only took about 25 minutes, if I understand correctly. However, you still have to go and register at the hospital, wait your turn, then get dressed and prepped and go through all the nurses, then wait for a room to open -- yeah, we got to the hospital about 1010, and didn't leave until after 2pm. Oh well.

Wasn't mentally prepared for the whole pre-op thing. I'd had a very different expectation in my head about how they were going to do it and I kind of lost my shit a bit at the hospital. All of the prep was basically the same as, oh, say, BRAIN SURGERY and full-on JAW SURGERY, and I had been picturing something more along the lines of staying in my regular clothes, getting an IV, and leaning back in some glorified dentist chair with my doc and an assistant - possibly two - at his side. Brought up a lot of stuff for me, you might imagine.

Once I had a little time to cool my heels I calmed down and got into the correct mindset. I was still a bit tensde (ok, a lot) when I got my IV, but the anesthesiologist (sp?) was very understanding. In fact, it turns out he remembered me from the actual jaw surgery. Small hospital. (Joke. Stanford.) I didn't have general anesthesia; I got something called a 'conscious sedative'. Don't care what it was called -- it still knocked me out cold. I remember getting over onto the table and then BAM! Gone. Totally fine by me. I think I actually fell asleep on top of it, because I was out much longer than advertised in the recovery room. Tee. :)

Got some novocane (sp?) during the surgery too. I'm more numb following this proceedure that I have been at any other point over the last 5 weeks. Can't really tell a difference in my lower lip/chin, but there was so much injected into the top jaw that the tip of my nose went numb. Still don't really have any feeling up there yet -- and its after 10pm!! Its also really throwing of my food/beverage consumption skills; I'd gotten pretty handy at eating with baby spoons and drinking from a glass -- I totally had to revert back to the feeding bags because stuff was just running/falling out of my mouth. Very not pretty.

Its of course fanTAStic to have all of that metal out of my mouth. The achey is already noticibly less (Although that may be the novocane...) I also don't have those bands blocking my tongue anymore, AND the band that crossed my front teeth (pix to follow at some point) no longer slips out of place constantly to ride on my gums painfully. A-MEN, sister! But its funny what you get used to. Even with the bands gone, I still totally favor the side of my mouth I had to eat/dringk fro with them in. And I've noticed my tongue is still searching out the front band to push it off of the gums and back onto the tooth. Wonder how long it'll take for all of that to stop?

Oh, I got more xrays taken today pre-proceedure as well today, too. Everything is still looking good, and my airway looks GREAT! It looks even wider that it did in the last xray. Doc says that's because its had more time to heal and a lot of normal post-surgery swelling has gone down. Its kind of ironic because my sleep has been for SHIT this last week and a half, and I've definitely noticed the sensation that air was no way going through as smoothly as it had immediately post surgery. I had him take a look and sure enough, my tonsils are trying to take over my skull again and are blocking my airway. Looking more and more like those'll have to come out in the future. Dammit.

Doc also removed a little scar tissuue up around the incision line above my front teeth, Not a big deal - some stuff had built up around the stitches (not infected or anything) but it was making that area very painful if it was ever stretched. So when he yanked out of the (poorly) dissolving stitches today he did some clean up and expects that it will all heal nicely now. Again, thank god for 'conscious sedation'.

Oh, and I get to start working on Real Food in about 3 weeks. Joy!

Over all, it was a Good Day. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Was it Worth it?

If you're reading this blog, its with a high chance that you are either going through recovery from a similar surgery or considering putting yourself under the knife. I'm sure this is not the first blog you've read - if you're anything like me, that is, and need to have enough information as possible before you make any decisions. So I'm sure you've stumbled across the declaration "It was worth it!" many a time.

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with this one: It *was* worth it.

Has it been easy? Hell, no! Has it SUCKED BALLS more than once? Hell yes! Were there times when I *did* regret doing it? Definitely. Was I/am I still kind of angry with fate that I had to go through it? You betcha. Is it lots of fun having your appearance change? No, I can't really say it is.


I know I still have much more healing to go through, as well as more frustrations, and probably a few more crying jags to boot. But after only a month, I can sleep fully reclined in a bed. I can sleep without having to be propped up on pillows (which I was doing even before the surgery.) I do still wake up tired, but nothing like I used to. I dont have to go to sleep at 9pm anymore because I just can't stay awake. I don't have to take a 3 hour nap at 2 in the afternoon because otherwise I will be useless all day. I don't wake up with the CPAP hose wrapped around my neck anymore. I don't have to go through the ritual of medications and setting up the machine, and taping my mouth shut, and being woken up in the middle of the night by leaky masks. I may not be 100% fixed, but there's a freedom there that I didn't have before. At the very least, I feel less broken than everyone else just having to use that damned machine.

Husband came up to me the other morning. "I couldn't hear you breathing," he said. "I sat up in bed and actually leaned over because even before the CPAP, your breath always struggled. Now I could barely hear it!"

Was it worth it? A thousand times yes -- with the small exceptions where I am PMSing, of course.

4.5 Weeks

Wasn't that a famous movie? Except with the number 9? Rest assured I won't go into any torrid detail here, and Mickey Rourke will not be making a guest appearance in this entry (dammit.)

So here we are! Just a hint more than a month since I had my surgery! Things are continuing to go really well. I've graduated up to (mostly) soft foods with the occasional use of the baggies (some things are just better eaten through the straw,) which helps my mental state IMMEASUREABLY. I weathered that cold my daughter gave me, and seem to be none the worse for it, although it did knock some more blood out of my sinuses for a brief while. Had a few really impressive and colorful blows in there. Speaking of nose-blowing, I do still pop my ears almost every time I blow my nose; with the sinuses being somewhat traumitized during surgery, I've got the long-running symptoms of a head cold, which doc says is very normal. Ditto for the very occasional ear-infection-like stabbing pains below my ears. All normal, normal, normal.

My energy is slowly coming back, although I am still a bit draggy because I am still undershooting a bit on the liquids/caloric intake (have lost 20 lbs in 4 weeks.) Adding to the problem is that I am also tapering off of some steroid medication I was on pre-surgery (have been on it for more than a year due to previous brain tumor surgery,) which makes me feel kinda crappy. Obviously is a very speciallized issue for just me; anyone reading this for reference should not have that problem tapering off of any steroids you may have received in the hospital.

Numbness: Can't lie, butI'm not at all surprised to find out I still have plenty of numbness. But, there has been a tiny but noticeable change in the amount. My tongue still has just the slightest bit along the front edge, but is otherwise fine. On my chin, it feels like the boundary between totally normal and "Hey, who took my chin?" has shrunk by a few millimeters, with a small chance that I'm just projecting some wishfull thinking, but I don't think so. Because while I wouldn't say that I have feeling back, I'm definitely getting some sensations back. And let me just say that I'm realizing how lucky I was that I haven't been able to feel much of anything for a month. Whew! I'm definitely getting teh aches in my chin, be it from talking too much, or eating with a baby spork or what. Have even had to take ibuprofen a few times just to knock it back a bit. And when I apply any pressure to my jaw - say when I am applying new wax to the braces - it causes pain now. Not oh-god-kill-me! pain, but yes-something-is-definitely-going-through-a-healing-process sensation. My upper palette is still pretty numb, as I've discovered when brushing my teeth: I can't tell that I am. But I have faith that'll come back. Oh, and that small strip of kinda-numb that went up to my right eye has backed of noticeably as well. Again, still a hint of not-quite right, but improving.

Range of motion: getting pretty good with this one. I think between a lot of the incisions healing, some of the numbness going away, and just losing my fear over having my face split in two if I used it too much, my mouth is much more flexible. I've got much more movement pursing my lips that doing anything that requires stretching (ie: smiling) but its coming along. The left side is stronger that the right so far so I always look a bit lopsided, but at least I get to kiss my kid again. The tongue is doing great. I'd had a lot of fear about this one as I was going to have GA on top of just the jaw surgery, and so far, its been a non issue. I do occasionally get a twinge of pain at the base, but that's about it (ok, well, I get a lot more than a twinge of pain when I chomp down on my tongue with all those teeth I can't feel, but that's a different story.) I can wag my tongue from side to side around in my mouth and can actually stick it part of the way out of my mouth! (Both of those are a bit hindered by the bands I am still wearing.) Only time will tell, but I think I dodged some bullets there.

Braces: Ahh, braces, how I am tired of thee! Really, they're currently the worst part about the experience. My teeth ache all the time from them. Again, not pain enough to drive me off a cliff, but discomfort enough to really really REALLY want them out of my mouth. Making things even more intersting is the rubber band at the front of my mouth. I've got one that goes from the center of my lower jaw to the outside edge of my right front tooth. Well, there's a bit of a space between my front tooth and the #2 tooth, so that rubber band constantly slides in between, and actually sits BEHIND my front tooth. The docs are fine with it in that it ios still holding my jaw in alignment, but its presses into my gums something fierce! Sore all the time. All flossing, all the time, you might say. I'm quite over it.

But that's ok, because when I went in for my check up today, doc says I am getting my braces off next Tuesday (Dec 2nd) -- failing any catastrophic failure**, of course. So! Happy! I! Could! Cry! Must rememebr to take a few more pictures before they are Gone! For GOOD! :D :D :D

**Doc is still a bit concerned that my jaw still pops out of alignment when I sleep, and that in the mornings I have to sort of manually line everything back up. But he's pleased with progress to date and is buoyed by the fact that I *can* move my lower jaw from side to side just using my muscles already (apparently that's pretty uncommon at 4 weeks,) and said he thinks worst case I may have to go do a little PT until its no longer an issue. I think I can deal with that.

So, really, its all going well! Fingers crossed/knock on wood/burning a goat in sacrifice, it will continue to do so and soon this will all be no more than a collection of blog entries! (And by soon, I mean over the next year, probably.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not All Rainbows and Flowers

The Monday following my surgery, I went to the doctor's office for a follow up and x-rays, and nearly passed out. I kind of crumpled to a chair in the waiting room and had to be escorted back into the office where nurses and doctors fluttered nearby and took my blood pressure. Fairly low. Apparently I'd gotten pretty dehydrated. 20 minutes in the reclining chair and two bottles of water later I was feeling better, if not slightly weak. Have been truing to stay on top of it since then.

Today I felt unsteady bending over to look at a plant in the garden, and then I got light-headed from blowing my nose. Not good. Pretty certain that means I'm good and dehydrated again. Might not be getting enough calories either. Goddamn it.

This whole surgery has been a real eye-opener into taking things for granted. Like eating and drinking. It really is a fair amount of work to stay on top of your dietary intake needs with your mouth banded shut/broken/whatever you want to call it. No really -- its work. What do we have to eat that I can actually consume? Is it liquid-y enough to go through a straw? Too hot? Too cold? Have you added the fiber? How about the protein powder? Liquid vitamins? Where are the special bags? Are all the baby spoons in the dishwasher? Crap, I'm spilling all over myself! Boy, am I tired of eating this! My jaw is aching from trying to work with the spoon. What do you mean, I'm still wearing breakfast on my face? Man, my stomach has totally shrunk; I get full so quickly.

I started this whole procedure carrying extra weight. So admittedly, losing a few pounds on the restrictive diet was not a bad thing for me. Plus, I am aware of how important nutrition is, especially when recovering from a major medical procedure, as well as the dangers of crash dieting in general. Believe me when I say I am honestly trying to do right by my body here. But I have spent the last several years battling the bulge and trying to change my eating habits, so this constant grazing for calories and 'add butter or oil for calories!' advice really goes against everything I've been trying to rewire. The nonstop eating makes me feel kind of, well...guilty!


Having kind of a crappy day, as you can tell. Tired. Sick. Worn down. Frustrated. Meh.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


That's what was spelled out on my chin and shirt by the time I finished eating my can of alphabet Spaghettios today for lunch. But boy, were they tasty -- and not soup!

Ice Packs and Your Face

I'm sure you've already seen the photographs somewhere: someone laying in bed post-sugery, their head wrapped in ace bandages and ice packs, looking not unlike a 19th century illustration for a child with the mumps, knot on the top of the head and everything. And let me be the first to reassure you that the ice actually does help. It knocks down the swelling, and definitely provides some tactile soothing to your mightily abused jaw line.

But the whole sock-full-of-crushed-ice is not without its issues. For starters, its heavy. You are probably gonna be tired, and having this awkward weight balanced off of the top of your head can be uncomfortable, not to mention might make watching crappy tv in the hospital a bit of a challenge. And hopefully you'll have a thoughtful and attentive nurse who will try to make the ice pieces as small as possible in the hospital, but the truth is you're still going to have chunks poking you on your tender face, no matter how careful you are.

Stick with the ice! You'll be glad you did! And when they send you home with that sock to fill with ice packs, take it! But do a little legwork beforehand and invest in some of those refreezeable blue gel packs. You'll be happy you did. 1) You won't wake up one morning with the front of your Bugs Bunny pajamas soaked from the slow leak of the ice bags, 2) they're flexible and will conform to your face nicely, and more importantly, 3) there's no ice cubes to jab you while you are trying to sleep/heal. Also, there are some brands out there that come with there own ace-bandage-with-a-pocket-for-the-pack-and-velcro-too; I put two of these together to get a pack for each side of my face and was able to velcro them nice and snug in place, as opposed to the knot from the sock.

You may drop about $20 on ice packs, but it'll make you more likely to use them, and really, who doesn't occasionally need an ice pack now and then? Do it. You know you want to.