Tuesday, 22 October 2013

6 Month+ Post-op!

So I really didn't want to be the blogger that disappeared post-op and never did anymore updates, but I guess I became that and I logged on to lots of questions or comments that I haven't responded to! Opps! Sorry guys! I guess the point I can make from this is that your life really does get back to normality and you don't think about surgery or recovery or anything anymore! (Unlike the days when that's all I could think about because I was constantly reminded by either dribble, a hungry belly or generally fed up with looking like a swollen chip munk!)

Life has been pretty manic lately with finishing uni, moving back home and getting everything ready to start work! I've been enjoying as much time as I can with James - He was my rock during my recovery and I couldn't have done it without his support or encouragement, and I am very much looking forward to spending my life with him!





As far as how I am now... I can eat pretty much everything and let me tell you, having a bite that fits together is absolutely amazing. I feel like I have a real life blender in my mouth! I also really noticed the difference when I had small gaps after surgery meaning I had to have bands. Bands pulled my bite that bit tighter together meaning chewing is 10x easier so it's defo worth the perseverance even though they are annoying as hell!

Somebody asked how my numbness was going. I'm still numb on half of my bottom lip and part of my chin. Some of my gums on the inside of my mouth are still numb too, but it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Before surgery I was petrified of perm numbness for the rest of my life, but it sounds alot worse than it is!
I'm still in braces *groan*, however my orthodontist has told me that they should be off within the next 2 visits. So i'm hoping either christmas time or very early new year!

Other than that, everything else is pretty non-surgery related and I can't think of anything else I need to update on! I can talk clearly with no mumbles, i'm not drooling anymore and surgery seemed like a very very distant memory! My surgeon and ortho are chuffed with the outcome and I am too! There is no more gummy smile, just straight perfect teeth. My jaw line is great and I no longer worry about my side on profile! Although I wouldn't want to go through jaw surgery again, if I had to - I probably would! For the sake of a few months of pain and annoyance, the lifetime improvements and overall outcome outweigh every downside to surgery! Hopefully my final update will be of a brace-free me! :)


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Day 105: Photo Updates

When I look back at my before photos and compare them to myself now, I just can't believe the changes! 







Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Day 100+ A strange post

I cannot believe it's been over 100 days since jaw surgery - thats quater of a year! Things are definitely back to normal, although I still can't open my  mouth as wide yet, I still have a tiny bit of swelling in my cheeks and even though the braces are still on - jaw surgery is a distant memory.

I felt the need to show you guys this picture, of the bite I took out of a cake...

Before surgery, because my teeth didn't meet together i'd have to rip my food. As pathetic  as this sounds I used to envy people who had that perfect bite in their sandwich, or their toast, as mine was a jagged mess..

Well, looks like I got it!!

I've also found a new love for the nasal spray otrivine. I've been taking it for my hayfever, but I wish my surgeon let me have this stuff when I was stuffy and congested! It is a god send!!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Day 96: Belated post

So i've been a little behind on this and i'm aware that I need some more new pictures soon!

Last Friday I went to visit my surgeon again, the first time in 2 months and since hes been on compassionate leave. He's overly impressed with the results and hes happy that i'm happy! As far as the pain in my jaw has gone - it's settled down now and disappeared so I didn't feel the need to ask him about it. I did however ask him about my congestion. I told him that since my hayfever has started, it feels like i've got something swollen in my nose. He said that he doubts this as he's taken out the majority of the insides of my nose but he had a look anyway, and it is infact my remaining turbinate that is completely swollen. He told me that it's nothing to worry about, and will settle down once the pollen dies down. He did say that it was probably swollen from surgery anyway still and unfortunately pollen has come along and irritated it more, so this time next year I shouldn't be in the same level of discomfort! He's just advised me to keep taking things to try and control my hayfever and he will see me again in a couple of months - he doesn't want to discharge me yet until my nose is clear!

I've also been getting compliments from people who haven't seen me for a couple of weeks about my face! My sister and quite a few people at work when I started back immediately said that my face looks thinner, like even more swelling has disappeared. I've always said that I was still swollen in my cheeks but I know that this can take months and months to disappear, but I guess to a blind eye it doesn't look swollen! But it's nice to know that even now, there is still swelling and it is slowly disappearing!

Chewing is starting to get easier, i'm getting used to it more and more and I guess I have Dani and James to thank for that because they quickly shout at me if they see me not chewing! :)

I'm actually attempting a very thin cut steak tonight - we will see how that goes!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Day 89: Congestion and TMJ.

So the past week or so, has been an 'iffy' week - not great, but not awful either.

First thing on my list is congestion. Unfortunately my hayfever has started - big style. Naturally when something initiates an allergic response, one of the actions your body takes is to inflame the mucus membranes in your nasal passage and as a result your turbinates become enlarged. This has annoyed the living hell out of me. It's getting to the point now when my inferior turbinates are completely blocking my nasal passage, meaning that I can't even blow out the mucus and snot that's trapped behind it, and i'm having to breathe through my mouth again. Before surgery this didn't bother me, as I was never a nasal breather because I couldn't, but now i'm struggling. Just waiting on the summer to pass and the pollen to die down! Anyway, a few days ago, my congestion got so bad I ended up choking on my snot and gunk the moment I lay down and resulted in me having to spend the night sleeping slightly upright in bed. Lately I have been taking something to calm the hayfever down and it's become more manageable, but I see my surgeon again on Friday and i'm hoping he can advise some decongestant spray. 

Another thing that has been happening this last week is pain in the right side of my jaw, around the muscle area. At first I thought it was the jaw exercises, so I cut them down but the pain actually became worse, so i'm thinking i've got some slight TMJ appearing. 
I've never suffered from TMJ previous to surgery and I know that jaw surgery itself is a very tricky process when people do have TMJ as it can sometimes exacerbate the symptoms as opposed to reducing them. My surgeon was pretty happy pre-op that I'd never suffered from TMJ or clicky jaws beforehand! However recently i've been experiencing awful pain in the area which will radiate into my head. It also goes on to restrict my movement in my mouth as I can't open my mouth as wide.  One thing that I have found though is that the moment I take my bands out, the pressure is relieved and the symptoms disappear. I'm guessing that the force of the bands is starting to put too much pressure on my joints which is causing this pain - so i'm keeping my fingers crossed that the pain is definitely band related and nothing more sinister. Roll on getting bands off for good! 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Day 78: Back to Pain

So I haven't uploaded a mugshot of myself for a while, so I figured i'd just pop on some photos that I took over the last weekend!

Unfortunately, since my orthodontist appt, pain has come back. Although it's nice to be back into the world of orthodontic work, I guess I forgot how annoying and painful work to your actual teeth becomes! So since Tuesday, i've experienced very tight and achy teeth. When I visited my ortho, he also filed down my two front teeth ever so slightly because I said that It was banging on my brace (Obviously, this needs to be rectified else before you know it, you'll be knocking those brackets off). To anybody else and to myself, you can't notice a difference. He's taken the absolute microscopic amount off, but the pain to go along with this feels like hes grinded down my entire tooth - awful. So bad I had to take paracetamol AND ibuprofen to get it under control!

Also, now i've been putting my bands on to close my bite tighter during the night time, i'm experiencing pain in my back teeth during the day. I can tell the difference the new band position is making already, as i'm biting down on ALL my back teeth now, obviously as all teeth aren't used to this yet, i'm experiencing the pain I had first post-op when I could actually close my teeth together.

Jaw exercises are a chore in itself, BUT, in two days of jaw exercises, I can nearly nearly (with no bands) open my mouth to 3 fingers wide! My muscles let me know that it hurts, but I guess it's worth it!


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Day 76+: Orthodontics

As I wrote this post, it took me ages to work out how many days I was out of post-op. I can't believe it! I thought 'that can't be right,' how time has flown!

Anyway. This morning I met with my orthodontist again for your usual check ups. As per, things are moving incredibly slowly for me. My teeth and bite have come together perfectly on the right hand side, but are moving really slowly on the left, so unfortunately - bands are still in. :( My ortho said not to worry about it, and that it's happening, just at it's own pace. He also checked out why I couldn't put my bands as far back as he suggested. Basically, on the very back tooth, the hook had 'tucked' itself into my gum, meaning that I couldn't access it at all. He laughed it off and said no wonder you couldn't get them on, and sorted that out for me.

On a brighter note, he took my surgical hooks from the top, other than the two hooks I need to band up. Although the process of actually removing them felt like he was trying to dislocate my jaw, it feels AMAZING without them on. I forgot how it felt! They're no longer rubbing or irritating my gums, and talking in general seems to be alot easier. Roll on getting the final 4 off!

He checked out how far I could open up, and it's still only 2 fingers and abit, so he's told me to start exercising my jaw and stretching it out. Attempting for 1mm per week but not going overboard. We also had an interesting discussion on how far you can open your mouth. He said that when he had a tooth extraction, they injected his muscle meaning he could only open his mouth a very limited amount, much like me! He said that it really got him down as you take for granted how much effort it is to chew when you don't really have that much room in between your mouth, due to you not being able to actually open it very far. So it was nice to have somebody who is on my wave length, and knows how frustrating it is to attempt to chew or simply fit normal sized bites of food in your mouth!

Other than that, the jaw has been pretty stable! Pain is non-existent other than the occasional ache which is nothing.
I find it amazing looking back how protective I was over my to begin with, I wouldn't even let somebody hug me. I know that Liz did a whole post about this and I pretty much agree with her. Last week (i'm sure he won't mind me sharing), James, Dani and I were all tucked up on my bed chatting about old times. I don't know how it happened but James ended up accidentally punching me straight in the top jaw and nose. I'm not going to lie, it hurt alot, and was a massive shock to the system, but in honesty I wasn't bothered or worried about it. Now if he had done this had happened at a week post op, I think I would have become suicidal and demanded that I be seen instantly at A&E, as I would have been petrified of the damage! Oh well, no harm done!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Day 70: Phantom Drooling

So today is a really good day in the jaw world. I woke up and I could wiggle my bottom jaw side to side! I have no idea how I did it, as I'd expect after a sleep it would sieze up more. It doesn't move as much as it did pre-op, but's it's sure moving and I can see it move! I love how little things like this excite you. I even had to call my mum up the stairs to show her. No doubt i'll be showing everyone else when I see them!

Another thing i've started to experience is phantom drooling. I know this is very common. When I drink or eat, I'll feel like i've spilt half of it down my chin. When I go to wipe however there was nothing there. Phantom drooling! I'm assuming it's something to do with the nerves waking up, as in this general area is where they're all abit sensitive and messed up - or my body is expecting me to make a mess. I know one day it will get me back, when I won't wipe, and there will actually be food there!

It's crazy how quick time has flown. My mum keeps looking at me and saying 'I forget that you've had jaw surgery now, now that you're all healed - I can't even think that it's happened' - and neither can I! I'm not so cautious and protective of my jaw anymore. I know there's still along way to go in terms of chewing normally again, nerves fully waking up and my mouth finally opening it's full width, ontop of more orthodontic treatment, but it's definitely a big step in the right direction!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Day 65+ Grad Ball


So i've hit just past the 9 week mark, and over the weekend was my graduation ball. It was great to just dress up and spend it with some absolutely amazing people. It was also the first time i've properly sat down and eaten a full 3-course meal in public. Admittedly, with the array of wine glasses, napkins and what felt like a million knifes and forks, I thought It was slightly too formal for me, but I did do pretty well! I even went out for a carvery the next day!

One thing that I probably should say, is at the club after the after party, the bouncer was very reluctant to let me in. He took one look at my OLD passport photo and uttered the words 'Is that really you? Are you sure thats you?' - To which I replied, yep, i've had jaw surgery that's why I look so different. He accepted this and let me through - but definitely a sign that I need new ID!

Moving my jaw side to side is still not happening for me, however in the middle of the night I woke up half asleep and wiggled it, like a normal jaw and had full movement. I'm pretty sure I didn't dream this, but I can't do it awake, so i'm starting to think that maybe I did. I can also still only open my mouth 2 fingers width, and it doesn't seem to be growing.

Oh well, time will tell! Other than that, life in the jaw-world is pretty boring and normal!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Day 60: The hardship of chewing and sensitive teeth!

So a quick update from my last post; I still can't put my bands in where my ortho wants them at night because it's simply too far back, so i've been wearing them where I do during the day. I have an appt with him this week so hopefully he can sort it out! I've also been abit poor on the picture front just lately so i've added a few on this post of pictures i've taken over the weekend!

I never realised how hard chewing would be again since getting the all clear to go ahead and start again. I understand that I haven't done it for 8 weeks and my body is probably a bit like 'what are you doing' but I thought it would be something that you would never forget, like riding a bike or swimming. Something you never lose. Well I have lost it, and i'm finding it really difficult to start again!

I can't move my bottom jaw side to side when I chew, it's very up and down. Pair this with the fact I can hardly open my mouth, it doesn't really leave much room to actually move the food around in there. One thing I'm attempting to do to try and get this back is to start moving my bottom jaw side to side slowly. It won't budge all that far and to even get it to move that tinest amount takes alot of effort! I'm hoping slowly (and I guess it will be very slowly) my body will get used to it again, but right now, I find myself favouring soft foods just so that I can avoid chewing! One thing that happened today in this process of chewing, was that I stabbed the back of my mouth with my fork. Don't ask how it happened because I honestly don't know! :P

This weekend is my graduation ball, and is the first time i've eaten out in public, so should be an extremely fun experience! For starters is soup. Now, i've only had soup once since my 'liquid diet' and that was last week. My mum gave it to me for dinner and I was mortified, I took one spoonful and refused to eat it. I couldn't stand the liquid-ness in my mouth, and to be honest I  think i've had my fair share of soup for life! I'm hoping that either the soup at the grad ball is so nice I can't resist it, otherwise I'm sure James and Dave will scoff it down between them both! :P

Another thing that is really annoying me just lately is the return of feeling in the places where i'm still completely numb; half of my bottom lip, a patch in my chin and my gums. At the moment the nerves in these areas are crazy! One slight touch will send weird sensations all about my face, which really makes my hairs stand on edge! It's got to the point now where I can't wear lipgloss because I can't stand the feeling, and I cringe when I put foundation on! With regards to the feelings of my gums returning, it's made my teeth incredibly sensitive. I've never suffered with sensitive teeth before but again, I hate it! I hate brushing certain teeth that are 'more sensitive!' I guess with all this feeling returning I should just grin and bare it, and be thankful that they're actually waking up. :)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Day 56+: 8 week mark - Chewing and more bands

Posting is getting harder as not that much is happening jaw wise; so i'll probably just post as and when something happens from now on! Life with uni is incredibly busy at the moment so you will have to excuse lack of pictures, but I just haven't had the time. Next week is my graduation ball so i'll probably upload lots of pictures from then!

So yesterday I went to visit my orthodontist again. He's taken over my care from my surgeon whilst he's on compassionate leave. As soon as I walked in he was calling people over to admire my results and said I was looking better everytime that I visited. He also showed me my first ever mold before any orthodontic treatment and the gap was ridiculous  You could fit over a thumb between the teeth and still have room to wobble, now I can fit a fingernail and that's all! :)

He said that my bite has come together perfectly on my right side but not so much to the left, so sadly bands have got to stay on for longer! Urgh! Ontop of that I've got to change the position at night time so they go all the way  back to my wisdom teeth, AND I have to double up the bands! I thought this sounded fine until I actually attempted to put in the bands last night, I could get it in one side but not the other. In the end I ended up throwing abit of a wobbly and said 'f**k it, they're staying where they were, i'll just double up' - tonight i'll have another go - if I can't get them all the way to the back i'll probably be meeting him again sometime next week just so he can show me how the hell i'm supposed to put them in!

He also said that I can go ahead and start attempting to chew. I'm only on soft foods still at the moment, he said don't go crazy on a steak tonight, and to avoid foods like pizza, or hard breads and meats, or things that take that extra bit of chewing. Again, I thought this was great until I attempted to chew. What a strange sensation! I started with pasta, and in honesty it was great, I felt like I had a real life blender in my mouth and I definitely see what i've been missing - and what everyone takes for granted! Chewing did feel easier but I can't really move my bottom jaw side to side in the movement of chewing, it's just very up and down, and still quite messy. I had to think about every tiny movement I made and it took me ages! I've been attempting to move it side to side in the mirror as I need to start building the muscle up, but it moves the tinest amount and that's with maximum effort! My ortho did say though that it would take a while to learn how to chew again, and would feel strange for quite a while until my muscles are used to it. I also found that after chewing on a few pieces of pasta my jaw got incredibly achey and tired, so I ended up just swallowing majority of my meal towards the end, but it's all progress!

Other than that not much has happened in the life of the jaw. I think all of my swelling has gone now other than a tiny bit on my left side. I can actually feel my jaw line and ontop of this I can feel the gaps in my jaw! But I assume they're starting to fuse together now, It's pretty weird actually and I try not to feel to much but I can't help myself sometimes! Pain is just in the form of aching if I talk to much at once, or if I chew as said above. And numbness is the same as always - in my lip and my chin, however i'm getting all weird sensations about my chin and face which my ortho said was a good sign! I'm also pretty sure that nearly all of my stiches have fallen out. I can't see any at the bottom but can't really tell at the top. During my ortho appointment he used those stupid plastic things to open my gums so he could take pictures of my bite, and after 1 stitch fell out so I guess they're alot deeper than I can actually see. The 'cotton ball feeling' is slowly disappearing, scar tissue is starting to build up but I guess when this breaks down talking and pulling faces with my mouth will be alot easier and won't feel so tight!

I can't wait to get the braces off now. I haven't asked my ortho how long it will be because I don't want the disappointment of how long I could potentially wait. They're starting to incredibly annoy me now, more so than before surgery, but I guess that's because my jaws are in the right place now and my mouth isn't used to it!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Day 53: I've injured myself yawning

I saw this on Esmeralda's blog and it really really amused me, so i'm having to make a blog purely for this photo. It's a good job we can laugh about these things now!


Friday, 17 May 2013

Day 50+: 7 week mark, scary pain experience.

So yesterday I hit the 7 week mark, the weeks are flying by now. Jaw surgery itself just seems like a distant memory, I only get the reminder that it even happened from my bands and weird sensations I have about my face right now.

As much as update wise goes, nothing new has happened and i'm still not chewing. Sigh. I know I can go ahead and probably start chewing up but until I see my ortho for clearance I daren't start just yet!

I'm still wearing my bands although I feel like my gap has come together pretty much completely now, but again, we will see what ortho says! They still suck to high heaven and really annoy me, ontop of just generally irritating my mouth! I can't wait to eat and food not to get trapped by them.

Numbness is really amusing me lately as I have so many crossed nerve wires it's unreal! I can touch my chin and i'll feel it in my cheek and teeth, or if I stroke my lip it will feel as though i'm drooling down my chin even though i'm not. I guess they'll sort themselves out when they want to! As for overall numbness, i'm only completely numb in my gums, half of my bottom lip and some of my chin!

Pain wise is still non-existant, although saying this I had an incredibly scary experience at the start of this week. Out of the blue I woke up with really severe pain along where I assume the gap is/was (whatever) in my lower jaw, and around where I'm guessing a plate is. At first I thought i'd slept on it funny, but as the day progressed it was getting worse and worse. It began to hurt when I smiled, moved my mouth in anyway, spoke or anything. James kept asking me if it was anything to do with my stitches, but it was no where near my incision line and definitely a bone pain. Anyway, it got to the point that I was regularly taking pain medication again, but it still wouldn't get rid of the pain completely. It stayed like that for a couple of days, and I decided that if it was still hurting on Friday, i'd pop over to A&E after work to get them to x-ray it just to make sure nothing had come lose, or there was no signs of infection, while I wasn't in the town where my ortho and surgeon live. Tuesday night it got even worse. At this point I needed my codeine, but unfortunately due to a bloody numeracy exam I had the next day, I didn't want to knock myself out too much. James offered to take me to A&E that night, and I did genuinely want to go as the pain was getting that severe - I was unable to move my mouth or lips in anyway shape or form due to it's severity, but again, because of numeracy exam I really didn't want to be sitting in A&E until early hours of the morning.

And then the weirdest thing happened. The pain moved from my jaw, to my chin, to the jaw on the otherside, and then vanished. Just like that! This is going to be a massive thank you to Dani and James right now, because I know that over these few days I was probably the most annoying I probably have ever been; I had them checking my temperature on literally a 5 minute basis, and got them to analyse my face every 10 seconds to make sure the pain area didn't re-swell up. (If it did swell, or my temp did spike I would have been straight to A&E demanding antibiotics!).

Anyway, thank you guys AGAIN for your amazing patience with me! I guess it just shows that it's normal to still experience certain feelings, even 7 weeks after surgery. I may be recovered in mind, but bone wise healing isn't 100% until after quite a few months!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Day 47: Another perspective (Best Friend)


So I’ve known Emma for just under three years now, when we first started university together! The very first time I met Emma I never noticed anything out of place of different with her Jaw so much so that I went up to someone else thinking that it was Emma, and they pointed me in the right direction! Oops!! Emma is not just my peer or flat mate, she is my best friend. Emma told me about her surgery quite soon in our friendship and from a personal point of view I never felt like she needed anything done and in all honesty from what Emma was saying I thought the day would never come. 

Receiving the text:
So on the 22nd Feb I was on a long day on placement and I went on my break to a text from Emma, this wasn’t unusual we were always texting however this message was very different and it read: “I’ve had a date for my op! 28th March!!” So this Is where it all began …
Over the previous few months Emma had supported me massively through a really tough personal few months and I was pleased that I was going to be able to return the favour and support her though this massive journey she was about to embark on! The more I thought about Emma having the operation the more panicked I became so I decided to just not think about it and the fact that Emma only found out a month before her surgery seemed to make everything fly by giving me and everyone else I think less time to think about the situation!
Before the Op.
A week before the operation I remember saying to my boyfriend that I didn’t want Emma to have the operation for purely selfish reasons and I think because Emma was beautiful and everyone who knew Emma loved her for who she was. However my boyfriend was supportive and it was happening despite what I felt of thought. Also I knew deep down that this was going to change Emma’s life massively. Knowing Emma how I did meant I knew that she hated her profile from the side, hated crossing the road with her side profile showing to the traffic, at times she was uncomfortable because her Jaw wouldn’t come together properly and she would NEVER have her hair up if she could help it. Little things that were all about to change for the better! Emma left the Tuesday before her operation and although I knew it was happening I think I blocked it out for the whole day even when she said bye to the girls at uni, however when she was ready to leave there was no blocking it out and saying goodbye to her that night broke my heart, it was very emotional for both of us! 

28th March 2013.
So the day had arrived for Emma to have surgery and I woke up to a lovely text from Emma ! The main person I need to thank though is James, he was brilliant at keeping me upto date throughout the day and just generally chatting with him I think helped to keep us both distracted from what was happening, after all waiting 8 hours for someone you love and care about to be brought back to the ward is a long time! I think having knowledge that I have (training to be a nurse) made it even harder I was thinking about all the what ifs. When I got the message from James to tell me she was okay I just felt relief! The end of a long day!
Since the op!
I went to see Emma just four days after her operation and at first I found it really difficult to see Emma in her new face, especially due to the bruising and swelling that Emma was experiencing. I did however notice straight away that she looked amazing and I knew instantly that this was a positive thing to happen for Emma! Although at that point I’m sure she didn’t! After being with Emma for about 10 minutes I managed to see Emma in her new face, I think it was her eyes and then I felt completely relaxed about everything, she was still dosed up on medicines and I think everything was probably still a bit of a blur to her however it was lovely to see her. After this I went back to uni but obviously spoke to Emma almost every day about how she was etc. I saw Emma again about a week later and the changes were amazing the swelling and bruising that I had previously seen had gone down loads and her face was really starting to take shape! I think it was about another week before I saw Emma again and again the swelling had gone down massively and I could really see the changes in her face she looked amazing. 

When Emma had come back to Uni properly she was really worried about eating infront of me and kept apologising, after telling her there was no need to be sorry and that it was fine I think she finally felt comfortable about eating around me. We went out on Emma’s first night back from uni as a cohort and we had a really good night and it was the first time I had a new picture with Emma and her new Jaw! It was really nice and looking at the pictures when we got home I couldn’t believe the difference!! 
Having Emma back was lovely! Since then Emma has continued to make amazing progress and even when we go home for a weekend and I come back you can see the changes in her face, the swelling slowly going down, supporting Emma at the moment just includes reassuring her that she is still swollen, that her face isn’t wonky and that this isn’t the finished product yet! I can’t wait to see it when it is! Seeing Emma have pictures from the side is lovely as well, it’s something she never used to do and also she has her hair up now which again is something she never used to do! These small things to most people are massive to Emma, and I’m so glad that she had the operation as it really has changed her life, okay so there may be days when she doesn’t like her face, but I’m sure that’s normal its very new to her and it looks unbelievably different to us let alone Emma!!
The next big milestone for Emma is to chew and I’m hoping as much as she is that she gets the all clear from her ortho next time he sees her, I think that will help Emma to get back to normality!

Following that Emma, James, Dave and I are going to a ball and for Emma to be able to chew then would make it an even more successful night!
Also want to say a massive thank you to Emma for letting me be part of this journey and allowing me to support you throughout. You’re amazing, look beautiful and I love you lots!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Day 46: Reflection

So guess what happened today? Two of my stitches fell out! Oh yeah! One step closer to 100% recovery! You've got to love these jaw surgery milestones!

So since my life is becoming somewhat normal again I've been doing a lot of thinking back to the day of surgery and those very early recovery days, and in all honesty I cannot remember any of it!! There are memories which are a complete blur, and things which baffle me still to this day. I guess when you're knocked out for a big amount of time, and then pumped so hard with every pain med going, you really don't know what's going on - and I didn't...

There is one thing that has always stuck out to me, and that was waking up for the first time in recovery. In my head, I thought I was fine as soon as I woke up, but the more I try to 'piece together the day' the more I actually don't remember any of it. For example, when I woke up, I thought I stayed awake, moved to my ward 2 hours later and then saw my family. In reality, I actually have no clue of moving out of recovery to my ward, or even how I got off the theatre trolley onto my bed. I certainly hadn't stayed awake for 2 hours, and I know this because my limited memory was actually of my surgeon trying to wake up over and over again, and him telling me to stop touching my face. During this time my sats dropped, I got the worst chesty cough imaginable, and my recovery nurses refused to move me to my ward because I wasn't stable enough yet in their eyes, and I refused to keep my oxygen mask on. I guess I scared myself a little (knowing to much is bad for you) and I sat up and just watched my surroundings. I even attempted to drink from a cup which failed, obviously as I couldn't feel or move my face, but then I assume I dosed back off during this time and they eventually moved me out, as I can't remember the transfer at all. I remember being sick when I finally got to the ward, waving to my parents and James when they first saw me, and then from here the rest of the visit and the night turned into a blur... apparently I asked James if my nose was wonky. Oh well!

I also don't remember the first time I saw my 'new face.' Before surgery I thought it would be a big moment, that would stay with me forever, but I have no clue of seeing it for the first time. I vaguely remember people telling me that I looked amazing in recovery, but lets be honest, I was so spaced out, falling in and out of sleep,  I didn't care what they were telling me, and I guess during this time I didn't care what I looked like either! I think I even shrugged one of the nurses when she said that the transformation was amazing! Opps! :P

Considering I can't remember much of my stay in hospital, It still felt like the longest 3 days of my entire life.

Anyway, I want your guys views. How much can you remember, or not in this case? How did you feel waking up for the first time, or seeing your face? Get commenting!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Day 40+: 6 week-ish update!

Oh dear, I've been abit neglectful of this blog over the past few days. Life has suddenly gotten extremely busy and I've just had no time! I apologise! I think from now on I'll blog as something happens, or if I have an apt with my surgeon, or simply if I just find something interesting to blog about :P So last Thursday I hit the 6 week recovery mark. WAHEY!...
 

I was due to see my surgeon on Wednesday but unfortunately he had to cancel - he's gone on an unplanned compassionate leave for 2 months which means he has handed me over to the care of my ortho for the time-being, and he won't be seeing me until he returns on the 28th of June, but will be seeing my ortho in 2 weeks. I'm not too fussed in all honesty, as I've been seeing both my ortho and surgeon at the same time, and my ortho is pretty switched on surgery wise. It just means that I'm still not chewing/blowing my nose etc... as I haven't had the 'all clear' from either of them - so a big step for normality for me will be closer to the 8-week mark, when I do finally see Mr.Ortho.

Anyway, here is a general 'update' of things that have been happening surgery and life wise:

Pain:
Is basically non-existing, however since I've started work placement and i'm communicating more, and just generally working more my jaw is getting incredibly tired and achey which results in pain. It's not surgery pain in general, it's more of a 'getting used to normal habbits' pain. But it really does ache. One thing I also keep doing is 'shocking my jaw' - usually when walking down the steps. I forget that my face is pretty delicate at the moment and I bounce down steps as I usually did pre-op, and when I get to the bottom one I throw all my weight down onto my foot (rather than placing it down gentally), and it's like my body has lost it's suspension and the sudden force travels up my body and shocks my jaw a little. It's pretty pathetic really but oh well!

Swelling:
Has come down a lot. I can't see any swelling at all anymore, however my family and friends do say that I still have a tiny little bit around my lower jaw and under my chin. But last little bits can take months to disappear.

Numbness:
I've pretty much regained all feeling in my entire face, accept for half of my bottom lip and part of my chin. At times they do tingle which makes me think that one day they'll wake up, but I won't be surprised or bothered if they don't. My gums are still completely numb but again are tingling, but I now have all feeling on the inside of my mouth and tongue.

Eating:
Still on no chew unfortunately atleast until the 8 week mark. I can now open my mouth around a finger and a half width so it is gradually getting wider. Eating is gradually getting faster but I still use  a little spoon or fork, and it's still a messy process because of the bands. I guess psychologically eating in public is a big thing, as I only feel comfortable to eat around my family James and Dani, I certainly wouldn't tackle a restaurant yet! (Atleast not until the bands are off!). It's also a pain trying to find foods that aren't messy which I can take to work.

Congestion:
I'm not really congested anymore, however I still can't blow my nose (as I haven't been given the all clear), if i'm being honest I've secretly blown my nose EVER SO GENTALLY sometimes (shh!) and it feels incredibly weird. I get this popping sensation in my right nostril which scares me sometimes, and happens if I blow or press a patch near my eye which I do want to ask my surgeon about. But I can't wait for the complete all clear so I can have a blowing party with a box of tissues!

General Feeling:
Surgeons thank-you card.
All in all i'm incredibly happy with surgery and it's outcome. I'm still getting used to my face and at times I don't like it, but that's only because it's so different. I look in the mirror and wonder who is staring back at me sometimes! The past 6 weeks have flown by and in honesty I'm sad to see this era of my life pass, something I have waited so long for has been and gone in the blink of an eye, and I frequently say that I wish I could go back and 'slow down' and enjoy it a little bit more (even though there is nothing to enjoy really accept for the outcome!) People ask me if i'd do it again and I would, Jaw surgery is an amazing thing and is one of the best decisions I've made!

My surgical team and orthodontist have been absolutely amazing and I hold a lot of respect for these people, they're so intelligent and their level of care and compassion for me has been more than I ever expected during this surgery stage, I really can't thank them enough for the impact they've had on myself and my life! They are truly an inspiration!
One thing I have done is had a thank-you card made for my surgeon of my x-ray, as i'm pretty sure he will be discharging me from his care pretty soon which i'm incredibly sad about, (my ortho won't get one until he removes my braces and discharges me :P) but it's cool so I thought i'd post a pic!
 

Monday, 6 May 2013

Day 39: Photo taking!

So after last nights 'blip' and alot of amazingly lovely comments from you guys - I feel alot better about my face, and alot better in general, so this post is dedicated to you guys. It's so nice that you're not alone in this whole jaw surgery experience, whether that be friends and family, but it's even nicer knowing that you're surrounded by such a diverse yet amazing group of people, who are all part of the 'jaw army' together - although we're all generally having jaw surgery, our own stories, procedure and recovery is unique, and that's what gets me through the tougher days, knowing that each of you have gone through yours and got out smiling the other side, so thank you, for simply being there!

As much as updates goes, I had my first ice cream today. Fair enough I couldn't eat the cornet but the bit on top was a-ma-zing! I also took plenty of photos - last night after my strop I decided that I was going to take absolutely, no more photos until i'm totally recovered so THEN I could get used to the results, but today i'm on something different - if you're reading this, take millions of photos, every single day, and use these photos! Since jaw surgery i've made sure that every photo has been updated on any social networking site such as FB, my phone background, etc.. not only will it let you embrace your new face, it lets you get used to it to!

My favorite photo today has got to be the one of James and I side on, i've always envied people who could have pictures like this as side-on I was always so self conscious about my jaw, but now I can too!


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Day 38: Sleeping milestone and a good cry.

So last night I hit another milestone, I slept in my own bed, for the entire night! In honesty I made a fortress of pillows to guard my face, but managed to have an amazing sleep. I only woke up once and even slept in until 9.45! Amazing! I didn't plan to get in my bed, I got on my chair and within 5 minutes i'd had enough and thought oh sod it. I spent most of the night on my back, and if I did roll onto my face I made sure pressure was on my forehead rather than directly on my jaw. But one step closer to normality.

Today soon turned into a pretty awful day. I originally became really productive, and even made a video. However shortly after my mood rocketed and I turned so depressed I even uttered the words "I hate my new face, why couldn't I just have been greatful with what I had - this jaw surgery was the worst thing I have ever done" *Gasp* That turned into a massive sob, and I mean real hysterical crying which probably lasted the best part of an hour.

Now I feel more positive about the situation; how I should have looked at it is; I'm learning to smile again, my smile is wonky because my swelling is worse on one side but non-existing on the other, I can't talk properly yet because of numbness and swelling and stitches, and my face looks completely different - but completely normal.

I guess you never appreciate how hard it is to get used to something completely new, especially when it's changing on a daily basis. To me my new face looks weird, it looks out of proportion and it looks totally different. To anyone else it looks normal - but a normal smile with no gums showing, or a normal jaw line is Not something I am used to!

Anyway, on 'reflection' of said event, I'm not going to upload the video I did, nor any photos I took. I'm going to start a new day tomorrow and attempt it again, and appreciate that yeah, I'm healing pretty well, but i'm a long long way from total 100% recovery. People say that you shouldn't worry about your appearance until 6 months post-op, but that's real hard isn't it?!


Saturday, 4 May 2013

Day 37: Nasal Turbinates and Congestion

Nasal congestion is extremely common when you undergo jaw surgery, especially with maxillary impaction due to the top jaw being moved upwards - cutting through your nasal bone and into your nasal sinuses. If you watch the maxillary impaction video below, you'll see what I mean!



Anyway for me personally, because of my impaction movement of 6mm, I had to have turbinates and soft tissue removed, which I was aware of before surgery, and again this is very common. Alot of people have been asking me what these are and where they are located. Turbinates, also called nasal concha are to support the 'air-controlling' and 'air
filtering' functions of your nose when you're breathing in an out. If you flare your nostrils and shine a torch up there you may be able to see them. It's removal comes with it's own risks, which I won't go into, but your surgeon will - this is something that you need to weigh up yourself. For me personally, the risks associated with turbinate removal during my maxillary impaction never bothered me, and it's not something I've worried about since.

Since surgery I've always been congested; this is extremely common due to the removal of turbinates and cutting into your nasal sinuses in general, and healing is generally paired with inflammation and increased mucus production. I'm not allowed to blow my nose as of yet due to the risk of doing some damage up there, and the risk of bleeding. However, as of yesterday my nose has started to bleed. Urgh! It hasn't done this since the day of surgery! It's only coming out of one nostril, and it's very fresh blood mixed with the mucus. In all honesty I have been cleaning up there with a cotton bud, and from what I can see I've irritated a little part of my nose and made it abit sore. It doesn't help that my hayfever has started and things are starting to get inflamed. Anyway, for safety reasons, when I see my surgeon on Wednesday, I will get him to check it out!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Day 36: Another perspective (Best friends)

So I had alot of emails and a few comments following James's post, saying what a good idea it was, as we never really see jaw surgery from somebody elses view other than as ourselves going through it. So I handed this post over to my best friend Vicky - in honesty her post made me cry, she talks about her fears and nerves watching me go through jaw surgery! (I'm also going to ask Dani and my parents to write one at some point!)
Pre-Op
When we think about what we want out of life, most people think of their career path and having a family. For Emma though, she's had something completely unique on her list. She wanted Jaw Surgery and after a long wait, she’s had it!
The first time I met Emma I noticed something different about her... I thought she was a twin! (No, really I did). Well I got that wrong, but I came to learn that there was something different about Emma.
During college me and Emma became extremely close friends. Although she's a 'little worrier', she’s always been the strongest member of our little duo. Emma has always had a huge amount of independence. I would never have thought this back at 16 when Emma spent most of her days in a dressing gown and didn't know how to turn the washing machine on! But she's always been independent with regards to what she wants out of life. I found it amazing when Emma was set on having Jaw Surgery.
I don't think throughout college and the start of Uni it ever really sunk in. I remember in second year of college, we were asked to introduce each other In front of the class. Being best friends, we had a lot to say about one another, and one of them on my list was that Emma had a 'deformed jaw'. I remember everyone being confused and shocked but I don't think anyone including me saw anything wrong with Emma's Jaw. Admittedly, I've always been extremely jealous of Emma because of how absolutely gorgeous she is! It made me feel even more jealous when I realised how gorgeous she is inside. Back then, major surgery didn't seem real to me.

I remember a month before her surgery and she told me shed set a date and changed her surgeon. I have no idea why but I didn't take it in. I think because we'd been waiting so long for this day, when it came it just felt like they were going to say 'no Emma, you're not ready yet'.
I think that month went unbelievably fast! The most upsetting time for me at this stage was not being able to see her before surgery. Since she told me that she had a date, I hadn’t seen her for a while and I felt terrible! I wanted her to know I was there for her and I was thinking about her, but texts and emails just weren't the same as the hug I was dying to give her.
Week of the Surgery
The week of her surgery, I think adrenaline pumped in. I wasn't excited...I was worried. I started to have loads of dreams about her going into theatre. I’ve never liked the thought of surgery for anyone. I've always thought what If something goes wrong. I think because I hadn't said good luck and I love you to her face, I kept worrying thinking if anything happens will I ever get to say bye.
The day of surgery, went extremely slowly. I woke up at a ridiculous time in the morning after another weird dream and went into Uni early to do work. The whole of the Uni was completely silent and I remember sitting in the library being so fidgety. At this point I have to thank James. He was absolutely amazing at keeping me up-to-date with everything that was going on!
Post-Op
After the surgery, I was so relieved that she had come home and everything had gone according to plan. James kept me up to speed with everything, which was brilliant and I was so happy she was doing well. She's so strong! For me though, that first week was horrible. The nerves had set in and I realised that the next time I see my Emma, she will look different. I think the first time she showed me a photograph, I was stunned. But then I thought calm down this was taken when she had just come out of surgery, she's bound to look different.
I think it really really hit me when she uploaded a video on her blog. Within the first 20 seconds of viewing it, I broke down in tears. She just looked so pale and so ill, and it just felt like her sparkle had gone! That week and when more photos came, I was getting more and more nervous about seeing her. To take my mind off the nerves, I started to focus on how I could show her I love her. I thought I'd do her a little box with bits in to keep her going so she could relax and pamper herself. I think I felt like I had to compensate for not being there beforehand.

I think the worst thing about that week was when I tried to explain to people who didn't know Emma why I was nervous. No one seemed to understand why I was petrified about seeing her for the first time. I couldn't get to sleep all week because I felt so guilty for feeling nervous about seeing my best friend. I know she hadn't changed inside but I couldn't explain why the surgery had made me so anxious to see her and no one understood. I think it felt even more worse because I felt like I couldn't talk to Emma about it. I didn't want her to be worried about me and I didn’t want her to think I was being a rubbish friend. It got so bad at one point that I was really close to giving her some crap excuse to say I can't come and see you. Even thinking of saying that made me feel sick. I just felt like such an awful friend!
The night before I went to see her, I actually started to get excited. I really really missed her and I wanted to show her my box of goodies; I kind of dragged Jordan along with me. I thought if I start to get upset I want someone I can hide my face behind.
When I did see her, I couldn't look at her straight in the face. I put the box of stuff on her knee, and when I was pointing to things, I realised my hand was shaking and so I just thought I'd sit down quickly before she noticed. I decided to tell her a story of what had happened to Jordan the day before to make her laugh. And it worked! And even though half of her face didn't move I could see the sparkle in her eyes returning.

I’d never once say that Emma had done the wrong thing. It's what she wanted and I was always beside her every step of the way. She looks even more gorgeous than she ever did before and I feel so lucky to have such a strong best friend and an amazingly gorgeous one too. I still feel silly for feeling and reacting the way I did. I know Emma herself probably won’t be aware of everything I felt through that first week until she’s read this. I'm just glad that the hard part is over with now and she's on the road to full recovery. She's been amazing! I love her 


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Day 35: 5 week update

Pain in Jaw: 1/10
Wow, the weeks are flying by!

I've been abit pants on the picture front lately and I do apologise; I do have them I just don't have any front view before pictures (hence why only side ones have gone up) from my other laptop around, so as soon as I get them i'll back track and update the daily photos.

Recovery is going well, i'm learning to talk and use my mouth again slowly which is nice, the swelling has gone down alot on one side compared to the other; it's really comical when I talk or smile because the less-swollen side goes up more! I can't wait for 0 swelling so that I can see a 'finished result smile' rather than one of a working progress!

I'm still in two bands, one either side which limit my movements quite alot. I've said this before but bands are used to guide your teeth into their new position, I definitely feel as though this has improved since the first couple of days, when I could bite together my brain got a little overexcited I think and was like 'Wow, lets clench down hard' and it didn't really know when to actually STOP applying clenching pressure. Since then, my bite has just come together comfortably with no added pressure etc... My jaw spasms seem to have started again, but again, I think this is my jaw getting abit frustrated of being kept in one place, I feel as though it's telling me it's okay and it wants to start moving!

Pain has been under control for the past week or so, I very rarely take pain meds anymore, sometimes I feel as though my jaw is getting tired when I talk too much at once but this is to be expected. The only discomfort I have really is the cotton ball feeling around my lips; but this is just a combo of numbness, swelling and stitches, and a burning pain I get frequently in my chin.

The only places i'm totally numb now are my gums, half of my bottom lip and an area of my chin, everywhere else is starting to return. It's not fully back yet but atleast it's not numb!

Eating is getting better, I can still only open my mouth a fingers width wide so eating is abit of a messy process but I can generally mash most things up with my tounge. Meats I find difficult so I avoid them. I'm still on strict no chew diet but i'm getting real bad urges to chew just lately, especially when food gathers around my back molars; I keep having dreams that i've forgotten I'm not allowed to chew and i've bit and chewed away on something anyway - I doubt when I start it will be as easy as it is in my dreams though :P

Congestion has been pretty bad again today but I think that's because my hayfever is starting. I'm going to check when I can blow my nose with my surgeon next week, when I get the all clear i'm going to buy a big box of tissues and go crazy!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Day 34: Another perspective (Boyfriends)

So out of all the jaw surgery blogs i've seen around, we all write things from our own perspective. I thought i'd hand over this post to James for the night in hope maybe i'll appreciate things more from his perspective, watching me undergo jaw surgery! (I might even ask my parents and friends to write their's at some point too!).

Pre-Op:
I first met Emma around 9 years ago but to be honest I never noticed anything wrong with her face or jaw or smile. We lost contact and remet again in September 2012 when we started our relationship, and still I never noticed, I thought she looked beautiful as she was. When she told me about her operation initially I was abit freaked out, I wasn't expecting it and I wondered why she was putting herself through this. After this I took an interest and did my own research and brushed up on things so that I fully understood what she was going through and what I had to do to help. The day she got her date for her op was an awful day, I started to worry loads about her, about us, how she was going to cope, all sorts really. After this moment I was fine, I still had my worries but as the days grew closer and she got excited I was happy for her as it's something she has always wanted.

Hospital Stay:
Leaving Emma at hospital on the day of her op was another awful day, we didn't really prepare to leave each other so soon so we all got abit upset. The 6 hours she was down theatre went on forever, it felt as though she was down there for weeks and time dragged so much. I called the hospital a few times during the afternoon but I just kept being told she was still in theatre. When we got to the hospital and I saw Emma for the first time post-op I was relieved and I was happy because I had her back, I knew she was safe and she looked stunning, even better than before. I was amazed by the results and how much different she looked and this is when I think I first realised what was up with her jaw before her op. Soon after Em's parents and I got there she started being sick and got really poorly. There wasn't much I could do other than hold her sick bowl, comfort her and wipe the sick away (Scoring points - a nurse said what a great boyfriend I was :P). The one thing annoyed me was knowing that she was ill and I couldn't do anything for her.

Over the next few days while she was in hospital Emma got abit depressed, she really wanted to come home but wasn't allowed, and then when her surgeon added her 3rd band it was the icing on the cake for her and she got really upset because she couldn't eat. Day 1 she had a reaction to her antibiotics and her pain and drooling started on day 2 which really frustrated her, she was really tired and abit fed up. Luckily we got to take her home after 3 days in hospital which I was really happy about and so was she.

Post-Op Recovery:
Recovery during the first 2 weeks for her was pretty tiring, Emma slept like a baby for the first couple of nights as she was so tired, but after this she got really uncomfy trying to sleep. Food wise everything had to be liquidised and trying to get foods and drink into her through a syringe was hard for us all. Nothing would fit down the syringe and she didn't like any of the stuff we were giving her (usually soup). When I ate my food Emma always asked me to sit with her and I hated eating around her, I felt really guilty that she couldn't have any of it, and her mum was making real nice food.
Her pain got bad after the first couple of days and she was needing pain meds around the clock. Seeing her in pain was distressing, especially when it peaked.  Swelling and bruising also got worse around day 4, to be honest this didn't bother me, I was just scared people would have thought i'd been beating her up or something. Emma also regretted the surgery in the first couple of days because she was so uncomfy and in so much pain, she cried a few times and she wished it was all over but I reassured her it would be alright and it was.

Thankfully things have improved since surgery and shes nearly 5 weeks post-op. I feel relieved that it's coming to an end after how long shes waited for it, it's not hanging over her anymore, so she can plan her life and we can plan our future without having to worry about 'upcoming jaw surgery.'

In general shes done brilliantly, i'm really impressed by how well shes coped with it all, without really moaning or complaining, shes just got on with it. She looks more beautiful each day and i'm really really proud of everything shes achieved in the past few weeks.

James

Monday, 29 April 2013

Day 32: A huge big thank you's

Pain in Jaw: 2/10
I thought it was time that I thanked those extra special people that have helped me through recovery so far (and hopefully you're reading this!), It may be abit premature as I haven't technically hit the 'fully recovered' stage yet, but I don't think i've ever said any propper thank you's to anybody yet, so here they are. (You will have to excuse the fact that all pictures are pre-op!)

So firstly to the main guys themselves; my orthodontist and my surgeon. You've each debated which of you have had the bigger role in my care, but truth is, you've both had your own jobs which have been important to give me my desired outcome. My time with you over the past 4 years plus has shown me what amazing people you all are. Even though I haven't known my surgeon as long, your attention to detail and care is beyond amazing. You've become simply more than my ortho and surgeon, you're friends. You laugh with me, you joke with me, and you even bully me sometimes, but you've also put me at ease, looked after me and cared for me more than I ever expected. You've completely changed my life, and my outlook on it, and I can never thank you enough.

To my fellow jaw surgery undergoers (especially if you've had a blog which I've stalked) thank you for showing me how to cope with this surgery, for getting edible food into me when I ran out of ideas, and for your endless compliments, comforting and reassurance. It's nice to know that there is somebody not far away who has had surgery, and has made it past the first week of hell!

My parents - for standing by me and taking me to every single orthodontist appointment since the beginning of forever, for never pushing me to have this surgery but instead simply supporting me, letting the decision be my own. I know that you thought I was beautiful enough, and I know how hard it was for you to watch me go through with this - but i'm glad that you supported me during it, and loved me regardless. Even though your daughter now has a completely new face. Not to mention putting up with my endless moaning through the braces, surgery wait and surgery itself. Without you I would never have done so well, or recovered so quickly. Until surgery, I never realised how much I took you for granted, but now I fully appreciate you and everything you've ever done for me, and I love you so much.

To my best friends Vicky and Dani, and my girls Sarah, Annabel and Katie: You've all encouraged me in individual ways which have made my recovery smooth, since i've known each of you this surgery has always been in the light and it's never changed your opinion of me or influenced how you acted around me. Post-op you looked after me, complimented me, protected and comforted me when all I really wanted to do was moan, you reminded me what it was like to laugh and be social again, and that there really is a light at the end and the fact that it's getting brighter everyday.

To probably the most important person ever, my boyfriend James. He wrote me a letter whilst I was in hospital, which said "moments in our lives make or break couples, and this has made us so much stronger," and it has. To have this sort of pressure early on in a relationship is testing for anybody, people who have survived years haven't been through something as challenging as this - but the fact that you've been there for me during every second of my recovery days I am truly thankful for, especially when we've had to give up alot as a relationship in general. They don't lie when they say in sickness and in health! You've picked me up, loved me and taught me how to smile. You've wiped away my tears, and my fair share of sick, drool and snot. You comforted me during the bad days, and made me laugh during the good. You also taught me how to love my new face, including loving it yourself, and as you said "through the next part of your journey i'll be by your side" you can be, as I will be yours, holding your hand all the way.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Day 31: Jaw exercise trial

Pain in Jaw: 4/10
So i'm getting to the point that I really don't know what to blog about everyday; but I still want to do it because so many people are sending me emails telling me that a 'daily life of a jaw surgery undergoer' is great to read - especially when they're going through the same process, and i'm glad that I'm helping people in some way.

Although I haven't been told to start jaw exercises yet, for some reason I really wanted to see how much I could move my jaw. When I saw my surgeon the other week he told me to move my bottom jaw forward. In my head I was moving it forward, my jaw however wasn't going nowhere. My surgeon eventually said; "You can't do it can you? Don't worry!"

Anyway. Today I was attempting to move my bottom jaw side to side. (Some jaw surgery forums recommend starting to do this only a few days post-op, I however do NOT!) Again, In my head I was moving it just fine, but to watch, it was barely moving at all.  But then, my jaw decides to spasm at the most awkward moment it could have and resulted in so much pain it was unreal. So much so I had to have my pain meds all over again, and I've been doing pretty well without them.

Note to self, and to everyone else: Do not start jaw exercises until your surgeon gives you the go ahead!

On a plus note, I've finally started to officially drink from a cup, and eat with a fork. I still can't quite get the big spoon in use just get, but using a fork means I can put food that little bit deeper in my mouth - resulting in much less mess! Extremely baby steps, but a great milestone!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Day 30: Post-op depression

Pain in Jaw: 1/10

So today I decided to embrace normality and went out for an entire day, even eating a pancake in a public place! I made every attempt to not think of my jaw once (although I did sit sideways on the bus and said to James that I could do this now and show it off because my side profile is fixed!) I've decided that from now, i'm not going to live as if i'm dead during my recovery stages.

One thing I wanted to talk about on this post was depression after jaw surgery. It's extremely common and majority of us have experienced it at some point - even if it was just a low moment when we've shared a few tears or felt abit fed up. I've had plenty, jaw surgery is challenging. You become unsociable and down generally because you can't talk very well, you can't eat normal foods, you're in pain and you know this is going to stay like this for a few weeks.



I know the first few days after jaw surgery I was in bits constantly, I was petrified of every little thing that could cause damage to my new jaw, meaning i'd have to go through the whole process again. Looking back, I wish I could have told myself that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to not worry so much but I can't, it's just something you have to experience. I'm writing this not to scare anybody from it, but in hope that somebody who is in that first week of recovery believes me when I say things do actually get better.

In summary, jaw surgery is a long process. Apparently you're not supposed to worry about your appearance until 6 months - I worry about it everyday, I worry that the swelling has stopped, I moan about it, and i'm sure a lot of other people do too. But as James said yesterday "The mona lisa wasn't painted in a day, and that's a work of art." Similarly, jaw surgery is your personal work of art, and you're not going to recover in a day. Jaw surgery is a blessing in disguise, even if we can't see it at the time, and I keep saying that there is a light at the end of the tunnel - because there really is, and i'm sure many people who are way past recovery can vouch for this!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Day 29: Sleeping normally

Pain in Jaw: 2/10

So last night I gave sleeping in my bed for the first time since surgery ago. Because of the amount of work I've had done in my nose, and to minimise swelling my surgeon has told me to sleep upright. Apparently sleeping flat also can increase risks of congestion due to nasal work, and your ability to breathe properly. Around the 2 week mark my surgeon still advised me to sleep elevated, and reduce myself slowly, and I did this. I let my recliner chair recline back ever so slightly.

Me when I was happy in bed, before
I got out and back on my recliner!
Just the other day when I saw my surgeon he told me that it was ok to go ahead and sleep as normal, aslong as I was still slightly elevated. (He advised me just to reduce this gradually and to play it by ear as to how my body coped with it). My main concern that being a side sleeper i'd do damage to my jaw, he gave me his reassuring smile and told me it would be fine.

 I got my mum to tuck me into bed, as soon as I got in it I hated it. She encouraged me to stay to try and beat this psychological fear, we moved pillows, tried the v-pillow and generally just tried different things to make myself comfy. When I was finally comfy I was happy, and I got her to snap a photo of this 'milestone.' As soon as she left the room and I actually attempted to sleep it all went downhill, I spent 45 minutes or so googling 'sleeping on your side after jaw surgery' and another 10 minutes pleading with my mum to let me get back on my fort of a recliner chair because my chin was hurting. (My chin is the only thing that is hurting me now, apart from general discomfort. I don't know If it's because i'm expecting it to hurt, or because It was more so tucked into my chest).

You'd think the surgeons go ahead would be enough, but no. Can I sleep in a bed? Can I hell. Not only do I feel like I've got to rehabilitate myself in the talking, eating and moving my mouth sense, i'm now petrified of my bed!

Today I posted a question on the jaw surgery forums about this fear, hopefully people will give me some tips. If anybody else can, please go ahead! For now I just keep trying myself in bed for an hour at a time so hopefully I can adjust to it, and i'm going to enjoy my trusty recliner before somebody takes it from me!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Day 28: 4 weeks!

Pain in Jaw: 1/10

So i've decided i'm going to do pictures every other day, then hopefully I will see more of a change compared to everyday. (Decided just to put side ones on today as i'm still swollen around the front and can't really smile properly yet, you can't notice the changes as much!)

 I apologise that this is abit of a long post, but I tried to write things 'from the heart' and I probably waffled abit too much!

So this time 4 weeks ago, I'd just got on the table. I was probably about an hour into my operation now, and this 4 week recovery mark seemed like a very distant dream! 4 weeks ago, I was a long long way from recovery and the dreaded 'week of hell' (as I like to refer to it as, as the first week was definitely brutally awful) was going to approach me in another 5 hours time, as I was challenged physically and mentally.

One thing i've been wanting to talk about for a while was my car journey home from the hospital, a couple of days after my operation. I think i've only spoke about this with Dani and James but it was a very surreal moment; excuse me if this is incredibly soppy and cliché and you don't see the resemblance at all, but to me it was a moment that has stuck with me, and probably will for quite a while.

I don't know if you've heard of the Bastille song 'pompeii' (it's below if you haven't) - anyway, this song came on as I got in the car. Imagine it now, James drove around from where my theatres were, i'd finally had my operation, away from my ward where I had been nursed after my operation, up the hospital estate before passing the outpatients department where most of my visits had been for the past couple of years - where my orthodontist lives, and then on we went to home. As this happened, these lyrics played...

"But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothings changed at all,
And if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you've been here before,
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?"

I did exactly that. I closed my eyes and finally embraced the fact that after years and years of waiting, I'd finally had my operation, that I was passing the place where it all started, or where 'i'd been before' and I was going home. I opened my eyes and then reality hit me, I was in alot of pain, restricted, uncomfortable, I was physically drained, weak, tired, I could hardly move and I thought this is gonna be a tough 6 weeks - I couldn't be an optimist about it, and I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Do you see the resemblance to the song? Surreal moment, will stay with me forever. But now i'm recovering well. I'm finally the 'optimist' I'm talking and it's getting clearer by the day, the pain is reducing, the swelling is slowly going down, and the feeling in my face is slowly returning. I'm smiling more and more everyday, and everybody is incredibly pleased with my results. I'm still not allowed to chew, but atleast it's not strict liquid diet, I can eat soft foods finally, including chocolate buttons and cookie dough. Life is starting to get back to normal, I'm half way to recovery, and that's blissful.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Day 27: X-rays and surgeon visit

Pain in Jaw: 4/10 (Surgeon has been messing about with my jaw)

So yesterday I was having my usual generic conversation with James; 'Am I still swollen? Where am I swollen? Does it look good? Am I going to look like this forever?' To which he replied, yes you are, you're swollen everywhere and realistically it's probably going to take a while to go, and no you won't look like that forever, your face is changing all the time, but you look amazing.'

I'm finding it so hard to 'like' my new face. I mean, I like it, but I miss my old face? I long for my old face, I feel like that old face has died and is never coming back again. Well lets be honest, it is never coming back again, and I feel like i've lost something really important. (Well it was important, it was my face!) This is Emma version 2.0 - I'm still swollen, I'm amazed by the results but my face is changing everyday, meaning everyday I have to get used to a new face, and I'm finding that incredibly hard. I love my side profile now, but I think I don't like it from the front yet, because i'm used to gummy-ness and I don't feel like i'm showing enough teeth, when in reality, I am showing the perfect amount. I'm just not used to it. I think this is combined with my lack of patience to see the no-swollen, full on functioning, smiley, new me.

James said the best thing ever to me yesterday which I keep reminding myself of...

"Your old face was 21 years old. You've grown up with that face for the past 21 years. Your new face, is only 4 weeks old. You've only gotten used to it for 4 weeks, it's going to take time."

...when you think of it, he actually has a really good point.

Today I saw my surgeon and orthodontist again. Bless them, I love how excited they always get to see me and to see their handiwork really. They're both still really impressed with the results and said that in the week from when they last saw me, my bite has already improved, i've got to continue wearing the bands as they are for the next couple of weeks. I also had x-rays done (they're below), there's no signs of infection around the screws or my incision sites (touch wood) and my surgeon said the pain i'm experiencing in my chin is probably the nerves firing up again. I also got them to debate against each other, they both complimented each other what an amazing job each other had done in terms of getting my teeth ready for surgery AND the surgery itself - until I reminded them that it was a team effort and they'd both done an amazing job!

My surgeon doesn't want me chewing or using my jaw too much until the 8 week mark. I think he's old school as I always classed recovery as the 6-week mark; I nearly fell of my chair when he said 8 weeks, but atleast i'm halfway there now and the worst part is definitely over. Swelling has still got abit to go, and the nerves could take around 90 days to wake up fully. He also gave me the all clear to finally sleep in a bed, however i've still got to be slightly elevated. I'm abit fearful of rolling onto my side but he said that it would be ok, I guess if I don't do it now i'll always be afraid of sleeping.

Anyway; here are my movements
Impaction: 6mm
Mandibular advancement with genioplasty: 5mm (He did describe how he moved my jaw and chin to avoid moving my top jaw forwards but I didn't really understand what he was saying - other than it was a 5mm movement).


Before is on the right, after is on the left.