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.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Day 25 & 26: Back to Normality

Pain in Jaw: 2/10
So i'm combining both days into 1 post. Yesterday was my first day back at university; thankfully it was only a 2 hour lecture and it didn't last the two hours as my level of concentration was pretty low, but it was good to be back!

People responded to my face in a very positive way; even people that I wasn't necessarily close to took the time to come over and said that the changes were amazing, which then followed with your usual lot questions. But it got me talking and communicating moreso than usual which was nice!

I'm slowly getting used to my face. I still think it looks very square and i'm not sure if thats the swelling or what. I hope it shapes up a little more. I know that after jaw surgery you shouldn't worry about your appearance until atleast 6 months; but it's hard not to!
I also went out on a Bar Crawl last night with my cohort dressed as smurfs, in all fairness it was a really good night out and i'm glad I went - I was pretty petrified of it being too busy and people knocking me but once I was in there I didn't mind so much. I left at 1am when it got abit too busy. Thankfully nobody physically knocked my jaw although I had two extremely close encounters. One girl through her arm out and nearly punched me in my face (literally she was an inch away), and the second 'close encounter' was when I was leaving a club. Some guy grabbed my hand and pulled me to him, said something to me and then went to full on grab my face. Oh my god did alarm bells start to ring! Luckily though I caught his hand just as he skimmed my face before he could do much damage and just said 'not my face' - my friend shot him an evil look and he looked abit confused but he got the picture and let go.. and then I went home. On the way home funnily enough Dani asked me if I wanted some chips from the kebab shop - boy would I have loved some! :P

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Day 24: The move back home

Pain in Jaw: 2/10
So today I packed up my things at my parents house, and headed back down to my own place. Tomorrow is the first day back at uni, and although i'm really excited to see the girls and to get back to normality - i'm absolutely dreading it! I know that during lecture (thankfully only 2 hours long), i'm going to start dribbling, or get a surge of pain - or worse, hunger! (How do you deal with THAT out of the comforts of your home)!

I'm also heading out to a club tomorrow night, dressed as a smurf... Not the best  idea i've had in a while and certainly wouldn't be approved in the eyes of my surgeon; however it's a cohort thing - the last ever thing we do together  as a whole cohort before we qualify. I'm not drinking/wearing heals or risking anything happening to my face in anyway shape or form - i'm just going to show my face and that's all.

Today started as the worst day ever, I woke up with a really bad sore throat. As I do every morning, as I have done since surgery (It usually wakes me in the night), normally I have a drink and something to eat and it goes. Today was different, it was painful and it was one side. I opened my mouth as far as I could to have a look and I noticed a load of ulcers on the one side; at this point i'd had enough. I felt crap last night anyway, and today I felt worse. I had a few tears, along with a few 'Sick of being in pain...sick of not eating...sick of being uncomfortable 24/7' - your usual moans when you've just had jaw surgery, had some pain meds and thankfully the pain became manageable and it turned into a pretty decent day.

One thing i've done today is actually locate 4 screws in my top jaw; two either side of my nose, and two just abit further from my nose. They're not painful to touch, they just send weird sensations up my face! Now just to locate the bottom jaw and chin!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Day 23: A normal day

Pain in Jaw: 3/10

So today was the first bit of 'decent' sun we've had here in England and my plan was to go and feed some ducks and to walk around the lake. As soon as I stepped outside however, I became incredibly cold despite it being absolutely boiling outside, I got a raging headache, became tired and weak and I just felt like pants. Ruining all my plans as per jaw surgery! Instead I stayed tucked up on the sofa under a duvet, i'm going to watch Britains got talent and eat my chocolate in very small pieces.

As you can see by my daily mugshot also, my smile is gradually improving. Still swollen and numb which makes it difficult to smile but no more gummy-ness is amazing, and it's progress from 3 weeks ago when I looked miserable as ever! I can't wait to watch it develop even more over the next couple of weeks.

Pain has settled down again, although i'm having to take pain medication during the day again now. I also attempted to put make up on this evening (as i'm going out on Monday and thought I better try it before then). It failed, big style. My face is too numb and too sore to go around blending in all that stuff just yet, and because of my increase in dead skin flakey-ness, it just pealed off. It looked disgusting.

Another disgusting thing I did just recently was google and YouTube the jaw surgery and genio procedure, and I don't mean before and after pictures, I mean the actual procedure. Usually i'm well into all this blood and gore and find it quite interesting, however I had to close the page, it knocked me abit sicky and I don't want to be reminded of whats actually happened in my face merely 3 weeks-ish ago! My mums exact words were 'No wonder you're in discomfort Emma, Look at that, that just doesn't heal and go away overnight' - Fair point well made!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Day 22: Spasms, pain and relapse

Pain in Jaw: 4/10
So over the past few days i've been getting atleast one jaw spasm a day, today they're getting more frequent and happen on both sides of my jaw now. They're not painful in anyway, they're just so uncomfortable! It's like nails on a chalkboard when it happens, it really makes my hairs stand on edge and sends shivers through my body! Unfortunately jaw spasms can't be prevented and are an inevitable part of recovery, and occur most often when you're banded. Apparently though, they gradually get less around week 4/5.

Another thing that has been happening, is my pain is jumping all over the place. For the first 2 weeks I was taking pain meds around the clock, into my 3rd week I managed to reduce them to evenings and night times, now all of a sudden the pain has jumped again, and it's all in the chin. Either side of my chin and right across where I imagine my surgeon did my genio - i'm not sure if this level of pain again is normal, or it's normal to suddenly develop pain - it may be a case of i'm feeling it more now my nerves are waking up. I'm just preying it's not something more severe, like infection (It's almost a burning and pulsating pain which is what worries me, my ortho advised me to get it checked out by my surgeon if it doesn't decrease in the next couple of days - If you've had genioplasty, PLEASE give me some insight!)

I also found a guys page today who had similar surgery to myself; and unfortunately for him his bottom jaw relapsed immediately after surgery meaning he had to have a second surgery. Following this, I did some research and I found this;
  • Changes of relapse is higher and common in patients who have been 'wired' together, as this method is unstable, relapse usually occurs because of some muscle pull - the reasoning behind why most surgeons today prefer a rigid fixation of plates and screws. (When I changed surgeons and he told me he wouldn't wire me together, instead he would use screws, I was against it, however now i'm pretty glad as I couldn't have coped being completely wired together for 6 weeks!).
  • Distance of advancement, rotation of jaws and bone quality all influence the risk of relapse. Some surgeons argue that an advancement of 7-10mm is at higher risk of relapse.
Fingers crossed, my new best friends Mr. Plates and Mr. Screws hold my jaw into their new position, as I really don't want future jaw surgery! I guess we're never truly out of the woods!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Day 21: Three weeks, another video

Pain in Jaw: 2/10
Three weeks, where is the time going? I class full 'eating' recovery and majority of the swelling going down at at 6 weeks. So i'm half way there. Keep going, keep going...

I love the past tense right now. How nice is it to write this...
I'm having jaw surgery
I've HAD jaw surgery
I have a class 2 malocclusion
I HAD a class 2 malocclusion

When I was waiting for my surgery date, all those many months ago, today felt like a distant dream. I still can't believe it has finally happened, this 'big' thing that was putting a massive stopper on my life has been and gone. It's quite amazing.

However, (there is always a however) ; one of my fellow jaw-surgery goers is having a hard time right now and I really do feel her pain. Jaw surgery isn't your friend - it's going to challenge you in every way possible, whether that's with the foods you eat, the pains you feel, or just general self feelings - you're low on energy constantly, dizzy, congested and it drains you dry in every aspect of your life. The only 'friend' you have with jaw surgery is the FINAL results; and that's a while away yet. Anyways, visit her blog and cheer her up !

Enough talking, here is another video. Incase you still can't understand me, I summed it up below...

  • Orthodontic Visit: Hurt like hell. Still have two bands either side however they're tighter providing more resistance. He also took out some of my surgical hooks I didn't need, replaced my bottom wire with a softer one and repaired one of my brackets. He said that the results are looking great, and teeth positioning is 'spot on!'
  • Swelling: Is going away slowly, it's mainly in the areas of my cheeks, my nose and eitherside of my mouth. There is also a little bit under my chin.
  • Numbness: Still completely numb in the areas where my swelling is worst; my cheeks and my chin. I can feel half of my bottom lip and the majority of my top lip.
  • Pain: I don't take pain meds anymore during the day, just at night when the pain peaks.
  • Diet: Still soft, strictly no chewing. However can eat quite a few foods and just 'mash up' using my tongue  Only difficulty is trying to fit a spoon and food into a very small gap! (Can only open my mouth 1 fingers width.)
  • General Self: Feeling very weak and getting incredibly dizzy, but all is good!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Day 20: A growing smile

Pain in Jaw: 4/10 6/10 (Updated)
*I will add usual daily photo of me when my sister decides to give me my camera back*

So my smile is slowly starting to show improvement. I can slowly start to
pull those facial muscles up into a 'smile' even though it's not perfect, it's getting there. The swelling around my nose makes it look fatter when I smile, and the fact that i'm more swollen on one side than the other is making it look abit lop-sided. But no more gummy-ness already! I can't wait until I can show you a full beaming picture, of purely just teeth!

Before Surgery: Me and Bruno!
Attempting to Smile
Update: Pain has gone up slightly alot! It's only in one part of my face, on the side of my chin. I've got a feeling it's near a screw but I daren't have a good feel yet. (I can't wait until I get x-rays so I can see where these things actually are). The pain started following a weird spasm of my jaw - I think I lost myself abit and tried to move it normally but the pain quickly reminded me. It's a new pain, but I can't really describe it. I'm just hoping that it's healing pains rather than something infection related, or something wrong. (I don't even know what th e signs of infection around the screws are so if anybody can clarify - send them over! Must check this out with surgeon at some point!) Dizzy-ness and weakness has also come back and people keep telling me that I look incredibly pale; i'm a far way off from 100% just yet.

I've also noticed how fragile the inside of my mouth is just lately. It's probably due to the feeling is starting to return, but cold drinks feel like ice in my mouth, and hot drinks - they're hot! Having to resort to incredibly milky tea!

On another note, I went to my sisters house today. I've avoided it until now as she has a really hyper boxer dog and I was abit scared he'd headbutt me or something. He was actually incredibly calm and I think he still recognized me which is good, he just couldn't understand me when I said his name, but obviously came bounding over when somebody else called him! I can't wait until the clear talking is back.

Jaw surgery is definitely a long process: healing and recovering in general, learning to talk, opening your mouth AND chewing again. I'm not looking forward to the last one, at all!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Day 19: Really Fine

Pain in Jaw: 2/10

I don't know if anybody has ever subscribed to 'Notes from the Universe' but I got one today that really picked me up...

"Wouldn't it be nice to know, and I do mean REALLY, REALLY know, that everything - absolutely everything - is going to turn out just fine?

Really fine. Outrageously so."

...and it is, no matter what stage of your 'jaw journey' you're on right now - there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and everything really will turn out just fine!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Day 18: A regular update

Pain in Jaw: 1/10

So there is nothing new to report, other than half of my bottom lip has suddenly become numb again. I'm pretty sure that as the days progress numbness is supposed to lessen - but not in this case! But hey, we all know how much of a long process recovery from jaw surgery is, so i'm not getting too puzzled by it just yet.

I headed into uni today and I actually managed a good few solid hours of work. I also got to see one of my girls Annabel, it was really lovely to see her and to catch up with her! (She even understood my muffled talking which is pretty good considering at the start of university she couldn't understand my accent, without added jaw surgery ontop of that :P) So I must be doing something right!

Pain is becoming less and less during the day which is good, it's just night times that it peaks and I usually have to take some meds to calm it down, although it did ache alot during today but that's probably because my increase of talking.

Slowly starting to learn to smile properly again. At the moment it looks abit too clown like and scary, and it makes my nose look fatter because of the swelling, but it's a working progress.

Swelling is slowly coming down. I mean, it's come down a hell of alot since a couple of days post-op but the last bits are taking forever, but again, slow process. The swelling is mainly in my cheeks and to the side of my nose, my lips and either side of my mouth - if you didn't know me you'd just think I had a fatter face. If i'm completely honest, through excitement to see the final results i'm becoming incredibly impatient. :P

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Day 17: An attractive picture

Pain in Jaw: 1/10

Let me paint you an attractive picture:
My face is peeling due to my refusal to wash and 'exfoliate' all that dead skin of it properly. I class the numb areas as a 'no-go zone.' If it's numb, i'm not touching it at all because I don't know how hard i'll be pressing, or in this case, scrubbing!

I daren't put make up on yet either,
because putting it on also means taking it off, and taking it off means extra scrubbing.

My lips are incredibly dry 99.9% of the time, vaseline has become my new best friend, ontop of the occasional dribble that I have (unless i'm brushing my teeth, in which case I dribble alot). Ontop of this i'm having an extremely congested day - my throat is full of flem and mucus and my nose is totally blocked. Breathing is abit harsh and noisy today, but I guess i've been lucky with congestion up until now!

Last night I got the courage to finally shine a torch into my mouth to see what was going on in there. I checked out my stitches and my surgical sites in real light, and it's safe to say that I don't like looking at them. They remind me that I actually had this surgery, and what I actually went through - including the fact that peeled back most of my lips! I don't like this thought, moving on...

For some strange unknown reason, i'm happy during the day yet incredibly down and depressed towards the night. My mood really dips; I've heard of post-op depression after this sort of operation but this is strange. So far i've put my dipping mood down to the association of night time = bed time = sleeping upright = no sleep at all. However, all blessings sent last night as I realised that my big upright recliner chair actually leans back slightly, so I had a better nights sleep finally (When I say better I mean waking up every 4 hours instead of every 2 - but it's a working progress!).

On a plus note, i've finally started to drink from a plastic cup. Originally I used an osteotomy bottle (it's basically a plastic bottle with a huge thin straw on the end, and if you squeeze it liquids come out, saves attempting to suck which is impossible right now). I go back to uni in a weeks time, and I figured that I need to get fluids into me during this time somehow, so now I know I can rely on my trusty plastic beaker, even if I do spill half of it down my chin. But hey, that's one of the many perks of jaw surgery!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Day 16: Cotton ball cheeks

Pain in Jaw: 2/10

So i've come to the conclusion, after much much thinking, that my lips/talking/moving my mouth feels EXACTLY like having a whole wad of cotton balls shoved in your mouth (especially around your lips and cheeks), making everything difficult!

But then I think of Kanye West, who managed to record his song "Through the Wire" while his jaws were wired together only 2 weeks after reconstructive surgery to his fractured jaws following a car accident. How he managed to do this is beyond me, as I can't even talk properly when i'm just banded closed. Fair play to you!

I also sneezed the first time today since surgery. I was so petrified that I was going to pop a blood vessel and my nose was going to start oozing blood instantly but thankfully it didn't (I sneezed out of my mouth rather than down my nose). Still not allowed to blow my nose though (Preying my hayfever holds off until I can!)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Day 15: Admiring my face

Pain in Jaw: 2/10

So i'm running out of things to write, since jaw surgery has reduced my social life to being non-existant. But i'm adamant i'm going to blog everyday, until I'm past the stages of recovery and I can relax a little. I'll only regret it in the future if I don't! So if i'm boring you with pointless posts; I do apologize.

Today felt like a massive battle with my brain. I went into town for the first time since surgery - a step up from ASDA I must say. Automatically I felt myself hiding my side-view face, as I usually would as discretely as I can without physically putting a bag over my head (especially when crossing roads), to then remind myself that i've actually HAD jaw surgery, and HAVE a decent side profile now, and I don't need to be so self-conscious of it anymore!

I remember once upon a time in river island. I hate that shop, and I hate it purely because of their changing rooms. They give an all round angle of your outfit, or in my case, your face. Everytime I walked in there I was more concerned with how awful my side profile looked, how set back my bottom jaw was, than the actual clothes I was trying on, and I longed for surgery to come! Well today I went into another changing room with similar mirrors, and it was incredible to be able to admire my face side on. I even called in my mum so that she could admire it too. (I did buy an outfit though which was infact my dress for my graduation ball).

I also feel like i'm having a battle with body, although I'm glad I went into town I really shouldn't have. Today i've been having extremely dizzy spells, to the point I feel as though i'm going to faint. I also had a weird breathing fit, I walked up a few stairs and at the top I couldn't breathe. It really knocked me back and I had to chill for a while. I guess I underestimated again what surgery in itself can do to your body AND energy levels.

Recently a friend asked me if i'd undergo jaw surgery again, as she said no to surgery a couple of years back, i've said previously that I don't ever want to, but what the heck. Of course I would! I'd do it all again. What the surgeons have done to my jaw structure is incredible, not to mention I can fit all of my teeth together comfortably now, and I feel my confidence growing more and more everyday.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Day 14: Two weeks post-op

Pain in Jaw: 3/10

Two weeks already, time is going fast! (I think the only time it went slow actually was the first 3 days when I was stuck in hospital). I've done another 2 week video which covers mostly everything. Managed to have some cornflakes for breakfast which were lovely, it just took me a while to eat them! I also had a pizza hut cookie dough this evening which was beyond amazing, I got more up my face and stuck to my teeth but I really don't care!
I'm having to change my bands once a day, and having to take them out everytime I brush my teeth which is an absolute nightmare. But I know how important it is to wear them so I shouldn't complain.

The pain has also changed alot in the last 24 hours; i'm having it real bad on my left hand side which is radiating into my ear and giving me earache. I think it's something due to swelling and inflammation, but this pain is apparently common and normal after jaw surgery.

I ventured out again today which was nice and bought a few presents for my friends up and coming 21st birthday! I guess this is a step closer to normality, especially as i'm heading back to uni in a weeks time. I feel as though my swelling has come to a stand still, my surgeon said theres alot left to go - but I think this is me being impatient!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Day 13: Seeing the surgeon

Pain in Jaw: 4/10
So today I saw my surgeon the first time since surgery and my orthodontist again. He was beyond excited to see me and was incredibly pleased with my results! I've finally had the middle band removed; I still have two bands either side but instead of just squaring around a couple of teeth, they now go from my canine tooth right the way back to my third molar. He also had a look at my stitches and surgical sites and said that they were healing pretty nicely.

Along with this i've been given the all clear to start eating soft foods - i'm still under strict obligations to not chew under any circumstances for the next couple of weeks, but they see no reason now as to why I can't try to eat mash, rice, pasta etc...

So for my first 'non liquid meal' I attempted a lasagne. Not the softest of things but I was adamant that I wanted one. Upgrading from a syringe to a baby spoon I thought I had it all covered, until I realised how small my gap actually was. I can only open my mouth enough to fit in the tip of my little finger; so trying to fit a spoon WITH food ontop was impossible. I just kept knocking the food off, It took me about an hour to eat quater of it. I was so scared of opening my mouth too far also, I kept hearing this cracking noise and got a sharp pinch, but i've put this down to the band. My bottom jaw also spasmed to the right (before surgery I could move it all about the place) I can't tell you the pain I experienced after this, but I've got comfort in the fact that my jaw is going to let me know when i'm about to do something I shouldn't! My ortho told me that it's important at this stage to start to open your mouth, to get your muscles stretching again. I don't mind so much though as I've discovered I can actually fit a chocolate button into my mouth now, this should keep me happy for a while!

I asked my surgeon also about sleeping upright. He told me that during surgery he had to do alot of work inside my nose to remove turbinates and soft tissue, although it's healing nicely he told me to take it slow, starting slightly elevated and then gradually lowering myself. The main concern he had would be I'd get too congested lieing flat and would struggle to breathe - but he said that if I'm comfy I can go ahead and lie down. I think i'm going to stay sleeping on a chair for a while, partly because I only have one bed which I share with James, and I don't want him smacking me in the face in the middle of the night!

Funny story also, today (prior to bands being removed) I was eating my yogurt through my syringe with a self-attaching plastic straw. Pressure built up in the syringe and exploded, knocking the straw into my mouth and the yogurt ended up going all over my face, in my eye and up my nose. As bad as syringe eating is, it's given the family lots of laughs!

Edit: One thing I forgot to add, since having the band removed I have abit more movement in my mouth when talking, although I'm still clenching my teeth together constantly. Not only do I feel like I need to learn to eat again, but talk too! The next couple of weeks shall be fun!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Day 12: Worry and Protection

Pain in Jaw: 2/10

Before I'd had this surgery, I never expected myself to worry so much about my post-op progress, but lately that's all I seem to be doing. I guess it's normal after waiting so long for something, and then undergoing such big surgery. What i'm trying to say is, I guess nobody prepares you for the different feelings you experience  or pains you encounter, or even when your jaw makes a cracking noise every once in a while.

Today it's the position of my jaw. Day 1 after surgery I had an extra band put into my mouth, as I couldn't voluntarily bite my teeth together; my brain didn't know where my new bite was, so my surgeon added an extra band which took over and bit down for me, meaning my teeth are constantly closed now. I've been encouraged to open and close my mouth which I do, but I'm petrified the moment i open my mouth, my jaw will think 'Screw you, I'm going back to my old bite!' I know this is impossible, but the fear is still there!

Jelly - Syringe style, best thing ever
This moves nicely onto the level of protection I have over my face now, again I guess this is normal. I remember when I'd just had my surgery I didn't dare even to bend my face down, incase my jaw slid and moved position - it's strange what you think isn't it? The car rides I had were awful, I felt like my face would dislodge over every pot-hole, or speed bump.

One thing I still can't do is hug people normally - just because i'm petrified of people coming near my face, especially when they're about to throw their arms around my neck and probably shoulder me in my jaw! Alarm bells definitely start to ring when somebodys hand comes near my face, I daren't even touch my face myself.

My new cutie - Played with this little fellow all day!
I guess this is when the reassurance of your surgeons come in. I feel relaxed when somebody has told me recently that it's all okay, and it's all still looking good. I see my surgeon again tomorrow and I can't wait to hear this from him! I dread the day he discharges me, I think I might have to have his number on speed-dial!

On a happier note, I had some jelly again in a syringe today and it was the best thing ever! It's the only thing i've had since surgery which is actually the same consistency and texture that it's supposed to be. I also became the owner of a very cute fox puppet from my friends Vicky and Jordan, ironic as my dad keeps on telling me to become a ventriloquist! He is the cutest thing ever and has given us all plenty of smiles and giggles! Yawning has started again, I was amazed at how your body knows it can't do these things (along with sneezing) so doesn't bother; but today it seems to have forgotten as i've done nothing but, I find it so comical as i'm still banded together, It just seems to yawn out of my nose instead!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Day 11: A new video

Pain in Jaw: 3/10

I headed back to Birmingham with James for the night last night and I got the best nights sleep ever, which i'm thankful for as I was turning abit moody.
I also got to see Dani again which was great - especially as she hasn't seen me since a couple of days after surgery so she noticed the difference in swelling straight away! I still have a little bit to go, i'm just waiting for my face to shape up now, but I think for 11 days post-op, swelling is looking pretty good!

I can't wait to get back to normality and to see the finished results. (I also can't wait to attempt to put make up on, but as I'm numb I think this will be abit of a weird feeling!)

I thought I better do another post-op video, courtesy of  Fraser, I got a translator!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Day 10: Another bad sleep, another bad day.

Pain in Jaw: 4/10

I'm still not managing to sleep much at night, and tiredness has definitely begun to set in. It seems that during the night is when my pain sets in most. Since surgery i've only ever had pain around my bottom jaw and chin, but lately it's moved into my upper jaw - over where I assume my surgical incision line is and into my ears.

I broke the other two bands (as guessed) late last night, I called my hospital ward as it was Sunday and I was seen by different maxillofacial surgeons at 9am; but both knew my surgeons and what he wanted. They spent time finally showing me how to replace the bands incase it happened again. I didn't realise that I still had a surgical line in my gums being held together by my stitches, I assumed that it was too deep for me to check out myself, but they checked this out - and so did I. They answered a few questions that I had and reassured me that opening my mouth a little was ok, and encouraged it - if they wanted me completely still they'd have wired me. (They also told me a story where one of their patients bit through an apple soon after surgery and it moved their jaw by a couple of mm, to think how on earth they achieved this is unreal!) Anyway, they told me the importance of trying to open and close your mouth so that the brain can adapt to the new bite position. They both complimented what an amazing job he'd done and that the results were great, and off I went to enjoy the rest of my day.

I've been on a real low today. I'm fed up of liquid, and i'm fed up of being banded together, and i'm fed up of people asking me 'what' when I attempt to communicate with them! Urgh! But I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere, even if it is a little dim at the moment!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Day 9: Laughter and Stitches

Pain in Jaw: 2/10
Pain in Stitches: 8/10

So the past 24 hours haven't been the best 24 hours for me. It all started when I choked on a smoothie. I'm really flemmy in the throat lately because I can't cough it up, and I think the smoothie was just too thick, I choked, and when you're banded together and can't open your mouth, it's a scary experience.

Moving onto the night, I had 0 hours of sleep, I've got a constant numb bum, and i'm just getting so uncomfortable sleeping on a recliner chair. I can't tell you the frustration of your pillows falling down constantly, and just sleeping upright in general. I was debating today whether I missed my bed more, or food. Anyway, around 5am this morning, in some bizzare way i'd also convinced myself that I could open my jaw ALOT more than I could the day before, so I worried for the rest of the morning about how I probably wouldn't be able to get hold of my surgeon over the weekend to tell him that the bands aren't resisting very good, when I finally awoke properly - it's exactly the same as it has been since surgery - urgh, worry over nothing!

When i'd just had my surgery I couldn't feel my stitches, infact I didn't even know they were there. Since the feeling is slowly coming back on the inside of my mouth, so is the pain around the stitches on the inside of my upper lip. It only hurts when I smile or laugh (I assume because it's stretching the stitch doing this), but when it hurts, it HURTS. I even said today that it hurt more than jaw surgery itself. I was worried it had become infected, It doesn't look it but i'm certainly going to keep my eye on it...Anyway, todayas I was eating my lunch with mum and James (or drinking it should I say) somebody cracked a joke and James ended up squirting my mum with one of my syringes, to cut a story short, it ended up with lots of laughter, and then lots of tears. I was in so much pain it was unreal.

On a lighter note, the tears caused me to become congested in the nose, although this is a bad thing in itself, the clot of blood/mucus/tissue/other gooey products that has been stuck in my nasal passage since surgery became loose, worked it's way down and came out. It was about the side of a marble, and it was disgusting! But atleast I can fully breathe, and that's lovely!

I also ventured out of the house today properly since surgery and it was lovely; I went to ASDA. Not a massive thing, but another milestone and a step in the right direction. Although I was pretty paranoid with everyone looking at me, I just wanted to wear a sign saying 'I've had jaw surgery, I don't usually look like this!' But James kindly reminded me that I won't look like this forever. :)

Roll on no more swelling! It's definitely come down alot quicker than I expected, just waiting on final bits!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Day 8: Itchy-ness and dreaming

Pain in Jaw: 3/10

So day 8 brings me both a relieved yet annoying sensation at the same time...

As the nerves start to wake up and kick back into action, you get a range of weird sensations throughout your skin - it may be a little too soon just yet, but itching has become one of them. I'm sure JS undergoers would agree that when you're face is numb, attempting to itch it is impossible. I can't even feel where the itch is! But I guess I shouldn't moan if my nerves are waking up right? :)

Today is my first full day so far without taking any pain meds! I still ache alot, but it's nowhere near as bad as it was last week. I've been trying to reduce the amount of codeine i'm taking because i'm scared i'll get addicted and it's making me dream a hell of a lot - the other night I dreamt I walked into a kitchen, it had a big range stove and on this stove was beef, pork, turkey and duck with all the trimmings including yorkshire puddings! You can imagine my horror when I woke up.

My energy levels remain high, and i'm still happy! I even braved a walk around the garden today although I don't like the wind on my face. Vicky and Jordan also came to see me which was lovely, they brought me lots of little gifts inside a box which i'm allowed to open when I feel certain emotions, like fed up or frustrated, etc.. very cute! I've also begun to get my appetite back, I actually feel hungry the first time since surgery, although I don't know why my stomach is growling as it can still have only liquid!

If there's one thing i've learnt from having jaw surgery so far, it's that i'm never going to worry about my weight again (okay maybe that's a lie, but i'm certainly going to enjoy my food more) and that friends and family, they spoil you lots!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Day 7: One week!

Pain in Jaw: 4/10

So i've made it to one week post-op already! Where has the time gone? It's safe to say that the first couple of days are definitely the worst, my energy is slowly returning, and i'm beginning to feel somewhat 'normal' again.

My swelling seems to have come to a stand still, I don't look that swollen but I feel like a great big puffer fish (a drooling one at that), and it's stopping me from closing my mouth. I know that I still have a long way to go, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and I know that I would never have made it this far without the help of my amazing family, friends and boyfriend. Love you guys! <3

I apologize in advance mass-photo taking!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Day 6: A Band disaster!

Pain in Jaw: 3/10

So i've decided that if possible, i'm going to blog everyday, just so that in the future I have a daily record of what I went through, so apologies if I begin to get annoying with pointless posts! :)

Since surgery i've had 3 bands on, two either side squared around a couple of teeth, and one directly in the middle which are firmly holding my mouth closed, and preventing me from wiggling my jaw too much.

Much to my horror, I snapped the band on the left side this morning while I was brushing my teeth, I watched it fall out of my mouth and go down the plug hole, and I was petrified! I felt like all support had totally gone from my jaw, and it was about to break free. My mum called my surgeons secretary (I don't even attempt at phone calls) and within half an hour, I was at the hospital getting it replaced.

It was quite comical being at hospital because people kept staring at me - it doesn't help that bruising is at it's peak, taking up most of my face, my entire neck and chest. It's funny watching children look at me, wondering what the hell has happened to my face! Some woman asked if i'd been in a car accident, I don't think she could understand me when I told her i'd had jaw surgery.

It's the orthodontics first time seeing me since surgery, and he was incredibly pleased and happy with the result, he said how amazing the changes had been so far and he couldn't wait for all the swelling to go down completely so that we could see the finished result. He also told me that when I see my surgeon next week, fingers crossed they'd take the middle band out - and they'd start to get me changing them myself.

Pain has now set in since having the new band put on, but I guess it's just down to the new resistance.
I can't believe it's nearly a week since surgery, and I still can't get over that this massive thing i've waited years for has finally happened, and that i'm no longer waiting for a date - i'm simply waiting to fully recover, and that's a nice thing to wait for. :)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Day 5: An update

Pain in Jaw: 6/10

Currently 5 days post-op, trying to get as many things down as I can before I forget them!

Feeling quite good, (so much better since being out of hospital) although the food situations make me feel abit dismal everytime I attempt to eat. The other night I managed to have some blended mash and peas and they were pretty vile, although a chat with the boyfriend soon got me back into high spirits. I keep dreaming about food, but this is because i'm craving it so much, I will never take food for granted again - but seriously, if anyone can suggest any substantial food ideas, send them over!

I also cleaned out my nose, this may seem like the smallest thing ever, but to me it was a massive milestone. I was genuinely so happy it was clean and I could vaguely breathe, not to mention it wasn't dripping gunk and other blood products everywhere! I was pretty surprised what came out of it, definitely not something for the faint hearted.

I'm also managing quite alot of sleep at night - 10 hours of sleep (YES!) I usually wake up for painkillers, antibiotics and a drink, but soon fall back to sleep! Sleeping upright isn't as bad as I thought it would be!

All in all, feeling pretty good at the moment!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Day 4: Bruising and visits

Pain in Jaw: 6/10

Day 4 is the peak of the bruising, i've been using Arnica cream 2x daily on my face and neck to try and bring it out, and it has definitely worked!

I also woke up to the smell of a fry-up, not for me though unfortunately. I'm surprised I could smell it, as I can't seem to smell anything else.

Some of the besties, Dani and Dave came to see me today also, it was great to see them and made me feel normal, although halfway through the visit I had to take some co-codamol and this makes me abit spaced out! But atleast I don't feel cut off from the outside world! They also got me some little pretty gifts and some flowers, just the little things that get you through and remind you that you're loved! :)
Easter for me! Melted chocolate in a syringe!