Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Last Tuesday, and with a week to go to debrace day, I attended my latest adjustment and pointed out the substantial gap on my top left which had not moved a milimeter, despite reassurances in my previous appointment that it would be gone in plenty of time
Dr H got to work lacing on wires and attaching powerchains, shaving down the canine tooth as he suspected the gap was being held open by the lower teeth. He then announced that the gap 'might' be gone in time. Might? Might?? I pointed out this pesky gap two weeks ago so i'm a bit miffed that they havn't done more about it by now.
So, with 36 hours to go how is it looking?
It's definitely narrowed, but as you can see, it's still there, what a frigging embuggerance!
So on Tuesday the bottom brace will definitely be coming off, but short of some miraculous gap-closing divine intervention it looks like i'm stuck with the grill for christmas dinner number three. A. had a restaurant booked for our celebration of the end of the process but i've told him to cancel it - should have known that this journey would have one final trick up its sleeve :(
Saturday, 4 December 2010
But back to business for the moment, I promised to give a 7 month physical check-in so here it is: Swelling progress is hard to say, I'm not sure if the slighly raised area to the sides of my nose are final residual swelling or just my face shape. Dr T did say my 'final' face would be there in the spring so still a few months to go, i'm therefore assuming it is. Also after long gym sessions or hot baths my face does seem a little puffier...
Numbness: there are still numb areas, though numb as in reduced sensation rather than the totally dead block-of-wood type numbness I had for the first few months after surgery. It's most noticeable in the section of gum above my front teeth. When I run a toothbrush over that spot I definitely feel something, but not actual bristle sensation. The rest of my palete sensation seems mostly there, albeit in a not-quite-right way, but don't be alarmed all you would-be surgery patients, it's not something I ever notice unless I pay it particular attention. The numb spot on my chin is also there, but so much reduced it only feels slightly different to the completely normal side-I no longer get tingles in my lip when I run my finger over it (which is a shame as that was quite nice!)
Eating: no problems whatsoever. When crunching a particularly hard morsel I occasionally get a few twinges on one side, but they tend to vanish just as quickly. The occasional click also occurs, but again it's gone before I have a chance to worry about it.
The most unexpected thing i've encountered is when I look at old photos of myself. Before surgery I was worried that I wouldn't recognise myself in the mirror, or that i'd be troubled by how different I look. The reality has been that I recognise myself competely, to the point that I sometimes find it hard to detect much difference, believe it or not. However when I then look at pre-op photographs of myself i'm shocked, my underbite looks SOOOO much worse than I ever remember it looking that I can't help thinking 'that really can't have been me!', so it's the old image I do not recognise rather than the new one...
Anyway, that's recovery at 7 months. My next appointment is on the 9th when I have a new gap on the left hand side to point out to the team, hope they don't use it as an excuse to postpone my debrace or there'll be trouble!
Thursday, 11 November 2010
So what is there left to do? Well, very little as far as I can tell, but according to Dr H my teeth are still a fraction away from his gold standard, so some 'detailing' is being carried out. Fair enough.
During tonight's appointment the assistant was having tremendous problems opening up some of the brackets, and came out with "oh these brackets really have had enough", to which I immediately responded "yes, like me!" (or as close as you can get to that with someone's fingers in your mouth") and jabbed wildly towards my chest. She didn't laugh...
Sorry for the shortness of the post, just about to go on holiday for a fortnight after a wildly busy few weeks, but look forward to catching up with my fellow ortho-bloggers in Dec :)
Saturday, 23 October 2010
The remaining 1% relates not to any surgery matters but to my ortho, as it seems i'm not NOT getting my braces off next month after all! In the last few appointment he's fussed over details, moved various brackets, and generally moaned about the position of one tooth after another. This has resulted in gaps opening all over the place, and at one point I had to endure 3 weeks of a huge gaping hole between my front teeth (looks good on Lara Stone but not on me!). Now he's announced that November removal might not be possible after all, and his assistant said she'd book me appointments through January "just in case". Friggin January???
To top it all he was poking around during my last appoint and, apropos of nothing, came out with "you should really have your wisdom teeth out". Errrr...what? "They're difficult to keep clean and don't connect with anything anymore so you might like to consider removing them" (I only have 2 on the bottom). Now i'm no dentist but i'm pretty sure that if they REALLY needed to come out he should have said something about 6 months ago when I had that little procedure thingy? Havn't I had enough dental torture or something? After he'd left I moaned to his assistant about all this and the time it was taking to complete treatment, and all she had to say was "Well, Dr H is quite a perfectionist". He may be but I clearly am not. My teeth look absolutely perfect now, even if one or two at the back are a fraction of a milimetre away from the holy grail of perfect tooth alignment then I really couldn't give a monkeys. It's been two years, i've had enough - I want out!
So, my next appt is at the end of the month and I plan to spell it out loud and clear! First, i'll be saying a big fat no to wisdom teeth removal. If these pose a problem in the future maybe, but I want to go back to life outside of dental work for a while. Second, I want my brace off by Christmas, no ifs no buts. I've had enough of him umming and aahing every time I remind him of the the november finish date so no more playing silly buggers with my teeth! Any backchat and i'll threaten to stop flossing his handywork in protest - playing dirty (quite literally!) may be the only language these orthos understand :D
Saturday, 18 September 2010
4 and a half months-the finish line is looming :)
To pick up where I left off, I finally got to my ortho's office to show off the dirty great chasms that have opened up between my teeth. This lead to much furrowing of brows, scratching of heads and general "that wasn't supposed to happen" type statements, with the final diagnosis of cause being....sometimes teeth just move. Hmmm thanks for that technical summary!
Dr H. has now lashed a chain accross my uppers and told me the gaps would be gone in a jiffy, though it's been several weeks now and they're only moving very slowly (which is all the more suprising as the gaps appeared virtually overnight!). My next appointment is on Thursday when i'm due to get my finishing wires on, and will find out if i'm still on track for a November debracing. Hope the unexpected gaps won't cause this date to be revised..
The jaw-clicking I mentioned in my previous post has turned out to be a non-issue. I got in touch with my surgeon who assured me that recovering jaws often go through clicky periods, and not to worry. Since then i've only had the odd clicking moments but other than that, all seems fine! Upper palette sensation continues to return, albeit in a mashed up type of way, and I can still see a small amount of swelling either side of my nose in the mornings and after hot showers.
So all in all the long winding road that is jaw surgery is seems to be nearing its end, hope all of you out there still with some way to go are doing well, it WILL be worth it in the end!
Sunday, 22 August 2010
I'm off to my ortho on Wednesday and can't wait to speak to them about these enormous gaps that have appeared and my clicking jaw, which occurs every other day or so when eating or cleaning. Will report back!
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
It's past 3 months now, so I must be around the 100 day mark somewhere, but I don't know and am not planning to work it out. Somehow it doesn't feel very important any more...
So as you can tell by the drop off in postings, life has very much returned to normal. Not only do I feel my old self, but surgery now seems like some strange dream that never really happened. You'd think that the enormity of the whole experience would leave some sort of permanent mark, but it seems that my mind has preferred to wrap it up in a nice little package and tuck it away somewhere. This is helped by the fact that i'm busy with my new job, with colleagues who only met me a few weeks ago and arn't even aware that I had something done - as far as they're concerned i've always looked this way (a fact I still find quite mind blowing). In fact the more I look at it, the more I see that for the past 2 years all my plans had more or less revolved around surgery, and with that obstacle removed my thoughts are free to flow in new and interesting directions. No wonder no-one wants to dwell on it.
Having said that, i'm planning to document this whole process until the REAL end of the journey i.e. DEBRACING DAY, and there's plenty to keep me occupied until then. Latest developments to report are that my jaw has developed an strange click on the right side, usually when i've just eaten or brushed. I'm not particularly bothered by this, but will probably go along to Mr T's if it doesn't disappear in a couple of weeks. I'm also still getting the odd moment when I look in the mirror and think I look a little strange, but these are few and far between, and are probably more related to my mood than anything facial. On top of this i've developed huge gaps on each side of my front teeth, not sure what the purpose of these are so i'm looking forward to bending my orthodontist's ear about it in a fortnight. He promised me an autumn debracing so that's what i'm getting, whether he likes it or not!
Sunday, 11 July 2010
In the last few days however, things seem to be happening. It started with the roof of my mouth suddenly feeling cold, then another new feeling that was a bit like champagne bubbles fizzing upwards - I was delighted! Now when I try the 'toothbrush test' the roof of my mouth reacts with a strange zinging sensation, not yet normal, but feeling nonetheless. My surgeon warned me not to expect to feel anything up there for months so it's great to get some feeling so soon, hopefully this means the same will happen in the gums pretty soon.
As for external numbness, I still have a patch covering my lower left lip down to my chin. The behaviour of the nerves here is even stranger - when I run my finger along the edge of my chin tingles shoot upwards into my lip. It's not remotely painful, in fact I find myself absentmindedly stroking this patch whenever i'm thinking things over..
Next ortho appt is August 11th when I hope to get these finishing wires on. Planning to spend as much time as possible between now and then lounging on picnic blankets soaking up these glorious sunny days - we don't usually get many of them around here!
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Went to see my surgeon this week for a check-up. After a quick poke about he told me there had been no adverse movement, muscular issues or skeletal complications whatsoever, and commented that it was almost as though the jaws were destined to be in their new positions. I couldn't have put it better myself! He also told me not to come in again until my brace is removed - so it seems i'm basically done and dusted with him. Surgery has been on my horizon for so long that it now feels strange for it not to be there any more, almost as though something is missing...
I also saw my ortho, who can always be relied upon to find more issues to deal with, and thus he delivered, pointing out that my two upper back molars on one side had shifted slightly into a crossbite position and would require elastics. He's attached extra brackets on the back of the molars and has the elastics running from the back of the uppers to the front of the lowers directly below. Whilst this didn't seem to be a major issue, I don't know if this still means we'll hit the 'autumn' debracing target date.
The elastics arn't visible though, which is great news as it's summer festival season here and i'm off to the secret garden party in about 2 weeks with Sizzle. Didn't want a mess of rubber getting in the way of my weekend of drunken debauchery :) The festival has the dress up theme of "fact or fiction" - wonder what outfit I could choose to represent an orthodontist's predicted timeline? (always works of fiction without a doubt!)
Sunday, 27 June 2010
So how am I doing two months in? Externally things are almost back to normal; energy levels have been good for some time now, i've started back at the gym and am running again (albeit at a slower speed as my stamina still has some way to go to get back to pre-surgery levels). There is still some puffiness there. It's more prominant in the morning and when i'm very hot, but doesn't appear noticable to other people thankfully. I suspect this is the deep down swelling my surgeon warned me about, he said to expect it to be around for a while.
Internally I have some way to go. The incision wounds are entirely healed over but I have no feeling at all in my upper gums and palate. I'm opening to over 2 finger widths and only get occasional slight twinges of discomfort. Eating is going ok, I can bite into anything soft and chew harder items that are chopped up into small pieces. It's not perfect though, I tried biting through a large chunk of apple a few days ago and couldn't do it - I got a strange sensation of pressure around my entire upper jaw and promptly stopped. No need to rush these things. I've also recently started to floss again, and am finding that some sections of my gums are VERY painful, i'm going to ask my surgeon about this when I see him next week as I suspect it might be due to nerve regeneration. The strangest part of flossing is trying to reach my lower back teeth. You'd think that a few mm of movement wouldn't make much difference but my furthest molars now seem MILES away, my fingers just arn't long enough to reach all the way back there! I've also had occasions when my jaw clicks a little on one side, usually after eating or flossing. The clicking always stops again pretty quickly but is another thing i'd better run by the surgeon next week.
So all is pretty much well! I have one final piece of advice to would-be jaw surgery candidates, which is not to have the monumentally stupid idea of going clay pigeon shooting so soon after jaw surgery (yes, I really did!). I can only attribute it to a moment of madness, as even as I pressed the shotgun tight to my face, thoughts of how much pressure this might put on my recently broken jaws only vaguely crossed my mind. As I fired the shot the gun recoil, of course, sent a HUGE shockwave through my face and I reeled back in horror thinking i'd caused some terrible damage. Thankfully there was no harm done, but Dr H's assistant just shook her head at me and asked what on earth I was thinking when I admitted it during my appointment a few days later. Obviously a bit of work needs doing on the old common sense!
Thursday, 17 June 2010
There, emerging on the horizon! It's a light at the end of the tunnel!
Today was my latest ortho appointment, and I was determined to find out how long I have left in braces. This has been my aim for the last 3 visits but Dr H has always thwarted me - he'd breeze in once I was already prepared in the chair, have a shufi inside my mouth, issue orders to the assistant then vanish before i'd had a chance to quiz him. This time I was ready to vault out of the chair and rugby-tackle him to the ground if he tried any disappearing acts! So after his initial lookie I tentatively asked if he could tell how much longer I had left. His response was 'Yes I think so....but whether I tell you is another matter'. Ooo you meanie! However he then instructed his assistant to fit finishing wires to me on my next visit and said that he planned to have me finish 'in the Autumn'. Woooo! Now we all know that autumn in ortho-speak probably means the very last day possible in the season, but at least I can be fairly certain that i'm 5 months max away from the big unveiling!
Once he'd gone I asked the assistant what finishing wires were, she said they were known as detailing wires and used to tidy up any last bits. I told her I though my teeth looked just fine as they are now, to which her response was 'just wait and see once we're finished'. How exciting, can't wait!
(P.S. I havn't done a full rundown of swelling/feeling/chewing etc (ie all the really useful stuff to know) for a while so i'll be dishing this up in some detail to celebrate reaching 7 week mark, just 2 days away!)
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Rant over, now back to more important issues. My last otho adjustment was an in-and-out job. DrH. moved the position of the elastic hooks a little and sent me on my way, and all the while keeping schtum about debanding dates. I suppose since my jaw is still settling i'm being a bit hasty, but it would be nice to have a bit more response other than 'ah, hmm, well it depends' etc etc. My original contract letter states a postoperative treatment time of 6 months, which should mean november, but knowing how orthos love to string stuff out i'll be highly suprised to be unwired this side of christmas!
Sunday, 6 June 2010
To mark this momentous milestone I felt something special was called for. As i've mentioned elsewhere in the blog i've been self concious of my underbite and smile since about 14 years old, and have had very very long hair since then - it was really only something to hide behind, and i'd always thought that if I ever went though with jaw surgery i'd chop it all off in celebration. So, the other day I decided that the time had come, and asked my hairdresser to lop 9 inches off the bottom! It was a shock, but since surgery my confidence has increased so much that I left with a big smile on my face. It felt soooo good, almost like a release. I was marking the start of a new beginning and leaving all those anxieties behind - before I would have chopped off a leg rather than get rid of my hair. Just shows what a bit of confidence can do :)
So, Tuesday is my next ortho appointment. I was supposed to be wearing these pesky elastics constantly other than for eating and cleaning but have been a bit slack, hope he doesn't get suspicious as i'll be denying all knowledge of any wrongdoing. I'll also be asking how long I can expect before debracing, it's about time they told me how long I have left!
Thursday, 3 June 2010
My first appointment with him was last Wednesday, and after oohing and aahing over my new profile he got to work, having a good old root around to see what was what. His first decision was to remove the elastics completely for a week to see how the jaw would settle - HEAVEN! But the second was that a wire change was in order to get rid of my surgical hooks (apparently not something he'd usually do at such an early stage but they've caused several gigantic and painful mouth ulcers which arn't healing). I was initially delighted at the thought of the relief it would bring me, but as he got to work I suddenly remembered how much pushing and pulling was involved in a wire change. My jaws were still only at the 3 and a half week stage so I was petrified it would cause some damage! Don't think i've ever squirmed, shaken, or sweated so much in that chair as he started tugging at the wires and brackets - every time I felt him yanking particularly hard I was convinced that the jaw would re-break and writhed in terror! Once he was done I staggered out of the office on a quivering wreck on jelly legs, (though I must confess that through the entire wire change I didn't once feel any pain whatsover. Stupid girl).
So after an enjoyable week of relearning how to talk and eat, which by the way is still a very strange experience with these numb teeth, I was back yesterday to hear the latest. After another long examination of every tooth Dr H set about attaching the elastics you see below. When he held up the mirror I burst out laughing, thinking that that chances of me finding a new job in the next few weeks with these on were nil- though by the look Dr H's face he probably thought i'd finally cracked and lost my mind. Mercifully, his assistant explained that these were only to be worn for a week - apparently for the first 6 weeks after surgery the jaws are still capable of movement before they settle and solidify so Dr H was taking advantage of my final week to make some tiny changes. Thank goodness, a few weeks in these really would have pushed me over the edge!
We finished the appointment discussing my mouth ulcers, as they were still there going strong causing me no end of discomfort. Up until now i've always used a product called Adcortyl to zap them when they appear, but apparently it's been discontinued so is no longer available. This adcortyl is the only product on the market with a mild steroid which is why it's so effective, since disappearing off the shelves i've tried every other product (anbesol, bonjela, iglu, you name it) but they've been about as effective as smearing peanut butter on my ulcers. Dr H's assistant made a few phone calls and tracked down a chemist who had one final tube of anbesol to hand over, I used a tiny dollop on last night and already the ulcers are beating a hasty retreat, thank goodness. I'll be preserving this tube like gold dust!
NB new face pics coming soon, i'm off to the hairdressers tomorrow to get a good few inches hacked off my waist length hair - i've no need of it now there's no underbite to conceal :)
Saturday, 29 May 2010
So, i've been attempting soft chew since Wednesday night, but as i'm learning, the devil is in the detail when it comes to jaw surgery and the latest little delight is that I appear to have forgotten how to chew. I can accept that a completely different bite arrangement and totally numb upper teeth and palate might cause a few problems, but after 28 or so years of scoffing I figured my mouth would have some sort of idea of what to do when I shoved some pasta its way, but no.
Now you're probably thinking 'is she having a laugh? How can you NOT figure out eating??' Well, my last few attempts have gone thusly: insert forkful of bitesize morsel into mouth (actual chewing seems to be done for effect only at this stage so you don't want to choke), tongue shoves it towards previously connecting teeth, a few experimental open & closes of the stiff jaw doesn't have much effect so tongue shuffles food towards newly meeting teeth. More robotic open & closing merely squashes food into teeth, cheeks and elastics AND IT JUST SITS THERE! Eventually, tongue has to go and retrieve food from all these areas (with the help of a toothpick every few bites) before swallowing what's not still embedded in all these places. How did it all happen so naturally beforehand? There's extra fun to be had if you have a completely numb palate as the food often feels like it's vanished completely and you have to go in search of it - sounds strange, but it's true!
So despite the urge to swich back to mush for the sheer ease of it, i'll stick with soft not-quite-chew for a few days to see what happens. When I caught sight of myself in the mirror having dinner earlier on I was put in mind of a clip from my favourite comedy show below, check out Patsy eating at around the 33 second mark, I looked pretty much like that!
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Today was the second appointment with my surgeon. He poked about inside and declared himself delighted with my progress. Apparently the scars are barely visible and there has been no relapse (he said it would have happened by now if was going to happen at all). He said the swelling was looking great for this stage of recovery and it shouldn't be too long before it's completely gone. Best of all he gave me permission for soft chew - YAAAAAAY, and in two weeks i'll be back to normal foods, i'm so glad to see the back of the slurp n slop diet!
I asked about speech and he told me to go ahead and speak normally. This is actually more difficult than it sounds as my elastics pull me shut when I attempt to articulate words and my mouth still feels somewhat stiff, there's no way I could get through a job interview sounding like I currently do. Hopefully a week or so of blabbering on the phone will sort this one out.
The final discussion of the appointment was our next meeting. We've set a date for the end of June but Mr T said that his work was essentially done, and that he was handing me back to my orthodontist for completion! I rushed home and got straight on the blower to set up an appointment, and hope to go and show off my new bite to them next week (and get these pesky elastics loosened to I can sound normal). Also hoping that Dr H might give me an indication of how much finish work needs doing. Knowing how much orthos love to stretch stuff out the answer is probably a few months, if i'm lucky, but it's still great to know that there's now a definite finish line in the not-too-distant future :)
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Almost at the 3 week mark, and as you can see the swelling is going down a treat! It seems more prominent on one side, probably because that's the side I sleep on (the whole head elevation nonsense went out the window ages ago) but i'm pleased to see everything moving in the right direction.
My recovery seems to be entering a new phase. The 'patient' part seems to have ended - i'm off the meds and starting to get back into everyday activities. However i'm not looking or feeling 100% normal either, at least not for the task of finding a new job. So i'm currently living a rather dull limbo life consisting of eating mush, pottering around the flat, and seeking out ways to entertain myself which is a bad thing when you have a brand new mouth you're just itching to have a poke about in! The devil makes work for idle hands, and last night I found myself leaning into the mirror with a torch and a toothpick having a little lookie to see if I could see anything interesting. BAD idea, I felt a ping and suddenly a white thread thing dropped down from my gum - eeek, a stitch! Dropped the torch in panic thinking i'd triggered of a major bleeding incident, but after a night of careful examination nothing seems to have come of it., thank goodness! I must also confess to sneaking a little toothbrush into my mouth, just to get rid of the more serious buildup around the inside base of my teeth - aginst the rules I know, but 18 days without brushing is enough to drive anyone barmy! My surgeon had said a flat no to any opening up so i'm not planning to tell him in case he wires me shut as punishment. Better start getting myself out the flat more often before I can do any more damage!
Monday, 17 May 2010
Forget the swelling, this is what it's all about!
These two shots of my bite - the first taken the night before surgery and the second this morning - show how amazing jaw surgery really is. Looking at them makes all that worry, stress and pain during the last 2 years totally worth it!
In fact, i'm so chuffed with the way things are looking I keep impersonating the bird from the Bailey's advert every time I pass a mirror (if you havn't seen this ad, it's a woman singing about loving coffee, but all you see of her is her perfect bite!)
So to all those recovering with me, hang in there, we've made it though the hard bit and recovery will be over in no time. To others about to undergo or starting the journey towards surgery - don't be scared, you're doing something so worthwhile that will give you a lifetime of pleasure, and the time spent in braces will seem insignificant once you're done...
Saturday, 15 May 2010
That's supposed to be a 1 and 4, as today is my two week milestone, yayyyy! It's great to feel the surgery and all its anxieties sliding further and further into the past :)
So, as you can see from this rather ropey pic, swelling and bruising is going down. The bruises on my neck are currently a strange greeny colour, but at least strangers are no longer stopping dead on the street to stare at me in horror. My jaw, so far, has been pretty well behaved, with none of the twitching and spasms that i've read about on other blogs, but I've had a few dull aches today - healing I presume.
The only thing I have to complain about is a dozen or so mouth ulcers which have sprung up out of nowhere, which are giving my swollen lips even more of a trout pout. As if eating with elastics wasn't enough fun already! I'm definitely not getting the calories I should, but at least once they're off i'll have fun eating my way back up to a decent weight.
Was prised off the sofa today by A and his family who were determined to get some fresh air into me, and once I was out the lethargy seemed to just fall away. So the lesson for today - going out, even though you may not want to, is always a good thing :)
Thursday, 13 May 2010
This is a phrase coined by my mother after observing me at work on a bowl of porridge, and it's highly appropriate as I usually end up with mush smeared accross my face, down my clothes, and on the mirror that was being used to improve my aim. It's also a seriously effective diet as I weighed myself this morning and discovered that i'd lost 8lbs since surgery! There are people out there who'd kill for that degree of weight loss - we could be onto a big seller here!
So swelling continues to decrease slowly, though it's still going strong around my upper lips and nose - inside my mouth definitely feels more puffed up than it did last week. The throat is ok, and i'm off the painkillers and antibiotic which is great news. I'm starting back on the pro/prebiotics and vitamins so my poor insides can start recovering from the pharmaceutical pummeling i've given them - i'm a real pill adverse yogurt-weaving hippie at heart!
I have however picked up the nasty habit of examining my face every few minutes, poking at the swelling and worst of all judging the result! We all know that it takes months for the final result to appear so I really need to stop myself staring in the mirror every 5 minutes and thinking is my top lip too far forward/is my nose too big for my new chin etc stopitstopitstopit!!
So, back on subject, for the benefit of those soon to undergo jaw surgery let me introduce you to the meals you'll soon be enjoying morning, noon and night for a month or so. Doesn't it look appetising! It's almost magical how the most tasty and diverse ingredients form an almost universal taste once blended which you get sick of in no time. As for which meal this is, i'll leave you to guess!
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
Double figures at last! The last 48 hours have been all about me grimacing in pain every time I ate/drank something, and it wasn't just my throat! All the soft tissues in my head were sore - even my inner ears would throb and hurt every time I swallowed, owwwwch! This morning, mercifully, it seemed to be easing, so it was a good day to be making my first visit to my surgeon since surgery, and I was looking forward to his appraisal of my progress.
It turned out to be a quick visit. Mr T. took a good look inside my mouth and declared that my recovery was going perfectly. He then changed my elastics to some looser ones, but told me at the same time that I was still not to move my jaw to chew or talk. Meh! He said that the throat tenderness was to be expected, and would pass in a few days, and for the next two weeks I was to carry on as I have been. I was hoping for clearance for soft chew and opening up a little so felt a bit disappointed, but confirmation that my recovery is on track is far more important so i'm not going to dwell on such trivialities.
So, another 2 weeks of hibernation on the cards with nothing to occupy me other than examining my ever changing reflection in the mirror and finding new foods to pureee. My swelling is still substantial enough to attract strange looks on the street so i'm not feeling confident enough to head out and about just yet, hopefully in a few days this will be different - I really need a haircut!!!
Sunday, 9 May 2010
My first thoughts were that some sort of infection was setting in, but after day slumped on the sofa thinking it over i've realised that there's a much simpler answer - healing. Chances are my throat has been swollen since the start but was concealed by the numbness. Now that the nerves are beginning to recover sensation is returning and with it the feeling...and the pain. As for the energy levels i'm pretty sure adreneline, mixed with hospital drugs still in my system, have been keeping me pumped up during the first week of recovery. Now things are returning to normal my body's now doing what it should be doing and diverting all power to healing, so no more dancing around the living room.
Whilst this isn't the best news, i'm taking it as a good and natural step. After all, getting better from such a big operation was always going to involve the body going into shock doing strange things before recovering slowly. Quite frankly my first week experience was a bit of a charmed life and has set the bar stupidly high for the coming weeks, so I was expecting a crash down of some sort at any moment. Now it's happened i'm just going to do what I always planned to do - take my pain meds, relax, and wait for it all to pass.
No pictures today as i'm too tired. Not much change to report anyway.
Saturday, 8 May 2010
Hurrah! 1 week exactly since I had surgery, and it feels good to reach this first milestone. Woke up early this morning and have been reliving every moment of that day in my mind (it's X o'clock, so I was doing Y etc etc), I'm sure it won't be the only time I do this.
So the 7 day check-up goes like this: Swelling peaked around 3 days ago and has subsided a little, but as some areas go down others come up, and my cheeks and neck are a multicolour of bruises. It rather looks like i've had botched cheek implant surgery, but isn't so bad I can't head out in public (albeit with my hair right over my face). I stopped taking pain meds 2 days ago as I simply don't need them, but my throat has been sore for the past 3 days or so. I put this down to the soft tissue back there taking its turn to swell rather than any surgical tube damage. Exterior numbness is limited to the bottom left hand side of my lip and area of chin below, but inside my upper gums and pallette are completely dead - I was cleaning up after a meal and almost gouged out a bit of gum without realising it!
The plan for the next few days is a big fat NOTHING. I think my recovery is going so well as i'm doing as little as possible and making sure I relax - the hardest decision anyone should be making at this stage is which flavour smoothie to have - and so i'm not going to ruin it all by rushing back into life just yet, the world can make do without me for another week or so :)
Friday, 7 May 2010
Almost at the week mark and swelling is down, discomfort is down and energy is up! Here is me giving my biggest smile possible!
Have to say I did not expect to be so chipper at this stage in the game - thought the difficult period would continue at least until day 10, but today I found myself dancing around my flat to the radio and admiring my new overbite in the mirror at every opportunity. What's contributing to this great mood is relief - it's only now I realise that the pre-surgery worries and fears were weighing me down like a millstone. Don't think I was entirely aware of this at the time, or of the toll it was taking...
Thursday, 6 May 2010
I'm now passing the 100+ hours since surgery mark and all is well. Appetite is pretty strong (takes more than a couple of broken jaws to get between me and cheesecake!), strength slowly returning and swelling is no longer increasing. I'm still experiencing strange light-headed floaty moments, but they pass pretty quickly and arn't altogether unpleasant - in fact the unreal feeling goes quite nicely with watching my face change shape by the hour and examining my new overbite with astonishment (it's still a thrill to see!).
Today's target was to get out and vote - it's a general election day here in the UK and i'm a huge believer in getting involved. So after a few moments dithering over whether to cover my swollen face I decided hold my head up high and stay uncovered, probably scaring the returning officers and a few other voters in the process. Have to say I didn't get many looks, which is quite impressive as i've now got yellow and purple bruises appearing everywhere (my camera isn't doing justice to the colour pallette emerging on my face and neck). But the walk outside definitely felt better than yesterday, I'll definitely be taking a daily stroll from now on.
Sleeping is ok, but for tonight i'm settling in to watch the election results rolling in and enjoying spending time thinking about something other than my face for the first time in ages!
(NB for anyone who has already had surgery, did you have any mysterious bruises appear? I've had this beauty come up despite all the tubes and drugs going in to a far smaller bruise on the other arm. The explanation I got was that 'a line' needed to go in and out during surgery. What was it? Why did it make such a mess??)
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
I've reached day 4, and am finally beginning to feel human again! The swelling seems to have reached its peak, and bruising is now coming out (which apparently is a good sign of healing). Energy levels are good, and so is appetite, so all in i'm feeling quite pleased with my progress. (excuse the lolling eyes that keep showing up in my photos, i'm not really that doped-up looking)
I have however had to make a few compromises on the recovery front. Found out last night that if I want to get a good night's sleep there's no point bothering with much head elevation. I know it's good for the swelling, but right now I think sleep takes priority and I don't want to start taking sleeping pills to get some shut eye.
Today's plan is pretty simple - head out for some fresh air. Living in my patch of central London, the only green space within walking distance is a cemetery, but it's full of trees and birds, and I can enjoy the spring blossom and sunlight - much needed after the dark and scary few days i've been through.
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
72 hours down, and i'm focusing on getting through the first difficult few days without freaking out.
Last night was pretty tough as sleeping with an elevated head is not working out at all. I managed a few hours but half the night was taken up with tossing, turning, rearranging pillows and generally feeling uncomfortable. My face also felt like it was about to burst with the swelling, and I ended up sitting in my living room at 4am with ice packs held to my face watching the dawn creep in.
So today is all about toughing it out and focusing on the positives - not being in pain, having a good appetite, and knowing it should all get better in the coming days. The congestion is by far the most difficult thing - imagine having a very heavy head cold and you'll get the idea (along with the light headedness and blocked feeling that accompanies it), and not being about to blow my nose is torture. Mr T suggested a bath as the steam should help loosten things up a little. I really hope so!
Monday, 3 May 2010
I'm home from hospital, and it feels great to finally be out :)
After yesterday's update Mr T came to undo my elastics a little, so at least I could get my medication down, and I went to bed feeling much better. I was obviously exausted as I slept for 6 hours, but not before choking on and coughing up huge blood clots, which I was only able to get out thanks to my newly loostened elastics - gross!
This morning Dr T announced me ready to go home and A collected me around 11. All the effort of getting up and packed was exhausting so i've not got a nice little den for myself set up on the couch. It feels great to be home! Too exhaused to write anymore so i'm leaving you to peruse my pics..
Sunday, 2 May 2010
Waking up yesterday morning was awful, despite maintaining an air of calmness on the journey I was secretly terrified, and wasn't helped by the nurse who showed me to my room saying 'jaw surgery? Ohh you'll be uncomfortable tonight'. Just what I needed to hear! Following a quick visit from Mr T to go over final points, the anaethnatist showed up to say hello and wished me good luck for surgery. He also told me I would not be in pain afterwards. I hoped he was right.
So, I'd unpacked and changed into my lovely surgical robes when the nurse came back an announced it was time to go up. I kissed A goodbye and walked up shaking like a leaf, I was absolutely petrified! There I met Mr anaethnatist again with his team who told me to climb up onto the table to be put under.'Just give me a second' I said again and again, panicing and desperately putting off the inevitable, but the time had come! He asked me to count down from 20, and as I started a freezing sensation crept slowly up my arm. I remember reaching 14 and that it all went dark.
The next thing I recall was waking up here in bed. As the anaethnatist had promised there was no pain, and was feeling pretty good. First thing I did was run my hand over my face to discover that I had feeling - a different, tingly kind of feeling, but feeling nonetheless! The only place that was totally numb was the roof of my mouth which felt dead. Then came the best bit, running my tongue over my teeth and feeling for the first time my lowers sitting neatly behind my uppers. At last :)
Since then things have been pretty uncomfortable. As soon as I tilted my head blood would come gushing out and i've had to change my robe several times. Now my nose is full of dried blood but i'm not allowed to so much as touch it in case I trigger off more bleeding, and it's highly uncomfortable. As for the swelling it's as bad as everyone says, and I hardly recognise myself. I've had an ice pack on constantly which seems to help but i'm currently avoiding looking in the mirror as it triggers 'ohmygodwhathaveIdone?' thoughts.
I did manage a few hours sleep last night, but was constantly woken up by the need to visit the bathroom (tip: rehydration drips and constant drinking is not a good idea!), which meant calling a nurse, unplugging all the monitors, wheeling them in, cleaning up all the nose-blood that comes with it etc etc.
The worst part of all this has in fact being taking my Crohn's medication, which does not fit between my new bite, and i've almost been in tears of frustration trying to get it down. Still, one step at at time.
So now i'm just killing time reading the papers, surfing the web, and generally putting distance between me and the surgery. Hopefully i'll be going home tomorrow.
Friday, 30 April 2010
The time has come for me to sign off from this side of the journey. I've just returned from getting my surgical hooks attached, and am fully stocked up on smoothies and ice-cream. For the rest of the evening I plan a long bath, a good dinner, and then bed to attempt some sleep (though heaven knows if i'll be able to)
The plan for tomorrow is this, up at 6.15am for final dithering then a short tube ride to the hospital for 7.30. I should be going down about 9.30ish and will be back in my room sometime in the early afternoon. I'm booked in for a 2 night stay so will be back home on Monday. I'm taking a ton of stuff to keep me entertained, including my laptop, and am hoping to distract myself enough not to worry too much about what's going on in the jaw department.
Can't say i'm feeling too nervous right now, the meditation and relaxation techniques I've worked on seem to be helping keep me calm. Tomorrow will probably be a different story but i'm not too worried, after all who wouldn't get scared at the prospect of imminant jaw breakage! So hopefully i'll just relax and treat whatever crops up as part of the whole adventure.
See you on the other side :)
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
We began on the subject of the sliding genio, and apparently this is the only part of surgery that isn’t decided for certain beforehand. He told me that once my jaws are in their new positions, he and his team would have a shufti at my profile and face shape, and only then decide if it is necessary. I asked him how he judges this, and he told me that in 9 out of 10 cases it’s very clear if the chin is in proportion or not. If, however, I fall in to the 1 in 10 category where the decision is not so easy, then he will not go ahead. This is all highly reassuring :) and while i’ll still go in expecting a genio, it’ll be a lovely surprise to wake up and find it wasn’t needed.
We then moved on to the question of fitness. As a thrice weekly gym goer plus yoga plus generally active person I was hoping for a go-ahead at the two week point for walks and gentle stretching/toning to begin, but Mr T was adamant: no activity for 6 weeks! When I protested that this seemed a bit harsh I was told in no uncertain terms about risks of pressure on the jaw/light headedness causing me to fall on my face etc etc ok ok I get the point! While I’m sure caution is the best policy I’m not so sure I’ll be able to sit and do nothing while I develop bingo wings and a gut, so for the moment I’ll say silent on that issue..
Finally I asked him about the heat/ice packs i’ve bought. He said that the ice packs would come in handy, but I was not to use heat AT ALL as it increases the chances of developing an infection. Fine by me, infections sound horrendous.
So, 3 days to go, better start packing. After last week’s postponement fingers crossed that no other dumb reason crops up to stop surgery!
Saturday, 24 April 2010
It's a weird feeling knowing that the bottom half of my face will look completely different pretty soon but i'm not worried, after all my messed up bite couldn't be much worse right now!
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Got a message from Mr T's office this morning. Mr T has been stranded in Switzerland since the Icelandic volcano ash closed European airspace, and will not arrive back until Sunday! My surgery slot on Friday has been cancelled and rebooked for May 1st, and i'm gutted, gutted, gutted :(
It may only be an 8 day delay, but building up to surgery is proving an emotionally exhausting experience - one minute you're gleeful and the next fearful, and all the while the countdown clock in your mind is reminding you that in X amount of days and hours you'll be there in the recovery room experiencing heaven-knows-what!
So, i've stood down family and friends, and have ANOTHER final weekend to try and relax.
Monday, 19 April 2010
Friday's plan is as follows: show up at my orthodontists at 11.30 to get surgical hooks attached, arrive at the hospital at 12.30, down to the operating theatre for 2.30 and be in recovery by 5.30/6pm, job done. Makes it sound so simple! I've also found out that the hospital has wifi and intend to take in my laptop - I could be sharing my sufferings with the world as early as Friday night!
The only thing that's not so cool is that my mum won't be here. She wanted to come up for the op and recovery, but thanks to my (naive) belief that I'd be having surgery on the 12 month mark, she went ahead and booked a holiday to Africa for the whole of April thinking i'd be good and recovered by then. My sister's interest in this begins and ends with my availability to babysit for her during recovery so support from there is out. Sooo lucky have A. and my friends to chivvy me through :)
Planning to get some decent before pics up here by Friday...
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
think much about surgery, but now there's nothing else to focus on except the BIG DAY. It's all starting to feel very scary!
Fortunately, yesterday was my latest appt with Mr T. We kicked off with further moulds and measurements, after which he pulled out a device called a facebow, which looked a bit like a scold's bridle, and attached it to my face which he then fiddled round with for a while. Afterwards we sat down and went over The Plan again, and I quizzed him on waking up from surgery. He reassured me that I would be woken very slowly, and that the local anaesthetic injected into my face and painkiller via the IV would ensure that I won't be in any pain when I come round, which is hugely reassuring as i'm terrified of waking up in agony and panic.
With so little time left all I need to do is stay healthy, but that's easier said than done as pestilential people seem to be popping up everywhere coughing in my direction and fingering all the surfaces around them! One recent bronchitis sufferer in the office (who i've been avoiding like the plague) even came up to my desk, grabbed my new Sigg water bottle (without asking), and began turning it over in his hands! Had to resist the urge to shriek "get your germ-ridden mitts off my stuff!" Once he'd left I promptly legged it to the kitchen to give the bottle a thorough disinfecting.
So, next up is Dr H tomorrow. I've heard nasty things about surgical hooks so i'm hoping that it won't be in this appt that he chooses to inflict these evil things upon me - I want to enjoy my final weekend of eating in comfort!
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Met up with an old friend for dinner last week who said she was suprised to see differences in my face already. I was suprised too - didn't think that much had changed apart from a worstening of my underbite! Just goes to show that we probably miss most of the subtle alterations that go on during our time in braces by seeing our reflections day to day. It's good to know they're working their magic even though we don't realise it...
So the countdown reached four weeks last friday, and right on cue my appointment letter arrived from the hospital, asking me to report to reception at the civilised hour of 12.30pm on surgery day. I was expecting some godforsaken 6am appointment, so this is good news.
I'm also coping pretty well with the nerves. Some of the tips i've read about coping with anxiety during this time can be summed up by a certain french philosopher, who said "My life has been full of misfortunes, most of which never happened" - in other words it's all too easy to get wound up imagining all the terrible things that can occur during surgery and recovery, when there's every possibility that they won't actually happen at all, so whats the purpose of worrying for nothing? I'm telling myself this everytime I feel uncertainty creeping up, and this seems to be working so far!
As for more practical matters, i've finally got cracking on my shopping list, picking up a few bits and pieces to make recovery more comfortable. However, the jaw bra and zip n squeeze thingies that I wanted seem unheard of here in the uk, so i'll just have to improvise and rely on whatever the hospital supply me with to eat.
So, next appt with Mr T is on April 12th for further wax-ups. Time to surgery is FLYING by, and with Easter and a quick holiday coming up I'll be on the threshold before I know it!
Sunday, 21 March 2010
Unfortunately I'll be having to recover in my small flat in central London rather than escaping to mum's place in the country as Dr H and Mr T want to see me every few days after surgery, so it's going to be a rather uncomfortable few weeks for both me and A.
First big decision is where to sleep. There's no room for a recliner in here, and staying in bed with A next to me will probably keep us both awake all night, so I think the living room sofa bed is my only option - next to the kitchen and bathroom for nocturnal requirements, and allowing A to get a good night's sleep so he wait on me properly during the day :)
I'm going to invest in a wedge pillow and new fluffy pillows in order to make the sleeping upright lark a bit more comfortable, as well as a lap tray and lots of napkins. A trip to Marks & Sparks is also in order to pick up new pajamas and trackie bottoms - I imagine i'll be living in these for a least a month, and i've already checked out protein drinks and smoothies that can all be picked up a few days beforehand.
My big focus, however, is entertainment. I think that the best way to deal with the inevitable post-op emotional rollercoaster is to keep myself as distracted as possible, particularly during the first 10 days. So i'm ordering piles of my favourite movies and TV programmes on DVD as well as several large tomes - the final Twilight book has already arrived and i'm itching to get going on it!
I'm also more than a little preoccupied with the thought of my final meal, as I can't possibly go into this without a last food hurrah. Unfortunately my list of favourites is far to long to fit into one meal, so i'll be having a dish every weekend between now and the Big Day. Already on the list is sushi, fish n chips, a great curry and lashings of chocolate in any shape or form.
Appointments-wise I was at Dr H's last Thursday for final photos and Xrays. He'll now meet with Mr T for a final chin wag before they call me in to go over the Plan. So all I can do is wait for the call...
Friday, 5 March 2010
So i've 7 weeks exactly to prepare for my journey to the Other Side. Doesn't sound long! Think I need a lie down!!
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
In order to illustrate this he pulled up the 3D picture I had taken the other week and compared it with an 'after' shot he'd worked on. To be honest the after shot made me look like the type of lunatic you'd avoid on the street, but he assured me that the 3D simulation was more for illustrative purposes rather than an exact prediction of how I would look (bloody well hope so!)
Finally he said he'd be meeting with Dr H after my next appt with him on the 18th March to finalise the surgery plan, straight after which he'd see me to discuss dates. I'm PRAYING that this means I can have my surgery at the end of the month, so will be doing my best to talk Dr H into giving the go ahead for an early date.
It was great to have such a positive meeting, all the more so as I had my mum with me. She's been quite dubious about the sugery up until now so I hoped that sitting in on this meeting would reassure her. When I asked how she felt afterwards she said "well, I can now see why you're doing it", which is quite a turnaround from someone who never usually changes their mind about anything.
So, onwards to Friday 18th! The other side is on the horizon :)
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
After getting control of my nerves and jelly legs we got down to business, and he started off with bad news - because of my new teeth position he thought it would be best to move the lower jaw as well as the upper, as too much advancement of the upper jaw would throw out my face alignment. Felt a shiver down my spine as soon as he said this - i'd been hoping I could get away with just an upper and genio, but it seems the only option is the full works. He also told me he was worried that tongue thrust could possibly cause a relapse post-op, and so would make allowances for it during surgery by leaving a posterior open bite (which will compensate for any relapse with some sort of see-saw effect, or could later be closed using braces).
He wasn't pleased to hear about my Crohn's diagnosis 6 months ago and grimaced when I showed him the pills that I have to take every day, he now plans to speak with my specialist asap in order to discuss medications and will let me know the outcome at our next appointment in 3 weeks. All that was left to do afterwards was have a 3D photograph taken, which he will work on and show me next time, and get a few Xrays taken.
All in all a pretty sobering appointment which left me feeling quite down for the rest of the day, but this morning i've perked up. These next few weeks are bound to be a bit of an emotional roller-coaster as the inevitable "what-am-I-doing?" thoughts crop up, but my motivations are still as strong as ever and cancel out the doubts pretty quickly. Hope I can maintain a cool head for as long as possible...
Friday, 5 February 2010
Whilst Dr. H's assistant was at work on my wires we were chatting (as much as you can when your mouth is full of someone else's fingers) about celebs who'd worn braces, and she mentioned that they sometimes had famous faces come through the door. I asked her to give me some names and she told me they'd done the braces for two of the royal family! My first thought on hearing this was 'no wonder you're so friggin' expensive', but I was still impressed. She also mentioned a rather dishy hollywood actor who brings his kids there - I'd better start hanging around the waiting room a bit more often!
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
I positively skipped along to my adjustment last month eager for Dr H's decision on the big day - early Feb, I hoped, maybe even late Jan if they get their skates on :) Initial signs looked good with lots of oohing and aahing over my latest set of impressions and statements of "we're really close now!", so when the moment came to ask the BIG question I was positive there would be good news.
It wasn't to be. Dr H had a final fiddle with the moulds and pronounced that I would be ready "in three to four months, probably around easter" EASTER?! WTF? He then proceeded to go over what still needed to be done, but by now I was too numb with shock to register. Three extra months? I'm gutted! I was so ready for the surgery and now this delay is hugely frustrating. It also means that I'll have to do some temping in the meantime rather than sit around twiddling my thumbs and using up my redundancy package, which I need to live off during my surgery convalescence. It would have been such perfect timing in my life to have it now :(
Still, just as I was despairing of ever making any progress, Dr H.s assistant suggested I call up my surgeon's office and give them my timeline, and see when Mr. T would like his his first appointment with me. She didn't have to ask twice! I raced home and got straight on the blower. Mr. T's office suggested that if I wanted the 'pick of the dates' around easter I should come in anytime from 8th feb onwards, so naturally I requested the 8th itself. Hopefully I can impress on Mr.T the urgency of my predicament, so that he could then put the heavies on Dr.H to pronounce me set to go (yes I know surgery really can't be done until the teeth are ready, but perhaps there's some wiggle room in the definition of 'ready'?). Maybe I should take a bribe along - a nice bottle of Port, some chocs, or maybe even a brand new scalpel? :)