Saturday, 29 May 2010

Day 28 - The dark art of chewing!

The four week mark has arrived, but the time that's passed seems far longer than that!

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

Day 25, His work is done!

The last few days have been much of a muchness - eating, sleeping, inspecting my teeth - just ticking off the days until the magical month mark, when I feel i'll be pretty much out of the woods. The swelling, now very much in the centre of my face, is still giving me a certain quirk of expression and my mouth cankers causing my lips have an uneven look to them, but energy is good, spirits are high and life is moving on :)

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

Day 19 - Naughty D!

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

Day 16 - The money shot

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

Day 14!

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

Day 12 - the 'slurp n' slop diet'

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

Day 10 - first surgeon visit

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

Day 8 - the return of pain

Is the honeymoon over? Today has been a return to what I was expecting of recovery. Woke this morning to find the vague soreness in my throat had erupted into full on stinging pain, and even worse, my high energy levels had utterly dissolved. I was panic-stricken, what had gone wrong??

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

7 days - first milestone!

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

Day 6

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

Day 5 - election fever!

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

Day 4 - Compromises

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

Day 3

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

Day 2

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

Live from the hospital bed!

I made it though! Surgery took no time at all - about 2.5 hours and I had no genio (Mr T wasn't sure I needed one after all)Yay!

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.