Thursday, January 27, 2011
January 13, 2011 - I had my weekly routine follow up with my oral surgeon and facial surgeon. This marked week five. I was taken to the surgical room...to have the upper surgical splint removed. I was slightly nervous when I learned I would be awake during this procedure. They used wire cutters and other surgical tools to remove the splint. I won't say it was painful, more like uncomfortable and awkward. At this point, I still had the dissolvable stitches all the way across on the top...most of the bottom stitches have dissolved.
It was a very strange feeling at first to try to open my mouth. My range of motion is small but will continue to improve over time. I was able to brush my teeth for *real* all of them, including my tongue and the roof of my mouth. Although I still couldn't feel much due to tooth numbness, my mouth felt clean for the first time in more than five weeks.
I left my oral surgeon's office to make the next appointment of the day....my orthodontist. My orthodontist seemed pleased with my progress, my overall profile, etc. I was switched to full-time tension rubber band wear during the day, with additional bands at night time. I have to admit...I sure am glad they give you a diagram on band placement! This arrangement is slightly easier...I no longer have the triangle, octagon, etc placements...now diagonal only which makes it easier to figure out what goes where. Although the placement is easier...the lower 6 to upper 4 and lower 5 to upper 3 on both sides really pulls my lower jaw forward... OUCH!!...will take some time to get use to this!
To my meals I was able to add:
pasta, tuna fish, salmon, chicken salad, bread, York peppermint patties - just to list a few
- Ice-packs - I lived in these for the first three weeks
I'm sure there are many more items....I am forgetting - more to follow
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I was permitted to keep the tension bands off during the day so this allows me to talk some and brush properly. I was very happy about that! Notice all the stains on the bands from soups :) I know gross! My speech is still pretty muffled because of the upper surgical splint I have in so I often have to repeat myself. I can tell when I've exceeded my talking limits, my jaw joints get really sore. I'm learning my boundaries.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I'm still completely numb from my eyes to my chin. My vision returned in my right eye, but my left eye is extremely blurry. I'm hoping over time as the swelling decreases and the pressure reduces, my vision will be restored. For now, it's back to my eye glasses and no contact lenses. The numbness is a very odd feeling. The only way I can describe it is...if you have ever had a tooth filling and get Novocaine...it's similar...but it's your entire face. I had been warned about nerve damage and loss of feeling. I'm praying the feeling will return over time.
Here's some things I recommend for anyone facing jaw surgery (I wish someone would have shared these tips with me!) I had to learn the hard way...by experience. I was prescribed three different liquid pain medications, couldn't take any of them due to allergies or nausea.
Some other items, that really helped me....ice around the clock - I kept ice on for the first two weeks. I looked like a swollen, bruised blob with bunny rabbit ears. I was warned the bruising would get worse before better...I had bruising on my cheeks, mouth area, neck and chest. Sleep upright to reduce the swelling, this also helps with ease of breathing.
I have become very creative with the blender...I'm experimented and created many various smoothie recipes. I'll post a few soon to share, you'll live on these for at least the first few weeks - I promise.
Another item I highly recommend is by Amway; it's called NutriLite Meal Replacement (Milk Chocolate is my favorite!), it's packed with vitamins, protein, potassium, low-fat and delicious!!! I've tried Ensure, NutraFit, Boost... YUCK is all I can say!!! I just couldn't bring myself to drink any of them. I had to find an alternative due to loosing 14lbs I didn't have to loose. I also needed to work on rebuilding my strength and these do the trick.
Also, get a good lip moisturizer and be prepared for serious dry mouth!!!
I'm being released from the hospital to go home....I'm scared to death and in pain if you can't tell from the picture. I was blessed to have a sweet dear girlfriend that happens to be a nurse and works nearby come by and whip things into shape. She tracked down nurses, got my medicines, helped me get dressed and so much more. I'm numb from my eyes all the way down to my neck. It's hard to explain a numb feeling but pain like I've never experienced before. My vision is extremely blurry, swelling, and bruising. Looks like I was in a really bad fight and I didn't win.
When released we had to go to my oral surgeon's office for x-rays - thankfully it's all connected within the hospital because I was feeling pretty rough.
ROUGH is about the only way I can describe it !!! I was not at all prepared mentally for this journey...pre-surgery I had told Craig "if I fall asleep, you push the Morphine button for me" I was afraid to fall asleep because I knew the pain would be severe when I woke up. I had multiple panic attacks and kept trying to communicate (thanks to Kim Staudinger, an early Christmas gift; a dry erase board & markers) a must for anyone having jaw surgery!!!! I could not breathe, it was the worst feeling!!! I wrote NO BREATHE!!!! I stayed on oxygen for awhile and they kept me pretty sedated. The normal things such as medications, allergies, IV's, vitals, and so much more and I wasn't up for any of it!!! I felt so helpless and couldn't express my thoughts. It was extremely frustrating!
I remember one of the nurses switching me off of the pain medication pump to liquid pain medications...all I can say is I have a whole new respect for children when they complain or resist liquid medications...keep in mind my upper jaw was cut all the way across and in multiple locations on the lower - talk about burning when the medicine hits the incisions!!!! I would cry thru every dose and that was the watered down version. Syringes became my new friend to get medications down even if it did take more than 30 mins to get it down.
I'll add without getting too personal...the hospital where I was to have my surgery gave me a list of "To Do's"... the night before and the morning of surgery: wash all your bed linens, shower/bath with this special anti-germ rinse from head to toe, fresh laundered clothing, wear comfortable clothing - okay seriously who has that kind of time leading up to surgery to wash their linens and laundry several times in additional to everything else required, not to mention I had finals for three college courses, office work and make sure my kids had everything they needed ??? I was forced to tackle the mountain high pile of laundry to get to my comfy clothes :(
I barely slept...tossed and turned (I think I even hit Craig a few times during my restless night), I kept asking myself was this the right thing to do, the severity of the surgery, the risks, the costs, all of the above and then some.
December 8, 2010 - get up at 4am: shower to disinfect (LOL) per the hospital instructions, be at the hospital by 6am for check-in. Craig, Kayla and I arrive...my Mom met us at the hospital; they almost immediately called me back - forcing me to say a very quick good bye which was very difficult! I remember kissing my husband and him hugging and holding me tightly telling me everything was going to be okay and he'd be there for me when I woke up.
The surgery was scheduled for 8am....and the procedure was expected to last five or more hours. As they were preparing me for surgery, the usual stuff; vitals, tests, questions, meet all the team, etc...well then came blood work - let's just say my veins did *not* cooperate!!! as usual !! They put me in this vacuum seal warming unit to raise my temperature in hopes to improve my veins...and after much time, finally my veins cooperated. (I'm wishing I had one of those warming units at home) I'm always COLD!!!
As I met with the doctors, nurses, etc. I became more and more nervous about everything...they asked a ton of questions and then my family medical history...and here's where all kinds of "alarms" went off...I can thank my brother for that (love him dearly) As a young child, my brother was diagnosed with MH - Malignant Hyperthermia, and while I don't understand all the details I do know it is an inherited disease that can cause rapid rise in body temperature and severe muscle contractions when an affected person receives general anesthesia... Well let me tell you... I then had the privilege of meeting and having on board multiple doctors and some of the best so I'm told. The doctors explained to me, even though I have had general anesthesia in the past and did okay with mild side affects, that often MH can be triggered without any warning at anytime.
I vaguely remember coming around... I was confused, in extreme PAIN, pressure, severe headache, unable to open my mouth, barely open my eyes, felt as if I could not breathe, could not communicate, nose bleeds, and then there was the swelling. It was the strangest feeling I have ever experienced! Okay, so if you can imagine your mouth being banded completely shut, bandages on your nose to stop the bleeding, extreme swelling from my eyes down to my throat...wouldn't you freak out and feel as if you can not breathe?!?!? I remember Craig coming to the recovery room and standing over me...I must have looked pretty bad; I will never forget the way he looked at me. The doctors and Craig told me the upper and lower jaw surgery went well and I would remain in ICU 1-2 days and then be moved to a surgical recovery room. Craig stayed at the hospital with me the entire time.
I want to pause for a moment and thank each and every one of you that visited the hospital, that prayed for me and my family, and the love shown to us - I am eternally grateful!
My upper teeth were extended well past my lower teeth. I also had issues with my back teeth not touching properly. Also, notice in the picture above...me sporting the lower surgical splint - man did that take some getting use to! I wish I could tell you all the technical terms...but my jaw alignment was one of the more severe that required extensive correction. I learned as an adult it is extremely difficult to correct jaw alignment without surgery. While continuing under the care and direction of my orthodontist; Dr. Paul White of White Orthodontics, he recommended I see an oral surgeon for a consult. I set up a consult with a highly recommended surgeon; Virginia Oral & Facial Surgery. I met with Dr. Alexander and he too agreed jaw surgery would be the recommended path for correction. I continued to see my orthodontist frequently to prepare for upper and lower jaw surgery.
Everything after that very first appointment with the oral surgeon seemed to fly by... leading up to the "S" (Surgery day)...more to follow...