Thursday, January 27, 2011

FOLLOW UP - WEEK FIVE into SIX postings haven't been weekly as I'd hoped but here's to catching everyone up on the progress

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 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 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 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

Helpful Tips...along the way

Things that I have found extremely helpful:

- Prayer

- Ice-packs - I lived in these for the first three weeks

- Understanding and supportive family & friends (a must!!!)

- Syringes (lots of them!!! and clip the tip to allow for easy suction) I sure wish someone would have told me this early on!!

- Children's toothbrush (a must!)

- Frozen Fruit (Costco, large bag mixed frozen fruit - great price)

- Stuff for smoothies: O.J., Milk, Vanilla ice-cream, Vanilla yogurt, frozen fruit

- Homemade soups

- GE Individual Cup Blender

- Cream of Wheat (starting week three, I had a bowl each morning via syringe)

- Herbie Heat Pack (I was allowed to apply heat in week three) this really helped with the pain!!!

- WaterPic

- Humidifier

I'm sure there are many more items....I am forgetting - more to follow

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Well today marks week five since my upper and lower jaw surgery. I wish someone would have warned me of the potential risk of anxiety and emotional issues. I cried a lot during the first four weeks. I felt helpless and unable to communicate. I often found myself having a *crying episode* or I'd stomp my feet when my kids or husband couldn't understand me. I know it sounds childish, I admit. I did a lot of writing, it was my only source to communicate with others. I had notepads throughout our house. You'd be surprised how many people will ask you questions or try to talk forgetting you can't talk back to them :)

I still can't see clearly out of my left eye, everything continues to be a blur. I am extremely sore along my lower jaw area where the breaks are. I can actually feel the break points in the lower jaw. OUCH! I still sleep elevated with two pillows which helps, but each morning wake up with puffy cheeks. I still have no feeling in my cheeks or chin area, but I have come a very long way! It's a very strange feeling....I always feeling like I'm either drooling or there is something on my chin. I am hopeful the feeling will return some day and soon. I've been told it could take as much as a year pending there is no permanent nerve damage.

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

Ongoing....following surgery

Sporting the stylish ice pack bunny ears

Bruising more apparent

WEEKS TWO & THREE: The recovery at home

The first 8 - 10 days were the worse!!!!... Craig took off a few days to be with me and Kayla & Andre were a huge help! My Mom came each day during week two once the kids returned to school to be with me during the day. She helped a lot! She was the enforcer :), to make sure I got my medicines down even if it took a SUPER long time and I had to water down each dose. I camped out in the living room for the first two weeks. I found remaining propped up helped with the swelling, the pressure, and breathing....lots of pillows. I am extremely thankful for all the people who continued to check in on us, helping us, holding my hand as I cried, prayed with me, delivering meals for Craig and the kids and my sweet dear friend Meghann for making mass quantities of homemade soups for me.

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'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 experience. I was prescribed three different liquid pain medications, couldn't take any of them due to allergies or nausea.

"Motion Sickness Bands" - these really do work!!

Some other items, that really helped 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.

"Humidifier - get one if you don't already have one"

"Lots of syringes, mouth rinse, mirror for aim, and force liquids"

"Get a good blender"

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!!!


Day Three

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.

Pictures of my new hardware for life



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.

Leading up to surgery....and Day One

December 7, 2010 (the night before surgery): anxiety set in at high levels !!! So bare in mind, pre-surgery you can't eat or drink anything after midnight....I am a mother of two terrific kids so I allowed them to select where we had dinner because I was not up for cooking. For dinner, we went to McDonald's...yes you are reading this correctly / my last meal and it was at McD's!!! I had a crispy honey mustard chicken wrap, small fry, diet coke and splurged for a caramel sundae. On a good note, my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew met us at McD's so we got to spend some time together before surgery. Now, as I am looking back...I would have definitely selected an "all out" last meal pre-surgery

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 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!

The Man I LOVE !!!

I have to take a moment to thank my loving husband, Craig...none of this has been easy. I am so extremely grateful and thank God daily to have Craig in my life!

Thirty something...braces, upper & lower jaw surgery

My purpose for sharing my story is to possibly help even just one individual that may be considering or about to go through with upper and lower jaw surgery. I've learned a great deal through this process and continue to...

Well where do I begin... I am in my thirties, I needed braces as a wasn't in the family budget so my teeth, jaw and bite were left uncorrected. The thought of braces at my age was definitely not on the "to do" or "my bucket" list. I gave in; physically, emotionally and financially to the battle to improve not cosmetically but medically and had braces put on in June '09. (or so I thought)

The cosmetic change was an added bonus! I adjusted fairly well to braces considering all the extra appliances throughout the process; an expander, super tight wires, surgical splints, double chaining...and then some. The Water Pic and Philips Sonicare toothbrush became my two new best friends ! I highly recommend both!!!

A year and a half or so later...beautiful aligned teeth but still left with a serious bite issue.

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 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...