Monday, April 17, 2017

Two years Later

I wanted to put up some final photos from my 2015 surgery.  Much of the numbness that I had immediately after the surgery has remained. I think the majority of the numbness is from the bone graft that I received in my upper palate. I have little feeling in the gums above my two front teeth or inside the septum of my nose. I have permanent swelling on the left side of my face near my nose and loss of feeling there also.  There is a continuing darkness of one of my upper front teeth that the surgeon said would go away eventually, but a slight graying of the tooth remains.
People compliment me on how good I look for my age, which helps me feel better about my decision to go through this whole process of teeth extraction, braces, surgery, recovery and outcome. I will be 60 this year.
I never would have done all of this if it were just for cosmetic reasons. Prior to surgery, it was very difficult for me to close my lips or keep my mouth closed. Now I can have my lips closed with out the struggle to keep them closed and my jaw is more relaxed.

My parting thoughts would be that I basically traded the discomfort of TMJ and a crooked bite for post surgical paresthesia  and swelling.

If I had to do it again, I think I would forego the upper palate bone graft and just have the lower jaw surgery.  The outcome of having so much numbness and such after the upper jaw surgery seems to be more than I would've liked to experience.

I hope that this blog has offered some insight to anyone who may be considering surgery.   Overall I am happy having straight teeth. This is something I had wanted my entire life and I don't regret doing it. Sometimes I wish that I didn't wait so late in life to get this done, so if you are hesitating, don't wait!!
Having a nice smile definitely adds to a happy heart.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

9 months later..........

So.... Here is a look at my smile 9 months after surgery, braces off.
I am glad to be out of brace bondage finally!! I was so ready to get those things OFF! Although the upper retainer is cumbersome....
I have to wear the upper retainer for 6 months 24/7 except when I eat. I wasn't able to get one of the nice, clear plastic retainers that fits over the teeth like an in-visiline. It is one of the clunky, over the palate resin retainers that has a metal bar that goes across the teeth in front. I don't like it at all, so I begged my Ortho to let me wear one of the clear ones. He says after 3 weeks, I can come in and have one made, but I must wear the resin one as much as possible. Something about my "open" bite that makes the resin one much more effective. I also have a permanent bar type retainer across the back of my bottom teeth. It isn't too cumbersome. Easy to deal with.

My front tooth that had the discoloring after surgery has pretty much returned to an acceptable color.  Except when the brackets from the braces came off, the tooth is discolored underneath!! I can't believe it. After all these months of hard work trying heal well, I have a purple discoloration right in the middle of my big front tooth!! I am using lots of tooth whitening products in the hopes that it will fade, otherwise I may have to get a root canal and/or cap over it.

Overall, I am pleased with the outcome. I still have a tremendous amount of paresthesia (numbness) in my upper hard palate where the surgeon placed a bone graft. I am not sure whether or not any of the feeling will return. This may become my new "normal." My gums around my front 4 teeth are still numb. Underneath my upper lip where my nose connects to my face, where they lifted it for the Lefort osteotomy and the bone graft, is still quite tender and healing slowly.
I am thinking that at my age, healing is slower than it would be say for a 20 or 30 year old.

I have a lot of crepitus (grating sound or sensation produced by friction between bone and cartilage) in the left jaw joint...more than I had even before the surgery! This side of my jaw was manipulated much more than the right side. I still have a significant amount of pain in the left side jaw joint in addition to the grinding.

I often ask myself if I would have done this major surgery if I had an opportunity to rewind the months and the experience of the past year and I have to say..... I can't really answer that!
I am happy that I can now have nice straight teeth that can bite easily into a deli sandwich, but the journey hasn't been easy.
It's difficult to remember how things were before the double jaw surgery. I can say that I have about the same level of discomforts as I did before, they are just different. The discomforts are in different areas of my jaw and mouth.
So sometimes I feel that I just traded one discomfort for another. But my teeth are straight and my smile is nice.

So, there it is. A somewhat "end" to my jaw surgery journey.
I will post some other photos of the healing journey next time.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Some before and after photos

Before braces 2012
One year before surgery
Right before surgery 2015

15 days Post Op
10 days Post Op

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Day 15 - First Ortho Appointment

 Two weeks, 1 day post op -  my first trip to see the orthodontist. Dr. H was happy to see me doing so well. The entire staff made me feel like a celebrity. Their encouragement and enthusiasm felt comforting at this juncture in my healing journey. He said my mouth looked great. Nice and clean. I have been doing my best to brush and rinse with the medicated mouthwash. I do have a "pink" front tooth. He sent a photo of it to Dr. B. Got an email from Dr. B and he says this happens, but it isn't seen very often. Happens when blood pressure forces blood into the area........ blah blah. Not sure all the specifics, but he says research shows that it will fade with time. I was glad to hear that.

My swelling has decreased the most on the right side. Left side still gives me muscle spasms by the end of the day. I had to ask Dr. B to prescribe me a muscle relaxer to help. He ordered me Soma, but after taking one and not even feeling any effects, I called my PCP and he prescribed me Flexeril. That seemed to do the trick.
The muscle spasms and sleeping are still my challenges. After talking and chewing all day, the left jaw muscle really aches. Sometimes it takes several hours of heat, ice, meds to finally get relief from the discomfort. It throbs all the way up into my ear like an ear ache.
My smile is still very tight. but each day gets better and better. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is not a "speedy" healing process. Slow and steady.  I saw a few friends the other day and they were perplexed that I still had numbness and aches in my face. Funny how people really don't comprehend just what a dramatic surgery this was. To expect healing from this surgery in two weeks is like expecting a broken leg to heal in two weeks. It just doesn't happen that way. The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself, but it definitely needs time and rest to do that.
I am still numb on my left cheek down to and across my chin. My chin feels like fire ants are stinging me. Or like Stinging Nettles.
Having to use wax to cover pokey areas of my surgical wire that is still in place. That's a good thing because it means I am getting feeling back inside of my mouth. Roof of mouth still numb as are upper gums.
 Fatigue is still greater than I would like, but I try not to fight it. After all, these chores and errands will all be waiting for me when I am better!
I have a 2 day training next week for my job, so I am hoping to rest and heal as much as possible before then.
Eating soft sandwiches with crusts cut off. Had pancake and scrambled eggs the other morning. I am not feeling deprived of food at all. I can eat a wide variety of foods, so that keeps me happy.
First Post op with DR. B in 2 weeks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day 13 - Valentine's Day

Day 13

Day 13
Day 13
 Had another monumental step today. I drank my smoothie out of a regular cup!! I didn't even spill any. Now that I can drink regularly, I should be able to drink anything at all.
Soon I will have my first glass of wine!! Yay!

 I also ate a small bit of cinnamon roll. I had to chew very carefully and slowly, but man was it good!
I feel like the next few weeks will just be more of the same kinds of progress. Each day I will be able to feel more inside my mouth, the swelling will continue to go down, the foods I eat will progressively become more complex.

I have my first orthodontia appointment in 2 days. Not sure what that will entail. Below is a picture of the bite splint that I will wear for the next 8 weeks. I can take it out to eat, but I am to wear it most of the time. I goes up behind my upper front teeth over the graft area.

This is my dwelling place most of the time. In the corner of the bed you can see my newest rescue kitty, Annabelle. She has been resting on my bed the entire time I have been home. She only gets up every once in a while to do what all cats need to do. It's nice to know that I am not the only lazy one around here.  The weather has been nice and sunny so it's nice to get outside to catch some rays and some much needed Vit D.
Not really going out anywhere yet. Had an invite to a retirement party the other night, but I didn't go. I want to get as much rest as possible while I can. Besides, all that talking and smiling, I just know my jaw muscles would be killing me by the time I got home. My first outing will be to the orthodontist.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Days 10 - 11

The days chug on by. My day consists of  make smoothie, hot tub, shower, wash hair, take photo, cream of wheat, nap, lunch, putter around house for a bit, nap, smoothie, family time, dinner, and then a loooong night.  That is my greatest challenge right now. The nights. I am normally a belly sleeper, so having to sleep on my back in an upright position isn't very easy for me. I have to have several pillows, most importantly, the airline neck pillow. It seems difficult to keep my jaw closed with all of the swelling and what not. So the neck pillow helps to support my jaw without having to use the muscles as much. It seems to help.
BIG DEAL for me!! On day 7 I began to drink good out of a child's sippy cup!. This is so monumental for me because now I can put away the syringe!
By day 9, I am drinking out of a travel mug. The opening is a little bit bigger than the sippy cup which lets me slug down my smoothies without too much of a mess. I still have lots of numbness in my lips, mostly on the left side. I can feel the cold sensation of the smoothie enough to drink it this way.
My diet consists almost completely of instant potatoes and stuffing mix!! Every day. Sometimes 2 X a day! I baked some tofu with fake turkey gravy to go with it, but the tofu is a bugger to get out of my braces! Hubby blended up a Salmon burger with broccoli which was really tasty. I try to get enough protein as I know this is critical for the healing process. Eating spinach to help boost my iron and calcium.
I am brushing my teeth several times a day with regular toothpaste and a baby toothbrush. It is very soft and I go real slow. Then I rinse with the Chlorhexidine Dr. prescribed for me.
Day 10

Day 11

Bruising Day 11

Most days are slow and easy. I used my exercise bike 2 X this week. Mostly just because my legs were so jumpy in the evening. It seemed to help, but I couldn't go too long. Only went about 3 miles which takes about 10 minutes.
Other 4 grandkids came by today. They hadn't seen me yet. First they stared and then they went along like nothing was any different! I was so happy to see them.

On Day 10 hubby and I took the dogs out to the beach. He walked them and I sat in the sun near the jetty. It felt good to get out in the fresh air. I do get fatigued easily though. 

I have so much to be thankful for. Many of my family and friends have been praying for me during this journey and for that I am very grateful. Each day I am truly amazed at the healing power of the human body that God has created. A miracle for sure.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Days 5 to 7

Each day I feel a little bit better than the one before. Progress for healing will be slow and steady as this was a huge surgery.
Day 5
Day 6
Day 6
 Day 6  Cheesy smile!

Day 7

Day 7

Day 7

I can open my mouth enough to eat porridge textured foods or anything at all blended up into that texture. I am eating lots of calories every day. Still very tired so I rest a lot and try not to do too much. Some of the Grandkids came by today to watch a movie with Grammie on her bed. That was fun and all three of them were very, very good, being careful not to move around too much. After about an hour I was done. Mostly I was tired from talking and moving my mouth around. The muscles really ache when I smile or use them too much.
The nights are the hardest for me. There is nothing to distract me from the discomfort for all those long dark hours. The time seems to crawl by. I have to take a half dose of Oxy at night just to help me to relax.
I stopped using the ice pack and have switched to heat. Dr. told me at this point to use whatever I can get comfort with. The heated rice pack on my face felt soooooo wonderful! The only discomfort/pain that I have is on the left side of my jaw. This is the side the Dr. had to move forward the most. The jaw muscle just aches and aches by the end of the day. Almost like a muscle spasm. Some nights it's more difficult than others to find that sweet spot for relief.
The body aches that I feel from sitting and lying around can bring some discomfort also. I try to do some gentle stretching to work it out. I take a hot tub every day. That just keeps me warm!
I will continue with the Aleve every 12 hours. I can sure tell when it's time for my next dose even if I'm not watching the clock!
The numbness in my face really hasn't changed. Dr. said he wants me to eat soft foods and do lots of chewing, but I can't feel the food in my mouth, so I am going to wait a few more days. I tried Pasta on night 7, but it just felt too risky to try to chew and swallow when I couldn't feel when it was chewed enough.

I am excited that I see and feel little improvements every day. No matter how small a baby step it may feel, it is still a step going forward. I thank God that my healing has thus far been steady and progressive.