Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long Recovery Road

I had upper and lower jaw surgery on October 23, 2008 so it's been almost 4 months. I had taken 3 weeks off work to heal and ever since I've been back it has been insanely busy and stressful. The entire year before the surgery was stressful because I was fighting with my insurance company. So, here I am finally on the "other side" and you'd think I should be so happy. But somewhere along the road ... I have become severely depressed. I mean, clinically depressed. I have nothing left to give and I feel so empty. I don't know what happended except to say I truly think your body and emotions can actually shut down from stress. I feel like I have no happy ability left. It's awful. Last Thursday I was actually supposed to get my braces off, but I had to serve on jury duty. So I still have them on - I'll have to reschedule for this upcoming week. Shortly before surgery I switched orthodontists (as well as surgeons) and this orthodontist works quite differently than my other one. He is going to take off my braces, put a permanent (for a year) retainer on the bottom and a clear retainer on the top, but I'll still see him monthly for about a year ... but without the braces. I think its all very interesting. I want to get my teeth whitened immediately following braces removal, but supposedly am supposed to wait 2 weeks because of sensitivity. Forget that though - I do not want to have to show off a brand new smile without the brite whiteness. I'm getting it all done on the same day.

Anyways, regarding the depression - I'm going to start going back to therapy next week. I seriously need help.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

6 Weeks Post Op

Today marks six weeks since surgery. I've only been taking pictures weekly now so I don't make myself crazy analyzing my face, as changes are most noticeable week to week at this point. The right side of my face and chin still have considerable numbness. Its odd - I have "sensation," but its not the same as having the feeling back. Hard to explain. The roof of my mouth around the border of the upper teeth is still numb, but the rest finally has feeling again. The only way I can really explain how my face feels is: if you've ever been outside in the extreme cold/snow and gotten a really cold nose and cheeks and fingers and then gone inside where its warm. There's this transition when you're "dethawing" that almost feels like your skin is burning and your fingers and face feel tight with blood flowing to them. Well my face feels like its on the verge of dethawing ... but it just never does! I also feel like its tender and sore (not bad, but I hadn't noticed it before.) If I even slightly bump my nose or cheeks it hurts as if it was bruised. I'm not really sure if that is only my brain registering it as pain because I'm still numb or if it really is pain. Its all very strange. My lips are moving much more normally when I talk now. I've stopped telling people the second I open my mouth that I've had jaw surgery (it was compulsive because of how awkward I feel.) I've realized that most people can't tell anything is different until I point it out in detail. I'm very aware of every change of course, but I'm relieved to know that others don't notice much at all. I had one full week back at work and then Thanksgiving week, which was short and I feel much better this week being around everyone. I'm even eating in the cafeteria instead of in my office. I feel like this week was a breakthrough in the recovery in that I feel like (because mostly people don't notice anymore) that I can transition back into society. I'm going back to church and I went to the Celine Dion concert on Tuesday and we decorated our Christmas tree last night. I'm not hiding out at home anymore - I feel like I can sit back and take my time with recovery now that I'm past the stressful stage of explaining myself to everyone. I still have moments where I feel anxious to be ALL healed, but I'm always reminded how blessed I am to have had an amazing doctor and amazing friends and was told that I'm "ahead of the curve" in healing. Patience, patience, patience. I had been going back weekly for check ups, but now its every 2 weeks. I'm supposed to have 3 fingers ROM by December 10! I feel like it was such a victory to get 2 the other day. I don't even work on it as much as I'm supposed to. I'm wearing 2 rubber bands at night and for a few hours during the day - no problem! Oh, and I only have a slight bruise left under one eye that is easy to cover with makeup. I can't believe how fast it seems the recovery went, but I vividly remember that it did not feel "fast" the first few weeks. I'm actually still feeling up and down emotionally and hoping that will also get better ... not sure what that's all about. But overall I really am SO HAPPY with the results. My teeth make contact in places I've never felt and I no longer have any space where there used to be an open bite. The most dramatic facial difference is in my profile - such an improvement. I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!!!

4 Weeks Post Op

A week back to work and I was very self conscious. Although I'm allowed to eat soft foods it's not a pretty sight. Its a victory to just get the food into my mouth - slide it through the small opening and then my teeth don't know what to do. I wouldn't exactly call what I'm doing "chewing." I'm trying to stay very low key and not have to explain my absence too many times. I didn't feel ready to go back yet, but it worked out okay. It built my confidence a bit to realize that I at least wasn't stopping people in their tracks. Twice I was asked if I had gotten Botox because of my limited facial movements. Too funny. But it makes sense when you're all swelled up it puffs out any wrinkles and without being able to smile your eyes don't crinkle either. My coworkers kept saying I looked so "fresh." But of course they were seeing me with makeup to cover up the black eyes and I had just gotten my highlights done.

I can get one finger in my mouth this week. Oh and the orthodontist took out some more stitches and it freakin' hurt!! But what a relief though - the ones inside my upper lip directly under my nose are causing a lot of swelling and tenderness there.

Pictures from THREE WEEKS post-op

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just over 2 weeks (already?!)

I must be a big baby because compared to everyone else's perky posts that I read ... I feel like this whole process has been super tough! Laura's blogs have helped me to be able to put words to the things I've been experiencing. I've been taking care of myself since just after a week and I feel like no one else understands. But I was happy to read that she had also been experiencing that burning/bee sting type feeling in her lips. I was concerned that I wasn't feeling more tingling and that it meant I wasn't healing well or something. My lips and chin and a lot of my right side are still totally numb! After 2 weeks! I'm just concerned because I have to go back to work in a week. Am I going to be able to converse with clients without my face looking awkward? These black eyes are STUBBORN too. At least they distract from my lips and swollen cheeks when I go out. People keep looking at James weird ... like he hits me or something! Now that I'm less numb I can feel the stitches pulling when I smile or talk - it sucks. The ortho said he can remove them this Thursday at my 3-week check up. He's also going to take an x-ray and then hopefully I can switch to "soft" foods. Just today I started putting Traumeel on my eyes for the bruising - hope it helps. I've been doing that externally and also taking the oral homeopathic. I've only done moist heat once ... does this really help? Maybe I should do it more because today my jaw was SO MUCH TIGHTER than before. What is that all about? I know I can't really complain in comparison ... after all I'm not even banded shut, but man am I anxious to "move on" already. When I look in the mirror I don't look as swollen as I "feel." I've been trying so much harder to not talk since I'm supposed to take that easy until next check up. And when will I be able to smile again?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

8 Days Post-Op

Today is 8 days after I had a Leforte I Osteotomy, Bilateral Sagittal Split Osteotomy and Chin Osteotomy to treat my "open bite." The feeling in my face is coming back SLOWLY but surely in a top-down pattern, with my chin still being the most numb. Makes for inevitable dribbles down it whenever I eat and for some reason nobody seems to mention it. I have to find out when I get to the mirror. I don't know why I didn't think more about the numb factor before surgery. I just kept thinking I would be swollen and sore, but almost forgot that I'd be numb too. That itself is an interesting experience. Blessing in disguise as I imagine my gums and face would hurt even more if they had feeling! As my nerves come back to life I notice the pain is like a dull headache, but in my jaw. My 2 day depression has lifted. I slept more last night than any other so far. Its good to sleep longer, but what usually happens is I end up ON my face and not elevated, so I'm extra swollen when I get up. I am still not able to breathe through my right nostril so I get a bit of a dry throat at night too. Overall everything on the right is a bit more numb and swollen and I'm giving credit to my cheek bone procedure on that side (doctor used extra bone to cover over an old, improperly healed fracture). As far as how I look ... really hard to say, but I don't doubt for a second that I am going to be happy with the results when I can see them. My nose looks wider from the front because of swelling and I look forward to that subsiding. My profile already looks better, less harsh. I feel like I look overweight from the side though because my throat and chin are still swollen, but sure that will go away too. My days are consumed by food preparation and teeth cleaning. People keep asking if I've watched a lot of movies. But I've only seen 1 1/2 so far. I really don't have as much time as you'd think because I spend so much time making food, blending it, syringing it, washing the blender, tending to mouth cleaning, icing etc. and then starting over!! I've been trying to go out for walks though. With a hat and my head down. I've worn my huge Hollywood sunglasses to get Starbucks, but they actually hurt my nose so I only put them on for emergencies like that. Hmmm, now I want some Starbucks. Shoot, was thinking I could kick my addiction in this process. Ah, but why deprive myself at a time like this right?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One Week Post Surgery TODAY

To the left is DAY 2 in the hospital, above that is DAY 4 and in black DAY 5.
I've emerged momentarily. Little surprised at how emotional I feel. I think it has a lot more to do with the last year of my fight and a lifetime of anticipation. Recovery is tough! Yesterday I did too much talking and today I'm paying for it. I feel like all the swelling from the sides of my face moved forward into my nose and lips - like they might actually pop. Its a very odd feeling. I'm still numb from below my eyes down. I have two black eyes and bruising (yellowing) all over my chest from the breathing tube I had for what seemed like forever, even after surgery! I ended up staying an extra night in the hospital and getting a blood transfusion. But the surgeon did say it was one of the "best" he's done ... whatever that means, but glad to hear. It took less than 3 hours. Oddly he also said that he found that I had a facial fracture on my right cheek that hadn't healed properly. My dad doesn't know of a time when my face got broken. So the doctor somehow used bone from somewhere else and put it on the cheek (how amazing is that?!) Can't wait to actually be able to see the results. I had my first post op orthodontist appointment today and he moved the two bands to go from the bottom back molar to the 4th from the upper midline. That's it - 2 bands only and I can take them out whenever I want. Also ... my eyelashes are falling out ... is this normal?!