April 2012

Day 22: Hooks, Wires, and Heat Therapy

The ol' nerves are definitely coming alive, especially my lips and around my mouth and they are seriously distracting and not fun! Wow. They are permanently tingling with ever increasing vigor and my lips especially seem to be bearing the brunt of this new sensation. Who knew that nerve regeneration would be soooo distracting but it seriously is! Not sure what can be done to alleviate 'this' but hopefully there is something. Presently writing this with the heating pad once again wrapped around my head as heat seems to lesson some of the throbbing (along with pain medicine!). The picture on the left is a bit freaky as my right eye is bloodshot and closed more than the other, my lips are swollen and my smile is crooked not the mention my chipmunk cheeks. Beautiful.

However, there is hope to be had because this time tomorrow evening I will be SPLINT FREE! I have my weekly appointment with my oral surgeon and he said that tomorrow is the day that the splint comes out. I cannot wait! My jaw and cheeks are presently swollen and I feel like I have zero space in my mouth as my surgical hooks and wires seem like they are ripping my inner mouth and cheeks. I wonder if the hooks and scars permanently scar your inner mouth? I will have to remember to ask him tomorrow. Ugly picture below I realise but if you zoom in on it you can see what the splint looks like as well as the surgical hooks and the surgical wires that are digging into my cheeks. A lot of fun let me tell you! :)

So it seems after a period of feeling much, much, better that I have regressed a bit inasmuch as my jaws and cheeks are swollen, my inner mouth is being scratched by the hooks and wires, and talking is causing jaw joint pain. Ah well, I keep telling myself that every day is going to be a better day!

"The Splint"
I had meetings at work the entire morning today and I talked for the vast majority of time. A lot of people have asked when they should return to work after surgery because they have concerns about returning to a job where they are required to talk a lot. I am in such a position and truthfully returning to work when I did was too soon I think; talking is difficult, both for me and the listener, and it really does take a lot out of you in terms of tiredness levels, jaw joints, jaw muscles, etc. As to how long you should take off is probably different for each person!

Disaster today, I ran out of instant pudding!?! I completely forgot to make a new batch! I mean what was I supposed to eat as that is all I seem to be eating presently :) The good news is that my mouth is opening more and more each day and today I could actually get the baby spoon in my mouth in its entirety (upside down but we're talking baby steps after all). No instant pudding but I had soft serve ice cream instead which was fantastic! Don't worry though because even though I did not have my staple of instant pudding I still managed to eat my other staple, mashed potatoes! The good life indeed . . .

So, this is what I ate today:
  1. Yoghurt drink for breakfast.

  2. Homemade (by my amazing wife!) mashed potatoes and gravy.

  3. Soft serve ice cream.

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 21: How to eat with a Spoon

It may sound like a strange title for a post but the reality is that eating is quite an ordeal presently, not least of which is because my mouth is not opening too far presently.

Think about it for a minute - if your mouth cannot open too much, how do you get the food in? Most people will simply say, "simple, just cut the food in to little pieces." I wholeheartedly agree with that as chewing is presently not happening very easily and so the smaller the better (it has to be soft food though remember as I am not allowed to eat meat or anything that requires chewing) but there is the minor issue of how to exactly get the food in to my mouth.

I first of all tried eating with a normal sized dinner spoon but no such luck as the spoon was way too wide and there simply wasn't the space in my mouth presently for it to fit! Strike one.

Next I tried a dessert spoon and it would fit into my mouth in terms of the width but the angle or depth of the spoon was too steep so that when I tried to put it in my mouth it would only fit in a quarter of the way before it hit the top and bottom of my teeth! Strike two.

Third attempt - a very flat, ice-cream spoon (above); it is flat enough that it can fit between my upper and lower jaw and narrow enough to fit also! So that is what I am using. With one exception; I have to put the spoon in my mouth upside-down as I don't have enough clearing room for the food at the top of my mouth because of my splint!! This splint is getting old really quickly . . .

So there you have it, I first of all cut the food in to little pieces (unless it is my daily addictive intake of instant pudding of course!) and then place it on the spoon. The next step is the tricky part as I have to turn the spoon upside down and then quickly slide it between my jaws and let the food drop in to my mouth! I love double jaw surgery . . .

So really, I basically have two options for eating:
  • If the food is really soft or of a liquid consistency (like mac and cheese) then I obviously cannot turn the spoon upside down and so essentially I just put the spoon in my mouth as far as it will go and then basically just slurp it in my mouth! You would love being around the dinner table, the height of good manners and etiquette :)

  • If the food has a thicker consistency (like mashed potatoes) than I put the food on my spoon, turn it upside down, put it in my mouth and viola!

You probably did not realise what it takes to actually get food in your mouth, did you! I know that I certainly did not. One thing about this surgery is that it truly makes you appreciate all of the so-called little things that you take for granted where eating is concerned; chewing, using a straw, getting a spoon in your mouth, etc! Hopefully this has answered some of your questions about how I manage to eat!

As for what foods I ate today, truthfully I didn't eat much as the inside of my mouth is still aching and I really haven't had much of an appetite. Probably another good consequence of this surgery is that I realise that I ate way too much food before my surgery; too many snacks, sodas, etc., that I simply didn't need to eat or probably shouldn't have been eating! Anyway, here is what I ate today!
  1. Mashed potatoes and gravy (last of it so who knows what I will eat tomorrow! :)

  2. Lemon instant pudding. A new flavour. I am going to start my own fan club for pudding I think.

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 20: Facial Timeframe and Fish Hooks

The day was kind of long I have to be honest as the inside of my mouth is aching a lot; my teeth are hurting because of the six bands and the inside of my mouth just seems swollen as my cheeks are completely pressing against my splint, braces, and surgical wires. I find that if I haven't talked for a while that once I start to talk, my cheeks catch the surgical wires like a fish on a hook and let me tell you, it is not a pleasant feeling! I have to put my finger in my mouth and unhook myself a few times a day presently! It also happens for some reason when I rinse my mouth with water prior to brushing my teeth, my left cheek always catches on the wire! You have to laugh really though and chalk it up to another experience not to be forgotten! :)

Prior to Thursday, when I had the six bands placed in my mouth, I really haven't used the pain medicine with any regularity but the last few days I definitely have taken them and today was no exception. Ouch.

Even though the swelling is considerably reduced it is obvious that I still have swelling. Apparently, it takes 8-12 weeks for the bones to fuse and you can expect to have residual swelling up to one year after this surgery. My jaws are still swollen also so I guess I need to get used to having a bit of chipmunk face for a while :) I will take some side profile photographs tomorrow to see how things look from that angle.  

Given that I am feeling all swollen again I decided to put together another facial time-frame collage to see the difference in swelling, bruising, etc. I created a similar collage on day 10 so I probably will create one every 10 days. It takes a while to create but I think that they show the progression rather well.

My nerves feel like I permanently have pins and needles, especially in my chin and lower lip. I keep mentioning this because do you know what it is like to constantly have pins and needles?! Nope, didn't think so and you should be very grateful that you do not! :)

I had the best meal to date this morning for breakfast as my wife (thank-you so much!) made me the most delicious scrambled eggs (very soft and slupilicious) with pieces of sausages cut up and included in the eggs. Absolutely tasty and it almost felt like I was once again in the land of the living where eating food was concerned! :) Ah, I wish . . .

For the rest of the day and given my disastrous (and sad) experiment where eating was concerned yesterday, I reverted back to my tried and trusted diet of mashed potatoes and instant pudding for dinner. Oh, and I also had a Jamba Juice that some friends brought over this afternoon!

So, to repeat myself, this is what foods were eaten today:
  1. Scrambled eggs with sausage that my wife made for me (how nice was that!!) :)

  2. Mashed potatoes and gravy

  3. Chocolate pudding

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 19: Tightly Bound and a Failed Experiment

Six bands, tightly wrapped around my teeth mean only one thing; constant aching. As in constant. All I can say is that they are achieving their aim of making me talk through my teeth because there is little opportunity to open my jaws for any prolonged period of time!

My teeth have been aching since the new bands went on, pretty much immediately after he put them on as it happened. I thought it was simply because I now have six bands in my mouth compared with the previous four bands plus the fact they are wrapped around one another in triangle configurations - three such configurations out of the six total bands. You can see it in my basic drawing below!

New Band Configuration
I also think the aching is because a lot of the bands are wrapped around my actual braces and not just the surgical wires. The pressure is therefore placed on the braces themselves which consequently pull and push the teeth. Presumably this is the intent of their placement . . .

My bottom lip is tingling like nothing else and it is a weird sensation to say the least! I remember reading some blogs where they talk about the period where nerve regeneration is concerned and a lot of people talk about it not being a fun part of the recovery period. Can't say I am at that stage yet but it is a definitely a strange sensation!

Final thought for the day as I have left it late in the day to write this blog post! Strange observation but wearing the Jaw-Bra ("JB" as it will now be called), full of ice and heat, on my head for the last three weeks has seriously altered the way my hair looks! Look, I know this a strange subject to bring up but the fact is that my hair has taken the form of the JB straps! It is like my hair completely sticks up on half my head and super, super flat where the straps were. Fantastic. It seriously looks ugly. I don't remember reading about this issue on any blogs prior to surgery! :)

Where food is concerned, I was excited tonight as I experimented with my favourite take-out place - Cafe Rio. I ordered a simple bean and rice enchilada, knowing that I would simply be eating the beans and rice but I figured I could manage to get the food in my mouth. Wrong. Very wrong. After just two bites I admitted defeat. The rice and beans went in but completely the wrong consistency for my mouth, tongue, braces, and splint. Seriously disappointed. Truthfully, we kind of expected it and to be fair, we had a coupon and so it was free so nothing lost but I guess I am not just ready for that kind of food yet.

I realise many of you are saying, "Duh", it wasn't soft food but you cannot blame a man for trying now can you! Not all was lost however as I ate those delicious mashed potatoes that I mentioned yesterday plus my staple instant pudding (chocolate this time) so was still full at the end of dinner!

As for what foods were eaten today therefore:
  1. Cafe Rio Rice and Beans Enchilada. EXPERIMENT FAILED (see above)

  2. Mashed potatoes and gravy

  3. Chocolate instant pudding

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above

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Day 18: Surgeon visit and how to talk properly . . .

Well, I visited my surgeon, Dr. Egbert, for another follow up visit today. I was hoping to have the splint removed and I blew it, it was all my fault! He asked me what he told me concerning the splint last week. I don't know what I was thinking, I told him that he told me it might come off this week but probably next week! What was I thinking?!? I had a momentary lapse of judgment what can I tell you; I could have the splint removed! :)

Dr. Egbert of course knew what he told me but ah, if only . . . So, the splint is scheduled to come out on Tuesday which, all things being equal, if not too bad - just another four or so days. After he takes it out I will then meet with my Orthodontist on Wednesday morning so that he can replace my top wire. Ah, the joys of jaw surgery.

The other lesson learned today from Dr. Egbert was that when he told me not to talk using my jaws, I should have probably clarified what he meant because apparently, once again, I have been talking waaaay too much! I thought with my bands on I was allowed to talk (I was) but what he meant was that I needed to keep my jaws absolutely still (i.e, sitting in the splint) and simply talk through my teeth. When I have been talking, I have been opening my jaws and stretching the bands and then talking. Apparently that was, and is, an absolute no-no.

Lesson learned #2: Where talking is concerned: Keep your jaws closed, teeth in your splint, and talk through your teeth.

I will be honest, it is considerably more difficult talking this way than my way. I guess that is why I am not the doctor though . . . The good news however is that my jaw joints are not hurting whatsoever this evening as they have done the previous few days! Funny that really, when I opened my mouth using my jaws, stretching the bands, it had a direct correlation with the pain experienced in my jaw joints.

Dr. Egbert therefore rectified, once again, my disregard to the rules regarding talking. I am now the proud owner of six, not four as was the case when I walked into his office, rubber bands that are wrapped around my teeth in a very tight configuration. My jaws are not moving these bands. My days of illegal talking are over, I am once again following the orders of Dr. Egbert :) Sorry for the scary photo on the right but I had to post at least one picture of rubber bands!

By following my surgeon's orders, there is no stretching of jaws, no stretching of bands, and consequently no pain. At least in my jaws. There is however a wee bit o' pain (more like constant throbbing and aching) in my teeth now that they are clamped shut, especially on my left side for some reason. Ah well, you trade one situation for another don't you!?

So, that is about it for today I think; it is late, my teeth hurt, I cannot talk easily, but at least my jaw joints don't hurt like they did! There is always something positive to consider!

Ah, I almost forgot, I had something different to eat today and it was totally delicious! We were lazy and bought some gourmet mashed potatoes from Costco and, when added with gravy, they were totally slurpilicious. We have never been so lazy as to buy mashed potatoes (who does?) but hey, you have to treat yourself every now and again don't you?! Doesn't say much however when you treat yourself to mashed potatoes . . .

As for what foods were eaten today:
  1. Mashed potatoes and gravy

  2. Banana cream pudding (made by a friend)

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 17: Getting on my nerves . . .

Now that I am back in the swing of life in terms of working, meetings, talking everywhere and to everyone, etc., my jaw joints and muscles have decided to be as tight as they possibly could be! They feel a lot more swollen than they have in days and bizarrely enough the inside of my mouth seems swollen as my cheeks are permanently pushing against my splint. Ice and heat, ice and heat.

The reason for my post title is because the nerves in my bottom lip and chin have decided to 'switch on' and, at least for today, permanently tingle which is a really strange sensation. I can deal with a numb face and I could deal with my tingly chin as it really only tingled when I touched it but now it is permanently tingling and it is most definitely a different sensation. Could I use the word tingly any more in a sentence?

Apparently this is a good sensation in terms of recovery as it means that my nerves are recovering and healing from whatever damage occurred during surgery but still, wow. During the last fortnight I have used the word, wow, significantly more than I hoped I would! I hope these nerves decide to heal themselves rather quickly as I am not sure I want to deal with this sensation for an indefinite period of time.

I am realising more and more that just because I hear what I am saying and therefore make the assumption that it must be discernible also for the listener that, in fact, my assumption is erroneous. I participated in a meeting over the telephone today and it was quite apparent that many people did not share my belief that I was talking quite well! Quite the opposite actually which was amusing as I was really trying to speak clearly by opening my mouth as far as it can go whilst talking (remember however that my mouth barely opens wide enough to let a baby spoon in!). Ah well, perhaps I need to limit the amount of telephone meetings I am part of as apparently the telephone must distort my very clear talking voice! :)

As you know, I read a lot of blogs and forums about this type of surgery in an effort to understand the post-surgery recovery phase and what to expect. Clearly, everybody is different in term of timeframe for recovery but the main issues concerning swelling, bruising, nerve damage, numbness, talking issues, splint frustrations, eating, etc., we all have in common. Everyone who has had this surgery will experience these symptoms, issues, frustrations, etc., and it is somewhat comforting to know this fact to be honest. Hopefully, this blog is proving beneficial to someone just as other blogs proved helpful to me in my understanding!

Finally, a note about my photos. As I mentioned the other day, I noticed that I was wearing the same shirt in consecutive daily photographs which was a tad embarrassing. I simply throw a shirt on when I get home or in the evening and apparently I threw the same shirt on for a few too many days (2). I am now highly conscious of this fact and it will not happen again! :)

As for what foods were eaten today:
  1. Mac and cheese

  2. Cookies and Cream pudding - I told you, I am addicted to pudding! A new flavour today just to spice things up! :)

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above

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Day 16: Work and Staring . . .

I have been keeping completely up-to-date with my work emails and voicemails pretty much since day 3 or 4 post-surgery as otherwise when I returned to work it would have been a nightmare for various reasons.

However I decided to actually go in to the office today and although it was great to be amongst people again, it is fair to say that my jaw joints and jaw muscles have been super tight and throbbing for most of the day. My surgeon told me that I might experience more swelling as I talk more due to the jaw joints and their new position, how they work, etc, and so I compared pictures of myself yesterday and today and it is not just a psychological feeling that they are more swollen, they actually are!

Probably to be expected given all of the talking today but I ended up using my pain meds again as well as icing and heating in an attempt to loosen up my jaws and make them happy(ish) once again. I contemplated taking my bands off at work for a while as it is a tad easier to talk but decided against it as I did not want to lose one of my three daily meal exception times (!) plus I thought people would be able to understand me. The trouble is, to be understood takes a lot of effort (speaking slowly, opening my jaws wider, etc) in an effort to enunciate correctly. Hence the pain meds this evening! :)

It was kind of amusing however to see the reactions from people as they saw me for the first time since my surgery; remember I presently talk like I have a few issues as well as the fact that when I open my mouth (open is relative) people are presented with a multitude of white, stretching bands staring right at them.

I understand the predicament; it is difficult not to stare either at my enlarged face or the stretchy hypnotic bands going up and down, up and down, as I talk. Or else people try and lip-read because they have no idea what words I believe I have pronounced clearly but clearly they have no idea what I am saying! Lip reading swollen lips is not very effective either. The conversations are typically short and to the point as people don't want to hang around when they don't know what to say! :) Quite amusing!

I recognise that is seems to be my soapbox presently but let me just say now that I am getting really tired of my splint; it just rubs against my cheeks and is really bothersome in so many ways. I know I need it and although I really hope the surgeon gives the go ahead to have it removed at my next visit on Thursday I appreciate the fact that I will probably be wearing it for at least another week. Ah well, worse things in life - I could have had both of my jaws broken . . . :)

My bruising is pretty much gone and my mouth seems to be opening wider ever so slowly each day. I am almost able to get the baby spoon in my mouth which means less slurping at the dinner table! I am officially addicted to instant pudding.

My nerves in my chin however are on fire and I don't even like touching my chin as it is not a comfortable feeling whatsoever. My upper lip has far more feeling than my lower lip also. My left side of my face is less numb than my right side which feels not only completely numb but also swollen. As someone told me today, "your face looks really swollen". I don't think so, I just think it looks larger.

I cannot even imagine eating solid food presently. I mean really, how am I supposed to get the food into my mouth in the first place not to mention the issue of chewing. My teeth feel sensitive presently, similar to when you have your braces first placed on your teeth and your teeth lodge their disapproval. It is going to be interesting over the next few weeks and months in learning to eat and chew once again.

Finally, as for what foods were eaten today:
  1. Mac and cheese

  2. Banana pudding - I am addicted to pudding. I should create my own support group.

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 15: Telephone Calls and Talking . . .

My bruising, especially around my neck, is pretty much gone and I have just some residual bruising around my chin that will hopefully disappear shortly. I woke up with my usual stiff jaws but after icing and heating they felt good to go! :) My freaky smile is becoming a tad more freaky don't you think . . .

I was forced to do a lot of talking today with my bands off as our dishwasher decided to flood the kitchen and subsequently, the basement. Not a happy day but it forced me to open my mouth and make a few calls to repair companies. I thought it really wouldn't be difficult as I obviously have talked around the house since my surgery. However, this is what I learned about double jaw surgery and trying to talk after just a few weeks

  • Talking to family members is most definitely not the same as talking to strangers on the telephone. Family members get used to your pattern of speech; mumbling, enunciation, and pronunciation. Strangers on the telephone think you have a medical issue. Period. I tried to tell people that I just had dental work performed but that simply seemed to further their belief that I had issues.

  • I cannot enunciate the letter S with any degree of clarity for the listener. I sound like I am heavily intoxicated when I say the letter S . . .

  • I cannot speak at a normal rate of speech. I speak slooooooly in an effort to make myself understood. This slowness clearly affected people's perception of me. Interesting.

  • My jaws, especially my right jaw, did not appreciate my attempt at trying to converse normally. I have grown used to, over the past fortnight, of speaking without opening my jaws as far as they would allow but because I was trying to be understood on the phone, I had to open my jaws a lot. Probably a good thing to be fair but now they ache. As soon as I was done talking, I put the bands straight back on :)

  • My splint is an impediment to taking. I obviously knew this (see yesterday's post) but wow, was it apparent on the telephone.
So quite an interesting day really; even though my mouth aches I am glad to have the experience of talking, or attempting to talk, normally. Good to know one's limitations so as to adapt and overcome them I guess!

Energy wise, I am back to normal; I am able to do everything that I want and I no longer feel tired. Quite amazing that my surgery was two weeks ago today and I look at how I feel today compared with a fortnight ago!

Finally receive the bill from the hospital today. Wow. Still waiting on the surgeon's bill. That should be double Wow. 

Finally, as for what foods were eaten today:
  1. Chicken noodle soup.

  2. Vanilla pudding - I am addicted

  3. Blackberry frozen yoghurt - I think I froze my jaws shut.

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 14: Rubber Bands and 'The Splint'

Changing my bands every day has become almost second nature and although talking is an interesting endeavor I am getting used to it. When I swap the bands out each day with new bands however my jaw joints are quick to register their complaint as they have not been stretched out over the course of the day! I talked a lot today and my jaws are definitely feeling it. What else are you supposed to do however, just stay quiet?

I am sure most people just remember the location of their bands and even though I know where they are I am always worried that I am going to put the bands on the wrong hooks which will then cause further problems. So I quickly sketched the location of the bands and keep it with the tool that they gave me to deal with the bands.

As you can tell from the picture, a lot of my bruising seems to have disappeared whilst I slept! :) The Doc. tells me that I don't need to ice anymore but I continue to do as I think it helps my swelling, especially around my jaw joints.

A few people have asked about my splint and specifically what is it? I can tell you right now that it is a nuisance and exceptionally inconvenient but very, very, crucial in terms of ensuring that my upper jaw stays the necessary width. As you know if you have been reading my blog, not only did my lower jaw get moved forward, but my upper jaw was also widened 12mm.

The surgeon separated my upper jaw in the middle (pulled them apart as it were!), added a bone graft to the now open void or gap to the tune of 12mm and then brought all three pieces back together. The problem of course is that the jaw muscles are used to a certain position, angle, stress load, etc., and so after surgery these muscles try to revert back to what they know as normal and without the splint that is exactly what would happen as the jaw and mouth muscles are presently stronger than my bones and bone graft.

My reminder diagram of where my bands go!
The splint essentially is a horseshoe-shaped plastic device that is wired to my top teeth. It was designed so that my teeth would fit perfectly in to it after surgery and it ensures that my top jaw will not move  to its pre-surgery position until such a time that my bones are stronger than my jaw muscles. By this I mean that the bones will be able to resist any pressure that my jaw muscles exert in an effort to revert back to its former position. The surgeon refers to it as jaw memory, a concept I have never heard of before but he says that the jaw muscles basically need to learn their new position and how to chew, bite, etc., in their new position. Interesting. Geeky. Perhaps both.

So there you have it, you now know as much as I do about the world of orthognathic splints! It is inconvenient because it protrudes considerably into the top of my mouth and inhibits eating, drinking, my tongue, and most importantly, talking! The splint hopefully will be off within a fortnight, here is hoping!

One last note before I end and it is do with yawning. Let me tell you right now, yawning hurts! I don't even remember yawning the last week or so but I think I have yawned two or three times today and I am not sure I realised before today the exertion on your jaws and jaw muscles that it takes to produce a yawn! :) Ouch.

Update: I just noticed that yesterday's picture and today's picture are almost identical; I am wearing the same shirt (I know, I know), I am the same menacing smile, hair looks identical but you will notice that I shaved today! It only took 30 minutes instead of 45 today! :)

As for what foods were eaten today:
  1. SpaghettiOs. Something new. It worked. I drooled. Very attractive. 

  2. Chicken noodle soup. All the ingredients were sliced and diced so that they were appropriately small enough to get in my mouth. Avoided the chicken for the most part as per Doc's orders.

  3. Vanilla pudding (a very high slurpability factor!)

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above

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Day 13: Mashed Potatoes

Feeling much better every day; my energy levels are getting much better and apart from the fact I talk funny (always have anyway what with being a Brit living in America), a swollen-ish face that anybody who didn't know me would simply make the observation that I have a chubby face and bruising which stubbornly refuses to go away, you would never know I just had both of my jaws broken almost a fortnight ago! How time flies.The picture on the left is my attempt at a smile, freaky eh? You might wonder why I haven't smiled in many of my pictures and the simple answer is that I wasn't able to physically (sometimes mentally in all probability). This recovery is a work in progress as they say.

My posts of the past few days have focused on eating and food as really that it is the biggest challenge I face everyday presently - no different than most people really! :) My mouth seems to be able to open a wee' bit more than yesterday but I am not in a position to put a baby spoon in my mouth just yet. The spoon almost fits in and so I am trying not to just suck my food but rather put the spoon in as far as it will go and then slide the spoon back and let the splint take care of the rest - it basically levels the food off the spoon so that it stays in my mouth. Not terribly fun but at least I am not just sucking the food in to my mouth! I have just realised that this the first positive thing I have said about my splint! :)

Today we tried mashed potatoes and gravy as my surgeon said that was a good food to attempt to eat. Indeed it was. Spilled a lot (really would like feeling back in my lips and chin!) but it tasted great! Also ate lemon pudding and honestly to watch and hear me eat that food at the dinner table must be the most distracting event you could imagine but the family does a great job of just going along with it and occasionally laughing! Hopefully, the more I open and close my mouth the wider it will open over time. I am getting there slowly but surely.

Removing and adding my bands is now a quick process ever since changing to the triangle pattern and I really experience no difficulty in removing them or putting them back on. I didn't even have one snap today so I must be doing something right!

In terms of pain medication, I only used it once today (Ibuprofen) and that was first thing in the morning when I woke up as that is when my jaws are the most painful typically. This is no doubt to do with my sleeping position; propped up at probably a 45 degree angle and my jaw is not in its default position. I typically still ice and heat as I hope (perhaps erroneously) that the ice will continue to battle against the swelling and the heat makes my joint throbbing go away!

Short post today to make up for the epic I wrote yesterday!

As for what foods were eaten today:
  1. Macaroni and cheese

  2. Mashed potatoes and gravy

  3. Vanilla pudding (a very high slurpability factor!)

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 12: X-Rays and being Stubborn Part II

The issue of stubbornness came into play where food is concerned. For dinner I decided to eat a blended mixture of pasta, sauce, etc. The issue is that the food didn't have much liquid in it and as a result the blended mixture had the consistency of quicksand. Tried slurping it but I had to immediately drink something before I suffocated! :)

I tried to fix it (here is why I am stubborn because my very supportive wife wanted to do it for me but I was determined to do it) but to no avail. It was not edible, at least by me. So, this had taken up valuable minutes of my 60  minute allotment and I was now against the clock to actually get something made and eaten otherwise I would be syringing the food and I really, really hope that those days are over. So I was kinda getting impatient. Allegedly.

I then decide to go with my trusted mac & cheese (which I also had for lunch please note) as I knew I would be able to eat it (not an experiment therefore) in the remaining time allowed. The problem was that one of my children wanted to make it for me (a self confessed mac and cheese aficionado) but given that I need to have it made with more water than is typical so I can get it in my mouth, it ended up, well, a bit waterlogged. Tasty, but waterlogged. A very nice gesture certainly.

However the 60 minute clock timer was ticking and now it was essentially eat the mac and cheese or revert to the syringe. My wife once again wanted to come to the rescue but it was all under control, I had it under control; I ate the mac and cheese and called it good. I don't think I was being stubborn.

Eating is definitely becoming easier though in terms of getting it in to my mouth. I wonder if I have to learn to eat, or at least chew, again given this operation as it certainly is not natural presently. I still drool and miss my mouth and combine this with the slurping I am sure my family is glad to have me at the dinner table!

The next (and allegedly last) stubborn act involved my third, and last, 60 minute meal window (I had not eaten breakfast). Whilst at the store I had purchased some soft scoop ice cream as it sounded really, really, good to me. The issue was that it needed to stay soft so I could get it into the  microscopic hole that presently represents my mouth opening. So, I put it in the fridge. In the door of the fridge to be precise. Bad idea on my part, I 100% admit it as when the door of fridge was opened, the ice-cream spilled. Argh!

I quickly move the ice-cream to the freezer for a few minutes but then get distracted. Fast forward an hour or two and my ice-cream is now no longer soft scoop, Definitely too hard to get in my mouth. I try to remedy the situation (sensing a pattern here aren't you and it involves me trying to resolve things) by putting some of the ice-cream in the microwave. Didn't turn out too well. At all actually. My wife then asks if she can help but I have it under control I tell her. Not so, and so she comes to the rescue (for the millionth time since my surgery!) and fixes the ice-cream so that it is a very delicious ice-cream soup!

So there you have it, the jury is out. Stubborn or not stubborn. Guilty or innocent? I already know the answer obviously . . .

Other news: The swelling is apparently slowly going down according to the surgeon. Numbness in cheeks, lips, and chin continue. I talk like I have issues.I am losing weight slowly but will no doubt put it all back on once I can eat normally. My hair has decided to no longer fall in to place as a result of the Jaw Bra that I have been wearing for the past 12 days and so my hair style resembles something from the 80s. My bruising simply makes me look like I was in a fight and most definitely lost. The road to recovery is never dull :)

Foods eaten today:

  1. Mac and cheese x 2

  2. Cup of a blended pasta dish 

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 12: X-Rays and being Stubborn Part I

I asked my wife today what the title of the blog post should be today and her response, well, you can tell by the post title! I will mount my defense however throughout the blog post and I will let you decide if the post title is apropos or not. Fair deal?

I visited my surgeon for another appointment today. He was glad that he won the battle of whether I would be able to talk given the band configuration that he placed me in (he most definitely did win) but there was light at the end of the tunnel; he said that as my facial swelling has continued to go down he can now start banding my teeth in diagonal patterns which apparently must be a good thing?

Anyway, he altered the configuration of the bands so that although I still have four (seemingly to me very small) bands on my teeth; two bands are in triangle patterns and two are simply go straight up and down. Straight up and down clearly reduce flexibility of motion while the triangle banding allow more flexibility. So, I can talk easier than the previous two days but that is not hard as I was a mute.

I definitely feel a more pronounced pulling on my jaw joints given that the triangle designs are attached to the utmost back part of my teeth but oh well, exercising the jaw is something that needs to happen so that I can hopefully be able to open my mouth more and more!

I asked him how long I would be wearing the bands under his supervision, as compared to my Orthodontist whom I know will be banding my braces but hopefully using less restrictive bands? He said that if all goes to plan::

1. From now until my next appointment, I can take the bands off for 60 minutes, 3 times a day.
2. Next week, I can take the bands off for 90 minutes, 3 times a day.
3. The third week, I can take the bands off for 120 minutes, 3 times a day.
4. The fourth week, I only have to wear the bands for 2 to 3 hours a day.

Fantastic news! Within a week or two the splint will be coming out which will aid my attempts at speaking normally immensely! :)

There is hope then where talking is concerned as presently I sound like I have something wrong with me as I speak super slowly as I try to get the words to sound correctly and well, it just sounds odd.

I also asked him about the pain in my jaw joints, especially in my left joint. It hurt a lot when I either talk or eat and he said that is completely normal given that the joint is now sitting perfectly aligned for the first time ever and it has to get used to it. Over time, the pain will subside.

I had asked for a copy of my before and after X-rays which had been taken one week prior to surgery and one day after surgery. Very, very cool to see them!  

Hopefully you can make out the differences as well as see all of the screws, pins, chains, etc that are now a permanent part of my facial structure! Try opening the picture and then zooming if you have difficulty. 

It is absolutely amazing to me the see the difference between the two. He moved my lower jaw 18mm (the average is 4-5mm) and then spaced my upper jaw 12mm as well as performing genioplasty on my chin to rectify issues as a result of the movement of the two jaws. For the first time in my life, my jaws are now aligned perfectly! Amazing what medicine is capable of isn't it!

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Day 11: Unintelligible Conversation

I admit defeat; my surgeon won the battle of talking vs. non-talking and by putting on super tight rubber bands yesterday he has effectively (literally) put a stop to any intelligible talking that I attempt. People just look at me like I have something wrong with me and look to one another in the hope that someone else understood me!

Taking these ultra small bands off and on is an interesting proposition - I manage to loop one band around a hook and then when I attempt to loop it around another it invariably misses and then it snaps into my gums or lips! Does it ever end . . .

Let me just say however that eating today was a lot more successful than yesterday's attempt at scrambled eggs. This morning, we thought we would attempt oatmeal for breakfast as the consistency and ingredients are small enough to work with such a small opening.

So, I began the experience of eating through my smaller-than-a-pinkie-finger hole in my mouth. Guess what?! It was soooo much easier than last night because I decided the key was simply to suck the food through the hole in mouth, and then swallow. Absolutely no chewing (am I supposed to?), just suck, slurp, and swallow. I managed to suck the entire bowl in 10 minutes! I was under my fifteen minute allotment although to be fair there is a degree of confusion as to whether the 15 minutes is comprised of 15 minutes of eating or else 15 minutes from the time the bands are taken off and then put back on. Ah well, I choose to believe the former as it takes me twenty-odd minutes to clean up, brush teeth, clean my mouth out, and then get the bands back on!

In the afternoon, I thought I would try and get some exercise as all I do is sit around, ice, heat, drink (eat), etc. By exercise, I don't want you to be confused with the concept of exercising and a gym (didn't do that before surgery so why wold I do it now) but merely walking, weeding in the yard, etc. Wow, I was completely knackered after just thirty minutes! A neighbor came over to talk to me and my wife and I ended up sitting on the ground as I was becoming dizzy. I am not sure why surgery would make it so but I really was not that unfit prior to the surgery, I promise!

I had macaroni & cheese for lunch, something I have not eaten for, well, I am not even sure I have ever eaten mac & cheese to be honest! Perhaps it is because it is an American meal as I don't remember ever eating that food in England growing up. Turns out that macaroni is a very easy food to suck up. Foods need to be labeled with a suck or slurpability factor for people who have undergone surgery such as I have . . .

Swelling has definitely plateaued and is not going down anymore from what I can tell whereas the bruising is ever so sloooooowly disappearing. Numbness still present but my chin is definitely coming alive once again as I get a pins and needles and occasional shooting sensations in my chin. Kinda' weird feeling to be fair.

For dinner, some neighbours brought around a pasta dish (as well as other items) and I ended up having to blend the pasta and feed myself utilising this new (patented) process known as the the suck, slurp, and swallow method. Most tasty. I have not at all missed food the last eleven days or so and have had zero appetite but I sense it coming back at the thought of once again being able to eat normal foods once again!

I have another appointment with the surgeon tomorrow as he wants to ensure (I think) that I am putting the bands on properly and that my teeth are sitting in the splint the way they should be sitting. It will be interesting to know the timeline for these bands and when I get them off, or at least am given larger bands, so that I might talk normally at work! I realise I am going to have the bands on until I get my braces off but presumably I will have different bands that will be more giving than those that I wear today!

So, I am living life as a mute presently. I was not meant for such a life. It is not natural for me to be quiet. Not talking intelligibly is difficult! Hopefully once the splint is out and the bands loosened I can return to 100% of everything I need to take care of.

Cannot believe it has only be 11 days since I had surgery. Wow.

As for what foods were eaten today:

  1. Bowl of oatmeal - delicious!

  2. Macaroni and cheese

  3. Cup of a blended pasta dish 

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 10: Surgeon Visit and Eating Eggs . . .

Surgery Facial Timeline - Days 1-9
Ten days post-op today! When you're in the moment, time goes at such a snail's pace but at the same time, I cannot believe it is has been 10 days since my surgery.

The longest first week is over and I survived - it was a looooong week, there is no doubt about it and something that was, quite honestly, not that much fun but I am over the hump, as it were, and it sure feels great.

I am officially off my strongest pain medicine today and only using the Ibuprofen and that feels a relief quite honestly. The swelling seems to have plateaued and doesn't seem to be going down anymore but from what I understand, it takes three or so months for the bones to fuse so I will have swelling anywhere up to one year believe it or not. People will just think I have chipmunk cheeks :)

I had a follow up visit with my surgeon today and I was looking forward to being told I can start taking off my bands for three times a day to eat soft foods. For the first time in 10 days, I was free; he cut my rubber bands off to take a look at my mouth and there I was, free of rubber bands for a whole five minutes!

After he took the bands out of my mouth, I had the opportunity to brush my teeth and I don't know what I was expecting in terms of opening my mouth but let us just say I could not open it very much whatsoever and when I did try and open it, my left jaw joint was definitely not the happiest little camper! Still, I could see my teeth actually aligned in a way I have never seen before in my life, very cool let me tell you!

He taught me how to take my bands off and put them on again and was told that I can take the bands off three times a day for 15 minutes each time to eat soft (scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, etc.) foods . Now clearly the ability to actually get food through that rather small opening will be a challenge but just remember, baby steps. He also said that my jaw joints will experience some swelling as I start moving them but that is to be expected.

All good things must come to an end and he did band me shut after my five minutes of freedom ended in an effort to stop me talking! He told me I was talking too much and I needed to stop! :) I am now officially banded shut tighter than I was post-op but I have mastered my breathing and my nasal issues seem to be almost non-existent as long as I take the nasal medicine. The main  issue is that the surgeon achieved his goal - I can longer talk in any coherent way :) Good news for everyone else I guess!

So, dinnertime arrives and I rather adroitly take the bands off my teeth. Piece of cake. Rather impressed with myself. I had decided that I would like scrambled eggs as my first soft-food. Fifteen minutes remember. The clock starts and I take a very small piece of egg and put it in my mouth. Cancel that - I do not put it my mouth as I missed my mouth completely as I actually have no feeling in my chin and little in my lips so I couldn't feel where my teeth / mouth was! You have to laugh really.

I get a mirror and place it in front of me and start again. I open my mouth the whole 2 mm that it would open and then with a baby spoon start pushing the scrambled eggs into my mouth! Some fall out (my wife proceeds to get me a apron) and I continue to push  the eggs into little ol' gap in my mouth. Then I realise that I am not really chewing the food, I am simply pushing the scrambled eggs to the top of my mouth and mushing them and then swallowing it! Ah well, I still had food in my mouth. I swear that I had only put in three or four spoonfuls in my mouth when the fifteen minutes were up. I think I had dropped more food on the table and my apron than actually went in my mouth but still, I had eaten soft foods with my new mouth!

I then proceeded to clean up by brushing my teeth and trying to extract the egg remnants from my mouth (remember, swilling is not easy when you cannot open your mouth, nor is it attractive to see!) which actually took a long time. The next challenge was to add the bands back in my mouth. Now, I had taken pictures of where the bands needed to go as well as drawing a picture so I wouldn't mess up the location so I was feeling rather confident to be honest with you.

It looked easier when the surgeon did it. I mean, he did in about one minute. It took me longer than one minute. A lot longer. How hard can it be to wrap a band around two surgical hooks? Let me tell you, approximately 10 minutes in my case. Perhaps it is me, perhaps I am just not coordinated. Whatever the reason, it took me a combined 20 minutes to tidy up and put the bands on which was five minutes longer than the actual eating experience. Would have been easier to liquify the eggs and syringe it down my throat. :)

So there you have it, that was my day! I compiled a list of my last ten faces and attached the photo at the top of this post. Kinda' interesting. Sorry for the long post . . .

As for what foods were eaten today, I really didn't each much. Definitely did not reach my caloric goal today.
  1. Scrambled Eggs (not really eaten but you get the idea)

  2. Chilli - liquified and eaten through a syringe

  3. Jamba Juice leftovers

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 9: Sleeping, Slurping, Smoothies, and Slimming

Feel great today - feeling better everyday actually ever since Saturday. Quite interesting how for a week you feel like absolute garbage and then the recovery starts in earnest and you start genuinely feeling better.

Today was a great day, I slept more last night / today than any other night combined over the last week. I seem to sleep for about four hours maximum and then I am completely awake but last night I awoke at around 4am and then was awake until around 6am and then I told myself to try and go back to sleep which I did and woke up at almost 9:30am! Fantastic!

I do very much look forward to sleeping on my side again rather than propped up in a bed but if I want my jaws to sit straight and also be able to breathe then that, as they say, is the sacrifice you have to make.

I had to laugh today as I find myself slurping for want of a better word more than ever! By this I mean I seem to be producing a serious amount of excess saliva and given that my mouth is closed shut the only way to swallow it is to slurp it back to my throat! Not sure why this is suddenly happening but it is and so I am slurp monster presently! Nothing more pleasant for the family than sitting down to dinner and every minute or so have the conversation interjected with slurp, slurp, slurp. . .

A good friend brought around a Jamba Juice smoothie later this afternoon - they taste so good, although cursed be my back left sensitive tooth for limiting how much I eat! :) It was a peach and mango smoothie and although it obviously takes an eon to syringe, it is worth it plus it is healthy for me so a double bonus!

Another thank-you is in order, this time neighbors who brought around dinner this evening. They made chicken noodle soup and I am not kidding, it tasted sooooo good being syringed down my throat. Ah, the simple pleasures of life :)

Everyone should try this exercise; clamp your teeth together and try to syringe food down you throat. Try it with your favourite meal and see what you think. Tastes the same doesn't it! :) To think you thought it would taste disgusting! Now remember, once you have finished with the syringing you have to wipe you mouth, lips, and throat because believe me, you just drooled all over yourself! :)

The swelling on my face is going down considerably as no doubt you can see in the picture though the right side of my face is still more swollen than my left. My chin feels like it has pins and needles constantly and I dare not touch it because it feels like it is on fire when I do. All good signs where my nerves are concerned however.

The bruising continues to dissipate and I confident by the end of the week I will not look like someone has mugged me! I need to ask the Doc. why my neck is so bruised all the way from my chin to my chest. What did they do to me in the operating room? Anyone have any ideas?

Breathing is almost back to normal although I continue to use the nasal medicine as when I do not take it I become rather congested which again, is neither a pretty sound nor a pleasant feeling. I look forward to being able to blow my nose! Again, the things we take for granted . . .

A few people have asked about weight loss and how much I have lost to date. I will try and remember to add that to each post from now on. So far, since the surgery, I have lost approximately 13lbs! I will write more about this topic in the next day or two.

I have another follow up with my surgeon, Dr. Egbert, tomorrow. Looking forward to perhaps getting a few rubber bands off my teeth?!?! Fingers crossed.

I am still taking the meds of course (learned that lesson) and I have made a few observations of cause and effect if I follow, or do not follow, some routines:

Applying Heat and Ice:
This is a key to recovery! For three days, ice your face to help reduce the swelling and numb the pain. After the third day, start applying heat in rotation with the ice. If I do not do this constantly, within about ten minutes my face starts to tense and tighten if that makes sense and that does not feel so good let me tell you.

Medicines / Prescriptions:
I am almost forty years old so you would think I should have known this and perhaps it is because I have never really had anything major happen to me but pain management is critical to recovery. Continue with the meds until the Doc. tells you to stop taking them. Stop taking the pain meds too early = lots of discomfort and delaying recovery cycle.

Eat (albeit through a syringe!):
I really have not felt like eating very much, especially those first five or six days as I felt so crummy but you need to stay hydrated so eat.

Support System
Seriously, you look horrible, feel worse , and the last thing you want is company, right!? Definitely my take on things but I genuinely have felt better when people have come around or contacted me; it made the time go by so much quicker which was a blessing! A support system, in whatever form, (in person, email, mail, etc.) is absolutely critical for recovery. I cannot even imagine going through this type of surgery without a support system.

Well, that is about it for today! Tomorrow, the visit to the Doc and hopefully more freedom will be granted to me!

As for what foods were eaten today:

  1. Chicken Noodle Soup - SOOO delicious!

  2. Jamba Juice Mango and Peach smoothie

  3. Ginger Ale

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 8: The Curse of the Blog . . .

You may remember that in my post yesterday I was effusing happiness and mentioned some reasons why life is improving in terms of my post-surgery condition. One said reason was that my A.J. lips were decreasing and returning to normal. I should have kept my mouth shut (no pun intended) and not tempted fate because I woke up this morning and not only had my A.J. lips returned to their full puffy-post-op-state but they looked as if they had also had collagen injected into them whilst I was sleeping and sores had decided to call them home. I actually think Angelie Jolie would be jealous of my lower lip today!

Seriously though, is there anything more cumbersome than cracked, stretched, and sore-ridden lips? Selfishly, the answer is no, there is not. The Doc. said to put lip balm that contains Aloe Vera on and it would help. Haven't found any so I am presently trying something called Aquaphor. I will let you know the results. I believe that we now own every variety of chap-stick and lip-balm product on the market and not one of them contains Aloe Vera?@ I am thinking that is because there is not a product that contains it but the Doc. needed to say something so that I would leave him and his paging company alone :) I feel like Bob in What About Bob where Bob is constantly calling the paging service to try to get hold of the doctor . . . good times.

The rest of the day went well; my swelling is noticeably decreasing thanks, in part, to the constant ice and heat packs I apply. I definitely have a confirmed sighting of a cheek bone, it is not a mirage!

Also, and most importantly in my present world of Baby Steps, I shaved today! It only took me about 45 minutes to complete given the fact that I cannot feel my chin whatsoever and the rest of my face has differing percentages of feeling but after 45 minutes I actually didn't look too bad (relatively speaking). I hadn't even considered the hassle of shaving pre-surgery. Lesson learned.

A lot of people have asked about my diet and what I eat daily so from now on I will write at the bottom of each post what I ate as well as including a section in the FAQ.

Eating dinner with the family . . .
My favourite food for two days running is the liquified ham and bean soup - it doesn't hurt my throat very much when  I swallow and it tastes great! I cannot explain the physiology behind it but presently my throat really does not like to swallow what I am syringing down it! For the first few days after surgery I could swallow any liquid; applesauce, Sprite, water, smoothies, whatever. But as the days have progressed my throat has grown rather irritated (pun again) at my attempt at swallowing and now it is rather painful swallowing anything. I really don't remember the Doc. mentioning any of these after-effects . . Hot liquids however are the exception to this and my throat gladly welcomes anything with a ranged temperature!

Frozen smoothies also seem to work but I cannot drink as much as the hot liquids as believe it or not it is my teeth that resist anything really cold. Sensitive teeth perhaps? My wife brought home a Jamba Juice smoothie for me today and it was also delicious! I drank the entire cup over an hour and a half and it was heavenly. . .

A neighbor brought around dinner for all of us this evening and they made smoothies just for me so I also had a couple of those for dinner, greatly received! Also, some great friends brought around a few movies for us to watch; one of the DVDs is The Young Ones, something I have not watched since a kid so I am looking forward to bringing back the memories . . .

Once again, thanks so much to all of you who have popped around, called, sent emails, texts, etc. You know who you are. I want you to know that my family and I appreciate all of your support!

Foods Eaten today: Doesn't sound much when I write it down . . .
  1. Ham and Bean soup
  2. Jamba Juice Strawberries Wild smoothie
  3. Homemade smoothies x 2 made by great neighbours!
  4. Apple juice (1 syringe worth)
  5. Ginger Ale (1 syringe worth) 
  6. Non-caffeinated fruit and herbal teas (Lipton Red Fruit is the best but we can only find it in England) 

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 7: Improvement!

Well, I am glad to say that today was a much better day (I am even trying to smile in my photo to show you - scary I know) and I feel much improved over yesterday! A lot, I am sure, has to do with ensuring that I am taking the medicines at the regular intervals (see earlier post) but the swelling is noticeably going down as is the size of my A.J. lips! I actually think I detected this afternoon a semblance of a jaw line though this could be a mirage as I am not sure I detected a jaw line before my surgery! Perhaps the surgeon took pity on me and decided to give me a jaw line?

The morning is the definitely the worst when I wake up as I obviously haven't applied any heat or ice and the medicine cycle is at the end so I quickly take my medicines and apply the ice / heat and this makes a difference in the pain level. I then decided to take a walk to get my energy levels up again and it was a beautiful day so it felt good just walking.

I thought I would provide an update in terms of a few physical improvements as well as respond to a few questions I have been asked. Some of them I will add to the FAQ section later this week.
  • Swelling: The left side of my face is going down considerably quicker than my right side.

  • My A.J. lips:  Decreasing in size, at least the top lip. Bottom lip less so but I smother then both with Vaseline throughout the day to keep them shedding any more skin. Always cracked, but improving.Vaseline is good. I purchased a million different types of chap-stick before the surgery but they are all useless as they all require pressure on the lips when applying. Think about it; pressure + cracked, bleeding lips + lips with shedding skin = Pain. Vaseline you just smother on super gently in globs. Not pretty but I am soooo far past caring about how I look. Vaseline works and whatever works is great for me.

  • Jaws: Cannot move them. Period.

  • Overall numbness and feeling: I am more numb on the right side of my face than on my left. Actually, this evening, my chin was completely tingly and felt like it was on fire if that make sense? I would touch it and although I couldn't feel the touch, the burning sensation increased so I am very confident that full feeling will return. 

  • Bruising: Continues to turn yellow, especially on my throat so hopefully will disappear completely by the end of the week.

  • Throat: Still hurts when swallowing but feels considerably more at ease when eating (syringing) hot food. This evening for dinner we liquefied ham and bean soup. Sounds gross to liquefy foods but believe me, yoghurt drinks, carnation instant breakfast, etc. sure get tiresome pretty quickly plus, for me at least, these foods hurt my throat when swallowing way more than hot foods hurt. The soup tasted great going down and so I think I need to improve my diet if my throat is to get better. A nurse friend told my wife today that you could try pepto bismol as a remedy for the sore throat as apparently it 'coats' the throat. Haven't tried it. Yet. Already on a lot of medicines already and pepto bisnol tastes super gross if I remember correctly!

  • Bands: Not one has broken today! 

  • Brushing Teeth: I love my baby toothbrush! I can only brush the outside of my teeth obviously and I have to do so very delicately as it means moving my swollen and cracked lips but it gets the job done. Swilling the medicated mouthwash is not a pretty picture however as imagine having your mouth closed with liquid in it. How do you (a) swill it around and more importantly, (b) spit it out if you cannot open you mouth!? See my point. You basically just let it drip out between your teeth. Long, laborious, and definitely not pretty. 

  • Icing and Heat packs. The hospital provided the Jaw Bra where they would place ziploc bags of ice but it was a pain having to crush the ice small enough to fit the bags plus the fact that they did not stay cold for long. My Father-in-law gave me some ice/heat packs which have been amazing in terms of how they work, how they fit, how long they stay cold and hot, etc. Check them out here.  Doctors and hospitals should provide these as an essential item quite frankly and no, before you ask, I do not receive commission for advertising these!

  • Pain Meds:
All of them are in oral suspension (liquid) form and I squirt them down my throat via a syringe. Sounds gross? It is because it is! I prepare the syringes and then when I have taken the meds, I quickly squirt a more palatable and flavourable drink down my throat to eliminate the flavour of the meds. In terms of what I take, I take a few different types and for reasons already described, continue to take them unless you want to feel horrible. Remember to always follow the prescription advice, dosage amount, and the doctors guidelines in terms of frequency. You are not a doctor and even if you are a Doc then you are still under the direction and care of a doctor. Pain management is critical to your recovery so do not deviate from your doc’s orders!
  • Ibuprofen: This stuff tastes just ok  going down. Apparently it is orange flavour. Whomever thought it was orange didn’t bother to squirt it down their own throats to see if they were telling the truth.
  • Lortab: I did have another type but it made me nauseous. Vomiting is not an option if you have a wired mouth. The doc prescribed anti-nausea medicine also but if you feel remotely nauseous, ask for a different prescription. Just not worth it. Lortab is 100% certifiably disgusting and vile going down the throat. They don’t even pretend to flavour it because they know it would be useless. I am convinced the rawness in the my throat is caused by the burning sensation of this medicine going down my throat. It has now reached that psychological phase because just thinking about this stuff causes anxiety and I dread taking it! That said, take it just make sure you are ready to squirt another liquid down immediately after. Gross. Gross. Gross. Did I mentioned it tastes gross?
  • Antibiotic: This actually does taste like orange and I don’t mind it one bit.
  • Nasal spray every two hours (at least for me): An absolute must. You are not allowed to blow your nose for various reasons and your nose constantly is dripping and running blood. Gross again but gross is something you’re getting to have to get used to. The nasal spray works great and helps you breathe easier which is always advantageous. I swear though its efficacy expires after 1 hour 40 minutes and for the last twenty minutes I am constantly wiping my nose until I can take it again at the 2 hour mark.

Enough of the bullet-points, let's talk about the day! My In-laws came around for most of the day to help out which was great of them. A lot of jokes are made about In-Laws but I scored in that apartment, they are fabulous! Before you ask, yes, they do read this blog :) They also made dinner for the family, kept us company, talked to me, pretended to understand me when I attempted to talk,  played games, etc.. We all had a great time and I appreciate them giving up their entire day to spend with us, thanks!

Funny thing at dinner; as I mentioned, my wife liquefied the ham and bean soup so I could join the rest of the family in eating the same dinner. Think of the scene; everyone around the dinner table, very well mannered, and I there I am with a syringe in the air with a rubber tube leading in to my mouth. I was sitting next to my wife as usual and had just sucked up the contents of the liquefied soup in to my syringe. I was 'eating' it as usual (slurping and burping as my family say, another consequence of syringing your food!) when something stuck in the rubber tube. This typically happens and I just gently squeeze the syringe until flow is resumed but in this instance when I pressed on the syringe, the whole tubing came apart from the actual syringe and the soup went flying, all over my wife! It went all over her clothes, face, hair, everywhere! Now I recognise that I shouldn't laugh but we all kinda' did :) It was not a pretty sight. Tip: perhaps another minute in the blender is not a bad choice to make, just in case . . .

As you can no doubt tell, I am feeling much better today. Tomorrow marks my one week mark so I will add a lessons learned post tomorrow now that I am officially so wise and knowledgeable. Haha, right.

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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Day 6: Rock Bottom . . .

I am really hoping that today can be considered rock-bottom and that tomorrow the corner is turned!

You know, truthfully I hesitate to write anything too pessimistic as quite honestly, who is going to find that interesting to read but today was a tough day. It is interesting that because although you read about and prepare for this surgery and what to expect, especially in the first week, nothing really prepares you for actually living through it and especially when all of the consequences of surgery seem to collide in a perfect storm.

I always knew that there would be significant swelling, potential bruising down the throat, a splint in my mouth which is incredibly inconvenient, rubber bands limiting any movement of my jaws, constant bloody noses, throat sores due to the non-normal swallowing, breathing issues, etc., and I have talked about a few these issues in previous posts.

However, it seemed as if each of these issues occurred in isolation as it were. What I mean is that I could focus on, for example, the breathing issues and ways in which to alleviate the pain and inconvenience. Or, for example, I could pay attention to the swelling because the other issues were not high enough on the pain scale as that area I was focusing on. Make sense? Hopefully it does . . .

Note written today describing how I felt
Today it seemed like every issue scored a perfect 10 on either the pain or inconvenience scale. Because I am not allowed to talk (rather difficult anyway as a result of the bands!), I write down questions, responses, etc that my wife and I ask one another. I wrote this afternoon that I presently always want to cry (see photo on right). I am not writing this for sympathy, not at all. I am just trying to describe my thoughts presently.

Last night before before bed (all 3 hours of it) a few of my rubber bands broke on the left side of my mouth. I really have tried not to talk (which stretch the bands) but perhaps that is what did it. Could be the food somehow reduces the elasticity, I am not sure. Either way, they were brittle and broke. I wasn't too worried about it (gross though it is to fish out the hooks with a pair of tweezers) as I think I have enough rubber bands in my mouth to keep an office supply store in business! However, when I woke up this morning many more had apparently snapped during the night and I only had a few left on the right side of my face. My right side was fine but I could move my jaws (if so inclined) open wide on the left side. Given that my jaw had not slept in the correct position, my whole mouth was not a happy bunny and I was feeling miserable!

We called my surgeon to find out if the bands needed to be reinserted or whether they could wait for our next visit on Wednesday. My surgeon was actually away this weekend so his partner called back and said that they definitely need to be put back in but that he was presently about an hours drive away. Driving that far was not something anyone wanted but he said that my orthodontist, if he could be contacted, would be able to add more bands. Thankfully, after a few hours wait, we were able to contact him and arranged to visit his office. I felt pretty horrible by this time as it seemed my jaw, throat, lips, head, and everything else all conspired to throb, ache, and be in pain simultaneously.

It was so good of my Orthodontist to take time of his weekend to help me out; he took care of me and added numerous bands to replace those that had snapped so once again I was locked shut :(
After looking me over and commiserating he told me something I completely agree with:

If you were to ask people who had double-jaw surgery at the end of the first week was it worth it, 99% of them would tell you absolutely not. 

If you were to ask those people after a year was it worth it, 99% of them would tell you that it was absolutely worth it!

I know this is true, and knew it before the surgery, so let's hope today is the worst that I will experience!

Some friends called and came around this evening to drop off something (Sprite!) and stayed an hour or so. We all had a great time talking and laughing or should I say, they all had a great time talking or laughing whilst I tried not to laugh as it hurt too much! It was good medicine and much needed - cheered me up no end so thanks Nick and Danielle!

You can see additional photographs under the ‘Photo Journal’ section above
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