Day 29: Sleep Apnea and Surgery

My chipmunk face status is now confirmed and a reality; I have accepted that no matter how many ice-packs I place on my face, the swelling is here to stay for a while. There was a cartoon I watched when I was a kid called Deputy Dawg and he had these large, droopy these big jowls. Well, that is how I now look :)

Over the last week or so I have found myself biting the inside of my cheek inadvertently around the area where the surgeon made various cuts in my mouth. It is as if there is a fold of skin (gum? cheek? what do you call the inside of your cheek?) inside my mouth left flapping in the wind as it were and every time I talk I am biting down on it because my cheeks are swollen and it leaves zero space between my braces / teeth and my cheek.

Make sense? I find myself pulling the right side of my mouth so I can close my mouth and not bite down on this part of my cheek! This is only when eating please note as when the bands are on, it is great because I cannot open my jaws and consequently I cannot bite my cheek! It is like a fish hook on my skin if that makes sense. Definitely not fun. The positive of this is that I like the bands being in my mouth because it means my teeth are constantly closed and consequently I cannot bite my cheek! The surgeon probably did this deliberately as a way of ensuring that my jaws do not move!

I will ask my surgeon tomorrow in my weekly visit what, if anything, can be done to alleviate this issue as it genuinely irritating (on pun intended) me!

I am sleeping pretty much throughout the night but I have yet to manage sleeping on my side like I have always done my entire life. Funnily enough, prior to surgery I was never able to sleep sitting up, propped up by pillows - the position I find myself sleeping in since my surgery. It simply was not a natural position for me and I found my head jerking up and down all the time if I ever I tried sleeping in that position whereas sleeping on my side worked great.

The problem was that I snored a lot no matter what position I was sleeping. My wife was always worried I was dying or something and would invariably wake me up or roll me over. The result of this was poor quality sleep for either my wife or myself although to be honest I have always been able to fall asleep whenever I want. Literally, I can fall asleep within a few minutes of telling myself that I want to go to sleep so even if I awakened throughout the night, it took just a minute or two for me to fall asleep again.

I have managed to always sleep on just 5 or so hours of sleep a night for as long as I can remember (got me through college!). My wife however cannot fall back to sleep once she is awakened and so it was never very fun for her! I was never diagnosed with sleep apnea however - I simply snored a lot.

It was not until I met with my Oral Surgeon a week before surgery that he told me that the surgery would help with snoring significantly and probably resolve it completely. I genuinely (another of my duh moments that you might be used to by now) never thought that my snoring was due to my lower jaw being set so far back and as a consequence it was impeding my throat and airways and hence the snoring and breathing difficulties that I have had all my life. I realise what you are thinking at this very moment, Duh, and you would be correct. That said, even though my jaw was always set back I sub-consciously adapted by moving it forward and keeping it forward so as to hide the issue as it were and so over the last 30-odd years I automatically adjusted my jaw positions, no doubt because I was self-conscious about my looks.

Even though I had the surgery because a different medical necessity, a great benefit to be derived as a result of the surgery was going to be resolving my snoring issues. Dr. Egbert tells me that if you move the jaw 6-8 mm forward it will effectively resolve sleep apnea and so when you consider that my lower jaw was moved forward 18mm he was very confident that my snoring would cease. You can see from the X-Ray on the right how much movement occurred as a result of the surgery. Imagine your airways having that extra space and you can understand why the surgery makes a difference to my snoring!

Was he correct? Absolutely! I have not snored once since my surgery and even tough I am sleeping in the upright position my head is not jerking up and down as it did prior to surgery as a result of snoring and I am completely cured of snoring! Serendipitous as far as I am concerned (because I was ignorant I know, I know) but how fantastic is that, especially for my wife who now can enjoy a peaceful nights rest! :) You see, double jaw surgery is worth it!

The other good news today is that my mouth is definitely opening more and more each day. I can actually fit a teaspoon in my mouth and feed myself without slurping! I am telling you, it is the baby steps that count in this recovery cycle!

As for what I ate today, it was by far the most I have eaten since my surgery and I even tried some new food for breakfast and dinner! For breakfast, I had Weetabix (British cereal for those in the US) with a lot of milk so as to make sure that it was slurpalicious by the time I ate it! Tasted great and I highly recommend it!

For dinner this evening, I had a taco of sorts; broken up ground beef (very small and chopped up), re-fried beans, small pieces of avocado and finally, salsa to make it more of a liquid consistency. No tortilla shell obviously but overall it was rather delicious I have to say! Takes an age for me to eat and clean myself up and I really wish I didn't have the sensations in my lips that I do but still, life is good and things are getting better!

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6 Responses to “Day 29: Sleep Apnea and Surgery”

  1. It's great to hear the surgery resolved your sleep apnea! Moving the lower jaw forward is actually an accepted treatment for people who have sleep apnea, after they try less invasive treatments of course. That is a great perk for you!

    1. Yes, who knew!?? :) I researched this surgery ad nauseum but I wasn't looking for sleep disorder info as it related to the surgery so I never came across it! it is a great perk as you say! Everyone in my house is happy about it! :)

  2. John, how has moving the jaws forward affected your tongue space? Do you have more room in there?

    1. I haven't actually thought about it and so I just looked inside my mouth! :)

      I have waaay more room than I did pre-surgery. I hadn't paid too much attention because until recently (last week) my tongue was restricted because of the splint.

  3. Hi John! Good for you! I can assure your wife will keep waking you up because now she won't hear you snore and she is going to want to check that you are breathing! My husband has sleep Apnea and I know what are you talking about!
    You look great you know your face and that is why you think you look swollen but honestly since I don't know you I cant tell you are swollen! Iaughed a lot with your comment about sneezing I can picture myself on te same scenario!

    Have a good night !

    1. You're probably correct! :)

      Thanks for the comments - both my wife and I look at my face and it looks really swollen (totally a chipmunk face!) and from the side profile, I really don't like it yet but I know it is because of the surgery so all will be well!

      Sneezing is sooooo not fun, believe me! :)