June 2012

Day 81: Light at the end of the tunnel

Visited my Orthodontist again today and received great news! After looking at how much far my teeth have moved in the last month, he told me that instead of the anticipated November / December timeframe for having my braces removed, he is thinking it will be just 3 months (September / October)! How fantastic is that news!

I was completely expecting my braces to be on a good 6-9 months post-surgery but to be told it might only be a total of 3 or 4 months is great news, especially given my post last week concerning my crooked teeth!

The teeth that are most crooked in terms of not having a straight line when looking at them are the bottom front teeth. My Orthodontist told me that essentially I have two options where one of my teeth are concerned; the tooth that needs to be raised significantly to be at the same level as the other teeth will either need to have a crown and bridge attached or else he can grind tal three/ four so that they would be level and smooth. He thinks that the crown would be difficult given the size of the tooth and the fact that is a bottom front tooth and his recommendation was simply to grind them. Sounded fine to me so that is what he will do . . .

This adventure seems to be drawing to a close, it really does :)
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Day 73: Crooked Teeth and Blog Issues

Wow, sorry about the delay in posting!

Due to some technical issues my last few posts have not posted. I am still experiencing issues with uploaded photographs - I hope by tonight to have all of the issues resolved and everything back up-to-date (photographs, FAQ, etc).

Thanks for the emails and comments wondering what was going on! :)

Well, here we are at week 10! It seems like an eon ago that I had my surgery which is not a bad thing having to remember the first few weeks let me tell you:)

I was looking at the inside of my mouth in the mirror last night and in terms of mobility my jaws are opening completely in terms of up and down motion but I cannot move my jaws at all left and right. Never even thought about whether I needed to move it like that to be honest but there is no movement whatsoever left and right. One would think that you need them to move left and right simply to be able to chew but given that my chewing is almost not existent presently (unless you count putting instant pudding between my teeth in an effort to get used to the new bite position!) I guess it doesn't matter.

The biggest observation however was how crooked my teeth presently are, especially my bottom front teeth. They were not this crooked prior to surgery (I don't think) and it is quite amusing how rooked they actually are. My Orthodontist has his work cut out for him I think! :) Some teeth need to be lifted, some need to be pushed down, they all need to be aligned in terms of how straight they are when you look at them but apart from that, they look great! :)

So, after 10 weeks, what do I think of my new face so far you might wonder?! Well, I have to say that I am super happy with the progress I have made to date. That doesn't mean that some things don't bother me or frustrate me, of course they do but considering the severity of the operation, life is  great! In terms of these minor frustrations, I am talking about:

I really wish that I had feeling in my lips and chin as it is just plain inconvenient quite honestly. My lips feel swollen (even though they are not) all of the time and it changes the way in which I talk.

The numbness is definitely a distraction, especially where my lips are concerned (I liken it to the feeling you have when you have a tooth extraction - only the feeling is presently permanent for the last 3 months!) but the reality is that there is little you can do about it. Nerves take time to regenerate. Sometime they regenerate, sometimes they do not but it is a good sign that I have a tingling sensation in my lips.

As I have mentioned numerous times before, I know that it can take anywhere up to 18 months post-op for the swelling to completely go away but the fact is that I am tired of the swelling already :) Most people do not even notice it I am sure but I notice it as it changes how I look. It bugs me. Nothing can be done however so you just get on with it really . . ..

A combination of numbness and swelling causes me to talk differently than I did prior to surgery. At least that is what I think. Everyone tells me that I talk just like I did prior to surgery but what with the numbness and associated sensations, I am very self-conscious presently about how I talk and how I need to focus on enunciation whereas previously this was not an issue. Think about after you have been to the dentist and had a tooth removed - difficult to talk isn't it? Well, that is how it is for me permanently.

Again, recognising that this will not be an issue once all of the above issues are resolved, I still cannot smile normally. Or perhaps I simply have to readjust to what normal is now given the new jaw structure, bone positions, teeth alignment, etc. I look at myself smiling and it looks, well, weird quite honestly. Not at all natural. I find myself smiling with my mouth close rather than with my mouth open because I think it is strange looking.

I admit that all of the above issues are probably all psychological but that is part of the recovery process I guess - adjusting to the new face and all of the mechanics behind that. It isn't like they really frustrate me on a daily basis or anything, just something that I recognise that bothers me to some degree. Make sense?
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Day 64: Rules around eating without chewing . . .

Continuing on from my previous post, I wondered what it was going to be like to chew but not chew given that it is painful. mmmm. A dilemma indeed.

Given that I have not eaten proper, normal food, food some months now you would think it would be fantastic but you have to somewhat curtail your enthusiasm when you consider that although you eat normal foods, you cannot actually chew them . . .

That said, a new world has been opened up to me where I basically can eat anything as long as the following rules a applied:
  1. The food is cut up in to small, small pieces (so as not to choke)
  2. The food must have some degree of moisture or liquidity contained within it
  3. The food can must be able to be easily swallowed OR
  4. The food can be washed down easily if not easily swallowed

The reason it has to be cut up in to little pieces is that since it cannot be chewed, it will have to be swallowed. So if the food is too big, it gets caught in my throat. Trying to pretend you are not choking at the dinner table is an art form in of itself but not recommended.

The reason for the moisture is that the more liquid, the easier it is to slurp and swallow :) If the food is too dry, there is nothing to slurp and swallow. Plus you really don't get to enjoy the food when you realise you cannot swallow it due to a lack of liquid. Rather inconvenient actually. . .

If all else fails you simply put the food in your mouth, suck the flavor out of it and then wash it down with water. Primitive sounds I release but it works. :)

Following these rules has enabled me to once again join the ranks of moral eating people! I have eaten chicken (bit too dry), different kinds of meat, cereal, vegetables, etc., though rest assured I am still partial to good old' instant pudding. I think I will be addicted to that for the rest of my life.

On a side note, when I am having lunch, especially when in the company of colleagues or strangers, I find myself apologising; I am constantly, constantly, wiping my chin after I have taken a bite of some food or even drinking. The reason is that my nerves are playing games with me and every time I eat or drink, it completely feels like I am drooling down my chin. I never am, but the sensation is so real that I need to verify that I haven't done so as you know the moment you stop checking will be the moment you find yourself with banana instant pudding dripping down your chin!

A minor inconvenience and hopefully one that will go away once (when) I regain normal feeling in my lips and chin.

I imagine given that I am eating relatively normal again that i am going to start putting on weight once again. Ah well, I knew it was too good to last!

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Day 59: Surgeon Visit and Chewing

Visited my surgeon again today and given that I am back under the care of my Orthodontist I do not have the visit him again for one whole month! Gone are the days of two visits a week or every week. This is a good sign :)

Apparently, all is well with my jaws and they are stable and strong enough for me to start chewing. That was my main question today - when I can I start chewing and what am I allowed to chew?

I would have liked to receive a nice glossy, laminated, full page cover photo detailing all of the foods I can start to chew and the respective timeframes that I can start eating them! No such luck however - I was simply told that I can start chewing and basically it is a question of slowly does it and experimentation. By this, I was told that if your teeth hurt when you chew a particular food group (and they will), then you do not want to chew that food! Really. Note the sarcasm please . . .

He said that it will be rather uncomfortable (read: painful) to chew until such a time that my teeth are more aligned than they are presently. Moving my jaws so far forward really knocked them out of alignment I guess :)

So, a question of trial and error. I tried a piece of tiny piece of chicken yesterday (by mistake) and it is fair to say that it was indeed uncomfortable. That said, the discomfort and pain could be because I am now wearing braces again and they are being pulled and stretched as a result of the rubber bands. If it is not thing, it is another. Given that I will be wearing braces, according to my Orthodontist, for at least another six months, then chewing will be a question of baby steps. Isn't everything where this surgery is concerned!?

Given that I am almost eight weeks post-op, most of the issues relating to surgery have resolved themselves. Thankfully.

The one overriding issue I am presently experiencing is the fact that I still cannot feel anything where my lips and chin are concerned. Talking is a strange sensation quite honestly - my lips feel huge and I cannot feel anything and so it seems awkward for me to talk but friends and family tell me I sound normal so it is more psychological I guess. Just imagine that you have had a tooth taken out and the feeling that you have in terms of numbness and tingling. That is what I am feeling 24/7 presently.

The swelling is what it is and I do not expect it to substantively decrease anytime soon. My weight loss has plateaued which is a good sign also!

There you have it, not a whole lot new to be honest. I will update the blog once a week from now on and I will update the photo and FAQ sections on the same schedule.
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Day 54: Patience and my Profile . . .

I mentioned in my last post about my profile and the comparison with 16 months ago when the Orthodontic work started. I have attached a picture on the left showing three timeframes; 16 months ago, the day before surgery, and then finally a photo taken at day 52 post-surgery.

Truthfully, I have to say that I am not liking my profile at all presently; I think it looks incredibly flat and also my jaw sticks out a lot compared with how it used to be. I look like I have a boxers face from the 1970's :)

My jaw used to stick out but only because I sub-consciously projected it forward so as not to leave it in its default, recessed, position that you can see in the far left picture. I find myself therefore comparing my jaw position, not with the picture from 16 months ago, but rather with pictures where I was projecting my jaw forward, and in comparison with the day 52 picture, I am not liking it.

Now of course I recognise that the way my side profile looks now will not be the way I look in 18 months or so but patience in terms of getting and feeling better has never been a favourable character trait of mine :)

Facial Swelling affects the way your face looks and I know that my profile will change as the swelling decreases over the next year or so. Everything from my lips, cheeks, nose, forehead, is affected by the swelling but truthfully I have never been a great visualiser and so I find it difficult to project what I will look like next year!

Plus, as my wife says, we are talking about my side profile here and so does it really matter as how many times does a person look at their side profile! Good point :)

Changing the perspective from my side profile to how I look when see my face in the mirror: If you ignore my chipmunk cheeks, the non-existent smile due to the swelling, and the consequent freaky smile, I actually like the way I look in comparison!

My face is fuller, certainly but I can at least see my bottom teeth when I attempt to smile and my chin seems more balanced in terms of perspective! So you see, I do have a positive attitude about all of this, I just wish that I like my side profile more than I do. However, as I have said, I will like it, I just have to wait 18 months to do so! :)
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