Day 126: Time Flies and General Update

My 100 day mark anniversary came and went in the blink of an eye! I should celebrate by having a steak, or chicken, or shrimp, or something. However, given that I cannot chew very well to say the least there would be little point in doing so! :)

So, given that I have not posted in a month and I have had a lot of emails asking about my progress, I thought I would finally get around to stop being so lazy and actually write something! In terms of specific updates, I have listed them below. I will add comparison front and side profile pictures by the end of the week (I promise!).

I was originally told that I could expect to wear my braces for six months following the magical 6 week post-surgery mark. That essentially meant I was looking at the end of November or the beginning of December 2012 to have them removed and for this journey to end.

However, my last two appointments with Dr. Watson (Orthodontist) have been really positive in terms of teeth movement and he said that my left side of my mouth is where it needs to be and I just need a little more movement on the right side of my mouth. The good news is that he thinks I may be able to get my braces out at the end of September or October at the latest. How great is that!

I cannot imagine not wearing these braces, or especially the elastic bands that I wear presently (see right). I have to wear one band on each side of my mouth and he decreased the elasticity of the bands last week to pull one of my teeth faster and it has had the effect of making mu top teeth rather sensitive but really, after undergoing this surgery, I can handle sensitive and aching teeth for a month or two! :)

Smiling :)
It really is quite strange to smile and see my bottom teeth as I smile! Also, the fact that my teeth are perfectly straight and aligned! I used to be rather sensitive about my smile as I had crooked teeth, my lower jaw was recessed to say the least and overall was self-conscious about my teeth, smile, jaw, and overall smile.

Don't get me wrong, it is such a strange feeling smiling as I do now because it just does not seem natural to me; my jaw muscles are different, my jaw positions are different, and given the nerve issues and numbness that I still feel it feels like I have Angelina Jolie lips but hopefully the numbness will descrewase and my nerves will regnerate over the months and all will be well.

I find myself looking in the mirror a lot so as to practice my smile- how is that for vain! :)

Numbness and Nerves . . .
I have received many an email regarding this issue and with good reason - it is probably something that prior to surgery you are aware of but it is not until the months go by post-surgery that you realise what a major inconvenience it really is.

So how bad is now that I am 4 months post op? Well, the analogy of having a tooth pulled out and the feeling that goes with it when the dentist makes your cheeks / lips go numb still applies. My lips always feel like they are swollen but my top lip is much better than my bottom lip in terms of feeling; my bottom lip and chin feel like rubber until I touch then and then they feel like the nerves are suddenly popping or exploding. If I try and run my finger along my chin, I just cannot do it as it such a weird tingling feeling! Make sense?

When I drink any liquid, it still feels like I am drooling as my nerves react to the liquid and make it feel like I have liquid dripping down my chin. Weird, eh!

There is little you can do where nerve regeneration is concerned unfortunately; some people say that various vitamins help in the recovery process or a heating pad can alleviate the discomfort but for me, I am just accepting it for what it is and going along with the albeit slow recovery process. Patience has never been a strong attribute of mine however :)

The fact remains that at least they are tingling which is  good thing and all things being equal, it is not too much to be frustrated about and I am confident that I will regain full feeling over the next 12 months or so. That said, if I were to only regain full feeling in my lips or chin, I would definitely choose my lips over my chin! See Speaking / Talking' below for an explanation!

Speaking / Talking
Why would I talk about speaking or talking as it relates to my surgery?! Primarily because of the nerve issues in the swollen feeling I feel where my bottom lip especially is concerned.

When I talk it feels like I have cotton wool in my mouth and I confess to being somewhat self conscious about it although everybody assures me they do not hear the muffled sensation that I feel exists! It definitely is a nuisance however and given that my job requires me to do a lot of talking (plus the fact I just talk a lot in general!) I am not overly satisfied with this aspect or consequence of the surgery.

As I mentioned above, hopefully my bottom lip will regain full feeling in the upcoming months and this will no longer be an issue.

Chewing and Eating
Truthfully, I had no idea where I would be at this stage of recovery where chewing is concerned; I did not know if I would be eating normal foods without impediment or whether I would still be sucking milkshakes everyday, and so perhaps that is why I am completely fine with my progress to date.

Chewing is a work in progress basically; I definitely cannot chew anything remotely hard and quite honestly, simply chewing pasta takes an effort and a very long time. I seem to favour the right side of my mouth when trying to chew and as a consequence the pain or discomfort is a wee bit less on the right side whilst chewing.

The reason that your teeth hurt when chewing after this surgery is due tot he fact that your jaws are in a new position and as a consqeunce you are chewing on teeth that previously were used to chewing in a different position and having different pressure points applied to them. The new jaw and teeth positions require time to get used to chewing. Clearly, my teeth and jaws are not used to their new positions yet :)

I eat completely normal foods (pastas, fish, vegetables, burgers, etc.,) but I have to cut them up into small pieces and essentially suck them, try to chew them, and ultimately slurp and swallow them, often using water to swallow. Sounds fun eh? It actually is not bothersome other than always having to use a knife and fork with everything that I eat!

You will be glad to hear that my addiction to instant pudding is no more although when I find myself wanting a snack it is the first food that I make! :)

Swelling and Weight Loss
Simply put, I see that my face is still swollen but most people do not. I see that my jaws and cheeks are still swollen but hardly anyone else does. Perhaps this is as a result of the weight that I have lost (36-38 lbs to date) and so my face looks thinner anyway but there is still swelling. Nothing I can do about it however and it obviously does not bother me!

Sleep Apnea
Prior to surgery, I snored a lot and I am sure my snoring was registered on a Richter Scale in my local town! It didn't matter what position I slept in, I have always, always snored. Ever since my surgery, I have not snored once. This is very much an unintended benefit of my surgery but one which we are all (especially my wife!) thankful for!

So there you have it, updates on many aspects of the recovery phase that many of you have asked about! I will of course update again until my braces are removed the countdown clock is ticking and that will be just a matter of months! :)

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2 Responses to “Day 126: Time Flies and General Update”

  1. Your transformation is amazing on many levels! Aesthetically, obviously (first thing an stranger would notice) and that your snoring has gone away. Your bite now looks fantastic and I imagine once your sensitivity dulls, you'll benefit greatly from the new spread out contact points.

    I had this surgery done to widen (double) my airway but your starting airway already looked very roomy! I suppose pulling everything forward tightened it all up so it couldn't collapse and make you snore? Either way, what a beautiful side effect! Losing 40 lbs doesn't hurt for apnea and general health either. I don't know how much you weighed before, but if you genuinely had 36 to lose, you are your doctor's dream patient. :D

    I understand what you mean about the oddities in smiling and speaking. It feels like my upper lip is made of lead when I try to speak or smile and I can clearly tell the difference, but strangers don't notice anything but the braces + rubber bands.

    I'm so glad for you, and hope your sensitivity goes away soon!

  2. @Clockwork Rabbit - Thanks for your comments! I am very happy with the results truthfully!

    As for my airway, it was actually rather constricted pre-surgery due to the fact that my lower jawline was so far recessed. My pictures don't really show it because I subconsciously (all of my life) 'pushed' my lower jaw forward whenever I was out in public, having my pictures taken, etc but when I slept my jaw obviously reverted to its 'normal' position and hence the incredibly loud and disruptive snoring! :)

    Smiling continues to be weird. Nobody notices like you said but I would really, really, REALLY like to be able to feel my lower lip and chin. Just my lip even! Ah well, c'est la vie!

    Thanks once again for your comments!