Over 2 Months Post-Op

Here I am, two months past my surgery and feeling almost totally normal.

I can’t believe how far I’ve come. Before I posted this, I decided to look back to previous posts on my blog just because it had been a while since I had posted anything, and the more I read the more I realized that almost all of the problems I had are gone.

I chew things now with no pain. The diet that I’m on now basically consists just of food that doesn’t crunch, so other than crunchy things I can basically eat whatever. I still have to wear elastics at night because during the day my teeth sort of disalign themselves and the elastics help that to not be a thing.

I don’t feel pain when opening up my mouth anymore. I can open up to a point, and then it just gets hard to open my mouth after that. It feels a little like I’m opening as far as I can open, but since the distance between my upper and lower teeth gets wider and wider every day, I don’t think I can open as far as I will later be able to just yet. But the pain isn’t there anymore at all, unless it’s right as I’m waking up. And even then, it doesn’t really hurt, it’s just a little tight.

My swelling is gone except for two tiny patches on my cheeks that are barely noticeable. I thought that it was completely gone until I saw a recent picture of myself with two lumps in my cheeks that I had to re-examine to realize they existed. So I don’t have any complaints there.

I keep getting freaked out at how different I look. I look at old pictures of myself and feel neutral, because I’m used to looking at that. I look in the mirror, or at pictures of myself, and I can’t believe how much I’ve changed. I don’t think anyone around me realizes it, but I’ve lived with my face for my whole life and I knew the little bits of it that went away with the surgery, and the new bits that came up are completely foreign to me. I like them, though.

My chin is still a little numb, and the feeling distribution is weird. I can touch the outside of my chin, and feel like someone is touching the inside of my gums. No, not my gums, the inside of my gums. It can be a little painful. I can be drinking something cold that goes down in the front of my lower teeth and below the gums, and it feels like there’s cold water all over my chin. So I basically feel a sensation everywhere, even if it occurs in one area of my chin or lower mouth area. I’m pretty sure that’ll go away soon, though, because it used to be much worse and now it’s subsiding into normal feeling. The all-the-way-through feelings are only in one spot of my chin and lower lip, and they’re almost gone.

That’s generally how it’s been so far. Nowhere to go but up.

Best wishes!

7 Weeks Post-Op

Almost…there…almost…I am almost done with two months. Well, I’m about two weeks away from my two month mark.

My surgeon seemed surprised at my appointment today that there was still swelling in my chin. It’s very minimal swelling, I still look fabulous when leaving the house, but the swelling is there nonetheless. I recently looked back at some of my older posts, when I kept on saying ‘yeah it’ll probably be gone in a few days/weeks,’ and past Hannah would be very upset to know that there is still swelling after seven weeks, and it won’t be completely gone for another four months. I think by then it won’t be as noticable. It’s not terrible even now. I just thought my face looked like that now but now I know that it’s still substantially swollen around my chin.

I haven’t been lingering on the surgery in my mind for as long as I used to, so that’s a mental plus. I still think about it a lot and the tightness in my jaw is still there when I speak, but it’s not something that I think about all the time.

Also. Also. Now I can eat things! Actually eat things! Today, I had a Nutella sandwich. And then I had pasta. It hurts to chew with my back teeth, though, so I have to stick to gradually working up to my back teeth, and I’ve never in my life chewed with my front teeth before so chewing is proving to be a challenge. I wound up mashing the foot against the roof of my mouth with my tongue to eat it a lot of the time. Sometimes I’ll try chewing with my back teeth and wind up getting food caught back there, and I have to suck it out because I can’t open my mouth wide enough to fit anything back. All of these difficulties are totally fine, by the way, because they’ll probably gone soon (though I don’t count on anything happening quickly anymore) and because I can eat again. It’s just kind of a milestone for me because it brings me that much closer to normality.

I also acquired elastics today to wear at night when I go to sleep. I was terrified for a moment when I saw them that I’d have to wear them in the day, but it’s only at night.

I’m still numb in my lower lip, though I can feel pressure when I touch it. I can feel pressure and texture but it’s almost like I’m feeling everything through a thick napkin. My chin isn’t completely numb anywhere anymore, which is extremely relieving to me because of all these ‘I can’t feel my chin for the rest of my life’ stories that I read about when people get orthgnathic surgery were freaking me out pre-op. I mean, people don’t seem to have a problem with it, and I would much prefer a closed bite to a chin with feeling, but it’s good that I can have both. Always going for both.

I do still have a bit of a lisp sometimes, but I’m working on it. It’s not always – just when my mouth is dry. I also sometimes lose track of the amount of saliva in my mouth when I’m speaking until it’s too late and I have to make the most repulsive slurp-back sound ever to prevent myself from drooling all over my lap mid-sentence.

All in all, things are going really well for me. I’m able to open my mouth more and more as days progress, with a little more each day. I’m able to eat without getting food all over my face. I’m able to speak and only feel cramps when I’m not careful. Honestly, at this point, I don’t have any other milestones that I’m looking forward to hitting other than just healing. Just looking forward to being able to naturally speak again, to not have anymore swelling in my face, to being able to eat what I want and to exercise without feeling the muscles in my face trying to secure my jawbones. But I’ve come an enormously far way and I’m very happy with that, and I’m really grateful to my surgeon as well because she’s been absolutely awesome this whole way.

Best wishes!

6 Weeks Post-Op

I feel like I’m past the hard part of the recovery. I know they say that the first week is always the hardest after jaw surgery, and it definitely is, but even though my diet’s still soft and my teeth don’t open up all the way, my life is pretty much starting to return to normal and I think there’s something to be said for that.

I feel good! I’m so thankful that I got this done. I feel like I’ve given up a month of my life so that I could have the rest of it. Before the surgery, my lips didn’t close naturally and my jaw protruded down in a way that looked off. I had to maneuver my mouth around my words to shape the things I was saying without cracking my jaw, and deal with several snide comments about how the way I ate was weird. I used to hide my mouth with my hand every time I spoke, and sometimes I would cover my smile because I was self conscious of it.

Needless to say, I am so much more confident with the way I look now. I cannot believe the results. The liquid diet made me 15 pounds thinner, for one thing, my lips finally close and I’m not constantly catching myself with my mouth gaping open, either. And even though my smile is currently crooked from lack of muscle movement in my face (which will get better), I’m more confident with that, too. This surgery has worked crazy amounts for my self esteem. I’m so thankful.

So far, training the muscles in my face to work again is a little tough. I never realized how much grinning I did every time I spoke, and smiling while speaking is super hard now. Not hard in that it’s painful, it just makes the muscles in my face really tight really quickly. Sometimes I’ll accidentally open my teeth a little more than I should when I’m saying something, and there will be this sharp pain on one side of my jaw. It’s nothing I can’t manage, though. If I speak too much or smile too much, my face winds up aching for a little while. I think that’s been the most difficult part of this week, is just figuring out how to move.

My teeth are able to comfortably open a little bit more and more every day. Right now, I’m able to open them about the size of one fingertip without anything hurting, but three days ago I was barely able to open them at all. Eating was painful, but now it’s much easier. So the healing is definitely clear to me for that part.

Brushing my teeth is tremendously easier now that I don’t have the splint in. Which is good, because sufficient oral hygiene was something I missed almost as much as I missed food.

Speaking of which! I am ecstatic to be off the liquid diet and on to soft foods. I’m still not able to chew, so all the foods I’m eating are really mushy. That’s totally okay with me – I’m not eating it through a syringe. Just thought I’d add that in there.

So 42 days are down and I’ve got another 54 to go before my three months is up. Only 22 until I’m at my two month mark! I can’t believe it, it feels like this recovery is going by so fast. (Not complaining.) I started school 2 days ago, so that’s going pretty well. I think the fact that I’ve been speaking has made the swelling go down significantly. There’s hardly any left. The next on my list of stuff to do now is just to learn how to move the muscles in my face.

Best wishes!

Trippy Dreams on Oxycontin

If you read my blog, you know that I was put on Oxycontin and Acetaminophen for the first two weeks following the jaw surgery. I think I stopped taking the Oxycontin after the first week was up and just went on the Acetaminophen until the pain started to subside, and I think the primary reason for that was because sleep was getting to be so difficult.

I couldn’t sleep at all when I was on the Oxycontin. Well, no, it’s not that I couldn’t, it was just that every time I did, I had the most profoundly disturbing dreams I’d ever had in my life. They would be so vivid and so realistic that when I finally got up, I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t for several hours. On one occasion, I entered sleep paralysis for the first time in my life, and during the paralysis I kept hearing this robotic voice that told me that I had died and was on the other side. Easily one of the most terrifying experiences ever. Aside from that one hallucination, I had these awful dreams every night and I’d always wake up in a funk that I wouldn’t come out of until some time in the middle of the day. I actually dreamt that a deformed dog-human thing kidnapped the child actor who played the kid in The Sixth Sense and publicly bashed his head against the sidewalk while everyone gathered around and laughed until he was dead. Euagh.

So, being woken up one night by what was probably my death in a dream or some unspeakably horrifying event that I deemed too horrible not to be a dream, I wound up Googling it. I read almost everywhere that opiates and narcotics have this effect on people, and that morphine in particular is notorious for giving its users the optimal weird dreaming experience. So I suppose in that case it’s unavoidable to have bad dreams.

My advice, if you’re looking for help with weird narcotic dreams, is to just assess the amount of pain you’re really in and try to get off the narcotics as soon as you can. Not too soon, of course, because it’ll be even harder to sleep if you’re in immense pain all the time. In the mean time, just try to look at a lot of forums and internet stories of people going through the same thing. I found that it’s oddly comforting to know that you’re not the only one who’s suffering.

I wound up with better dreams as soon as that first week was up. I’m honestly just glad I only had the sleep paralysis thing happen once, because I had to lay there for a little while after that happened to make sure I was even real. I thought I’d make a quick post on this just because I feel like there’s not a lot out there talking about weird dreams on Oxycontin and it should be more talked about.

Best wishes!

5 Weeks and 1 Day Post-Op

I decided to wait one day before making this post because of an appointment I had today with my surgeon. It is now 36 days after my surgery, and I am reporting to you without a splint or elastics in my mouth!

Yes, I am free. (Sort of.) I think I may be getting some elastics put back in in a few days but, um, who cares? I can eat. That’s all that matters. I don’t care if my diet consists of oatmeal and mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs and the lot of soft foods. It’s…it’s…it’s food! Not liquid! You have no idea how happy this makes me.

Most of my swelling is gone, but there’s still some left. It’s mostly around my cheeks and to the sides of my chin. That being said, I’m not sure just how swollen my cheeks are just yet, because the surgery really brought out my cheekbones. I think in another two weeks I’ll be looking back to normal.

One thing I’m realizing now that I didn’t think about before is just how much double jaw surgery changed my appearance. I still look like the same person, just a little different. It’s kind of like Hannah 2.0. My profile looks more natural. I like it.

The splint was inhibiting my ability to close my lips, which I was worried about previously because I thought there was some complication with the surgery. Now that it’s out, my lips are closing naturally. That was actually something they never did pre-op, my lips were just sort of naturally open.

All in all, I’ve made it past the first month of surgery and the frame of my face looks remarkably more normal than it used to. I’m so psyched that I’ve made it this far – it seemed like things have just been taking forever.

Best wishes!

Mood Swings at Day 30

Something I forgot to mention in the last post I made two days ago to document my 4 weeks is that I’ve been having terrible mood swings this past week. There are days when I see all the good in my recovery and days that I wake up feeling terrible and feel terrible for the rest of the day.

I’m completely grateful that I was able to get the surgery and that insurance covered it, and I’m thankful that my surgeon has been beyond fantastic in every aspect of my recovery and surgery, and of how supportive my family has been, but to be completely honest, I just can’t wait for this whole thing to end.

Some days, I feel fine about my swelling. I’m gradually starting to get more comfortable in my own skin, but starting from the bottom, gradual improvement doesn’t really mean much. I thought I was a lot more comfortable with the swelling in my face but I realized that I’m still extremely insecure around anyone who’s not a close friend or family member, and it’s been incredibly crippling. It feels almost like I’m fading out and rotting away inside because I’m too insecure to go outside. Mind you, this is only on some days. Some days I feel the opposite. But there’s no in-between. My mood is either fantastic or awful and it stays like that all day.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with how my face is going to turn out – I’m thrilled with the way it’s shaping up! It’s just that my swelling is at an awkward point where it’s almost gone but not quite, and I’m beginning to get very, very impatient. I’m beginning to miss being outgoing, to miss talking and laughing without hurting and all the things I used to love doing. I think that’s the root of the mood swings. I’m trying to wait calmly for everything to be over but the ending is all I can think about.

Luckily, I’ve read a lot of other blogs and testimonies and I’m not the only one that goes through this with double jaw surgery. So, I know this has to end at some point. Again, everyone’s being very supportive and that helps a ton. Mood swings are entirely manageable and the swelling is going down every day, anyway. Nothing’s changed – things are still looking up.

Best wishes!

4 Weeks Post-Op

It’s been four weeks to the day since every bone in my jaw was broken and then put back together, and I have never felt better.

So far, my mouth has yet to be freed from the elastics and the splint, but my surgeon told me that next week I’ll have my splint out. I don’t know what that means as far as the liquid diet goes, but I hope it means that it’ll come to an end.

I still have some swelling left in my cheeks. It’s been going down progressively though, and probably won’t be there in a few days. It’s not terrible swelling, it just sort of looks like my mouth is full.

Feeling’s been coming back to my chin. Although it’s not completely there yet, I can feel it narrowing down my face. My cheeks are no longer numb, at this point it’s just my chin. But even then, there are parts of my chin that have feeling. I’ll just have to wait that one out.

I’m slowly beginning to go back to being as social as I was before the surgery. Because my swelling is so low at this point, I’m becoming vastly more comfortable with going out in public. I’m currently preparing for a three-day trip to a mountain house with friends some time in the beginning of next week. (Never mind that I’ll have to eat exclusively soup and milkshakes, at least I won’t be cooped up at home and I’ll get to spend time with the people I’ve been missing.) Just hoping that my swelling will be gone by then, or at least by the time I have to go back to school in two weeks.

Things are getting a little bit better every day. I’m not as scared of the terrifying reviews on jaw surgery results as I used to be (e.g “JAW SURGERY WAS THE WORST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE” or “I LOOK WORSE AFTER JAW SURGERY” and surreal stuff like that) because the surgery seemed to work out immensely well for me. So far there have been no complications, no infections, and I’m being told that I’m healing quickly. Things are looking up.

Best wishes!

3 Weeks Post-Op

It’s hard to believe that three weeks have passed since getting double jaw surgery! It still feels like I just got it a few days ago.

My recovery is moving along awesomely. Speaking is so much easier than it was last week, although people still have trouble understanding individual words at times. I can open and close my teeth without any problems, even though I can only open so far before the elastics pull me back (which is probably a good thing).

The elastics are probably the hardest part of the recovery process at this point. The elastics and the splint. The swelling is annoying, but I don’t really notice it so much. The elastics, on the other hand, are like braces x10 as far as the pressure they put on your teeth.

I’ve basically been dreaming of food all week. My surgeon said I’d get my elastics and splint off at 4-6 weeks after the surgery, so I’m crossing my fingers that next week I’ll get them off. I’ve been surviving on miso soup and oreo milkshake (and some other things, but primarily those two).

I’m still numb right below my eyes, and in my chin and lower lip. I’m being told that feeling will come back in a month or so, and I really don’t mind the numbness at all. Even if I were to have it for the rest of my life, I’d still be grateful that I was fortunate enough to have the surgery done.

Other than that, life has been pretty slow. I’m a little self conscious about the swelling in my face, so I haven’t left the house too much. A few of my friends have been over, though, and that was nice.

Best wishes!

20 Things to do While Recovering

In an effort to keep myself from going ballistic, I have compiled a list of things to do in the event that you, like me, are both bored and recovering from surgery.

  1. Play board games
    1. Online Chess
    2. Online Scrabble
    3. Online Cards Against Humanity
    4. Etc.
  2. Read
    1. Free-eBooks
    2. Gutenberg
    3. Openculture
    4. Kobo
    5. Etc.
  3. Write
    1. Wattpad
    2. WritersCafe
    3. Scribophile
    4. Protagonize
  4. Take up calligraphy
  5. Take up painting
  6. Take up an instrument
  7. Take up drawing
  8. Make a blog
    1. Tumblr
    2. WordPress
    3. Thoughts
    4. Blogger
  9. Netflix. (If you don’t have Netflix, get Netflix)
  10. Make a milkshake
    1. FoodNetwork
    2. Huffington Post Taste
    3. 1st Milkshake and Smoothie
    4. Delish
    5. Go somewhere and buy one, if that’s a safe thing to do at the stage you’re in.
  11. Go outside and lay on the grass
  12. Invite over a friend
  13. Watch Dr. Phil on YouTube. They seriously have every single episode there.
  14. Take up knitting
  15. Get inspired by Pinterest
  16. Watch 80’s movies
    1. Real Genius
    2. The Breakfast Club
    3. Back to the Future
      1. Part 1
      2. Part 2
      3. Part 3
    4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    5. Beverly Hills Cop
    6. Ghostbusters
    7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    8. Stand by Me
    9. Etc.
  17. Look through old photo albums
  18. Fantasize about all the wonderful things you’re going to do once you come out of recovery
  19. Play video games
  20. Research different conspiracy theories and freak yourself out

That’s what I’ve got so far. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to comment and I’ll add it to the list.

Best wishes!

Coping with Depression After Surgery

Depression while in recovery began to make me feel like I was losing my mind. It’s not something that happens to everyone, but there’s a long list of people who go into a funk after major surgeries that have a tough time getting out of them.

After my surgery, the hardest hit-point for me was somewhere in the middle of the second week. Having a surgery that meant my face would be huge and out of commission for a while, I felt really cut off from the rest of the world and isolated all by myself. On top of that, there was the incredible hunger I’d felt from not getting enough out of my liquid diet, and the difficulty I had sleeping.

I’m not any kind of professional, but I did manage to figure out several methods that did work for coping with Post-Operative Depression.

  1. I believe I put this in my recovery timeline, but two websites that helped me a lot were blahtherapy and 7cupsoftea. Both are websites where you can anonymously vent about your problems to a volunteered listener in an Omegle text style format.
  2. Make your favorite kind of soup or smoothie and have some. I posted a page for recipes that might be useful. (Personal recommendation: Curried Zucchini Soup)
  3. Have a movie day with a friend. Regardless of whether or not you feel self-conscious due to your current state, you really will feel better after seeing friends.
  4. Play an instrument for hours and hours and hours (if you do happen to play one).
  5. If you live in an area where trees are abounding, sit outside for a while. (Optional: bring a book.) I read here that the Vitamin D gets your endorphins flowing.
  6. Watch YouTube videos or read blog posts documenting the recoveries of people who’ve gotten the same type of surgery as you. It’s a fantastic way to remind yourself that you’re not alone and that there are people who have gone through exactly the same thing you’re going through. If you’re like me, you can create a blog, too.
  7. Just remember that there is an end in sight, and that the recovery process is not going to go on forever. Usually, they say that 3 months is the time it takes for things to return to normal after jaw surgery (6 months to heal completely). Usually, elastics are in for 3-5 weeks and your splint (if you have one) will be taken off in 4-8. These are not huge spans of time, they only require a little bit of patience.

That’s what I’ve got so far. I’ve you’ve got any ideas to add to the list, please leave a comment and I’ll put it up!

Best wishes!