Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Eight Months Out

First of all I want to apologize for updating so infrequently. Between school, my last medical adventure, catching up on classes, taking midterms and feeling all-in-all back to normal I just haven't had the time to update.

That being said - wow! It's been eight whole months since surgery! I still remember sitting on my couch back in July thinking I couldn't survive the first week. Well I survived that one, and the next one, and the next all the way until now. What a long and incredible journey this has been!!!

The Positives:
1. No more pain and cracking!!!*see #1 below
2. My bones are 100% healed now :)
3. I am incredibly happy with my profile and no-longer-gummy smile.
4. I can open my mouth to three knuckles width now.
5. I can eat anything without a problem (though I will be staying away from gum for the rest of eternity)

The Negatives:
1. My jaw clicks and crunches still, though it is no longer a matter of me doing it intentionally - it just happens every now and then. 
2. The muscles in my face are sooooooo tight and knotted up from clenching and having my jaw wired. I really need to get back to physical therapy.
4. My teeth have shifted, throwing my bit off again :'(
5. I desperately need to see a dentist for a good cleaning

If you look at this list, yes there are negatives, but they are all temporary and fixable! The permanent stuff is there for good! Like I said, I really need to get back to physical therapy; my jaw muscles and posture are suffering from my neglect. I'm guessing that this, along with complaint 4 have a lot to do with the reappearance of clicks and pops. I really desperately want to get back into braces (I know, who on earth would ever think to write that?!) so that I can get my teeth and bite back to where they were post op. Right now one of my teeth has shifted, forcing my lower jaw to move to the left if I want the bite to mesh. Otherwise my bite is dead on, but then it is slightly open. My teeth also look a little wonky and crooked right now, too. That's the consequence of doing this sans-braces, folks! 

Those minor things aside I'm thrilled. Everything feels so much better, even on "bad" days. The urge to crack my jaw hasn't returned at all. My eating has returned to normal, though I need to slow it down since I'm gaining back that weight I lost. College food, sigh. 

Also since my last update a lot has happened in regards to my December surgery. I went to see my surgeon, and he told me that my nose was definitely infected. He thought it was the graft in my nose that I was reacting to. I was admitted to the hospital on February 21 and put on IV antibiotics. My nose responded to them very well, and the swelling was down noticeably the next day. Dr A ordered a CTscan so we could see what was causing the infection and where it was located. After looking at the scans it turned out that the graft was perfectly fine. Something was causing the infection, but no one really knew what. Wednesday and Thursday were spent debating whether or not to take me into the OR again to clean out the infection. On the one hand we knew the graft was fine, but on the other there was definitely an infection, and if it needed to be cleaned out then it was best to get it done. Finally Friday came and so did the decision to take me back to the OR. Dr A cleaned everything out, and got rid of two abscessed sutures. I went home Saturday afternoon and was back in class by Monday morning. We're all still baffled by the whole situation. I was sent home with a one month course of antibiotics, which I'm still taking.

Other than that hiccup, things from my December surgery are great. That bit of my cheek that had scarred down to the muscle has been freed up, and my nose is back to being a natural looking width.

I can't even begin to say how thankful I am for everything. It's been a long process, and there were more than a few really lousy days involved, but it has all been so worth it. Just living without pain and a nagging urge to click is worth every bit I went through and then some. This whole process has just been so incredibly rewarding from the people I've met to the things I've learned to the incredible benefits.

Life these days really is back to normal. The only time I even think about my surgery is when I look at old pictures. If there's one thing that orthognathic surgery has taught me, it is that no matter how much your life gets turned upside-down, you will find normalcy again, and the world will right itself without your noticing it. And when you finally do notice, you just think, "Well, what do you know? I made it, after all."

Be well, every one. I can't thank you enough or tell you what your support has meant to me these past months. Chin up, it gets better!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 212 - Complications and Frustration

Hi all! It's been a while since my last post. I didn't plan on posting again until the seven month mark, which is this Tuesday, but I've just recently got some frustrating news.

I'm of course back at school still, and as mothers will, they miss their children dearly. My mother really wanted a photo of me, and after asking for a couple of weeks I finally got one to her. She showed it to my surgeon and he was not pleased.

Let me rewind a bit. About three weeks following my last surgery I started to get a really foul smell in my nose. It smelled like a mix of feet and dirty belly button (sorry I know it's really gross). After seeing online that this was very common following a rhinoplasty I didn't really let it concern me too much. In the event of an infection I smeared triple antibiotic ointment in my nose  every day, which seemed to help. Then I got a cold... of the sinus variety.

Fast forward to now. I still have a cold and I've been blowing my nose for weeks. Because of this I've thought nothing of the swelling and apparent re-widening of my nose. I figured that it was from the constant blowing and perhaps I'd snapped my alar cinch. Since there could be worse things in the world than an imperfect nose I decided to swallow my frustration and love what I have.

Then my doctor saw the photo, and asked my mother if it was for real. My nose should definitely NOT be as swollen as it is. It seems that I've had a reaction to one of the grafts they put in my nose and it's become infected. Mom's coming to my school today to drop off some antibiotics, but this isn't something that a little pill can really fix.

Dr A needs to get me into the OR again to remove the graft and fix anything that the infection may have ruined. Oh joy, more surgery. It isn't the end of the world by any means, but it's frustrating that after being in and out of surgery and recovery and appointments since January 2011, I really was hoping I was done with everything.

Oh well, life goes on.

Aside from the nose  woes, my jaw isn't too bad. Things have really solidified and I've noticed that my chin seems totally healed now. The only annoying bit is that crunching is returning even more to the left TMJ. It's still not a voluntary action, which is good, but it's still totally annoying. Time to get back to physical therapy. I haven't seen her since December because of the winter break. My bite is also horribly off again, braces are a must. Better get on that asap...

I'm sorry this post is so dreary and filled with bad news, but I hope that the rest of you are doing well. I've been keeping my eye on those of you in recovery and you look wonderful! Be well, everyone, you're the best!

Nose is clearly still very swollen :'(

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Six Months!

I can't believe it! Exactly six months have passed since I had my orthognathic surgery. How has it been an entire half of one year already? That absolutely boggles me.

When compared to six months ago, I feel like a totally different person. I certainly look like one. Numbness is gone except for my upper and lower gums and teeth. Well that's not entirely true, there's some new numbness from the rhinoplasty, but the numbness from the first surgery has gone away now. Pain from surgery is also a distant memory at six months out. That went away months ago.

The good:
     1. I am no longer in pain!!!
     2. The conscious urge to crack and crunch my jaw is gone!!!
     3. My diet is back to normal and I can handle everything except for carrots and corn on the cob.
     4. Mobility is improving.
     5. I have a chin :)
     6. I no longer look like a shark when I smile, haha.

The not so good:
     1. My teeth have shifted like mad, and my bite is off again. It is no longer anything like what it was out of surgery. I really want to get braces to fix that.
     2. Clicking and crunching have returned to both sides, though it happens on it's own without any help from me. It's not painful though, and I think if I get my bite fixed, then this will go away again.
     3. Since my second surgery I have lost progress and slightly regressed in how much I can open my mouth.
     4. There's still some muscle stiffness, though it's slowly going away.

These last four concerns will be brought up when I next see Dr A, just to get his take on them and see what can be done. Other than that I couldn't be happier. This surgery was 100% worth every bit of trouble, pain, and frustration. I can't imagine what life would be like if I hadn't had this done. The results are above and beyond what I could have expected. I feel so blessed to have gotten back something I thought I never would again, a life free of pain. :)

Tomorrow I go back to college. This semester is going to be pretty heavy, but knowing what I went through last semester between balancing classes, exams, healing and constant travel to medical appointments, I  know I can handle just about anything. I'm excited to see my friends again and fill my day with the kind of silly things that make wonderful memories. There's definitely a chance that I won't sleep tonight, lol. My room is a war zone of clothes and hangers, bits and bobs. Leaving packing until the last minute probably wasn't my most brilliant idea...oops!

I have no pictures for you tonight because I'm an absolute mess, but I will be taking some tomorrow when I get back to school. Though I have updated my Christmas post and added pictures for you wonderful people!

And speaking of you guys - I cannot express my gratitude enough. There's just no way to put it into words. From the beginning when I was just starting to look into this surgery, and the entire way through the process, you've all been here for me. You've answered my questions, celebrated my successes, and comforted me in my moments of doubt. This community has been so valuable to me, and I want to thank all of you from the bottom of me heart for what you have done.

Be well, be happy and remember that no matter how tough things get, things will always work out right in the end :)

I plan on updating every once in a while and leaving this blog up as a source of information for others like me. If I've helped at least one person then I know this blog has been worth it. Until next time, bloggers!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I'm looking at old photos of myself.

And finally, I realize - I was beautiful.

Do I regret my decision? Not at all, I'm pain free and happy. I'm just sad that this is what it took to see the "old" me the way that everyone else did.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 175 - Life Goes On

Hi everyone! It's day 175 (which means my last few posts somehow got totally mislabeled), and I'm feeling really good. Since my most recent surgery, things in my life have been slow and uneventful. I've been quite lazy the past week, only getting out to go to the store, or visit friends in NYC. It seems that my last two breaks from school have been devoted to surgery and recovery. Oh well, that means the next one will be that much more special :)

The most frustrating bit now that the pain is gone is the skin problems. Yep, just like last time, surgery and all the drugs they pumped me up with have wrecked total havoc on my skin. The inability to properly was my face (due to the tape on my nose) certainly doesn't help. Annoying as this may be, things could always be much, much worse, and so I have little to complain about.

My jaw these days is great. There's still a bit of cracking and crunching going on in the left, but unless I have the conscious urge to intentionally pop my jaw, I'm not going to worry. Considering where I was just one year ago, I'll take the odd click or crunch. No pain is a blessing I could never have imagined, and I won't cheapen it by desiring perfection.

I hope you're all doing well :) Thanks for reading.

As soon as I can find my memory card I'll post the pictures that I've taken over the holidays for all of you to see.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 169 - Feeling Human Again

Today I feel human again. Yippee! *jumps and does a dance*

I got the nasal packing removed today, and for those that don't know what it is, please don't look it up. If you decide to ignore that advice, then please be prepared for some icky images and/or videos. I hereby absolve myself of any responsibility for being grossed out/passing out/gagging at the new information.

To be totally honest I was terrified of this step. People all over the interwebs were talking about it being the most horrific thing ever or accompanied by ungodly pain. That's may be true, but for me there wasn't one iota of pain. They injected litocaine (sp?) into the packs, thankfully not into me, and then pulled them out. The best description I can think of is that it felt as though they were flossing my brain lol.

In summary, things in nose recovery aren't too bad aside from the constant dripping and snotting (sorry for the gross). I can't blow my nose for at least 3 weeks post op, and I'm not to wear glasses or sunglasses for a year. On the lame side of the equation is that this added surgery means any hope of hitting the slopes in February (however slim they may have been) are entirely dashed to pieces. I got a lovely new snowboard for Christmas, but I won't be using it until December 2012. Poo. Oh well, there are certainly worse things in life.

Back on the jaw side of things is a little frustrating. I've noticed that my jaw crunches on the left sometimes when I open my mouth. It is not painful, but I am worried. I've also noticed that since my nose surgery my bite seems a little off. I have no worries about this being a bone issue, but more a matter of muscle change. That bit of muscle that had been stuck on the right by scar tissue has been freed up, so I think I hold my jaw differently. My front teeth no longer overlap slightly, but rather the uppers sit right on top of the lowers. I'm sure it's nothing that time or braces won't fix, but I'll mention it to Dr A and see what he things. I've also had a bit of joint soreness since my most recent surgery, but I think that's from constantly having my mouth hanging open to breath since my nose is useless for that function right now.

I hope you are all doing well. Keep cheer in your hearts and a smile on your face :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day 167 - Deja Vu

Hi there everyone! I'm happy to say that this post finds me feeling tons better than the last one. I will confess though, this recovery is worse than the first surgery. For the jaw surgery the nerves had been mercifully bruised which allowed for limited feeling of whatever damage had been done. That is not the case with a rhinoplasty. You can feel it all and man does it hurt!

I went into surgery around 7:45 in the morning. My original surgical team was there again, and they were all super excited with the results of the double jaw surgery and genioplasty. They even taped up my before and after pictures on the walls of the OR. They said that they don't typically get to see the end result of that surgery first hand, so it was exciting for them to see how their hard work had paid off. I felt really special :)

My anesthesiologist, Dr K, went through the same procedure as last time, acquiescing my request to be knocked out with gas before they poked me with any needles. This time I have a better memory of going under. I took too deep of a breath at one point which made me want to cough or sneeze, but I didn't. The next thing I knew was a loud buzzing in my ears and a tingling vibration in my face and that  was it.

At 2:30 the surgical team woke me up. Again, I have memories of this, which is different than with the first surgery. I felt burning hot, significant nausea and a good deal of pain. Dr K gave me some nausea medication and they got all of the blankets off of me. They wheeled me into recovery to try and get my body temp under control. I'm not sure if I was on good pain medication at this point or if I was just too nauseated to feel anything else, but pain wasn't an issue yet. They started to get my body temp down by hooking up a cold air ventilator to the bear paw gown which helped tons. Then they gave me the strongest anti-nausea meds that they could which felt like a such a blessing. Those knocked me for a good two hours and I woke up to feeling sick and pain again. It took several doses of mediation to dull the pain and nausea again, and this pattern of sleeping then waking went on until about 8pm. They got my nausea under control one more time (thankfully I never threw up) and then I was set to go home. Mom took me home, and we made me as comfortable as possible on the couch.

The next couple of days have been spent on that couch, and thankfully the nausea has been taken care of. Between the Zofran and food in my stomach before other medication I haven't felt too queasy since about 4 this morning.

As I said the pain with this surgery is more significant, but as long as I stay on top of it with the narcotics or Motrin and don't allow it to get too strong, it's not so much of a problem anymore. Compared to Friday night I'm positively dapper and fit as a fiddle. Definitely feeling more like myself. I even got by with only one dose of Lortab today, and Motrin was sufficient to take care of any other pain all day. Yippee! As with last surgery, the sooner I can stop the heavy pain medication, the better.

Right now my biggest complaint is the pressure from the swelling and the packing. The packing will be removed on Tuesday, and I'm worried about that hurting, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Friday the stitches come out and from there it's back to the old waiting game. And as miserable as all of this sounds, it is tolerable, and it does end! Discomfort doesn't last forever and that's what anyone recovering from surgery needs to remind themselves of. I've also noticed that things are worse if I wallow in self pity. If I just take a deep breath and remind myself that things get better, my current state is definitely more tolerable.

Again, thank you all for your kind words. I cannot stress enough how much support and encouragement from others helps out after surgery. It really does make things a lot easier knowing that there are people out there rooting for me. You guys are the greatest, and I appreciate what you do for me so very much! I'm sorry for the long update but I feel that you guys deserve the entire truth so that any decisions you make can be more informed. Be well everyone and Happy 2012!!!