Sunday, December 27, 2009
I didn't even fill the prescription. I'm concerned about taking too many pain-killers like vicoden and percocet - high addiction profiles. PLUS, I really feel that those types of pain killers are for pain that I can't handle. And I can handle this pain, it just sucks. And wakes me up a lot at night.
I immediately called my orthodontist, but they were already out for the holidays. My joint pain is still wretched. I still have no side-to-side or forward-to-back motion in my jaw (less than 1mm change in either direction is possible, even when I push as hard as I can). My ROM is pretty much exactly the same, 28mm this time (but I'm sure I could have stretched it to the 29 I got last time). Nothing is improving, and she seems to think it's all because of the rubber bands so I guess I'm trusting her.
We talked about why this is happening - the angle of my lower jaw is quite extreme - in 'ideal' jaws it's close to parallel to the floor, mine is a very steep angle from the lower jaw joint to the chin. This means my muscles are too short, and pull sharply over the joints - which causes a high risk for relapse (yay not me!) and TMJ pain/ problems. My joints ARE remodeling, but she's not concerned at this point. Hopefully this will all resolve itself once the bands are off. I'll talk to my orthodontist about it at my appointment on Jan 19th... My bite is almost perfect when the rubber bands are in, but when I leave them out for a few hours (I only have to wear them 18 hrs a day) I can tell it becomes off... my right side doesn't even touch after a few hours.
Anyway, I don't mean to be a downer around the holidays. Even with all of these problems I'm having, I'm really glad I went through the surgery. I am still migraine free, close to 6 months after surgery. My bite is perfect with the rubber bands! And things are improving... I ate fruit and nut bread from a good friend, I am starting to be able to eat without thinking - in moderation, crunchy and chewy things are possible now.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I haven't actually been in for a cleaning since June of 2008 - right about then the insane migraines started when propping my jaw open for long periods of time, and I chose to wait it out. I figured I'd be able to have one soon after surgery, making it only a year between cleanings, but I'm almost 6 months post-op.
However, despite having braces, having jaw surgery, AND not getting a cleaning for a year and a half, my teeth looked pretty good! She said I had deposits around the normal areas where the saliva glands are (on the back teeth and the front teeth, apparently?), but overall looked very good. I really work hard with the waterpik, floss, little brushes, and my sonicare to get everything nice and clean.
I have some receding gum stuff going on in the rear of my teeth - ironic, really, since I have so much puffy, extra gum up front from irritation from the rubber bands and being a mouth breather (though, much less of a mouth breather since surgery!). You'd think my body could just... well... even it out, right?
My jaw is pretty sore, and I'll end up taking a painkiller for it so I can sleep tonight - the pain is by far the worst when I'm sleeping anyway, and the few nights after my root canal I was waking up every half hour or hour. I'm calling my surgeon tomorrow to see if they're in the office and I can drop off the insurance payment and talk about that pesky right jaw joint.
Let me tell you, I can't stop running my tongue over my teeth now! They feel so wonderful and smooth :)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
- My insurance company is finally paying up! Swedish hospital credited my account all of the money I've had to pay (phew!)
- My root canal was a piece of cake today, tooth wise. Jaw wise it's a bit of another story, but it was SO much easier than last time thanks to the valium and pain killers BEFORE the work started.
- Dr. West (the endodontist) said my mouth opening was considerably larger this time!
I get a cleaning next Monday, the first one in over a year. I didn't go before jaw surgery because of the massive migraines (any dental work or orthodontist work put me into the ER, if you don't remember)... and then I've had such a limited range of motion I haven't gone in. I know they won't be able to get everything - I've got ten pounds of extra tin and rubber in there not including my braces AND my my range of motion is still pretty awful- but at least it'll be a start and I can go back again in a few months once my ROM gets better. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This girl in one of my last classes at the end of a very long day says to me "So... Mrs. Sheppard" in a very serious voice.
"Do you like Twilight?"
... pause... "Well, yes, I enjoyed the books. I read them. I didn't enjoy the first movie as much. Wait, why?"
"'Cause those things in your mouth make you look like a vampire."
(Cracking up inside) "Oh yeah, that's why I wear them."
Girl tilts head "REALLY!?!"
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Life is good. At the very least, life could be much worse.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Also, later into break I've got the rest of my root canal appointment, which ought to be a real fantastic time - at least with that appointment comes valium and percocet (don't worry, my husband is driving me!). PLUS I'm calling my surgeon tomorrow to 1) figure out this insurance crap and 2) make an appointment to get my joint looked at again.
So... insurance stuff. I had to make a 1,000 dollar payment last week because my account was going into default. Can I just say that I have NO IDEA why they're still billing ME?! Shouldn't it all go to my district - the district that agreed to pay for my surgery? And they're being REALLY SLOW with the purse strings apparently, so I've got to make payments until then. And, well, we don't exactly have thousands of dollars laying around. Augh, to say the least.
I have a good feeling about physical therapy this week - I feel like I might get to 21 popsicle sticks! The last two nights 20 hasn't been excruciating. I think that doing the exercises 3 times a day instead of 2 times is improving things, too - it seems like the therapy exercises aren't such a 'shock' to my jaw when I do them more often (my sessions in the morning and afternoon are shorter than my evening session). And the heat, again, REALLY helps. I ice only after my evening marathon session. I didn't do as much as I should have over the weekend (I'm stressed to the max and didn't even think about it - I even forgot to brush my teeth one night, I fell asleep in my chair with my laptop on my lap!) and my jaw was hurting pretty badly by yesterday - but with three sessions of therapy we're back!
Since I'm in blogging mode - let's do a full update. Since the new rubberbands up front my teeth are meeting almost perfectly - I ate salad tonight without too much trouble! Sometimes my teeth on the right side hit before the left, but I'm sure that will work itself out.
Numbness - Like I mentioned before, many of my teeth/ upper gums are pretty numb still. I have feeling, it's just slow. My chin is coming back like crazy this month - it itches for no reason, tickles, when I brush my fingers over the skin it tingles - whoo hoo! My lips are almost back completely. (bummer, as a clarinet player). I guess my cheeks still have some numb spots. The weird thing is, is I don't even notice the numbness anymore unless I test for it. It used to bother me - kind of felt like wax was dried on my skin all the time. But now I don't really notice it.
I think that's it! Minus the ROM and possibly displaced disk on the right side, things are good. And I have faith that things will get better after a long talk with Dr. Lee. Goodnight, everyone!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
In the weeks following surgery once I was cleared for soft foods (if you remember) I "ate" a lot of fish sticks and potato wedges (er, mashed them up with a lot of tarter sauce and swallowed them whole). It was one of my favorite meals for probably a month. Well, like everything else, I became tired of fish sticks.
Tonight I was in the Metropolitan Market where they sell my tasty fish sticks (not the cheap, nasty ones - they're actually real fish!)... and lo and behold, I kind of felt like eating them!
And you know what? I can eat them now! We're talking, pick up the fish stick in the hand, dip it in the sauce, and take a big bite - and then CHEW them! It was pure heaven. The entire time I was thinking about those first few weeks of eating solid food and how terrible everything was.
Despite all of my continued painful and long healing process, I really have come a long way. What a nice reminder. Thank you, fish sticks.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I'm going to try to focus on the positive once again. Tuesday I see my orthodontist and I'll have a long conversation with Dr. Molen about this stuff to see what he thinks.
I won't break, I'm just stressed. I guess I shouldn't be comparing myself and my jaw and my healing to everyone else. It doesn't help anything. I WILL try acupuncture (don't know why I didn't think of it myself... thanks, Kate) and I'll keep this heating and icing and medicating bit going and, well, it'll all work out in the end.
I'm still glad I had this surgery - despite the pain in my jaw that lasts and lasts, it is still better than daily migraines. I have a beautiful occlusion - my lower teeth sit right behind my upper teeth! I'm struggling with this slow healing process (unable to chew many foods still, no jaw movement side-to-side or front-to-back, limited range of motion, and pain in my left TMJ), but I think I should just relax...
1) How long after surgery did you have to do physical therapy - and what was that physical therapy? I'm doing the stupid tongue depressor stack-of-hell, the awful squash ball between the back teeth, and the push the lower jaw to one side or the other and hold.
2) How is your range of motion now, and what was it like 4.5-ish months post op?
3) Can you move your lower jaw side to side? What about forward and backwards? When were you able to start doing this?
It feels like I'm going nowhere with this physical therapy, and it's beginning to wear on me. It feels like I'm doing it all for nothing, as nothing is improving except for maybe my tolerance for pain. I'm back to icing again, perhaps will try heating before the therapy stuff.
What are my other options? I've called my surgeon. She says to do the exercises more, but I'm doing them all I can.
At a bit of a breaking point here...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
As my teeth and gums are beginning to have feeling again, I noticed my back tooth on my upper left side has been especially sensitive. I've been ignoring it, as I figured it was all in the course of getting feeling back (just like my chin used to burn and have those weird shooting pains). Well... two weeks or so later, it's just getting worse and worse to the point of being unable to chew on that side so I called my dentist yesterday. They had me come in today (which worked out well because I was dropping the husband off at the airport for another round of military training)...
Two hours, four x-rays, 3 dentists opinions, and a lot of testing later they decided I needed to see an endodontist (which I had never even heard of) TODAY for my rear-most teeth on the top left. I drove straight to the endodontic office where they decided they were doing an emergency root canal - or, really, half of one. They cut open the tooth and pulled out all of the insides and stuck a cap over the top. They'll finish the root canal on December 28th.
It turns out that my roots are so shortened on those upper two teeth that it may have caused all of the sensitivity and pain. Since I can't feel the tooth in front of it, they think I might have to get another root canal on that tooth - since it's in the same boat. It sounded like I could have lost the tooth the roots were so short, and they're not even sure the tooth is completely viable.
Since I have such a limited opening, that was a terribly painful set of appointments. The endodontist prescribed me valium and percocet for the next appointment - I'm supposed to take one valium an hour before the appointment, and then another one a half hour before the appointment. I can also take a percocet. My jaw on the right side is now popping in a new way - almost like bone or cartliage rubbing against bone or cartliage, and it is INTENSE.
The GOOD thing about the appointment, though, was the numbing shots didn't hurt at ALL because I still have limited feeling in my gums/ upper palate. Whoo hoo!
I know this shouldn't upset me so much, but I spent the entire 35 minute drive from my dentist to my endodontist sobbing. Granted, part of that was the lack of sleep last night (helping Nick pack) and then my husband leaving for over a month during the holidays... but I'm pretty down about all of this. I am SO done with everything to do with my mouth.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Part 2: I get hit on a LOT more now that I have a chin.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
The pain in my right jaw joint? She thinks it's inflammation from the tight rubber bands and struggling against them to talk all day (teacher!). The pain/weird clicky feelings behind my front teeth? My bones growing and I'm able to feel the plate now.
If it all continues? I can get a shot of steriods in my jaw for the pain, and if the plate is still really bothering me I can get it removed a year after surgery.
Blah. I figured it was normal, but it was good to hear.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Now, I don't want to complain too much - but I had no idea I'd be 4 months out and still dealing with all of this. I'm still doing physical therapy - up to 19 sticks now. It's still yucky and painful. I still have problem with many foods - no steak yet, no salad yet (I can't chew it well enough and swallowing lettuce whole is unpleasant, to say the least), nothing crunchy, I have to be careful with breads, nothing chewy... Am still unable to bite into things 'cause the jaw doesn't open wide enough...
The numbness is still around but I truthfully barely notice it anymore. I have SOME feeling everywhere, some places are just a little more tingly or slow to respond than others.
I don't know anyone else with this problem, but I think the weirdest thing for me has been playing instruments again. With a correct occlusion I'm a much better flute and trumpet player, but my low brass and clarinet (boo) skills have gone out the WINDOW! With low brass I'm double buzzing all over the place and can't keep a pitch center... with the clarinet I sound terrible and leak air like a sieve. I can't figure out a good angle, and everything is different. Yuckity yuckity yuck.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Just a year too late. Argh. Instead, I have a 51,000 dollar bill still attached to my name.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
We'll see what happens! (I knew it was all too good to be true!)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Ouch. When is it time to call my surgeon?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Here's the latest photo. Overall, I think this is my new face.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The work? Get this. I went in for a simple wire change - one of those 10 minute appointments where it takes longer for the tech to get the doctor over than for anything actually happening. He started poking around my mouth and calling out numbers to the tech, saying they had "changed their mind" and "oh, did I have time?" Of COURSE I have time! :) They removed and re-positioned 10-ish brackets, put bite turbos on the rear front two teeth, took off all that extra metal and extra hooks (YAHOO!!), took a set of x-rays, gave me new wires, and a new rubberband configuration.
And finally... my orthodontist took a front x-ray and it's pretty cool. I haven't had much luck wth getting these to post in the past, but here it is!
Monday, September 28, 2009
I still have my sinus infection. I was off antibiotics for 2 days and it was back in full force. Dr. Lee says if it continues to see my primary care doctor and to have the doctor page her personally (I now have her office, cell phone, and pager numbers... what a cool surgeon).
I'm still frustrated with my looks. I don't like my upper lip and I really don't like what my nose looks like. I thought it would go down, but it's still upwards - now I can see into my nose in most pictures.
I'm getting lots of pain and popping and clicking in my jaw, and my jaw exercises are not doing anything anymore. I know I'm not quite doing them as much as I'm supposed to be (I should be doing 4 times a day, I do 2)... But they give me really bad headaches and I hate going to school with headaches. I do them when I get home from work and before bed.
I still feel like I don't have as much energy as I did pre-op. I went to an amazing indoor water park on Friday night and after a few hours of climbing up the stairs for the water slides my hip gave up on me... No more slides for Stephanie! And then at the fair the next day I was tired after just a few hours (I usually spend a whole day there), and then barely made it through the Oktoberfest party I went to that night - ended up stealing a chair from someone and just sitting for most of the night (looking at people's backs, as everyone was standing and facing away from me). After that weekend 'o' fun I could barely keep my eyes open during my planning period today.
I have an orthodontist appointment tomorrow. After my emergency appointment a few weeks back they stuck me in a new rubberband configuration to stop the over-correcting of my bite, but now the overbite is re-showing and my teeth barely hit my bumpers anymore. My back teeth don't even come close to touching.
Will these braces ever come off? :( Sorry to be such a downer, but MAN I've been taking this really rough lately. I just want to be back to normal.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
- Sensitivity to spices (especially cayenne), mint, and cinnamon. I can't even use listerene anymore because it causes the roof of my mouth to burn so badly!
- Continued fairly major swelling - especially in my upper lip. I'm noticing that my upper lip seems so much smaller now since surgery - and it comes and goes, but today it's really gone.
- Gum and teeth sensitivity in general - where I'm numb it doesn't bother me [of course] but pretty much everywhere in my mouth that's awake is pissed off. My gums ache after flossing, my teeth ache where the rubber bands are, my tongue burns, and my teeth are sensitive to hot and cold and sweet where they never have been before.
- Molars not meeting. They're better on one side than the other, but in general my front teeth touch but my back ones don't.
I have really grubby teeth. I want to get my teeth cleaned REALLY terribly - what do you guys think? I'm still sitting at 15 popsicle sticks, so I can't get open very much. But I'd been almost a year without a cleaning prior to surgery because the dentist caused my migraines to go through the roof, and then the whole banded shut thing and, well, you know. I have fuzz. I brush 3 times a day but it comes back so quickly... It's gross.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Yesterday I had a bit of a scare, to put it lightly. The night before last I realized my upper and lower teeth in front were directly hitting - not hitting the pads or the brackets, but coming down right on top of each other. Since I'm not wearing my bands at night, I wondered if that could be contributing to my bad bite (and a side note before y'all get preachy on me: I called my orthodontist. Since my mouth is banded shut at night and my nose is completely clogged, I was suffocating - it felt like the week following surgery and it was terrible... so I called my orthodontist and they said to leave them off until I can breathe again). Anyway, instead of telling me it was okay or whatever they wanted me to come in to an emergency appointment to check it out. AHHH!!! I drove straight from work to my orthodontist office, about a 45 minute drive.
The bite is hopefully being corrected from the technical underbite (hah!) with some intense rubber bands in box configurations on both sides. My teeth, jaw, and head ACHE from them - for the first time in weeks I'm back on a regular regimen of tylenol AND ibuprofen, and I ended up just leaving them off for the hour after lunch so I could teach with a clear head. They are intense. Hopefully they'll work - I am dying to get rid of rubber bands in general. My teeth are really sore wherever the band connect to - in fact, in my newly-waking up left side on top I feel like I have a cavity. I think it's just intense pain from the rubber bands and the 'new' sensations up there.
Other things of note:
ROM: My opening hasn't improved any... still at 15 sticks. I'm pretty frustrated because now my rubber bands are even tighter, and it feels like progress is going slower. Argh.
Numbness: my chin is really coming back - still patches of numbness but those are tingling now. Upper gums still completely numb. Roof of the mouth tickles constantly, and I can feel it when things burn it now (yay?). Lower lip still a bit dull but I can feel all of it. Top lip and cheeks are completely back. It's been really fantastic. Minus my top gums, I wouldn't be too upset if NOTHING improved from here on out - and I know it will. I'm in good shape.
Swelling: While the sinus infection is getting better, my face is still swollen. Really swollen. It is worse in the early mornings and in the evenings. I have good days and bad days, and the good days are GOOD. I'm starting to like my face finally.
Pain: I don't have much pain anymore. Prior to the latest rubber band change and sinus infection, I can't remember the last time I took something. Amazing - as I could go through bottles and bottles of ibuprofen and tylenol prior to surgery.
Migraines: STILL NONE! Wahoo!! Life is so good. Kate, you asked a few posts ago if I was waiting in anticipation or feeling liberated? I feel so free and wonderful! For the first month or two I was just waiting - every morning I would wake up with the mandatory "okay, how bad is it today?" thoughts, and every morning I was headache free... Everything feels easier and happier and lighter and brighter... I can't even describe how amazing this change has been.
Clicking: I don't know if this is normal, but my jaw clicks. A lot. It clicked before surgery, but nothing like this. I'm hoping it will improve as my ROM improves.
Speech: I haven't really talked about this much lately, but my speech is still muddled, especially when I've talked a lot. If you listen closely I lisp on every 's' sound, and I struggle with 't' sounds and 'th' sounds. They come out slurred. 'F' sounds come out funny, but I think that's still my rubber bands. My 'r' sounds come out as 'w' when I'm tired. This is really frustrating to me, but hopefully it will improve. Guess it's time to pull out the tongue twisters?
Energy: Getting better all the time, but I'm not back to pre-surgery levels yet. I need much more sleep at night, and wear out easier during the day.
Hip: I almost don't notice my hip anymore. It still stretches when walking downhill which is uncomfortable, and I don't like to sleep on it. I hip-bumped my car door shut the other day and almost collapsed in surprise/pain, though, so it's still not completely healed. It's a wickedly cool scar.
I think that's it. I warned you guys it was a long post... :)
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I don't know if I mentioned this, but it's weird - I have a "warning" button inside my body. For some reason, when I begin to overdo it, the bones behind my front teeth in my upper jaw start to throb. Once the throbbing starts, I have maybe a half hour to stop doing whatever I'm doing before the exhaustion becomes unbearable - however, this throbbing often starts during 5th period when I've got planning and time to breathe (and still have another period left, plus after school work). This week I ended up taking a nap at school because I was too tired to drive home. Whoa.
I'm freakishly puffy from the infection, exhausted beyond belief from school starting, and had my hair up in clips during school today so it looks funny now... but new pictures 'cause it's been a while. Freakisly puffy again, though. ARGH. And things were getting so cute. I look like a puffer fish.
Oh yeah!! 15 popsicle sticks now. Working on it, working on it, working on it, working on it. :)
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Good grief, this is rough. Why is it taking me so long to freaking heal? Shouldn't this be stinking over by now?!? I'm frustrated, if you didn't get that.
And I'm over the attention, now. I'm over the comments and the discussions about my face. I know people mean well but most people don't know what to say so they say something half-awkward and half-insulting and I never know how to respond. Argh. And poor middle-schoolers have no tact. I sure love them, though. My kids are awesome.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
I can chew soft things now, and am starting to chew things like bread - chewing is complicated by the lack of height in my bite right now - it's hard to maneuver food in there. Things are going slow and frustrating - I keep overdoing it with the hip without thinking about it - went clamming last weekend and the long walks on the beach REALLY strained it, and then I went to a swing dance last week and danced just a few songs. The swing dance wasn't fun at ALL - too many elbows and swinging arms. I kept picturing one flying into my face (and it's happened before!).
It was a really weird week, as I went back to school for staff days. With the drastic changes in my hair and losing the glasses AND the face, most people said they didn't recognize me at first and had to do a double take. One teacher I walked in with (talking to the whole way) didn't have a CLUE who I was until I took off my sunglasses in the building. It's really awkward, as after I tell them I had jaw surgery they don't really know what to say - I mean, I don't exactly know what I'D say in that position. I don't like the attention, though.
Feeling is coming back slowly but surely all over. Except for the point of my chin, I have no areas with COMPLETE numbness anymore. The newest weird thing is when I drink cold liquids I don't get the cold sensation on the inside of my lower lip, instead I feel it on the outside all down my chin - so I think I'm dripping down my face. I can't feel if food is stuck on my chin at all except in small places, which gets pretty embarrassing around people I'm not close with - I become paranoid with the napkins.
My swelling continues to hang around, and I don't feel like taking a picture today (I feel really swollen). Maybe if tomorrow's a better day I'll post one for you guys.
I know I'm in this for the long haul now and changes will be slow coming, but I'm starting to feel quite discouraged with progress lately. It's so annoying not to be able to open my mouth. It's annoying to not feel my face. It's annoying to have my jaw hurt. My speech is still a little unclear - and I start teaching on Wednesday of this week. Speaking for short bits in front of my staff this week was SO terrible - I feel like the louder I speak, the more slurred it becomes. And I've got big classes. I called the disability office (HAH!) in my school district and am working on getting some sort of wireless microphone system for the first few months, but they never sent me the paperwork - I'm calling again Monday morning because I'm really concerned.
I think I may have worked my last shift at Starbucks today, also - I am taking the first three weeks off of school already to prepare and heal and get some more energy back, but I need to come back that 4th week otherwise I'm separated from the company. And even though my energy levels are getting better and better still - I'm not even CLOSE to having EXTRA energy, and working Starbucks and teaching at the same time last year wore me out anyway. I love Starbucks, and it breaks my heart that I might have to leave. I know I can always come back, but I'll really miss my store family and I'm sad to miss the holiday season - it's by far my favorite during the year.
Whew, that was a long one. I'll see about posting more pictures soon.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My jaw hurts a lot now from those damned physical therapy exercises - I didn't even do them yesterday because it was bugging me so much. My jaw is also back to clicking and popping, which is a bummer - but still no migraines!! My physical therapy exercises right now are just putting my hands between my upper and lower jaw and forcing my jaw to open wider than it wants to - and hold it for 60 seconds at a time. Then I put pressure on my lower jaw and push it to the right (hold for 60 seconds, switch sides). I measure the progress in popsicle sticks, since a ruler isn't so accurate when done by myself. I range from 7-8 every morning to 10 at night now. I never keep the progress I make during the day, which is really frustrating! (The worst part? Once I can open my mouth wide enough I'm supposed to squish a squash/paddleball in half, stuff it between my teeth, and then release it to stretch the jaw out. OMG!!!)
My teeth still look awesome - so says the orthodontist. They are really pleased with my progress - I get shown off a lot whenever I go in. Today they didn't recognize me at first with the new hair and new face. They are allowing me to leave off the front rubber bands during the day - but I still have to wear the side ones at all times except for when eating. I get a new wire next time - and it's about time! I have annoying gaps forming in between my rear molars - which are really hard to get food out of because my mouth only opens 14mm!! OH! And you know how my teeth are hitting my brackets? It's apparently normal, but not as hard as I'm hitting them. So I have funny little cushions on my bottom brackets now until they can reposition them and put some "bite turbos" on (whatever they are) at my next appointment - Sept. 29th.
I'm chewing a bit. Not a lot. It feels WEIRD, and I don't like it.
I think that's it for week 7 - pictures!! (A disclaimer - I had just ridden in my Miata for the last time, with the top down, right before the day 50 pics... so my cute hair doesn't look so cute). Hah.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
It hurts quite a bit now. I'll call my orthodontist on Monday morning to get an appointment, but the feeling is coming into my upper teeth as well as my lower teeth now, so it's hardcore uncomfortable at all times, and hurts when my jaw goes to rest now.
Jaw exercises are going well, despite being terribly painful. I could only fit 7 huge popsicle sticks in my mouth on Thursday, and I'm already easily up to 10 as of tonight.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I don't get to take my front bands off - the orthodontist now controls rubber bands, and I don't see him until the 19th. I don't get to play any instrument (wind OR high string) for a MINIMUM of 6 more weeks. I don't get to chew. I got WICKEDLY PAINFUL physical therapy exercises. I'm apparently behind in the healing process - my opening is only 14mm (compared to 48/50mm pre-surgery). I don't have even enough of an opening to actually start said wickedly painful physical therapy exercises - I just have to stretch my jaw out for an hour a day. AN HOUR.
I mean, it was good to hear everything else is going well. I'm still swollen [it's not just me being crazy]. If I get a sinus infection I'm supposed to call her right away for antibiotics, apprently upper jaw surgery patients are pretty high-risk for infection for the year post surgery.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
My mom and I were talking today about how obsessive I've become. Usually I don't have much of a one-track mind - I'm pretty scatterbrained. But lately, my thoughts revolve around one of a few things: FOOD, my FACE, and my CHAIR (being tired and waiting to go home to sit in it/ sleep in it). Mostly food.
The things I miss most:
- Straws (still pulling on the stitches - but the stitches are almost gone!)
- Bread / Crackers (oh my GOSH)
- Licking my lips
- Eating at will (not worrying about taking off bands, brushing, rinsing, etc)
- Chewing (of course)
- The letter "F" (not easy to say with these stupid bands)
Things I love:
- Greek yogurt and honey
- Fish and Chips
That's about it :) Great day today, finally! Tomorrow is the 6 week checkup with my surgeon.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Pictures (no real change). I also put in a picture of that crazy clump of stitches that was underneath my nose/ upper lip - everything feels much better now that they're gone!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Other than my flippant self-image, the only thing I'm really struggling with now days is energy. I have figured out how to eat most of the foods I want to (I have conqured ground buffalo and gravy, turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a cinnabon cinnamon roll, a hamburger, big potato wedges, fish and chips among other things). It takes me upwards of 45 minutes to eat anything non-liquid, but it's totally worth it.
But the energy thing? I've worked two shifts at Starbucks and both have wiped me completly. I spent the last two days in my chair sleeping for most of the day. My kitchen was piled high with dishes and fruit flies and I didn't have the energy to do anything about it - luckily my mommy came over today and helped me clean it. The rest of the apartment is a mess as well, but at least it isn't rotting. I was hoping to go to a party of music teachers tonight but cleaning the kitchen has put me back into my chair. This is beyond frustrating, because just 6 weeks ago I was running 3-4 days a week and working out almost daily and teaching full time and playing gigs and working at Starbucks part time... and suddenly I have a good 2-4 hours of working time during a day and the rest is for reading and knitting - anything as long as I'm sitting. Just sitting. It's impossible to get my sleep schedule on track for school when I still need naps during the day.
The upside of all of this no-energy-not-really-digging-the-new-face trouble? I still haven't had another migraine!! 6 weeks and only ONE migraine!! I'm estatic. Excited beyond words. :)
Much love to you all - thanks for the support. It means the world to me.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Quick ortho-geek question: when did you all go back for your first ortho adjustment? Dr. Lee (surgeon) said I'd be released back to Dr. Molen (orthodontist) after my appointment on the 13th with her (so the 19th with Molen)... but Dr. Molen wants to wait until my appointment at the end of September to make sure my "bones are all healed." I know I shouldn't be impatient, but I want these braces off NOW.
Pictures today aren't as good as usual because Nick's off to training for 2 weeks and I'm by myself again.
Friday, July 31, 2009
I keep forgetting to mention it, but I'm finally sleeping through the night regularly. It's been probably 5-6 nights in a row now - wahoo! A lot of this has to do with my lessened dependency on pain killers - I'm down to taking tylenol/ ibuprofen once or twice a day now, instead of every 4-6 hours.
I have much more energy during the days now, I can eat more, I'm in pain much less, and I can concentrate better. I'm still more scatterbrained than normal, but it's starting to come to an end. Thank goodness!
Also, I am so grateful that, as a teacher, I didn't have to rush back into the classroom just 3-4 weeks after surgery. While all of the things (more energy, less pain, more eating) are very true, it still takes me 45 minutes or more to get through a normal (read: non-liquid) meal. I still wear out easily. I can not talk for very long before my jaw starts to get tired and spasm like crazy. I think that in a month from now I'll be much healthier and ready to teach, but I sure wouldn't be right now.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I am so grateful to be a month out of surgery today - a GIANT heat wave has hit Western Washington, and I can't imagine trying to recover in the oppressing heat - we're talking triple digits! Luckily, since I'm feeling SO much better I'm really enjoying our little tropical heat wave!
I'm still suffering from overdoing it yesterday, so I need to keep that in mind when I go back to Starbucks next week. I'm a talker - and this whole process has been quite frustrating not being able to talk or be understood well. As the swelling has gone down my speech has REALLY improved, but it's still muffled and slurred, especially when I'm tired or sore.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I was able to take the tape off of my hip yesterday and it has definitely improved movement and walking. It feels a little more tender to the touch, but not as bound together. Hopefully it'll make improvements fast and I'll be back into JEANS!
Numbness is a pretty big issue for me. I am getting tingling in the roof of my mouth but have no feeling. My chin has no feeling at all. The right corner of my mouth and up into a third of my right upper lip has no feeling. My bottom lip has limited numbness - I can feel when something's touching it but not 100%. My gums are completely numb on the upper jaw, also, but starting to come back (irritated) on the bottom. I can feel my bottom teeth, but not my top teeth. Odd - but improving.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
We went to one of my favorite restaurants, World Wrapps, and I was able to eat my favorite burrito (in bowl form, of course)... it had rice with a wasabi vinaigrette, salmon, and avocado! It has other stuff, but that's all I could get down. YUMMY! And I ate in public, and it wasn't terribly embarrassing - just a little. I'm still using the baby spoon as no other utensil fits in my mouth, I have to mush down bites with my fingers, half the time the bite is too big anyway and ends up back on the plate or on my chin (which I can't feel)... I feel like a toddler :)
The hip is still preventing me from wearing "normal" pants comfortably, and I am tired of going out in public in the same two identical pairs of pants, so my mom took me shopping for a few pairs of black pants that look SLIGHTLY less like sweatpants. They're not great, and I miss my jeans :(
I then went to a pool party with a bunch of my favorite starbucks employees (didn't swim, but hung out and talked)... I didn't make it all the way through because it'd been a long, long day and I was exhausted. In fact, I got home around 4:15... ate, brushed, and slept until past 10. Now, once again, I am awake and there goes the sleep schedule I had tried to put myself on... but eh, it was worth it to get OUT.
As my incisions are beginning to heal, I am losing range of motion and height in my jaw. Argh! The stitches in the back of my mouth where the lower jaw connects to the upper jaw are really sore and they pull when I open my mouth as far as it can go. Just last week I could fit my baby toothbrush in to brush the bite surfaces of the teeth - today I can't quite get it in there comfortably. Ah, well. Dr. Lee said at the next appointment we'd start working on ROM and stretching (she didn't say anything about chewing but LORDY am I hoping!!).
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Some nerves must be regenerating in my face and in the roof of my mouth - I have crazy itching in my chin - and I go to scratch it and I can't feel anything and the feeling is gone. Kooky. And the roof of my mouth kind of feels like it's on fire. It doesn't hurt much, but it's really, really odd.
One thing that has me slightly worried (not TOO much) is my overbite is starting to come back a little bit, which I think is why my jaw has been hurting so much. I used to bite down straight on my lower braces (ouch, as well), but now I don't quite get there. I'm not terribly worried about a relapse at this point, and I'm sure it can be fixed with different rubber bands... but I was hoping to lose the front rubber bands at my next appointment - as they are the most noticeable and the ones that make my speech unclear.
On a closing note... I really, REALLY need to stop watching the food network. I'm dying. :)
Oh! And new pictures today (to celebrate week 3 being over). I'm really starting to look like a human again (phew!).
My swelling has still not gone down again - no pictures until then.
Post-op guys (or anyone else)... do you have recommendations for skin care products? My poor, poor skin is panicking like no other - and it seems my light foaming cleanser and scrub are not up to par for this level of hell.
Have an appointment with the oral surgeon on Thursday - can't wait :)
Monday, July 20, 2009
Some notes for y'all...
- If you don't drink water, you will swell up like CRAZY again - I've seriously regressed with days worth of swelling - it kind of hurts in my cheeks (now you know why I'm not posting a picture today... argh swelling).
- Despite blended up pizza toppings being delicious, they are very high in fat and therefore may upset your stomach in terrible, terrible ways. Oh, man. 6 hours later, I'm still sick.
- While getting feeling back in your cheeks is awesome, suddenly I can feel all of the darned brackets and hooks poking me. Darn it!
- Almost anything can be swallowed whole if you cut it into small enough pieces... for example, today I had a pancake, half a sausage link, and an egg at a diner! I ate in public. It wasn't terrible.
That is all for day 19... last night was yet another night of being up until daylight and then sleeping and then waking and then sleeping... I managed to not take a nap today (sheer will and chair avoidance) so I'm hoping I'll get some sleep tonight.
My brother in law and his family are in town from Oklahoma, and we're driving to Shelton to see them tomorrow - it'll be my first trip post-surgery! Hurray!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I'm 2 and a half weeks post surgery and things are coming along well. I've had a painful couple of days due to muscle spasms - my joints are REALLY fighting my new rubber bands from my orthodontist. The worst part about the muscle spasms is I keep biting my tongue! Poor tongue.
The feeling is coming back into my face and chin, and my chin swelling is really starting to go down (thank GOD, as I was starting to look like Sarah Palin, and that's not exactly what I signed up for here). My cheeks are still puffy, but almost getting to the point now that no one but close friends/ family would notice.
It's a little freaky for me to look in the mirror these days. It's not that I don't like what I see - I think it's amazing that my profile isn't concave anymore - I think it's great that I have a chin and that my jawline actually looks strong... I don't mind the changes in my nose, and I LOVE that my smile isn't gummy anymore. It's neat that my face isn't so long. However, when I look in the mirror it just feels so... weird. It's not really me, except for it IS me. All of the changes are good, it's just going to take some getting used to.
One of the things that bothers me is the lack of sleep. Okay, not really lack of sleep as I'm probably sleeping 12 hours a day, but more the lack of a sleep schedule. I don't sleep for more than a few hours at a time. So... last night I fell asleep at 5am (bad pain), was awake from around 8-9am, fell back asleep until after noon. Fell asleep around 7pm and slept until midnight, and now I'm awake and it's past 2am. I try not to nap, but it really just makes me hurt worse and become cranky and emotional.
Speaking of emotional, the random crying is SO annoying! My poor husband. Just yesterday I was starving (like usual) and looking for something to eat but NOTHING sounded good and I was so frustrated that I just started to cry. I miss food! I've been tired of soup for a year now and am still forced to eat it. Pretty much, I'm desperate for new tastes and have resorted to swallowing things whole that I really shouldn't - for instance, today's tuna melt. I convinced Nick to make me the fillings of a tuna melt and that I could eat it - when really, after it cooled just slightly it was NOT meant to be swallowed whole - scraped up my throat, I kept choking... but it didn't stop me. :) I could have blended it, but that would have defeated the purpose - I wanted real food!! Today I also got some Haggen Daaz mint chip ice cream, but the chips are pretty big and I really wore my jaw out trying to maneuver them on my tongue to melt before I swallowed them.
I took my longest walk today yet! Probably a mile all told - we walked down to the 7-11 to mail our netflix back (no outgoing mail at our apartment complex) and got ice cream. I was exhausted afterwards, but it was really nice to get moving outside - and to GO somewhere instead of winding around our trashy apartment complex. My hip is sore, but feels better and better every day. I'm working on not limping at all when I walk, because I find that I limp almost automatically now - and the muscles aren't being stretched out and used at all. The weather is BEAUTIFUL here in western Washington right now, and I have to soak it up while I can!
I sneezed for the first time yesterday, and once more today. It was terrifying... after the first sneeze I felt around my jaw to make sure nothing had detached, but I survived okay! Again, very weird feeling.
Well... I think my marathon post has gone on long enough. Overall, I can't believe how easy this process has been. I know I complain a lot and it hurts and it was horrifying in the first week... but sheesh! Just 18 days ago I was on a operating room table with my face peeled back (sorry) and my jaws being cut apart and put back together and my hip bone was cut into. I can speak with decent clarity, I can eat, I can walk... The human body is an incredible, incredible thing :)