Thursday, November 26, 2009


For all you Americans out there, Happy Thanksgiving! It's funny, this year I am thankful for an odd thing.

I haven't said anything on here, but I've been a little discouraged again about the face. I'm still not quite used to it, and it's been pretty swollen between the root canal and new rubber bands and a minor sinus infection - which I'm sure hasn't helped the matter. However, today after running I decided to take the extra 15 minutes and blowdry my hair - after it was done, I realized that I really like my new face today. The new haircut accentuates my new jawline and new chin and it really is flattering. Maybe I should dry my hair more often :) So, I'm thankful for becoming used to my face.

I haven't posted a picture for a while, and I'm not sure it's even really changing much anymore, but here you go - along with pictures of the new rubberband configuration at my orthodontist appointment this past Tuesday. He told me that the reason for my root canal was a cavity that had become irritated, and there was really no way for it to become painful due to the shortening of the roots (phew!). They changed both of my wires out, gave me lots of new hooks again, added the metal lacing between the front brackets on top and bottom again, added some rubber tie-backs from my incisors to the back teeth to close those gaps again, kept me in my old rubber band configuration and added new crazy ones up front. I'm allowed to take them out while I'm teaching now to help aid with my jaw pain in the right joint, but he wants me to try to hit 18 hours a day, and then 24 (minus eating and brushing) on weekends and any breaks. Luckily, my next appointment is a month earlier than it normally would be - in mid January. Hurray!

Also, with the jaw pain/ lack of range of motion, the heated rice sock has continued to decrease my jaw pain. For the first time since surgery (edging on 5 months now) I can yawn without severe pain. Whenever I'd accidently yawn fully my right joint would SCREAM. Now, no pain! I'm not sure if it's the rice that has done it or if it's because my ROM has increased (still at 20 sticks) and now yawning doesn't strain the joint, but I'll take it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

new love

I officially have a new love in my life - the rice sock I made to assist me in my physical therapy exercises. It's just a bunch of jasmine rice stuffed and tied into one of my husband's mammoth socks and microwaved until the point of explosion (okay, slight exaggeration). When placed next to my sensitive and painful right jaw joint prior to and during physical therapy exercises, they don't seem so terrible. In fact, I got up to 20 tongue depressors! Now, to ice the rest of the pain away. I also pre-medicated with ibuprofen a half hour before the exercises.

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...

monthly panic attack, check

It seems it's time for the monthly "this-is-totally-never-going-to-heal-I'll-be-a-freak-my-entire-life" freak out. Please, fellow post-jaw surgery friends, answer me one or more of the following:

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

emergency dentist appointment

I would love for all of this drama with my mouth to be over.

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

funny stuff

Part 1: You guys will like this story. I was checking out in Target tonight and I got the funniest cashier EVER. He rings up my purchases, asks me how I'm doing (the normal) I smiled at him and said "Oh, doing fine." He LIGHTS UP when he sees my braces and says "Whoa! Braces! How long do you have to wear those things?!" I'm a little bit thrown off now, and respond with "Oh, about 6 more months or so." "Whoa! Like, were your teeth like THIS?!?" And he literally puts his hands in an L shape - like my upper teeth were so crooked they were parallel with the floor (yes, floor). I said "Ummm, no, not quite that bad. But pretty crooked." He then goes on to tell me ALL ABOUT his wisdom teeth and how he wants braces... Seriously? Odd.

Part 2: I get hit on a LOT more now that I have a chin.

That's all.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

everything's fine, of course

Except my range of motion... I'm only at 29mm and they want me at 48. That's practically half of what I need to be. Ouch...

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

back to the surgeon...

I'm heading in for an emergency appointment with my surgeon tomorrow. The nagging, sharp, and almost constant pain the right jaw joint combined with the weird random swelling combined with the weird painful click-y feeling behind my front teeth/nose meant missing a day of work to drive back to Seattle. Poor band/orchestra students. Yet again, I'm missing too much school!

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.