Right around the 4 week mark, the cloud lifted. I woke up one day and didn't feel like I'd been hit by a truck. Everyday after, the pain became noticeably less. And within a few days I was down to half a Vicodin ES plus 500 mg Tylenol twice daily. Please keep in mind, if you are reading my blog preop, most people don't experience the pain I have. Most people are totally numb through most of it. I had very little nerve damage, partially due to luck but mostly due to a fantastic, experienced surgical team. But, that means I have more pain early on. I'm okay with that, it will serve me better in the long run. I also had quite a bit of joint damage, particularly in my right TMJ, prior to surgery. That is because I delayed my surgery for so many years. Most of my post-operative pain has revolved around that right TMJ, which is expected to heal. My suggestion is to do the surgery before you end up with so much joint damage in the first place (hind sight is 20/20).
Right around the same time, I hit a wall with food. I thought I might vomit at the mere sight of one more bowl of soup or mush. My daily regimen of gruel was dragging me down. I just NEEDED some real food. One day I had made Mara a lazy dinner of chicken nuggets, tater tots, and canned green beans (homemade meals have been scarce lately). I looked at my can of soup and decided to not blend it and see what happened. So I mashed the chicken and carrots with my fork and swallowed bits of them mixed with broth and whole grains of rice. I just didn't care anymore. Then I thought, if could swallow rice whole, then I can swallow other things whole if I cut them up to the size of a grain of rice. So, I commenced to dicing up a chicken nugget into 1mm cubes. I then dipped each tiny piece into ketchup and swallowed it whole, one by one. Forty-five minutes later, I had eaten 2 entire chicken nuggets, 5 green beans and 2 tater tots! I felt vindicated, despite the pain it put me in. The next few days I continued to swallow tiny bits of real food and my energy really started to kick up.
The process of nerve regeneration is quite fascinating to me. The areas where I have more numbness are my cheeks, nose and upper lip. They feel tight, heavy, mask-like and falsely sticky. Over the last two week though, I feel the numbness slowly melting away from my upper eyelids downward. As the nerves come back to life, they fire intensely or incorrectly. This gives me weird sensations of phantom runny noses, cobwebs on the cheek, and bee stings on my lip. Shocking as they are every time, I'm grateful for them because it reminds me I am healing a little more every day.
Monday, at around 4.5 weeks, I had my splint removed. It was planned to be on for 6 weeks, but because my bite was so off and I couldn't close my teeth without moving my left inner cheek out of the way, the OS wanted to take the splint off to evaluate the situation better. He said everything looked good even though only my left canines touched. They took more x-rays and handed them to me with a note for the OD. I snuck a peak on the way to OD, wow, just crazy! I have a total of 6 plates, 32 screws and 2 pins! Add all that to the plate and 6 screws in my wrist from a quad riding accident and I think I am officially THE BIONIC CHIC! I want a tee-shirt or something :)
The OD said everything looked good too. He didn't seem the least bit concerned about the sideways jaw. He said jaw surgery isn't an exact science and there are usually discrepancies which need corrected with orthodontics post-op. I personally don't quite understand why it can't be put back together perfectly, but perhaps my expectations are too high. So, the wicked band made an unwelcome come-back that day. Looks like I'm stuck with it 24/7 for the next 4 weeks at minimum. It's going to pull my jaw back to the right and square it up as the joint swelling decreases. Well, that's the game plan anyhow. Fingers crossed, 'cuz this bad boy HURTS. It better be worth it. They removed all my surgical hooks, wires and bands then let me brush and floss. I asked if they had a wire pot brush and some bleach I could brush with. My mouth felt that gross. Then I got new wires, bands, an two new hooks for the wicked band. AAAHHHH, all clean. After that, I made Keir take me to Bob Evans for some pancakes and eggs. Wow, real food with a real fork. Good riddance splint.
The last few days have been good. I can now speak without spitting and drink without drooling. Eating more foods, feeling less pain, and becoming more active happens slowly but surely. Mara told me, "Mommy, you can talk like a big girl now. Good Job!" I just love her so much. She has made me smile through the pain and get out of bed when I didn't think I could. She makes me pretend cakes and soups to "help me feel better" and kisses my "boo-boo face" with the sweetest little smile. In the beginning she said, "see what happens when you don't brush your teef Mommy? You get cabities and the doctor has to cut your bones!" So stinkin cute! I'll post pics tomorrow, just don't feel like putting on any make up today. I'm packing up boxes of clothes and shoes that Mara has outgrown to send off to a dear friend and her little girl. And that just does not require mascara :)