Saturday, August 25, 2012

5 months or 155 days

It's been 155 days since they sawed my face apart.  Although I expected to be much more recovered at this point, the last few weeks have shown drastic improvement.  A quick run-down of key jaw surgery talking points for you:

SOOOO much better the past 2 weeks.  I thought it may never let up.  I'm able to be more
active without paying for it the next day.  I even managed yard work in the heat last weekend without my face getting sore.  I actually climbed up on a ladder and trimmed trees!  Go me.  It's still a bit sore and tender to touch on either side of the bridge of my nose, sort of on the front of my cheeks.  Also, the spot on my left mandible (where I was afraid a pin was loose) is still sore to press on or lay on.  My TMJ pain is significantly better the past 2-3 weeks.  All in all, I'm fairly pain free.

My cheeks are still puffyish, but it is slowly melting away.  I've always had kind of chubby cheeks though, so I don't know if it will get much better at this point.  I think the puffiness is just slightly relocated from where it used to be.  I know my joint swelling is still decreasing though because things are lining up with my bite and the pressure feels a lot less in the joint. I'm still taking Ibuprofen twice daily (doctor's orders) and if I miss a dose, I start to feel it.
                         "Seriously? With the cheeks? Still?!"                                  

I still have two spots of tingly numbness on either side of the bottom of my chin.  It feels really strange to touch it there.  My lips are maybe 20% numb now, but I don't notice it much.  My top 4 teeth and the roof of my mouth directly behind the teeth is all still fairly numb but it doesn't bother me a bit.  If my numbness didn't improve beyond this point, I could live with it and not be very bothered.  At the end of the day, I still have a bit of that mask-like feeling of my cheeks and lips where it all feels tight and weird.  But it's not a big deal.

My bite is finally starting to feel comfortable.  I don't have to think about lining up my jaw when closing my teeth together.  Most of the time, it just goes where it should.  My four back molars still don't touch but the OD took the brackets off those teeth with hopes they will come down and eventually make contact.  My midlines are lining up better and I haven't needed to wear my guiding elastic in over 2 weeks.  Yay!  The gaps to either side of my top 4 teeth (where they segmented my jaw) are almost completely closed now.  So it's looking slightly less wonky.  The gaps in my lower teeth (that I have always had) are closing up nicely also, thanks to the closed link power-chain from hell.  Ouchie.

I am at one with the lettuce!  I can now manage to eat a salad without incident, talk while eating without spitting, and have a proper social lunch with friends.  I've conquered steak and potato chips lately also, without pain.  I've come to conclusion that black beans and rice are the anti-braces meal for a proper social lunch with friends.  Regardless of how easy they are to eat, and regardless of how yummy they may be, trust me my friends, you do NOT want to attempt this meal in public.  Unless, of course, you would like to make a true spectacle of yourself while flashing a grill FULL of black and white lumps.  That, and cooked spinach.  For goodness sakes, avoid the spinach!

No real problems with my speech now.  I've learned to say my S's and T's without biting my tongue.  Very happy about this accomplishment.  My lisp (pre-surgery) is mostly gone now that I have top teeth over bottom teeth.  I do whistle accidentally through my teeth once in a while (like granny's ill-fitting denture whistle) but I cannot manage to whistle on purpose.  Go figure!

Hope you all are doing well either in your recovery or in your pre-op preparations.  And if any of my posts worry you, just remember that I was a more complicated case than many, and most people will recover more quickly than I have.  Despite this long road, I'm fairly certain I will have no regrets in the long run.  Smiles!


  1. Nichole,

    You look stunning! Congrats on all the good healing your body is doing.



  2. Hi Nicole, I have followed your blog for a while and thanks so much for sharing your real experiences. I hope you heal and recover soon! Im 32 and never had braces. I am thinking to fix my class III and Im going to see OS for the first consultation soon. Could you give me some suggestions about what questions I should ask him please? Thanks.

  3. I would make sure he is board certified. Ask about projected treatment plan and time line from start to finish. I consulted 2 surgeons after much research and the main question I had for them was, "how many of these surgeries do you do in a month and how many years have you been doing similar cases." I went with the surgeon who did 10 cases per month as opposed to 1. The surgeon I went with is also a professor of the oral and maxillofacial surgery dept at University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. He seemed the more competent choice to me. For me, picking the right surgeon was the key piece.
    You might also want to know if the plan would be for one jaw or both, as this will dictate your recovery time. But, sometimes, they don't know for sure until the last minute. My suggestion is, if you want to correct it, don't put it off any longer. Age is a huge factor in recovery.
    Feel free to ask any other questions. I will do my best to answer them.
    Best wishes!

  4. Thanks for replying. It is definately a good idea to research about the OS. I am in Brisbane Australia. I am going to see the OS the OD referred me to tomorrow. My OD was reffered to me by my general dentist. I will include those questions tomorrow. Thanks again.

  5. Hi Nicole. I went to see the OS today. He said I need a SARPE first to expand my top jaw then a second surgery to bring it forward. When he talked abou the risks he mentioned the risk of loosing sight version which I am very concerned about. He said when they fracture the top jaw off the way the bone breaks is not something the surgeons have all of the control. If it breaks upwards it may affect the eyes as the eye sockets is not far away from the top jaw. During the ten years that he is in the industry there has been one case and it was in Brisbane. He said that surgeon stopped doing surgeries after that happend. I am very concerned about this risk as being blind is so much much worse than having a class III. Do you know any information about this?

    1. Hi Li,
      I'm familiar with the SARPE, but luckily I didn't need the additional surgery. I have never heard of the orbital complications with jaw surgery. Perhaps it depends on whether you need a Le Fort 1 or a Le fort 2 separation? I think the whole endeavor is full of risk, and you have to weigh the pros and cons for your situation. I put off my surgery from the age of 18 because I was fearful of the "what ifs". Looking back, I should have done it sooner. They surgeons are obligated to tell you worst case scenarios, but in almost all cases these things turn out well. In the end, you have to go with the choice that sits right in your heart. I wish you strength and peace of mind as you try to make your decision.

  6. Congrats on the gains. I'm shocked that you're still working on it. (I know. I know. It takes a year for recovery.) Hope you continue to make strides. Also, nice new 'do.

    1. Thanks, and wow, you noticed the hair. I have a good male friend(we've known each other since age 14) and he can't even see a difference in my face! So, it's remarkable to me that a man would notice my new hair. I figured a new face was deserving of a new 'do :)

    2. Ha ha! We ortho-buddies are kindred spirits! Btw, I'm really glad your pain is getting better. Hope you continue to see improvements!!