Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Wedding!

 August 10, 2013 was the best day ever. I got married to the most amazing man. I had the most beautiful wedding. And the rest is history. For the past year, I worried that the surgery wouldn't happen in time, that I'd be swollen for the big day or still in braces. But all the anxiety was for naught, because all went perfectly and I felt as pretty as can be. I literally didn't think of jaw stuff once that day. In fact, I haven't thought about it practically at all the past couple months. Instead I've been thinking about how amazing my husband is, how much I love my new job, and how life doesn't get much better than it is right now.

To say our photographer did a fantastic job would be a devastating understatement. She's a magician with a camera and captured the day perfectly. To see more from our big day, you can go to her blog:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Brace Free is the Way to Be

That's right: they're gonnneee!!

Yep, today was the big day and the braces came off. Holding my mouth as wide open as it could go for extended periods of time while they snapped off the brackets and ground away the glue left me in a bit (okay, a lot) of pain. My jaw is still a little achy. But, like they say—no pain no gain...and in this case, I gained my brace-free smile once again. Yay!

They glued a few of my teeth together until I get my retainers on Thursday, which is a little weird, but a lot awesome since I won't be worrying about things wiggling out of place between now and then. I see the dentist tomorrow to get the pearly whites even pearlier, and I see the surgeon on Monday for a post de-bracing check-up.

While it seems like the jaw surgery saga is nearly over and the final appointments have been made, that's not entirely the case. I will have to have the hole in my pallet closed in a few months, which will require a small surgery. But that should be the fat lady's final note in this operation opera.

After I get married AND move AND start my new job, I promise to post one last video so you can be blinded via webcam by my shnazzy new smile :) Until then, keep emailing me your questions or asking them in the comments. The whole reason behind this blog was to help people through their own orthognathic journeys, and just because mine's coming to an end doesn't mean I'm done helping!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Final Countdown

I have a lot of countdowns going on in my life right now, a lot of things to look forward to. I start my job in 40 days! I get married in 30 days! AND....I get the braces off in 20 days! That's right, I've booked my final appointments with my orthodontist, and they are as follows:

Final adjustment, July 24th
Debracing, July 30th
Retainer pick-up, August 1st

As you can see, I've still got the rubber bands going, and they've been cranking my teeth every two weeks trying to get the bite as best it can be before the wedding. It's looking good so far; I might not have to get them back on post marriage & moving. I see the surgeon tomorrow, and we'll see how he weighs in on the matter. So keep your fingers crossed for me and my final days in braces!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I scratched my chin today...

...and felt it! For the first time since the surgery, I'm starting to get sensation back in the left side of my chin. This is the last area of my face to regain feeling, and while it's not 100% back to normal, it's encouraging. Other areas (mostly my lips) still tingle to the touch. As for the inside of my mouth, the roof is slowly getting better and my bottom gums have spots of sensation—some areas I can feel, others I can't—but my top gums are still completely numb. I'll let you know if those nerves ever decide to wake up.

At the very beginning of my recovery, I would constantly panic about whether I would regain feeling in the areas that had gone numb, which at the time was most of my face. I did some research and read somewhere that 70% of those who undergo orthognathic surgery get full feeling back, while 30% are left with complete or partial numbness. I used to feel dejectedly as if I'd fall into the 30%, but as time goes on I have hope that I'll join the 70%. So if you're in the early phases of recuperation and find yourself feeling discouraged too, remember that the odds are "ever in your favor" and the majority of us will have full feeling once again. Someday you too might scratch your chin and feel it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

100 Days!

It's hard to believe that this is what I looked like 100 days ago... Pretty horrifying, if you ask me. But then again...pretty amazing. I'm so thankful for how quickly we can recover from things like this. How wonderful our Creator is to have designed such incredible bodies capable of healing themselves. And while my body is still working at healing itself, and although it's slow-going, I'm grateful for small signs of progress. For example, I'm beginning to get feeling in the roof of my mouth again! And the incision lines/scar tissue hurt less than the last time I posted! I saw my surgeon today, and all is well!

But actually, all is more than well. All is fantastic. Great things have been happening and exciting adventures are ahead. We've started celebrating wedding season, with two showers down, one to go, and a bachelorette party in the works—woo hoo! Nathan graduated from college and is off in Oregon for the month of June, earning some honeymoon money. I was recently offered a job in Colorado—an absolute dream job, in fact. First item in the job description: spending a week in Hong Kong (I'll be going at the end of this month)! And before I know it I'll be getting hitched to the man of my dreams, honeymooning in the tropical paradise known as Hawaii, and moving to a new state to start my new life with said dream man. I. Am. Blessed. (Oh, and somewhere in there I'll be getting the braces off, maybe forever, but maybe not).

It just goes to show how much can happen in 100 days. A ton of healing and all sorts of amazing stuff. I'm so happy to have the jaw surgery behind me and to have so much now ahead of me. Life post-op is good. Maybe not 10 days out, or even 20. But eventually. And I hope that that can be an encouragement to any of you who are about to have or have just had this surgery, or one like it. 100 days might sound like a lifetime in the moment, but before you know it, it will be a thing of the past, and you'll be able to look toward your future without the all of the obstacles that open/under/over/cross bites bring. And that's a pretty wonderful future to have.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ten Weeks, Tomorrow

Yep, tomorrow will mark ten weeks post-op and the surgery is already starting to feel like a memory. It's no longer something I have ahead of me or something I'm going through. It's done. At least...almost. Of course, there are still some post-op "side affects," if you will...three, to be exact. I saw my surgeon for the first time in a month today and we discussed the issues.

1. I have some spots of hard scar tissue along my incision lines where the stitches were that still hurt when I smile. The surgeon told me that I could massage those areas to break up the hard tissue quicker than my body will do on it's own. But otherwise, he said that should be gone in a year's time.

2. Another issue that is still lingering after the surgery are small holes covered by flaps of skin where my hard palate meets my soft palate (see the circled area in the diagram to the right). According to the surgeon, this can occur in cases like mine where the maxilla has been trisected. There are/were two, one on each side; while the hole/flap on my right side closed up in the first week or two after surgery, the left side isn't being as cooperative and the flap/hole is still there. "But where does the hole lead to?" you might ask. The answer is pretty gross—it leads to my sinuses. This means that nasal mucous (yes, I mean snot) will leak into my mouth. It also means that I can't hold suction, and therefore can't swish mouthwash around or drink thick liquids through a straw very well, among other small inconveniences. I talked to the surgeon about it today and he said that we will continue to try and let it heal on its own—being extra cautious not to disturb it or put suction/pressure on it. If it hasn't closed up by the fall, he'll have to do a small operation to fix it.

3. Lastly, my nerves are not all the way back to where they were before surgery. It's coming along, but my wires seem to be a bit crossed at the moment. When I touch my bottom lip, I feel it in my chin. And when I drink cold liquids, my chin feels cold and wet; basically, it feels like I'm drooling all the time. But when I actually touch my chin—'s still numb. Something similar happened early on in the recovery: when I touched the upper eyelashes on my right eye, I felt a tickling sensation in my completely numb cheek below. That has since gone away as I regained feeling in my cheek, and the surgeon and I have hope that my lip/chin nerves will work themselves out eventually as well.

Other than those three things, though, I'm feeling back to my regular-old-self! And for just two and a half months out, I'd say that's a pretty great place to be :)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Before & After (two months post-op)

Today marks 2 months post-op! Not much has changed since my last post, so there's not a lot to update you on. But in honor of making it to the other side of of the jaw surgery saga, my fiance took some pictures of me and my new (un-swollen) face today. I threw them together with some pictures taken almost exactly a year ago, thus giving you a good visual of the before and after.

My smile before was pretty gummy. I used to open my mouth a little while smiling to pull my top lip down and hide some of those gums; doing this before made my smile a lot bigger, but doing it now hides my top teeth. So I'm left with a smaller smile, but also a not-gummy smile. I'll take it :)

My profile has much improved as a result of the surgery. I now have a chin and even a bit of a jaw line, both of which I never had before. Towards the beginning of my recovery, my nose was a smidgen upturned, but I think it's returned to normal now. One of the nicest results of the surgery is being able to close my mouth at rest—something which was practically impossible pre-op; you can sorta see the difference in these shots.

All in all, I was plenty happy with the before. And while it took a while to get used to (heck, I'm still getting used to it), I'm certainly pleased with the after as well. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Belated Big Day: the six week milestone

It was a big day yesterday, as I officially reached the six week marker in the road to recovery! I meant to post the photos and video last night, but technical difficulties wouldn't allow it. So here it is now—a belated update as to how things are coming a month and a half after the surgery:

I Can Eat!

Life is good. I feel great. And I'm able to eat now!
After 40 days of consuming soup, smoothies, and more soup I'm saying good riddance to the blender and HELLO to my long lost friend, the fork. I got the go-ahead from my surgeon yesterday to chew to my heart's content, so long as it's soft foods only and I don't bite anything with my front teeth (e.g. sandwiches, pizza, tacos). Halleluja. Here's a look at my first real meal in a month and a half—oh, and that face on the right is the look of pure joy that only solid food can bring your taste buds and belly.:
 I will say, though, that thanks to the liquid diet I lost twelve pounds, and I plan on keeping them off (which will be extremely difficult now that I can eat alfredo pasta and double-doubles from In-n-Out...yes, I've consumed both already). Plus, I learned that I can live off of small portions of blended fruit and veggies just fine, no matter how much I feel like I need a heaping pile of bread to survive sometimes. So, it wasn' 100% bad...maybe just 99.9%

Anyways, food is just as wonderful as I remember it to be. I'm happy. The end.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Six Weeks, Six Meals

At the beginning of the week, most people make a to-do list, but for me, the beginning of this week comes with something a little different: a to-eat list. Since the surgery, I've been stuck on an almost entirely liquid diet, and for the first time in over 40 days I'm about to eat my food again rather than drink it. My sweet, adoring, wonderful fiance told me to make a list of six places I want to eat to make up for the six weeks of meals I've missed out on. Over the next week, we'll hit up each spot to indulge my unsatisfied belly and under-stimulated taste buds. So, here it is—my to-eat list.

1. In 'n' Out.
A few days into recovery, I had a sudden and intense craving for In 'n' Out. And once a craving for a double-double kicks in, trust me, you can't shake it. Over the past six weeks, I haven't wanted to eat anything more often or with more vigor than a hamburger with gooey cheese and grilled onions. I probably won't be able to open my mouth wide enough to eat a burger normally, but at this point I would eat it any way except for out of a blender.

2. California Pizza Kitchen.
Normally at CPK, I'd get a BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad (seriously, there's is the best I've ever had). But since I've gotta stick to soft foods at first, I'll dive into a childhood favorite of mine, something I still order off the kids' menu to this day: their Fusilli Alfredo. (Also a side order of the chicken dumplings would be great).

3. Chipotle.
I might have to go with a quesadilla AND a burrito bowl at this stop, just because both sound so good! Shredded carnitas, cilantro-lime rice & black beans, zesty corn salsa, cheese (obviously), and maybe an itty bitty bit of lettuce—so many yummy ingredients that belong in my belly.

4. Chick-fil-a.
I'm actually not a raving Chick-fil-a fanatic like a lot of people who live around here. But I do really enjoy it, and if you're noticing a theme here, I'd really just like some protein! Meat in any and every form (except pureed) sounds drop-dead delicious at this point, and if I'm going to eat chicken nuggets, they're gonna be from here. Add some honey mustard dipping sauce and I might cry with tears of protein-induced joy.

5. Rubio's.
This was another craving I had early on into the recovery: a classic fish taco. Theirs are breaded to perfection and definitely soft enough for me to sink my teeth into. Plus, I can't wait to actually bite something! Before the surgery I was never able use my front teeth to make a clean bite into anything—sandwiches, pizza, tacos. So hopefully I'll be able stretch my mandibles around a few of these.

6. PF Changs.
I'm not even sure what' I'll get from this restaurant, I just know that I'd really like to eat some good Chinese food that isn't egg drop soup. I think this is mostly because I have a deep, deep love for white rice and have missed it dearly. Any main dish will do, so long as that starchy white carb makes it into my belly.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week #5: Highs and Lows

Not a whole lot has changed this week, so I'll save the next video and photos for the six week milestone. I will give you the highs and lows of the past seven days, though, just to sum it up for ya.

-Miniature golfing with my mini sisters-in-law to-be, and having enough energy to keep up with them (and win!) over 36 putt-putt holes—yes, we played two rounds.
-More solid-ish foods! This week I discovered that I could consume both chocolate cake and rice krispies without chewing. I had 3 slices of cake at my almost-nephew's birthday party. And I've swallowed soggy cereal for my last 3 meals, which might sound gross, but it's just SO nice to eat something that hasn't been put through a blender.
-It's not really surgery related, but it's still extremely exciting: my wedding dress is done! It's currently on its way from the designer's shop in Portland to my house. It'll probably be pretty big on me now, what with 8% of my pre-surgery weight gone, but I still can't wait to put it on and dance around my room before taking it in for alterations.
-Practically no pain killers. I think I only took ibuprofen on two occasions this week, and I'm feeling much less susceptible to pain and headaches.
-An itty-bitty bit more feeling came back in my left cheek, along with some tingling on my upper lip and the occasional zap*, which happens anywhere/everywhere. *I'll explain what I mean by a zap in my next video.

-My latest appointment with the surgeon (refer to my last blog post).
-I don't know if the plates and screws in my face are acting as magnets to basketballs and golf balls, but it certainly feels that way. Whenever playing a game with a ball, it ends up hitting me in the face. During rounds of both lightening and hillbilly golf, on separate days and occasions, I ended up getting clocked in the face, which obviously hurt more considering all the broken bones that are trying to heal in there. And no one else got hit in the face with anything—what's the deal?
-Losing weight is great and all, except for when none of your clothes fit right anymore.
-I still can't chew. Enough said.
-After the one-month mark, I think people suddenly expect me to be perfectly okay and 100% healed. I've been getting a lot of, "All your swelling is gone!" and "You're recovered!" Neither of those things are entirely true, and it becomes a little frustrating when people tell you that you feel great when that's not necessarily the case. I'm still distracted by the numbness, am unable to move my face normally, have some puffiness left in my cheeks and upper lip, experience discomfort when talking or smiling too much, etc.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Crooked or Crazy

Each time I see my surgeon I like him less and less. He makes me feel like my questions are stupid and my concerns are irrelevant. Basically, I walk in feeling pretty good and I walk out feeling frustrated.

I went in today for my weekly appointment and asked him about the whole lopsided-face-thing that I mentioned in my video last week. Since posting it, I did a little more feeling around and found a lump on one side of my jawline that I don't have on the other side, and I thought that might be the issue. I've had multiple people feel my face just to make sure I wasn't imagining things, and they all agreed and validated my discovery.

So, I presented the perceived problem and what-do-you-know—not only did the doctor blow it off, telling me there are even bumps on both sides that make my face extremely symmetrical, but he made me feel like an imbecile for even asking him to check. He then gave me the whole "everyone's face is slightly asymmetrical" speech, which I'm already well aware of, and tried to send me on my way.

"Before I go, I'd love to see an x-ray," I said. He obliged, as they needed to take a post-op x-ray anyways. And here's what pops up on the screen:

....Uhhhh? Either I'm completely crazy or that cut across my lower jaw is definitely crooked.

"Proof!" I thought. "He can't look at this and tell me I'm wrong. It's obviously abnormally asymmetrical!"

I thought wrong. He quickly glanced at it, telling me my head must have just been tilted in the x-ray. I fought back, pointing out the major inconsistencies between each side, measuring distances with my fingers, making every argument I could to prove I'm not blind or stupid or irrational. He didn't listen to a word of it. He told me everything's straight and balanced (which it's just not), that I should stop over-analyzing everything and quit looking at my face so much (um, sorry for trying to get used to my new appearance?), and walked out of the room muttering something about, "This is why patients should never be allowed to see the technical side of things" (excuse me, I'm paying for the x-ray; I'll see whatever I want).

Part of me thinks he can't admit to anything. If he made a mistake and made my face crooked, he'd probably have to fix it on his own dime. Plus, he probably doesn't want to admit to anything. That would mean he was wrong, and heaven forbid that I be right about anything. Ever.

So, like I said, either my face is crooked or I'm totally crazy. The thing is, I don't mind so much that my chin is lopsided. I was more just curious as to why than wanting a refund or a re-do. The bigger deal was the way I was treated like a total fool. Because this recovery is hard enough without people—the surgeon, especially—belittling you while you're down.

That's it.
Thanks for letting me vent.
I feel a little better now.
K, bye.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

28 Days Later

It's been 28 days since surgery, or 4 weeks, or 1 month, depending on how you want to count it. I'm glad to say the video is a little shorter this time around, but it's still eight minutes that you might not have to spare. So, again, I'll sum it up:

  • Week #4 has been the best week by far: having the splint out has made a big difference
  • My pain has been really low. I only take ibuprofen once in a while.
  • I'm sleeping through the night consistently without Lorazapam. I tried sleeping laying completely flat for the first time this week and got horrible indigestion, so I'll wait and try that again later on.
  • The numbness is finally going away! It comes with a severe itchy feeling all over my face, but it's well worth it in exchange for nerves that work.
  • My energy is still on the low side lately. I'm thinking it has to do with this low calorie liquid diet; hopefully I'll be more energetic once I can chew bread and pasta and other yummy carbs in 2 weeks.
  • Either because of asymmetrical swelling or a surgeon's mistake (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's the former), I've noticed that my face is a bit lopsided, as my chin seems to lie more on the left side of my face than the right side. Uh oh? Neh, oh well...
  • I'm not used to wearing my glasses, and therefore adjust them annoyingly throughout—whoops!

Monday, April 1, 2013

One Month Worth of Smiles

Tomorrow I'll be 1 month post-op! Time is moving faster and faster as I feel better and happier each day. Just to show you how much happier I've become in the past month, I thought I'd put together a little comparison collage to show you how my smile has grown throughout the recovery. In each of these pictures, I'm smiling the biggest and best that I can (yes, that is a smile on day one). And you can see that as the swelling goes down and the muscle movement comes back, I've been able to smile more and more: 

One of the most difficult parts of the recovery early on was the inability to smile. My muscles just wouldn't do it and my sutures would hurt if I tried. There have been studies done that show that the act of smiling contributes to our happiness; we smile because we're happy, but simply smiling, in turn, can make us happy as well (something about the particular muscle movement releasing endorphins or dopamine or some hormone that tells your brain you're in a good mood). So, for the weeks that I couldn't muster up a grin, I felt pretty darn melancholy. Lucky for me, my ability to smile is back. It still hurts a little, and it's terribly tiring on my incisions, cheeks, lips, etc. BUT since I can smile, I've felt a lot better. And better is progress. And progress is good.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

 He is risen! The best holiday of the year was today—the one where we get to celebrate that Jesus is alive and death has been defeated; there is nothing greater to celebrate than that! It was my first holiday since the surgery, and it was a success...all things considered. Yesterday Nathan and I went to an Easter event our church was a part of, where Francis Chan spoke and Tyrone Wells sang, and when those two things happen in one place, it's magical. However, my over-sensitive post-op self was only able to stay for an hour and a half before a bad headache set in and prompted us to go. And sure, today I wasn't able to eat the array of food at my in-laws and my stamina is pretty low, but I was still able to have a good time surrounded by people I really like, getting in on all the fun Eastery things like Easter egg hunts, Easter basket goodies, and Easter egg decorating. All that to say, I'm definitely looking forward to celebrating a holiday without even having to think of the surgery's symptoms—here's looking at you, Independence Day!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Three Weeks Post-Op

I'm doing double duty today—a video AND updated photos—because I'm 3 weeks and 1 day post-op and owe you, my readers, both.

Apparently I just can't help but talk for 10 minutes each time...
Ain't nobody got time for that. So here's a quick recap:

-drink through a straw
-eat with a spoon
-feel a tiny spot on my left cheek (yay...progress...kind of!)
-go every other night without Lorazapam
-get through most of the day without pain killers
-notice a difference in my swelling...or I'm just getting used to my puffy face
-speak a lot clearer; good riddance speech impediments
-eat less liquified foods

-my splint out
-the surgical hooks off
-an arch-wire back on
-new rubber bands, in front & back and super tight—ouch


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Date Day

It was day 20 post-op, and in celebration of the halfway point of my recovery (kind of...) and just because he loves me, Nathan took me out for a date day yesterday. We went to the park where we got engaged, played with some animals at the Orange County Zoo, and strolled along the ocean at Laguna Beach where I ate soup out of a spoon at a restaurant and had gelato for desert, again, with a public! Even though my energy was low, my spirits were high as I spent the whole day with the person I love most in the world while doing normal-people-things—that is, if you consider befriending goats normal.

the park where we got engaged // standing in the exact spot where he asked & i said yes
my date for the day. lucky me.

made a new goat friend, nbd
egg drop soup and mint chip & cookies 'n' cream gelato (or at least it was).
note: no syringe necessary!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

All for soup, and soup for all!

Last night, surrounded by some of my amazing almost family, I had the best meal since my surgery. It was my future mother-in-law's birthday, and for the big meal on her special day, she chose to honor me by filling the dinner table with liquids. It was soup for all and all for soup, plus lots of juice and smoothies and even homemade vanilla ice cream! We laughed, and talked, and "ate", all while celebrating this wonderful woman's existence on earth.

This meal filled my belly and warmed my heart. Like I said, it was the best...only in part because it was delicious, but mostly because it made me feel normal. I wasn't the weird one sipping stuff through a syringe. I mean, I was. But everyone else was drinking their dinner right along side me. And not only did that make me feel normal, it made me feel loved—very, very loved.

Happy birthday, Elizabeth! And thank you so much!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Precious Little Prayer Request

I got an email tonight, forwarded from my fiance's mom. It may or may not have made me cry.

The youngest of my soon-to-be sisters-in-law, Erica, went to small group last night, where she and the other kids were asked if they had any prayer requests. Those prayer requests were then typed up and sent to all their parents. Erica is only 9, so I imagined when asked she'd say something along the lines of, "Please pray that I get to meet Justin Bieber someday." That's not what she said, though...

Consider my heart strings strummed.  I mean, how sweet is that? So nice of her to put me and my jaw ahead of the Biebs. (Is that even what they call him? I don't know; I'm not hip). Really, though, I am touched to the core by my almost little sis's love and prayers for me. It completely made my night.

And thanks to everyone else who has been praying for me, too. I know there's a lot of you, and for that I am more grateful than anyone will ever know. Because I need all the prayer I can get. So, if you are one of the many that have me on your mind while you say your quiet time or bedtime prayers...thank you. 

If you could, please pray in particular for (1) physical recovery—of my nerves, my muscles, & my bones, and (2) emotional peace & strength as there I times when I panic that I'll never feel my cheeks again and times that I weep because all I want to do is eat a hamburger. And in the mean time, I'll continue to pray prayers of gratitude for all of you (whether family member, friend, or perfect stranger).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Two Week Photos

I meant to post these yesterday, but I was too busy moping.
Nevertheless, here they are: my 2 week post-op photos.

The right side is still more swollen than the left, for whatever reason. Here's my theory: because I am a literature/language geek whose mind leans more on the logical side than the creative, my left brain is is fuller and more active, leaving the right side of my face more swollen, yet less numb. It's a stretch, sure. But like I said, I like logic and want an explaination. So I came up with that. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, Google "brain lateralization."

Anyways, all looks pretty much the same as last week to me (except my smile seems a bit more natural now), which has me a little nervous and wondering, is this how big my cheeks and neck and upper lip area are going to stay? Gosh, I hope not. I know it could be much worse, but still... Here's to hoping for major improvements next time around, and maybe even a smile with some teeth! :D

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Depths of Despair

"You're not eating anything," said Marilla sharply, eying
her as if it were a serious shortcoming.  Anne sighed.

"I can't.  I'm in the depths of despair.  Can you eat when
you are in the depths of despair?"

"I've never been in the depths of despair, so I can't say,"
responded Marilla.

"Weren't you?  Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in
the depths of despair?"

"No, I didn't."

"Then I don't think you can understand what it's like.  It's
very uncomfortable feeling indeed.  When you try to eat a lump
comes right up in your throat and you can't swallow anything,
not even if it was a chocolate caramel.  I had one chocolate
caramel once two years ago and it was simply delicious.  I've
often dreamed since then that I had a lot of chocolate caramels,
but I always wake up just when I'm going to eat them.  I do hope
you won't be offended because I can't eat.  Everything is
extremely nice, but still I cannot eat."

Anne of Green Gables

I don't have much in common with the wonderfully feisty and imaginative Anne Shirley of LM Montgomery's beloved novels. For one thing, the girl technically can eat and is choosing not to in this scene—what a fool. But after my appointment with the surgeon today, I think I understand what she means in the passage above. I am in the depths of despair.

My surgeon has officially and sternly sentenced me to no chewing, whatsoever, of any sort, under any condition...until the six week mark. In case you haven't kept count, today is two weeks post up. This means that for another month, another 4 weeks, another 27 days, another 81 meals...I will be drinking my food.

I'm telling you...depths of despair.

And on top of the despair is a bit of confusion. I've read lots of blogs and seen lots of videos of people getting the okay to chew soft foods two weeks, three week, four weeks post-op. I don't understand why my surgeon is being so rigid with the old-school six week rule. I don't understand, and I don't like it. ...And so the struggle continues.

Lucky for me, I've had some loved ones in my life come along side me and support my unfortunate chew-free lifestyle with empathy, choosing to endure a liquid diet themselves. My friend Nikki spent three days drinking her food; my mom stuck to protein drinks, sparkling water, and soup today; and as my fiance heads back to school, he's nixing solid foods until sunset on the days we don't see each other (Wednesdays-Fridays). Man, do I feel supported and loved.

I guess the depths of despair aren't so deep after all with such wonderful people around...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Monday, Another Video

It's been 13 days since my jaw surgery...
Want to see how I eat? Curious about my numbness and pain? Wondering if I can smile yet?
Watch the video and find out!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Miss Independent

Kelly Clarkson gets me.

Her 2003 diddy "Miss Independent" was my theme song today; not in a man-hating, I'm-afraid-to-fall-in-love kind of way, but in a self-sufficient, I-can-do-things-on-my-own sorta way. Ya know?

Today is day 12 post-op and it is the first day that I haven't taken narcotic pain killers, which means I was able to drive myself! I hopped in the car, turned the keys in the ignition, and felt like a semi-normal human being in a way that I haven't in a while. Sure, I couldn't really sing along to the radio as well as usual (unless the lyrics to T Swift's new song have changed to "Uh nuh yuh err druvle ehn yuh uat en"), and my air conditioning is broken, making my already swollen face a little extra hot and puffy. BUT, I drove.

I drove to church, where again, I couldn't sing quite to par—though I'm sure God enjoyed my almost on-key humming—and I did struggle to swallow an itty bitty piece of communion—I'm sure God also still saw the value in that worship-attempt. Overall, though, it was wonderful, almost-normal Sunday at Rock Harbor Mission Viejo, our little church that I love so much.

Then, I drove to the mall. I shopped for dresses and 'thank you' cards for my upcoming bridal shower. I also bought some delicious butternut squash bisque to go, and just sat in the food court for a while, smelling all the delicious things I can't eat quite yet. I had to talk to sales people and cash register people, and guess what—they understood me. I wanted to tell all of them, "I promise, this is not my normal voice," but I swallowed my pride and just pretended like all was well and good and normal. And you know what? For the most part, it was.

After all that, I was actually kinda pooped. I drove home and ate the aforementioned soup AND a few tiny pieces of the roll that came with it. (Well, I just sort of let it sit it my mouth for a while 'til it fell apart enough to swallow...but still, there's bread in my stomach). And that was my big day—driving, church, shopping, and bread (kind of). So, here's to bigger and better days ahead, filled with even more independence and normalcy and self-confidence and energy and solid food :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

By the Numbers

Here's a recap of the past few days, in numbers:


my eggs, my walk, and my nails
pounds I weighed: 122 (down from 132)
facial massages I got: 1 ...thanks, Nathan
episodes of Friends I watched: 4
scrambled eggs I attempted to swallow: 2
scrambled eggs I successfully ate: 0.3

FRIDAY, day 10

miles I walked: 2
dollars I spent at the grocery store: 43
types of soup I bought: 5
naps I took: 1 (the first one I've had in a week)
hours I lasted on two ibuprofen: 9
burritos I put in the blender: ½  

SATURDAY, day 11

amount of feeling I regained in my face:
jars of homemade food I was given: 4 ...thanks, Megan!
fingernails I painted red: 10
pills I swallowed: 6.5*
antibiotics I finished: 1

*I've taken 2 ibuprofen, 1 B-12 vitamin, and ½ of a Vicodin (hopefully my last Vicodin...) so far; I'll take 2 more ibuprofen and 1 Lorazepam at bedtime. I tried nixing the Lorazepam last night since I don't want to become dependent on it, but it didn't go so well—was up until 2am and tossed and turned until 7o'clock. So tonight, I'll nix the Vicodin instead and see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Simple Summary: Day 8

Is it just me, or am I just looking the same day to day?
From now on, these shots are only gonna happen once a week.
Today was a good day.

What I did: Finished a book. Went on a walk. Caught up with a friend on said walk. Watched Friends. Made a cover letter and resume for an exciting job prospect. Took a bath (obviously). And et cetera.

What I ate: A Strawberry-banana Naked Juice smoothie. Some applesauce. Tomato bisque. My own homemade Frosty...I think I've perfected the recipe. Blended clam chowder (would not recommend). AND, get this, a few pieces of spaghetti. Nathan was eating it for dinner, so I snuck a noodle or two (more like 10) into my mouth, one at a time, and just swallowed them whole. It wasn't all that enjoyable to eat—pretty tiring on my throat and jaw—but I'm sure my tummy was glad to have something solid in it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Five Highs

this dirty-hair, no-makeup thing seems to be a theme... #rockinit

Okay, you guys. I made it. It's been one week since the surgery and this damsel in distress is alive—still in some distress, but alive nonetheless. It's mostly thanks to my adoring fiance, who, on more than one occasion fed me narcotic-laced milkshakes through a syringe in the middle of the night as he "slept" in a sleeping bag air mattress nightmare...among other knight-in-shining-ly duties. So thanks, Nathan.

Still, I've been trapped in a bit of a funk the past few days, and so tonight I thought it might be best for me to reflect on some highs of the week, because, honestly, I'm at a point where I literally need to count my blessings to help me realize life is not so bad after all. I stink at being thankful. So here goes it.
  1. The surgery is finally over. After years and years of knowing it was coming, and months and months of hoping it would happen in time for the wedding—it did! Never again do I have to say "I'm getting orthognathic surgery." It's in the past and I can finally move forward.
  2. I've had low pain, low nausea, and low swelling. These are supposed to be three big symptoms of maxillofacial surgery, but they've been so small in my case. Only 2 hours of that curled-over-a-bucket, I'm-about-to-throw-up feeling took place the first night in the hospital, and since then I've only felt a little sick here and there due to an abundance of medicine and a deficiency of food. In fact, it's been a few days since I've felt nauseous. Also, I expected the pain to be a lot worse, but other than a bad face-ache when the pain meds wear off and pallet pain when swallowing, I've been in no sort of desperate agony. AND the swelling I've experienced has been basically nothing in contrast to how big I thought my face would be. My surgery symptoms have been a walk-in-the-park compared to most maxillofacial post-ops, and for that I am so grateful.
  3. People have been so good to me. I owe a HUGE thanks to my mom and dad for supporting me financially and emotionally through this experience. My friends and family have been caring and encouraging. I've received more prayer during this time than I can ever remember in my life. And, obviously, my fiance has gone to the moon and back to take the best care of me in the world. I feel so loved, and that's a good feeling to have.
  4. Things are getting better. This is a huge one I have to remind myself of. Whether it feels like it or not, I'm less swollen today than yesterday. I'm slowly weaning myself off of drugs. I've fed myself, by myself, for the past twenty-four hours. I got more sleep last night than the night before. I'm becoming more and more independent each day. It's little things like this that I need to look for and tell myself, "Each day will be better than the last."
  5. God is good. That sounds like a cop-out—like I just can't think of a #5—but it's not. All my highs (post-op and otherwise) are thanks to Him. There are very few times in my life that I've felt His presence as much as I have at certain points this week. He's been in me and all around me, bringing me peace and love and, thank-goodness, life. Hopefully He blesses me with that again tomorrow, and I'll wake up with a thankful heart for everything I've listed above.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Look Mom, I'm a Ventriloquist!

Okay,  so I'm a horrible, drool-y ventriloquist. But I really have no choice at this point. My mouth is banded shut, yes, but it's mostly because of the numbness and swelling that I'm unable to move my lips and face. You'll see...

Also, I apologize in advance if I come across as a giant downer in the video below. A friend of mine asked how I was doing today, and while my response should've been "I'm doing great! Got better pain meds, fed myself, got my bandage off, etc!" I had to be honest and say that it's been a tough one. I think I've hit a wall in this labyrinth of recovery, which at times requires more patience than I have to give. So while I'm so grateful for all of God's blessings today and over the past week, my oh-so-human side just needs to pout a little. I hope that's okay with you.

And here's some photos of today, day 6 post-op. (You can see all preceding post-op photos, including day 5, in the previous post)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

a good DAY FOUR an update

I am officially four days post-op if you count surgery-day as "Day Zero", which I do. Today is supposedly the peak for swelling, but I have to say that I think day #2 was the worst of it. At least based on pictures. Overall, my face has felt pretty consistently like a humongous, puffy, awkward, big-numb-blob, and if I looked anything like how I feel, my face would be the size of a watermelon. But the thing is, I don't think my swelling ever got that bad, except for maybe my lips. I had prepared myself to appear relatively horrifying, and here I am, just kinda looking like I got my wisdom teeth out, with my face stuck in a bit of a stiff/angry/tired position. Here are some comparative shots over the past few days for you to take a gander at:

Here's a look at day five (I just wanted to include these in this list of pre-bandage-removal photos)

As far as day-to-day life is going...well, it's not really. Not yet, at least. Overall I take a lot of baths and naps, wear an icepack almost constantly, and drink more soup than I'd prefer—through a syringe, nonetheless, which is a bit dehumanizing. But enough of the dramatics. So far the diet has mostly consisted of tomato bisque, mashed potatoes, and blended chicken pot pie. Nathan created a concoction in which my terrible, awful pain meds are drowned in chocolatey-peanutbuttery milkshake, so I also drink that a few times a day along with my other prescriptions. And milk, obviously. If you know me, you know that lots of milk is involved.

Like I said before, my pain and nausea have been on the relatively low side. The worst pain comes from the roof of my mouth (oh right, that's where my top jaw is), so swallowing can become a bit excruciating after a few hours without medication. One of my biggest frustrations, though, is the numbness—oh how I wish I could feel my cheeks and lips! I've always loathed that post-Novocaine feeling after the dentist, and this is obviously a lot, lot worse. Does anyone who's been through this have some tips as to get feeling back a bit quicker? (exercises, vitamins, anything?). 

As for highlights, there aren't many: today I went for a walk, tomorrow I might venture to visit with the future-in-laws, and on Monday I see the surgeon again. Baby steps. I'll keep trying to update this here blog o' mine, and in the mean time, if there's anything in particular you'd like to know, just post a comment or write me an email and I'll do my best to get back to you...ya know, when pressing matters like naps and baths are at bay :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Home from the Hospital

Hi everybody!

I got discharged from the hospital around 11am yesterday. Man, what I wouldn't have given to stay there another couple nights. Everyone was so kind and helpful (the nurses, all the visitors, etc), plus all the fancy, high-tech health gadgets made things a lot easier—electric ice packs, humidifiers, suction for my mouth, and the ever-so-wonderful PCA (the button I could push to inject pain meds into my IV). I was all around a much happier gal at Hoag. Here's a few glimpses of my experience there:

In the recovery room. Way high on meds/coming off of anesthesia. Very confused, unable to talk, and had hard trouble breathing because of the NG tube (taking blood out of my stomach). And it took 6 hours to get me into my room. But YAY—I had done it.

Finally in my room. Couldn't see the ocean, but had a great view of this handsome face the whole time.
...I and even felt up for a kiss to two :)
He fed me a lot...
...and gave me foot rubs, among other nice things.
Most of my time at the hospital consisted of this: sleeping...
...trying to eat/drink

...and just hanging out. (Oh,  that's "Cheeky," the big-headed monkey that my dad got for me during the surgery. Awesome.)

 I've actually been surprised at how well I've been able to talk. It might sound like a bunch of gargles to you, though, so I had Nathan translate just in case:

...Home has been a bit of a different story. Lots of medicine to take orally, which is really hard and most of it is disgusting. Eating takes all of my energy, and drinking the pain meds, anti biotics, and anti imflamitories makes me nausous. It's basically strug-fest 2013 over here. But without the help of my amazing fiance and caring parents, strug-fest would look a lot more like mission impossible, so I'm beyond grateful to them. Most of all, though, I'm in awe of how good God has been to me the past 85 hours or so...I've had relatively low pain and nausea and I've been surrounded by the most loving, wonderful people that are taking great care of me and making me feel His love so profoundly every minute of the day. So, thank you—for the flowers, for the visits, for the soup, for the just-checking-in texts, for the support, and for the love and help that is make all of this possible (hoepfully you know who you are)!