Tuesday, February 26, 2013

But, why?

Hi everybody—friends, family, total strangers, whoever you are!

After about a year of preparation, consultations with surgeons, insurance struggles, having my teeth yanked into place, etc. it's finally time. I'll be rolling into the hospital in just a week for orthognathic surgery. But you might be wondering...WHY?

Why Am I Getting Surgery?
     I had my first visit with an orthodontist in the 8th grade (2003), at which point he looked at my mouth, my bite, my teeth, and with a hint perplexity in his voice said, "We'll do what we can for you, but it looks like you'll need surgery some day." As a narrow minded adolescent, I was consumed with self-conscious fears of this man putting ugly metal brackets on my teeth, leaving me hopelessly incapable of getting a boyfriend—oh, the horror—and the whole idea of surgery went in one ear and out the other. I got the braces (and a boyfriend, I'll have you know, whom I'll be marrying in just five months...but more on that later). They straightened my teeth but did not fix my open bite.
     Fast forward about seven years. With only my molars touching, I'd never been able to bite my food. I thought the worst thing about this was merely having to tear or cut most of my food before putting it in my mouth, and therefore being teased by friends who referred to me as a chipmunk every once in a while. But one day I opened wide to bite into an apple, and shooting pain exploded in my jaw. Dang it. TMJ—a common symptom of incorrect jaw alignment—had begun to set in, and it quickly became uncomfortable to eat things other than apples. I did some research and my orthodontist's words from long ago echoed in my mind: I was going to need surgery.
     So, after nearly a year of trying to get me back on my parents' insurance plan, I began meeting with surgeons, each of whom told me I would indeed need jaw surgery—some said upper jaw, some said lower jaw, some said both. The braces got put back on at the end of May 2012, and in November I settled on a surgeon. We decided on a surgery plan: the upper jaw will be shortened, cut into three pieces, and brought forward to better align my bite, and the chin will be advanced as well to tighten neck muscles, which helps further prevent TMJ, sleep apnea, etcetera. My surgery date has been set for March 5th—like I said, one week from today.

Why Am I Blogging?
I hadn't planned on making a blog; in fact, I had told myself I absolutely would do no such thing. It's too much work. No one needs to see my frighteningly swollen face. I won't feel well enough to update it. There's plenty of reasons not to do it. But, just recently I realized there's just as many reasons to do it as well. Reading other people's thoughts, seeing their photos, watching their videos while they go through this process has been extremely helpful to me. I've taken the advice other jaw-surgery-having bloggers have offered, I've felt comforted by the fact others are experiencing similar struggles and successes, and I've been able to get an inside look at what's ahead for me—the good and the bad. I've come to the conclusion that it would be a bit selfish for me not to do the same for others in my boat, trying to find paddles and maps to help them get to where they need to go. Also, at my last appointment, the surgeon recommended keeping some form of a journal, as it can be cathartic for patients recovering from a surgery such as this. If writing my thoughts and posting some pictures will help others and myself, it would be nonsensical to remain stubbornly attached to the idea of not doing. So here it is: my jaw blog.

Those are the why's that have led me to this first post. And here's to many more posts to come!

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