1. Do some research. If you haven't heard of the book The Healing Jaw by Susan Beaudette, RN...Hunt. It. Down. It's out of print, and so finding it might require some ebay-ing or asking your surgeon for a copy. Mine happened to have a photocopy of it, which he's letting me borrow for the time being—thank goodness. This book has almost everything you need to know about recovering from jaw surgery (what items to have at the hospital and at home, how to get the nutrients you need, and even has a bunch of liquid-diet recipes). It has help put me at ease, giving me practical tips as to how to take care of myself and monitor my progress in the weeks ahead.
(Along with writing this book, the author put into production something called "Zip-n-Squeeze" bags, made for people needing to eat/drink things out of a straw but unable to actually suck through the straw—you're not allowed to do that with sutures in your mouth. They're ideal for orthognathic post-op patients. Or at least, they were before they got discontinued as well. There's a company trying to put them back on the market right now, but it's a little bit sketchy and I haven't been able to get ahold of them: http://com-pac.com/catalog/zip-n-squeeze/)
2. Make a Target-run. I love any excuse to shop at Target, even if it's in preparation for major surgery. Here's an abridged check list of must-have items to go out and get and keep at home:
- Blender and/or juicer. I have the Ninja system blender/food processor; it's amazing.
- Eating utensils. A syringe (may be supplied by hospital), sippee cups, baby spoon/fork, and fine mesh strainer.
- Protein drinks. I really happen to like Ensure's milk chocolate nutrition shake + (it has extra calories, so can be a full meal replacement...and it just tastes like good chocolate milk).
- Ice packs & Heat packs. You'll need ice for the first few days and then heat after that.
- Non-alcoholic Mouthwash. Helps clean the inside of your mouth where your toothbrush can't reach until your un-banded shut. Also loosens things up before brushing.
- Child's tooth brush. You'll want something small and soft. I got a Winnie-the-Pooh one...it's pretty cute, I'm not gonna lie.
- Soft wash cloths. Ya know, 'cause you're gonna be drooling a TON.
- Liquid Tylenol/Motrin. For once you're off prescription pain meds.
- Saline nasal spray & oral decongestant (e.g. dimetapp). Apparently stuffy noses are common post-op, but you aren't allowed to actually blow said nose for six weeks.
- Wedge pillow. Gotta prop yourself up at all times, keeping your face elevated above your heart to prevent swelling. (I'll probably be sleeping in a recliner for the first couple weeks). A neck pillow has also been recommended by a lot of jaw bloggers.
- Medicated lip balm. You probably won't be doing much lip-licking with your mouth banded shut, so some form of lip balm will be a life-saver...or at least a lip-saver.
|just a few of many items to have around the house|
3. Prepare materials. This means food, journals, any form of entertainment, etc. I've already made some chicken stock (***with no salt!—sodium contributes to swelling, which you want to prevent as much as possible while recovering***) and prepared a few small, drinkable meals that will be in the freezer for me when I get home. I've also scanned a daily log I'll be keeping to monitor my recovery (see below). And I have waiting in the wings a stack of unread Real Simple magazines, a book I've been meaning to dive into (Jesus in Beijing by David Aikman), and season 5 of Friends, which I recently acquired for cheap through e-bay. Score.
This is the log I'll be filling out on the daily to keep track of my medications, nutrition, etc: