Day 340: FREEDOM!

Well, it’s been almost a year since my surgery and more than 2.5 years since I had my braces on, but the end is in sight. I mean, technically, the end is already here, but I’m still going to be working on whitening my choppers. The original plan was to do it professionally, but I have no money, so toothpaste it is.

But the point is: I’M DONE! And my face has truly undergone a pretty wild transformation. Admittedly, the orthodontics shows more immediate results than the surgery (since I didn’t opt to have the cosmetic chin-extension done, the jaw surgery itself was more practical than aesthetic). So let’s start with the inner workings.

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So as you can see, my face has been mushed about quite a bit because of this. You can see what the orthodontics alone has done to my teeth in picture 3 (taken two months before the surgery), and the change from pictures 1 to 3 seems more drastic, but it’s pretty amazing what the surgery did to the inner part of my jaw. It also added plenty of metal to my face. I’M SO METAL IT HURTS! (Seriously, it did hurt.)

ba-profile1

Truthfully, I expected the difference in my profile to be more stark than it was, but again, I chose not to have a chin implant put in. So I still don’t really have much of a chin, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The 2nd picture in this before-and-after was following the removal of 8 teeth. The third was the day before my surgery, the fourth was two weeks after the surgery. I’ve come a long way.

ba-restingface

This is my resting face, or what some might call my resting pissed face. I generally look pretty angry when I just let my teeth come to their natural position. Maybe it’s because I usually wasn’t in the best of moods when taking these pictures. I dunno. I think the most startling thing about these pictures is that my jaw definitely widened out after the surgery (compare my jaw width in pic 5 to pic 2 – it’s pretty noticeable).

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Here’s a glimpse into the teeth themselves, albeit one that I wish I could shrink a bit to get a better look. I’m going to ignore the coloration, which I’m still unhappy about (perhaps decades of Mountain Dew wasn’t a good idea after all!) but the change in teeth is pretty wild. And lest you think that, for the first two pictures, I was opening my mouth, I wasn’t. This was a closed-teeth smile. That’s what it used to look like. Jeebus.

So how do I feel after the whole ordeal? Well, my jaw still doesn’t open too far (I’ve only just barely cleared the lowest threshold for “normal” opening). It is beginning to hurt a little bit in general on the right side too. That’s disheartening because if it gets worse, I’m likely to have to have my disc removed in my jaw somewhere down the line (MORE SURGERY! JOY!) The right side IS finally popping a little bit – not massive pops but more than just crushing-movement in my mouth, they’re legitimate pops. Maybe that means the condyle is moving closer to where it needs to be. Who knows?

I can eat a burger, and that was the lowest my bar was set. I breathe much better, don’t snore at all, and haven’t really even been sick since the procedure. Not sure if that’s related, but having a wider opening certainly makes it easier when my air passages ARE congested.

Would I do it again? I have heard many people say that they’d gladly do the whole procedure again. (I’ve even read of people who have). No way in hell. It was miserable and my recovery has been atypical and unpleasant. I WILL thank myself for going through it (and I will thank my surgeon) when I’m fifty and not needing oxygen at nights, but still, I did it once and that’s all I really want.

Here’s the final product:

ba-smilingface

Day 250 (really day 252): Rounding Down

In last season’s great cliffhanger, which is now amazingly over 100 days old, I caught everyone up to date about my mouth, and how I’d just had another procedure to fix my mouth’s inability to open fully. I’d managed to get up to 22mm after a number of visits to the physical therapist. Bear in mind that my goal is around 38mm. “Average” for an adult is around 50mm (with an acceptable range of 34-70mm), so 38mm seems like a pretty good goal for me to shoot for (I never measured my aperture before my surgery, but I don’t imagine I ever could open 50mm – I’m just not a wide-open-mouth kinda guy). So yeah, 38-40mm is my goal.

I ended up going to PT about a dozen times and then I had a month off. I went back to her for a one-off followup appointment. Now here’s my admission – I hardly did any of my exercises during that month. I would conscientiously move my jaw back and forth on a daily basis, but no rigid exercises. So when I went back, I was pretty sure I was going to regress.

But when all was said and done, I was surprisingly at 27mm. So clearly my jaw is righting itself, just on a much slower timescale than most jaws. It’s kinda like the A’s every year. Yeah they always start off a disappointment, but somehow by August they’re playing catchup. Please ignore the A’s current season as an outlier. See instead the 2016 Astros: still out of the wild card, but pretty close after a miserable April.

So there, now that’s I’ve gotten the baseball fanatics on board, what’s happened since then? Well, I continue to not really do any structured exercise regimen, opting instead to just be aware of my opening all day and trying to move it around when I think of it.

I went back to my ortho who saw me talking and commented about how it looks like I’m doing better. I don’t *feel* any different, but he swore I was. He wanted to measure me. I guessed 28mm.

It was 35mm. 35! It’s funny how I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress, but there has been some:

  • The joint in my left jaw pops pretty often now, and it’s a pretty significant pop. I can basically feel the condyle shifting into place. The right side isn’t doing that (though I wish it would) but it IS having some very minor pops when I open-and-shift or when I yawn.
  • I still can’t make my jaw go left very much (probably only a couple of millimeters) but before I couldn’t do it at ALL. Similarly, when I open very wide, my jaw still protrudes to the right, but not as badly as before.
  • I can eat a burger. It isn’t pretty and sometimes I have to sort of angle it to get it all in, but I can at least eat a burger. That really was my true goal.

I still need a followup with my surgeon, but since he’s retired, he’s not the simplest man to schedule an appointment with.

I’m not 100%, but this is the closest I’ve been in 2016.

BURGER GOES HERE!
BURGER GOES HERE!

Now on to back surgery!

The Last Two Months – Abridged (sorta)

As many astute followers may have noticed, I’ve been pretty absent from my blog lately. And Facebook. And Twitter. And, for the most part, downstairs. I’ve been absent from downstairs frequently too. I’m going to try my best to recapture the events of the last 60 days. So let this be my general apology to all my friends and family who have been trying to get my attention but I’ve been seemingly ignoring. The names and dates have been altered, most likely because my memory isn’t what it used to be.

May 3 – We close on our old house and would be renting it for about a week while we cleaned the carpets and moved all our stuff out. During the transition, we would be fortunately staying at my in-laws.

May 6 – We close on our new house. As part of the agreement, we will not move in until July 1. We know this up front, and while the wait sucks, at least we’ll get rent from them until that day.

May 13 – We officially move out of our old house. All of our belongings (that hadn’t already been packed away into our storage unit) are jammed into the in-laws garage. So starts our 8 week sabbatical.

OH WAIT…

May 10 – Four days after our loan closes, I am let go from my job. This was the day before the moving truck was supposed to come. Well, that gave me time to finish packing, at least. I do get a severance, but the timing really kinda blows.

May 16 – I begin my jaw physical therapy. I start out with an opening of around 20cm (the goal is around 36cm). After day one, I am in much pain.

May 21 – Remember that I’m a professional athlete? With my back sucking for the past few years and with the fact that I didn’t cash AT ALL last year, I tend to forget. I played a last-minute tourney in Dayton (NV, not OH), and while I played below-average, I managed to cash. Yay.

Rest of May – I continue to do almost daily jaw because, guess what, my PT is basically not going to be available for the whole of summer. So I have to cram in all my education into 10 days.

June 2 – I officially get the remainder of my “work” belongings back. That chapter of my life (nearly 10 years) is done. They sign me up for outplacement services for 3 months, which will hopefully get me back on track.

Early June – I don’t do a whole lot. Like at all. I look for work unsuccessfully (though there were little dablings of potential that went nowhere).

~June 4 – We find out that the current renters of our new home will be out June 22 (instead of July 1). Good news! So far, the home-transition process has been pretty painless (FORESHADOWING!)

June 16 – Tired of waiting around, we go to Sacramento for a long Father’s Day weekend. It is a relaxing trip.

June 21 – We set our final walkthrough for June 22.

June 22 – The wife (of the renters) is frantic and asks us if we can do the walkthrough June 23. I’m concerned because that’s technically our first day of true ownership, so if there were a problem, there really isn’t any way to hold the old owners accountable, which is the sole purpose of a walkthrough.

June 23 – After half a day of not hearing anything, finally our realtor gets a text message of a picture of the old owners pointing to where the key was left. No walkthrough or anything. Just “here’s the key”. Turns out they’d skipped town at least a day before.

In jaw related news, I have a one-off session with my jaw PT. When I had ended my blitzkrieg sessions with her, I could open up to 25 cm. But I hadn’t really done ANY exercises in the interim, partially because I was busy, and partially out of sheer laziness. So I expected the worst. Turns out I am now at 27 cm. I think my natural range of motion is coming back, just MUCH MUCH slower than normal.

June 24 – Based on the first few hours in the house the day before, we ratchet up the duct cleaning we’d scheduled to be a total overhaul of the carpets. Full cleaning, duct cleaning, scotch guarding, the whole works. $1200 of cat exorcism. Turns out the prior owners told a while lie when they said they had 2 cats. And technically they did at the time we bought the house. They neglected to mention the other two the had that had passed away recently. Additionally, we hire a janitor that Ash knows to even more fully disinfect the house.  Hopefully this will fix the allergy issues.

June 25 – The movers arrive with all our stuff. It is set up immediately. FINALLY, we are in our new house. I sleep wonderfully in the silence of our new neighborhood, to be awoken by lots of sunlight. Our new bedroom is plenty bright (a mostly good thing!)

June 26 – More unpacking, including getting most of the rest of our stuff from the in-law’s house. I spent much of the day getting the new house in order. Ash’s allergies are really acting up. She warns that we shouldn’t unpack everything just in case.

June 27 – After a wrestling match with the boys on the carpets, Ash has trouble breathing and eating. She wakes up with eyes so puffy they’re half shut. And with that, we spend our last night in the new house.

June 28 – I begin packing up everything in the house to move it back to the garage which is, fortunately, a 3 car garage. Ash and I spend much of the day at 4 different places looking at flooring. It’s a very complex situation, so I’ll simplify by saying we ultimately decide on Home Depot for laminate (almost 800′, should take 3+ weeks to arrive and install) and RC Willey for carpeting (over 1000′, should be installed by July 8 – meaning that’s our new move in date).

June 29 – The house is totally empty again except for a mostly packed garage. I also make numerous trips to the storage unit, as that needs to be empty by July 4 or we’d have to pay another month. We tape up all the tiled areas (bathrooms, kitchens) to prevent dander infestation, and I get a night’s sleep in the in-laws to prepare for demo day.

June 30 – With two excellent helpers (brother in law JJ and family friend Kaylis), we yank out all the carpets and pads and remove just about all the staples. We sweep all rooms. In all, it was around 1800 square feet of carpeting. All without air conditioning (since we sealed off the rooms, if we put on the AC it would rip up all our tape jobs). It was a ten hour workday.

July 1 – I shop vac the entire floor. Then I untape the tarps, turn on the vents (so it can kick up a little extra dander), and I shop vac the entire floor again. I begin laying Kilz down on the flooring – it’s a paint primer, but it has a great reputation for sealing in odors and dander. I vacuum each room for extra residue and finish Kilzing two rooms. It was a 14 hour workday.

July 2 – I escape for some disc golf (which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do – all the painting has resulted in quite a bit of back pain) and it turns out to be just what the doctor ordered. After all, I have to practice as I have the BIGGEST tourney I’m playing all year next week. Then more Kilz.

July 3 – We get the quote from Home Depot – more than we thought. Go figure. More Kilz, then a kids’ party. Then I don’t feel like moving for a year.

July 4 – We finalize our laminate order – there is no timeframe, but he imagines it will be around two weeks after they get the product (which he anticipates in a week). We finally unload the last of the storage unit into our now jam-packed garage. And more Kilz. It’s cut short by a call from RC Willey that they don’t have enough of the carpet we want to cover the measurements. This will delay the install (go figure). We rush down and finally agree to a new carpet. And she then finds out they don’t CURRENTLY have enough of that new type either, but they should by July 15-16 timeframe (about 75 days after we closed on the house, and almost a month after we were initially supposed to move in). I happen to see another carpet that we both like and it will work. The install date is July 12. It’s still 8 days away.

In all this time, I’ve been trying to get my face to work properly, spend time with my kids, try to get my back working (which has been failing, though I finally got a follow-up appointment with my neurosurgeon to discuss the possibility of facet joint injections), prepare for a major disc golf tournament, and, oh yeah, try to enjoy summer. And find a job. And figure out how to pay for the $8k in flooring we’ve purchased.

And wait. I’ve done a whole lot of that. 8 more days. I need a vacation. And a job. That will let me take a vacation.

Day 146: I’m About Over All This Surgery Now

I met with my surgeon earlier this week to clue him in on my recovery, or lack thereof. Before my 2nd procedure (the physical manipulation and steroid injection), I could open my mouth 15-16 tongue blades (roughly 22mm if my memory serves me right). It’s also about one sandwich width, provided I don’t stack it too high with tasty meats. After the procedure, I was only able to get it to about 14 blades. If you recall, I was pretty disappointed.

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I hadn’t planned on taking such a sad picture, but given my 6 hours of sleep ALL weekend, it’s just how it came out.

My surgeon was also disappointed, and he outlined me two choices from here. Really, though, they’re not choices, they’re what I’m going to do. First is PT, which I’m trying regardless. We are strongly hoping this will help because after PT, comes another SURGERY (not just a shot this time, but back to actually being opened up).

Before I expound on the above statements, let’s take a brief detour to talk about my luck. My surgeon, who is a great person, was technically retired when he did my procedure. In fact, he confided that he would have pawned me off on his assistant had my insurance company not been such a headache (switching surgeons may have caused the insurance company to not approve the surgery, which took 8 months the first time). So him being retired is something of a problem, as he’s only in the office once a week (Tuesdays) at best, and even then only for a few hours. He’s available on his cell because he really isn’t available any other way.

He has a physical therapist that he loves and who specializes in jaws. So he called her to see if she could take on a new patient. The good news? She can. The bad news? She’s going on an indefinite sabbatical in 3 weeks. While she “might” work one day in June and one day in July, it won’t be at her current office (she’s selling her practice) and there’s no guarantee of anything after that. So there’s some urgency in getting to see her. And some urgency in her being a miracle worker – like Miracle Max but without the being dead part.

I went twice last week, and her manipulation of the muscles (she thinks a major problem is the rigidity of the muscles in my mouth – if you open your mouth put your thumb all the way back to one corner of your mouth, those are the muscles we’re talking about here) is not in any way pleasant. I need to ice it as I massage because it risks inflammation. I’m also supposed to be taking anti-inflammatories regularly. Instead of tongue blades, I now take clothespins, jam them between my molars, and open them. I have a few other exercises I need to do regularly, none of which I’d classify as remotely enjoyable.

It sounds pretty drastic because, well, it is. She’s cramming months of PT into a few sessions. She *hopes* that she can talk to my normal PT (for my back) to see if someone there is trained in jaws and can continue what she’s doing, but again, no guarantees. So in the meantime, I have six sessions where she’s going to try to knead the crap out of my face.

And that’s the best case scenario. In one day she got me from 20mm to 22mm, which is something but not incredible. So the hope is that in the four remaining sessions, I can be enough on the right track to where I can get someone new to continue it, and with great success.

Remember that graphic I put in a blog about my jaw about six weeks ago? This one:

JawGraphic

I spoke about how he thinks the condyle is not actually getting to where it needs to be in the disk, how it’s not “clicking” into place. Well, if PT doesn’t stretch the muscles (and disk) enough to facilitate that click, the next surgery is to remove the disk altogether. If you’re like me, you’re thinking “But that doesn’t sound like a good idea, don’t you need that disk for something?” Because that’s exactly what I thought, being someone who liked all my body parts. Hell, I won’t get rid of my appendix unless I absolutely have to. And my surgeon’s response was that he doesn’t think it’s where it’s supposed to be anymore, thus not actually serving the purpose it’s supposed to, so it won’t exactly be a problem to get rid of it. Hard to argue that logic. It’s why Boston cut Pablo Sandoval, after all. (non sequitur zing!)

But it still stands that I don’t want any more stinkin’ surgery. I’m so done with it. So here’s to hoping my crash course in PT does something. But I have this nagging hunch that before long I’ll be going back under the knife. Under the tutelage of someone who retired almost a year ago. After the failure of someone who is very likely retiring during my treatment.

PAIN: 0

INCONVENIENCE: 3

REGRET/FML FACTOR: 5

Day 129: Back to Square 2

Square one of course is that place where you started, and that’s not where I’m headed; I’m not there. I have an increased airway and I have a growing disdain for soup. That’s not where I was originally.

But square two, the place I was at right before my second surgery? That’s where I am. The second surgery, you’ll remember, was to fix my jaw’s inability to open wide or move laterally or do just about anything of note. The steroid injection (which, in its defense, could take 7-10 days to start working effectively) seems to have done nothing but cause me interim pain. After the swelling died down, I tried moving my jaw. Still can’t move it left, barely to the right. I tried jutting out my lower jaw, it still shifts to the right (because the right jaw is still locked). I tried opening my mouth, and I was back down to 13 tongue blades when I’d been at the 15-16 threshold before the procedure.

So what does that mean? I’m FURIOUS, is what that means. I didn’t expect a miracle cure, but I did expect SOME progress. Instead, I’m back to prying my jaw open every night with tongue blades and trying to manipulate my jaw around. Well guess what, that’s where I was was 10 days ago, except without having to sit out for a week in pain.

I’m back up to 15 jaw blades, but still, to go through this and still be further behind than before it is really frustrating. I guess I keep trying to work it until my next followup in two weeks.

By then, we’ll be out of this house and living with the in-laws. I’m so frustrated, I’m not even including any pictures, because I want you to all have to suffer through a totally text-based update. And I’m not including any cute tags, because a) I don’t think they actually help drive views here and b) to make you suffer more. And I will even change the remaining text to something more annoying. FEEL MY PAIN!

PAIN: 2

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 4

Day 123: Back on my Feet

I finally looked over the instructions I was supposed to be following after my procedure – good thing I had Ash before that helping me along. I am supposed to be on a soft-foods diet again for 7-10 days, as it could take about 5 days or more for the steroid injection to actually begin to work its magic. And I’m able to mix my percocet and ibuprofin if need be.

I probably should have looked these instructions over beforehand.

Anyway, as my title suggests I’m a little more alive today. Yesterday, we signed some house documents and just doing that (and walking around the building a few times because I was woefully under my step count) did tire me out a bit. Today, I was able to get up, drive D into school (L stayed home today because… weird school reasons), and even attempted to do a little packing, as we’re supposed to be out of our house in 12 days. So yeah, gonna be an interesting time.

This morning I awoke to some jaw pain, but not as much as the two previous days (yesterday got bad at times). I have been taking Aleve pretty regularly just to keep inflammation down, haven’t needed the painkillers yet. I will say just an hour or so of light packing has made me need to take a little rest, so I’m not exactly up-and-at-em yet. I imagine it would not have been fun had I had to sit in a chair and concentrate for 8 hours (it took me about 30 minutes to even get my head wrapped around writing this blog).

Eating has been weird. I did manage to eat some cheese-stuffed rigatoni things (I opted not to try the sausages) and it was about my upper max, but it’s nice that I’m not stuck just eating yogurts and soups at least. But I am always sort of stuck between being hungry and having and upset stomach. It might be taking Aleve on a not-full stomach, or going back to drinking Boosts, or something else. But I tend to feel almost nauseous, which oddly tells me that I need to eat, so that feeling goes away. Damn my counter-intuitive stomach. I imagine this is a tiny slice of what pregnancy might feel like, only I will be over my weird stomach in a day or two, hopefully.

So it looks like I’ll give it a couple more days of recovery before I start moving the ole jaw around, see how I’m actually coming along. Right now it FEELS like I can open my jaw even LESS than before, but that’s largely because I’m scared to. Probably after the weekend, I’ll be ready to do some jaw-juts (a name I made up, where I stick my lower jaw out) and some jaw-jukes (another name I’m making up right now, where I’ll jigsaw my jaw back and forth), and some jaw-jigglers, where I put my jaw on top of Jell-o. The last one isn’t a real exercise, but I think it would feel pretty soothing.

Here’s my face, and also (coincidentally) me showing some Gavman pride. Have a great walk this weekend, Jaymar!

GAVMAN!
GAVMAN!

PAIN: 2

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 4

Day 121: Hooray for Drugs

Check out the jaw bra, brah!
Check out the jaw bra, brah!

I have returned from the land down Under the Knife, and boy is my face tired. Boy, that’s a sentence that just didn’t know which joke to go for. Surprised I didn’t try to throw a Bobby Darin joke in there just for bad measure. The picture you see is how I feel right now. When in pain, my glasses stop working.

The surgeon had said this was an “exploratory procedure”, meaning it was surgery of sorts, but not anything near what I’d already had done. He started by putting an IV in with some special juice (probably Tang) to knock me out, which it did almost immediately. Then, while I was out (and theoretically relaxed), he first gave me the steroid injection, then pushed against my jaw for 5 minutes so none of the Tang anti-inflammatory escaped. Then, he inserted a pusher-opener (official medical term) into my mouth and forced my jaw open. Then he physically manipulated my jaws to try to get them out of their current predicament.

His assistant later told me that she was pretty excited “to hear a pop”. I will, for the sake of my sanity, assume it was a good pop and not the rupturing of an eardrum or something like that.

When I awoke I was definitely a little loopy, and in considerably more pain than after the first surgery (the whole ‘having all my nerves lose feeling’ thing probably had something to do with it). So Ash drove me to the pharmacy, where I would wait an interminably long time for relief. Think of the sloth/DMV scene from Zootopia. Two Percocet later and I fell asleep almost immediately. After a brief 30 minute rest, I’m up and at ’em.

By “’em”, I mean online poker and eating mushy pears and drinking a Boost. Just when I thought I’d put my Boost and jaw bra days behind me… Anyway, I’m not in much pain now but that’ll come back. I also won’t try doing much of anything with my jaw until Friday or Saturday (to be safe) when I should start trying to move it all around and open it wide to see how I’m doing. Then I’ll be on soft foods (again) for maybe a week, hopefully no more. I go back in 3 weeks for an evaluation.

  • PAIN: 5 (.5 right now)
  • INCONVENIENCE: 2 (being home from work drops that # a few points)
  • REGRET FACTOR: 4

Day 120: Surgery Eve

I think it’s an inevitability that the weeks leading up to major surgeries for me are also weeks where the entire county seems to be hit with a rampant stomach bug. Yesterday there were more than a dozen kids out of Ash’s school with it, but (knock on wood) I seem to be okay. Our military-esque regimen of hand-washing probably has something to do with it.

Unlike the last surgery, the stomach bug is really the only thing I’ve been really concerned with. I sort of see this as on-par with a root canal: something I don’t actually WANT to have done, but something that I should be able to cope with pretty easily. It’s hard to google the recovery, because what I’m getting done is sorta between full TMJ surgery and just a steroid injection. He has to open up access to my jaw(s?) and see if he can manipulate it. He has to clean it out. He has to give me the injection.

So recovery from TMJ surgery can be nearly as bad as what I’ve already gone through, but his office told me it might only be a few days. So we’ve stocked up on yogurts and can hit the store for soups and smoothie recipes if need be. As of now, though, my plan is to be a normal person as of next week, even if it’s a normal person who eats soft foods for a while again.

I’m not at all nervous, but that may be partially due to not really knowing what to expect. I was extremely well researched for the orthognathic jaw surgery and got a full 2 hr briefing before the procedure. Here, he talked about it for 5 minutes and we scheduled it. He seems to think it isn’t a big deal, so that what I’m going to think, because I am a mindless sheep.

(Note, that link makes WAY more sense if you know what the few lines said right before this clip are. I decided to hell with it, it’s a great clip and I’m keeping it in.)

So here’s to not know what to expect for the second time. Hopefully the pain meds are good and I enjoy not doing much again.

PAIN: 0

INCONVENIENCE: 3

REGRET FACTOR: 5 (MORE surgery?!)

Day 115: Day -6 II

In what is easily my worst titled surgery title yet, I bring you the latest update. As my last surgery-related blog post explained, I am going to be needing additional surgery to correct the inability to open my mouth. You can read up on that post to figure out exactly what’s wrong. There’s diagrams and everything (everything meaning the phrase “screwing the metaphorical pooch”). This surgery has been scheduled for 6 days from now.

Day -6 was also when I started really feeling the nerves about the major surgery back in December. So that makes this -6 II. If I have one more surgery, I’ll have to call it Surgery Day -6 III: SURGERY IN SPACE! Because that’s what happens with series when the third comes around.

I’m less worried about this one, as this is a procedure they can do in-house (I won’t have to go to a hospital) and the recovery should be somewhat easy (I may only need to be out a day or two). I imagine I’ll have to pull back on the ambition of my food choices (maybe not liquid diet, but probably not chicken alfredo for a bit). Don’t know how talking will be either.

The recovery is definitely fuzzy because, you’ll remember, the actual reason I’m having this surgery is because my symptom (inability to open mouth) is actually a anomaly of my recovery from the orthognathic surgery. My body, in essence, just does what it wants. So who knows what will happen with this one?

Anyway, I’m going to leave you with the term “kangaroo orgy” just so I can tag it and try to lure people with a very very peculiar fetish into extra clicks.

Odds and Ends

Time for a bullet list!

  • I recently read through the fiasco that was our first house-buying experience (in a buyer’s market nonetheless) so I arrived at doing a sell/buy transaction with trepidation. Also, having heard some friends at their wit’s end with the insane market that is flooding the real estate world, I expected disaster. So following copious amounts of knocking on wood, I’m happy to announce that so far this has been smooth sailing. We received 3 offers on our house (two over asking price) within two days and accepted one. Our house inspection has been done and the appraiser has come by with no issues. As far as the house we wanted, it was more than we really wanted to spend, but we made an offer at it was accepted. (It was actually our 3rd offer, but the first to be either accepted OR denied – long story) We close on our current house on 4/29, but will rent from the new owners for 2 weeks. Then we move into the in-laws house for about 6 weeks. Finally, we close on our new house 5/6, but the old owners will rent from us until between 6/15 and 6/30. The latest we will be able to move in will be 7/1. Pictures will come when they’ve cleared their stuff out, so we don’t feel weird about posting pictures of their Furry costumes on the web.
  • No real change in my dental happenings. Waiting on the insurance company to (likely) reject the request for payment, and then we’ll schedule the appointment for my surgery. (Maybe an MRI first?) In the meantime, I’m trying to live my life.
  • Everyone's favorite amorphous mascot, Archie!
  • At the above game, we have front row 3rd base seats, L got his face on the jumbotron (smile cam), he got a baseball (not a foul ball, but an Aces employee gave him a ball actually used in the game), we got a shirt (the lady behind snagged it but gave it to him anyway), 2 free burger vouchers (since the Aces scored 10+ hits), 2 free taco vouchers (our row only out of the entire stadium), and they won 6-1. Oh, and Landen got to take a picture with everyone’s favorite amorphous mascot Archie! I’d call that a good game.
  • I’m going to play my first disc golf tournament of the year this weekend at my local course. It’s two rounds of 27 hilly, long holes. My back has been pretty bad lately, but we’re going to go to PT twice this week and see what happens on the weekend. I ended up selling my Gorilla Boy bag because it’s just too heavy for my back, opting to stick to a smaller bag. I may have to buy something in the middle so I actually have a water bottle holder. *sigh* Getting older.
  • D & L are now both at the Montessori school, which puts 3 grades together. So D is with everyone from 3 yr olds to kindergartners, L is with 1st-3rd graders. They’re both blossoming (L was doing division problems in his head, D has started spelling words). It’s good to see our tough decisions rewarded.
  • Years ago I wrote a blog called White Christmases, noting that I live in a desert, yet from 2007-2012 I experienced at least some snow in 4 out of 6 Christmases. Since then, that percentage has continued. 2013 (no snow), 2014 (a dusting), 2015 (about an inch fell the morning of). So yeah, if you want a White Christmas, move to the desert I guess. 6 out of 9 years so far.
  • 2016 has already had some of the highest highs in a while, but more it’s had some of the lowest lows in my life. Here’s hoping for a rebound.

Day 104: The Future

Ninjatographer strikes again!
Ninjatographer strikes again!

I realized that if I were able to open my mouth fully, my recovery would have been basically as good as I could have possibly expected it to go. However, I can’t open my mouth as wide as I should. Tonight I was able to start with 15 tongue blades somewhat easily, but try as I might I couldn’t get a 16th in. This is still progress, as I started at 11, but still not anywhere near where I should be at this juncture.

What does this mean? Well, juncture means a point of time, especially one made critical or important by a concurrence of circumstances. Pedantic win!

I met with my surgeon last week and, while he’s pleased how my teeth are coming along, he is obviously disappointed with my jaw. He takes these things personally, especially because my slow recovery is NOT my fault, nor really is it his. It’s just how my particular body reacted to the procedure. He described what is happening as “uncommon”. Not unheard of, but probably only happened a few times in his 30 years. I’ll try to describe what he THINKS is going on.

In the space where the jaw meets the side of my face is a disk, very much like the disks in your back (see diagram 20358.3927729 1/2 below). When you open your jaw, two separate things happen. At first, the condyle rotates down until the mouth is about halfway open. Then, in order to open the mouth more, that condyle glides forward, pushing into the disk. It allows the mouth to open more.

For whatever reason, my condyle is rotating fine (about halfway open mouth) but it isn’t able to shift at all. He thinks there may be something blocking it (an enlarged disk or some gunk or something else – we wouldn’t really know without an MRI). He verified this by asking me to push my lower jaw forward. I can a little, but my entire jaw shifts to the right when I try it (because that side isn’t actually pushing forward and the left side is). Also, when I try to move my jaw from side to side, I can only move it to the left about 2mm (peanuts, essentially).

So what does this mean? Peanuts is possibly the most successful and famous cartoon of all time, penned by icon Charles Schulz. If only watching the daily failings of a clinically depressed child were funny…

Anyway, my trusty surgeon has basically suggested that I will have to go back under the knife again. Nothing as severe as the first time, thankfully, but surgery is surgery. The goal here would be to open up the joint. Then, with me being knocked out, my jaw would theoretically be at its most relaxed, he would try to physically manipulate my jaw to see if he can determine/get past whatever it is blocking its progress. From there, he’d clean it out if necessary, give it a steroid injection to hopefully calm whatever is screwing the metaphorical pooch, and then wake me up.

Recovery for this wouldn’t be great, but not liquid-diet only. I’d likely have to revert back to softer foods for a week or so, and I have no idea how talking would be. Probably just like after a root canal I’m guessing.

I’m disappointed by this. But as he pointed out, there’s not much sense to having the whole major procedure allowing me better air if it means sacrificing eating anything larger than, say, a hot dog. It’s totally emasculating eating a hamburger by cutting it into thin slices.

This could happen as early as a few weeks from now. Right now, they’re trying to get my insurance to cover it, but really, he said either way we’ll likely do it, even if it means waiving his costs. You can tell he’s retired; he isn’t about trying to squeeze extra money out of this, he’s trying to make sure his final patient is able to live a happy life. He really is a phenomenal surgeon and person.

PAIN: 0

INCONVENIENCE: 5

REGRET FACTOR: 3

Day 90: Totally Recovered! (Spoiler Alert: No I’m Not)

When you talk about the recovery process for orthognathic surgery, it’s generally said to be 90 days. This is, of course, a lie. Even in an amazing recovery, a person 20160327_100155will not be able to eat the same things as before the surgery by day 90. Steak is a year off for all recovery patients. However, when people say that the recovery period is 90 days, what they’re often referring to is the jaw itself should be in a good, healthy place by the end of the third month. My last blog post about my surgery was only two weeks ago, and it didn’t sound promising then, and if you read my title, it doesn’t sound promising now either.

That’s not to say I’m miserable, but I’m disappointed. So let’s look at the pros and cons of my recovery so far.

PROS

  • I’m able to talk perfectly fine and with no pain.
  • I have as much energy as I did before the surgery, possibly more. I’m not quite as sluggish in the mornings, although this Easter morning I had some definitive trouble getting out of bed to go egg-hunt with the kids. I haven’t really tested myself with much disc golf, which I will have to do very soon (my first tourney is in less than a month).
  • I’m breathing just fine at all times with no snoring and no waking myself from slumber gasping for breath.
  • I can eat most everything that I can fit in my mouth. As far as meats go, I can still eat most softer meats (hams, tender chicken…) as long as I cut them into thin strips to be able to chew them easily. I can also take pills if necessary (though they rarely are necessary).
  • My smile looks pretty good, and it will look even better when the braces are off and I (probably) get them whitened.
  • I have very little pain in general.

CONs

  • Despite not having constant pain, I do occasionally have some zingers to parts of my jaw. I also have morning-pain largely when I lay on my right side (my bad jaw). It’s not severe and I’ve only once had to take pain meds for it – and that was a few weeks ago.
  • The biggest con, and it’s a doozie, is I still can’t open my mouth very wide. It just… stops. I mean, pain in the joint causes it to stop to some degree, but I stop opening it (or moving it side-to-side) because I simply can’t move it any more. I started my tongue depressors at 11 (adding a 12th), and in the few weeks since I’ve been doing it, I’ve only improved to 13 (adding a 14th). Tonight I’m going to try starting with 14 as last night was the first night I didn’t have to struggle for that last one. Either way, still less than 60% of where I should be at this point. It remains unknown whether this means I’ll have to get my jaw joint cleaned out and given a steroid injection. I’m not particularly looking forward to MORE procedures on my jaw, but if it will ultimately allow me to actually open my mouth (or sneeze or yawn), then I’ll do it.
  • I always had a very slight lisp. It’s gotten more prominent. As someone who spent 4 years in a conservatory learning proper speech, that bugs the tar out of me.
  • This post isn’t very funny.

I can’t say that I’m in the negative regret column just yet. The side effect of having half a mouth is still too onerous to ignore. However, given that is pretty much the single thing holding me back, I’m pretty close to even in terms of regret. It turns out some of my pain was because of my stronger orthodontic bands, and switching them back to the “easier” ones seems to have alleviated most of the pain. So that’s nice.

We’ve been going 100 miles an hour for a month now, getting the house up on the market (and we’ll likely accept an offer on it today, which is doubly nice as that means we won’t have to keep the house spotless anymore, and we can continue boxing up things we don’t really need). We have an offer out on another house so keep your fingers crossed for that.

Now that's a pensive egg hunt.
Now that’s a pensive egg hunt (that I can’t seem to rotate)

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 2

REGRET FACTOR: 2

Day 75: 12 Sticks

I met with my surgeon last week as a spur-of-the-moment visit when he heard that I was having trouble opening my mouth still. When I saw him, he asked me to open up and was immediately surprised by how little I’d come. Before my splint came out, I felt like my progress was coming along great. Now, I feel like it’s stopped altogether, and he couldn’t really argue with that. In fact, he almost took it personally. After all, this procedure, he said, was supposed to FIX my problems, not cause new ones.

The normal mouth should be able to open up about 24 tongue depressors wide. (Ashley’s, for comparison, could probably do about 28. With out help, with me just opening my jaws, I could do about 9 or 10. He started me off by jimmying in 11 between my teeth, which took some fancy finagling. I am supposed to breathe through the pain, and believe me, there is pain, or rather extreme discomfort. Then, for funsies, he jammed a 12th one between two of the other sticks. It didn’t go in all the way. So yeah, I’m less than half of a healthy mouth, and certainly below where I should be after 10 weeks. Let’s put it this way – the name tongue depressor is so very very apt.

He had a few suggestions as to how to proceed from here. It’s actually more of a three-pronged system.

  1. The tongue depressors. I think he called them tongue splints. Either way, word PART_1457839548114_20160312_192045can not describe how much I hate doing this. My job is to open my mouth as far as I can, sit with those tongue depressors in there for about 40-60 seconds, then try to put one more in. Every few days, I should be able to do a few more. Well let me tell you something, I’ve now been doing this 5 days, and I’m still at 11+1. Right before I wrote this, I managed to get a 13th in about halfway, but then it just stopped.

Because there’s a bigger problem: my gag reflex. Many things set this off, but opening my mouth wide is honestly one of them. So is having anything go near the roof of my mouth (further back than the teeth), so is having anything way in the back SIDES of my mouth (like when I get stuff jammed in there during dental appointments for x-rays), having stuff under my tongue. You name it, I gag. The problem with these sticks it that just having them in makes me gag. Then, as I try to add one more, the friction between the new stick and the old ones (as there really isn’t extra room – those suckers are wedged in there good) tends to push back one of the sticks to the back of my mouth. Gag city. I don’t know ways around this, so I just take them out, prevent vomit, then try again. It sucks.

2. I’m not sure how much the tongue depressors alone will work, but maybe they will. However, depending on progress, we may have to progress to cleaning out the joint (which he is pretty sure is locking up). He’ll clean it out surgically then give me a steroid injections right by my right ear (where it is hurting). That sounds like loads of fun.

3. If these fail, and possibly even if they work, we’re off to physical therapy. I wonder if it will be the same physical therapy I go to for my back? People in their fifties say getting old sucks – I’m a few years away from 40 and I agree whole-heartedly.

I’m supposed to try applying heat before (and after) the sticks, but I have either forgotten or not have the means to do it. I will try that tomorrow, hopefully alleviating some of the pain. I would guess that even in my heyday before surgery, I probably couldn’t open up 24 sticks wide (at least not without gagging), but it’s still disheartening to have these issues popping up when they really didn’t affect me beforehand.

On the bright side, eating hasn’t been as annoying, though I’m still really craving salad (WHY is lettuce either way too crisp or way too stringy?)

PAIN: 3

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 4

Day 70: A Pain in the Jaw

I like my fists like I like my martinis, shaken.
I like my fists like I like my martinis: shaken.

I remember reading a blog of someone who’d gone through orthognathic jaw surgery where he said that the recovery was much easier and much harder than he thought it’d be. Surprisingly, he said that the beginning part was easier than he though, partially because he had planned for it to be the single worst experience of his life. But at a certain point, he expected the recovery to continue at the same pace as it had in those initial weeks, and that’s where it was much harder.

That’s exactly where I stand right now. Up through the removal of the splint, I’d say my recovery was probably ahead of the curve in most ways. I talk with a more pronounced lisp now, which I can’t say I’m a fan of (especially with four years of pretty rigid voice training to constantly remind me that I’m lisping), but I’d say I was in a good place.

Then the recovery just sort of… stopped. I don’t think I can open my mouth any further than I could on day 42. I’m also experiencing more constant pain than I have through any point of the recovery so far. I haven’t been taking pain meds because it’s maybe only a pain of 2 or 3, but it’s constant (especially when eating, chewing, opening my mouth wide, or sleeping on my right side). It’s extremely frustrating.

My surgeon called over the weekend and I missed it as I was packing up the house, but I’ll call him later today to try to get in to see him (I wasn’t supposed to see him until around the four month mark). If not today it’ll have to be next week as I have a short business trip to take in the middle there.

Guess it’s time to load up on more soft pastas, and then have my face explode due to all the wheat.

Yeah, today’s a bitchy kind of day. It’s a Monday after all.

PAIN: 3

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 3

Day 61: Same Old Same Old

I’m asked with some regularity how my jaw is feeling or how my recovery is going. And I wish I had something more interesting to answer. I see no day-to-day improvement, and that’s really annoying and frustrating.

I still can’t open my mouth altogether very wide, though wide enough to put a spoon with some not-tall food into it. I can’t chew everything, though I can chew a fair amount without my jaw giving out. I can actually play a round of disc golf (throwing at maybe 75% power) with no pain, save from me giving a howl when my hyzer-flip forehand shot caught the top of the only obstacle in its way to a beeline to the basket. That howl hurt, but the round didn’t.

I should amend that, the round hurt A LOT, but it hurt my back far more than my jaw. Oh man, my back. I’m going to need surgery on that some day too. I keep on hoping it won’t be until I’m an old man, but my back is informing me on a constant basis that I am, despite all protestations, an old old man. Good thing I got physical therapy on Monday – I like bending and would prefer to do it without worry.

Anyway, I go back to the ortho in a week or so for him to look at my teeth, say “yup, they’re coming along”, and send me on my way. The jaw pain I’d been having over the past couple of weeks seems to have subsided, which is a relief. Now if only my back would cooperate.

PAIN: 1 (for the jaw)

INCONVENIENCE: 3 (my bands are no longer to keep my teeth closed, they’re for orthodontic reasons, but I still forget to put them on all the time after eating)

REGRET FACTOR: 1

Day 53: Subtitle

You know the old fairy tale about the guy who has double orthognathic jaw surgery, is on the road to recovery, is at the point where he can eat softer foods like pastas, yet he craves meat, so he pushes himself much harder than he probably should? No? Makes sense as it was banned in a few elementary schools and at least one synagogue. But the moral of the story is: meat is tasty, but it can probably wait.

In terms of daily pain, I seem to have stalled out. I’m no longer at a zero, and in fact things like opening my mouth to smoosh food in there hurts more today than they did even a week or two ago. I think it’s largely because I’ve been trying to eat chicken (cut up into small pieces or the pretty-soft Costco brand chicken alfredo). The chewing itself is okay; it’s certainly cumbersome but doable, but this action seems to make my jaw sore to open up wide for a few days afterwards. It’s a double-edged sword, except instead of a sword, it’s yummy food I still don’t get to eat! So really, it’s like a simile that doesn’t work at all.

And speaking of pain, in that first week where I rarely got out of bed, the one thing that never hurt was my back. This is impressive as my back has hurt for more than a decade now, sometimes so bad I have trouble standing up. Well, since lying down (or reclining significantly) is the MOST comfortable position for me to be in, my back at least was excited about my jaw surgery. Now that I’m up and about (and packing up for a likely house move later this year), my back has decided to resume being a little bitch to me. It’s amazing how much I move during the day (even at a desk job) that directly affects my back, and that’s not even counting my Hokey Pokey practice.

And while I’m bitching about pre-existing conditions, you know how my skin sucks monkey nut? Yeah, well, it’s not quite as bad as it was on day 6, but it’s looking pretty Middle-Earthen. And I think I know why – gluten. I had gone gluten-free for two years, and while my skin was never perfect back then, it certainly was better than the splotchy quilt that it is now. So now I’m in a catch-22, and one that’s almost as bad as the Joseph Heller book (CLASSIC LITERATURE SLAM!) I either go back to soups, smoothies, and if I’m adventurous then also GF pastas, or keep eating things that I enjoy more and look like the alien from the first Men in Black movie with hives. Given those choices, I think you see how much I disliked Catch 22.

Anyway, recovery is slow. Annoying. And I’m frustrated. But still, if you were to ask me the day before my surgery that I would be where I am today today, I’d have signed on the dotted line that day.

PAIN: 2

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 2

Day 49: The Time Where I’m Supposed to Feel Perfect, Right?

20160215_203800I just flew back from a trip to NY (and boy are my arms not prepared to make such a cliched joke!) It was a last-minute trip to say goodbye to the NY office, which unfortunately was closed in a somewhat shocking move by the parent company. I still have a job, but I’m not exactly oozing with confidence (much like my normal social life, where ooze is exactly what I do, and sometimes even with confidence). It was a short trip and a nice chance to see some friends and say my goodbyes. And I got to play my first game of Crack Uno, which we’re pretty sure we haven’t actually had a game since my move in 2008.

It was also a chance to see how well I’d exist on a “normal” diet, meaning I wouldn’t always have the ability to get soups and smoothies wherever I went. This was only half a problem. My travel days themselves were difficult – if I didn’t have time to actually sit at an airport restaurant and eat, I basically had to eat yogurts and order high-fat drinks (chocolate milk, etc). I did attempt a muffin (very crumbly, it did not go well), and then switched to yogurts when I could find them. So, in short, I really didn’t eat on my travel days until I reached my destination, at which point I engorged on pasta.

Of course, this brings up another problem. I had given up gluten a few years ago because of stomach issues. Now that I’ve put gluten back into my diet, I’ve not had stomach issues because I’ve made a serious effort to curb my wheat eating. Well, this trip was pasta with a side of pasta. By the third day, my stomach wasn’t happy (though the copious goodbye alcohol probably didn’t help).

It’s a weird place I’m in. Still not ready for much chewing (opening the mouth is harder than chewing, truthfully. I probably could eat a PB&J sandwich if I smooshed it flat enough. But for the most part definitely over the liquids (aside from my Ensures which I still go back to like an insecure boyfriend, I really don’t want to eat soups, and not always want smoothies).

One other thing that I’m not too happy about – pain. I have had very little pain throughout this process. And by day 50, I had assumed I wouldn’t have any. But I do, and it’s random and very short bursts. It happened a few times when flying (which is to be expected), but other times parts of my jaws will just have a quick stabbing pain. It’s sometimes on the sides by my ears, sometimes on my lower jaw by where my incision points were. Sometime’s it’s when I’m yawning, sometimes chewing, and sometimes doing nothing. And I still have a significant chunk of my lower left jaw that feels like the novocaine is only just starting to wear off. But it’s felt like that for weeks.

I can’t help but feel disheartened – I expected some plateau-ing of my feeling-better, but it almost seems like the line-graph of my recovery is going back down slightly. I’m sure that’s just the perspective of a frustrated recoveree, but I’m definitely getting antsy. I have my energy back, I can talk for long periods of time (though my jaw does get tired), and I’m for the most part “normal”. But I still can’t eat what I want and I still get random stabs of pain. Just about every part of me feels healed except my jaw.

Anyway, I’m about to hit my Golden Day Anniversary. I’ll celebrate by probably not blogging, since I can’t expect much to change by tomorrow.

PAIN: 0-3 depending on what feels like spasming

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 2 (travel sucks)

Day 43 (I think): FREEDOM!

I think my surgeon implanted dimples during the surgery.
I think my surgeon implanted dimples during the surgery.

This day has been a long time coming. In fact, one could argue that I’ve lived my entire life and all of its ceaseless surprising twists and turns simply leading up to this very day. For today is … well, I’ll let Bill Pullman say it:

We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to live on!

We’re going to survive!

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

Today, at just after 9am, the splint came out of my mouth at the trusty hands of Dr. M. I will not have to wear it anymore! He is very impressed with how everything’s going, saying I’ve been doing very well cleaning my teeth (something I’m pretty sure I’ve gone my entire life without ever hearing).

He told me further that the elective procedure I talked about a few updates ago doesn’t have a specific time window, so I wouldn’t have to do it at the 6 month mark (which we almost certainly couldn’t afford). So that might be something to bear in mind a couple of years down the line. Y’know, when we’re already paying for everyone else in our family to have dental work done.

Then I was shipped off immediately to Dr. O (the orthodontist) to get my archwire fixed (the wire across my top teeth, which was cut for the surgery). He also put in some bands. I was told I’d still have bands, which I grumbled at, but it turns out these aren’t so bad. They’re further in the back and their job isn’t to keep my jaws closed, they’re to pull teeth in a certain way. So I’m still able to open my mouth even with the bands (I can even eat with them!) I’ll basically only be taking them off to brush.

The most annoying part of today is the fact that I spent four years of speech and voice training. I know all of my scantion and frictives and plosives. Yet I can hear myself speaking and lisping, and making weird sounds. It’s driving me nuts. Someone who didn’t spend all of college reciting stupid speech poems about Tony Danza and Tina Turner (Stacey knows what I’m talking about) would probably not care or even notice. It’s driving me nuts.

But all in all, today is a good day, although my jaw is quite sore from opening it as wide as I can for long periods at a time. I celebrated by having my favorite soup (french onion from Costco actually) and some garlicky potatoes I made that are… interesting? And chocolate milk.

I leave for NY tomorrow where I was supposed to do some training, but have found that I’ll probably only have a couple of hours of actual office time. So…. okay, getting to say goodbye to friends and co-workers it is!

PAIN: 2

INCONVENIENCE: 2

REGRET FACTOR: 0 (this may finally become negative when I start routinely enjoying what I’m eating, but for now, it’s only neutral)

Day 37: Random Musings

The anti-Myspace shot
  • With how wide I can now open my mouth, I’m going to say I’m on a regular diet of foods that require little more than gumming. I *can* chew to some degree, but with my splint still in, if it’s crunchy, chewy, or stringy, I won’t try it. Good thing I like pastas. Now to make some of them.
  • It is incredibly annoying to have one part of your body be routinely itchy. I think most people will vouch for me here. It’s much worse for that part of your body to be the part that’s very numb still (the left side of my chin). Scratching it does nothing!
  • I’m pretty proud of my post about feminism from a few weeks ago for a few reasons. 1) Obviously, the content. It was definitely meant to be a my-story kind of thing, but it’s struck chords with many people. 2) It’s actually prompted some healthy conversation, albeit very little. Mostly agreement, which of course is always nice 3) The views. It’s more than doubled the next-most viewed post I’ve ever done, and I’m closing in on the 300-view mark. Gotta push it over! Share it if you like it on the social medias!
  • At the start of the year, it was hard to plan anything because I had no idea when my body would be ready for certain things. One thing we’d discussed was moving, but we put no sort of timeline on it because we never knew where I’d be. Well, we’re meeting with a realtor, less to find a new home but more to find what projects I’ll have to tackle in THIS home to make it attractive to buyers. It looks pretty favorable for 2016 to be my (hopefully) last move for quite some time. Then again, the 6+ years we’ve been here has been my longest by a long shot since my first house.
  • I’m following politics closely this year. I’d love a conversation between 2002 me and 2016 me. It’d be a pretty strange conversation.
  • Since my medical leave ended, I haven’t played a single minute of any console games, only playing my handheld Final Fantasy Record Keeper game. I guess Oblivion didn’t have quite the hold on me that I thought.
  • Splint comes out on Tuesday! Splint comes out on Tuesday! I was told I sound “damn good” considering what I’ve been through, but I can’t wait to not salivate inordinate amounts just when trying to read a book aloud to my kids.
  • Is it spring yet?

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 3

REGRET FACTOR: 0 (back to neutral!)

Day 34: Big Boy Pants

In recovery terms, I’ve passed infancy and have moved onto toddlerhood. No longer do I use the baby toothbrush; I’ve upgraded to a larger one (and I will occasionally use my electric one just for cleaning the underside of the splint). I have also long since stopped using syringes and even baby spoons; I can now fit a normal spoon or fork in my mouth.

In fact, I’m limited in what I can eat obviously by softness, but also by what can fit between my teeth. I am opening my mouth nominally more and more each day, but I still have trouble fitting anything fatter than scalloped potatoes in there. So my days of eating a lacrosse ball are still a ways away. ‘Cause it’s obviously a slippery slope from scalloped potatoes to lacrosse.

My weight seems to have stabilized at 169, a loss of about 12 pounds. I’m going to try to work out (whether it be going to a gym, yoga, or just stretching and hikes) with some regularity as my diet slowly migrates back to normal so that I don’t just put on the weight I had managed to starve off. With my back now bothering me once again (stupid doing stuff!) I have to try to pretend I’m not aging and I can still do all the things I could do when I was 20. I will probably not hit myself in the head with heavy objects though, just out of principle. I can’t imagine it did me any good.

I had my first wine since the surgery this weekend. It was pretty wonderful, and will continue to be wonderful for a while, as I don’t plan on drinking too much for the foreseeable future, so I’ll definitely have leftovers. Still no soda, and that’s something I hope to continue long after my recovery is but a distant memory.

Sleep has been fine. I’m still waking up fatigued, but that might have more to do with the fact that I still have some jaw pain when I wake up. That’s tiring. But I no longer have issues falling asleep.

Talking still generates so much saliva that it seems I have slurp-swallow every nine words. It’s incredibly sexy, trust me. It’s nice to know that, no matter what mutinies my glands are planning later in life, my salivary glands show no intention of abandoning ship. Rather, they come with reinforcements in times of trouble.

I spent almost an hour outside in the ~9″ of snow we got today with the boys and one of their cousins sledding. By the end of walking up a not big hill (I’d characterize it as more of a “small slope”), I was already breathing pretty heavy (not being able to open my mouth much). However, I remember a few weeks ago when I got that way by merely walking around the house. I think Thomas Jefferson put it best – I’ve come a long way, baby.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 3

REGRET FACTOR: 2