Day 30: 3rd Follow-Up Appointment

Ultra-Myspace shot

This appointment was definitely the middle child of appointments. I didn’t get the freedom of the first child (my splint doesn’t come out until my next visit on 2/9), and I didn’t get coddled like the last child (I didn’t even get my teeth brushed this time!) However, it was a pretty informative visit.

He took another X-ray that showed the changes in my airway. Before, the narrowest part of my airway was just more than 3mm (it’s supposed to be 10-12mm). Now, the narrowest part was just over 7mm, with two other parts he measured being between 7-9mm. Nobody, including the surgeon, expected me to go from 3mm to 12mm. It’s not realistic, no matter how much he reshuffled my jaws. So he was quite happy with this result, especially when you bear in mind that once the splint comes out, my lower jaw will actually go even further up to touch my upper teeth. That will cause a slight increase in the airway.

He was happy with how I looked, how wide I could open, my speech, just about everything. Then he asked me to try to jut my lower jaw out. I don’t think I moved it even a nanometer. It was a weird feeling not really being able to move my jaw in a certain way when my brain was like, “hey, dumb jaw, I’m sending you some damn signals! Turn your ringer on!” It’s good to have specific stuff to work on.

He then mentioned a procedure I could opt to undergo (after maybe 6 more months) that would increase my airway even a little more, though it’s largely a cosmetic procedure. It would give me a chin, which I haven’t had since I was a kid. Basically, he would make a lateral cut in my chin and pull out the jaw/chin about 5mm. This is attached to several muscles, which would in turn pull my airway open a little more. Plus, I would admittedly like my profile more.

This came with a # of caveats. First, he wants to see how I’ll look in 6 months with (theoretically) no swelling and my face as it will basically look forever. I imagine he’ll take more X-rays to gauge my airway width. Of course, this being a largely cosmetic procedure means I’ll have to pay out of pocket, and while he could do it in his office (no hospital costs), it’s no small chunk of change. I think the procedure will be too expensive to consider (at least this year). It’s something to think about, though, and ask if there’s a certain window where this procedure would need to be done during – can it wait 2 years? Food for thought.

After my appointment I had a couple of hours to kill before grabbing my son so I went and did something crazy, I played some disc golf. It was my first time touching a disc since November. I bumped into a guy I knew and told him I’d play, but he’d have to go pretty slow for me. I throw at around 60% power (anything more than that jarred my jaw a little) and played just the flat holes. I shot an even on a pretty easy layout with no real wind. Any other day I’d be pretty upset with that score, but yesterday it felt so good to just be out and active that I will say it was a phenomenal round, especially since I couldn’t throw more than 250′.

I clocked over 8k steps yesterday, by far my most since the surgery. It wore me out, playing just 11 holes of pretty short golf, but today I don’t have any repercussions other than a pretty sore pectoral (standard for my first day of throwing after any long layoff). I don’t know when I’ll be in tournament shape (certainly not anytime soon), but suffice to say I should be back sooner than I thought.

Oh, and today I had MAC AND CHEESE FOR LUNCH! That’s apparently my threshold, less so for the chewing (it was pretty soft) and more so because I can’t fit anything larger than a shell into my mouth right now.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 1

Day 15: 2nd Follow-Up Appointment

Dinnertime, BUT WHAT'S HAPPENING OVER THERE?
Dinnertime, BUT WHAT’S HAPPENING OVER THERE?

Dr. M said I was looking great. I tried to give him a coquettish smile, but with my mouth still not working properly, I don’t think he got it. He took off the bands and saw how far I could open my mouth (good improvement), listened to me talking a bit, and then did my favorite thing ever: he brushed my teeth. He surprised me (and my increasingly cumbersome gag reflex) by jamming the toothbrush all the way between my teeth. After a stop-and-start (I basically grabbed the toothbrush out of his hand and pulled it out), he got back in there and cleaned the inside. It was the second-most glorious thing that happened today. (That is what we in the writing industry call foreshadowing.)

He said all is looking good and that I should be taking the bands off a few times a day, not just once, so it looks like I’m going to have a normal regiment of meals. They’ll take longer than a normal lunch, which is something I’ll have to remember when I go back to work, but it’ll be a few hours each day I’ll be able to open my jaw.

Oddly, I’m pretty sure my jaws have Stockholm Syndrome. The second they’re free, they immediately do exactly what they were doing before being liberated: clamping together. It’s taking much concentration but I’m trying to really relax my jaw both in the bands and out. It’s relieving my head pressure.

Speaking of which, I did figure out something last night with my sleeping. I went back to the bed, but we brought along two square throw pillows to put under my pillow so my pillow sits in a bit of a trough. Then, I can sleep on my side but my face itself is still angled towards the ceiling a bit, taking the pressure off my jaws. I was able to fall asleep somewhat fast and basically slept through the night. No neck pain either (which I thought would be a natural consequence of doubling my pillow height). Also, Doubling My Pillow Height – worst metal band name ever.

So Ash’s folks made me this delicious beef broth (which Ash mixed with mashed potatoes and blended it up), and I also had a full yogurt for dinner and half a smoothie. My weight seems to have reverse plateau’ed (trenched?) at 170, about 11 pounds down from when I started. I was oddly hoping for a little more, what with me having put on a bunch, but I guess I get to start working out once my body is ready for it.

After dinner, I got to brush again, and that’s when the earlier cliffhanger picks back up. The toothbrush I got at Dr. M’s office was slightly less tall than the baby one I use, and I was able to get it between my teeth fairly easy and brush the insides of my entire mouth. PLUS, and there is no fathomable way I could overstate how important this is, I was able – after some finagling – to brush the bottom of the splint. It had, over the course of two weeks, accumulated what I can only describe as a festering coat of gangrenous mucus pus slime. I think that adequately describes it. It was making me nauseous at times and my tongue had become pretty adept at avoiding that part of my mouth for about a week now. At long last, it is almost entirely clean. Now it just feels like I’m licking a plastic toy, which I’m okay with, given the alternative.

Also, Gangrenous Mucus Pus Slime – best metal band name?

This is the part of the recovery I was oddly looking forward to – just playing a ton of Oblivion all day. I was also going to play some Kerbal Space Program, but I’m still not certain my brain is ready for rocket science. I *did* manage to pack up all the indoor Xmas decorations today, so I at least got some movement in.

Productive day.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 5

REGRET FACTOR: 2 (maybe less if blending that lasagna Granny made tastes as good as it does in my mind)