Today, I started a journey, and it all happened in an orthodontist’s office. Dr. O.
Of course, the journey started years and years and years and years ago, when I was thigh-high to an averaged-size adult. I had gone to another orthodontist, whose name is forever lost in time, and he gave me the prognosis as being an excellent tongue-thruster. I was advised I’d need to go to a “swallowing specialist” and then I would need braces. He also saw my twin brother. What happened next is still a matter of debate.
In my mother’s memory, I complained so much that they just got the necessary work done for Mitch – he had a more immediate orthodontic need. For my memory – and remember, this is the same memory that produced a very vivid impression of Mitch removing my stitches from an accident I had when I was 4 – my parents said they didn’t have the money for both of us to receive treatment and Mitch got it, again because of the immediacy factor. Anyhow, I never got any sort of treatment. That was when I was around 7.
Fast forward until a couple of years ago, when my dentist, Dr. B, suggested that I might want to see an orthodontist. He also was the first expert who uttered the term “surgery” to me. I’d heard from friends/family/others some rumblings that I might need it, but never had a person who actually knew much about teeth confirm it. He did. And he referred me to the aforementioned Dr. O, who took a whole bunch of photos, X-rays, and pink-goop-molds of my teeth. I’ve always known that my teeth were UGLY (as an acting major in college, I was told never to get them fixed as it gave me a great “character actor” look), but it never really bothered me looking from the front. But seeing huge pictures on a wall displaying my teeth in ghastly detail from the underside, the top-side, and wide open – my God I’ve seen assassinations that were less traumatizing. Before even getting all the results back, he pretty much assured me that surgery was in order and he referred me to an maxillofacial surgeon named Dr. M.
After more tests, pictures, Xrays, and discussion, Dr. M. confirmed that I’d need orthognathic surgery. I nodded since I’d heard that that’s where I was heading. Then he actually told me what that entailed.
And that’s when the shoe dropped. The thousand pound shoe. Onto my soul.
The process is awful and there is exactly no part of this I am looking forward to. The rough timeline of what to expect:
Today – final molds made of my teeth
Next Wed – braces go on. I’ll be one of those “cool” adults who rocks braces this late in life.
A few months from now – after my teeth have been pulled into better place with clear braces (I’m so going to rock white after Labor Day, bitches!), Dr. M. will do the first procedure, the “easy” one. He will remove eight (8!) of my teeth: the wisdoms and I believe the inner bicuspids. Then they will reattach the braces to do more pulling and getting stuff in line.
About a year from now – the surgery.
My work has come through BIG time and agreed to pay/reimburse me for all my regular expenses. We may have a bridge to cross if there are complications, but either way, I at least can have this procedure done without worry that it will cripple us financially.
Oh, I suppose I neglected to mention WHY I’m getting it done. Is it simply because I have horrible looking teeth? No, my vanity has taken plenty of other hits with my stomach issues and Middle Earth complexion. Dr. M. showed me some xrays of my jaw/neck/throat. The average width of the windpipe is (from memory) 12mm. Mine gap, because my jaws are essentially separating and are no longer parallel, has been constricted to about 5.5mm. That’s less than half. The result of which will utlimately be sleep apnea, eventually leading to needing oxygen at night. There are also problems that are only recently beginning such as pain while chewing very difficult things (such as nut-bars or tough steaks). I’ve long had clicking in my jaws too, which I can’t imagine to be “good”. These will all be fixed. Other secondary benefits will be aesthetics, improved smell, and maybe even less fatigue (even though I am not actually waking fully up, the doctor believes my body is waking up for short periods each night).
So where does that leave us? With a blog. Why am I blogging? I’m not the first person to have this surgery. Hell, I’m not the first to blog about this surgery.This guy already did, and he’s a veritable font of great information. I’m doing it for a few reasons. 1) To chronicle for myself what I’m going through. This will be, by far, the single biggest decision I’ve ever made about my health. This will also almost certainly be the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life (and remember, I saw the movie version of Mama Mia in the theaters). 2) For the first few weeks after surgery, I won’t have much else to do, so I figure blogging will be a healthy way to keep connected with the outside world. After all, there’s only so much GTA V I can play, right? Right? 3) I hope it will entertain. Even in the depths of self-pity, I hope to be able to make a few people smile.
The blogs won’t be too frequent at first, but I’ll try to keep it up. I’ve made a new category (“Surgery”) on the bottom-left of the blog, so you can click on that if you just want to filter out everything but tooth/jaw/face posts.
Come along for the ride and strap in. It’s gonna be something.