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.

IMG_20160522_191916
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 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.

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 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 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

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 29: Life on the Road

Focusing on the blank space was an artistic choice.
Focusing on the blank space was an artistic choice.

I’m back at my office this week. I anticipated this being pretty easy, as the super awesome Jaymar had gotten us a NutriBullet, which I took with me to puree soups and other such lunches. Turns out I was wrong, but not about the preparation of the food, but about the cleanup. At home, it goes like this:

  • choose a soup and dump it into a blender cup. Blend it.
  • Transfer contents to a microwavable cup. Microwave it and clean the blender cup and blade immediately. (If I make two cups’ worth, I’ll leave half in the blender cup and do two sets of transfer-and-microwave before cleaning the cup.)
  • Eat.
  • Take dishes to sink (with insinkerator) and clean them immediately.
  • Brush choppers and put bands back on. (Are there too many choppers?)

The whole process probably takes an hour, although I tend to let my brain rest a bit during my meals.

Now at the office, the only sink I have is a communal bathroom sink. That people use for regular hygiene. So they probably don’t want bits of blended up food in it. As such, I have to bring ALL my dirty dishes to the bathroom, clean them meticulously (with my own soap and scrub brush I bought), and then do my best to clean the sink as there’s no “DESTROY THE EVIDENCE” switch like in my kitchen. Then I bring everything back to my office where I try my best to dry it. Then I go BACK to the bathroom with a tooth-cleaning regiment, brush my teeth, put my bands back on, and head back to the office.

Suffice to say I’ll probably be splitting my time pretty evenly with home work (where eating is much easier) and office work (where I have a better chair and 2 monitors).

Aaaaaaaaaaaand I just had my first sneeze since my surgery (bands on). That… that did not go well. Apparently my office sink isn’t the only thing that extremely messy.

I have my 4-wk meeting with the surgeon today, so I’ll likely blog about that tomorrow.

PAIN: 2.5 (every morning I wake up with some pain b/c I sleep on my side, but it goes away within about 30 mins of waking up, usually not to come back until sleep time)

INCONVENIENCE: 5 (that sneeze)

REGRET FACTOR: 2

Day 26: Does it Blend?

DOES IT BLEND?

A special two-part blog post here, as I’ve become more adventurous in my Tim Burton-esque combinations of smoothie lately. First, I tried the delicious 5-cheese tortellini (sold at Costco) with simple marinara sauce. We eat this is a meal with some regularity, so it wasn’t exactly jumping off the comfort front altogether. As I learned with lasagna, anything with pasta requires pretty massive addition of liquids to make it drinkable. Here, it was milk. I’ve had this for a few meals, and it tastes almost exactly as it does regular, which is to say pretty darn good. The texture never became an issue (the more I liquid-ed it down) so it was definitely a success. 8/10 (although it should be noted that I’m getting sick of drinking everything, so it’s an 8/10 as far as pureed real-food meals, not what I would serve myself in, say, a year.

The second meal I tried tonight was macaroni and cheese. And chicken. I would have put hot dogs in instead of chicken but we didn’t have any and we DID have a rotisserie chicken in the fridge. For my diluter I again chose milk because, well, I guess I just didn’t have enough dairy. The reason I added chicken at all was because I feared it just tasting like the insta-mac cheese flavoring, and that sounded about as appetizing as drinking movie theatre butter (which I’ve done, and I highly recommend never doing it yourself). I had been craving mac and cheese for a while. To be specific, I’d been craving homemade mac and cheese, baked in the oven so the top layer is nice and crusty. Instead, we got insta-boxed mac and cheese. The verdict? This did not work in any sort of way whatsoever. 3/10. I could drink about 3 drinks worth (so it beats the Aztec soup), but that’s about it.

However, I’m not totally willing to abandon the idea of liquid mac and cheese, it’s just I didn’t have the recipes, energy or, probably, ingredients to make my own. To that end, if anyone in the greater Reno/Sparks area likes making baked mac and cheese, or considers it a specialty, or just wants to give it a go for us, I encourage you to make it and drop it off. My kids will devour it, and I’ll definitely try blending it up. I’ll have to buy hot dogs first.

Anyhow, aside from eating, I’ve spent much of my time speaking, which is taking its toll on my jaws today – they’re quite sore. I feel like taking off my bands and just letting myself be slack-jawed for a couple of hours, but really that would probably only add to the discomfort, not help. My speech is somewhat clear, even with bands, but I have no stamina.

Making my way through Season 4 of The State. Man, for the most part the first and fourth seasons of that show were pretty rough, but the second and third seasons were pretty great. A pretty short half-life that show had. I’m tempted to go through my old list of favorite State skits and amend it as there are some notable and inexcusable omissions from that list. Copy Shop, PMS, Inbred Brothers, The Jew The Italian and the Redhead Gay, Prom Photos, The Personal State, Sports Beat, The Answers to the SATs, and Fragments all could make the list, or at the worst be honorable mentions. And The Animal Song needs to be much higher than it was. Some day maybe I’ll rank them all. Because, y’know, problems.

P.S. For the big State fan (and you kind of need to be a big State fan to appreciate this), I found a place where you could watch all of their entries into the You Wrote It, You Watch It video canon. They make some of the first season of The State look like Python by comparison.

Recovery plods on. I can’t wait until I can eat real food.

PAIN: 2

INCONVENIENCE: 4

REGRET FACTOR: 2

Day 24: Eat It

Coming back from yesterday’s tangent, we find ourselves back in my comfy chair, where I’ve spent less and less time in the past week. Despite being more or less “back to normal”, it’s still pretty draining working 8 hours, even if it’s just a less comfortable chair I sit in there. Concentration takes a whole lot of effort. I’m doing what I can.

I’m finding myself more and more willing to try swallowing larger bits of unmixed soup (or cherries in my yogurt) whole. I am not supposed to chew yet, and the splint makes mashing food against the roof of my mouth difficult, so I tend to just swallow things that get in my way. It’s made needing a perfect blend a non-requirement. But I will say this – I’m getting REAL tired of soup. I don’t have very many smoothies, but I feel if I did I’d simply be getting tired of smoothies quicker too. I’ll try being more adventurous tomorrow.

Which brings us to my new segment:

DOES IT BLEND?

Not to be confused with that series of videos where a blender manufacturer would stick random items (cell phones, small woodland creatures) into a blender to see if the machine could handle it. This is the informational segment where I tell you if it’s worth blending foods that clearly aren’t meant to be blended so you can eat them before your jaws are ready to chew. My first foray was lasagna, and that was a reserved success. I wouldn’t eat it every meal, but once it day it was certainly passable (with PLENTY of liquids to make it drinkable). 

Yesterday’s experiment was good ole-fashioned stuffing. It was made for us by one of Ash’s colleagues and Ash couldn’t have any because of the celery. So I got to try blending it. I mixed it on about a 1:1 ratio with chicken stock and blended it up, then heated it. The result was, at first, a rousing success. The flavor was just like Thanksgiving dinner if things got REALLY out of hand. However, by the second cup (I split my portions into two cups so I can heat it quicker), the texture started to become bothersome. Being a bread-based food, the drink version had the unique pleasure of being extremely dry. Not dry as in a good dry Beaujolais Nouveau (French for “you’ll have to Google how to spell this”). It literally felt like I was drinking a loaf of bread. The flavor was great; the texture? Not so much. I might need a “tackier” mixer like milk next time. 6/10.

I was recently asked if this recovery period will possibly influence my diet after I’m fully recovered. It was a good question. The only thing I can be sure of is – I may never have another soup again as long as I live.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 5

REGRET FACTOR: 1

Day 22: Back in the Saddle

Showing off that my cheeks are still chubby.
Showing off that my cheeks are still chubby.

I’ve had a number of subtitles that are song titles. I think I’m accidentally ripping off Susan’s gimmick.

Yesterday marked the 3 week hurdle, meaning I was back to work. Work’s pretty nuts right now on a number of levels, so going in for a few hours a couple of days last week was essential to not be drowning this week. Fortunately I’m caught up and doing okay. It’s hard to go from 8 hours (really 12 hours) of playing video games and not exercising my brain whatsoever to having to be, you know, responsible for stuff. It’s mentally draining. I’m trying to take frequent breaks, but I was never good at that even when healthy.

If nothing else, eating causes built-in breaks. In the old days, I had a pretty strict eating regiment. I’d eat breakfast usually between 8 and 9 each morning. Lunch would usually be between 11:30 and 12. Dinner would be anywhere from 5:30-6:30. Now, with me eating a liquid diet and my stomach growling every couple of hours, I eat more like an infant. So I’m in the kitchen every so often (you know, like most infants are), getting another Boost/Ensure or making a smoothie or blending up a soup. And then eating takes a while, especially when I take off my bands, because that is a process, as is brushing/Waterflossing and putting the bands back on. For the record, I prefer Boosts in general over Ensures, though the strawberry Ensure is probably my favorite overall. This is very important if, for some reason, you are kidnapped and the person only has protein-rich supplement drinks available for you.

My speech is coming along, or as I just typed, my scheep is coming along. Without the bands, I’m pretty easily understandable (though I still am pretty quiet – I hope I haven’t lost my swarthy bass tones!) With bands on, I’m still understandable, but in a more bargle-nawdle-zouss sort of way (most people who are close friends with me should really get that reference). I imagine in 3 weeks when the bands come off and the splint is out, I’ll be back in shape.

Which is sad. Part of why I’m productive right now at work is I don’t have to be on phones. Anyone who knows me knows I hate the phone – I inherited that from my dad. If I could only email/IM for the rest of my life, that’s how I’d communicate. So maybe I’ll have to have some “unforeseen recovery difficulties” with speech. And I’m TOTALLY going to pretend that people from my workplace don’t read this blog regularly. Including my direct supervisor, even though he told me he does. So yeah, probably not gonna be able to speak for a year or more! CRAZY!

Anyway, sleep is happening more regularly, eating is less laborious, breathing is fine. I’m still pretty wiped after the day is done, and I’m only just getting into the regular swing of things (today was the first day I woke up early to drop my son off at school). But other than not being able to talk or chew, things are sorta back to normal. NOTE: THOSE ARE REALLY BIG CAVEATS!

Finally, I can officially brush all of my teeth (at least the parts that aren’t behind the splint). And it is fabulous.

PAIN: 1

INCONVENIENCE: 5

REGRET FACTOR: 1

Day 20: The Recovery Curve Plateau

It was an exhausting weekend, mainly because I was far less of a chair-potato than I have been the last three weeks. I’d gone from walking maybe 1/4 mile to a mile, all the sudden averaging 1.5-2.5 miles a day the last few. Plus, I’ve been actually trying to DO stuff in there besides level up my Redguard. I shoveled the driveway on Friday, did the dishes a few times over the last few days, folded laundry today, etc.

Ash even took a well-earned trip to the movies by herself (to see Star Wars) so it was me and the kids. This was a fine idea, only the kids were NOT going to make it easy on me. I think they were still exhausted from the party yesterday – 90 straight minutes of gymnastics will do that to little legs). So I was talking as much as I could to them. My jaw’s not exactly sore right now, but it definitely feels like it’s been worked out.

Speaking of tangents, twice last night I had dreams where people were jamming things into my mouth, choking me (one was a guy and his fingers, for some reason, and I don’t remember the other), and both times I woke up basically gagging over my splint. Once I woke up I realized what it was and I was able to calm back down, but man, there’s a better ways to wake up. I can thinks of 438,902 off the top of my head. A surprising number of those involved Betty White.

Get your minds out of the gutter people. She brings me breakfast in bed, or she does a softshoe routine in my room, or I wake up on a cruise ship deck chair drinking martinis with her, or she just sits and talks to me to wake me up. She’s seriously cool.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so I woke up pretty freaked out and in some pain – apparently I must have slept most of the night on my right side, so my right jaw/ear was throbbing when I woke up. It’s since died down, but still not fun.

Also, today was the day of Blendpocalypse. After helping the boys with lunch and naps, it was finally time (overtime) for my lunch. I boiled some “Aztec” soup. Once it was heated (slightly down from boiling), I popped it in a cup, put the lid on, and was going to blend it. Here’s the funny thing about physics – when you put something that actively has MUCH heat vapor coming off it into a sealed container, it exhibits two types of pressure. The first is the type of pressure when the container can no longer hold in the expanding vapor and the lid pops off (when the container is upside-down, ready to blend). This sort of pressure results in piping hot soup covering your Ninja blender. This second type of pressure this demonstrates is the pressure to clean up furnace-temperature soup before anyone sees what a debacle you’ve made.

The worst part of Blendpocalypse? When I finally got the 2nd cupful of soup at an acceptable temperature and prepared it for consumption? It was horrible, I couldn’t stand it. So I had to dump it out and go find more soup to heat up.

It’s just been that kind of day.

I'm only smiling because a) I can and b) it's my last official day not working.
I’m only smiling because a) I can and b) it’s my last official day not working.

PAIN: 2

INCONVENIENCE: 6

REGRET FACTOR: 3

Day 19: Things to Consider (a post for potential surgery candidates)

There isn’t a whole lot to report on the recovery front, other than me obliterating my total step count from any day so far. Because of my son’s “best birthday ever” (his assessment), I was very active today, though don’t for one second think that that means I had much to do with planning, organizing, or in any way getting this shindig going. That was ALL Ash. But I was present (and standing/walking) for the entire thing, no small feat. I feel like I ran a marathon. I’d totally run marathons if they were 2 and a quarter miles.

What I want to do in this blog post is, even though I’m not fully 3 weeks into my recovery, I wanted to give my initial “things to consider” if you’re one of the people who stumble on this blog before undergoing your own procedure. This will obviously be through the lens of my own recovery, which skews things, so I need to start with a very important #1:

  • Every recovery is TOTALLY different. I’d read probably a dozen blogs leading up to this surgery, and each one was a completely different road to normality. Even the trends I’d seen were rarely the experiences of the majority. So in short, asking one person who’s done this procedure is probably good for anecdotal reasons, but for pure research, your surgeon is probably a better source of information.
  • However, in slight contrast to #1, almost everything you experience is within the realm of “normal”. You might have swelling well beyond what you expected or even what you were told. You may bruise in weird places (my jaws never bruised, but my chest did all the way down to my sternum). You may not have a symmetrical face (for a while). Your nose may change. Obviously, if you feel really stressed or you feel like you’re in danger, call your surgeon (or the hospital if it’s bad), but chances are what you’re going through is totally in the realm of a ‘typical’ recovery.
  • Don’t wait to try things (unless specifically told not to by your surgeon). I remember reading that most people didn’t try drinking from a cup for a couple of weeks. Many used straws first. So despite the fact that I awoke from surgery able to feel more than 50% of my lip surface area (most of the top, and all of the right side), I assumed I’d be one of the many who would dribble all over myself. So I tortured myself for a week with syringes when, in all actuality, I probably could have started drinking from a cup after maybe only a few days. And what would happen if you DO try to do something too early? You dribble some water on yourself. Oh well. Get a new shirt, move on.
  • Do this surgery early in life. If you’re 18 and on the fence because you worry about your social ramifications, get over it. Recovery is MUCH easier on the young for anatomical reasons, but also, I have a house, a job, a wife, and kids. Not being able to do ANYTHING to help out with any of those for a couple of weeks is pretty defeating and makes life much harder for a lot of people. I think my recovery is actually WAY ahead of most “people my age”, and in that I’m lucky, but if I had known about this surgery 15 years ago, you bet I would have done it then. There’ll be plenty of time to get awkwardly wasted with your friends, including that one person who you really hope to get it on with… take care of your body now.
  • Get a Waterpik (or other brand of water flosser). I’ve used it for a few different reasons now. When I couldn’t brush, simply spraying my mouth with water helped me feel less disgusting. When I would get buildup of tiny food crud on my splint/braces and it would make it near impossible for me to syringe water into my mouth, the Waterpik was necessary to clean out those spaces. When I was sick of taking 5ml of water at a time, I’d reach the Waterpik around my back teeth and just shoot water down my throat, a very good time-saver.
  • Some people will do this surgery simply for aesthetic reasons. I can’t tell you not to. However, in my case, the cosmetic difference in my face will be somewhat negligible – I’ll still have a recessed chin. I’ve read blogs by people who were seriously depressed by how they looked and assumed this surgery would help that. Even when they were done and they loved how they looked (and got rave reviews by their peers), many were STILL haunted by the same esteem issues they had. If you suffer depression based on your looks, seek a professional’s help, and not a surgeon. Try to work on yourself via your brain first. Chances are other people may NOTICE your faults (people who tell me “I never notice your bad skin” are either blind or polite to the point of obtuse), but I can guarantee that nobody ares about those faults nearly as much as you do. I had this surgery for proactive breathing concerns, and as much as I’d love to look “my ideal” when all is said and done, I’d be happy to look the exact same if it means I won’t have to be on oxygen when I’m 50 (which is closer than I’d like to admit).
  • People assume you have to live on Boosts/Ensures. And while that is the EASIEST way to get calories, it’s not the only way. Get a good mixer/blender and someone who is imaginative. Blend soups that are ALREADY thin so that they’re essentially ONLY liquid with no bits whatsoever. It’s a great way to get your nutrients and not get burned out of protein drinks early on.
  • Expect to hear lots of “I wish I could lose weight like you are!” comments. Don’t be offended by them. They’re not trying to belittle your experience; they just think it’s a more clever comment than it really is.
  • I can’t stress this enough – the first 3 days are going to be scary, nerve-wracking, and more difficult than you can reasonably prepare for. Just get past them (preferably with someone alongside you in case your nurses are understaffed). Your life will get easier every day after that.

I may do a blog post like this after 30 days, or 90 days, or one year. I’m not sure. Either way, things are going okay today and I hope to sleep like a mofo tonight. I will, for the sake of that sentence, assume that mofos are really good at sleeping.