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.