Thursday, January 30, 2014

6 Months Post Op

Hard to believe how fast these last 6 months of recovery has flown by. I feel so grateful to be feeling so well and pain/headache free! I know it only has to get better from here.

Braces Off   January 2014

 I'll start by saying that I am beyond happy to have my braces off. I only had them on 6 months before surgery and then 6 months after, so I shouldn't complain because that is nothing compared to how long others have had theirs on. My teeth have been very sensitive since surgery, needless to say the debanding was pretty painful. They were as gentle and careful as they could have been and got it done quickly but OUCH! I am extremely happy with my new smile though so it was worth it. My orthodontist did an amazing job!!!! I am still going to be wearing a retainer 24hrs a day for the next 6 months and then I will only have to wear it at night after that. They bonded a permanent retainer behind my bottom teeth so I only have my top that I have to worry about.

scraping all of the glue off of my teeth
wires and brackets after the popped them all off

I have seen my surgeon twice since my last post. I saw him about a month ago because I was having a terrible earache in my left ear for over a week and was worried it was my jaw joint because they are so close to the ear. I had been stretching my mouth and pushing myself too hard trying to get my opening over 40mm and ended up only injuring myself. He reminded me again that my jaw joints have restrictions and can only be pushed so hard before I could potentially put myself in a chronic pain state. He gave me a steroid dose pack to calm down the inflammation around that joint and I felt so much better after the third day of taking it. I have completely stopped using my therabite since the day I saw him. I'd rather have a limited opening than to live in constant pain from pushing my joints to the max. It's just not worth it! I had gotten up to 40mm but since I have stopped it my opening is still 35-36mm which I am happy with!

I again saw the surgeon a few days ago for my 6 month follow up. unfortunately, I am still struggling daily with my first bite pain and along with that now my cheeks flush and get bright red while i'm eating. It is as bad or worse than it was in the beginning. So, I'm  going on 6 months with this and we have tried every form of treatment possible to help calm my salivary/parotid glands down. He is sure now that my nerves have Cris-crossed and have healed in the wrong position. He said this is a fairly rare side effect and doesn't see it very often. Of course, it would happen to me.  Right now he is having me put a scolpamine patch behind my ear. This patch is usually used for motion sickness or for patients going into surgery to help prevent nausea but we are trying it to see if it helps subside my pain. We are doing a 2 week trial, rotating a patch every 72 hours. If this isn't effective when I see him in 2 weeks then we are going to schedule me to have botox injected into my salivary glands and blocking the nerves that are causing my pain. I will get to be sedated for this and thank god because as much as some might not think I'm a wimp. I am a huge wimp and especially so when it comes to needles being stuck in me. He said if we have to go this route that I will need multiple treatments, several months in between each treatment. I'm really at a point with this now that I will do anything to make it go away even if that means having several botox treatments.

On a much brighter note, my hair has completely stopped falling out and is growing back very quickly. I have a ton of baby hairs sticking straight up on the top of my head. I would normally be doing anything the get them to go away or stay down but right now I am so excited to see new hair growth. My hair is very thick on the top of my head now but when I put it down it still doesn't cover the back of my head, it so so so thin. It's all good though, I'm just so very happy to see it filling in again on the top.

I will post again with what the surgeon's next plan of treatment is after my appointment with him in two weeks. I added some side by side pictures that I got from my orthodontist of my teeth and bite. Sorry, some are very close up!!!

close up of my bite before and after

December 2012                                                                        January 2014

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I am going to take this blog a little off subject for this post! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for this year that I wanted to make a special post just for all the people that have blessed me so much over the past year.....

I am of course most thankful for my loving and supportive family! They are my everything and I wouldn't be who I am without them pushing me to be my best. My two kids have taught me so much over the years. Mckayla is wise beyond her years and is so incredibly smart. I can't wait to see what great things she does in the future. Connor has taught me patience and I just love watching his little mind work. He is going to be a ladies man and give me gray hair and wrinkles at an early age. Love to see how much they love each other and how close they are.

I am thankful to be married to the most amazing man that I've ever met for just under 10 years now. He is such a playful loving dad to our kids. He has seen me at my worst, has loved me through so many trials and has always been there when I needed him the most. After surgery, he was never more than an arms length away and making sure everything was taken care of while I recovered. Words don't describe how much I love him.

I am thankful for my job and all the emotionally strong, smart, and beautiful nurses that I get to work along side with every day. You are some of the most compassionate and caring women I know. I take my job for granted and getting to assist with bringing new life into the world on a daily basis. I have to take a step back and realize how life changing it is for others even though it's so routine for us. As hard as some days may be physically, emotionally, and mentally I can't imagine doing anything else.

I am thankful for my surgeon along with his nurses and my orthodontist. My life has been forever changed and there aren't words to even begin to say how thankful I am to them. I have my life back because of this small group of people. To think of all the time and hard work they have put in to improve my quality of life, just makes me so happy. I feel like I'm doing well post op but nothing feels better than getting a hug from my surgeon and hearing it from him. No matter what post operative issue I'm dealing with, he can always put me at ease within a matter of minutes. I knew that I was in the best of hands from the first day I met him and his nurses but they have gone above and beyond any expectation I had. I'm so blessed to have these special people in my life.

I am thankful for all of my friends. I have made so many new friends this year that have made me feel like I wasn't alone in this long painful journey. This blog, along with Facebook groups have been a blessing in disguise and I have learned so much from each one of you and I am happy to be in some way a part of your journey as well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Life As I Know It

It's been awhile since my last post and have had lots of my sweet friends near and far message and ask how I'm doing since I haven't posted in so long. It really does get harder and harder to keep my blog updated since I had surgery. I'll catch everyone up since my last post, 8 weeks ago.......

I had my 12 week follow up appointment with the surgeon a few weeks ago. I feel like I always have so many questions for him about little things that are bothering me. He and his nurses are always so nice to let me ramble on about all the small concerns. He said that I am doing great and I can't even tell you how good it feels to hear it straight from him. 

He did say that I could start using my Therabite now and I was sadly super excited about starting this. I know several of you that follow my blog started it right after surgery and everyone else by 6 weeks post op so I was feeling a little behind. My opening prior to using the Therabite was 25mm and he thought the best I would get to is a 35mm opening BUT I am already at 35mm just two weeks out from starting it. I've been using it about 3-4 times a day with 10 reps and holding for 20 seconds. I am so happy with my progress since starting it and I would be completely fine if this is as much motion as I get but so many of you have got to 45 or even up to 50mm that i'm going to make my goal 40mm now and then we'll see from  there.

My New Friend-Therabite
As wide as I could open my mouth at these stages. I started Therabite at 12 Weeks

I'm not much of a complainer but here is a few things post-op that I've been struggling with and none of which have anything to do with the actual surgery but more so with post op side affects. I have no jaw or joint pain at all and have almost complete feeling back in my face again. My lips finally touch together again,Woohoo! They still don't naturally stay together but are getting there. So, when I look at the little list of things below that are driving me crazy it makes me realize how lucky I am after this surgery and know that these issues will resolve and will soon be a distant memory.

Side profile before and after with lips closed. Can't even tell you how much I hated that before picture

 ---My biggest concern, being the pain I am still having when I take the first bite or two of food that I discussed briefly in my last post. He again reassured me that this will pass and get better as the nerves heal. As little of a problem this may sound to be, it is debilitating for me and I completely dread when it's time to eat. I do hope it gets better soon. I, of course, have googled this and everything come up as "first bite syndrome" whether or not this is a real diagnosis or someone made it up, it fits every one of my symptoms. It has also made me nervous that I may actually have this and that it won't get better because of permanent damage. This isn't a type of surgery that there is lots of information out there and I can easily find lots of information on so I will just continue to wait patiently for the pain of eating to go away.

---My hair has been falling out in clumps and handfuls. I wake up and my pillow is covered in it. I run my hands thru it and it falls out. Lets not even discuss what happens when I try to brush it. Since then I also noticed that I had my hair cut and highlighted in August and it hasn't grown out at all since then. My hair still looks like I just had it done, I have been taking prenatal vitamins, biotin and making sure that I am eating plenty of protein. I got worried enough that I asked my surgeon about it and I think I really stumped him on this and referred me to the dermatologist. The dermatologist said that this can be a normal side effect of surgery and that basically my hair is in a sort of sleeping stage and my hair will eventually stop falling out but she warned me that it could take up to two more months before regrowth starts again. What makes this even worse is that I don't have much hair to begin with and now I can barely get a ponytail to stay in. I'm a little scared to see what 6-8 more weeks of hair loss will look like at this rate. 

---Lastly, clenching. I just know I'm going to break a tooth as hard as I clench at night. I wake up and my teeth will still be clenched together and have to slowly pull them apart. My teeth are sore and sensitive because of it. The surgeon gave me some medicine to take at night to see if it would help relax my muscles but I've gotten no relief from it. I don't know that anything else can be done about it right now. 

I just wanted to say I feel so blessed to have my life back again and to have met so many new friends along my journey. Friends that have had surgery, getting ready to have surgery, and others that have been told that surgery is inevitable and found my blog while researching. This blog takes a lot of work to keep up but hearing from all of you that my experiences are helping with your own personal journey makes it all so worth it.

Just a few pictures to get up to date on here.

Bite 2 weeks before surgery and now

10 Weeks Post Op

14 Weeks Post Op

Friday, September 20, 2013

Back To Reality

I'm 8 weeks post op today, Yay! Time sure does fly by when you're having fun......I saw my surgeon this week and got cleared to go back to work and most importantly EAT a normal diet! It was the best thing I've ever heard. It was like words coming straight from an angel's mouth. I had been looking forward to this day for the past 7 weeks. So, life returns to normal again and I am so excited to get back to the every day routine, like nothing happened.

So happy my husband puts up with my picture taking lately!

Yep, I can open my mouth and he wanted to show off too!

The surgeon took some more x-rays to make sure everything still looked good and was healing well. He said everything looks perfect and was pretty happy to see that I was feeling so good. I don't go back for another 6 weeks to see him, so I hope that I can improve significantly more by then. My biggest challenge is working on my opening. A couple weeks after surgery it was 18mm and now I can open my mouth to 25 mm. I know that doesn't sound like a lot of difference over the past 6 weeks, but I have really worked hard on it and I can tell a huge difference when I go to take a bite of food. Before surgery I could open to 42mm, so that is my goal! He said that the more I can have my elastic bands off the better for me with getting normal function back. I will have to see what the orthodontist says because he is using them to align my bite right now and wants them on. My scars from surgery have healed perfectly and have pretty much disappeared. I even have trouble when I try to find them now! I am able to move both of my eyebrows again and have sensation back everywhere on my face except where my new jaw joints are and it is still very numb.

Above: Xrays taken in November 2011 Below: Xrays taken September 2013

I went and had my teeth cleaned this week even though I had it done a few days before surgery. I just haven't been able to get my teeth very clean with a baby toothbrush. The dentist recommended that I have it done every several months  after I had surgery to make sure I don't get any cavities. I was really worried about being able to keep my mouth open for so long and it hurting, but I had no problem at all with staying open the entire time without a bite block or anything to help me. I was also surprised at how numb my gums and teeth are on the top. I couldn't even tell when she was cleaning anything on the top. I was pretty happy because I always have a very back tooth that has a large filling in it that bothers me when it's messed with and I couldn't feel a thing. I don't know when feeling will come back on top, but I'm ok if it doesn't for awhile.

You might wonder what a girl wants to eat for the first time in 7 weeks since being banded shut and on a no chew diet! I had been craving sushi from Kobe in Fayetteville since we got home from the hospital. I promise I thought about it everyday, not kidding......So my husband took me immediately there after our appointment with the surgeon on Monday. My husband explains it like I was a kid on their first birthday getting to eat cake for the first time. I do have to agree that I was pretty excited and smiled the entire time. We ordered a feast and I attempted to eat everything. Chewing was a little weird at first to get used too, but I got the hang of it. My jaw joints didn't bother me one bit.The most bothersome thing was the pressure it put above my teeth, where all the plates and screws are. It feels almost as if they are going to pop because of the pressure. I am getting used to it though and I don't pay much attention to it anymore. I have been eating great since Monday and have eaten anything I feel like. I don't even feel guilty about it! I ended up losing 25 lbs throughout this process and haven't gained a single pound back even after my eating whatever I want all week. I am pretty positive this will catch up to me.

Best Day Ever-My first meal that I got to chew!

I only have a couple of concerns still, which the surgeon says are normal and will just take time. My main concern is that my lips still don't touch together but, I will say that they are getting closer. I can put them together but they don't stay together when I'm relaxed. My muscles just feel so tight that my lips just won't stay shut. The other bothersome concern is that since I was about 3 weeks post op and was able to start my no chew diet. When I put food in my mouth and swallow it I get a horrible pain which feels like its in my salivary glands, at the very back sides of my throat, that send a cramping electric shock throughout my mouth and jaws. The best way to describe it, is when you eat a lemon and it's so sour it hurts. The pain only last for the first bite or maybe 5 seconds and then I can eat perfectly normal with no pain. That first bite though is so bad it makes me not want to eat. It doesn't matter if it's cold, hot, bland, sweet, or sour. It all feels the same with the first bite. The surgeon says it is because of the nerve and muscle damage and that it will get better. so for now, I will just make a horrible face and shake my head when I take my first bite of food, haha!

If my main complaints have nothing to do with the actual surgery and just side effect of what had to be done, then I give myself a pat on the back. My jaws feel great and my jaw joints are doing amazing even with chewing. I do plan on taking it slow and trying to eat more soft type food than crunchy just to save my jaw joints from so much impact. I want them to last me many many years and not have to have them replaced. I'm hoping for at least 20 years with them. The surgeon thinks they will be able to last me that long or longer, so I'm happy with that.

6 weeks post op

7 weeks post op

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

4 Weeks Into My Recovery

It's hard to believe that it has already been over a month since I had surgery! Every week has been better than the week before and I can honestly say that I am feeling great. The pain that I had been having in the early hours of the morning has subsided and I have been sleeping really well for the first time in so many years! I am also able to breathe through my nose now. I can't even remember the last time that I was able to do that. It's just the little things in life that we take for granted till we aren't able to do them anymore.

I can't remember if I mentioned that I'm not able to move my eyebrows at all or not in the last couple of posts,but they still don't move at all. That sensation will come back eventually so I'm not concerned about it at all. The numbness is slowly going away in certain portions of my face which is nice, but swelling and the numbness is still very prominent around where my new jaw joints are on each side. I cant even feel the sensation of my fingers touching my face around those areas. My lips still don't touch together and that is a little frustrating for me and I worry that they won't ever touch together again without me forcing them too, but they are getting closer so I just need to be patient. I am still struggling to talk but I have gotten really good at talking without my lips moving at all and speak a lot clearer except for when it comes to trying to say my name that starts with an "M" and it comes out sounding like "Alyssa" instead of Melissa. If that is my biggest complaint then I'm kicking this recoveries butt. I am still on a no chew diet and have been eating fairly good. I have gotten used to just swallowing the tiny pieces of food without chewing, but I am still losing weight and am down 22 lbs since I had surgery. I guess I will just keep losing till I am allowed to start chewing again. In case you were wondering I should be able to start chewing again after I see the surgeon in 19 days. I'm totally counting down, haha!

Overall, I am beyond happy with how my recovery is going and am so so so thankful for no complications and to be feeling like myself again. I hope to be back in my normal routine shortly!

Here's a few pictures taken around 4 weeks post op. I am still shocked at the difference in my face since surgery and how much it changes as the swelling goes down.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Happy To be Among The Living Again

Can I just say how glad I am that I made it past the first two weeks post-op! There were just some days that I didn't know how I could possibly make it to the next. I felt almost as if I was living hour to hour. My first week was made more difficult by a stiff neck that I couldn't move at all and was stuck crooked. I had to go to physical therapy several times to work it out. He was so helpful and my neck is almost 100% now. I have to move it slowly but I can move it.

18 days post op! Love my new profile

I'm almost three weeks out now and I am feeling pretty good. I literally have no pain throughout the day and am not taking any medicine, but between the hours of 3-6am I wake up with my entire head pulsating. It's such a deep pain I can feel it behind my eyes and inside my ears and I have to take a pain pill even though I don't want too it's the only thing that makes the pain go away. I am hoping that it goes away soon because I've gotten to a point that I dread going to sleep knowing that I am going to wake up in such bad pain  It's gotta get better before I go back to work because I don't know how I could get up and ready in that kind of pain.

Before and After 18 days post-op

My face is still completely numb from right above my eyebrows to below my chin and it still feels like something is sitting on my face. It's just a very heavy feeling. I am working on moving my lips and smiling again even though the top one feels so numb and dead I have been able to smile just a little bit. it looks a little funny but, hey it's progress. My swelling and bruising is so much better. I am ready to see my new face!

The biggest smile yet! =)

I saw the surgeon this week and he was very happy with my progress. I am on a normal diet but no chewing at all still. I have gotten really good at just swallowing my food down without chewing. My sweet husband puts chicken/pork/beef in a food processor and chops it up really small so it's really easy just to swallow. I can not tell you how ready I am to take a big bite of a hamburger or a piece of pizza. I just want the satisfaction of being able to chew. I got a really big hug from him and he said that he would see me again in 4 weeks and I should get to start chewing again after my appointment! I'm so excited!!!

without my bands on I can open my mouth this far! Not too bad

I also had to have my first orthodontist appointment since surgery. I am suppose to see him every week but the surgeon allowed me to skip last week because I was in so much pain. I was just a little nervous of seeing the orthodontist because my mouth doesn't open very much and I didn't know how he would be able to change my wires. It turned out to be an easy appointment. my top wire is still segregated into three pieces and he said if we went straight back into one straight top wire it could pop all the screws and plates above my upper lip because of all the pressure. so we are taking baby steps to get back into one straight wire. come to find out my gums are numb and even my teeth don't have fully sensitivity. I couldn't even feel them working in my mouth. He did say that he will see me every week "for a long time" but I could possibly be brace free in 6-9 months! I can't wait to see my new smile.

First Orthodontist appointment since surgery! I was a little tense

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Surgery Post Op and Photos

Well Friends I know that I said I would update right after surgery but I had such a tough recovery the first week that I wasn't able to focus on my blog and I apologize for that. I am 11 days post op now and am feeling as good as I can. Surgery went very well and lasted about 5 hours. My entire face has been numb ever since I went to recovery and will be numb for several months. I was pretty freaked about having to throw up after surgery but I was swallowing so much blood that all I did was throw up the first night, It was terrible........ I had to stay in the hospital for 4 days before I was ready to go home which was much longer than I wanted to have to stay. Since Ive been home I had been on a syringe liquid diet only and it was so hard to do and I ended up losing 16 lbs since surgery day.
I went to the surgeon today and since I had lost so much weight he decided that it was best to unband my teeth and just keep rubber bands on each side of my mouth that I am able to take out when I eat and have to put right back in. I am not allowed to chew any of the food and I have to just swallow it which has proven very difficult to do but I am trying my hardest.
The sweling and bruising is still pretty significant and my face feels like I have a really bad sinus infection with all the pressure that I have in my head but besides the pain from the pressure I'm not having any pain at all. The fact that my entire face is numb probably helps with that too though.

OK picture time.......
signing my surgical consents

ready to go

they had to wrap my hair up to keep it out of the sterile field during surgery

I was looking pretty funny

nurse finishing up wrapping up my head talking to anesthesia

yes I looked ridiculous

right after surgery feeling pretty bad

brusing and swelling day 1 post op

my sweet husband helping me drink

my new profile day 10 post op

my xray with my new titanium face