I hope everyone had a happy holiday season! It is certainly was the ha-happiest time of the year for someone who was almost 10 months out of jaw surgery. Here’s an update!
Smile, Bite and Swelling
Here are several angles of my face showing you my new jaw alignment, smile and bite. I’m still adjusting to the physical changes and I have good days when I’m happy and bad days when I have difficulty reconciling what I’m seeing in the mirror.
I’m very lucky that my bite hasn’t shifted since my braces were removed a couple months ago. Definitely my teeth would love to move if I didn’t wear my retainer each night to sleep. When I put on my retainer at night, it feels very tight and a little sore for a couple minutes. It’s definitely important to wear that retainer as instructed, even if you have the permanent wires glued to the insides of your teeth like I have, those aren’t enough to hold your teeth in place. It will take years for my teeth to stop trying to move again and if I remember correctly, it’s because the surgery hasn’t changed the muscle memory in my face, so each time I swallow which is thousands of times a day, my face muscles try to push my teeth back to their old position.
It’s difficult to describe the only remaining symptom in a way that makes sense to someone who hasn’t experienced it. Imagine you had dental work that required some needle-freezing. And that freezing will wear off in exactly 4 hours. Well right now the area around my mouth feels like I’m 3 hours and 45 minutes into it. It’s not numb, I can feel it all. But there’s a very, very faint feeling that remains. It does continue to improve but I have been tremendously worried that I have permanent nerve damage. And I think this worrying ties into the fatigue I mention later in this post. Dr. T. assures me that it’s normal and can take a full year or even up to 4 years for this to disappear, but he assures me, it will go away. It’s definitely not a numbness, just a faint tightness. When my face is completely still, I don’t feel anything at all and it’s like the surgery never happened. When I’m smiling and talking, I feel it a little. When I pucker my lips, I feel it the most. I know it’s improving because I put on some lip liner and the feeling of pressure of the lip liner becomes more pronounced each week, if that makes sense. Also, since I originally started writing this post two weeks ago, I’ve felt a great improvement. I also had a lot of tingling in the past two weeks which was strange, almost like the tingling went away for several weeks but then came back. I saw Dr. T. last week and he told me not to worry and this means nerves are still regenerating. What a long recovery!
Weight Loss, Weight Gain
I struggled with my weight for several months after surgery. Initially, I lost about 10lbs but that came back lightning fast in the second month after surgery. It seemed like my body was trying to hold on to every last pound, converting fat at an alarming rate. I was gaining weight like crazy. I’m usually about 127lbs but I quickly went up to 135lbs. If I had a hamburger and fries, I’d wake up two pounds heavier and not just for a few days either, I had to work it off at the gym and by restricting calories for several days afterwards. It didn’t make any sense and felt like my body was out of control. I do Pilates 4 or 5 times a week and I eat a paleo diet and I still gained weight. I wasn’t putting on muscle either, my body was all soft and bloated. Unless I was eating 1200 calories a day, I was gaining weight. It was very depressing. Before surgery, I could probably eat up to 2500 calories a day without gaining anything. Only in the past two weeks did my metabolism appear to return to normal. My muscles have also developed a lot over the last two months which is strange because nothing has really changed in my exercise regime since last April but I’m now putting on major muscle mass. So I’m assuming that my body was too busy healing or stressing out to respond to food and exercise normally.
As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.
I have a new talent now, I can predict weather changes. I can feel it in my face. It’s a feeling of pressure. Apparently this is common after surgeries and it’s due to drops in barometric pressure which can cause increased swelling and inflammation in injured bones. They say that anti-inflammatory drugs like Tylenol can help when this happens but I haven’t tried it yet. It’s pretty funny when I massage my face and announce that it’s going to rain.
Better pack an umbrella!
It’s as if I have brand-new nerves in my face, the surface of my skin is hypersensitive right now. My husband has a beard and I have to approach him very carefully or else it feels like I have a cactus on my face!
Come here, baby!
A hot beverage touching my lips can feel like fire if I don’t wait for it to cool down or ask for a touch of cold water in it. I’m guessing it will take a lot more time for this sensitivity to lessen, but in the meantime…
I’ll have a Grande!
Whitening the Stains
I just started a teeth whitening treatment to get rid of the stains that accumulated after surgery. I’m doing the treatment that involves removable custom trays and the gel. The treatment cost was supposed to be $100 for the removable trays plus $10 for each syringe of whitening gel, but since I already had the plaster molds of my teeth from my orthodontist’s final records, my dentist brought it down to $50 and used the existing molds to make the trays. I only got three tubes of whitening gel which I think will be enough to get rid of these stains, so it only came out to $80 total (update: I needed 6 tubes in total, so it was $110 total). Definitely worth it! Here you can see how white my teeth were before braces and surgery, and how stained they were when my braces came off…
For several months after surgery I felt really fatigued. I think it was the stress of the recovery and the daily and weekly changes happening to my face – it’s enough to make anyone crazy. I found a supplement that helped me tremendously, it’s called Ortho-Adapt. It’s meant to reduce the impact of stressful conditions and prevent the body from overreacting to stressors. The effects of this supplement for me have been magical. I’d say one of the most difficult aspects of this surgery has been all of the anxiety before, during and after the surgery, and this just helps keep me calm and as a result, I feel like I have more energy during the day! Everyone’s body and stress response is different but I thought I’d share anyway because it helps me so much.
Perfect Jaw Surgery Flashlight
After jaw surgery I experienced a lot of problems breathing through my nose and with banded-shut teeth, it made it hard to breathe all-around. I had to clean out my nose a lot the first few days and I found it awkward to hold a flashlight and a mirror and q-tips to clean my nose. I was putting a few drops in my electric oil diffuser or “wax warmer” the other day and I realized that this would have been the perfect flashlight for my recovery. The top tray is removable and inside is a flash light that points upwards and the base is stable, unlike the handle of a regular flashlight. If I could go back in time, I’d have used this $10 gadget from Walmart to illuminate my nose. Then, I could have set it on a table and hovered over it, used a handheld mirror and a q-tip and gotten my nose cleaned much faster! I’m going to recommend it on the Supplies section of the blog because maybe this will help someone out there.
Well that’s all I can think of for now! I still receive comment notifications via email so feel free to ask any questions below!