Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Sometimes I can't believe that it's been a quarter of a year since the operation. Sometimes I can't even remember what I used to look like and am actually quite shocked seeing photos from several months ago. Looking through photos to find one for a new ID card, I found the one I used for last year's card. OMG it is different!! (And I don't even like using "OMG"). It's only now that I'm fully used to seeing this jaw-amended face that the old jaw looks horrifically different. So much so. How I viewed those photos before is drastically different from how I see them now. It's quite hard putting it into words actually; how on earth can my face look so changed in a matter of months without me even noticing it? (With the exception of the Swollen Days which I now prefer to forget..) From the side, my face is still quite swollen though that's something I'll only see and notice if I've taken a photo from the side and am studying it. Anyway, I finally got round to sharing some before and after shots with friends, and it seems that I'm not the only one who is completely taken aback by the change. In a good way, I'm hoping.
For other jaw-breakers-to-be, I bring good news. Three months on, your jaw will not be affected by rollercoasters! :) I know it's not really breaking news but to be honest I was slightly worried that my love for dangerously-fast-speed-adrenaline-pumping machines would be hindered by having a newly fixed jaw. But I didn't feel a thing! On the topic of updates, just thought that might be not completely useless news. And I love rollercoasters so much I did have to double-check with my surgeon beforehand...
On a slightly less optimistic level, I've been having so many health problems since the op. Not particularly major ones, but it's clear that my immune system isn't as happy as it used to be. All those anaesthetics and being "under the knife" (shudder) for 5 hours is clearly going to take it's toll for quite some time. Also, for almost 3 years I've been having weird problems with my neck where it feels like an electric shock every month or so. Since surgery, they have been becoming more frequent so I finally got it checked out by a GP. Turns out it's not a big deal and the jaw position is/was inflamed with something to do with a trapped nerve. Solution? Tablets and lots of them, but I should probably be used to it now! From here onwards, things will be getting much, much better :)
Monday, 12 September 2011
It's weird to think that a mere two months ago I was surviving off syringe-fed liquids, and feeling pretty dead every day. It's even weirder to think that my face has actually changed; I know I know I'm stating the obvious, but it's quite a huge concept to get your head around! I'd like to think I look normal but I know the swelling is still there and can take months to completely go down. But one of things I've learnt from this whole experience...is patience.
Seeing people after the long summer break is a little strange, especially watching people stare at you trying to figure out what's different. (Strange and a little creepy perhaps.) And I forget that it's my face/jaw they're staring at, and not something/someone behind me. Crazy, crazy times. Getting used to it though.
My speech is, at times, a lot unclearer than it used to be and according to my mum, "it looks as though you have something in your mouth when you talk." I have my fingers crossed this will improve with time, but speech therapy is something I may have to look into if the problem persists! In other jaw-related news, my orthodontist said last week that my teeth are pretty much in position (double hooray!) and it won't be long before my braces are taken off. Now that calls for a triple hooray!!
Just a couple more things before I sign off... I went abroad during the summer and had to go past all the security lines etc. And the metal in my face does not (I repeat does not) trigger off the metal alarm thing! Oh, and my passport with the old face was approved. Huge sigh of relief.
Going back to the title, time really really really does fly. With massive wings and all. And a propeller. On a helicopter. With light speed stuff. I could go on. The "worst weeks of my life" are definitely a thing of the past and starting to get a little blurry. So, upwards and onwards towards the non-blurry!
Ps. This is a diary of a smile, and the smile is almost, almost back to normal. Once the hamster cheeks have gone, all will be good!
Saturday, 20 August 2011
So it's been quite a long time since I last blogged, and to be honest not too much has changed since. Day by day, the swelling's gone down a little but the changes are so minute they are quite hard to pinpoint! Thankfully I'm looking more "normal" but we still have a long way to go until the swelling has completely gone :)
As for the eating, it's still soft food like fish and pasta (though liquidised first!). There's only one problem - a horrible wire sticking out at the back of my gum. At my last appointment, my mouth was too stiff to be able to cut the wire so there was literally nothing to do but hang in there and wait. And have a sharp piece of metal in my mouth. And...uh, it hurts. Luckily as I'm writing this, it's not actually too painful but I have noticed the back gums form an almost wall (yes it is as weird as it sounds!). Whether or not it gets worse or has done permanent damage, I'll let you know.
I have one last jaw-surgery related thing to mention. Funnily enough, my brother's just had a similar operation (though no way near as serious as mine) so I'll be swapping roles - no more lying in bed as a sick person for me! It's weird seeing someone else in the same position as I was in, and having to feed someone else smoothie with a syrringe! And thinking about it, my own operation seems a lifetime away. Thank goodness I have the old blog posts to refresh my memory!
Anyway.... until next time :) (let's hope my memory hasn't deteriorated even further. Um)
Saturday, 6 August 2011
I think it would be safe to say that this past month has been the toughest month I've ever had to live through. The not being able to eat properly, the weird stares I get at my face, the having to adjust to a completely different look, the not being able to talk, the not being able to talk properly, the new way of talking with a huge lisp, the having to stay at home, the not being able to smile without looking like a major loser... Thankfully towards the end of the month, a lot of these gradually got better - a lot but not all.
Like I mentioned in the last post, I've been out and about a lot more recently. Nope, not non-stop partying and shopping if that's what you're thinking. I've been taking a couple of courses (fashion and now radio journalism) which means the people I have met have been for the first time. Which means the newly-jaw-operated face is the only face of mine they see (wow that feels weird to say). It occasionally sinks in that I have to adjust and adapt to this which is...odd. And the lisp is just plain annoying!
I'm still surviving off a very boring diet of soup, scrambled eggs and smoothies but I am able to eat small portions of softer foods which don't require chewing... like cake :) As for the swollen-ness, it is still swollen but like I've said before, I could pass as a chubby girl with braces. My orthadontist says it could take up to 3-6 months for the swelling to go away. Cue sad face :( In other sad news, I've noticed that my mouth is now a little little little bit lopsided; I'm not sure whether to be worried yet, but I still have 5 months for my face to keep changing.
And there's not a lot more to say. Life gets more and more normal by the day, and though the start of the recovery month was extremely painful, I'm getting by with a (slightly unusual) smile on my face. This is a diary of a smile, after all...
Sunday, 24 July 2011
"I hate hayfever" is a bit of an understatement. I hate hayfever on a normal day, but I hate it even more when I'm in a post-op-recovery state. The biggest problem is my nose; fellow jawbreakers will understand the feeling where your face doesn't feel like your face, so your nose doesn't feel like your nose. This numbness from the damage to the nerves during surgery, combined with the weird pinning of my nose (don't ask - all I know is I can see some strange mini-plates in the x-ray), makes it very, very painful. Think hayfever on a bad polleny day times ten. Triple whammy: eyes, throat and yes, nose. It's just a little ironic that the fresh air that was supposed to do me good has made matters so much worse, and I think, I think I may have a cold now. Trust me, it is pretty hard to sneeze. And don't worry, I'm about to stop complaining!
Besides wanting to do a Van Gogh and chop off my ear cough nose, I've been getting by through the art of online shopping! Not too much to say here, but as you can imagine, if you put a girl in a house for 18 days, she's bound to whip out the debit card at some point! (FYI, I am not a shopaholic.)
So the two things I have learnt since I last wrote to you are:
1) Can hayfever get worse than it already is? One word - YES!
2) I am not as patient as I thought I was. Every day I look into the mirror and wish for the swelling to go down.
And let's add a few more...
3) I miss proper food so much I am consistently beginning to dream about it.
4) Milkshake is a sugary calorific lifesaver
5) I kind of want to eat baby food..
6) Surgery does horrible things to your skin
7) I have fantastic friends and the support I've gotten is amazing
8) People actually bother reading this blog without me having to (shamelessly) plug it
9) I really like making lists
10) It is time for souper dinner
So things have hit a temporary brick wall, and I have made plans to go out properly for the first time this week (fear not, I will brave the weird looks) so I really hope I feel better in time! Will they?
Who nose! (Ha, I've been waiting for ages to say that.)
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
As you will know by now, the worst part of the jaw-surgery-ordeal is now (thankfully) over. The past few days have been the most comfortable I've had in a while. In terms of progress, I am in much less pain and my speech has improved considerably so that I can now talk without someone going "can you say that again?" a hundred times before me finishing a sentence. I'm doing a lot more around the house than just sitting on the sofa all day, and the swelling has gone down noticably.
Having said that, my face is still swollen to the point that I feel incredibly self-conscious every time I have to leave the house. Since first returning home after the surgery, there's only been the two times. I went to see another orthodontist for some follow-up measurements and it's so strange to think that exactly two weeks ago, I was in that hospital lying painfully in a bed barely able to move. Anyway, she took an x-ray and it is very weird to see the metal lying in the jaw, the very changed and receded jaw shape, and the peculiar changes to my nose (it could be metal but I'm not entirely sure). All these changes - subtle or not - are going to take a while to get used to! Even looking in the mirror now and again, I think "oh my goodness is that me" before "how long is this swelling going to last!" After all, I can be impatient at times...
Myself and the medical experts are happy with the progress so far, and I'm so glad that everything I've experienced so far hasn't been experienced alone. Things are getting better and I've said goodbye to eating by syringe (hooray), and I can now handle mashed food rather than heavily liquidised soups. Even though I seriously crave chocolate and meat and chips and pizza and cereal and bread and pasta and burgers and biscuits... well, real food, I know it's just a small price to pay for a lifetime of benefits and easier eating. As it says on the tin (or the title), one step by step is all it takes...for now.
I'll see you at the next step
Friday, 15 July 2011
It's been almost a week since I last wrote (although time seems to have flown by), and I'm happy to say that things are going really well. The swelling is still very noticable, however it's gone down a bit so I could pass as having a very, very, very chubby face instead of a post-jaw-surgery one. I can carry out normal conversations and actually be understood (hip hip hooray!), I can actually sleep for more than 4 hours at a time, and my days of simply sitting on the sofa and sleeping are sadly over. Other fellow jawbreakers are definitely right: the first week is the hardest - and the first week is officially over! Join me in virtual celebration?
For the first time in a week, I stepped foot outside yesterday for a follow-up hospital appointment. "Disguised" by massive face-eating sunglasses, a large scarf and an even larger hoodie, I tried to keep my face as hidden as possible. And apparently my eyes still aren't back to "normal"? Well, they were well hidden by the sunnies anyway. James Bond disguises aside, it felt very weird to be back in touch with reality; after all I've been trapped in my sofa-dvd-water-magazine-sleep bubble for a good few days. The surgeon said that everything is coming along well, and (painfully) removed the big plastic mould which was attached to my upper teeth. The very good news is that now I can actually see my new bite - and my teeth are actually quite together! And he removed the horrible blood clot sitting in my nose so now I look less pig-like and can finally breathe properly.
Despite the fact that my skin is playing havoc (for your sake I won't go into detail) and I'm still not well enough to do proper things, I really feel that the recovery process is going very smoothly. As for the pain, it's significantly reduced and my regular painkillers have become less regular. As for the swelling, I've started taking homeopathic medicine to help so fingers crossed it does what it says on the bottle!
I know I keep saying thanks, but if you are reading this, thanks again! I've seen a few people from outside my sofa-dvd-water-magazine-sleep bubble and I can't wait to have more visitors :) If it weren't for the brilliant support I'm receiving (inside bubble and out), I would be a miserable girl with a very, very, very chubby face. So thanks :)
See you later
Saturday, 9 July 2011
Firstly, thank you all for your prayers, cards, messages, texts and well wishes - they have kept a smile on my face (I mean half-attempt at a smile. It's kind of impossible at the moment). It's been several days since the operation and I am absolutely shattered. There's so much I'd love to say and tell you about (after all, my speech is completely incoherent and I am slurring and mumbling and miming like I've never mimed before. Now would be a perfect time for me to have an imaginary friend to talk to in my head. Please remember I am still very much sane...). Unfortunately, due to the shattered-ness and the fact that this could otherwise become pages and pages of ramblings, I'll try and keep it as short as I can.
Well how should I start? After the other night, I was up in the early hours of the morning and we soon made our way to the surgical admissions lounge of the hospital. It wasn't until several measurement taking and seeing various different surgeons and doctors that I was told it would begin at around 12.. so the anxiety began! I was actually more calm and collected than I'd imagined I might be and I was still cracking jokes with the anaestesia man (is that how you spell it?). One of the last things I remember is him injecting fluids and me asking if I was about to fall asleep. He then laughed incredulously and said "no way!". The man tells lies.
Blackout, then recovery. I genuinely think it was only when I woke up that I realised "oh my goodness it's actually happened." Waking up in the recovery room I immediately felt like a sick helpless person but I couldn't find it in me to feel much emotion (both anaesthetically and emotionally numb). After what felt like a very long time, I was wheeled off to a ward and soon allowed to see my parents. Not very long after that, I decided that I didn't like hospitals. (Mainly due to the fact that I had people throwing up on the beds either side of me. Shudder.)
The nurses were lovely, I had a button to press for anything I needed, plus I had tubes inside me and an oxygen supply. Somehow I never chose to think about these sorts of things pre-surgery.. like having nosebleeds every few minutes and not being able to speak when I so badly wanted to. And also my face was so swollen (and still is) that it made everything about 100 times harder. And my face had literally been just cut open. Yep I didn't want to think about that..
The next day I was slowly taking in water and medication by syrringe, able to stand and walk without feeling sick and able to Facebook and text in bed (oh the joy of being a 21st century girl). A friend who came to visit even brought colour cards with "Go!", "Stop!" and "Almost there!" to make communication just that little bit easier. However, that night was by far the most painful and uncomfortable I can ever remember having. Time went s-s-s-o slowly - I swear, 2 hours felt like a day and until the morning, I didn't sleep a minute. Combine this with unbearable pain and monstrous snoring from the patient opposite, and it was terrible. I consciously listened to the hundreds of songs in the "Chill" and "Acoustic" playlists on my ipod, and counted sheep. Nothing.
Thankfully my time in hospital was coming to an end and, after successfully eating yoghurt and mash, was told I would be able to leave that morning. Psychologically though, I was in a very fragile state, willing my parents to arrive sooner and almost having a panic attack when leaing the hospital. I can imagine my smashed up face and hyperventillating was not an attractive sight. Anyway, I have never been happier to be home.
Taking primary residence on the living room sofa, I sleep for most of the day. My eyes are so tired, my face is heavy and swollen, there is a lot of pain involved everywhere and I just can't wait to feel and recognise my face again. It's not all bad though, I have a little doorbell thing which I can press and my mum or dad will come running, I have about 10 latest magazines from a friend who understands my obsessive love for them! (and has great taste as I haven't bought a single one of them yet). I'm very grateful to have such patient parents, and because I have no choice but to act like a baby, I'm treated like one! (Which for once isn't actually a bad thing.) The tricky part is being too tired to do anything so it's a miracle I've spent so long typing, and eating and sitting and sleeping upright. I'm still not well enough for visitors to see me either which I don't like as I miss people! Eyes on the future though...
This will be one of those things we look back at in time, and smile at when I'm capable of smiling again. Oh man do I miss smiling.. I'm blessed to have such lovely family and friends, and fortunate I was in good hands and that the surgery went as smoothly as it was supposed to! As for the rest, I'm sure I still have much to learn from the experience and hopefully I'll be able to tell you how it changed my life someday. But perhaps for now I'll stick to the miming....
Lots of love xoxo
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
It's a very surreal feeling and the only thing I could think about was to write about it. It's personal, but somehow I feel that I shouldn't be keeping it to myself. I think I'm aware and ready and prepared for the actual surgery part, by pre-op nerves must be messing with my head right now. I've packed my overnight bags, debated over what I consider to be "comfortable clothing", eaten as much as I can whilst I can, and watched 3 episodes of Friends to distract myself. You could say it's been an eventful day.
Tomorrow, however, will be a zillion times more eventful! A five o'clock wake up call probably means I should head off now, and don't expect to hear from me for a while (for uh, obvious reasons). I am sure that everything will be fine though; this marks the start of a new part of my life so why don't we catch up later so you can share it with me?
Ps. FYI...Not. Freaking. Out.
Monday, 4 July 2011
Mental issues aside, here is my fool-proof guide to preparing yourself for jaw surgery:
1) Get yourself a film rental subscription
So the aftermath/recovery period will basically involve sitting in one place for a while. So what better than a rental subscription? I've just signed up for a 30 day free trial with LoveFilm (and it comes with a £20 Amazon voucher - result!) so I am definitely ready to curl up on the sofa and watch movies!
2) Get yourself lots of books
I have amazing friends (trust me this will become relevant in a moment). Friends who understand that I will be spending a lot of time isolated from "the outside world" and absolutely love reading. So they bought me a Kindle (yes a Kindle!) - thousands of books just one click away which will be incredibly handy to keep me amused post op and beyond.
3) Mentally prepare
My method of preparation is trying not to think about it too much. If I think too much, I'll panic and that'll put me in a horrible state for the operation! I'm often an over-thinker so this is great practice for the future. Thankfully, people have been very supportive and sympathetic instead of frightening "you're gonna die" and "that's going to hurt" comments. Thanks guys!
In and out!
On a more serious note, this may be the last time I write before the surgery. I'm slightly scared about the whole waking up part (and yes, the pain.. after all I am only human) and staying in hospital overnight on my own. And I'm also a little worried about the state of my face upon waking up and how I won't be able to talk.. But (again) let's not dwell on the negatives! Everything happens for a reason and this smile is embarking on a whole new journey.
See you on the other side?
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
So there are two weeks to go until the dreaded day of the operation… I say “dreaded”, but part of me is excited for the end result, with the other part either scared but brave, worried but brave, or putting all thoughts of jaw-breakage and pain to the very back of my mind…in other words trying to be brave. In fact, if you ask me about my operation, it’s likely I’ll tell you with a smile. I’m thinking optimistic thoughts right now.
The final preparations are all coming together now; I went for my pre-surgery tests on Monday and have several more appointments before going under the knife (scary thought!). Thankfully I’ve met my surgeon a few times now, and I am confident that my jaw will be safe in his hands (both metaphorically and literally speaking).
I now know a little more about the actual procedure – it’s called bimax osteotomy (Google at your own risk) and will involve splints, screws and making an incision just under my chin. What would we do without general anaesthesia? I’ve also had to sign a consent form, understanding the risks. Bleeding, bruising, pain, swelling, numbness of lip and tongue (possibly permanent – eek!), nose changes and more. “No pain without gain” seems quite applicable here, but the only one I am concerned about is the nose change part. But I trust the surgeons, and if I ever have to, I’ll buy one of those fancy dress disguise glasses which come with a comic nose. Obviously no one will recognise me then!
I’ve been quite shocked at the level of support I’ve been getting, and I am blessed to have such amazing friends and family (and even teachers). Of course it’ll be the summer holidays soon and I am already a little jealous at some of the activities people will be getting up to, but people’s promises of pre-op pigging out sessions, soup, baby food, magazines, movie nights and company are so so lovely and will definitely keep me occupied and happy during recovery time. Thank you!
Keep me in your prayers please, and I’ll see you soon
Monday, 30 May 2011
Hello friends, fellow jawbreakers, random people of the Internet,
I’m writing this because I’m about to go on a life-changing (ahem face-changing) journey and I want you there with me. There we go – short and sweet and straight to the point.
So, what journey? Not the sort of journey taking you on planes and trains and cars, not the sort where you take photos of the view, and definitely not the sort where you can kick back and relax. I’m talking about an operation (cue dramatic music). Corrective jaw surgery. (It's really not that dramatic I hope.)
Just to let you know where I'm at... At the moment I haven’t been fully informed of all the nitty-gritty jaw science stuff, but here’s what I do know: I’ve been having orthodontic treatment since 2009, my operation will be this summer, they’re pushing my bottom jaw back and my upper jaw forward (don’t ask me how, but it’s possible!), and my surgeon seems like a friendly person. I’m in good hands, as they might say so watch this space for more.
I’m also writing this because I love writing. Although this site is completely new, I am a regular blogger; as much as I love my other website however, I don’t really think it would be appropriate to write a tonne on the changing ways of my face and other surgery stuff whilst simultaneously telling readers about the latest fashion styles and lifestyle finds. I mean I could, but the heavy they’re-gonna-break-my-jaw theme doesn’t really fit into the whole “life is sweet, let’s eat lollipops” vibe.
Anyway, naturally I don’t want to be (or feel) on my own throughout all of this so the more the merrier! And I’m talking about you. I’ll make you a deal – I’ll go through the surgery and write about it, and you can read all about it. (And make me feel better if I’m going through a “phase”.) If just one person joins me, I’ll keep on writing. Even if it is my mum.
I know there are a few similar blogs out there, but hey – the more the merrier!
I'll keep you posted