Sunday, 24 July 2011

Online shopper, nose chopper

Today has been a tough day for me. Since the day of the op (18 days ago now!), every day has left me feeling progressively better... until now. After my parents' suggestion (slash insistence) of getting some "fresh air" on such a lovely summer's day, we went for a walk in the park. We obviously had not thought about the fact that I haven't walked more than up and down and around the house, and the other killer: Hayfever.

"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

Step by step

Hello :)

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

Does my face look big in this?

Hi again :)

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

First post-op post!

Hello everyone!

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

Last minute freakout?

I'll admit it: I'm nervous. Perhaps not conciously anxious, but I have found myself feeling the ups and downs of raw emotion over the past 24 hours. Emotional about saying goodbye to people I see everyday but won't see for weeks, emotional about registering that my face will actually be different, emotional that my face is actually very horrific from the side which I somehow never fully realised (do not, do not look at my camera. The photos will shock), and emotionally sensitive at any little thing. Shout at me right now and run the risk of me bursting into tears. Don't ask why because I don't think I know!

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

How to... prepare yourself for jaw surgery

Well there you have it - the big day is a mere few days away. I say "big day", but it's a tad scarier and more painful than a wedding or promotion or birthday... and involves jaw breakage and being on liquid food for weeks. Anyway let's not dwell on the negatives. Instead, I'm a mere few days away from a much better bite so I can actually eat properly (as opposed to tearing my sandwich to small eatable chunks). And my profile should be improved so that I don't freak out everytime someone tries to point a camera at me from the side! As you can probably tell, I'm totally prepared for this...

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!

4) Breathe
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?
:) xoxo