Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jaw Surgery Recovery - Day 23: Information on my recovery so far and on the upcoming website!

     I went for my third follow-up appointment yesterday. Overall everything is still excellent. My mood and energy levels are great, I am getting enough quality nutrients and calories to help stave off muscle loss (atrophy), plenty of water, supplements to continue helping my nerves regrow, regenerate or recover...
     I do NOT nap during the day. Even if I feel a little tired, I don't nap, and I haven't napped this whole time. I do take it easy if I feel tired though, but there's a solid line between taking it easy and being lazy. I refuse to slip into that lazy "recovery" mode because it will only result in feeling miserable.
     Anyway, one of my brackets fell off the tooth. I have self-ligating brackets which are said to reduce treatment time and they simply close around the archwires instead of needing to be tied down with wires or something. So I noticed this bracket was loose but it seemed relatively safe with pressure holding it against my tooth, but then it slipped free and was sliding between two teeth along the archwire. One of the staff surgeons looked at it and said I can see the orthodontist to have it fixed if I want or just wait till my week 6 follow-up (after which I will go to the orthodontist to have my archwires replaced). When I got home, I opened the bracket and managed to free it from the archwire. I talked to my orthodontist's office and they pretty much said it should be fine but they will run it by the doctor to make sure.
     I absolutely LOVE the people who have worked with me throughout this process!  I was very frustrated for about a year because my surgeon was changed TWICE -- the surgeon that ultimately performed my surgery was my third surgeon, but this is common in that hospital. It's a military hospital but it's also one of the primary training hospitals for military doctors so my actual surgeon is a chief resident and he has a team of 1, 2, 3 and 4 year residents that work with him plus a staff surgeon that basically supervises but is also just as hands-on when it comes to patients and making sure everyone is taken care of....
    But... when you don't know that it's a training hospital things can seem confusing, inefficient and very frustrating. I didn't understand at first...

    My surgeon is awesome though!  Of the three surgeons I saw, he has provided me with the most information, but has presented a willingness (and patience) to provide information so I didn't hesitate to ask questions or harass him when I wanted to know something (haha, I get carried away sometimes when I'm nervous or really curious about something and in the case of my surgery, I was both).  He has a refreshing enthusiastic personality that I initially thought was fake because he seemed a little over-the-top excitable and enthusiastic about things.... but then I started to interact with him more and noticed the situations in which his personality shifted to moderate enthusiasm (haha) but also seriousness. Seeing that helped me feel more comfortable and gave me more confidence in my surgeon's abilities to handle my case.

     The other surgeons in the team all have their own unique personalities and it's clear which of them are slightly stressed out -- clear to me, at least. I always try to do what I can to lighten the mood when I'm there because the younger residents do feel a bit stressed out and I don't think it's fair to go in there with a poor attitude when everyone is doing the best they can.
    Some of the residents I felt a little argumentative with haha -- the best I can tell, it's a personality thing, sort of like how siblings will argue but there's no real reason. But, that also goes back to the fact that it's a training hospital and most of them are seriously overworked and under-appreciated -- the life of resident doctors is a tough one.
     I think, though, that for the most part I have done some good by showing the residents, staff, surgeons, etc. that not all patients have to be miserable through their recovery. There are a lot of factors, and I acknowledge this, but I could tell on my first day home that I had a choice: I could either (1) allow the blah, miserable, tired feelings to creep up on me and dictate my mood and productivity for the next 6 weeks or (2) take charge and be self-sufficient, give my body what it needs to heal, and stay somewhat "active" so I wasn't imposing on my body's "space" while it gets the job done. I clearly chose the latter.
Precisely... haha


    I have received TONS of compliments, praise, questions and interest from everyone regarding my recovery so far and I'll be the first to admit, I like it haha. Praise and compliments make you feel good and that kind of good feeling fuels motivation to continue doing well....
    I'm working on typing up my recipes, notes, and other content for my new jaw surgery recovery website.... I've decided to keep the resources 100% free because I don't feel that anyone should have to pay for access to something that they could do themselves.... and I wouldn't feel right about depriving someone information and resources that could help them feel better faster. I will put a disclaimer on my site, however, stipulating that nothing may be reprinted without written consent from me but up to 150 words of a single section of content may be shared on another site or blog, provided there is proper citation and a link to the original content on my site. Basically, I've done a LOT of work here and I want the credit...
When I say "tons" I mean TONS!
I don't half-ass stuff like this because my health and recovery are extremely important to me... and I wish that everyone that undergoes this type of surgery had the knowledge and tools I have used because I am certain that, even if they couldn't master the mental focus aspect of my "method" of recovering, the other components would improve overall comfort and happiness throughout the recovery process...

     That being said, the resources will be excellent and helpful, if I do say so myself. I have tons of recipes I have created, tried, used and improved myself for my own recovery process... I have tons of questions and answers I've asked my surgeon and his team, from the sensible to the ridiculous, because I think even dumb questions should be asked and answered when you're about to have major surgery.... I have tips, tricks, advice and suggestions for everything from nutrition (including what to avoid for faster healing), skin care, oral hygiene, swelling, bruises, pain, stress, fatigue, exercise, prescription meds, supplements, and facilitating the healing process (and more!).... all of which will be organized in an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand way... I even have information on what you absolutely do NOT need to spend time or money on for your surgery or recovery, but also some things you will find beneficial.... And, no site would be complete without psychology info to help with pre-surgery anxiety, recovery, expectation management, family/friends supporting the surgery patient, etc.
I had all the questions... and now I have most of the answers!
And I'm working on an accessible way of sharing them with all :-)

    There are other sites, and books, and resources your surgeon will give you on this stuff... but from the extensive (and ongoing) research I have conducted over the past 2 years (and continuing even now), I have found large gaps and flaws in information, suggestions, tips and advice presented... some information presented actually conflicts with the goals of recovery and can hinder or slow your recovery and healing process!  And, equally as frustrating, some information provided will only set you up for frustration and problems after you recover, such as stubborn weight gain among other problems...

    For my own recovery, I left no stone unturned!  And I have been told that it would be both unfair and disappointing if I kept this information to myself.  For me, knowing myself, I was expecting something completely different for my recovery period... but I put forth the effort regardless. I thought, "worst case scenario, the effort is wasted and I still spend the next 6-12 weeks absolutely miserable."  The result, however, has astounded me!
Day 4

Day 7

Day 8

Day 12
My swelling was mostly gone by my first follow-up appointment, and only a fraction remained at my week #2 appointment. My bruises were gone within 14 days except for a tiny bit on my chest which was gone by day 16....
Almost all of the nerve damage/numbness is gone, with a little numbness left on my chin and left cheek near my nose -- I never experienced pain from the nerve trauma, nor tingling... just numbness which I only noticed when I'd wash or touch my face. I believe this was due to my choice of supplements*, nutrition intake, and diligence with self-care.

*I should also note, other than my Recovery Formula and an Essential Amino Acid drink, I have not taken vitamins or supplements, but instead receive my nutrients through healthy diet choices... when I say "supplements" what I'm referring to are the ingredient choices in my recipes which I use to ensure my body is getting what it needs,
as well as the two nutrient drinks (recovery and essential amino acid drinks)...

    Since I'm only one person, however.... it's anecdotal, at best.  I will have a separate section on the new site that encourages people who follow my advice to keep track of what they do (from my suggestions or from elsewhere) and take daily pictures as I did.... videos if possible, as well. Then submit them to me with the information (and let me know what you do and don't want posted, I will likely only post initials) so I can create a "case studies" type section. If what I've done truly helps others, perhaps this is something that could change the way everyone (or almost everyone) heals after major jaw surgery... and it may even be applicable to other types of recovery as well.  :-)

Day 23 - my mouth is sort of hanging open because I'm still using a ton of wax to protect the inside of my mouth from the braces, wires and hooks.

Still holding off on wearing my regular makeup...I want to present a clear representation of my progress through my photos and makeup at this point will affect the pictures in an unfair beneficial way so... I'll just wait to wear makeup again till about week 6.

If there's any swelling left it's minimal...
No bruises...
Minimal acne, a few microscopic pimples popped up on my chin around week 2...
Minimal dry skin, primarily from using an acne treatment to clear up those few tiny pimples and prevent more...
Lips a little dry, but not too bad...
Almost all feeling has been restored except for a small area on my chin and on my left cheek...
Still no pain, but mild aching along the upper and lower jaw surgical areas as Ibuprofen wears off...

Sufficient nutrition, staying active, plenty of water, beneficial supplements...

I give my body what it needs in order to get work done, then I back off and let it work while I focus on other stuff... the result: exceptional recovery speed, exceptional energy levels, exceptional mood stability, and a slight swelling in my head from all the praise and compliments I get when I go to my appointments haha


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