Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jaw Surgery Recovery - Week 6 Re-Cap

     My recovery after jaw surgery has been NOTHING even close to what I expected.... Although this information is in the "crash course" form, I am finishing the design for my new site www.jawrecoveryplaybook.com, and more detailed information will be available there along with a TON of resources and tools to make recovery easier and more efficient for others...


Food & Eating After Jaw Surgery


My first day home was a bit rough.... the left two pics are in the hospital before I was discharged... the right pics show my box-o-medication, most of which I never used, then me icing my face on the first day home, which was actually day 2 post-surgery, and the bottom pic is Atom keeping my company while I ice my face...

     Another thing I noticed a LOT before I had my surgery was people commenting that they could only eat chicken broth, canned Ensure, or pudding.... there were occasionally bloggers who posted a recipe for a shake they had "every day of their recovery".... and then there were some who reported eating pureed spaghetti-o's.... yuck! I have also received stories of pureed pizza (double-yuck!) and.... eww... pureed meats! GROSS!  I can't do it... just can't... no....

    The surgeons gave me a booklet that included tips like adding ice cream and cake to shakes to make them higher in calories, with the primary emphasis on calories alone. I'm sorry.... but that's just not going to cut it for me. First, I'm sensitive to lactose so my ice cream options are extremely limited. Second, I WILL NOT FILL MY BODY WITH SUGAR AND EMPTY CALORIES ESPECIALLY WHEN I'M RECOVERING FROM SURGERY!! Just can't do it....

     I anticipated the liquid diet would become the hardest adjustment for me. I love FOOD!  I eat all the time!  Literally!  I am eating almost every 2-3 hours from the time I wake up until before I go to bed... I also work out a LOT so, nutrition is an important factor for me. I sat down several times and put close to 100 hours, if not more, into converting recipes of mine for nutrition intake so they'd work with my liquid diet post-surgery.

    Unfortunately, my first day home from the hospital I was in for a bit of a sad dose of reality. I did NOT have syringes to practice with prior to surgery so when I got home I learned the hard way that nothing I thought would work was going to work. Soups were just not syringe-friendly.  On top of it, I'm a BIG fan of  tomato-based broths so a lot of my recipes were also too much for my newly-reshaped mouth. The stitches would hurt, sting or burn if I tried to consume tomato-based soups and the same goes for acidity juices like orange, pineapple, and so forth.

The bottom-left picture is moments before the zip-n-squeeze bag burst open and the food plopped into my lap. It was frustrating!
The upper-right pic is one of my most-swollen days... the bottom-right pic is on the way to my one-week follow-up appointment, about 3 days after the swollen pic above it.

    So I was frustrated!  The day of my surgery I ate nothing.... I had some water throughout the night after surgery while I was in the hospital, but no food. The first day home, I ate less than 600 calories... and, I wear a BodyMedia Armband which tracks my calorie expenditure at about 2700 to 3300 calories OUT without exercise. I burn a LOT of calories!  I felt like crap... I was on the verge of tears and I was thinking about all the miserable people I had come across on the internet.... and at that moment I made a choice.

Choosing an EASY Recovery


     I had a choice... I could either wallow in self-pity, feel miserable and depressed for the next 6 weeks, and practically starve on minimal calories since my recipes weren't going to work.... OR.... I could wash up, go to bed, and wake up with a new attitude, then start from scratch.  I chose the latter.  I went in the bathroom, washing up, squirted the Peridex mouthwash along my teeth as best I could, applied my regular moisturizers and eye creams, then went to bed.

     When I woke up the next morning, I washed my face and teeth again, had some recovery formula even though it was a little citrusy, took the ibuprofen, antibiotics, sudafed and other meds I was supposed to take, then I started from scratch. I made a shake that provided just over 400 calories with about 30 grams of protein and 4-5 grams of fiber. The FDA suggests 25-30 grams of fiber daily, and I usually consume 35 to 50 grams of fiber, which might upset some people's GI tract but I consume 120 to 180 ounces of water daily too so.... I manage. Not all fiber is the same, also... but that's another story for another time.

     It took me almost 90 minutes to drink that damn shake, but I told myself I was not to get up until I finished it. ALL of it!  And so... I did.  And I felt a TON better!  Then, I did the same thing at lunch time.... with a completely different recipe, also original and about 400 calories or so with high protein and higher fiber.  That first day (with my changed attitude) I got about 1200 calories. After that, I managed 1500 to 1800 calories on average, without ridiculously high sugar intake, all high-protein and high-fiber, with tons of micronutrients to improve my body's overall ability to HEAL.

     Now, I have dozens of original recipes with a focus on (1) nutrition (2) preserving muscle and (3) sufficient calories.... ALL of these recipes and my menus will be on the new site, along with templates for menu planning, determining your nutrition needs, and keeping life from sucking while you recover....

Facial Swelling and Bruises After Surgery


     People tend to be swollen for a while after this type of surgery. Some people are swollen for weeks, even more than a month. The swelling isn't that bad right after surgery, it gets worse between days 3 and 4, possibly day 5, then starts to dissipate.
     I have had several people ask me if I took herbal supplements to reduce swelling so fast. No... I didn't.... here's the thing.  You can reduce swelling with COMMON SENSE. I like common sense... it's FREE.

    What is swelling?  In its most basic sense, swelling is fluid accumulation. The surgeons gave me a prescription for a medicine called Medrol which was supposed to reduce swelling, but I couldn't take it. I tried to... but after crushing it and trying to take it mixed in liquid through a syringe, the second it got in my mouth and touched my tongue I was ready to throw up.... I'm hypersensitive, and THAT was just too much. So I didn't take it. I did, in all fairness, ask my surgeon what it's for and let him know I wasn't taking it.
My most swollen days were day 3 and day 4

     Instead, I used ice packs for about 20 minutes at a time throughout the first two days. When the ice packs were refreezing I'd give a light face massage to improve circulation, always moving my knuckles (with very light pressure) toward my hairline NOT toward the middle of my face. I also avoided salty broths, soups, and bouillon while consuming at least 90 ounces of water each day. I didn't sleep in my bed, I slept in a recliner, with my head sufficiently elevated and I refused to nap during the day, only sleeping at night. During the day I would walk around, I'd take the dogs out, I'd cook my meals, do light housework like dishes and laundry, etc. Staying active but not exercising.
Day 8, on my way to my one-week follow-up appointment....
note the bruises on my face and neck.

    From the third day on I alternated heat pads with the ice packs, continuing the facial massaging and water intake. By day 8, when I attended my first follow-up after surgery, my swelling was almost gone. The massage also stimulates circulation to help reduce bruises quickly and, between that and nutrition, my bruises were pretty much gone by my week #2 follow-up appointment.
Day 15, on my way to me week-two follow-up...
Bruises almost gone!

     By using dental wax along my braces, I reduced the swelling in my lips in like 24 hours! I also reduced pain from the brackets and hooks snagging my swollen lips and stitches. They recommend using vaseline on your lips for moisture, but vaseline doesn't moisturize -- it "protects".... I applied vaseline to my lips and the corners of my mouth when I ate using the syringe to reduce discomfort from food on my face and skin. All other times I applied the tube of medicated Blistex to my lips and consumed plenty of water. I've had bouts with dry lips, but it has not been that bad at all.

Day 22, at my week-three follow-up appointment.
Swelling pretty much gone, bruises gone, and generally I just felt great so.... my way worked!


Syringes Are Awesome


     Syringes are awkward but awesome. I used pieces from an oxygen tube on my syringes and it gave me significantly more control over using it to eat. Unlike some people, I can manipulate the big 60cc syringes with one hand.... BUT I took piano lessons, was a cake decorator, lift weights regularly, engaged in martial arts, etc. so my hands and fingers are strong enough to apply even pressure to the syringe with one hand. The oxygen tube made this easier...
A 60cc syringe with the brown-ish catheter tube on the end... 

Me, using the brown-ish tube syringe... 

A 20cc syringe with the clear tube on the end, designated for coffee and cocoa use...

That syringe again, this time with cocoa...

My recovery formula and amino acid supplement, with designated syringes....

Syringes, soup, water, Blistex and vaseline... 
Plus towel in my lap to catch any mess haha

     I used different syringes for different types of food and flavors to avoid flavor contamination. Again... hypersensitive. I have a syringe JUST for water, another JUST for recovery formula, and another JUST for my amino acid supplement. I have other syringes for hot cocoa or coffee, for sweet liquids, for savory or salty liquids, and so forth.

     Proper care keeps them usable for longer, but the syringes wear out easily if not cleaned immediately after use, and sometimes if you use them with hotter liquids frequently then they wear out faster. So... I asked for plenty.

    Even though I can use a cup now, I still use syringes for some things, like coffee to keep it from seeping into the bite splint and adding stains to my already grumpy teeth. With the bite splint it's hard to brush completely so I'm being as careful as I can. I also use the syringe for water and fluids that have dyes in them like my amino acid drink to reduce stains or, in the case of water, to drink efficiently.

Numbness and Nerve Damage


   Nerve damage from surgery tends to take several months to heal. When you're older, like me, the nerves sometimes don't grow back completely and you're left with permanent numbness. To be clear, when I say "numbness" I mean no feeling whatsoever. There is NO tingling or pins & needles feeling. As I started to recover, there was some tingling in my face, and as I recovered more the tingling became noticeable when I'd wash up or apply lotion.
Poking at my swollen, numb face a couple of days after surgery...

Me, just gabbing.... but I mention how the feeling is almost all back now...

    When I saw my surgeon last week, at me week #5 appointment, I started to tell him I have the feeling back in my face and he said, "It will take several months to come back." I explained that it's all back, except for one spot next to my nose on the left where it creates a tingling sensation in my upper lip when I tap it applying lotion, and the middle of my chin is still numb too. He was surprised... but yeah, it's like all back.  I have to credit quality nutrition, above all else, with my healing and recovery speed because my nutrition before surgery wasn't even this good and I usually take a long time to heal when I am recovering from something.

     Either that.... or I'm part mutant.....

My Jaw Recovery So Far....


    Honestly, it's been nothing like I expected. I've felt great since the beginning with the exception of that first day home when I struggled.... I've healed fast, I've eaten well, I have no felt deprived or craved any regular foods.... I even survived Christmas and New Years without feeling miserable!  I have not envied or felt jealous of people eating when I couldn't... I haven't obsessed over food like, some people make lists of what they plan to eat as soon as they can chew again... and, I haven't cheated or tried chewing anything!

    I've felt great.... I haven't had any bouts with depression or boredom, both extremely common after surgery and for people who tire quickly of being home all the time... I haven't hidden my swelling or bruises, I haven't worn makeup (other than mascara), and I have even run errands on my own within 10 days of having my surgery so.... a lot of that is attitude.  Sometimes, you just need to be a grown-up about it... or a mutant....

If I am a Mutant...


     If I'm a mutant... I want to be a mutant-ninja!  A lot of my recipes have significant nutrition disguised as awesome deliciousness and I think that's definitely ninja-worthy.... I've managed to keep my head (emotion/psychological/etc. stability) even though surgery is not something that's easy to go through.... I've healed fast and efficiently.... yeah.... I'd say, if I have a choice, I'm a mutant-ninja haha

     Next time, I'm totally signing up for the adamantium upgrades!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.