Friday, February 24, 2012

10 Weeks Post Jaw Surgery

     I haven't updated this blog in a little while. I have posted videos in my YouTube account, however, and I am working on the Jaw Recovery Playbook website so.... that's something.

Early Trip to the Orthodontist
     I saw my orthodontist in week 6, the day the surgeon removed my bite splint. He replaced my cut wires with identical surgical wires, just without all the surgical hooks. He said he thinks we should wait till week 12 to start adjusting teeth. I gave it a little time but I couldn't wait any longer. My teeth were moving a bite with all the "room" in the wires and I didn't want that movement to cause problems with the alignment so I went to see my orthodontist on Tuesday, exactly 10 weeks post-surgery.

    He replaced the bracket that had fallen off and moved on bracket on a tooth that was slightly lower than it should be, and he gave me new wires to start moving the teeth a little. I go back in a couple of weeks for new wires and power chains... People complain about the power chains and I'll probably not love them this time either, but before surgery I found the power chains a relief. They provided some cushion for the inner lip area against the brackets but before surgery my teeth were made considerably worse in the open bite so now the brackets aren't really an issue. BUT I look forward to closing the gaps and losing the "lisp" haha

   At my orthodontist's office, there's a decal on the wall over the sinks where the disposable toothbrushes and floss are. I snapped a picture because it's awesome...

Anemia Updates
     I steel feel the symptoms I have felt since week 4, but they're not all day every day so I guess it's getting better. I go for my repeat blood work next week, after 4 weeks of using the iron supplements. Honestly, though, the B12 supplement seems to make a more pronounced difference in symptom relief so.... maybe that's work looking into. 

    I decided that I would try to go back to working out next week. I thought I was starting out slow in week 4 with a little ChaLEAN Extreme... don't let the name fool you, it's not as "extreme" as P90X or Insanity or TurboFire even. I figured, 3 weight-training sessions using lighter weights, as opposed to the heavier weights I would normally use, should be fine and the workouts are only about 30-35 minutes.... but when I completed each workout I felt like I might die... okay, maybe not die.... but I felt like I could pass out. I didn't understand it was anemia until week 7 when my regular doctor did labwork so I guess next time I should pay closer attention to what my body is telling me haha
Running Errands in Week 10...

   Instead of trying to push myself, I'm going to keep it simple. I dug out TurboJam. I haven't used it since I got TurboFire because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the HIIT workouts and Fire Drills in TurboFire :-)
(HIIT = High-Intensity Interval Training)....
    TurboJam is easier, but still good. I will try to use the 20 minute workout 3 times next week. If I feel like I did before, then I will just stop and go back to the doctor. Sounds like a plan, anyway...

Chewing, TMJ, Pain Management 
     I didn't have any real pain during the beginning of my recovery, but as things started to "recover" I started to feel it. I managed pain (which wasn't really "pain" but just mild aching) with Ibuprofen only. I still have some discomfort though, but I'm trying to go without the Ibuprofen unless the discomfort is really distracting me and affecting work. By week 10 I really shouldn't need it.

    When I had braces before, as a teenager, I started to experience some TMJ pain and occasional locking. The awesome thing about lock jaw is it always ONLY happened when I was at lunch at school!!! Lunch period was short enough to begin with, you stand in line for 10 minutes to get your lunch, finally sit down with less than 20 minutes to eat and as soon as I would go to take a bite my jaw would lock in a painful "half-open but not really" position.

    That went away when the braces came off, and I believe it only started AFTER that orthodontist began applying elastics. Since then, no locking or pain just occasional popping.

   Well, I shouldn't have any real TMJ issues from my surgery because instead of the BSSO I had genioplasty to fix the lower jaw appearance with the 3-pc. LeFort I to fix the upper jaw completely. BUT, I'm getting popping and discomfort in the left TMJ so that's fun. I think, though, that it's just from everything being messed with and it will be fine before too long. I did have elastics on for 6 weeks and that first week was tough any time I yawned or coughed I could feel the pulling and pressure in both joints.

    I have been chewing, but still eating a lot of soft foods. I have some sensitivity in the teeth on the upper left so sometimes chewing hurts, but I expect that will get better in time also. I have eaten some chicken, but it's about as tough as I can manage. 

    I'm not complaining, though :-)  I happen to be quite skilled in the kitchen and worked before as a professional pastry chef and cake decorator in several bakeries. I've been cooking since I could reach the counter and "help" my Mom and Grandma. 

     Some things I've eaten...
The first time I bit into something with my FRONT TEETH in at least a decade...
A Whole Grain Fiber One English Muffin with Peanut Butter & Co.'s White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter and 100% Fruit Raspberry Jam

English Muffin Pizzas... I figured, since the English Muffin seemed okay to bite into for Breakfast,
I would try this -- all shades of delicious :-)

Probably the most amazing Lunch ever!
Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with sauteed Vidalia Onion in 1 tsp. light butter with a little crispy bacon (crumbled), a TBSP of Creme Fraiche and a TBSP of Half & Half with garlic powder and fresh ground pepper for seasoning, topped with a little Parmesan....
It took like 15 minutes including the time to boil water and cook the raviloi ;-)

I made these gluten-free cookies too... first time ever...
They were better than I expected. From people talking about gluten-free recipes I expected these to be a little tough, dry, not quite as "classic chocolate chip cookie" as I'm used to.
I wanted to try this coconut flour I had though, and I mixed it with rice flour to make these... 
My husband liked them a lot!
I could chew it, but it took me about 3x longer to eat one.

I was able to chew grapes and strawberries... :-)
My mood is always best when I get a variety of fruit, vegetables and flavors in my diet!

And I'm still thoroughly enjoying these high-protein smoothies!
I will probably drink these forever (or as I say "fah-evah")
A medium banana, 1 Chobani Greek Yogurt (any flavor, really) a little milk (any kind) and sweetener if you like - I use eihter sugar-free syrups from Torani or Splenda w/ Fiber or
Truvia or Sweet Leaf Stevia drops... depends on what I've got the most of ;-)

I also took a russet potato and cooked it up Portugese-style, topped with sauteed red onion and a little organic sour cream sprinkled with pink Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper in a colorful medley of different types of peppercorns...

     Can you tell I LOVE my phone?!!!  My husband gave me an iPhone before Christmas, before surgery actually, so I could use it for the Speak It! App, rather than lug around the iPad. I can't believe how much fun that camera is! I take pictures of everything... 
Like my nails with pink gel, little pink star rhinestones and tiny round clear rhinestones :-)

But a lot of pictures of Atom... 
Because Atom is just awesome...

This one is one of my favorites: Atom vs. The Crustacean

Bonus Appointment!
    Even though my surgeon was done with his portion of my treatment at week 6, I still had questions. I didn't know they were DONE at week 6 so I wasn't prepared. I started to harass him with emails but after a couple of them I just suggested maybe another appointment would be best so he can just answer my questions, I can get copies of my pictures and x-rays, and then I can be "done" too...

   I feel bad because the time they gave me is time other patients might have used, but I'm so grateful for the appointment.... he answered all my questions, and that helps me feel a lot better so I'm not distracted thinking or wondering about that stuff. I talked about the Q&A in a set of videos I posted today:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four (end)

And I got my pictures from med photo...

Haha more pictures, right?
This is my "bag-o-research"
I bring it with me whenever I think I have to wait for a while somewhere
(e.g. appointments, car repair, salons...)
It's basically full of articles, journals, publications of all sorts, corresponding notebooks for me to keep track of stuff in, plus some Japanese for when the science stuff starts to STOP making sense :-P
Haha WHO uses JAPANESE as a "break"?! 
I'll be okay... eventually :-)

   So now... I feel like that's DONE. They were done at week 6, I needed 4 more haha....

Website Updates
    I started to work on the design of my new website then I did the dumbest thing ever... I rearranged the files in my computer without thinking to fix their corresponding links then I updated the site and it got all messed up.... I tried to do a quick-fix for the time being but it's going to take more than that. 

    This is what happens when you multi-task before you're 100%  >:-(

    I'm hoping to fix the design FOR GOOD this weekend... then I can start adding the content. A lot of the stuff that's up on the site now is just filling space. 

   I do have my recipes typed up in a PDF for anyone that wants them in the meantime. That PDF will be updated as I add more recipes because after going through recovery I see a lot of things now through "recovery eyes" in a sense... so I'm constantly adding more to my recipe list.

    I did have these made, though:
My orthodontist had asked if I'd have cards to hand out for his other patients, and I said yes.
Well, by saying "yes" I had to come up with some, so I made these.
The back has a little info about the site too and they're about the size of postcards with a glossy finish 
I'll bring some to the hospital next week when I have to go for my labwork so the surgeons there can have them for sharing also...

Interesting Podcasts
     Because my ears still ring (tinnitus) I sometimes have trouble falling asleep so I listen to earphones quietly. I was listening to old radio shows, and my favorite is one called "I was a Communist for the FBI"... basically, it's just awesome! If you grew up before the Cold War "ended" (ha!) or if you have an interest in that stuff, it's really entertaining... I love the dramatic propaganda added, though, because it was made in the 1950s :-)

     When I listened to the radio shows so much I was bored with them, I went looking for something else. I thought that perhaps a science podcast from iTunes U would be "boring enough to fall asleep to".... I downloaded this series of A&P podcasts from ETSU (East Tennessee State University) recorded in class lectures by Dr. Allen Forsman. 

    Sometimes... he cracks me up and I just can't stop listening and fall asleep haha

    I had most of my science classes (way more than I needed, because I changed majors so many times haha), and so this stuff is sort of "review" which I thought would keep it boring, but Dr. Forsman is pretty funny and very entertaining so it's tough. I highly recommend it if you're even remotely interested...
Creepy "Bastids" 
    Apparently there are quite a few people out there that have a creepy attraction to orthodontics treatment. I personally find it disturbing, but my graduate degree is in Forensic Psychology and I had to study deviant sexual behavior, including fetishism, as part of that curriculum. And YES, finding orthodontics appealing on that level, to the degree that you feel the need to ask such questions when clearly they're inappropriate and unwelcome, that is a type of deviant behavior and it is not welcome here or anywhere I post things.
     I don't care who watches my videos or reads my blog, obviously, because I leave it public.... BUT I do care about certain etiquette. So I comment on that in the 4th of those videos (above). 

  • If you can't compliment my smile without using qualifiers such as "metal" "silver" "braces" and the like, then do NOT compliment my smile.
  • Braces are temporary. They are NOT a fashion statement, and I do not find them appealing. Respect that. They will be gone soon.
  • My fillings are my business. Whether or not I have fillings, what type of fillings they may be, how many fillings, and similar questions are considered "inappropriate" because they do not relate to either my jaw surgery or my writing and work. So don't ask.
  • I do not have elastics, I'm actually allergic. Don't ask.
  • I do not need headgear. And if I did, it's irrelevant to this blog, my videos, my websites and my work... so don't ask.
  • Do I need to go on?

All others are always welcome....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jaw Surgery Recovery Updates for February 15th

     I haven't updated this blog in almost 2 weeks!  I just didn't have the time. I spent a lot of time working last week so I could afford to take my weekend off and spend it, instead, working on my Jaw Surgery Website.  The results: I am ALMOST finished with the design. I am tweaking the other pages to alter them slightly since there are distinct sections of the site, but the main landing page is just about complete, as far as design goes. I welcome feedback if anyone wants to check it out:

Anemia Updates
     The iron supplements my regular doctor prescribed are okay. They're nothing fabulous, and they're actually a ferrous sulfate supplement which is not fully absorbed by the body. In reality, I probably get about 10% of the iron in the pills. Sort of a waste, but whatever.
The iron supplement and its buddy to help reduce the effects the excess, unabsorbed iron has.

Iron is absorbed better when consumed with Vitamin C - while calcium can reduce the amount of iron your absorb. I take mine with an Electrolyte Stamina packet which contains, among other things, Vitamin C. It's sweetened with Stevia, but not sweet enough for me so I add a little Sweet Leaf Stevia (liquid drops, below) to get the taste just right...

The vanilla creme Stevia is good with the Orange electrolyte drink :-)

     I know it takes TIME for that to begin working, or having a noticeable effect, but a sublingual B12 supplement I had ordered arrived and so I started adding that too. Some people with anemia benefit from a B12 supplement, and it's good for nervous system and cardiovascular health (which is why I ordered it initially) so I figured it couldn't hurt. But.... WOW!  Since starting to take the B12 supplement I feel better than I have in years... possibly in forever!  Which leads to more questions, naturally.... like.... was I not getting enough B12 to begin with?

    Although I prefer a vegetarian diet, I do eat meat and animal products, and B12 generally comes from animal products, but maybe it's not enough... I'll have to look into that more.

**The B12 I bought is from Wonder Laboratories and contains B12, B6, Folic Acid and Biotin in a cherry-flavored, vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free sublingual tablet.   <--This link goes to the supplement's page on Wonder Lab's website. I ordered mine through Amazon, but the order was fulfilled by Wonder Laboratories - it arrived fast, in excellent condition, and I'm pleased with the quality.

Recipes and Resources
    I've had at least a dozen people in the last few weeks email me to see if I'd share my recipes. OF COURSE I WILL!!!!  I created these recipes for myself, but with the intention of sharing them so, even though my website is slower than I anticipated, do not hesitate to comment in this blog, on my YouTube videos, or message me here, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or email if you're heading for surgery and need the recipes sooner. I'm more than happy to email them, with any other information you want, need or request regarding surgery and recovery. (I also started using Instagram if anyone else wants to see some of the pics I post there you can find me by searching SMaggio, Sasha Maggio, or I guess using this link

     The typed recipes are in a word doc right now, with their nutrition information and pictures. I've got some more to add, though, for things like soft foods when my bite splint came out and I was able to start chewing again. I may just separate that and make it two separate recipe lists.... "Weeks 1-6" and "Weeks 7-12" perhaps....  I'll post the recipes individually on the site, for browsing, with the ability to download each individually as a PDF or the lot of them as one big PDF (80+ pages of recipes!!!) Jaw Recovery Cookbook.

    Among the other resources I have compiled are nutrition information and guidance to help gauge what you need, and why you need it. Current literature review for healing, recovery, this type of surgery and its variants, psychology for both patients and surgeons, etc. I've mentioned it before but I spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on my own surgery and recovery preparations and even then, when I got home after surgery, none of the recipes I had prepared would play nice with my syringes. I had to start from scratch! And I want to save other people that trouble.

    I can't count the number of blogs I've seen, or people who have contacted me and shared their experiences, random other patients at my orthodontist's office or the hospital, or even friends I know who have had similar procedures done.... where they only ate (or drank) the same thing everyday.... the same thing.  Usually a shake.  More often than not with ice cream. Or if they consumed a variety, it was limited and contained things I wouldn't eat even if healthy (e.g. spaghetti-o's, jell-o, pureed meat, pureed pizza)...

    During my recovery, for the first 6 weeks I had a bite splint. For the first week I couldn't open my teeth at all because my jaw was bound shut with a series of elastics. Yet... I consumed at least 5-8 different meals daily, without repeating anything in the same day unless it was THAT delicious. All of my recipes I used at least 2-3 times, sometimes more, to make sure the instructions were clear and results consistent, but my daily menu was diverse. When you're consuming a variety of foods and the nutrient content is high, you're less likely to have negative effects of the diet change (e.g. digestive issues, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, constipation, etc.). You are also less likely to crave foods you can't have at the moment... I had zero cravings, even through the holidays, and I was satisfied with everything I ate.

     Chewing.... I'm just over 9 weeks since my surgery and my bite splint has been out for 3 weeks now. At first, chewing anything hurt... but there's that psychological "Oh no! Can I chew this?!" or even better "Should I be chewing this?!" panic that hits you every time you pop food into your mouth. I'm moving past that.... but it's slow.

    Honestly, I LOVED the food I was eating during my initial recovery so I continue to eat it, just don't puree everything. I've added things like ravioli, tortellini, and some soft chicken.

First time biting with my front teeth in well over a decade....
Granted, an English Muffin is soft, and mine was covered with soft peanut butter and 100% fruit jam
BUT there aren't enough words to describe the feeling of suddenly doing something you didn't think you would ever really do... 
I think OMFS is a sorely under-appreciated field!!!

    Last weekend I attended a sort of formal social gathering -- the kind I used to dread -- and the menu was Greek because the gentleman and his wife who threw the gathering had lived in Greece when he was a Foreign Affairs Officer there. My husband was pretty funny. I think he worries about me chewing more than I do! He kept looking at me as if to get some sort of approval for the menu plan once the food was set out. I had tried to explain that, even if I couldn't chew much, I could still have an enjoyable time.

    Well, the menu included homemade moussaka, which if you've ever had it, is quite soft. The finished moussaka resembles Shepherd's Pie but the bottom is a mix of ground beef (or lamb) and eggplant, with a custard-like topping. I don't eat lamb and I usually do not like eggplant but I was determined to try it since I do not often get the opportunity to try new things that someone else, other than I, cooked. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors and really enjoyed it.

    Arni youveski (sp?) was also served, which was a sort of overcooked, soft orzo pasta with lamb. Again, I don't eat lamb, but I can't refuse since the hostess went to the trouble to prepare everything. I took mostly orzo, knowing it wouldn't be a problem as far as chewing goes, and a small piece of the lamb meat. The meat was soft, and I was able to chew it without trouble. The flavor was okay, it's not going to be on my list of favorites because of the lamb ingredient, but my husband loved it.  I wish I had taken pictures because the presentation was lovely.... but I didn't want to seem rude.

    There was also salad, and you can never go wrong with salad haha. Although, I was unable to chew the carrots or onions, so they were left on my plate. Nick gave me his tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers because he doesn't like them. He usually eats bell peppers and tomatoes but only when I cut them. Apparently, I do it right.

   Dessert was Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruit. I struggled with the cantaloupe, but I managed.  And I went back TWICE for more yogurt because I love that stuff!!!

    The highlight of the evening, however, was the conversation. Because we don't go out with others often, it was enjoyable to get to sit and talk with a few different couples and I spent a few minutes discussing language acquisition and memory formation with another gentleman who had studied Japanese in the late 60s. He commented to me that learning languages then was different and probably more difficult because now we have all sorts of technology and I felt the need to humbly correct him because all the technology in the world still can't outdo classic flash cards written by hand to facilitate memorization. I believe he is one of the teachers in the class my husband is in right now. The host is also a teacher for my husband in this class. (The class is just Army career stuff... "check the box" that kind of thing, for leadership at his rank).

A Special Place in my ♥ for OMFS
   One guy there (at the social event), who is in the class with my husband, was telling a story about working with a plastic surgeon in an Army hospital. Another guy asked if the surgeon is a "maxillofacial" surgeon (implying OMFS) and the story-teller goes, "No. They're just dentists."

   Just dentists?!!!  Really, dude?!!!  It's funny that I grew so protective.  They're not "just" dentists.... They're not "JUST" ANYTHING!  Oral and maxillofacial surgeons change lives.... they do things many people don't even realize are possible. And even in the medical community, it's an under-appreciated, under-acknowledged field. 

    It might not mean much, but I hope my new site opens at least a few people's eyes about how incredible OMFS is. This isn't just a dentistry field. They're not just dentists. You don't go into a hospital and have an OMF surgeon cleaning your teeth or filling cavities.... at least not usually (maybe there's some random situation where it could happen haha).

   It takes a LONG TIME to become an OMF Surgeon - school, cycling through residency programs, tons and TONS of practice and training and supervision.... they work hard to become the surgeons they become and that kind of dedication shouldn't be brushed off like it's nothing.

   Even I had no clue what OMFS was when I went to Bethesda for my first consult. My orthodontist's referral just said "oral surgery" and the previous orthodontist I had seen had referred to them as "jaw surgeons".... while these are correct terms, I had never heard of "oral and maxillofacial surgery" until I went into the hospital that first time for my OMFS consult before getting my braces on.

   But now... I see the field in a different light. And that light influences how I perceive dentists, orthodontists, and others in the general field encompassing ALL dentistry. My experience, however, is what changed things. If my surgeon and his team were anything less than amazing, I might not have had the exceptional experience I had and my opinion could have remained indifferent and ignorant. Since my experience was exceptional, however, and my surgeons were nothing short of amazing, I have a newfound affinity for the OMFS specialty and, as a result, an improved appreciation for dentists, orthodontists, and the like. I have a constant reminder of their awesomeness every time I look in the mirror -- every time I smile -- every time I touch my face or put makeup on or wash up or moisturize -- and, most importantly, every time I EAT I am constantly, and forever, reminded of the awesomeness of OMFS....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Jaw Surgery Updates - 7+ Weeks

     I haven't updated this in a little while.  I'm actually not going to keep the Jaw Surgery posts on my blog, but I don't want to take them down until I finish designing the new website.

     I saw my regular doctor and she ran bloodwork, just as part of my typical exam, and it showed I'm a little anemic so, with my 20/20 hindsight, a lot of things that I've been feeling the last 2-3 weeks now make sense.  The funny thing is, I actually have 20/15 vision so if my hindsight is 20/20, it's not quite as good as my regular sight... go figure!

    So I'm taking iron supplements for a few weeks and after 4 days I've started feeling a little better.  Not great yet, but better...
Anemia After Jaw Surgery...

     Between trying to work, which was difficult with the mental confusion and concentration problems (from the anemia) and working on the new website, I've just had very little time to do much else.  It was real frustrating because I just did not think "anemia" and I was getting really upset with myself for having so much trouble focusing.  I have to go back now and redo a lot of the design because I created it weird and then look through the content I was typing up for the site to make sure it's not total nonsense from my anemic-mental fog haha.... it sucks, but whatever... 
     I have been talking to some people who are going in for surgery though, so even though the site's not finished yet, I'm providing the information I can and recipes, etc. so at least that's something. It makes me feel good to be able to help.  Seriously - I put hundreds (if not thousands) of hours into research and preparation for my own surgery... if that was just for me, I'd feel like it was "wasted time."  

    Someone asked me if I had anyone try to discourage me from getting jaw surgery. She used the example, "people saying you're pretty now, you don't need surgery" and no, no one did that. But I didn't give anyone the opportunity to say anything either haha.... I'll talk more about that later, probably a LOT more about it, but I recorded this today trying to talk about my experience and how the surgery is soooo worth it. When your problem is a functional one, there's no reason to shy away from surgery like this if it's available for you.... it's life-changing, to say the least!
Jaw Surgery IS Worth It!