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: www.JawRecoveryPlaybook.com

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 http://web.stagram.com/n/smaggio/)

     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.

Mastication
     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....

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