Day 110

It has been a good whole two months since my last update and I am nearly 4 months post-op! 3 months and 20 days to be exact, and I only know this because I used a day counting widget. Yes, I have come to the stage where I have stopped marking dates by how many days post-op I am. It’s a good place to be! I hardly think about my jaw nowadays, which is a very welcomed change from the pre-op times when jaw issues would infiltrate my mind several times in a day, and I would perhaps never go a few hours without thinking about my jaw.

At this point in time, most (if not all) of my swelling has already subsided. I face zero numbness apart from the slight numbness in my upper gums where the incisions were made. I am also nearly able to open my mouth 3 fingers wide – just a smidgen away, really. I am eating as per normal, although hard foods such as apples are still difficult to tackle, so I tend to avoid eating them. I said “as per normal”, but by that I do not mean the normal post-op way, but the new and improved proper way of eating. My front teeth can tear food and are not utterly useless anymore. Instead of having only 3 molars on each side chewing food, all of my teeth perform their proper function. Chewing is sooooo much easier.

The only thing that has been bothering me is how ‘raw’ the insides of my mouth are, especially the cheek area in the back of my mouth. That part is still rather swollen and chewed up because my braces are constantly cutting it, and it is very hard to brush my back molars because the swelling leaves very little space between my teeth and cheek.

But that is just about the only complaint I have. Everything is great, I love this new jaw of mine. Also I am only two dental appointments (or two months) away from removing my braces! Can’t wait for that to happen.

Just a short update because I have some work to complete by tomorrow! I’ll post more in-depth update soon about how life after jaw surgery and how things have changed. All the best to those who are recovering or who are about to go for their surgeries! 🙂

P.S. I’m moving to London in September for university!!! I am not sure why I’m telling you guys this but it was just confirmed today and I’m excited as hell!!!!!

Photo on 2014-04-29 at 00.21 #7 Photo on 2014-04-29 at 00.24 #4 Photo on 2014-04-29 at 00.25 #2Photo on 2014-04-29 at 00.26 #3

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Day 59 – Speaking in Past Tense

I haven’t noticed how time has flown by since my last update until I visited this blog again today! I’ve come to the stage where progress is so gradual and issues are so few and far between. It’s a good thing, definitely. I don’t think about my jaw nearly as much as I used to, because I no longer experience issues with eating and the constant discomfort that never seemed to go away. At this point I’m reminding myself to speak in past tense regarding my underbite. I used to have one – not anymore!

A few things of interest:

  1. I can barely fit two fingers in my mouth now, and even then it’s only the tips of the fingers. So motion is still severely limited, but getting better.
  2. At the end of the day, I usually feel puffy and swollen. People around me don’t notice, but I can feel that my face has expanded slightly.
  3. I am now able to chew sliced apples!
  4. I no longer feel much facial ache, even after a full day of… facial activity (smiling, talking, etc.). I’m working part-time as a restaurant hostess so I’m talking about quite a lot of facial activity.
  5. My speech is much clearer now, although I still sometimes face a problem with talking quickly (which may be because I can’t open my mouth widely so small mouth movements lead to faster speech)

This doesn’t really have to do much with my progress, but I’ve made new friends since my jaw surgery who don’t know that I’ve had this surgery. (Yes I’ve come to the stage of my recovery where people just think I’m normal and that my jaw isn’t actually still healing after being broken into bits mere weeks ago.) It’s not that I wish to intentionally hide anything, it’s just not a very natural conversation-starter.

“Hi, my name is Kim, and I underwent jaw surgery 59 days ago.”

…It’s not the kind of issue you can naturally bring up in a conversation, unless someone leads into an issue that will allow you to share this bit of information. When they ask me to add them on Facebook, I’m not sure what to do either. Do I just add them and not tell them about my jaw surgery so when they look at my pictures, they’ll see this person they’ve never met before? Or do I just tell them the whole story of my jaw surgery journey, to someone I’ve barely just known? I’m still figuring out how to handle this issue.

But of course, that’s unrelated to the actual jaw surgery recovery. On that front, I think I’m doing pretty great. Nothing is troubling me much, and most of the time I just forget I’ve even gone through this whole jaw-breaking ordeal.

My next adjustment appointment is on the coming Thursday. In the meantime, all the best to everyone who will be going for their surgery soon. To everyone else who is still waiting, I understand the anxiety. I was in your shoes a bit more than two months ago. Waiting can be a very taxing experience. But, at this point of recovery, I can tell you that the wait will be worth it. It’ll take weeks of difficult recovery and copious amounts of patience before you can finally declare that you are glad to have gone through jaw surgery, but one day you will be able to make that declaration. When you do, you’ll realise how far you’ve come since your pre-surgery days: how you no longer face issues with simple things that required proper teeth alignment, and how your confidence has soared. You’ll feel like a newer, better version of your old self. And that is a very liberating feeling indeed.

Day 47 – License to Chew

Hi friends!

I apologise sincerely for the lack of updates but I’m proud to say that it’s because I have finally assimilated back into normal life! I just had an appointment with my orthodontist today and she finally removed my surgical hooks, so now I am no longer using elastic bands! Hurrah!

Aching/Pain

I have experienced zero pain in these past few weeks (though if you read my previous posts you’d notice that pain has never really been a problem since the first excruciating morning was over.) I mentioned in my previous post that I sometimes had this migraine-like headache at my temples. I haven’t experienced that at all, except after a very busy night last week. So aching and pain is no longer a problem! 🙂

Numbness

Numbness has also not really been a problem at all for my entire post-op journey, and for that I am immensely thankful. Although I noticed recently that my upper gum has some numbness, which is completely understandable since that is the incision site where they cut me open. I didn’t notice this numbness until Week 5, which probably shows how little it bothers me.

Eating

 

I CAN FINALLY CHEW!!!!!

and let me just tell you IT IS GLORIOUS. My surgeon gave me the go-ahead to start chewing in week 6, but I’ll be honest to you guys… I actually started chewing at the beginning of week 5. And no, my jaw didn’t fall off. Still not going to tell my surgeon though.

The first meal I chewed, my molars were kinda gnashing together but food wasn’t really getting chewed properly. Sort of like I didn’t have the energy to chew properly. My front teeth, however, did a terrific job in tearing food from the very start. Do you know how amazing it is to finally be able to use my front teeth??? Eating is so… effortless when your front teeth are actually able to perform their normal function.

Somewhere out there (in my mother’s phone) there is an embarrassing video of me (taken without consent) chewing for the first time post-op. In it, I break noodles with my front teeth, then emit an elated squeak of joy. I made my mother promise not to send that video around, because I was so mortifyingly happy about being able to perform such a simple action.

But really, it’s glorious. Eating is amazing. I can eat everything except super hard stuff like nuts, but I don’t like nuts anyway. I haven’t tried sliced apples and I am a bit hesitant because they are really hard. I am so happy.

Swelling

I have a little swelling left around my cheek area. I know because I can’t suck in my cheeks and the inside of my mouth feels kinda constricted for space. Most people can’t tell, however.

Here are some pictures taken today:

Photo on 2014-02-26 at 01.03 #2

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Photo on 2014-02-26 at 01.13

Photo on 2014-02-18 at 23.23

I CAN ACTUALLY SMILE QUITE NATURALLY NOW

 Before After

Pretty cool, isn’t it?!?!

Recovery

I have full energy back and my life feels normal again. Sometimes I forget I actually had the surgery only six weeks ago, until I try to stuff something into my mouth and realise that I can’t open my mouth big enough to it it in. So that is still a problem – I can only open my mouth a bit more than one finger width, and the normal is three fingers. In the morning my mouth can only snugly fit one finger. Progress is slower on this front, and all I can do is keep on talking and eating and stretching my stiff muscles until I regain full range of motion. Of course, this will take a while. The moment I accomplish the elusive 3 finger width, however, I can safely say that my life is completely back to normal.

Also, my orthodontist estimates that I only have to have braces on for another 2-4 months. I can’t wait to get all the metal off!

Post-Surgery Thoughts: Medical or Cosmetic?

This is not an update on my progress, so feel free to skip it over, but I needed a space to write down some thoughts I’ve had regarding the surgery – and what better outlet than my jaw surgery blog?

Since my surgery, I’ve met many friends and acquaintances, most of whom expressed at least a small degree of surprise at how my appearance has changed due to the correction of my bite. Many have also asked me a question that has become more difficult to answer after the surgery:

“Is this surgery considered cosmetic?”

Before the surgery, my answer was an immediate ‘no’. I would explain that my most important reasons for deciding to go through with the surgery are to improve the function of my bite. Many would ask me to clarify, because they have possessed a proper bite all their life and don’t understand how a prognathism will affect the functionality of one’s bite. After I explained the specifics, they would accept that the surgery was sought for a medical purpose, and then move on.

It’s amazing how hard it has become to convince people that this surgery is medical now that I have actually gone through with it. Because the surgery has changed my appearance so much, people only focus on its aesthetic impact. While my reasons have not changed, their responses have. After I give my standard answer, people start to ask me if the surgery is medically necessary. I explain that it isn’t, that this surgery is an elective medical surgery. They usually look unconvinced, or crack a joke: “Why didn’t you have your eyes/nose done while you were at it?” In their minds, if the surgery isn’t necessary and it changes your appearance so much, then it must be cosmetic.

I’ve answered this question and dealt with people’s responses so many times that I am beginning to become uncertain of my answer as well. What has changed since before the surgery to prompt this uncertainty? My reasons for seeking the surgery certainly haven’t. But people’s reactions have changed. I can only guess that it is because prior to the surgery, they did not anticipate the impact of the surgery on my appearance.

But why should the degree of aesthetic change determine whether or not a surgery is considered medical or cosmetic? I know people who have had smaller prognathisms than I did, but because their appearance did not change as much (some have barely even changed at all), people accept their reason that the surgery was ‘medical’. Why is my surgery any less ‘medical’ in their eyes, just because it had a greater aesthetic impact, especially when the impact is of a scale that I did not even anticipate (I honestly had zero clue how I would look after the surgery)? If anything, the functional improvement that I benefit from is even greater than those people who have smaller prognathisms and less noticeable changes in appearance. Shouldn’t the degree of aesthetic change merely indicate the severity of the prognathism rather than be a deciding factor in categorising the surgery?

If you asked my surgeon whether she considered this surgery cosmetic, she would say no. “I am not a plastic surgeon,” she told me in my final pre-surgical appointment. She knew there were clear functional benefits that the surgery could bring by correcting a misaligned bite. My insurance company, which denies coverage of cosmetic surgery (as most if not all insurance packages do), approved it – so to them it was a medical surgery.

But it’s more difficult to answer the question and convince others of your answer when you have benefitted from not only the surgery’s functional improvements, but its aesthetic changes as well. It would be a lie to say that I liked the look of my underbite. I did not, and I definitely prefer my post-surgery improved profile. But I did not seek the surgery because I wanted a cosmetic improvement. There are a lot of things that I may not like about my appearance, but I will not willingly undergo cosmetic surgery to enhance or change these features (at the very least, I speak for myself in this point of time). I would still qualify this surgery as an elective medical surgery, but one with a big aesthetic impact. That, however, is still different from a cosmetic surgery, which is sought for a purely aesthetic reason.

Perhaps you believe that I shouldn’t care about what others think. Why the hell should it be of importance whether this surgery is medical or cosmetic? The people who matter shouldn’t change their opinion of me just because I went for this surgery. And maybe I shouldn’t care, but in truth, I do. It’s stupid, and I really wish I don’t care, but unfortunately I do. There is a stigma in most societies, including mine, surrounding cosmetic surgery. It may be wrong and baseless to assign this stigma to it, but it still made me uncomfortable to be associated with it.

Having said that, I did not write this post is to debate about whether the stigma surrounding plastic surgery is justified. Personally, I couldn’t care less whether someone had plastic surgery or not. Beautiful people in no way ‘deserve’ their beauty, so I don’t think it is wrong that some people choose to actively seek beauty which they were not fortunate enough to be not born with. Instead, I wrote this post to sort my thoughts out, because unfortunately, I was – and perhaps I may continue to be – affected by what others thought of me on this issue.

Next time someone asks me that question, my response will still be a ‘no’. I’ll answer them in the same way I did before I went through the surgery. Maybe I’ll even give them a technical answer and tell them my insurance company considers it non-cosmetic. They may not believe me, but hopefully now I won’t care enough about their judgments for their responses to cause me to doubt myself.

Days 16-28: ‘TIS THE TASTE OF PARTIAL FREEDOM

I had my third post-op appointment today, which marks my fourth week post-op! Yaaaay! Also, my surgeon removed the horrendous and evil contraption in my mouth (AKA the splint). Double yay! However, that also meant that it was time for my surgeon to hand me over to my orthodontist, who put powerchains and elastic bands (one on each side). The elastic bands will stay on all-day except for when I eat and brush. Nevertheless, now that the splint is gone, I can actually talk properly and ssttttttttop liiisssspppping so yes – I am very happy.

SPLINT-FREE!!!!

THIS IS WHAT PARTIAL FREEDOM LOOKS LIKE

Aching

The aching near my temple that I mentioned in my earlier post has ceased, so earsplitting headaches are no longer an issue! However, as I have been talking and moving my jaw more and more, my cheeks sometimes get very tired. It doesn’t bother me much because it does not cause pain or anything, but I thought I should just let you guys know. Other than that, no issues with aching at all!

Pronunciation

I CAN FINALLY ARTICULATE SIBILANTS. Articulating and enunciating are SO much easier when your teeth are in the proper place. It used to be difficult to articulate ‘s’, ‘t’, ‘d’ and clusters such as ‘st’ and ‘th’. Now I can do it with ease! So yes, my surgery definitely paid off in this aspect!!

One thing though: it takes conscious effort on my part to actually enunciate and articulate properly. I used to mumble a lot because whenever I opened my mouth fully to speak my lower lip would get caught below my braces brackets due to my protruding mandible. I also got lazy articulating the sounds that I found difficult to do, as mentioned above. Now I need to ‘relearn’ my pronunciation and constantly remind myself to speak properly and take full advantage of my proper bite.

Swelling

I still have quite a lot of swelling around my cheek area. I know that it is swelling because when I touch my face it feels as if someone stuck beanbags on my cheeks. But to most people the swelling appears ‘natural’, like I have naturally rounder and fuller cheeks.

The fullness in my cheeks also means that I look younger than I used to, so most people who have met me have exclaimed some variation of the following:

  • “You look so much younger!”
  • “You look so cute, like a little girl!!!”
  • “I thought you were [number between 14-16]!”
  • And my favourite… “CAN I POKE YOUR CHEEKS?!”

Considering I am only eighteen, I am not sure that looking younger is actually a good thing. One friend told me that I looked “ten years younger”, to which I replied uncertainly, “So I look like I’m… eight…?” She then tried to convince me that I should be happy about having the face of a prepubescent child. Right.

Some friends also told me that I have a friendlier face. I think I mentioned somewhere in this blog that I used to have an unfortunate condition known as ‘resting bitch face’, where my neutral/expressionless face makes me look unapproachable. So yes, tourists now flock to me to ask for directions. (Not really, but theoretically this should happen… anytime now.)

My surgeon told me that it would take around 6months-1 year for all my swelling to go away, but by the third month most of it should be gone already.

Diet/Eating

I am supposed to be on a soft, no-chew diet for two more weeks. I don’t think it’s that bad, because I am actually able to eat noodles and porridge and a lot of other things without chewing now. I’m not sure it’s good for my stomach to eat unblended food without chewing, but I’m desperate and I will not eat blended food any longer. I don’t think I’ve used the blender since the second week, actually. I’ve been forcing myself to just eat normal food that is cut up into small pieces.

Energy Level

My energy level is 100% back to normal as long as I don’t do particularly rigorous things. I probably don’t have the energy to run or go to the gym and stuff (not that I am in any condition to), but other than that I can go through with the day’s schedule without feeling particularly worn out.

Mugshots

Day 17

Day 17

Day 18

Day 18

Day 20

Day 20

Day 22

Day 22

Day 25

Day 25

Day 26

Day 26

Day 27

Day 27

 

That’s it, I think! I have my next ortho appointment 2 weeks later, and my next surgeon’s appointment 6 weeks later! Now I’m just waiting for 2 weeks to pass so I can test this new set of choppers out!

Thanks for reading!

Day 10-15: Photos of Weeks 1 & 2

Hello! Recovery is getting a lot easier now! Zero pain, some discomfort… but mostly I am just waiting for my swelling to go down and my bones to heal so I can finally chew (and get this damn splint out of my mouth).

Aches

The muscle situated near my left temple aches quite frequently now. Very annoying. Feels like someone is pounding on the side of my head with a sledgehammer. My surgeon said it is because my muscles are trying to move in the old way but my elastic bands are resisting this movement. She also mentioned that it is nothing to worry about but it is such a PAIN IN THE ASS.

Swelling & Bruising

I am still puffy around my cheeks and upper lip. Especially the latter, because that is the area where they slit me open. But the swelling has gone down to the point where a stranger would just think I have a chubby face. Discolouration of my neck and chin is mostly gone! Yay!

2nd Post-Op Appointment

On Day 14, I went to meet my surgeon for the second appointment after surgery. She removed the stitches from the surgical sites, which was uncomfortable and stung quite a bit (quite a bit of blood in my mouth after that). I was really dreading it because I thought it would hurt a lot but it wasn’t that bad I guess, and I feel a lot less stiff now that the stitches have been removed.

My surgeon reduced the number of elastic bands from two on each side to one on each side, and also taught me how to change them. I’m advised to change the bands every other day and to brush the insides of my teeth. With the elastic bands on I can open one finger width. I haven’t replaced the bands yet so I have yet to measure how much I can open my mouth without bands.

Next appointment will be exactly a month after surgery AND I WILL BE REMOVING MY SPLINT!!!!

MUGSHOTS

I AM BARING MY SWOLLEN FACE FOR THE INTERNET. These are portraits taken almost everyday in the first 2 weeks. I’ll add Day 1 when I get it from my mother’s phone. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture on one of the days so… opps.

Before

Before

Day 2

Day 2

Photo on 2014-01-12 at 14.14

Day 3

Photo on 2014-01-13 at 18.23

Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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Day 8

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Day 9

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Day 10

pufferfish

Day 11

Photo on 2014-01-21 at 16.48

Day 12

Photo on 2014-01-22 at 21.45 #5

Day 13 – Hairbun = Replacement for Hair Curler

Photo on 2014-01-23 at 19.10 #3

Day 14

Photo on 2014-01-25 at 00.45 #2

Day 15

Collage

I don’t think the pictures accurately show how chubby I really am in real life. There is more volume around my cheeks and upper lip in reality. In a 3/4 profile shot, my swollen cheeks have overtaken my cheekbones as the most prominent facial outline.

Overall

I am getting my energy back, and am less frequently plagued with less negative thoughts now. Finished all my medication, and I have no need for extra painkillers. I can open my mouth wider, which increases my food options. Not a fan of the texture of blended food, so I have been opting for very small pieces of normal food that I swallow without chewing. I also tried blending fried chicken as I said I would and the texture is disgusting so… don’t do it. The hardest part is definitely over and all that’s left is waiting for my bones to heal and swelling to go down.

Was this surgery worth it? Too early to say, really. My two main reasons for going through with this surgery are to improve my chewing and pronunciation. The splint is still in my mouth so I can’t pronounce properly, and I haven’t tried chewing either. Also, I am not completely satisfied with my appearance right now because I really don’t like the whole ‘chubby cheeks’ business going on with my face. I LOVE my side profile though. But this is not my final face so there’s little I can conclude about appearance at this point.

I’ll answer this question again in the near future, when I am able to judge how much my pronunciation and chewing have improved due to an aligned bite. As of fifteen days post-op, I am not regretting the surgery, and I am optimistic about things. For now, it’s a good position to be in!

Day 9: Insatiable Itches

I am happy to report that I did not wake up in excruciating pain. My soreness was gone when I woke up in the morning! However, as I write this, I have become sore from the day’s activity – which makes me think that maybe soreness is just inevitable.

Swelling is going down, finally. Still a lot of it left but I can finally see a bit of progress!

Something new: I am starting to get itching sensations on my face, around/on my nose. Except unlike a mosquito bite, the itching does not go away no matter how much I scratch the area! It’s almost like the itching is beneath the surface of the skin. Not sure if this means that the nerves are healing in that area? I think my nerves were slightly strained in that area. I don’t have completely numbness there; I can feel it when I touch that area with my fingers, but it feels almost as if it is not my own skin that I am touching, if that makes sense.

I don’t have much of an issue with anything else, I think… but I really miss being able to sing in the shower.

Day 8: Face Ache

…I overdid it today.

Before surgery I said I would never let this happen to me and I would lead a sloth’s life. But I’m only 8 days in and I already tired myself out. My facial muscles are sooooo sore. I was taking too much advantage of the little bit of freedom that I had gained after a few elastic bands were removed in my previous surgeon’s appointment: I talked a lot, ate blended food (which involves opening and closing my mouth rather than just letting the food go through the natural gaps between my teeth), and smiled one smile too many (yes it is possible to smile too much).

Gosh I am so sore. I hope I don’t wake up in pain tomorrow.

A little aside: I just found out today that it doesn’t actually take more muscles to smile than to frown. The opposite, actually! Of course I am going to be doing neither for the rest of today, I’ll just remain expressionless. I moved too many facial muscles already. 

Days 3-7: Still a Chipmunk

Firstly, I apologise for the lack of updates, but I thought it’d be easier if I broke down the post into issues instead of days so you can see a progression over the first week.

Nasal Congestion

I thought I wouldn’t have much of a problem with this since my nose didn’t bleed post-surgery, but it was really quite difficult to breathe on Day 3 & 4 for some reason. The Breathe Right Strips and Q-tips were utterly indispensable. I would not have been able to have a good night’s sleep without them, but even then they really didn’t help much when the problem peaked. Sometimes I was really close to panicking because I wheezed so loudly and my nose felt like it was slowly but surely clogging up, but then I remembered that I can still breathe through my mouth, even when it’s wired shut! Of course it’s a bit uncomfortable, but that dispelled much of the worry of like… dying of suffocation or something. Hot showers were also very useful, but my humidifier stopped helping much after a while.

By the 5th day, my nose cleared up considerably and now (the 7th day), breathing is pretty much normal.

Sleeping

I have no problems at all sleeping – I’m able to sleep throughout the entire night, and I usually have a 1.5 hour nap in the middle of the day after lunch because I get so tired. It’s important to remember that your body is still recovering from a very major surgery, so rest is still very much needed and you shouldn’t exert yourself too much! Having said that…

Walking Around/Going Out

Don’t keep yourself cooped up at home all day long, if you can manage it! I’ve been going out for short walks to the nearby malls. The doctors said that walking will help with the swelling, and I find that I can muster the energy and strength, although I often need to pause for soup or drinks (because liquid diet = CONSTANT HUNGER PANGS). I definitely recommend taking walks during recovery, even when you are all puffed up, because it just helps in keeping you optimistic just a little (especially if you are the sort who doesn’t like to stay indoors for long periods of time)

Swelling

My swelling is really really really really really really really bad. IDK why it hasn’t really gone down at all in days 3-6. I don’t know if it’s something to do with my blood clotting thingy, because the surgeon mentioned that it does affect swelling? I dunno. All I know is that I used to have a really slim face that tapered to my chin, but now it’s like… oblong. There’s definitely a lot of swelling that hasn’t gone down. It’s rather frustrating because I’ve been reading blogs and most people don’t seem to face much swelling/their swelling goes down really fast, but I still can’t envision what my face will look like after all the swelling goes down.

Trying to be optimistic on this point, but my mind has been riddled with worries to be quite honest. I know I am still swollen but I don’t know how much of the extra volume on my face is because of swelling. I’m actually sort of scared my face will be stuck like this, and I’ll be a chubby chipmunk. I’m trying to remind myself that it’s only been a week, and my swelling will slowly go down. I’ve found that not facing a mirror 24/7 kind of helps keep me sane. My laptop is usually placed right next to the mirror so for the first few days home I couldn’t help but obsess about how SLOW swelling is going down, but now I have forced myself to move my laptop so I am facing away from the mirror. At this point, however, I definitely don’t feel up to meeting with friends while there is still this much swelling on my face.

Eating

I am still eating mostly liquids, even though on Day 6 my surgeon removed some of the elastic bands. I still can’t really open my mouth much though, because the existing elastic bands are still really tight. Haven’t really tried blended food, actually, and I’m a bit apprehensive because I have no way of brushing the insides of my teeth. I haven’t had much of a problem with the liquid diet, except yesterday I watched my family have dinner and I REALLY WANTED SOME FRIED CHICKEN. I can’t imagine having to wait 5 more weeks before I can finally have some fried chicken. One day I’ll be desperate enough to try and blend it, and I’ll tell you how blended fried chicken tastes like. I’m guessing that the taste will be satisfying enough to make up for the disgusting texture.

On a side note, I recommend Soup Master 老火汤 to the Singaporeans!!!! They have a few branches around the island and their soups are pretty ok. Most of all you get to refill the soup for free. 🙂 You won’t be able to eat the meat and all, so I recommend you share it with someone because you are only going to drink the soup (which have I mentioned is refillable???)

Talking

I am able to talk (sort of… or at least be vaguely understood) now that a few elastic bands have been removed. Enough to not be dependent on a whiteboard any longer! However some words still come out sounding like utter gibberish so I often have to repeat. It’s also weird having to learn how to ‘re-pronounce’ words, especially because I am still more or less banded shut. Since I had an underbite previously, I pronounced many sounds differently than what would be the ‘normal’ way. For instance, sibilants were difficult since your teeth NEED to meet to create the ‘ssss’ sound. Now I am sort of able to produce that sound, though it still feels unnatural. Baby steps, I guess!

Bruising

My neck and face are so yellow right now I am positively a Simpson. It has been like this since Day 3/4, and it’d only gotten worse! Doesn’t really bother me, since I know for sure that this is going away, but I thought I’d just let you know that this may and probably will happen to you post-op!

Comfort

A little note on the emotional and psychological aspect of recovery: you neeeeeeeeed to make sure that you have things during the recovery period that will make you a little happier and let you take your mind off the fact that you are a swollen mess of a person! Be it food, friends, or any form of entertainment. For me so far, my comfort objects are fruit juice and Sherlock (BBC). I had also prepared a few books, but frequent hunger pangs make it a less than ideal period for reading… So yes, a word of advice – prepare some comfort items!

Overall

The first week – hell week – is finally over and I am so glad that it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. Currently I am quite comfortable and my recovery appears to be on track except for swelling (where I appear to be lagging very very very very very far behind – SUCKS!). No pain since the first night and morning after surgery. Trying to be optimistic and soldier on! And of course, patience is important (and unfortunately lacking in me, oh well).

Day 2 – Oil, Drugs & Prophetic Warnings

Since I’ve started posting about my recovery I noticed that my blog’s hits have shot up. So hello to you new readers, and welcome to my self-documented journey of voluntary dental purgatory. 🙂

Now before I begin this post, let me just warn you that the disgusting/gross factor of its content will be stratospheric. This will read like an issue of ‘Horrible Science’, except it’s 100% horrible and 0% science. I’ll say it again in case you skimmed through that:

WARNING: DISGUSTING POST.
The things in this post may make you go ‘ewwww’.

Ok now that that’s out of the way:

My surgeon swung by in the morning of Day 2 and told me that I could check out of the hospital by late morning. I was elated! By this time I couldn’t wait to head home and have a nice shower. My hair was greasy, and my face was slicked with enough oil to fry a batch of bacon. OK that was disgusting – I’m sorry. But truthfully, the surgery made the oil glands on my face, especially those in the T-zone, work on overdrive. I became addicted to this after I got home:

It didn't control the oil as promised, but it did provide immediate relief.

It didn’t control the oil as promised, but it did provide immediate relief!

Medicine & Supplies

I left the hospital at around noon, with these:

  1. 14 tablets of antibiotic [Co-Amoxiclav 625mg] – One table twice daily for 7 days
  2. 3 tablets of painkillers [Arcoxia 120mg] – One tablet daily for 3 days
  3. 40 tablets of panadol – Two tablets twice daily in case of pain or fever symptoms
  4. 1 bottle of iliadin nasal decongestant – Maximum three drops daily for up to 7 days
  5. A couple of syringes of various sizes
  6. 2 bottles of Orasol disinfectant mouthwash – 15ml twice daily
  7. Paraffin lip mosturiser

Because I can’t separate my teeth at all, I have to crush the medicine into powder and dissolve them in water. They taste so gross. On my doctor’s advice, I tried adding honey. Didn’t make it much better. In fact, it made the medicine taste really weird, so now I just suck it up and finish the disgusting mixture.

I don’t take panadol or use the nasal decongestant regularly – only when needed. So far the pain has been very manageable so I haven’t had to take the panadol at all except once. Also, I found out that I can actually drink straight out of a cup, because I can feel still feel my lips!!! So I don’t use the syringes for anything except taking the disgusting medication mixture, only because I want to be super sure that I don’t spill/drool.

Nasal Congestion

Apart from swelling, nasal congestion is one of the primary issues I have to deal with at home. My nose didn’t even bleed, so I guess I don’t have the problem as severely as most people, but it still gets really hard to breathe sometimes!!! I woke myself up in the middle of the night once because I was wheezing so hard.

The nasal decongestant is supposed to help, but I try not to use it unless I am very desperate. I don’t want to risk  the side-effects of overuse. As the manual said, ‘muscle atrophy’ may occur. What affects me more, however, is the advice my pharmacist left me with:

“Don’t use it past the seventh day. I tried it once. On the eighth day you will regret it.”

I don’t know about you, but her words were ambigious and ominious enough to scare me away from relying on the prescribed decongestant for clearing my nose. Instead, my nose-clearing routine mainly relies on other steps:

  1. Breathe Right Nasal Strips [INDISPENSABLE!!!!!!!!]: I sleep with the nasal strips on, and they help tremendously. In fact, I managed to sleep a full 10 hours on the night of Day 2 because of this thing! On the night of Day 3 I tried to do without it, but I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I couldn’t really breathe. I placed one on my nose and I managed to sleep uninterrupted for a good eight hour.
  2. Humidifier: I read somewhere that it helps, and my sister owns one, so I just use it. I am not sure how it is supposed to work, but it does somewhat provide relief when I let the mist blow up my nose. I found that steam from a mug of hot water works just as well, if not better.
  3. Cotton buds/Q-tips: I’m about to be really gross now so pardon me: when my nose gets really really stuffy, I have to resort to ‘fishing’ out dried-up crusted material with a cotton bud. It is super gross, but helps a lot with clearing your nose. Of course you have to be really careful during the process, so as to not dislodge a blood clot or something…

Phlegm

Unfortunately, phlegm is another major issue. It’s really bothersome: the phlegm gets stuck in my throat but I can’t really spit it out because my teeth are banded shut. The best I could do was swish around some water in my mouth and let the water+phlegm slowly ooze out from the gaps between my teeth. I know, I know, gross!!! But another necessary detail that a potential jaw surgery victim should be warned about.

Weight Loss

Because I am really really really really puny petite, weight loss was a major concern for me. I was originally 43kg (94lbs) so I couldn’t afford to lose any weight. Hence I was pretty apprehensive when I stepped on the weighing scale at home… Imagine my surprise when this flashed back at me:

42.9kg

Yes, I lost almost no weight from 1 day of virtually no food and another day of very little liquids. Weird!!!