I have finally had my double jaw surgery.
This really is a big deal. They are completely changing the way I look, all so I can eat properly. I knew exactly what was happening but I don’t think a lot of people understood how major this operation was and how life changing it will be for me.
So what have they actually done?
The surgical team have cut my Maxilla, (upper jaw) away from my skull and moved it up by 6mm at the back and 5mm at the front. The team then used a surgical wafer to guide the Mandible, (lower jaw) into its new position. Here is a video I found online which best demonstrates the procedure I have had.
First thing in the morning and the waiting room was booming with people just like me. In turn nurses would emerge one by one, calling patients forward onto the ward. I was one of the last people to get call thank god, meaning I could stay with my loved ones longer. Today is the hardest thing I have ever had to do and I am just trying to hold it together.
Goodbyes were short and sweet, trying to stay focused and avoiding a breakdown. I kept my composure pretty well until I had a blood test and passed out. How on Earth am I going to survive this if I can’t hack a blood test? After that though, everything happened super fast and before I knew it I had my lovely open back gown and magic stockings on doing the blinding walk down to theatre. Seriously those corridors are so brightly lit I needed sunglasses. My next demon was the cannula. Last time I was on the anaesthesia table I cried my eyes out, but not this time I was so proud of myself I kept calm and shedding not one tear. 6 hours later it was over.
I honestly didn’t know how I was going to react once I had come round from the anaesthesia, it really isn’t something you can preempt. I wasn’t with it for a while but then all of a sudden I felt awake like I had had the best sleep ever but something didn’t feel right. My face was tight in place and very numb, I had lost the feeling in the majority of my lower face and I couldn’t close my mouth because my lips were so swollen.
The Surgeon and my Orthodontist came to visit me to tell me how happy they were with operation and that when they split the bone my nerves were protected, which means I should regain all the feeling in my face. They mentioned how they didn’t do the chin operation because of how pleased they are with the movement in my lower jaw, but have said if I’m not happy I can have that operation at a later date.
At this point my jaws weren’t banded together like I was expecting, which was great as it allowed me to get used to functioning without them. The reason for this was because the surgeon wanted to wait to see how the swelling reduced to see how the jaws would naturally lye before pulling them into place.
Later that evening my family came to visit, which I needed because I really didn’t want to sleep on the ward. I tried to drink from a cup and got soaked because I didn’t have any feeling in my lips. I kept having nosebleeds because of how close they had to cut around the base of my nose. I also dribbled. Quite a lot.
Post Op Day 1
Darryl had kindly downloaded Nashville onto the iPad to keep me busy, this was my saving grace when I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night. All I wanted to do was get up and go for a walk but I was hooked up to a catheter, the very thought of it makes me sick and I couldn’t wait for it to come out so I could wee freely.
The morning came round and all I wanted to do was go home but I had to have an X-Ray to ensure all my metal work was in the correct place, and then all the usual eat drink and go to the toilet routine. I made it my mission. I needed to go home. I was chugging back the water, as fast as I could in a 10ml syringe. I was told I was going home in the evening but luckily I was allowed to go during the afternoon visiting hours.
Home was the place I needed to be and where a delicious Green Thai Curry Soup was waiting for me.
Post Op Day 2 – 6
It was nice to wake up in my own bed.
Sleeping sitting up isn’t great though. Each night I find myself waking up to change the pillows around, I haven’t yet found that perfection position. My lower back hates me because of sitting up, I spend the first half of my day nursing the ache with a hot water bottle. I also wake up each morning feeling disgusting, having developed a layer mucus on my chest I simply cannot get rid of.
These last six days have been so much of a routine that it has been pretty exhausting in itself. I wake up. Medicate. Sleep. Get cleaned up. Attempt breakfast. More medication and more sleep. Attempt lunch and before I know it, it’s tea time and ready to go back to sleep.
Eating and drink is a chore. I have multiple small meals during the day but nowhere near my recommended amount. Not having my jaws wired has been helpful because it has allowed me to eat with a teeny tiny spoon. I am mainly on liquid food; so smoothies and soups. It takes up 30mins to eat 1 single Weetabix and half of it ends up on my lap. Sigh. I have tried some blended meals like Spaghetti and even a Roast Chicken dinner. Ewwwww? but honestly it tastes exactly the same. I have to be careful with the textures of the food because it can cause me to choke, which is very scary.
Although my lips have reduced in size during the end of the week, the feeling has not returned so drinking from a glass is a no go. I’m currently drinking via a 20ml syringe which is very frustrating when I’m exceptionally thirsty. I just can’t quench that thirst.
I have a tight support unit and everyone is playing a role; Mom is Chief nutritionist trying to feed me at any given opportunity. Dad is leading a liquid diet for moral support and Darryl is in control if medication whilst keeping me comfortable at all times. Our relationship has definitely been tested this last week; I honestly never thought he would wash my hair for me. I am so lucky to have such loving, caring people in my life.
The next hurdle is having my jaws banded together, which will put an excruciating amount of pressure on both the bone and teeth. But I’m sure I’ll be given something to manage the pain.
Here is my selfie timeline during the last week of recovery. I am still very swollen around the bottom half of my face and don’t have feeling in my lower lip and chin. I am suffering with bruising around my left eye socket and the right lower jaw.
Click for a better look.
Have you had jaw surgery? If you have any tips please feel free to share. Anything for an easy life.