Brandy's Braces, SARPE, Jaw Surgery Journal

This is my daily journal to my eventual perfect smile and Apnea free life. It logs my surgeries, and daily progress.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Day 28/ End of 1st Week Back At Work

Well it has been a long week. Mostly hard getting used to talking a lot more. I still find that after about 1/2 a day my mouth is tired and I can feel it in my palate area. Like it has been overworked. I suppose it is like anything it is going to take time to build up my tolerance etc.

I have been eating a bit better. Its still hard and my mouth gets sore but I think I need it to help heal and get well. I seem to feel like I'm catching a cold now. Its like it just won't end. I'm just finishing up the meds for the sinus infection and now I'm tired, and all stuffed up again. Either the sinus infection is hanging on, or I have now contracted the common cold, whatever it is I plan to try and get lots of rest this weekend. I bought some Emergen C to start taking and some Cold EEZE. Hopefully between all that stuff if it is a cold I will be able to knock it out quickly.

My lower incisors have moved even more than the other day, and now there is a tiny space on each side of that hidden tooth. It truly thrills me everyday to see the progress! Reminds me of this saying my mom always said "small minds are amused easily" LOL... I don't think I have a small mind, I'm just easily excitable when it comes to my teeth! I mean really how can I not be?? If I'm going to make the committment to do all this and endure the aggravation of it all, why not get excited over it? Right??

We are heading out the door to go Neon bowling with the kids tonight so I will post some new progress pics tomorrow.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Day 27/ Scrape, Grind and that order!

Today was interesting, I wore my new appliance band-aid all day. I ate with it and drank with it and it worked great. I did find that if I ate hard food they tended to get up underneath the band-aid and I would have to take it off and replace it. When I ate soft foods like yogurt, applesauce, pudding, etc it was fine. I only had to change it once after lunch and that was it. Definitely need to use the large size though as the smalls are just too small!

I have found that for whatever reason I'm really clenching and grinding my teeth at night. I'm sure it has something to do with all the changes taking place in my mouth right now, but today I was very sore from it. My jaw joints just ached, I had a headache all day that wouldn't go away, my sinuses were puffy and tender,and I actually felt achey all acrossed my palate bones. I took some Motrin to help ease the discomfort but it really didn't do a whole lot. My jaw just feels really tired today, like it has been getting a real workout. Not sure what to do about it, but I have to take my son in on the 13th for his first adjustment and I think I'm going to ask my ortho while I'm there if there is anything I can do. Last time he gave me a very low dose of Amytriptyline (its an antidepressant) and said that it derails the grinding process. I'm not much on taking meds but did try it. It seemed to help with the grinding but made me feel really groggy in the morning. I may try one tonight though just to give my poor jaw muscles a break. Maybe it will derail this tongue reflex that makes me have to push on my appliance also! That would truly be a godsend! If I'm not scraping my tongue on the appliance, I'm grinding or clenching my teeth. What is wrong with this picture???

Other than running to the store to buy 2 boxes of blister band-aides, that was about it for today!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Day 26/ Tongue Soreness Quick Fix!

Today was another bad day with tongue soreness for me. When I went to the orth on Monday he tied off my RPE appliance. Basically what this means is that he put a wire through the key hole, wrapped it around a few times, then twisted the two ends together and tucked them into the side of the spring mechanism on top. This was fine, but the twisted wire is now part of the irritation going on with my tongue.
I tried all day to cover it with wax so my poor tongue could get a break but the wax just doesn't want to stay where it is put, or it melts into the grooves and leaves sharp edges again. By the time I got home I was almost in tears my tongue hurt so bad! My husband (bless is ever patient and thoughtful heart) came up with this idea and since it worked so well I felt like I had to share it.
Basically what we did was take one of the bandaid blister bandages (large size.) We trimmed off the oval shaped edges so it was just a flat rectangular shape. These bandages are not super sticky to the touch, but seal very well. They also are meant to absorb fluids from blisters so they stick well in wet or damp areas. The absortion powers are limited so they don't swell up huge but it actually sorta works to a benefit as it creates a sort of cushion. here is what we did. I took the bandaid, cut the edges off, then slid it through the top of the appliance and out through the back. I then reached in with my fingers and pulled the section sticking out of the back of the appliance around the bottom to connect with the front of the bandaid portion (where I initially slid it in) I then pinched the two pieces together really tightly up as close as I could get it to the appliance, so that it was sorta tight. Then trimmed off the extra. I rotated it so that the sealed edges are between the top of the appliance and the roof of my mouth. OMG it was instant relief. These bandaids don't have a taste to them, they are smooth, and once the edges are sealed they hold like glue. You literally have to cut them off with a pair of scissors. I have not tried eating with one on yet as we didn't put it on til this evening, but I did drink some stuff with them and they worked great, no problems or issues at all. I will try eating tomorrow and report how that goes! At any rate I'm just so relieved to have a break from the constant rubbing and irritation! These bandaids really work well I tell you! See the pic above of what it looks like once it is on. Here is a pic of the type of bandaides you need to get.

Not sure if anyone else does this, but I have been clenching and grinding my teeth like crazy since I got this appliance. I often wake up in the mornings with a headache or my jaws aching from my night time jaw activities. I had keep getting temporal headaches in the morning from all the clenching etc.

Lower teeth are still moving but the pain has subsided and I didn't have to take any advil or pain reliever at all today. I'm so excited to see the movement and glad we are making progress.

I have slept for two nights with no appliance or rubberbands. I do feel like I'm sleeping and I'm not waking my husband up snoring so that is a good thing. I will follow up more with that later in the week but for now things seem to be going well.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Day 25/ OMG The Pain Is So Worth It!

Well I have to post some pictures as I'm so excited! My Ortho put in a new archwire and two springs yesterday to separate a couple of my lower teeth. This was done so the one tooth hiding in back of these two could be pulled forward. I can't believe how much my teeth have moved in only one day! Look how far that middle tooth has moved! It's almost in line with the others in less than a 24 hour period!

Now with that being said, I have to tell you these little springy things...hurt like heck! My teeth are super sensitive, killing me in fact! BUT....I'm happy about it and it is certainly not that bothersome once you see how its working! Motrin helps a lot. So I just take a couple of them, and call it good!

Last night I tried the new C-Flex set up and it was a NO GO! I've decided that it is not for me, I just can't handle all of the noise and discomfort. Since having my SARPE I have noticed that my breathing passages are clearer and appear to be wider. I'm guessing this is due to the extra space we obtained with the procedure. I slept without rubberbands, or the machine last night, and while I didn't get enough sleep, I did sleep pretty well, so I'm going to try a few days of just sleeping on my own and see what happens. I know that my airways are still semi obstructed, I can feel it when I lay on my back, but it doesn't seem near as bad so I'm going to experiment a little bit and check it out!

Other than this, today was pretty uneventful. My tongue is still getting very irritated by the appliance after about 1/2 a day of speaking. Today I actually had red track like marks on it! The RPE was really bothering me so I covered it in wax. It felt much better but my speech was much worse after that! It's a no win situation I think, but tomorrow I'm going to start with wax in the morning and wear it all day to see if that helps. For whatever reason my tongue can't just leave the appliance alone. It is like there is a magnet in it that holds my tongue on top of it. I have to intentionally move it away from it and hold it there. As soon as I'm not deliberatly keeping it off the RPE it goes right back onto it, even if it is so sore it feels raw. It is very strange!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Day 24/ There Is A God!

Today was sooooooo much better! Thank Goodness! I went to the ortho at 7:20 am this morning. He checked my expansion and said it looked great! We gained 9mm of space and therefore I don't need to expand anymore woo hooo! One of the prongs on my RPE was sitting on my tooth and hurting. My ortho used a tool to bend the prongs and made them a lot more comfortable, they then ran a wire through the key hole of my RPE, threaded it around a few times, twisted the ends together, and tucked it into the spring section of the appliance. This is so the appliance doesn't move or become unwound in anyway. I can already tell that this new little bit of wire protrusion is going to be more aggravation for my tongue though See pic below:

The very best part though was that my OD said he is only going to make me wear this RPE for 8 more weeks! I was so happy I could've kissed him! He said on my next appointment (May 22) he will take out the RPE and put in a TPA. A TPA is bascially a wire on the roof of my mouth attached to the molar bands. It is a lot less invasive and will hold the space he says without being so uncomfortable. I was ecstatic! Told him that he totally made my day as I thought I was going to have to wear this torture device for 4-6 months. He laughed and said "I'm not that mean!" He then asked if I wanted him to put a new power chain on my gap and close it up! I was like "NO WAY!, I'm not ready for that!" I told him that my diastema seems to be closing up nicely on its own, and that when I come back in 8 weeks if its not closed then he can put a chain on it. My front teeth are still way too sensitive to be chained, plus I haven't gotten over the pain of wearing that other one for those horrible three days. So.....Keep the DEVIL CHAINS away from me for now!

I then asked him about putting the springs on my lower teeth that he had mentioned on my previous visit. He said he was thinking of waiting til my next appointment, saying "They are going to make your teeth sore!" I said, "that's ok, that is 8 weeks of treatment time wasted if we wait" He said "if your sure, then ok, we will go ahead and put them on" So....with that being said, take a look at my new springs! LOL...
These are going to pull those two teeth apart so that the one hiding in the back can move forward. It is now 8:05 pm and I can safely say, that my teeth are rather tender. Nothing a little ibuprofen won't fix but they are sore, and I anticipate by tomorrow morning things are going to be very ouchey (is that a word?)

I also went back to the sleep lab today and got a new mask set up for my C-flex machine. This one has just little nasal pillows that go into your nostrils and is a lot smaller and less cumbersome. I will be trying it out tonight. Cross your fingers it works as I'm just a walking zombie lately! I don't think I have slept more than 3 hour the past 4 nights. I so want to get a good nights sleep!

Eating is still a chore. I made some deep fried cod tonight and it was the best tasting fish I have ever had! Probably because I was like totally, completely, ravenously, hungry! Whatever the reason though it was so good and gave me a much needed protein boost.

Today was also my first full day back at work. It was good to be back and nice to be busy. Kept my mind off of the pain and the day flew by quickly. I did find after a few hours that my poor tongue was so sore from talking. I knew this was going to be my main challenge today as my job requires a lot of talking throughout the day. I think things will be much better as the week goes on, hopefully my tongue will adapt and if I get some sleep things will improve also. However, for the first day back it was good. Definitely 100% better than yesterday! (Cheers)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Day 23/ I Hate This RPE!

Ugghhhh! Today has been miserable! I'm having another "I hate this RPE day!" For those of you who do not have one of these I wish I could adequately explain how much they suck! For those of you who already have one or have had one before, then I'm sure you can relate! To make matters worse today one of my RPE's prongs has decided to make its final resting place on top of my bicuspid. I can only chew on my right side now since having my lower left molar extracted, and since the expansion my teeth are really not connecting very well right now. So, everytime I chew on my right side, it pushes the RPE down on the left side (on my tooth) and makes it just hurt. You know when you have to work so hard for something how it just sorta doesn't seem worth it sometimes??? Well that is how I feel about eating with this thing right now. It is just miserable, and unbearable. I'm truly only eating to survive at this point. It is just so much work, and so aggravating. I cannot eat anymore yogurt, applesauce, pudding and the like, as I'm just so sick of them I would rather go hungry. With as little as I have been eating these past few weeks you would think that I would be losing weight left and right! NOT! I think my body is in starvation mode and hanging on to everything. My metabolism has slowed to a snails pace I think! It is crazy!
I have an ortho appt at 7:20 tomorrow morning. Hopefully he will be able to do something about this prong situation, and I'm sure will send me on my way with some more new pain also. I think he is going to give me a new archwire on the lowers and some springs to go with it. Aren't I just the lucky one! :(

I did find out some new info on the C-Flex machine. Seems that there are a ton of different kinds of mask setups. They have very small ones that just go over your nose called nasal pillows. I'm going to see my durable medical equipment guy tomorrow and see if we can find another set up that will be more compatible with me. I'm feeling optimistic and hopeful about eventually getting some sleep now, so that is a good thing!

I'm still having stuffed up sinuses today and a mild headache. I have noticed that throughout the day sometimes my upper lip gets a bit numb feeling. Not sure if this is part of the healing process or what but I just wish it would go away. Normally I'm not a whiner but I'm still taking my antibiotics for my sinus infection and feel like I'm getting worse. I felt really good for a couple of days, now I'm feeling like I have a head cold or something. I go back to work tomorrow so I hope things start to improve, otherwise my week is not going to be very pleasant. I just want to feel like myself again! Ok...there, I'm done ranting for today! Hopefully tomorrow will be better!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Day 22/ Healing Continues

Today I woke up really stuffy and puffy through my sinuses. Not sure what was going on. Last night at the party I found out that the lady has a couple cats. Since I'm pretty allergic to them that is not a good thing! I started getting stuffed up, and having allergy symptoms right about the time we left. I thought perhaps today was carry over from last night or something. I ended up having to take my antibiotics for the sinus infection I'm still getting over, a decongestant to clear my sinuses, and a couple of advil for my headache. I took a long hot shower to help with the pressure in my face )that always seems to make me feel better.) Anyway, I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day. My diastema appears to be the same today. No noticeable change that I can see anyway. Maybe it will close some more tomorrow :)

I did manage to get some sleep last night. I put the rubberbands on and slept most of the night before I had to pull one off because my teeth were aching. I didn't feel so dead when I woke up today, and actually remember dreaming last night so that was really nice for a change. I'm still very tired, and run down from this sinus infection and of course just from healing I suppose, OH and the fact that I eat like a bird now probably doesn't help matters! LOL.... I go back to work on Monday. I'm looking forward to it sort of as it gets so boring being home all the time and I miss seeing all the kids at school. At the same time I'm not thrilled about going back as it is so hard to talk a lot with this RPE in my mouth (which is pretty much what I have to do all day long.) Eating is still quite the little challenge also, and I'm supposed to be doing lunch groups (3 a day for the next few weeks.) Normally I love having lunch with the kids but since everything is so much more difficult now I'm just not really looking forward to it.

I put the C-Flex machine away for now. I will try it again next weekend. I can't use it during the week, as I can't afford to be dead while I try and adjust. I only get about 7 hours of sleep as it is and I don't want to be waking every hour the night before I start back to work.

Day 21/ C-Flex Is The Pit's

OMG I don't see how people use this machine! It is just awful! I used this machine Thursday night to give it another try, after 4 hours of waking pretty much every hour on the hour, I shut the machine off and went back to using my rubberbands. The machine's mask is just making me nuts. I don't mind the forced air and can actually sleep with it just fine, it is the bloody mask I can't get used to. I'm a rather light sleeper anyway and every time I turn or even move the mask moves. It then breaks the air seal and I hear air blowing out of the mask and have to wake up to adjust it. This happens every time I move even in the slightest. I tried making the mask tighter to see if that would help, but it only made my face feel like someone was pressing on it all night! I was so tired yesterday! I think I got about 5 hours of sleep all night. I did use the rubberbands, however, I woke up because they were making my teeth ache and had to take them off also. Not a good sleep night at all for me! :(

Went to the gym today and had a great workout. I Think that was the only thing that kept me awake for the rest of the day!

My mouth is rather sore and sort of irritated from the big steak dinner we had last night. When I bite down I can still feel my palate is loose. My RPE is starting to settle into its resting place though, and I think the constant chewing/biting motions are forcing the molars that were tipping out to come back into alignment a bit. I still notice a lot of tipping on my left second molar, but the one on the right feels much flatter when I chew now. I'm starting to get some feeling back in a few of the teeth on my upper left side so that is a big plus, and my diastema (gap) continues to decrease although it is doing so rather slowly and incrementally now.

Tonight I had my first real experience in a social setting since my surgery 3 weeks ago. Thank GOODNESS! I ate something before we went! There was literally nothing they had at this party that I could eat in a socially acceptable way. Nothing! There were 3 kinds of chips, some kind of sandwich rolls, crackers, little cream puffs. Tons of food, all either too hard either in texture, or to break up into little pieces, or too soft and sticky to eat politely. I really wanted some cake, but they were taking forever to cut it and we wanted to go see a movie so we left before they got to that part. I ended up at the movie theatre eating a plain hotdog, and a container of those little ice cream "dipps." Not exactly healthy I know, but at that point I was ravenously hungry and didn't really care, AND.. after working out and not eating much before we left, I think that hotdog was quite possibly the best one I've ever had in my life! LOL.... The moral of this story before you go or be sure and bring something that you can eat.

Tonight I'm really tired and I'm not going to bother with the C-flex machine. I will use my rubberbands and hope that sheer exhaustion will take over and I will just sleep! Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Day 20/ Free From Expansion/ C-Flex Update

Well today was the first day I did not have to expand since my SARPE. I gotta tell you that it was awesome to not have to turn that key! I didn't have a headache today. I can feel my gap starting to close a bit more, It is down to 1.5mm now and it gets a bit tingly throughout the day, but for the most part it was a nice relief to not have to worry about anything other than just existing today.

We went to dinner at a nice restaurant tonight. I manage to eat a bread roll, some salad, rice pilaf and an 8oz filet mignon steak. It was so good! and the most I have eaten in a long time. Afterwards my mouth was pretty sore though. The prong on the right side of my RPE is sitting on top of my bicupid. I have been trying to push it down with my teeth, but it is not working and makes my molar band that is connected to the appliance hurt. The prong bangs against my tooth when I chew and is uncomfortable. I'm going to ask my OD if there is something he can do to fix it on Monday when I go in.

Last night I used the C-Flex machine for the first time. It was ok, I guess. I lasted about 3 hours with it before I had to take it off. I'm going to have to continue testing it out to make a definitive decision regarding it. It is very difficult to sleep with stuff strapped to your face, as well as a hose attached to it. Now I have adapted to this beast in my mouth so I'm sure if given enough time, maybe I can adapt to this contraption also. At the moment,however,it doesn't seem like anything I really want to get used to. Here is a picture of it.

Basically you fill the front tank with water which it warms to create moist air flow, then you put the mask on your face and turn the machine on. It basically forces a steady stream of air through your sinuses to keep your airways open. I know this machine is a lifesaver for many people and I'm not trying to knock its functionality. I totally know what it is like to not be able to get a goodnights sleep. I'm just not really liking it for myself, and truly it is making me more and more sure that this whole SARPE, Orthodontia, and lower jaw surgery thing is the way to go for me. I don't want to be hooked to a machine, or have to wear a dental appliance everynight for the rest of my life to sleep. I just want to go to bed like a regular person again and sleep peacefully. It just makes me more determined to see this all through til the end.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Day 19/ Expansion Completed! Woo Hoo!

Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah! I'm officially done expanding! 8 1/4mm of space has been under construction in my mouth for 18 days now. As of 10:00am this morning development of this newly enlarged living space has concluded. My tongue and teeth are (at this moment) busily adapting to their new, first class surroundings, and spacious living area. Hopefully my ortho will not decide on Monday that things are still not big enough! That would totally not be cool at all! I posted some pics of the process, it is sorta hard to tell if you look at them day by day, but if you look at them about every few days you can see the expansion itself a lot better!

Expansion Day 1, 7, 13, 18. Posted by Picasa

Expansion Days 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,17,18 Posted by Picasa

Now what will I focus my days on? Everything will seem so anti-climatic now that I don't have to worry about expansion anymore. I have to go see my Orthodontist on Monday for the final approval of expansion. I think they are also going to change my lower archwire and put some springs on my lower front teeth. These are supposed to start pulling some of the crowded teeth in the front over and out of the way a bit, so that the ones hiding in the back can get out! Sounds like more unpleasantness at the hands of my OD but hey whats a girl to do?, or should I say "What we girls do, for a beautiful smile!"

My Diastema is starting to get smaller, 2mm now and closing. I'm hoping by Monday it will be almost closed. That would be so awesome. I went and picked up my CPAP machine today. That thing is pretty weird. Basically it forces air down your nose, and you breathe it in, then exhale into the pressure of the air that is going in. Sorta hard to explain. I tried it and it was ok, but for whatever reason it seems to give me a headache. I will test it out tonight and see if I can stand it. If not I will be using my rubberband again. I slept with rubberbands all night last night without too much trouble, so its nice to know I have a back up if the CPAP is just freaking me out! I see why people have issues with it, it is a pretty weird deal to go to bed with a big nose mask, and an elastic head strap to hold it in place. I'm sure I will be looking entirely too SEXY tonight! LOL... but I guess people will go to great lengths to get a good nights sleep, and I can totally understand that having gone so long without it before. I will keep you all posted on how this works for me.

Talking with the appliance is still difficult. I find I just don't like talking anymore. I pretty much just prefer to keep my mouth shut and not have to work to hard at it. Saying words that begin with E, or have ee's in them is very hard. I sound like I need to go work with a speech therapist! Eating has gotten a bit easier though so that is a big plus! Ok...well I'm off to enjoy my new spacious mouth! I will gab with you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Day 18/ Yeah! I Can See My Cheek Bones Again!

Well my swelling is officially gone now I think. Since beginning antibiotics last night, I awoke this morning to the old face I used to know. Until I smile that is! LOL.. Expansion is almost finished. One turn left tomorrow morning and I will be officially done! Wooo Hooo! OMG my mouth feels huge! I can't get over how much space there is now, its crazy! My smile looks gigantic! Definitely not the smile I recognize or that I'm used to seeing. My son says it doesn't look that big, but when I compare it to my other pre expansion pics I think there is a tremendous difference. What do you think??? I guess it sorta has to be your mouth to really notice the difference huh?

Something happened with tonight's expansion and talking all of a sudden got a bit easier. Perhaps because the appliance is now closer to the roof of my mouth it doesn't impede my speech quite as much. Whatever it is, I will take it as talking has been excruciating for the last couple of weeks. My mom says I sound like Lily Tomlin when she used to play 'Edith Anne" yeah, she is dating herself, but sad part is....I knew exactly who she was talking about, and...She was right? I do sound like her. :(

Last night I slept with my rubberbands on to hold my jaw forward. I finally got a good nights sleep! I did wake up a couple of time from my teeth hurting and had to move my rubberbands to opposite sides, but it was worth it as I slept pretty well for the rest of the night. Tomorrow I have an appointment to go check out a CPAP machine. Not sure if it is going to work for me or not, but I want to see if it will.

Tomorrow I will post a collage of expansion pics so you can see the progress from beginning to end. It is pretty cool to compare each pic since day one. It makes it much more noticeable. Especially for those of you who want visuals on this whole process (like I did.)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Day 17/ Daily Headache Mystery Resolved!

Well I woke up this morning dead tired, pale as a ghost, with a splitting headache, a nice stuffy nose, puffy sinuses, and pressure. Yep, you guessed it I have a sinus infection. Bad timing of course, but this totally explains why my headaches have been getting increasingly worse rather than better each day, why I have not been sleeping well, and feeling so exhausted. Also why I had thought the swelling around my sinuses was not disappearing. I have had enough trouble with sinus infections to know how they affect me. I called my OS right away to see if he could call in a prescription for some Augmentin. I had actually been anticipating getting a sinus infection during this whole procedure as I haven't been able to use my sleep appliance or rubberbands at all.
I get sinus infections like crazy when my jaw recedes at night. It blocks my breathing passages and the fluids pool in the back of my throat and rear sinus area. The warm moist heat combined with the excess fluid, and small space, is the perfect incubation site for bacteria to flourish. Before I got my sleep appliance I literally had sinus infections almost monthly. After I got my mandibular advancement device (sleep appliance) I did not have one for over a year. Not until I got my braces and had to stop using my appliance on a regular basis.
Anyway suffice it to say that I'm not shocked or amazed that I have one right now. I'm taking the Augmentin and even after only two doses I'm starting to feel better so that is a plus. Hopefully by tomorrow it will be greatly improved. I plan to try and sleep with rubberbands tonight. Hopefully they won't make my jaws ache. If they do then I will just pop them off and onto my nightstand they will go :)

Expansion is going well, and almost finished! Two turns tomorrow, and one Wednesday and I will have survived the expansion process with only a 3mm gap! I have never had teeth that touched on the outside edge of my molars (they were always on the inside edges) I gotta tell you it feels a bit strange, but definitely better! Even with everything not aligned yet I'm liking it better!

Not much else to report, so I guess I will retire for the evening and hope that I'm amazingly transformed tomorrow, that my gap has completely disappeared, and that I can see glimpses of the fashion model smile I'm so hoping for! LOL...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Day 16/ The End is Near! (New Pics)

Today's expansion was fine for the most part. I did awake during the middle of the night with a headache last night, and had one also upon waking this morning. Expansions seem to be getting better though since we are so close to being done (thank goodness!) One side of my appliance seems to be riding up onto one of my teeth and is making it very difficult to bite down flush without interference. I'm hoping by the end of expansion both sides will be in a position that is somewhat comfortable, since I have to live with it that way for the next few months!

So far I have been very lucky with my gap. As you can see from the pic my gap has remained almost unchanged for the past week. It has in fact actually gotten smaller, and is only 3mm now instead of 3.5mm. Since I only have 5 more turns of the key left I don't anticipate it getting too much bigger so that is a big plus! Seems that my teeth just want to say together! LOL... Lucky me!

Here are some new progress pictures of my palate. This is my palate on Day 1 and my palate now (Day 13) with 7mm of expansion. It is very noticable now how the arch has rounded out. I have noticed that my smile/midline is quite a bit off center now though. I know this will all be corrected pretty quickly once expansion stops but it is hard sometimes to get used to all the changes that are taking place, or rather just temporarily deal with them.

I feel like my face is still swollen a bit around my sinus area. While my doctor said this would gradually go away, I can see that it is wanting to hang around. I'm hoping it goes down more as we stop expanding, as my face just looks puffy to me, and I swear my nose looks bigger! I'm sure it is more me than anything else, but I'm ready to see my cheekbones again. Does that sound vain?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Day 15/ Serious Sleep Issues, Bite Changes, and Foods to Eat and Avoid.

Man I'm tired! The last four days have been horrible for sleep! I keep waking about a zillion times a night due to various issues. I clench my teeth and grind them a lot when I sleep. My bite is changing by 1/2 a mm each day, and the prongs that protrude from the RPE appliance are now in direct contact with my bottom front eye teeth. They are very sharp and I have awoken several times the past few nights seriously scraping my bottom teeth against them. I half expect to find grooves in my lower teeth, as these little prongs are sharp! If I'm not grinding, them I'm clenching my teeth really hard, and since my bite is out of whack right now it is very uncomfortable when I do this and totally wakes me up. I also have to apply wax to my upper rear top brackets as the hooks keep getting caught in my cheek and waking me up. As if all of this isn't enough, I have the sleep apnea issues too! So if I turn onto my back while sleeping my jaw recedes and blocks my breathing passages.

Since the SARPE, I have not been able to use my sleep apnea appliance (as expected) and I have not been able to use the rubberbands on the brackets in my mouth either. Even though both the OS and Ortho said this added pressure from the rubberbands would not create a problem, they just really are clueless about this whole procedure. Mostly because they have never had one! They can say that something is fine, but not having experience with this whole thing they really don't have a clue as to what it feels like, what is uncomfortable, and just all the contradictions that go along with it. When I use the rubberbands I can seriously feel the pressure in my palate and sinuses. It is not comfortable at all, and therefore not a viable option for sleeping. I will not be done expanding for another 4 days, and then I will have a few months of healing left. I have decided that I need to look into using a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine for a few months til I can go back to using the rubberbands. I have an appt on Wednesday next week to pick one up and learn how to use it. As much as I really don't want to have a mask over my face blowing air down my throat at night, I also can't continue to go without sleep. My insurance is going to cover the cost of the machine so I won't have to pay anything which is nice, and as much as the whole idea of this machine repulses me, I'm also rather looking forward to it as I just want to be able to get a good nights sleep again. I will keep you all posted as to how that goes. Cross you fingers that it will work for me, as if not I'm not sure what we are going to do, this is sortof the last resort, until my lower jaw advancement is done.

One positive thing I have noticed in the last day or so is that my bite is finally starting to line up with my lower teeth. Even though I feel the prongs from the RPE when I bite down in front, I can also feel that my back top molars are now connecting with my lower molars in a much more functional way, AND on BOTH SIDES! I have never had a bite that connected on both sides so that is sortof cool! I have noticed that a couple of my upper teeth are rotated a bit inward and will need to be rotated out a bit to be straight and line up completely, but all in all I have been pleased with the expansion progress. It is still difficult to chew things that are hard. I eat mostly soft food, or things that can be softened by mashing them around. When I eat meat or things that are chewy, I can feel my palate move. It is a pretty creepy feeling and sometimes gives me a headache so I just stick with foods that are easier to eat. My diastema is not getting bigger either. It has been holding at 3mm even with expansions so I'm hoping it will continue to do so, and come back together quickly after we stop expanding.

Here are some of the foods I have found to be compatible with the SARPE and the RPE:

Pancakes (these are awesome! Filling and easy to maneuver around)
Potatoes (white or sweet, soft boiled, hashbrowns, mashed, or baked. French fries are difficult)
Eggs (just about any kind, fried need to be cut up good so they don't get caught in the RPE)
Spaghetti (cut up into small bits and eaten with a spoon) or just about any other kind of Pasta (particularly good with cream sauces or ground meat sauce.)
Hamburger patties (cut up small)
Link Sausage (cut into small pieces)
Chicken (soft, cooked in the crockpot is best)
Tuna (mix with mayo and pickle relish, great protein and easy to eat)
Surimi or artificial crab meat (mix with mayo, cut up small. Great source of protein)
Salad (is remarkably easier to eat then I had thought it would be)
Soup (just about any kind, as long as ingrediants are cooked til soft)
Bread (soft french bread is good. Do not eat the crust, as its very hard to chew, and gets stuck easily)
Blueberry muffins (Made from a box, are easy to eat and taste good with little effort.)
Smoothies (Fast, filling, nutrition, easy to drink, and doesn't require a lot of effort.)
Macaroni Salad (ok, can swallow mostly whole if necessary)
Taco Bell Chicken Quesidilla (I was able to eat this pretty easily. It took a bit of manuevering but I got it down and it tasted pretty good)
Cheesecake (yum this is an awesome food to eat, and tastes even better because you don't have to work too hard to get it down)

Things not to eat (I will keep adding these as I find new ones:)

Corn (OMG this stuff is really scary! stay away from it, big time choking hazard)
Bacon (too hard, hurts to chew)
Spinach (gets stuck everywhere)
Spaghetti (long that is not cut up, gets caught and is a choking hazard)
Hard vegetables (just hurt to chew)
Chips of Any Kind (to hard to chew, and since you can't feel your upper teeth they can really poke and cut you up)
Breath mints (hard to control and again a big choking hazard)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Day 14/ All Is Well in Expansion Land (SORT OF)

Today went well, I had to expand myself this morning as my dh had to go to work early. Suffice it to say it was a little challenging. It is hard to see where the key goes into the RPE, and for some reason every time I expand myself I never get it turned enough so that I can insert the key in the hole for the next turn. I had to go in from the back and turn it a bit more to line up the key slot properly.

My teeth on the left side were really sore today. The appliance was really pushing up against the sides of those teeth and forcing them to move a bit. They were not liking it and suffice it to say it was very tender to even touch my teeth there today. After this evenings expansion things are much better, so that is a big plus. I only have 4 more days to go til I'm finished expanding! So far I have been pretty lucky, my teeth don't seem to want to come apart in front and my diastema has been holding at about 3mm. It has not gotten bigger in 4 days now. I suppose it could happen in the next couple of days as I still have 2 1/4mm of expansion to attain, but I'm hoping they stay where they are and move back together quickly.

I will post another pic on Sunday of the expansion process.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Day 13/ Five More Days of Expansion

Today was pretty much the same as yesterday expansion wise. I did, however, wake up with a headache again this morning and my sinuses were a bit puffy also. Something interesting is starting to happen though. Today I went to drink a smoothie and noticed that on the right side of my gap I'm starting to get some sensation back. I had cold sensitivity that I haven't had since my surgery, and I can actually feel my teeth on that side when I tap them gently on the bottom. It feels a bit strange to only have sensitivity on one side right now, but at the same time I'm thrilled to be getting some feeling back, especially so early. I had been told that feeling would probably start coming back roughly around 2 weeks after completion of my expansion. I'm still expanding so that is very cool!

Not much else to report today....pretty much the same old same old. Turn the key, appliance applies pressure and moves a bit, prongs on appliance move into akward position making it impossible to bite down, or eat. That is my life pretty much everyday right now. If anything changes I will keep you all posted!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Day 12 Post SARPE/ 20 Turns of RPE Appliance

Day 10 Gap
Well today was the first day I actually keyed my own appliance. I decided I needed to learn how to do it. It wasn't hard, but is a bit tricky the first time or two. I have 13 turns left til we are done expanding. My gap (diastema) is officially 3.5mm wide now. :( Chewing is getting a bit more difficult today since my bite keeps changing. The little bars on the appliance are hitting my bottom teeth pretty firmly, and unless I shift my jaw to chew on one side the banging is pretty uncomfortable. Hopefully it will move out of the way with tomorrows expansions.

Sleeping has been kindof weird lately. I'm thinking that I must be grinding my teeth at night or something. I keep waking up because I'm doing something that really hurts my left molar where the appliance is attached. I can't figure out what it is I'm doing when I'm awake to save my life, I have tried everything to re-enact it but nothing even comes close to simulating the movement or pain. Its weird!

Here are some new expansion pics from today (Day 10) Notice the yellow spots at the back of my palate on the day 10 photo? I'm not sure what those are but they were not there before I began expanding. I'm thinking they must have something to do with the blood supply catching up during the expansion. Anyway....I just noticed them as I was comparing all the expansion pics tonight. Expansions are getting easier everyday. Pressure last for about a minute or two then is gone. My headache has pretty much disappeared also which is a big plus. Oh...and the pain in between my teeth is not bothering me too much anymore either. If I push on my front teeth or apply pressure to them in any way they get achey, but if I just leave them alone they don't hurt. So as of today I'm officially off oral analgesics (ADVIL.) which is a big plus!

Day 1 Expansion
Day 10 Expansion

20 Turns of the key

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Day 11 Post SARPE/ Expansion Continues

Went to the Orthodontist today so he could check my expansion before he leaves on vacation tomorrow. Said everything is going well, but wants me to turn the appliance 33 turns instead of just 30 as he had originally instructed. So 8 1/4 mm total expansion. I will be seeing him 5 days later after I stop (March 27th.) He says that things do not heal up super fast, so if we need more space we will still be able to turn it a few more times in order to get it. That sorta freaks me out, so I'm hoping that we will have all the space we need and don't have to do that.

I asked when we were going to begin working on my bottom teeth and he said that we already were. He said the archwire I have right now is to loosen everything up, when I come in next time (since I have crowding) they will use some springs on my teeth to start pulling the teeth apart and make some space for the ones in back to come forward. Other than that he said things are going well and to keep up the good work.

Expansion today went fine, and the pressure seems to disappear a bit quicker now. Probably lasts about 2 minutes then it passes. I do still feel it in between my front teeth though, sortof off and on throughout the day. It is just a waiting game now, with expansions continuing daily.

Not sure how I'm feeling about the gap, I mean I'm happy that I'm getting it because that means things are progressing as they should be. It is, however, getting much more noticible and hard to disguise. I tried the wax thing but it just doesn't work very well for me. The wax gets soft and just sort squishes through the hole and doesn't stay where I put it. Plus right now with my teeth being so sensitive, it is actually a bit aggravating, as even the wax puts a slight bit of pressure on those two front teeth causing them to ache. Not sure what I'm going to do but I'm going to keep thinking on it and see if I can come up with something.

Monday, March 13, 2006

10 Days Post SARPE/ Expansion 1/2 Finished

Today is day ten after my SARPE. I'm doing fine for the most part. Still have a mild headache during the day, and a slight ache in between my front teeth that doesn't really seem to go away but other than that things are going well. Today is officially half way for my expansion. We have keyed the appliance 16 times now. My gap is growing larger each day, and was officially measured tonight at 2mm wide. With each turn being equal to 1/4 of a mm we have gained 4mm in space thus far, with approximately 4 more to go.

Here is my growing gap and current pics of my expansion progress. Please disregard my cavities etc. :(

Day 1 No Gap
Day 8 Gap

Notice how much bigger and more open my smile looks compared to the first pic?? My teeth don't look so crowded up top either.

Day 1 Expansion
Day 8 Expansion

My arch is really starting to change, instead of looking like an oval it is now becoming nice and round.

these are the Same pics only bigger:

Expansion Day 1

Expansion Day 8

I can really see a difference, and of course feel it too! We will have double this much space by next Monday! Eating is still a challenge and I find myself just not eating much more than is necessary to quell the hunger. It is too much work and I don't have the patience for it. Hopefully this will get better as time goes on. My speech seems to be improving but is also more of a challenge with this new gap that is forming. I'm hoping that it isn't around for too long once expansion is complete.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

9 Days Post SARPE

Today was basically a repeat of yesterday. Expansions are going well, tomorrow evening will mark the halfway point (15 turns.) I think a low grade headache may just be part of the expansion process for me. It really is not too bad, nothing that I can't function with, but it is there pretty much daily. Mostly it feels like a sinus type headache. Expansions are getting easier. I don't get all freaked out about them like I was before and they are not making me anxious anymore. They really are no a big deal and once the key is turned it only takes about 10 minutes for the pressure to return to normal. I have an Ortho appt Tuesday. Once I see him and make sure 30 turns is the exact number we want to stick with I will post some pictures for all of you to see.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

8 Days Post SARPE/ 5 Day View of Gap

Today was a good day! I did awake with a headache which I had most of the day, and my teeth were still bothering me with sortof a burny pressure type pain, but I took some Advil and did my best to ignore it. I still have a slight bruise under my eye area, and one on my lower right chin. I expect them to be completely gone by tomorrow or the next day for sure.

I went to the gym for the first time since my surgery. It felt good to get some cardio in and lift a little. It was harder than I had anticipated though. With the increased saliva flow in my mouth now it is a bit harder to control and navigate when my heart rate goes up. I mean I can't really breathe through my mouth without feeling or worrying about drooling all over the elliptical trainer! I never realized how hard it is to just breathe through your nose when your are getting into your target training zone. I also noticed that when I was lifting weights and straining on the final lifts, that I would sorta squish my face up and put additional pressure on my front teeth. It sorta made them ache a bit more but I just kept going and ignored it, then took some more advil when I got home today.

Now for the really exciting news! I can really see changes in my palate now! I have been taking expansion pics daily and comparing them nightly to one another. Tonight I put day one and day five next to each other and was amazed at the difference. I will post on Tuesday the pics so you can see them too! By then I will be half way done expanding and you will be able to see huge improvements! I'm so excited! Everything appears to be working beautifully. Expansion is nice and even, and the archwires are keeping everything in line. My teeth are looking more and more pleasing and I'm getting that nice curve on the top that others have! I can't tell you how thrilling that was for me to see today. Definitely worth the little bit of aggravation I have been experiencing, oh and of course my growing gap :)

Friday, March 10, 2006

SARPE Day 7 Post Op

This will be the last picture post I will be making of my post surgery swelling and bruises. As you can see for the most part they are gone. I have a couple of lingering bruise spots but not enough to keep posting daily pictures of. Swelling is gradually going away more and more daily and I expect by the end of 2 weeks will be completely gone. I will post on Monday some pictures of my expansion progress. We will be half way through keying the appliance at that point and you should be able to see some very noticible change by then. I can see a lot of change already after only 10 turns!

Went to see my Oral Surgeon and he gave me the big thumbs up. Said everything went great during the surgery. That they got good separation of my palate, and that my expansion looks to be coming along beautifully. We talked about my getting an implant for the lower molar that he removed. He thinks that a bone graft is going to have to be done in order to support it, so......the tenative plan is for him to do the bone graft next summer when he is doing my BSSO (lower jaw advancement.) Then he says it will take 6-8 months to heal and for us to be sure it is going to take. Once we are sure of that and it is nice and solid, they will go in and do the implant. so it is one more oral surgery that I will have to go through, however, after this, and the summer BSSO and bone graft, an implant will be like nothing I'm sure!

Expansions are still going fine, and we will be finished with 10 of my 30 turns as of this evening (Happy Birthday to me!) I still have mild pressure on my teeth after expanding but Ibuprofen seems to be working fine now and I no longer have to take the serious pain pills to get rid of it.

I had to take my son in to get one of his archwires clipped this afternoon so I got to see my ortho for a few minutes also. I told him about taking the powerchain off and that it was just too uncomfortable for me. He said that that was fine, but wanted me to be aware that my gap is probably going to get considerably bigger than what it is right now. I told him that I didn't care if it gets as big as a garage! That we can close it later and I'm not worried about it. I told him that I just don't want to have anymore discomfort with this expansion than is necessary at this point, and while I'm not thrilled to have a gap, it really doesn't bother me too much as at least I know things are working like they are supposed to be and we are making progress in the right direction. Other than that there is not much else to report at this time.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

SARPE Day 6 Post Op/ New healing pics

It has now been officially 6 days since I had my SARPE done. Things are going well, much better today. I think perhaps my teeth have finally adjusted to the archwire, and I can honestly say that my pain is very mild, or almost non-existent for the first time since surgery. Expansion went well this morning, felt it in my teeth, and sinus area for about 15 minutes then it went away. I have a mild sensation of pressure on my front teeth, but nothing to really speak of.
Yesterday was the worst...After suffering for several days with the pressure pain I finally relented and took a pain pill last night. I truly didn't realize how stressed out I was from the constant low grade pressure pain, or how much it had been wearing me down until I obtained complete, instant relief with the pain pill. Oh my gosh, it was like heaven! Finally I could just relax and rest without any aggravation. I slept well last night, very soundly, and awoke this morning to no pain or pressure at all (thank goodness!) I'm still a bit swollen over my sinus area, and I suspect that that may continue for awhile since I really feel the expansion through that area. Bruises have pretty much turned yellow, and are fading pretty well. I still look pretty rough though, but definitely improved from yesterday.

I took some new pics of my stitches and upper lip bruising so that everyone could see the progress over the past 5 days.

Here is a pic of my upper lip. As you can see the bruising is pretty much gone and there are only a few stitches left. These stitches have been the most tender and seem to be taking the longest time to heal.

Here is a picture of my left side stitches. These have mostly all come out and you can see where it has healed.

Last but not least are my right side stitches. There are a few that are still hanging on this side, but you can also see the areas where they have healed up. Not too bad for only 5 days I think!

That is pretty much it for the moment. Wanted to mention that I'm still very numb. Truthfully I can't really feel my upper teeth at all. It is very weird trying to brush your teeth when you can't actually feel them, or to eat. I can feel pressure on them but it is mostly high up in my gums, like right underneath my sinus area across the front portion. I have bits of feeling in a few of my front teeth but for the most part everything is numb sorta like it is there, but not really there.
I will post later tonight after my second daily expansion (Key turn #8) Hopefully the pressure pain will not increase as the day goes on.

***Expansion is finished for day four, and seems to be getting a bit easier. My pressure/pain was greatly reduced today and I managed pretty well on a single dose of Advil. My gap has now begun to emerge (as you can see) and at the rate we are expanding will be approximately 3 times this size by next Sunday when expansion is complete. While I'm not thrilled to be getting a gap, it does tell me that my RPE is doing what it is supposed to be doing which is great! And I don't care how big the gap becomes, I do not want one of those powerchain things again during this process! They are the DEVIL I tell you! :)

Pre-gap photo

Right After Surgery Gap

My Newly Emerging Gap

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Today is day five, and believe it or not I'm starting to feel a bit more human! Swelling is mostly gone when I awake. I have spotty areas like right above my left sinus area, and my top lip is still mildy puffy, but it goes away quickly. The bruising is fading pretty rapidly and should be pretty easily covered with makeup today, and I can actually see my cheekbones again! The stitches in my lower molar extraction have completely dissolved, and most on my upper incisions have healed too. I still have a few, especially in the front that are tender, but things seems to be progressing along at a pretty rapid pace. I also think that I have received the benefit of increase airflow through my sinuses. They have been clearer than ever and I haven't had any problems with breathing issues at all. In fact I haven't had any real issues especially since I took things into my own hands last night (see below.)

Ok.....I must confess, yesterday was a very bad day for me. I had thought that it was the expansion process causing problems but I figured out later last night (after 3 days of non-stop, constant, pressure pain) that it was that blasted powerchain on my front teeth. I have been absolutely miserable since my ortho put that thing on my front teeth. At about 11:00pm last night I reached my saturation point. I couldn't stand it anymore so I took it off ! OMG! instant relief, it was truly amazing how much better my teeth felt once that tini tiny piece of rubber was removed. I slept great, no drooling at all!, and expansion this morning was a piece of cake. I felt the pressure but it was not annoying and only lasted about 10-15 minutes. Oh...and the most exciting news. Even after only 5 turns, I can see my upper arch and smile getting bigger! That was totally cool!

For those of you who will be having this surgery, understand that my discomfort was from my archwire and powerchain and not the SARPE procedure, or expansion itself. If you don't have these then you should be fine!

This sounds bad, but my ortho has a ton of patients. When you come in to his office they have a welcome sign for the new ones with their names on it. Every day there is at least 8-10 new ones listed. Originially my ortho and I had talked about my gap and he had told me out how he could put a chain on it and then it wouldn't get so big. I was like ok.....then I did a bunch of research and couldn't find anything on it, and Dr. J. didn't really support it either so I told him to not worry about it that I would just learn to love the gap and be ok with it for awhile.
Well.....I think he makes very detailed notes in the patient files so he remembers stuff, and I think the information from our original conversation about putting the chain on for aesthetic reasons was in my chart. I'm sure that he read it and then just told the assistant to put the chain on.

Personally I feel better with the powerchain off, and since they can close the gap later, I'm not going to worry about it. When I go in for my appt on the 27th after expansion I'm going to tell him I took it off because after three days of constant non- stop pain it was just unbearable for me to wear. I'm also going to talk with him about going slow on some of this stuff. I think my teeth are pretty sensitive to pain, even the really flimsy wires really make my teeth ache. When I told him that the other day he was like "really, those hardly apply any force" and was very surprised. I think we just need to go slow, even if that means my surgery is not going to be in May 2007 but at a later date. I'm prepared to suffer for what I want, but I can't function when the pain is neverending for weeks at a time, and I'm not a person that likes to take medicine. I rarely if ever take advil or anything else. It's vitamins for me and thats it, so all this medication has me feeling sorta blah! Anyway....things are definitely on the upside now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

SARPE Day 4 Post Op

Here is my bright smiling face on day 4 after my SARPE (Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expansion.) Ok, I guess I'm not smiling, but hey would you be if your face looked like this?

Swelling has come down considerably now, however, I'm still quite swollen when I wake up in the morning. After a shower it really calms down though. I'm sure being in and upright position verses laying down in bed has something to do with the fluid migration and increased circulatory flow. As you can see the bruises are quite bad, but trust me when I tell you it really does look much worse than it really is. They are not painful, just rather unsitely. I'm going to complain a bit here. I mean come on, no one has surgery and is all sweetness and light right? For whatever reason, be it the expansion, swelling, whatever, I can't sleep at night without drooling like a faucet. It is SO DISCUSTING! I sleep with a beach towel on my pillow at night now. I'm hoping it will quit soon as there is just nothing grosser (well ok maybe there is) but it is nasty to wake up several times a night in a puddle of spit! EWWWHHH! I'm also really really disliking this expansion stuff. I think for me it is much more psychological than anything else, but it is freaking me out pretty bad. I'm down to 27 turns of the RPE left, and yes I'm counting them! I can honestly say when the key is turned that it is not "painful" It doesn't really hurt, not in the literal sense of the word anyway, but it is the most bizarre feeling ever. You get this big sensation of pressure on both sides of your teeth, and through your sinus area for awhile (for me it seems to last about 2 hours.) It is uncomfortable, and weird, and well.... hard to accurately describe, suffice it to say that it is unpleasant at best! Worst part about it is that it is constant. For me, mild discomfort that is ongoing, is worse than short bursts of extreme pain. I just want there to be no pressure, and to have no headache! Now with that being said, some of this is probably my doing. I have only been taking Advil, and perhaps jumping up to something a bit stronger might do the trick. I think I'm going to try one of the pain killers tonight when I sleep and see if it makes a significant difference for me.

I will also say that I have read a lot about this possible "POP" that can happen during the expansion process. It is not suppose to be painful either, but just sorta unnverving. I'm pretty uncomfortable with that. Every time my husband turns the key, I'm just waiting for the dreaded PoP to happen! In fact just anticipating the key turns is creating a high amount of anxiety for me. I found myself having a hard time sleeping last night, as I was dreaming about him having to turn the key again! I suppose that everyone has something that is hard for them or more of a struggle with this procedure, for me the expanding is the worst! I truly can't wait til it is done.
Now with that being said, I must tell you that it is working! My bite was in a totally different spot when I awoke this morning, so even though all of this is aggravating, it is also rather exciting knowing that we are making progress and getting closer to the prize! I just want everyone to know that this procedure is not without its irritations, or frustrations. You will have good days and bad days with it, and at times may even question why you did this. Just remember that the things in life we have to work the hardest at are the things that mean the most. I will get through this, relatively unscathed, as will those of you also having this surgery. For today though.....I just needed to vent a little and be honest with you!

Monday, March 06, 2006

SARPE 72 Hours Post Op./ Expansion Begins

Today is day three after surgery and as predicted swelling was pretty bad upon waking this morning. I also have very bad bruising which is much more apparent today. I look like I went a couple of rounds in the boxing ring with my opponent clearly getting the better of me. Pain is still very minimal, nothing that advil can't fix, and my whole upper arch remains pretty much numb. Chewing is pretty weird, as I really can't feel my teeth. I do have some slight tingling going on in places though, sorta like when novacaine is wearing off. Supposedly that is a good thing as that means the nerves are starting to regenerate. I didn't sleep as well last night, and had a slight lingering headache until falling asleep, but other than that the achiness seems to be subsiding a little. The ortho seems to think I look remarkably well (I'm sure he says that to everyone that looks like death!) and instructed me to begin using warm compresses and no more ice today. He said to apply them 10 minutes on, then 10 minutes off, and that this will increase the circulation and reduce the swelling pretty rapidly. Mostly in the pics I look very bruised, (remember that I bruise very easily though!) however, swelling is really pretty minimal. Due in part (I think) to my constant icing on day one. (see swelling pics below.)

Right out of bed

After shower,Ice, and Makeup

After getting up and ready to go I went to the ortho this morning and received a couple surprises (definitely NOT what you want after having someone take a chisel to your facial skeleton.) Seems that my OS did not cement my appliance in place so my ortho had to remove it and cement it in. It wasn't painful but I could feel slight pressure and it started to ache a bit without the appliance to hold everything where it needs to be. Once getting it fitted and properly in place he showed my husband how to turn the key and my expansion process was started. Now not only am I dependent on my darling husband for the next 15 days, but he can take out his frustrations on me, twice daily with simply the turn of a key! I ask you.... How messed up is that? LOL..
We will be cranking this torture device 30 times, twice per day, before stopping. It is a pretty hard feeling to describe. Not painful, but definitely weird. The Orthodontist turned the crank a couple of times, and I instantly felt pressure on the sides of my mouth, and through my sinuses. Just pressure, not pain. I do have a mild headache again though, and just took 3 advil to help with it. I have not had any coffee yet today though, so it could very well be just a caffeine headache!

Next he put a new archwire in my top brackets, and put a pink powerchain on my front teeth. He said that I will still be getting a gap, but it will not be as big with this powerchain on. I know we had talked about him not chaining the gap, but I'm trusting that he knows what he is doing and that everything will be fine. He did tell me that the new archwire will make my teeth hurt by tomorrow, and that the powerchain will feel like increased pressure too. Does he think that this whole SARPE thing hasn't been aggravating enough?? It's like he just wants to keep piling on the pain, or else see if he can make me hurt more! All I know is that I'm starting to think that orthodontists in general are the spawn of Satan! Here is a pic of my new pink powerchain. I will be posting the expansion as well, but rather than doing it daily I will wait and post every few days.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

SARPE 48hrs Post Op.

Slept well again last night, but woke up about 8:30 this morning in a bit of pain. Nothing major mind you, just more achey than anything. I could feel my stiches sortof burning a little bit, and my upper arch just sorta ached. One of my band hooks had smashed into my sore cheek area while sleeping and was aggravating me a lot. I put some wax on it,took 3 advil, another penicillin tablet, and within 15 minutes was back to sleep. Swelling is increasing a bit as forwarned by the doctor, but not as bad as I had thought. It is worse upon waking but does tone down considerably after about an hour. Upon waking I have been applying ice, then getting a shower. Today the swelling on the right has started to go down in the sinus area, on the left (where my wisdom tooth was extracted) it had extended up to my lower eye area. I had anticipated some extra swelling and bruising on this side, due to the extractions of my wisdom tooth and lower molar, so it would appear that things are following true to course. I have started to bruise quite a bit, however, I might add that I bruise very easily so I was not surprised by this part at all. If you look closely you can see the darker areas above my lip and on my lower cheek. I could feel the one bruise on my right cheek yesterday even though I couldn't see it. They are now just becoming visible across my upper lip area and lower cheek areas. I did have some slight bruising under my eyes also like a very mild black eye upon waking this morning.

Other than this things are going fine. I'm eating well, mostly mashed potatoes and soft foods, and drinking lots of ice water. My son made a yummy cheesecake yesterday, and while I normally don't indulge in such high calorie, high fat food, it tasted like a piece of heaven and was a welcome taste treat! It was also very easy to eat with its creamy smooth texture. Brushing my teeth is a bit weird as I still can't really feel my upper arch. Hard to know if you are really getting them clean when you can't feel the toothbrush on them! I have also been rinsing with warm salt water rinses at regular intervals.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the ortho and will begin the keying of my RPE. I'm hoping it doesn't hurt and that I will be able to get my swollen mouth open enough for him to even see the appliance LOL... I will post on swelling and follow up from the keying lessons upon my return tomorrow. The OS said tomorrow would be the worst for swelling so I'm curious to see if it gets worse, or stays about the same.

Swelling 48hrs Post op

Saturday, March 04, 2006

SARPE 24 Hours Post Op.

Well before I get started I have to give Kudo's to my Oral Surgeon. He has clearly done a wonderful job with this whole procedure. I followed the Drs. orders yesterday and took penicillin 4 times a day and advil every 4 hours. I went to sleep last night at about 11:00pm. I slept all night with no pain, and woke this morning to no pain.
Stitches are no longer bleading. I have some numbness in my front teeth when I brush,
but not anything that is too unbearable at this point. My face is swollen today. I pretty much look like a chipmunk storing nuts for the winter. Swelling is mostly on the right side and the whole front lip area and above it (like under and around my sinuses.) My front lip looks pretty bad like someone punched me and gave me a big fat lip. It doesn't hurt at all but is puffy for sure. Once you look at the pictures below you will understand why it is so puffy as it is very bruised, it truly looks the worst of everything. I figure this must be due to my braces being in the way. I think they are pressure bruises. Again, I must say that although it looks very does not hurt! What is strange is that the right side of my face is so much puffier than my left. I also had the wisdom tooth and lower first molar extracted on the left so I would've expected it to be the worse on that side. I seem to have a big bruise on my lower right cheek which I think is the main culprit of all the swelling there, I can honestly say that I have absolutely no pain whatsoever in my lower tooth extraction or upper left quadrant. Actually I have no measurable pain to speak of at all. Eating is getting better, still difficult but better and I managed to get two fried eggs and some hashbrowns into myself for breakfast this morning with absolutely no problems. I can say that chewing is a bit weird feeling though. When I bite down I feel it in my whole upper arch, like it is loose (which it is) so I suppose that is to be expected. Compared to what I thought this was going to be like it has been a piece of cake. I have no regrets at this point. My doctor says day three will probably be the worst for swelling so I will keep you all posted on my progress thoughout.

The pictures below are rather graphic, so if you have a weak stomach then don't look at them.

Top Lip Bruising and Stitches

Top Left Stitches

Top Right Stitches

Pre Facial Pic

Post facial swelling (Few hours after surgery)

This Morning

Friday, March 03, 2006

Survived SARPE/ 4 hours post op.... was D-day. SARPE, plus two extractions. I went to the doctor at 10:15. I was then brought into the office where the surgery was done. The OS took one Xray of my front teeth so that he could know which chisel he would need to use for the procedure (this was not the most comforting thing to say to someone coming in for surgery mind you.) The nurse then put a blood pressure cuff on my left arm and took my blood pressure. It was 116 over 63 and they commented on how calm I was. She then put an oxygen meter on my left index finger. Next the doctor found a vein in my right arm (right where it bends) and so gently inserted the needle that I didn't even feel it. A velcro strap was placed over my wrist to secure my arm to the arm of the chair and I was then told that I was going to start getting a bit goofy, I quickly became light headed, and commented on how fast I felt it hit me. My Doctor said "yep, its fast" Honestly after that I don't remember a whole lot. I was consciously aware that stuff was going on around me and I could here the doctor and nurse talking to one another,but I was really pretty out of it (in a happy place.) I remember hearing him say that I would feel a few bangs as he separted the front portion of my palate. I did feel those (three of them.) They were not painful but the pressure and bang resonated quite forcefully to my head and I remember scrunching up my eyebrows from the force. Next I remember hearing him say "we just finished putting your appliance in, we are going to give it a couple of turns and make sure everything is working ok, then I will finished up with that tooth on the bottom. Were almost done" I heard him ask the nurse to remove the bracket from the lower tooth, and some very slight crunching as they removed it.Throughout the whole procedure I felt nothing. Then I was awake. It felt like I had been asleep for a very short time, and I checked my watch to see how long. I went into surgery at approximately 10:50 and I was out at 11:55, so barely 1 hour of total surgery time. My doctor said everything went smoothy, that there were no complications, and that I barely even bled at all! I was very happy to hear that, and very pleased with the quality of care I got there!

I currently have a small verticle incision right about my front teeth with a couple of stitches, and I have stitches on both sides between my cheeks. From what I can feel the stitches seem to start at or about my second molar and run up to my first molar. They are no longer than about 1 inch in diameter on both sides.

Upon leaving the surgeons office I went and got a smoothie to drink, I was starving! I'm still pretty tired and out of it. The novacaine is starting to wear off and I feel some mild pain right at or about my cheekbones. I'm icing like crazy, even brought ice packs with me to the doctors office. I'm noticing that when it starts to ache the ice really seems to help. At this point I've only had to take Advil for the pain. I do have a slight gap between my teeth now (see pics below) and I will take some better pics tomorrow of my stitches once the bleeding has settled down. They are not bleeding a lot, but some, and when I move my lip it starts to bleed pretty heavily. My teeth feel a bit loose in the front, sorta like when my braces are moving them around, but I have had no nose bleeds. My nose feels slightly stuffy but nothing too bad, in fact it almost seems like I can breathe better at the moment, which is a big plus!

Pre surgery

Post Surgery

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Day Three with the RPE/ 15 hours til SARPE and Counting....

Today was day three with this horrible appliance. My mouth is now resigned to this metal intrusion and I'm no longer salivating like a dog (thank you Lord!.) With that being said, I have nothing else positive to say about this thing. My tongue is still very sore, and I have wax everywhere to cover any place that might rub. Talking is still tough, although slightly better than yesterday. I do not see it improving significantly in the next few months. I think I'm just going to have to deal with sounding like I have a serious speech impediment for awhile. Good thing I work with young kids, as they don't really care what I sound like.

As I mentioned yesterday eating is brutal, and that has not changed. I find myself eating next to nothing as I just quite frankly don't have it in me to deal with it. It is so much work,and so frustrating. Everything I eats goes above the appliance and gets stuck in that little space. Because the appliance is the shape of an X food gets trapped in the edges and is like impossible to get out. It is extremely unpleasant to say the least! Not sure if this will improve or I had a smoothie for breakfast, a bit of scrambled eggs, a banana, and a few cups of coffee. The most enjoyable part was the coffee. Can a person live for 4 months on coffee alone? Perhaps I should test that theory out! LOL..

Tomorrow is my SARPE surgery. I'm eerily calm about the whole thing. I'm even sorta freaking myself out. I keep thinking it will hit me and I will eventually get nervous (perhaps tomorrow morning maybe??) but for now I'm resigned to the whole thing, and actually looking forward to just getting it over with.

I will post tomorrow after surgery with pics! :)

For those of you who don't know what a SARPE is, it is a Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate expansion. When you are an adult your palate bones become fused, and cannot be expanded with just an appliance alone (as say a childs could.) So you go in to an oral surgeon and for the sake of keeping this simple, they basically fracture your palate. They go in right above the molars in the back on both sides, and make an incision right above the front teeth underneath the sinuses. They take a chisel and with a couple good whacks separate the palate from the sinus area and the upper rear palate connections are separated. Basically they are releasing these bones to their pre fused state. Then an expansion appliance is installed and is turned once or twice a day over a period of time to allow the palate to expand and fill in with new bone growth. It sounds very bad, and invasive! However it actually is not near as bad as it sounds, and is a relatively common procedure for adult palate expansion. Recovery time is about 1 week total with the first 2-3 days being the worst (mostly due to swelling). Most people have little to no pain, and manage discomfort with over the counter products such as Motrin or Tylenol.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Day Two in RPE torture device...

Let me start out by saying that I'm really disliking this appliance, however, with that being said, today is definitely better than yesterday. My mouth is still salivating a lot, but not near as much. I'm starting to develop some skills for eating, and while I'm not exactly sure how, the food IS getting into me with a tiny bit less grief today. I think it will continue to get easier as the days move on, and once it is firmly cemented to my teeth!
My ortho put this appliance in temporarily, as my OR wants to be able to remove it for the SARPE surgery and then cement it himself. Currently It is mostly being held in place by my teeth on the right side, the left side is pretty loose, and I can actually push it up and down. I feel like I have to be really careful about eating and where I push to get stuff out, as I don't want this appliance to just pop off before Friday morning, I don't want to take it out either though as then I would be back at square one for three days, so I will just take it easy and suffer.
I had a smoothie for breakfast this morning, It was actually nice to get something of substance into my stomach without too much effort.

On a happy note, the brackets and rubberbands the ortho attached to hold my jaw forward worked like a dream. I slept well, and aside from a bit of tenderness in my lower teeth, and my jaw muscles this morning I have no complaints! In fact, I'm quite thrilled that it is working! Just more proof that the eventual jaw surgery should eliminate my sleep apnea issues. Wooo Hooo!