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, July 27, 2007

9 weeks Post Op

Nine weeks post op...hard to believe I have come this far already! Things continue to improve daily. If you look at today's pic and the one from last week a couple post downs, you will notice that the swelling has come down even more in just the past week.

This week has truly been the one where others have really noticed the changes in my face. I have had three people tell me how different things are. That they can really notice a difference in my jawline and that things look really good. The girlfriend that I went to Vegas with saw me today for the first time in 4 weeks and said "wow, your face really has changed! I didn't realize you were that swollen til I see you now" She said that she really notices a difference in my jaw line and chin area and that it really looks good. It was nice to have others notice and respond positively. It's so strange to me how much I love my new chin! I never really gave it a thought before this surgery, but now that its over and done with, I find that out of everything its the change I'm most thrilled with. My teeth are also looking much better! I'm excited that my braces may be ready for removal in the very near future.

I don't have much new to report this week. Everything is pretty much the same as last week, only getting less in all areas. Does that make sense? Swelling is less, numbness is less, tenderness is less, etc etc. Things just continue to improve daily. My energy level is back and I'm feeling more and more like my old, pre apnea self! Thank goodness! Life is Good! What more can I say at this point?

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Two Month Follow Up with Oral Surgeon

Well it appears I'm doing fabulously, according to my OS today. He said that I look great, and that feeling is coming back exactly on schedule. I asked him about my range of motion and he said not to worry about it, that it is usually the last thing to come back, but that it will. He said he doesn't even have his patients do anything special, that it will come back on its own. Since I'm in elastics he said that it probably won't improve much until I'm out of them. That the muscles are fighting against the elastics and they get sore, and inflamed, and that they really wont' be able to totally repair until they no longer are in competition with the rubberbands. That is about what I figured, but it was a relief to know I don't need to be doing anything to really fix it.

He talked to me about my implant, saying that 4-4.5 months post op is the best time to place it in the bone graft and told me to schedule an appointment for late September, early October to finish that up and he will see me again then. Then he says I wait 5 months and he will check things out. If all looks good then I will see my Dentist who will make the final implant crown. So by February 2008 I should have my new implant. I never realized how long of a process getting an implant was with a bone graft. I thought you just go and they fit them and that within a couple months its all good! NOT..I've learned so much through this whole process.

Anyway...the appointment ended with my OS saying "You're going to have one gorgeous smile once this is all done and they take your braces off" and that he would see me again in a couple months. I was just glad to know I'm coming along as planned.

Friday, July 20, 2007

2 Months Post Op

Yeah! I'm two months post op today! I swear as each week goes by I'm amazed at how fast the time has flown.

Things continue to improve, but are progressing (as expected) a bit slower now. Numbness continues to get better in my lower lip and chin areas, and my lip no longer feels like it was inflated with a tire pump.
I'm starting to get a lot of feelng back in my teeth now. My whole lower right quadrant is very sensitive now, and my lower left quadrant is also getting feeling back. Remarkably I'm also getting feeling back in my upper teeth. I can feel the upper right quadrant quite well, and the left is starting to have whispers of feeling return too. I can really feel my left canine. This is very surprising as with my SARPE it took a long time for feeling to come back on top. My OS even told me a couple weeks ago that I was going to be feeling numb on top for quite awhile. I'm not complaining mind you, actually I'm pleasantly surprised. When I think about it though, my whole recovery has sorta been on the fast track so I suppose it is just going along as it should.

My tongue is about the same as last week. Still a bit numb and tingly on the tip and about a 1/4 of the way down the left aide. It is getting better though. Eating is still a challenge and I suspect it will be for quite awhile. I still have 4 more weeks of soft chew, but honesty I don't mind as I hate eating anything that really requires me to use my teeth. It just feels uncomfortable, and my left cheek still has a bit of swelling on the inside so I'm constantly biting it, or chomping down on the numb part of my lower lip. So...I pretty much continue to eat stuff that requires little chewing or that I can swallow whole. I will probably continue to do this until my doctor clears me for a "chewing free for all" at 12 weeks post op, or tells me that I HAVE to eat! I should mention though that I CAN chew with my new bite. Things are actually feeling very secure. I have experimented a bit and can chew peanuts with no pain or discomfort, fried foods, and even french bread. Now I realize this is a bit of a contradiction. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm ABLE to chew and it doesn't really hurt, but it is not comfortable, nor does it feel normal, so I'm not liking it, and therefore I'm not doing it very much.

I can officially say that I hate these rubberbands. Not sure if its because my teeth are in super fast moving mode or what, but I feel like they are constantly moving back and forth everyday and it is really annoying me. I'm also starting to notice that they are creating a small gap between my right front incisor and second incisor as well as one on the bottom between my canine and first premolar. This of course is the LAST THING I WANT!!! GAPS have to be closed! which means more time in these stupid braces! I was so hoping we were going to be just about finished after this rubberband configuration, but I'm starting to think that is NOT going to happen. I want my teeth to be perfect (as much as is possible) so that means I will have to stay in these babies for as long as it takes to make that happen. Sometimes I feel like I just want to put a power chain on my own teeth! Know what I mean? Like take my orthodontics into my own hands! I swear sometimes I think I could do it better or FASTER! Not sure why I think that but I do! Mostly though I just want out of these braces and everytime I see something thats not perfect I think...NOOOOOO....8 more weeks! :(

On a happy note, I have been able to get back to the gym and really get back into my exercise routine. I have managed to lose 16lbs so far since surgery. I'm sleeping so well now, and have a ton of energy! I mean I feel like my old self, before I started having the apnea events. Like I'm 25 again! It is a great feeling and has made this whole surgery more then worth any of the aggravation I have endured.

A funny thing happened today. I went to this regular restaurant we frequent for some pho noodle soup. There is this very adorable hispanic girl that works there and knows my order by heart (since I go there all the time) I was checking out today and she says to me "Do you mind if I tell you something?" I was a little surprised but said "no not at all, go ahead" She said "I noticed from the first time you came in here to eat that you had braces, and I have to tell you that you are the first adult that I have seen with them that looks so cute." She said "I see people in here all the time with them but they never really look good, but they look sooo cute on you" I had to just laugh and say "thank you" I told her that the thrill for me had sorta worn off and that hopefully they will be coming off very soon, but that I appreciated the compliment" I guess I have never really thought about how my braces looked, only that they were doing the job I had hoped they would. I know I have never been self conscious about them or anything like that, so it was sorta funny to have someone tell me that they thought I looked cute in them. Oh...well, if you gotta wear braces I guess that is a good thing right?

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lots of Comparison Pics

So, things are progressing along and getting better everyday. At 7.5 weeks post op the numbness in my tongue has really gotten better. I'm sure it is going to go away completely now with time. The area it covers is gradually shrinking and is now only about the left front tip area. The numbness in my lower lip has also come down a lot and somedays it almost feels normal. I'm back to full workouts at the gym 5 days a week now, and weight lifting. I just make sure I'm very careful to keep my mouth open so that I don't clench my teeth together during heavy lifting. It is sorta tricky but I'm getting pretty good at it. I've also noticed that when I do my step classes that towards the end of class my lower lip gets really numb and cold. I had a hard time talking after class today as my mouth just didn't want to cooperate with me. Between the numb lip, and triangle rubberbands it is quite challenging to speak clearly sometimes.

It's been awhile since I posted some comparison pics. So here is where we are at.

This pic was taken in 1997 when I was 33 years old. It is the face and teeth I was born with and is prior to any of my orthodontic/orthognathic work.

This was taken yesterday at 43 years old. Post SARPE, Upper, Lower, and Genioplasty. You can really see the difference in my chin, and I think my cheekbones look rounder and fuller too. As for my nose, it has changed a bit, but is really not noticible unless you really knew me before. I actually think it looks better now that the bimax has been done. I noticed a much bigger change in my nose when just the SARPE had been done, and I really wasn't that fond of it.

This was my pre surgical mouth taken on Feb 16, 2006 (First Day with Braces)

This is my smile now, post SARPE, Upper, Lower, and Genioplasty.

This is what we started with (my pre-surgical palate)

This is where we are at now, post all the surgeries

This was my lowers on Feb 16, 2006 (day one in braces)

This is my lowers as of today.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

7 Weeks Post Op

Today is 7 weeks post op. I can't believe I have actually made it this far. I remember reading Steph, Amy's, and Jennicole's blogs when they were this far and thinking....Wow, it is going to be so long til I get there! Well as you know, time does go by very quickly (thank goodness) and here I am 7 weeks out now.
Nothing really new or remarkable to report today. Just continued daily slow improvement. I can tell you though that I'm still very much aware that my jaws are healing. Chewing is not fun due to everything feeling all numb and whacko, and my jaw muscles are still very tender and sore. I use heat on them several times a day and just massage them a bit to help loosen things up. Range of motion is steadily increasing too, I can open to 32mm now.

Thought I would include some comparison pics just so you could see how far I have come. This photo above was taken today (7 wks post op)

This one was taken at 4 weeks post op. You can really see how the swelling has come down in my upper sinus area, as well as in my lower jaw area and lips.

The most noticible change has been in my teeth!
This pic is 10 days post op.

You can really see how the swelling in my upper and lower lips has come down here also. Look how puffy they are at 10 days (I look like I had collagen injections)and how much thinner they are now.

This pic was taken today (7 wks Post op)

Overall I'm very happy with the way things are progressing. My apnea appears to be gone, I'm sleeping very well at night now and dreaming like crazy. My body is still in recovery mode, as well as catching up from the long term sleep deficit. Even at 7 weeks I'm still sleeping 11-12 hours a night. I don't feel near as run down though and have a lot more energy. I'm back at the gym now too, doing advanced step classes and light weight lifting. I never had any real weakness from all of this and truthfully, health wise, I'm feeling really great. It should just keep getting better from here I would think.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Finally Some Tongue Improvement!

So a lot has happened in the last few days. Not sure why, but my lower lip has gained a lot of feeling back. It no longer feels all puffy and fat, like somebody elses lip. It is tingly everywhere and while feeling is muted it is there for sure! So that is very exciting. My tongue has also greatly improved which has been so great! It has regained taste sensation i.e my tastebuds are working again and feeling is back from the back about 3/4 of the way down the left hand side. It is just the left front quarter and tip that are still burny and tingly. Since the rest has come back though, I'm confident that this too will disappear in the very near future.

My teeth have finally adjusted to the rubberband triangles thank goodness, but I still take them off to eat. Its hard enough trying to get food in my mouth with the limited range of motion. The rubberbands make it harder and really bother my tongue so out they come. Things in my mouth feel really good though. Everything is lined up and feels very tight on both sides. It is strange to bite down and feel both sides connect at the same time. Good, but strange. Can't believe that Friday will be 7 weeks. It really has gone by so fast!

Now the big question I'm grappling with is should I replace my lower bridge. Things fit together pretty well, I mean probably as good as anyone could expect for a bridge that was not made specifically to fit their new bite, but not perfectly. I figure since I've gone this far that it would be nice to have everything fit together perfectly. I'm going to talk to my OS on the 24th and see what he says. Even if I do replace it though I can't do it til next year sometime as I need to have the implant on my other side fully functional first, and that won't be done til February sometime.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dreams of de-bracing.....SHATTERED!

LOL...well sortof! Went to the ortho today hoping, that by some medical miracle he would see me, and proclaim I was ready to be debraced. Well that dream was shattered. I was also all excited because I thought I was going to be released from my rubberband prision, and he dashed that hope TOO!

Actually it was a good appointment just not good enough for impatient little me! He put my archwire back in on top, and a new one on bottom. He said things were looking really great, and reshaped my lower eye teeth. He said they had a lot of wear and that the points that used to be on them that fit into the upper teeth are now flat, so he fixed them. Next he slapped me into a new triangle rubberband configuration that I'm supposed to wear 24-7 for the next 8 weeks. He said at least 20 hours a day, and that if possible I should learn to eat and talk with them so I don't take them off and forget to put them back on.! UGHHH! my teeth are already killing me, I'm so trying not to be a wimp and rip them off though. My son assures me that its better to just hang with them for a couple days and get through the pain, then it is to keep taking them off and prolonging it. He had to wear this exact configuration for 2 months too, so I know he is right.

The ortho did say on my next visit (September 4th) though that we will take x-rays, make sure all my roots are looking good, and then (if they are) look at scheduling a debracing date (yea!) It's so...not happening today, but it might be happening within the next couple of months, which would still be less then 3 months post op!

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Totally Weird Science and Self Medicating

If you have been keeping up with my blog, then you know that since I had my big surgery in May that my tongue has been quite numb. Well actually that is an understatement. The whole left side is numb as is the front tip. It burns all day long from the time I wake until the time I go to bed, and if I stick my tongue out I get this shooting pain running down the exact side that is numb to the tip of my tongue. In addition to this, the whole are that is numb is completly void of taste buds. Meaning I can no longer taste anything on that side, or with the tip of my tongue anymore.

I decided that things might be improving with my tongue, however, I preface this with the fact that if they are, it is truly incremental. I'm not completely convinced it even is as somedays it will seem ok, then others it will feel like it is on fire, making improvement very deceptive.

So being that no one else seems to have had this experience I decided to take matters into my own hands and do some research. What I found was very interesting. Seems that there are a few others like myself, who after their genioplasty have experienced something called "burning tongue syndrome" or "burning mouth syndrome" It includes a constant burning, along with numbness etc. Basically everything I have. What causes it is questionable, however, damage to the lingual nerve is what is believed to be the cause when it occurs with genioplasty. Now mind you if the lingual nerve is severed, the only way to fix it is to quickly (as soon as possible after surgery) have another sugery which involves reattachment. Many have reported that this surgery (while quite major) has made the difference between being able to live with this and not being able to. Now if the nerve has not been severed but say nicked, it is possible that it will heal itself and go away, however, it can persiste for up to several years before it does.

Now with all this being said, my doctor has assured me that they did not touch any of my nerves, but believes my tongue numbness is due to nerve trauma and eventually it will go away on its own. I hate this, but absolutely would not have another surgery to fix it. I would live with it.

For the last few weeks I have been eating a ton of spicy vietnemese pho noodle soup, or korean seafood noodle soup, as well as just about anything that is spicy. I can't seem to get enough of this stuff and have noticed curiously that everytime I eat it I feel SOOOO much better. It has become my most favorite comfort food these days. Now I really had not put two and two together until I did the research on this "burning tongue syndrome". It seems for some people with this syndrome that gargling with caspian juice (the ingrediant that makes hot peppers hot) can help reduce the burning in their tongues and mouth area. I figured out today that this is why I can't get enough of spicy food lately. In some very weird scientific way I have totally been self medicating myself with chili pepper. It is like the burn from the pepper tempers the burning in my tongue, and after eating something spicy (most especially a big bowl of hot,spicy noodles, and broth) that the burning and numbness in my tongue will die down and feel almost normal for several hours. It was also suggested that cinnamon, and minty products like toothpaste can actually aggravate the burning. This has also been the case for me. Everytime I brush my teeth my tongue just throbs like it is on fire. It was suggested to use baking soda to brush with (which I tried today) and ahhh...things were much better. No burning like usual.

Now I'm assuming that all of this is being caused by trauma, and given that I'm only 6 weeks post op, which really isn't very long at all I feel I need to give it a little time to get better. I have been trying to find some rhyme or reason to the burning though, and today, when I read about the chili pepper, I was like OMG! that is it!

I hope this gets better, it really can be maddening. I signed up for all the numbness in my face. I'm fine with all of that. No one ever mentioned possible tongue issues though. That would've really made me stop and think it through a bit more.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ramblings of a numb lip, post, jaw surgery patient

I was woefully trying to consume some sesame chicken and noodles in the mall today, all the while trying to look totally cool, albeit soooo NOT numb. I had to chuckle a bit wondering if I looked as totally messed up as I feel when I'm chewing. Trying so hard to not dribble anything down my chin, or as I haphazardly lick my frozen lower lip to clear any left over food remnants with my truly disfunctional tongue. Not to mention how I occasionally bump into my teeth, or have difficulty getting the food into the tiny space that used to be my "big" mouth, or my absolutely wacky chewing motions with teeth that I really can't even feel. It is for sure a lesson in humility.

Now mind you I've looked in the mirror when I'm chewing, and things look amazingly normal. I mean I'm just about positive that no one would even notice my strained efforts to obtain nutrition, or that I wipe my mouth after just about every bite.

At least that is what I tell myself while I'm eating LOL....

Friday, July 06, 2007

Post Surgery Teeth Alignment

 I haven't posted a pic of my new bite in awhile. Check out how well my teeth are fitting together now. (click to see larger pic) Hopefully soon I will be getting these metal contraptions off for good!
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Six Weeks Post Op

 Today is officially 6 weeks since my Upper, Lower, and Genioplasty surgery. I thought I would post a pic of me fresh out of bed this morning. The swelling is a bit greater in the morning so I thought it only fair to show you how things look straight out of bed. This is Au Natural. I didn't even brush my hair before I took this.

Things are continuing to get better, but it is slow. My tongue is still significantly numb. It is not as painful as it used to be but it is still very numb on the whole left side and around the tip. If I stick my tongue out (like I'm reaching for something) I can feel a significant pull of the muscle on the left side into the tip of my tongue. It almost is sort of a shooting type pain. I have been trying to stretch it daily, in hopes it will help with the eventual return of feeling. For now though, it is still pretty irritating, and numb. I also have limited mobility in what I can do with it. Like licking stuff off of my lips is rather difficult, and talking is tough. I seriously sound like I have a lisp, or need speech therapy. Feeling has been returning to my lower lip and chin area at a much faster rate. I can put lipstick on , and rub my lips together now, and mostly feel it. There is a small spot on the lower left of my lip that is still mostly numb though so if food gets on that spot I usually can't feel it at all.

Not much else to report. I'm cleared to begin soft chew as of today. I started Wednesday though. I had some meatloaf last night which was pretty easy to chew. I attempted a bit of popcorn at the movies when we went last night. It was rough, and the numbness in my tongue has also affected my tastebuds. Things have to be like right in the center for me to be able to taste them. It sortof sucks, and the fact that I can't really move stuff around in my mouth very well made keeping the hulls out of my throat a bit tough. So I decided I need to wait and have popcorn further down the road.

I see the ortho on Monday for my first "real" adjustment. He has had me in tight rubberbands for 3 weeks to pull my molars down and help things settle into a more fitted position. My bite feels pretty great right now so I'm hoping the end of my braces is near. At my last appointment he said things were looking really awesome and that short of rotating my left canine a bit, I was very near done. My goal is to be the fastest one out of braces post surgery! LOL....

Looking back, this 6 weeks has gone by very quickly. I'm very glad I had the surgery and day by day I'm feeling more pleased with my results.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

First Attempts at Chewing - I So Love My Husband!

MMMmmm doesn't that look good? Today was our 7th anniversary. We went to a very nice dinner at Sullivans. I had a 12oz filet mignon, some au gratin potatoes, and sauteed green beans. It was sooo good! I decided that I was going to try and chew tonight and see how it goes. It was ok. I can honestly say that things feel sorta weird, like I'm not really comfortable with my new bite. I will admit that I'm a little gun shy about actually chewing again too, so I wasn't really biting down hard, or really chewing through things. More like just mashing them up a bit. I can say that I did not experience any pain though so that is a plus. My teeth meet perfectly so it is not a matter of things not lining up, just not being used to things yet. I still think that I mostly swallowed everything relatively whole, but it was good to give the chewing thing a try. I can see it is going to be a gradual process and honestly I'm in no real rush to push it along.

 During dinner my darling husband gave me a card, and a tiny little box (OMG I love tiny little boxes) Inside was a pair of 1.5 carat total weight dimond earrings (3/4 carat each.) They are colorless, and absolutely stunning! I of course had to put them on immediately, and have not taken them off yet. I love them! and HIM! He is the best! Dinner, diamonds, and a wonderful guy, what more could a girl ask for?
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Happy Fourth of July!

Today is independence day, however, it is also our 7 year anniversary! We are still trying to decide how to celebrate, given the fact that I can't chew for 2 more days! Things are actually feeling pretty good though so I may give soft chew a try today, I mean two days probably won't make that much of a difference.

I measured the distance I can open my mouth now though and I'm at 30mm! I knew it had to have increased a bit, as yesterday I was actually able to get my toothbrush into my mouth enough to brush my tongue without banging into anything.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Home at last, Home AT LAST! - 5 weeks + 3 days Post Op.

Ok, so today is 36 days post op, and here are some new updated pics. Things are going well and improving daily still. They also seem a bit better now that I'm back home. Last night on the plane my lip started to feel like it was thawing out on the lower left side, and continues to feel the same today. It totally feels like when novocaine is wearing off. Sortof cold, tingly, and weird, but I'm happy that it is getting better. I can now smile better without feeling the tightness in my left cheek, and closing my mouth without forcing it is getting much easier.  
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Salt Lake City shopping and hanging out. It was ok for being stuck somewhere. The mall we went to was a nice outdoor mall with a cool in ground fountain in the center. It randomly shot up bursts of water all over. It was a hot sunny day and the kids were all running through the water bursts. It would've been a great picture (unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera.) We finally made it out of Salt Lake at 9:50 (almost and hour late again) but at least I got home!

Now for the best news! I got my insurance claims back today and they covered almost all of my genioplasty plus everything else. Here are the total billed costs and what was actually paid.

Total billed $57,249.16
Total paid by insurance $45,370.59
Total I had to pay out of pocket $5,000 (this included my $1,000 yearly contribution, $3500.00 that was not covered by insurance, and $1114.00 for my genioplasty)
I was originally supposed to be paying $8650.00, so we saved $3600.00!

Grand Total for everything - $50,370.59

Now mind you, one night of hospital alone was $27,000.00 had I stayed another day it would've easily increased the cost to $75,000.00. Crazy isn't it?
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Sunday, July 01, 2007

MIssed Connections, - Stuck in Salt Lake

So, Delta was late getting us in the air yesterday. We left an hour and 15 minutes late. My connection was only 55 minutes from the original landing time, so I missed my connection to Anchorage. There were no other flights out last night or today so I'm stuck in Salt Lake City for 24 hours. There was one other lady who was supposed to be on my flight also, so we are now new 24 hour buddies LOL.

Delta booked us a room at the Downtown Radisson, gave us a shuttle ride to the hotel, three $7.00 food vouchers, and will take us back to the airport this evening. We got to the hotel about 11:00pm last night, and our flight doesn't leave until 8:55pm tonight. So...Dee (my new friend) and I are hitting a local mall for the day. Hopefully I will be home in my own bed by midnight tonight! I'm so ready!

I feel so puffy today, not exactly sure what is going on, but I'm looking forward to getting home and back on a regular sleep, and eating schedule.