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, September 28, 2007

4 1/2 Months Post Op / Swelling Persists

Today is the 4 1/2 month post op point. Things just continue to plug along. It sorta feels writing this that I'm just reported minutia since the progress is so slow but hey, I suppose it could be interesting if you are post surgery wondering what your recovery might be like etc.

Lets see, most of the changes continue to happen in my lower lip area and my lower teeth. My chin area and under my lip have been very tingly and sensitive. Touching the area is like pins and needles everywhere and the area below the left side of my lower lip when touched sends an annoying sensitivity to the gums below my lower teeth. I'm convinced that if this doesn't go away soon that I'm not going ot have fun when the ortho takes off my braces. In fact I think it will be down right unpleasant. If he touches my teeth with anything that vibrates (like a drill) I'm going to fly out of that chair I tell you!

Sleep continues to go well, and I have noticed an interesting result of my surgery. It now seems that I can sing better. Before I used to get a lot of congestion in my throat and would always have to clear my throat or would sound hoarse. Since the surgery this is no longer an issue. Everything is clear sounding and not cracky and messed up.

Well thats it, more to come soon. I go in next Thursday for Stage 1 of my implant (putting the post in) I will post after that appointment and let you all know how it went. Will probably include some nice new gory pics too! LOL

Just wanted to show all of you that looks are deceiving and that I still have swelling in my face at 4.5 months post op. You can click on the pic to enlarge it and see better, as most of the swelling is only visible if you really look at me when I'm not smiling. 1 and 5 show the continued swelling in my sinus area, and while this does go down a bit as the day progesses it is definitely still there. If you look lower at the creases on both sides of my face especially #2 you will see that there is still swelling through the left hand side (your left) as compared with the right side. 3. Shows the area on my left near the bottom of my jaw that is still a bit puffy compared to the other side. If you look closely at 4. you will see that there is swelling in the left side of my lip and that makes my lip look a bit lopsided. 6. Shows how the contour of my jaw is quite visible on the right, however, the area where the arrow points and my jawline indents is where the bone graft was taken on the right to fill in on the left. There are dips in the bone like that on both sides, but only the right side swelling has come down enough to make it visible (6. is visible), 7. is still swollen enough that it does not hug the bone yet.

So....I'm sure this seems like I'm nit picking, but I just wanted to point out that this is a long process and that it takes many months for things to return to normal. Even today my lip is doing some weird stuff, really really puffy feeling, and looking. I couldn't even wear lipstick as it was puffed so much it looked unnatural. Everyday it is something new, and even though it is not particularly noticible to others, the swelling is still very much present to a small degree.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's The Little Things!

Don't you just love it when people notice the little things. I mean its great when people notice my jaw and the changes, but most don't really make specific comments other then to say "wow" you look different. I was at the gym talking with a friend of mine about life stuff. Out of the blue she said "oh your teeth look great by the way" I of course said "thank you, and proceeded to tell her that hopefully my braces will be coming off soon" She said, well, I don't know who your ortho is, but he really has done a great job, they look really really good" That little comment made my whole day!
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Now and when we first started

Saturday, September 22, 2007

4 Months and 1 Week Post Op

Well, I almost didn't post this week because I just didn't really have anything to report! LOL... However, it appears that many more of you (more then I had thought) are still quite interested in what is going on with my continued oral drama. So here is my latest update. Everything is still pretty much the same as last week. I can say that eating is getting better though, not quite as challenging thank goodness. I'm not biting my cheek as much anymore either so things are feeling much better in that department too.

I'm starting to sorta dread my appointment for my implant post on the 4th. I mean, I'm just burnt on stuff happening in my mouth...know what I mean? I'm sure it won't be near as bad as this last go round was, but the thought of having my gums all stitched up again (even if its only a small area) does not excite me at all. I'm also a little worried about having a sore jaw afterwards. My range of motion is still not 100% and I'm sure my jaw will have to be stretched a little bit in order to get in there and do what needs to be done. Oh least it is just one step closer to being done with all of this. All that will be left is to get my braces off and put the actual implant tooth on the post in March. Then I will be finished!

Thought I would post a small update regarding my sleep apnea to, since that really is the reason I did all of this. I must say that I'm so glad that I had this surgery. Even with the lingering numbness etc it has been so worth it in terms of getting my life back. My sleep is AMAZING now! I mean it is so hard to really explain how great it is unless you have ever dealt with serious, long term, sleep apnea. Now mind you after the surgery it was better, but there was still swelling that needed to go down, and it takes several months post surgery to recover from the long term sleep deficit. At 4 months and 1 week post op I'm feeling amazing! Rested, so rested! I'm dreaming again. Wonderful, full color, long, detailed, gloriously vivid dreams, every night! For someone who has never been a great sleeper, and seriously not had a real dream in several years, this is truly a blessed gift! In addition to having several great dreams a night I can remember things soo much better now! At school I have almost 500 kids whose names I must try and remember. Last year and for the past several years my memory for names, and actually most everything else was nothing short of dismal. NOW, however, things are sooo much better! I feel like my brain is now sharp again, no more having to search in my head for names or try to remember things that seemed like they were shrouded in brain cotton. My head is clear, and my memory good. I now find that I'm not eating as much either. Mostly because I'm not eating due to exhaustion. I eat when I'm hungry now, and stop when I'm satisfied. I don't snack all the time or have weird cravings like I was before. In addition to all of these amazing changes, I now have a ton of energy. I'm back at the gym working out 5 days a week, and feel strong, healthy, and much like my old (pre-apnea) self again. All of these things because I'm getting into deep sleep now and no longer waking up gasping for air!
Seattle Bill said something like "apnea drains away at your life force like some kind of invisible vampire" This is so true, I had not even realized how much so until now. I can tell you though that I believe this surgery has saved my life. I will never again take the simple things for granted. I can't adequately express with words how incredibly grateful I am for my oral surgeon, and for my orthodontist, for giving me this second chance at real life. It really is incredible, and I'm so happy to be me again!

Not much going on besides these few things, but if something else amazing happens in the next few days I will let you all know! :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

4 Months Post Op - Not Like Your Really Interested Anymore! LOL

Hard to believe it has been 4 months since my face was reconstructed! It honestly has gone by so quickly, already it seems like a distant memory!

My teeth are feeling great, and looking quite lined up if I do say so myself. I see a slight rotation on my right second incisor, but I think it is something that the ortho will be able to correct pretty quickly. Provided things look good we are supposed to be looking at a debracing date on the 18th of October. This week, however, I have decided that I'm not going to worry about it, and that I will wear them as long as it takes til things are perfect. Even if I'm in these suckers till next year (which I'm sure won't happen.) My bite is definetly feeling like it is spot on now though so that is a plus, and I'm encouraged that we are getting near the end now.

This week has been about the same as the rest in terms of healing, however, I have had continued improvement in my chin and lower lip this week. Last week if you touched my lower lip it would send like shock waves into the the gums of my lower right quadrant. WELL...that has basically gone away, however, it has now relocated on the left hand side and now makes my lower left quadrant gums really really sensitive! I now have a lot more surface feeling back in my chin and on the surface of my lower lip. The chin has been itching a lot this week. It has been driving me crazy as while the feeling is coming back it is mostly still on the surface so scratching the itches is really not possible. It itches below the surface. I usually rub the area a bit and sometimes try and scratch it, but mostly I just tough it out til the itching goes away. My lower left lip is not as burny anymore. Like before when I touched it, it would feel like it was sortof on fire, or tingly. Even when I licked it this would happen. Now it feels pretty normal on the right side when I lick it, or touch it. The lower left area is still pretty numb. I still feel that I will get full feeling back though as my lower lip is still feeling puffy and fat, and still mostly numb. I know that doesn't make much sense, but really the puffiness and numbness feeling is like in the lower section of my lip, not the area that is exposed to air. I still feel very much like I got collagen injections or something. Honestly I don't mind too much though, it is one thing that I have really come to love from this surgery. The contour of my lips is so much nicer now. I actually have a nice little pout going on.

Feeling in my teeth is getting better too. I can now bite into sandwiches and actually feel what I'm biting with my front and lower teeth now. I was also able to use my sonic care toothbrush this week without feeling any discomfort or like things were rattling around. That tells me that things are definitely becoming much more solid, and that the areas that I saw in my last xray on my chin are also continuing to rebuild and repair.

Eating is still aggravating, but gradually improving I think. I figured out this week that the problems I have been having are due to me having to relearn how to use my new (completely changed) mouth. Before starting all of this my mouth was small and my teeth closer together. I could take a big bite of something and it would fit under both sides of my teeth and not get lost. Now with so much space in there If I take big bites it gets lost or packed into my palate area, and since my tongue is still somewhat numb, I'm unable to adequately control it, or get it out. I have found that chewing is actually much better if I take smaller bites, and I then have no problems controlling it. The trouble is that I have been eating a certain way for 40 years, and retraining oneself to take much smaller bites is not an easy task. I can pretty much eat most anything now including hard chewy stuff (as long as I keep it small.)

I have an appointment on October 4th to have the screws in my bone graft removed and the implant post placed. Again my lower gums in that area will be getting cut and then stitched up again. The whole process will probably take about 30 minutes in the office and I will be under I.V sedation like I was with my SARPE previously. Once this is done, I have to wait 5 months to have the actual implant put on the post, so by March 2008 I should be completely done with my oral drama. That will be a total of 2 years from beginning to end, which honestly is not that long considering all that we will have accomplished!

Wishing you well my blogger friends! Gab with you more next week!

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

3 Months 3 Weeks Post op - New Haircut

Well I decided to make a change and got my hair cut pretty short this week. I like it, its easier to fix in the morning and takes less time to dry. I had to laugh this week. I was doing a lesson in one of my classes and one of my kiddo's said "you look like you got younger over the summer" I chuckled with him and said, "well that is a good thing right? I mean its better then looking older don't you think?" I have seen two friends this week. One who hasn't seem me since about 1 month before my surgery. She thought I looked different/good, but couldn't really figure out exactly what was changed. I said that it was my chin, that now I have one. She said "yes that was it" that until I told her though she could not figure out what it was. Then I saw an old friend that I have known since I was 23 years old. I haven't seen him in over a year and a half, so last time he saw me I was just me. No SARPE, Braces, or Surgeries. He said I looked different, and agreed that my chin was part of it, but that my smile was now much bigger also, and that he felt the changes were very positive, but that I was always attractive, and that this has just made me more so. I thought that was a very nice compliment, and for me who does not really notice the changes that much anymore it was nice that someone else could really see them.

So in one more week I will be 4 months post op. It's strange how things will just be moving along smoothly and I become accustomed to them, and then out of the blue things change! I woke up today and my front teeth and the gums behind them were really burny and achy. I'm sure it is feeling coming back moreso in that area, but it is just weird how things just change overnight. My bottom lip is still about the same. Half is very sensitive like pins and needles, the other half is just numb with little feeling at all. I have noticed lately that while I do have control over my lip, when I smile it appears a bit lopsided. Like someone with Bells Palsy or something. Now mind you this is not noticible as I really try and make it look straight, but if I smile naturally without really trying, then it looks sorta messed up.
Things feel like they are getting better, the chin is not quite as numb now, but continues to improve ever so slowly. My teeth feel like they are getting straighter and my bite is feeling more in line.

Chewing continues to be about the same. I have to be very careful or I bite the insides of my cheeks on both sides. It is really annoying, and frustrating at times. I'm not sure if I still have swelling inside my mouth or what. I mean I would like things to be back to normal in the chewing department. It doesn't really limit me in regards to what I eat. I still eat pretty much whatever I want, but I still find that I'm very bad at not really chewing things. I pretty much wait for things in my mouth to get as saturated as they can with saliva, chew it enough to make it mushy, then swallow it. Many times (actually most of the time) it is not near as chewed up as it should be before I swallow it. I try to spend more time and really chew things like I used to, but it is uncomfortable, and doesn't feel natural so it is very hard to make myself really do it. I'm hoping as time goes on it will get better and easier, and that one day I will be able to really enjoy food like I used to. I also eat much less now, I mean who wants to force themselves to chew for long periods of time when it is rather unpleasant, or like work?
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hopes Dashed Again! :)

My Soon To be Debraced Smile I wasn't really expecting the ortho to remove my braces this morning, but I sure was hoping for it! LOL. Actually it is all good, there were still a couple places I thought needed to be tweeked a bit. My ortho said that in case I hadn't noticed, things were looking really great! He said I had a couple roots on the bottom that he wanted to straighten out just a bit more. He removed two of my brackets and repositioned them to help get this accomplished. I must say that the removal of the brackets was not painful. He then proceeded to use some type of scraper to forcefully remove the glue from those two teeth. This part wasn't entirely pleasant, mostly just the sound of the scraping on my tooth though, it was not painful. It made me feel better about actually getting my braces removed. My upper incisor was rotated just a bit also so he put a couple new bend in my archwire to straighten that out (you can see it in the pic of my uppers below.) He said other then these two things he is running out of stuff to do to my teeth! He freed me from my rubberband prison! Woo hoo! I was so sick of those things! Must admit they really did their job though!

My Lowers and New Silver Power chain

He put a powerchain on my bottom 5 - 4 so we don't get any new spaces opening up, he wants to give things a little while to settle, and told me to come back in 6 weeks. If things look good then we will schedule a debracing date. Things feel really good now. The rubberbands made things feel a little off from the pulling, now that I no longer am wearing them, things feel like they have settled into their normal position, and feel pretty comfortable. So I figure if things continue as planned that I could potentially be out of my braces by the end of October. Five months post op, (but only 2 real adjustments since mine are 8 weeks apart.) All total, with SARPE, all three surgeries, and braces, it will be 20 months of treatment time from beginning to end. Not too bad, and honestly it really has gone by quickly.

My Uppers

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I got a new panoramic xray done today also. I forgot to take it with me but will post it next time. It was totally cool to see it, I haven't had one done since 1 week post op. Crazy how our bodies heals! Everything looked so good. The area where the bone graft was taken, as well as where it was placed have all filled in with new bone growth. Everything looks much more secure in the maxilla, as well as in my lower jaw, and you can see were the bone has filled in on my genio too. There are still a couple of spaces left in my chin that are not healed fully yet, but nonetheless it was fun to look at it, and see how far I have come over the last few months.

Other then that, I'm still me...things just keep moving along. I will post more on Friday when I update again.