Friday, April 11, 2008

Tools of the trade

Tomorrow marks the two-month anniversary of my jaw surgery. It's hard to believe that eight weeks has passed since my super high-five happy times, but here we are.

The bruising is gone, the swelling is gone, those awful wires binding my jaw together are gone, and people tell me that I look like a million bucks. And yet, my recovery is not over. Not in the least. There's the small matter of being able to open my mouth and chew things. Yeah, that little detail.

After I got my jaw unwired, I could only open my mouth a few millimetres. My surgeon gave me some exercises to do to help get my opening back. After one month, I was only able to open my mouth 15 millimetres.

In case you're wondering how much that is, here's a ruler. Put some household objects up to it and imagine only being able to open your mouth that wide.

15 mm = One thumb's width.
The diameter of a small coin.
Less than one Scrabble tile.
And keep in mind, it's 15 mm, teeth to teeth.

Do you know what you can eat when you can only open your mouth 15 mm? Not a whole lot. Unless you chop it up into eensie teensie little pieces.

The situation of sharing the same food as my friend's baby was getting kind of old. I had to get on top of that sucker. So, I ran to my physiotherapist, stat.

She stretched my jaw, moved it around, massaged it, and then handed me this:

I wondered if perhaps she was giving me some tools
so I could break into the pharmacy late at night
and swipe some of the good drugs
so I would no longer care that I couldn't really eat.

Alas, this was not the case.
I was supposed to use this device to stretch my mouth open.
That piece on the end goes into your mouth,
and then you use the grip to crank it open.

Look, I don't like you, and you don't like me,
ut we're in this together, so we better make the best of it, alright?

At first, I couldn't even get my mouth around the thing.
But after a few stretches, I was ready.
I wasn't able to crank it open for quite some time,
but after a few weeks of baby steps...

Crank, crank, crank, crank, crank.
That's five, in case you were counting.
25 millimetres.

25 mm=two finger widths
The spine of a substantial self-help book
The width of a fork.

And might I mention,
it feels as comfortable as it looks.

The thing is, 25 mm is not enough. My surgeon won't let me go back to my orthodontist for braces adjustments until I reach 30 mm. And I am not considered fully recovered from this surgery until I have a "functional opening", which is around 40 mm. The physiotherapy torture device has 10 clicks on it. I have only been able to reach 5-6 clicks at this point.

This is what the torture device looks like when open 10 clicks.

More than a little daunting.

Infuriating, really.

But mostly depressing.

But I'll keep at it. I'm a trooper that way. A pathetic trooper who can't open her mouth wide enough to eat an ice cream cone, but a trooper nonetheless.

1 comment:

ingrid said...

hi! saw your post on the yahoo group. that thing looks really really scary, I'm going to actually start doing my exercises now....


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