Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ask Bella: Post-surgical depression

Q: I discovered you blog via a google search of "orthognathic surgery recovery depression." My son had surgical advancement of both lower and upper jaws on June 6. My question is regarding depression. He does not want to see any of his friends, which I am attributing to mild post surgical depression. He said it's because they make him smile and laugh which still hurts. Do you think I should insist that he he allow his friends to visit? How important were/are visits from friends during your recovery time?

A: I can really relate to what your son is going through. And it sounds like his surgery was far more extensive than mine, so his recovery will likely be more difficult.

Depression post-surgery is quite common, from what I've read, and what I've experienced first-hand. During the surgery, they pump you full of steroids to keep the swelling down. The steroids stay in your system for a week and during that time, you're feeling pretty good. Then, after a week, you go into steroid withdrawal and crash into depression.

It was very severe for me and I was absolutely miserable. Fortunately, it passed quite quickly - three or four days at the bottom and then things got better, particularly after I talked online with other people who had had the surgery and been through the same kind of thing. (I also went through a bout of depression at the three-month mark, which you can read about here.)

I can also relate to his problem of being in pain after having fun. I have had jaw problems for a number of years and have often felt torn between doing what's going to be healthy for me psychologically (i.e. going out and having fun with friends) or what was best for my jaw. Because going out, having fun, and laughing and smiling with my friends meant that I would have migraines for four days afterward and pretty much not be able to do anything. So, was it worth it? Or to what extent could I do it? Could I try not to have too much fun?

I wouldn't push him too hard, but I might suggest limited activities, such as going out for ice cream for just 1/2 an hour, or going to a movie so there wouldn't be too much talking/laughing but he'd still be out and around other people, which is important. Maybe his friends could bring over some DVDs or video games?

I think it's important not to isolate yourself when you're recovering, but at the same time, I get where he's coming from. I found that for a month after my surgery, I was very exhausted and had to have a two-hour nap after I did just about anything, even laundry. So, don't push him too hard, but make sure he doesn't totally cut himself off from the rest of the world while he's still listening to his body's need for rest.

Best of luck to you both!

*To ask Bella a question about her jaw surgery, email her at smilingbella at gmail dot com or leave a comment on this post. Go ahead: ask away!!

2 comments:

chinderella said...

I think your answer is spot on, Bella.:-)

mylene

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Nice post. It's so good that you're getting this information out there.

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