Q: How do I go about creating a blog? I was really thinking that writing about and sharing my experience could not only help others, but really help me to get through this as well. Not to mention, hopefully meet people going through the same thing. I have never done a blog before and I am not too sure how to get it set up so that it's on a site with other jaw surgery candidates/patients, etc. I really do not want to have the entire world be able to view it, just the people who are going through the same things.
A: Thanks for the email. I'm glad you're thinking about a blog - I know it really helped me make my decision to read about other people's experiences, so the more information that's out there for people, the better, I say.
There are two blog platforms that I'd recommend: Blogger http://blogger.com/ and Wordpress http://wordpress.com/. Both are user-friendly and straightforward and have templates for you to choose from for your blog layout, so there's no HTML coding or anything like that. And they're both free, which is important as well.
I've been thinking about your question about privacy and only having your blog open to other people in the jaw surgery community. That's difficult to do, because most people would find you from Google searches, so if you had your blog password protected, those people would likely not request the password - they would move on to another search result that wasn't protected. Blogger only allows you to password protect the entire blog while Wordpress lets you password protect specific posts, so that might be an option for you if you wanted to keep certain things private.
But the way I see it is this: don't put anything on the Internet that you don't want everyone reading. If it's truly private, don't put it out there. Only write about things you feel comfortable about. Use a pseudonym and an email address specific to the blog (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.) to protect your identity. If you're really concerned, don't post any pics of your whole face, either. Or you could always password protect your pictures. But again, I wouldn't post anything expecting that the password protect is totally secure (people could always give your password to other people, etc.)
To connect with other jaw surgery folks, start reading their blogs and commenting on them with your blog address. Link to the blogs you read and let them know you linked to them - they may link back, which would build your readership. Leave your blog address up on the jaw surgery message boards and link lists. You'll build a community around you quickly. I wouldn't worry too much about other people not in the jaw surgery community finding your blog (particularly if you're not using your real name or email, etc.), because people aren't going to be looking for your blog unless they're going through the same thing.
Yes, there are some freaks out there. I would make sure you have a stat counter on your site (http://www.statcounter.com/). This will allow you to see how many hits are on your blog each day and what search terms people are using to find it and the country/URL they are accessing your site from. It should be pretty straightforward to install it - it's just a code you paste into your template and you're set.
The stat counter is how I found out that 1,500 German orthodontic fetishists came to my blog in a three-day period. It was a little weird to know that, and there wasn't much I could do about it, unless I wanted to shut down the blog. Though, for the record, they never left any comments or emails. I think they just like to look at women with braces. And then they went away.
So, if you're putting your information out there, you do have to prepare yourself for the fact that there may be people using it in ways that you didn't intend. Someone may leave a rude comment, too, which could be very hurtful. (And...delete! The comment, not the blog!)
From all the emails and comments I've gotten these past few months I've had the jaw surgery blog, I really have helped a lot of people by telling my story and sharing details about my recovery. Other people helped me, and now I'm helping people. It's karma. And if a few people are freaks, so be it. I'm not going to let them get in the way of what I feel is important.
*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!!