Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ask Bella: Healing time

Q: I'm 20 years old, work and go to school full-time, and I'm having my upper jaw advanced, lower jaw set back, and maxi expansion. my case is pretty bad, to the point where my insurance is covering 100%! I will be ready to get my jaw surgery in April. My ortho's assistant told me that from what she's observed with other patients, I could do the surgery over Easter break (one week) and be back at school after that. I nodded politely, but in my head I was thinking, "Uh, no." From all the research I've done it seems like you need at least a few weeks. I was thinking about taking online courses next semester so I could get the surgery in April and not have to spend the summer healing. From your experience, how long would you say I should expect to be out of school/work?

A: When your ortho assistant told you that you'd be back at school in a week, did you happen to notice a crack pipe nearby? Or perhaps some telltale trail marks on her arms and a glazed look in her eyes? Because she had to have been on something to say that.

Seriously. That is nuts.

I only had my lower jaw done and I was off work for a month, and I wish I would have taken six weeks off. My surgeon had told me that I would be fine to go back to work after two weeks, but he might have been smoking the same thing that your ortho's assistant was, because there was no way I would have been able to go back in that time frame.

It wasn't so much the pain from the surgery, but the exhaustion of my body trying to heal and also not being able to get enough calories in that did it for me. Granted, I am 12 years older than you, so you could heal faster and have more energy, but for the first month after surgery, I had to take a two to three-hour nap after I did just about anything. Even something simple like tossing a load of laundry in the washer knocked me out for a few hours afterward. Ditto for when I had to put stuff in the dryer.

Because my surgeon had told me that two weeks off would be enough, I only asked for a month off work, and felt that I was being indulgent taking that. In reality, I needed more time to rest and going back to work that soon probably set my healing back awhile.

I think it's a great idea to take some online courses and then you can take things at your own pace and not worry about rushing yourself to get back to school/work before you're ready. Just listen to your body and do what's right for you.

Best of luck to you!

*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!!


Anonymous said...

My 17 year old daughter had both upper and lower jaw surgery almost 6 weeks ago. Only THREE more days til she gets UN wired!!! WHOO HOO!
Anyway....she is feeling absolutely fantastic. She was only 100 pounds pre-surgery so I was really worried about weight loss. She lost about 10 pounds, gained back 3 and has maintained with that. She's a VERY picky eater and has existed on what I think is very very little. She ate only tomato soup the first 3 weeks EVERY SINGLE day 3 times a day with a few yogurt drinks thrown in occasionally. Now she has eaten white gravy for THREE whole weeks. The first 5 days were the absolute hardest thing we've ever gone through but after that it was livable. The food issue is the WORST part of the whole thing. She had almost no pain at all and minimal swelling. Her surgeon said she bled less than ANY patient he had ever performed the surgery on. We did send up many prayers on her behalf and are so very very thankful it all went so well. She was very nauseous at first and we thought she would have to have a feeding tube but after some zofran to settle her stomach she finally started eating. From our personal experience 6 weeks would be fine but every person is different.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I would throw my two cents in. I had lower jaw surgery 2 weeks ago and am now back at work. I guess every one heals differently. I feel great and have been eating lots. But I only have rubber bands that I can remove so it is a lot easier to eat than it would be if I had wires.


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