Monday, December 22, 2008

Ask Bella: Update on "Changes in appearance"

There was a strong response from my blog readers on this Ask Bella post a few months ago, so I'm sure you'll be happy to hear this update:

Kerry Rose has left a new comment on your post "Ask Bella: Changes in appearance":

I just wanted to email an update about this particular post. I am the gal that sent in the question in the first place. Its now 12-14-08 which means I am almost 3 months post-op.

I have adjusted to my altered appearance and my initial terrified reaction at my transformation.

In fact, my post-surgery experience unfolded in ways I never expected.

After I sent this message, I started to experience great amounts of pain as a result of muscle spasms. For about a week, I couldn't sleep because the muscle spasms would wake me up every few minutes. Using a combo of prescribed sleeping pills and the pain medications, I was able to overcome it.

Then about 6-weeks post-op, I experienced an unanticipated break-up with a person with whom I had been dating for 5 1/2 years.

Ironically, I have met a lot of fellow ortho patients whose surgeries were the catalyst for numerous major changes in their life (including break-ups like mine).

I can honestly say that I am better than great!

I still think that my doctor should have been more clear about the physical transformation I would go through. I would even suggest that going to a therapist that deals with body issues (specifically one that relates to people undergoing surgeries) should be done ahead of surgery.

Thanks for all of the comments. It turned out to be so important for me to express what I was going through - especially because I had become somewhat of a prisoner of my home and my body. I needed reaffirmation that there was some action I could take to change my situation.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

10 months post-surgery

It's 10 months since my jaw surgery. WTF?

In good news, The Jaw Master Grand Pouba of Physiotherapy with Thumbs of Steel has signed off on me, meaning that I don't have to go every week to get my jaw stretched anymore. My range of motion is somewhere between 42-46 mm now (depending on the day), which is well within normal range. Though he did mention that he expected that I would be a "long-term intermittent" patient of theirs.

I'm okay with the intermittentness, seeing that each appointment costs me $42 and doing that weekly for almost a year (on top of my many other appointments) has gotten pretty expensive.

Right now, my regular physiotherapist has me coming for TMJ classes, where I learn stretches for my jaw that I can do without her. She wants me to do them everyday for a period of time, with our sessions to evaluate whether I'm doing them correctly. Then, the responsibility will fall on my shoulders and I will only go to physio when the pain/tension gets really bad, due to stress, etc.

My braces are still on (having been taken off for three months and then put back on because my upper teeth relapsed), which causes some tenderness. Since they've been back on, I've noticed that my joint has been kind of crunchy and poppy when I open my mouth really wide. I hope that the joint is just settling and adapting to the new position of my teeth and that this isn't going to become a long-term problem.

In not-so-good news, I've been continuing to have problems with fatigue and depression. I haven't felt physically well since my surgery. I've tried to be upbeat and proactive about everything, but the stress of the long recovery and anemia seems to have taken its toll on my body and mental health.

It took a long time for my doctor and me to figure out that this is a depression, because there were so many other things going on with my body, and because the symptoms I was experiencing were very physical - headaches, aches and pains, fatigue, exhaustion, etc. I also have a family history of this kind of thing, so it's not too surprising that this is my body's reaction to something as intense as major jaw surgery.

So, I'm off work for awhile to rest and get this fatigue/depression taken care of. I'm optimistic that in the next few months, I'll get back to my old fabulous self, with a winning smile that I can't help but show off.


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