Saturday, March 28, 2009

Calling all jaw surgery bloggers

I've been updating my links and have realized that many of the people I link to have now gone through the surgery, are moving on with their lives and have stopped blogging.

I would like to keep my blogroll as up-to-date as possible, so if you're reading this and you have a blog about your jaw surgery journey (pre- or post-op) that is not already on my list, please leave your URL in the comments so I can link to you.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ask Bella: Numbness and nerve damage

Q: During my meeting with the surgeon last week, he warned me about the small possibility of damaging the nerves. I kind of knew the risks that exist with these types of surgeries, but as I sat there listening to him, I really had this overwhelming fear that I will lose feeling on some parts of my face. So then I started really to research more about it. Given that, I wanted to ask you the following questions:
  1. Did you have huge concerns over nerve damage?

    A: I was concerned, but I did a lot of research, read people's stories on the Internet and talked to people who had the procedure done. I also looked into alternative health practices that would help with nerve repair, such as acupuncture, supplements, and homeopathic remedies. You can see my list of homeopathic/supplements that I took before and after surgery here. Also, all my posts that deal specifically with numbness can be found here.

  2. What did your surgeon tell you about the risks involved and how likely it is that something will go "wrong"?

    A: My surgeon told me that there was a risk for permanent numbness in the chin/lower lip and that risk went up with age. So, at 32 years old, I had a 32 per cent chance of having permanent numbness. However, this guy had been doing this surgery for longer than I have been alive, so I had faith in his abilities to minimize damage and risk.

  3. Did you hesitate about going through the surgery? If so, why did you decide to go ahead?

    A: No hesitation. Once I did all my research and felt comfortable with the surgery, I moved forward and never looked back. I did this surgery because I was having a lot of TMJ pain as a result of my overbite and knew that it would get worse if I didn't do something.

  4. Do you regret having gone through the surgery because of nerve issues?

    A: No regrets. And no major nerve problems because of the surgery.

  5. Has all the feeling gone back to your chin/jaw/lip areas?

    A: A year after surgery, I have almost full feeling in my lower lip and chin. It is more than 99 per cent there and improves everyday. I don't notice it unless I touch the area very, very lightly. If I use a regular touch, it feels like the rest of my face, and I can't tell the difference. The majority of the feeling in my chin/lip came back very quickly (within a month of surgery) and then slowed down, but improved on an ongoing basis. I have faith I'll have full feeling return, but even if I don't, I can live with the way it is - it's not weird at all.

  6. Would you have done something differently?

    A: I would have taken iron supplements post-surgery. It was the only thing I didn't think about doing and I became anemic as a result. Of course, this isn't the case for everyone, but it was for me. I also would not have let my orthodontist take off my braces when he did - it was too soon and gaps opened up between my teeth and I had to have the braces put back on a few months later. Otherwise, no "what ifs". I was very prepared.

  7. Knowing what you know now, will you do the surgery all over again?

    A: Absolutely. No regrets. I'm happy with the results, and I am looking forward to a pain-free life with a winning smile.

Of course, this is my situation and experience and everyone is different.

Thanks for your questions, and good luck!

*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!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Free at last...kinda

I went to The Big City to see my surgeon for my one-year post-surgery appointment the other week and he said that my bite looks great and I don't have to go back to him anymore!


The only reason I would have to go see him is if the screws in my jaw get infected and have to be taken out, which he says is quite rare.

Double yay!!

Another exciting development is that when I go see my orthodontist today, I will not have to pull out my credit card to make my monthly payment. Because, last month, I made the FINAL one. After three years of monthly payments, I am done, baby!!

Triple yay!!

I did a little dance around the reception desk with my credit card, singing, "This is my final payment, this is my final payment" while the ladies laughed at me. My orthodontist didn't seem phased at all. Maybe he sees this a lot?

The only area where I am not free is in the upper braces department. But hey, after all I've been through, what's a bit longer?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Happy Jawiversary

February 12 marked my 12 month jawiversary, one full year after my face was sawed open and screwed and wired together. Wow. It's hard to believe. It feels both like forever ago and like it was just yesterday.

Things have finally started settling down for me. I still have the braces on my top teeth (put back on in October after three months of being off) and the gaps are closing nicely.

A month or two ago, I started developing some problems with my right joint - crackling and clicking and pain upon opening and chewing. Fortunately, a physiotherapy session helped resolve that. I am confident that once the braces are off again, the joint will settle into place, because I don't recall having problems with that joint when the braces were off last time.

My opening is at about 44 mm and my jaw swings slightly to the right when I open to my full range of motion. Again, some physiotherapy exercises are helping to correct that, and also build some more strength in the jaw. Though I am told that it will take months of these exercises before I will be opening straight. It's a marathon for this kind of thing, not a sprint.

I have my one-year checkup with my surgeon next week, so we'll see what he thinks. I have a feeling he'll be happy with how things are going. One thing I noticed over the past few weeks is that there's a spot on the left side of my jaw that's a bit tender. It seems like the location of where the screws are, so I'll have to ask him about that.

There is still a slight, slight amount of numbness in my chin. I only notice it when I run my finger very lightly across it. When I touch my face normally, it feels fine. I notice minute improvements still, so I know it continues to get better, even though it's at a slower pace than at the very beginning. I am hoping that full feeling will return eventually, though I can live with the amount that I have now without any discomfort, so I'm not too worried about it.

As for the depression I have been dealing with since after my surgery, it seems to be lifting with the proper drugs and treatment. I've had to accept that this will likely be a life-long struggle for me, as it runs in my family, but I am sure that I can fight it and come out on top.

I always come out on top.

I thought you might like to see some pictures of what I look like now:


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