Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NO MORE BRACES!!!!

The big day is finally here!  My dad accompanied me to the appointment and documented the entire process:

Before...

 ...during...

... the braces...

...the smile...

... the awkward pictures...


...the team...

... and the first bite!

AND WATCH THIS VIDEO AND BE JEALOUS THAT YOU DON'T HAVE THIS ORTHODONTIST.


video

I am celebrating tonight with friends I haven't seen since summer-- so excited!  I have more pictures to upload and a lot more to write, but I wanted to get in this quick update. :)) YAY!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

OFFICIAL Debracing Date!

So I paid the orthodontist another visit yesterday to take impressions for retainers-- it was gooey and disgusting but I was so happy to finally be at that stage!  We agreed that a more convenient day for debracing would be the 21st, the first day of my Thanksgiving break.  THIS WEDNESDAY I WILL BE FREEEE! I will be able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with no wires or brackets to trap bits of turkey and sweet potatoes!! The date is so close I can hardly believe it.  I cannot WAIT.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ouch in My Mouth

I woke up this morning and the inside of my mouth was absolutely screaming at me!  The braces have burrowed their way through the soft tissue, leaving the inside of my lips cut and swollen.  My tongue is rough, calloused from its repeated contact with the jagged metal around my molars.  One bracket especially feels like it's a spike attached to my tooth!
In this last month with braces, I feel as though my mouth is resisting these things more than ever.  I'm coming up on nine months with them now and they've almost never bothered me this much.  I have my appointment this thursday to get impressions done, then another two weeks (possibly one!) till they're off!  For now just poppin Advil.

SPIKE TEETH.


Also, here's my profile as of right now: 


Almost five months post-op!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DEBRACING DATE!

Had an appointment with my ortho yesterday and I finally have the coveted debracing date! November 29th. NEEDS TO COME FASTER. I am itching to have these things off of my teeth for good!
He also said my occlusion is textbook perfection: The extra month without bands is to ensure that they stay that way. I am counting down the days!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

¡La historia de mi cirugía!

For Spanish class, I had to write a composition about a dramatic change in my life.  I didn't have a hard time deciding my subject! 

So I thought I'd post my surgery story en español if anyone wants to try and read it (I also translated it into English below).  It's a concise little summary of my entire experience!


Un verano mudo

            Regularmente cada verano, yo pasaba el cuatro de julio en la playa con mis amigos mientras comía la carne asada y tomaba el sol.  Sin embargo, el verano pasado no podía comer la carne asada porque no podía comer.  También no podía ir a la playa con mis amigos porque no podía hablar.  Tuve un cambio dramático: ¡mis mandíbulas estaban cerradas con un cable!

Cuando tenía doce años, los dentistas me dijeron que tenían una submordida.  Mis dientes no encajaban y necesitaba una cirugía de la mandíbula para corregirla.  Mis padres y yo tuvimos mucho miedo cuando supimos la información pero consentí hacerla en el futuro.  No me preocupaba mucho hasta el año pasado cuando la ortodontista me dio frenillos.  Entonces, la idea de cirugía se hizo real.  Antes de la cirugía, busqué las historias de otros pacientes similares por el Internet.  Encontré muchos diarios en el Internet que describían cada día de recuperación.   La información me parecía muy útil y decidí hacer un diario también para documentar mi experiencia. 

El 15 de junio de este verano pasado, tuve la cirugía.  Tenía una mezcla de sentimientos: estaba nerviosa, tenía miedo y estaba un poco emocionada.  Después de la cirugía, me desperté en el hospital con mucho dolor.  Estaba incapaz—no podía hacer nada.  Las enfermeras me ayudaron a comer con una jeringa y a ir al baño.  También no podía respirar, dormir, o abrir mi boca.  Pasé la noche en el hospital en vela y me sentía muy miserable. 

El próximo día, me sentía extremadamente cansada como resultado de la medicación.  Me miré en el espejo con shock: mi cara estaba muy hinchada y mi perfil parecía diferente.  Las próximas semanas pasaban muy difíciles.  Por un mes, mis mandíbulas quedaron cerradas por cable.  Necesitaba una jeringa para comer y no podía hablar nada.  Siempre tenía dolor.  Durante el mes, veía muchas películas, dibujaba, y escribía en mi diario por Internet.  Mis amigos me visitaban mucho pero no podíamos hacer casi nada.   No podía hacer ejercicio y no salía de mi casa mucho.  Era una época muy deprimente en mi vida.

Cuando el cirujano cortó los cables, estuve muy alegre.  Todavía llevaba un protector bucal de plástico por un otro mes, pero me sentía felíz porque podía hablar y comer comidas blandas.  Al final del verano, la cirujano me puso bajo sedación otra vez para eliminar el protector bucal.  Ahora, solo tengo frenillos.

Este verano pasado era difícil y frustrante pero aprendí mucho sobre mí misma.  También gané mucha paciencia y ayudé a otras pacientes similares por el Internet.  Estoy contenta de estar en el final de mi recuperación: mis mandíbulas son perfectas y me alegro tener la experiencia.

TRANSLATION:

A Silent Summer


Usually every summer, I spend the fourth of July at the beach with my friends while eating barbecue and tanning.  However, this summer I couldn't eat barbecue because I couldn't eat.  I also couldn't go to the beach with my friends because I couldn't talk.  I had a dramatic change: my jaws were wired shut!

When I was twelve, my dentists told me that I had an underbite.  My teeth didn't fit together and I needed jaw surgery to correct it.  My parents and I were scared when we learned this information but I consented to go through with surgery in the future.  I didn't worry much until this past year when I got braces.  Then, the idea of surgery became real.  Before surgery, I looked up the stories of similar patients on the internet.  I found many blogs that described each day of recovery.  I found the information very helpful and decided to make a blog as well to document my experience.

On June 15th this past summer, I had surgery.  I was feeling a mix of emotions: I was nervous, scared, and a little excited.  After surgery, I woke up in the hospital in a lot of pain.  I was incapable of doing anything.  The nurses helped me eat with a syringe and go to the bathroom.  I couldn't breathe, sleep, or open my mouth.  I was awake all night and felt miserable.

The next day, I felt extremely tired as a result of the medication.  I looked in the mirror with shock: my face was very swollen and my profile looked different.  The next few weeks were very difficult.  For one month, I was wired shut.  I needed the syringe to eat and I couldn't talk at all.  I was always in some pain.  During that month, I watched movies, sketched, and wrote my blog.  My friends visited me but there wasn't much we could do.  I couldn't exercise or leave my house much-- it was a very depressing time in my life.

When the surgeon cut the wires, I was so delighted.  I still had to wear a plastic splint for another month, but I was happy because I could talk and eat soft foods.  At the end of the summer, the surgeon sedated me once more in order to remove the splint.  Now, I only have braces.

This summer was difficult and frustrating but I learned a lot about myself.  I also gained patience and helped other patients through the internet.  I am so happy to be at the end of my recovery: my jaws are now perfect and I am glad to have had the experience.


-------------------------

Note: my teeth were banded, not wired, but I didn't know how to say rubber bands in Spanish.  Writing about surgery was more difficult than I anticipated.  It was so uncomfortable to relive all those emotions!  My professor approached me later asking about the surgery as she had never heard of anything like it.  She responded with a ¡Qué experiencia!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Little Update!

Sorry I haven't posted in so long!  The college life has kept me busy.  I have still been keeping up with the progress of the other patients whose blogs I'm following though, several of whom are just in the early stages of recovery.  Everyone is doing so well!  It's so strange to think back on the misery of the first month after surgery-- I am not sure how I survived not talking or eating for a month but I am so relieved that that part of my life is far behind me.
I really haven't been wearing my rubber bands as much as I should.  Having braces is bad enough!  I'm hoping that this doesn't delay getting them off because I am SO ready.  My molars aren't quite touching yet but I have an appointment the week after next to evaluate my progress.  Wouldn't it be amazing if my braces came off then?  One can only dream.

Thankfully, the clear braces aren't too visible in pictures!





Smiling is so much easier!  I am slowly forgetting how the arrangement of my jaws felt before surgery-- the way they fit now feels so natural.  This is how it was always supposed to be. :)  Pre-braces Facebook photos can be found here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

COLLEGE!

Sorry I haven't posted in so long, I've been busy getting back into the swing of things at school!  It was amazing being able to see all my college friends again after my hell of a summer.  I have received such an interesting variety of responses about my surgery!  Having posted my blog on Facebook, many of my classmates already knew and asked about my situation.  I was surprised at how many people, some I had barely spoken to over the summer, had taken interest in my blog and were curious about my progress.  In most other situations however, I have learned to leave surgery out of the "hey how was your summer?" conversation.  Even so, I have found myself discussing my surgery frequently to curious classmates.  Comments I have gotten include:

Allie how are you? What's different?

You look SO different!  

You look exactly the same!

It looks so good!

You look awesome!

I saw your profile the other day and I thought you were a different person!

Your nose looks different!

You got surgery??? Why???

How the hell did you eat??

My friend/cousin/aunt/nephew's ex-girlfriend had the exact same thing!

For the most part, I don't mind answering questions about surgery, though they tend to be repetitive.  It's nice to know that people care!



My bite has almost completely closed-- my teeth occlude nearly perfectly on the left and still are a little apart on the right.  I haven't been religious in wearing the rubber bands but even so I can feel my teeth touching little by little each day!  I am itching to visit my orthodontist again to determine when I can get these braces off.  Even though I don't mind them as much anymore, I still feel like a dork being a braced college student.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2.5 Months UPDATE VIDEO!!

Made a video to procrastinate packing for college! :)

Wow cute thumbnail hahaha.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Chains On My GRILLZ

A whole top diamond and the bottom row's gold.

To get an update on my bite's progress, I paid my orthodontist a visit today.  He said it was closing up nicely! (Although I haven't been as diligent with the rubber bands as I probably should be)  I also expressed concern about the gap in between my two front teeth, a problem which he eliminated quickly with a clear chain.  For a reason I cannot recall, he also bent the wire, causing one of my front teeth to be pulled down unevenly.  I think I'm going to call for another appointment-- I really don't think that this was his intention.  
But some GOOD NEWS: I may get the braces off in just four months instead of six!  If everything progresses as it has been, I will be fitted for a large medieval mouthguard-like retainer that I will wear at night sans braces to keep my bite in check instead.  YAY!

Also took a new passport photo today: 



Things have certainly changed in five years!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photobooth BEFORE & AFTERS (Braces)

After 66 days of continuous posting, I think the daily portion of my blog has finally come to an end.  It's been so much fun and I've gotten so much positive feedback over these two months!  The comments from other patients who have found this blog helpful make keeping up with it so long all worthwhile.  I will still update when something interesting happens and I'm planning on making another video soon!

I did my major twenty-minute long presentation, the fruit of my internship research, to a group of important-looking men and women successfully today.  Though nerves tried to trip me up, braces didn't at all.  My boss said I was informative and engaging! :)

One of the most interesting parts of doing research before surgery was scanning blogs for "before and after" photos-- its the essential staple of any jaw surgery blog!  So I believe I am finally at the point where I can post some of mine:

















 I'm still cursing myself for not taking better "before" pictures, but theres not much I can do about it now!  Hopefully these give a good enough idea of the changes.  I'm so happy to finally be at this point with the worst of surgery now just existing as an unpleasant memory. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 66: Reflection

Throughout recovery, I often questioned whether or not this surgery was a good decision.  As I battled syringes and wires and mutism and swelling and pain, I seriously doubted if this would all be worth it in the end.  At this point in my journey, I believe I can finally say that I am so happy to have done this!  I have always had this feeling of incompleteness, as if I'm never really certain of myself or who I am.  Of course I'm not at complete self-realization just yet, but this summer was a huge step in getting there.  As I have said repeatedly on this blog, this process involves so much more than teeth and jaws and wires.  I learned a lot and grew up a lot!  I feel so much more comfortable with myself now, which is a wonderful feeling.  My confidence is returning in spite of the braces, along with a newfound zest for life and anticipation for the future. ❤

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 65: Surgery Timeline In Teeth Pictures

I really don't know what's going on with my teeth at this point.  Sometimes I feel like they touch on the left side, sometimes I can bite down on my right, I just don't know!  Things are hopefully moving towards proper occlusion, but it is difficult to tell.

I thought I'd post a few pics of what my sad little mouth has been through in the past few months:


PRE-BRACES


THREE MONTHS IN BRACES


POST-SURGERY BANDS


BANDS OFF AT ONE MONTH POST-SURGERY


WIRES AND SPLINT REMOVED TWO MONTHS POST-SURGERY



Notice the slight tilt and small gap in between my two front teeth.  I know I'm obsessing over these little details but I expect perfection after all of this!  These pictures show the massive improvement in my bite though-- I had nearly forgotten how much of a gap I had.  To my jaw surgery patient readers: there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 64: Unstable

It scares me how mobile my teeth have become!  Having worn the rubber bands infrequently for only a few days, I already feel my bite shifting around from right to left.  I was totally under the impression that once the splint came out, everything would be all healed up and solid.  The fear of relapse always haunts me-- I can't imagine having endured so much just to end up at the beginning.
My summer internship is coming to a close with a big presentation to all these important people on Thursday.  Aaahh! Normally I would worry about stumbling over words, but having had to talk through a variety of metal and plastic implements in my mouth, I feel like I can articulate through anything!  I'm nervous of course, but not too concerned about having to present with braces.  It takes too much effort to be all self-conscious about them at this point.
I've mentioned before that I was disappointed at not being able to travel this summer like I normally do because of surgery, but this summer at home has fostered a newfound appreciation for where I live.  It really is beautiful!  I took this picture while out boating a few nights ago:

CALIFORNIA!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 63: Date & Random Updates

Went on a date tonight. ;)  I had a fantastic time and he didn't mind the braces at all-- I nearly forgot I had them!  It's nice to know that others don't perceive all of this as as big of a deal as I make it out to be.

I continue to have headaches because of the rubber bands.  I sincerely hope I only have to wear them temporarily.  My orthodontist told me that in six weeks I should have a better idea of how long I will require braces.  My teeth moved fairly quickly in braces pre-surgically, so I'm hoping that this means it won't have to be too long!  Also, my molars are slowly moving closer and closer to one another!  So happy about this.
Sorry for the short random and choppy post today, I am so exhausted right now.  Sometime I'll have to find a good stopping point for the daily portion of this blog-- the last thing I want is for my posts to feel forced.  But the comments I've been getting make me so happy!  I am overjoyed that people curious about surgery have found my blog helpful and informative.  It makes it all worthwhile! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 62: Full Tilt

I awoke this morning with significant pain in my neck and jaw.  Those little rubber bands can really pack a punch!  Frustrated at the reality of additional orthodontics, I ditched the little thing for the remainder of the day.  As it progressed, I was alarmed at how much I could feel the obliquity in my jaw.  When I bit down, my teeth clamped down on the right side and remained apart on the left.  This tilting scares me-- I was under the impression that once the splint came out, the teeth were supposed to be in the perfect position.  I thought that braces were going to be largely unnecessary, as I believed the surgery should serve as a cure-all for everything teeth and jaw related.  Why else would I endure all this to get it?  Realizing that this is not the case is all the more exasperating, even though I know the worst is behind me.
Wearing the rubber band now, I am conscious of it training my bite.  As reluctant as I am to wear it during the day, I suppose it's necessary.  Ugh--  Sometimes it feels like there is no end to this.  I often feel as though if I had fully understood the frustration, time, patience, pain, and difficulty involved I would not have agreed to surgery.  Being on the younger side of surgery patients, I may have not yet learned to accept circumstances the way many older people do.  I am constantly dissatisfied.  Most of my frustration stems from a feeling of powerlessness at the inability to somehow speed up this process.  It's certainly a learning experience!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 61: Freeing Teeth & Winds of CHANGE!

Longest day of my LIFE!  With aching eyes and teeth, I woke up at 6:30 this morning for an appointment with my orthodontist.  He removed the hooks that were placed for surgery, took out the archwires, and allowed me to brush my teeth.  YES.  I was like a kid in a dental hygeine product-filled candy store!  Because of the splint, the spaces between my upper teeth hadn't seen the light of day in two months.  Even after burning through four pre-pasted toothbrushes and six toothfloss-singles, I can tell I am still going to need whitening treatment once everything is over.

Taken when the ortho briefly removed the wires-- there are still bloody spots from the splint. :/

Once my mouth was feeling the cleanest it had in two months, the orthodontist examined my teeth.  My suspicions were confirmed: I require additional orthodontics because my molars are not touching and my teeth are canted slightly to the right.  In an effort to combat the tilt, I have to wear a rubber band on one side in a rectangular fashion during the day and a linear one at night.  (UGH.) He believes the shifting is a result of overcorrection of my bite by the surgeon, an expected outcome of surgery.

New wires!  Note that the top wire is canted slightly upwards.

The orthodontist also remarked that I can now be likened to a patient first coming in for orthodontic work: the jaws in place, but teeth askew.  Great.  Even after all of this, my journey has far from reached an end.  The worst may be over, but there's at least six more months of orthodontics to come... UGH.

In light of this big step in the process, I decided to make a few more changes today to celebrate coming this far.  I got my ears double-pierced:

Good profile shot too!

And got a much-needed haircut!


Despite the frustration at requiring more orthodontics, it feels amazing to have the worst part of this behind me.  My teeth feel so free and so much cleaner without that awful splint.  Just braces to deal with now!


TOP TEETH OVER BOTTOM TEETH! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 60: NO. MORE. SPLINT!!!!!!!

The highly anticipated day has FINALLY come!  Today it was an early morning and long trip up to the surgery center for the long-awaited splint removal.  It felt like going into surgery all over again: mindlessly filling out forms, sitting impatiently in the waiting room, bracing myself for the IV.  While the attending nurse poked the needle around in my vein trying to get the thing started, I cried out as pains shot up my arm and shoulder.  For some infuriating reason, she was unable to start the IV.  Upon calling the surgeon, he started it without any issues in the other arm-- now they're both sore!  While he prepped the equipment, I inquired one last time about the anesthesia.  Nowhere, on the internet or elsewhere, have I heard of sedation being a requirement for splint removal-- why me?  His response was that the patient should not have to suffer so much additional pain for a voluntary surgery.  I concluded that it was probably for the best as I slipped into nothingness.

I woke up feeling positively drunk.  Though I don't remember much of what I said, I do remember being conscious of my lips feeling numb and swollen.  The local anesthetic I was given in addition to sedation was to incapacitate me in this fashion for a few hours.  I was dizzy, but thankfully not nauseous, as I was wheeled to the car.

On the trip back, I was overcome with incredible exhaustion.  Nevertheless, I was eager to examine my splintless mouth.  I was slightly alarmed as my tongue ran over the massive sores that had manifested themselves on the inside of my mouth where the splint had once been.  The thick wires left bloody gaps in my gums as well.  It is wonderful to feel the bottom of my teeth again, though they have browned a bit in color from being in captivity for so long.

FREE TEETH!

It's difficult to see from this picture but that spot in between my teeth on the left once held a massive wire and will not stop bleeding!  There was so much blood when I tried to brush, it was as if someone punched me in the face.

I took this picture in the car after surgery where I look like death:

I know I know, I was just SO tired from the anesthesia!  But I wanted to see how the splint removal affected my face dynamic.  I see a significant difference around my lip area-- what used to look like noticeable swelling caused by the wires has now flattened into a much more appealing facial structure.  I'm so happy about this!  No more Whoville face.

When the swelling in my lips went down, I took a closer look at my teeth.  I'm definitely a little worried that my teeth largely are not touching anymore.  When I bite down, there is significant space separating my upper and lower molars.  This may be due to the braces, but I will ask my orthodontist at my appointment tomorrow just to make sure.  I sincerely hope nothing has gone wrong due to my carelessness with not choosing soft foods to eat!

It is SO MUCH EASIER to talk.  I feel like I've had a huge weight lifted out of my mouth!  I'll have to make another video soon.  Eating is a different story however-- I have to be extra careful now without the splint to hold everything in place.  Though my little mouth is sore and bloody, it has never been happier since surgery!  Tomorrow I'll post better pictures and such.  Today I was so exhausted that the moment I got home I ran to bed and slept solidly for almost three hours!  So tired, but good day. :)


Day 59: Profile Sketch & SPLINT OUT TOMORROW!

Drew this self-portrait of my profile today...

Drawn from this photo.  

...at work.  I have been extremely productive lately haha.

The splint comes out tomorrow and I am so incredibly ready.  Part of me thought this day would never come!  As I said before, I am a little weary about the anesthesia, but I almost feel like a surgery veteran now-- I know exactly what to expect!  After such a length of time dealing with remnants of surgery still in my mouth, I am itching with anticipation.  No more invasive poky wires or awkwardly having to repeat myself when others can't understand me?  I am SO ready.  Though I have to grudgingly accept braces for the next few months, they pale in comparison to everything else I've had to deal with.  Finally, I'll have a little normalcy!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 58: Old Unflattering Photo

The splint removal date is so close I can taste it!  I've often wondered how long I'll be able to keep this a blog daily and determined that after splint removal, I'll only update periodically when something jaw-related happens.  I'm proud of myself for being consistent for this long, but I'm already running out of interesting things to talk about.
While looking through old photos of the good old days when I was just a little sophomore in high school (four years ago before recent orthodontics!), I happened upon this awful picture: 

UNDERBITE CENTRAL!  It's photos like this that made me glad I got surgery- yikes!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 57: Summer Is Almost Over?

Aaahh I missed my first day of blogging!  I slept over at a friend's last night and didn't get a chance to update.  So I'm going to cheat a little and post this one today!  Here are some pics of last night:



I cannot believe that summer is finally coming to an end in a few weeks.  It seemed to drag on ceaselessly for the longest time, steeped in a miserable recovery and endless boredom.  I couldn't wait for it to end!  However now that I've been allowing myself happiness again, I wish I had a little more post-splint time.  Most of the friends I've seen over the past few weeks I may not reunite with again for several months-- they are scattered all over the country!  I am grateful for what little time I had with them, though it feels like not enough.  I am also so happy to almost be done with the worst part of this process.  Despite the whole jaw deal, I have managed to carve out a pretty decent summer. :)