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:






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:


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!


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.


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. 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. :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 56: Anesthesia For Splint Removal

THREE DAYS until splint freedom.  Apparently, going under anesthesia for splint removal isn't entirely that common among other jaw surgery patients, so I thought I'd describe the process a little.  I've not been allowed to take pain medication for the past week or so which has intensified the pain of my ripped lips, ugh!  Also, I can't eat or drink anything for several hours before the procedure-- it's like going into surgery all over again.  It should take less than a half hour and my mouth is expected to be very sore afterwards.  (I hope I don't have to revert to liquids again!)  The reason my surgeon decided that I need sedation plainly is that the pain of removal without it would be near unbearable.  In addition to the splint, he has to remove the wires under my gums and around my teeth that held everything in place during surgery.  There may be a lot of blood! But it will all be so incredibly worth it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 55: PARTY!!

The first party since surgery was amazing!  The whole splint deal didn't bother me as much as I thought it would at all!  There was beach, beer pong, old friends, new friends-- everything a good party needs!

 The splint is NOT HOLDING ME BACK! :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 54: Artsy Profile Shots

Was playing around with the Picstitch app for iPhone today and produced these artsy photos of my profile:

I wasted way too much time doing this so I thought I'd put them somewhere! Haha.  

Tomorrow I am attending a friends birthday party which will surely be an interesting experience.  Though I now have no reservations about seeing friends while I am dealing with the splint, I have yet to have been to an event since surgery with many people I barely know.  I am going to have to do so much explaining!  Regardless, I will not let the splint prevent me from enjoying myself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 53: Soreness

I think I've been a little too adventurous with food.  I tried to eat a bag of chips today and nearly choked to death!  My mouth has been very sore from the strains of normal life-- I've been out with friends every day for the past week or so and desperate to feel normal again, I haven't used any discretion when choosing food.  Sandwiches, tacos, whatever it is I pretend that the splint doesn't exist and try to chew.  Even when not eating, I unthinkingly clamp down on the splint and push at it with my tongue as if in an attempt to destroy this foreign body in my mouth.  This has resulted in a dull pain in my upper jaw.  The surgeon also warned that I may have to return to soft foods after the splint comes out-- it sounds like it will prove to be a painful procedure.  As much as the thought of going under anesthesia again makes me uneasy, I still can't wait to be rid of this thing.  One more week!

Day 52: "After" 360 Pics

In the other progress photos I posted near the beginning of this blog, I only took frontal and profile shots, while I think it's interesting to see surgery's effect on every angle of the face.  So here's a "360"-style view where you can see my flat cheeks but better profile at seven and a half weeks post-op:

The wires and splint have created some fullness around my lip area that makes me feel a little like this:

Which I'm hoping will go down once it's all removed.  Overall, I am definitely happy with the results of surgery now that the majority of the swelling has gone down. :)