Day 365: Happy One Year Anniversary, Me!

1 Sep

(April 2010 – September 2010 – August 26, 2011)

I feel a strong obligation to write a post today. Just for posterity. Because today is the one-year anniversary of my jaw surgery! How the year flew by, I don’t even know. A lot of aspects of my life have changed within the last year, but today feels pretty anticlimactic because my jaw surgery journey feels far from being over. Still got the metal-mouth thing going on. Still can’t feel my chin & lower lip, half of my upper lip, and part of the roof of my mouth. If I were to kiss someone, I would physically feel exactly 25% of the kiss. Sad times, for sure.

And, okay, I complain a lot about it. But one good thing trumps all of the bad: I’ve barely felt any TMJ pain since the surgery. And for that reason alone, I’d do it all over again! Yes, even feel like my head’s going to explode from the swelling. Even ingest everything through a syringe for a month. Even faint in the middle of the bathroom from malnutrition.

This is, without a doubt, my worst blog entry to date. I’ve lost my blogging groove!!! Hopefully I’ll get it back by the time I write my last entry (which is going to be epic, promise.)


Day 86: Gobble Gobble!

25 Nov

My hand turkey and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

With all that I’ve gone through, I have more to be thankful for this year than ever before:

1) My parents’ strength, optimism, and endless patience with me during recovery. And for the sacrifices they had to make in order for me to undergo this surgery.

2) My friends and boyfriend for showing their care and concern from hundreds (or thousands) of miles away.

3) My good health and high tolerance for discomfort and ugliness :)

and lastly…

4) The kindness and helpful advice that blog readers and fellow Orthognathic Surgery Support members have provided me.

I hope that orthognathic surgery patients far and wide have delicious and epic Thanksgiving meals, whether mushy or solid, with their loved ones!

Days 51-71: Return of the Michelin Fat Rolls

11 Nov

Average weight: 105-107 lbs. | Discomfort/inconvenience: 2/10

(11/5/10, something on my face looks a bit off, but I can’t pinpoint what it is…)

Ah, winter is approaching–yes, even in this magical land called sunny California. Due to lack of physical activity, my hands and feet are chronically icy cold, which discourages me from changing out of my pajamas and engaging in physical activity, which results in poor circulation and cold hands and feet. It’s a vicious cycle!! The colder weather, coupled with my body’s desperate attempt to make up for a month’s worth of lost nourishment (the September liquid diet), has also  made me eat more than I ever did pre-op. I’m talkin’ two big bowls of rice piled high with meat and veggies, then a bowl of hearty soup with more meat and veggies. I haven’t just regained my lost weight, I’ve surpassed my pre-surgery weight. This makes me a little sad. I’m not the type of girl who obsesses over her weight or anything, but, really, I am EXACTLY the type of girl who obsesses over her weight.

And for those of you confused by the title of my post, these are Michelin fat rolls:

And maybe I exaggerate a little bit. My Michelin fat rolls are basically just my love handles. (cue 30 Rock reference: “My muffin top is all that, whole grain, low fat. I know you want a piece of that, but I just came to dance…”)

(10/27/10 & 11/5/10: Appointment days!)

Appointment #1 (10/27/10 – orthodontist): The bad news is that I have to wear rubber bands for 20 hours a day until my next appointment (at least) on December 2nd. There’s one band on each side, connecting from the upper fifths to the lower thirds, like this:

The good news is this has helped close up the two gaps where my upper jaw was expanded, to an extent. MORE GOOD NEWS: I get my braces removed around April 2011, which means I don’t need to wear them for a full year post-op as expected!!

Appointment #2 (11/5/10 –  surgeon follow-up): The girl who’s in charge of my case (who I’m not the biggest fan of…) got the dates all wrong and thought this appointment would be my three-month follow-up, though it was technically only two months. Not much happened, though my mouth was able to open 34mm that day, up from 28mm on October 12th. I’m super close to reaching the 40mm goal! The staff also reacted quite positively when they saw my face. I got called gorgeous by the sweet receptionist lady, and Dmitriy said “Wow!” These appointments always prove to be self-confidence-boosting, that’s obviously why I like them ;)

Since I haven’t been very good about taking mugshots, here are some pictures from a recent outing- a family dinner at a fancy schmancy Japanese restaurant to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

As for getting used to seeing my new face.. well, despite the fact that swelling has come down a lot, I’m still not really satisfied with how I look. But I’ll get there!

This is too much self-involvement for one day. Check back in early December for the next update, buh-bye!

Days 35-50: Tumbleweed Rolls By…

21 Oct

Average weight: 102-3 lbs.  |  Discomfort/inconvenience: 2/10

Wow, maaaaaay-jah lack of updates. My bad. It’s just that… well, life is so normal now. I look normal, I talk normal, I eat normal. (and I apologize for the cringe-worthy grammar in the previous sentence)

It’s not that I’m not grateful for the quicker-&-smoother-than-expected recovery–I ain’t crazy! It’s just amusing when I compare the expectations I had pre-op (a three-month-long, hungry, miserable, uphill battle) to the reality that has been my recovery (one week of suffering, followed by–eh–three weeks of moderate discomfort/inconvenience). And, more importantly, I didn’t mentally prepare myself for post-recovery life (i.e., the cruel real world), so I was hoping to prolong my “I’m recovering!” excuse for not doing anything productive. That’s the sad, ugly truth!

(Speaking of sad & ugly!  |  10/8/10, Day 37)

Not only have I succumbed to laziness in blog-writing, but I’ve even forgotten to take daily mugshots on more than one occasion. The first time it happened, I was pretty sad about it. By the second time, I was indifferent. Physically, there haven’t been any visible changes in the last two weeks.

What’s going on with moi:

  • My mouth can open about 28-30mm, up 10mm in the two weeks between appointments
  • I can move my lower jaw side to side with a greater range in motion, but the left joint still cracks every time I do it. Some of it is my pre-existing TMJ, some of it is part of recovery
  • The numb sections of my lips are becoming itchy in that can’t-scratch-the-itch way. Remember how, as kids, our elbows and other joints would itch deep down and we had no way of relieving it? It’s like that
  • I’ve only limited myself from eating hard/crunchy foods (chips, cereal, nuts, etc.), really thin food (like raw lettuce and most noodles) and tough pieces of meat… I’ve been able to handle almost everything else, as long as it’s cut up or slightly overcooked
  • I’m so used to having a gap between my upper and lower teeth that I haven’t been able to make it a habit to tear food apart with my front teeth. I still instinctively use my tongue
  • Chewing on food still feels weird and I feel like I’ll bite on my lower lip by accident
  • I still can’t chew with full effectiveness, so quite a bit of food goes un-mashed when swallowed, or it gets lodged in my teeth/braces (a midnight snack, if you will)
  • I’ve gotten the green light to stop taking vitamin C, calcium, and iron
  • Still wearing them rubber bands, but only when I’m sleeping (~9 hours)
  • Still sleeping at a 30-40 degree incline
  • I still drool like a baby if I don’t consciously close my mouth

(10/18/10, Day 47)

For those of you who are pleasantly surprised to see this blog post, you have my good pal Stefan to thank. He is my one loyal reading-and-commenting groupie superfan. HOORAY FOR STEFAN! Here’s to hoping my next update gets posted before 2011 is upon us.

Days 28-34: Like A Human, Ate for the Very First Time

5 Oct

Average weight: 102 lbs.  |  Discomfort/inconvenience: 2/10

(L->R, Up->Down) I’m looking especially good on Day 34, amiright? ;)

My blog entry title = the original lyrics that didn’t make the cut. They changed it to “Like a Virgin”… I can’t imagine why…

On day 28, I ate my first solid-food meals. Tofu for lunch, fish + mashed potatoes + overcooked broccoli for dinner. Most parts of my upper jaw are still numb, so chewing feels suuuuper weird. The consistency of the fish I was chewing on felt like I was chewing on my bottom lip. It was freaky.

On day 29, I–still unable to drive alone–walked to a nearby coffee shop and drank my first 16 oz. of delicious caffeine since August. Still can’t use a straw but I drank the whole damn thing without dribble! Also, I made dinner for myself (an uber-easy baked fish recipe, but still, baby steps!) and ate vanilla ice cream topped with Nutella for dessert (a stroke of genius). AND I GOT THE GREEN LIGHT TO DRIVE ON MY OWN. As a final confirmation of a great day, my iTunes shuffle kept selecting songs I loved.

On day 30, I celebrated my freedom by going shopping. I wanted so badly to buy clothes, but I’m still at least a size smaller than I should be. So instead, I bought chocolates!

Today, I went back to my orthodontist because my upper wire shifted and the end was poking into my flesh. When Dr. Chen saw me, standing in the waiting room talking to an assistant, he literally exclaimed, “Wow! You look really good!” Even though he saw me a week ago. Even though I haven’t changed all that much in the last week. It was much-needed encouragement :) Later, I asked him about the ridonkulous gap between my teeth in the front, and he said that while there may still be a chance I’ll need to get veneers, he’s going to rely on orthodontics to close up most of it.

As of two days ago, I started flossing again. It’s kind of scary flossing the upper teeth because I still can’t feel my gums, which means I have no way of gauging how violent I am with my floss. Another huge change is that within a week, I went from having zero upper & lower teeth touching to all of my teeth touching.

Food I have eaten in the past week:

  • Tofu
  • Porridge
  • Fish
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soft sliced bread
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes (three of them in the span of two days, actually)
  • Blueberry muffins (from Sweet Tomatoes <3)
  • Penne pasta
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Chicken

I really didn’t expect to bounce back so fast, so now I have a huge stash of Ensure, Muscle Milk, and canned soup I don’t want to consume and don’t know what to do with.

From time to time (as in, every day), I check out my blog’s stats on the WordPress Dashboard. It shows me how people get to my blog via referral links, search engines, etc. Apparently someone found my blog by searching “legit meal”…. this person must’ve been sorely disappointed with what (s)he found, as this is like, THE source for anti-legit meals. So to you, whoever you are, sorry! But check back in two months ;)

Days 23-27: Splint, It’s Been Real, But Sayonara!

28 Sep

Average weight: 101 lbs.  |  Discomfort/inconvenience: 6/10 (days 23-26), 4/10 (today)

Days 23-26: No change :(  |  Day 27: LOOK AT MY SPLINT-FREE PEARLY WHITES

Lately I’ve been feeling like the physical aspect of my recovery is really stalling, so today was a muuuch-needed perk-up. My gums & roof of my mouth (left side), upper lip (right side), lower lip (both sides), and chin are still 100% numb. Swelling isn’t really coming down, either. I even feel like I became more swollen on day 26. Totally round face. Reminded me of this little fella (his name is Kogepan, he is a Japanese bread):
And how RELEVANT is this picture?! Breadface staring at glasses upon glasses of liquids, despondent (as depicted by the black squigglies above his head). THAT WAS ME BEFORE TODAY!!!

On to the exciting appointments:

Oral surgeon’s!

  • Two words: Splint. Removal. It was actually a very uncomfortable process getting the splint-securing wires removed. But the liberation I felt afterward is indescribable! Getting to brush my teeth to my heart’s content felt amazing. I had this image in my head of rotting, decaying teeth under the splint. Luckily, my imagination is crazy and my teeth look just fine.
  • New x-rays and photos were taken. Vain as I am, I will attempt to obtain those photos ASAP.
  • Mouth can only open 18mm, which is really disappointing. Got lectured on the importance of jaw exercises. Learned that if stretching and exercising aren’t constant for 3-4 months post-op, my jaw’s range of motion can shrink right back down. I’m supposed to expand another 5mm in the next two weeks.
  • Apparently I am on the brink of catching a cold. I had a leftover suture in my nostril that hadn’t dissolved, and when Dimitry (my cool surgical tech) went in to remove it, he said he saw green mucus. I don’t even feel any symptoms yet! He said, “We can see things before you can feel them.” Creepy.
  • I can start a soft chew diet! This means: mashed potatoes, porridge, scrambled eggs, mushy pasta. Offsetting the excitement of this news, though, is the fact that none of my teeth touch in the back.

Every post-op visit I’ve had consisted of Dr. Cheng coming in, examining the inside of my mouth and my face, then saying things like “Beautiful!” and “Good job!” and “Perfect!” Today was no different. I always thought he was talking about my face and progress, but my mom jokes that he’s really talking to & about himself. hahaha, she may be right.


  • New thinner wires to replace fat surgical wires. The three surgical hooks that were around the top front teeth were removed, which makes me look far less ridiculous. This whole process of taking out the old wires and putting in new ones was also super uncomfortable. When Dr. Chen was done and I went to rinse my mouth, there was SO MUCH blood.
  • Reduction of elastic band wear to just two (down from three), 12 hours a day (down from 14).

…That’s it! This WHOLE TIME I thought I would be getting a transpalatal arch appliance, but only because Graham had gotten one. But  since our cases were similar, I assumed I would need one too, as my palate was also widened. Regardless, I’m so glad I don’t need it, because it looks like this:

The gaps indicate where the two bone incisions were made to widen my palate. It doesn’t help that the second teeth from the middle grew out smaller than they should’ve. Orthodontics will close up the gaps to an extent, but Dr. Cheng suggested also getting veneers :(

Also notice the difference in size between the left and right sides of my upper lip. It’s ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, what’s also becoming ridiculous is the soreness in my lower teeth from the ortho. I foresee much painkiller consumption, as well as vitamin C overload for my impending cold. Eek!

Days 21 & 22: So Hungry. Need Food.

23 Sep

Day 21 – Weight: 102.5 lbs.  |  Discomfort/inconvenience: 5/10
Day 22 – Weight: 101 lbs.  |  Discomfort/inconvenience: 5/10

Day 21: with the love of my life | Day 22: Celebrating 2-2 days post-op

Looks like I’ve lost some weight recently. I’ve been losing motivation to consume my meals, I’m so sick of it all. I’m supposed to have six 10-12 oz. meals per day, but I’ve mostly been eating five. I’m getting frustrated with this diet!!!

I don’t know what else to talk about on this blog these days. Plus, I think the number of readers is dwindling, since my days aren’t spent looking and feeling as miserable as before. *Cry*

Well, here’s my last gimmick. Today, I come bearing gifts! Of x-ray scans and pre-op photos! Okay, maybe I’m the only one who finds these really exciting. I like comparing and scrutinizing and analyzing all of the photos and x-rays taken at my surgeon’s office. Can’t wait for the day when I can compare these to the end result.

Having these taken brought me back to picture days at school, but this time with an even faker smile. My underbite looks intense in the first picture because the braces push my lower lip out. In the bottom pictures, you can see how off-center my upper and lower teeth are; this was fixed during surgery.

Tidbit: I didn’t prepare myself to have my pictures taken back in 2009; I hadn’t even brushed my teeth beforehand. So for this set of pictures, I made sure to put on make-up and thoroughly brush & floss. I’m such a girl.

This was taken Day 1 post-op, hence the beautifully swollen outline of my face. If you compare this with my pre-op x-ray, you can see that my back molars finally line up! In this x-ray, you can also get a side view of the screws in my upper jaw.

My favorite! Because you can see the badass screws inside my face. The wires on each of my upper teeth are for securing the splint.