Friday, February 17, 2012

Surgery and the Road to Recovery

I checked into the hospital at 6am. I had preregistered over the phone the day before, so that was quick, and I was whisked away to preOp. I had brought a CD to be played while I was in surgery, and everybody was cool with that. The anesthesiologist came in and went over everything for about the 12th time. But better safe than sorry. I remembered being wheeled into the OR, and as they said "time to go to sleep," I muttered, "Night, night."

Next thing I knew I was coughing. I was waking up ~4 hours later. I was in Recovery, and a nurse came over and, with a suction stick, got the oozing blood (I'd just had surgery on my mouth after all) out of my mouth. I couldn't open my jaws, which made coughing hard, but I did it pretty well. Apparently why I felt like I had such trouble breathing was Dr J had shortened my turbinates, the bones in the nose, as apparently mine were unusually large, and I would be able to breathe better long term if he operated on those as well.

After about 2 hours (they tell me) of being in Recovery, the nurse taught me how to use the suction stick on my own, and I got to go up to my room. There, I stayed the night with my mom acting as my advocate, until she crashed on a cot they brought in. I had to stay awake, although I dozed a lot, because I needed the suction stick.

There was a bit of a snafu with getting my ordinary, everyday pills into me, as my mouth was severely banded shut. As a result, as soon as they could, basically, I was discharged to Dr J's office. There he cut some of the bands, and taught me how to take off the front band, which allowed me to open my jaws just enough to slip a single pill through.

That taken care of, I went home and slept.

I was was on a clear liquid diet for the next 4 days. A clear liquid diet, for me, consisted mostly of broth, liquid Jell-O, and water. It got old, really, really quickly. I was allowed coffee, thank goodness, but without any milk or creamer.

I basically slept for the Clear Liquid period, my body was just using every available spoon to try and heal. And I was letting it.

On Valentine's Day, I went back for my Post Op appointment. Dr J loosened my back bands, and told me I could start taking all of my bands off for 1 hour, 3x a day. I nodded and was grateful, because he also said that I was looking very good. I had very little swelling, thanks to the ice packs I'd had strapped to my face for the past 5 days, but still, I was doing very well.

Dr J also said I could go to a Full Liquid diet. That meant anything that could be "blenderized and sent through a strainer".  YAY! I went home and celebrated with a glass of milk. High living, let me tell you. The full liquid diet's much easier to follow.

The taking the bands off, less so. To begin with, I had to figure out how to get them off. I knew I was using a pair of tweezers, but the side ones, which form a square, proved difficult. Finally, I figured it out, and ow... soreness! I managed to survive the hour, with moving my very stiff jaw so that the muscles would strengthen in their new location. Then I took a quarter of an hour to put the blasted bands back on the right way.

As I heal, Dr J will give me longer periods to be out of the bands, until I'm out of them more than I'm in. That'll take around 3 months. But for now I'm taking the bands off three times a day, and that's enough.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

My surgery explained

If you follow this blog, you'll remember that I've talked about the surgery I was going to have on the 9th.  (Feel free to go remind yourself... it's the above link.)  

Well, they did indeed take lots of molds, and several X-rays during my second PreOp appointment. It was rather mind numbing, as I didn't really do anything except bite into wax, have plaster molds made, X-rays taken. So I'm going to gloss over that appointment, and go to my final PreOp:

Dr J had taken my X-rays and my mold, and performed a mock surgery on the molds. I was able to take some pictures of what they were going to do to my actual jaws, but the images just don't make that much sense without somebody pointing to each spot. That, and I was getting overwhelmed.

Basically, Dr J was going to shift the back of my upper jaw down, opening up my airway more than it's ever been. Then he was going to splice my lower jaw, and bring it forward. In this process, he'd also bring my chin bone forward 7 mm, which is practically impossible. Usually at lengths much above 5mm, they start using implants and leave the bone alone, but Dr Jones wanted the best long term result for me, so, after discussing it, I agreed that he should move the bone of the chin.

After discussing all this, we went into a different room to have him take some "Before" pictures, and there were some plastic skulls on the table. I found one that was similar to what Dr J had described as how he was going to affix the bone.

This isn't exactly what my skull now looks like, of course, but it's the general idea. 

Next time: What happened after the surgery.