I am one week post-op today and I wanted to share an update for those who have been checking in on how I’m doing:
Photo of me the day before surgery
Today marks 1 week since surgery. I went in at 4:30a last Wednesday and they began operating right around 6:30a. I remember everything right up to when the gave me my IV drip and I don’t remember anything after that. Not even telling Kyle goodbye 😞.
I started waking up when they brought me to the recovery room and I can remember bits and pieces of being scared, in pain, frustrated that I was having to move myself from bed to bed, and nauseous from the anesthesia.
My very first x-rays. You can see here how my left joint is shorter than the right & my entire jaw was “canted” or tilted. This caused severe pain, difficultly chewing, neck issues, headaches, & lock-jaw. All TMJ symptoms,
Here you will see my what my jaw looks like post-op. The have completely removed my left joint for now, broken and aligned both my chin and lower jaw, and impacted my upper jaw and secured it all with several screws. No more easy TSA checks for me. 😆
I got to my hospital room and Kyle was there waiting on me. He says when they wheeled me in there that I was so upset and crying and he just felt so awful for me. My jaw was wired, I couldn’t even come close to making out clear words, and any time a nurse would come in or would answer the call button they’d talk to me and ask me questions as if I could talk. It was very frustrating.
I spent the whole day and the rest of that night very sick. Sick from anesthesia, cold shakes, panic, pain, all of it. I dealt with significant blood loss and was vomiting 4-5 large buckets of blood from where it was draining into my stomach.
My evening nurse must not have been updated on my case well because when I told her that the bucket full of blood on my table was bucket #5 she looked at me like I was crazy, saw that I had opened my package of grape juice (that I took a single sip out of) and told me “oh I think it’s just grape juice”. 🤦🏻♀️ k, thanks, lady.
Check out all that “Grape Juice” 🤢
How I looked once the removed the ice pack. My face had so much glue on it.
The following morning Dr. Koslin came in and checked on me & un-wired my jaw. What a relief. I still was too swollen to move my lips and I have a protective guard attached to my top teeth that prevents me from being able to speak clearly but still- it was so much better than being wired.
I was discharged around 12:30 and we went to Dr. Koslin’s office at 1:00. He cleaned up my face and mouth & reviewed what the following week would look like.
I was still fighting off the effects of the anesthesia and was having another cold shake. Kyle had to get our blanket from the car for me to be able to sit still enough for the Dr to examine me.
When we finished there we got in Kyle’s car and I tried to take my first oral medication to which I gagged on. I slept most of the way home- though I was quite uncomfortable. It was a long drive for someone in the condition I was in.
We got to Kyle’s moms house a little after dinner time that night and that’s where we stayed until Monday of this week. From there I didn’t deal with any vomit again but I stayed fairly nauseous when I took any prescribed pain pills or went too long without meals.
This was from Friday Morning at Christy’s house. Technically day 2 post op but day 1 after discharge. The timing is hard to track since it happened so early in the morning.
Complications I did face were issues with drainage & swelling. They had to totally remove my left joint which means they cut a long line from the very top of my ear all the way to the bottom of my ear lobe and then they had to cut along my jawline underneath my ear as well and this has brought on a lot of fluid build up which makes me feel like I have an air-bubble trapped in my ear that I can’t get out. It also means drainage happens from my ear. Gross- I know. I texted my orthodontist on the first day I was discharged to see if I could use a q-tip to lightly clean my ear and that was a definite no-go… but the drainage has cleared up much more now and I am much more comfortable.
Meals were tricky at first because I can’t keep my lips closed enough to swallow and that makes a mess and anything thick with a creamy texture gets stuck in places in my mouth & it’s difficult to clean out.
I learned early on that smoothies are good, eggs don’t work, soups have to be puréed and then I need to drink them, not spoon feed them, and I really really miss bread.
Chloe has been so gentle and tenderhearted through out this whole process. When I am upset or hurting she is the first one to give me a gentle touch and tell me that it’s all going to be okay. I love her spirit so much.
Monday we went up to Birmingham again for my first actual check up and Dr. Koslin’s report was that I need to get better at brushing (I can’t see or feel inside my mouth from swelling and nerve damage so though I thought I was brushing well-- but I was NOT 🤢) and that other than that everything looked good and I didn’t need to be banded or wired and could continue to recover without any sort of device holding my jaw in place. Our next visit will be next Thursday where Dr. Koslin will remove my stitches (inside and outside) and then that should be the final visit until it’s time to put my new joint in!
Kyle and I had partied it up in the car on the way to the appointment and I don’t know if I overdid myself or what but somehow all of my swelling relocated to one central location right where my outer stitches are from my joint removal. My face had a large solid swollen lump and it looked like my stitches were going to explode. Dr. Koslin said it was simply edema and would go away. That the swelling just localized. But it was SO PAINFUL. Like- worse than the pain I felt on day 1 and we had to drive 4 hours home with me in that much pain.
This is what the “edema” looked like after we left Dr. Koslin’s office. It was literally like a solid rock had been placed in my left jaw.
We stopped at Cracker Barrel and I ordered some mashed potatoes, baby carrots, and fried apples and mashed them all with each individual bite. It was good to have some normalcy. The carrots were my favorite and the apples weren’t as easy to mash as I had hoped so most of those had to be tossed.😔
We got in the car and about 30 minutes in, I was writhing and crying in pain. I have done really well about not needing to use the Norco they prescribed and have been sticking with 400-600MGs of Ibuprofen 2-3 times a day. This was pain that the ibuprofen wasn’t touching though, so, when I found my bottle of Norco, instead of breaking a pill in half like I had been doing when I did take those, I popped a whole pill. Within about 20-30 minutes, the pain was letting up and I was feeling better until I started getting really dizzy and nauseous. By the time we got home I was forcing myself to hold it together until I could get in bed and then when I did that-- EVERYTHING GOT WORSE.
I had a terrible reaction to the pain meds and ended up dealing with decreased breathing-- to the point I would stop breathing all together if I fell asleep because I couldn’t actively tell my brain to take a breath-- I was having hot flashes, hallucinations and continued nausea.
What 4am Ice Pack Sessions look like
Here you can see the incisions better and see where the “stone” swelling is at.
I slept maybe an hour total that night until 4 am rolled around and I felt the effects starting to wear off. I had had my last hallucination and it was a very vivid scene where my sweet boy, Noah, was sunken into the bottom of a pool and I preformed CPR but he wasn’t waking up. I woke myself up after the second round of CPR and got out of the bed for good after that. This was Monday night and I haven’t gotten back in my bed since then. It was traumatizing.
When the medicine started wearing off I started to feel more at ease & clear headed. I was able to walk myself to the couch, get all the things I needed, and slept there for about 3 more hours. I decided then and there that would not be taking those pain pills again.
First time I could really smile!
Yesterday was my first day alone.
Kyle went back to work and he took the kids to our sitter, Mrs. Jacki’s house --who lives in our neighborhood and is such a God-send to us right now!
I spent the day yesterday resting, figure out meals I could make at home, and trying to keep ice on my face all day. Christy, Kyle’s mom, came by a couple of times to check in on me and bring me snacks and she keeps telling me how good I am doing and encouraging me. We all thought this was going to be WAY worse than it has been. But hear me when I say that does NOT mean that this has been easy what-so-ever. I just haven’t been confined to the bed and can speak fairly clearly now which is more than we anticipated during the first week.
This morning I could start to see the outline of my new face, I could close my lips comfortably, and the puffiness is starting to go down underneath my eyes and around my nose. Maybe sometime this week I will get to do my hair & make up! (It is my birthday on Friday after-all! 🙌)
I noticed my energy returns during the morning/mid-day and then I get fairly tired again around 4pm most days. My swelling fluctuates and is better around or shortly after lunch and then when I sit or sleep a while it gets puffy again so I keep ice on it most of the day and especially while sleeping. This has seemed to help significantly and today I can even close my lips all the way without feeling like my face will explode from pressure! (This is a BIG win for me, you guys!)
Here is my week one summary:
-Full Joint Removal
-Upper Maxillary Impactment
-Lower Mandible Rotation
-Minimal Discoloration but no bruising
-Fluid Build Up
-Negative Reaction to Pain Meds
-Bad Breath/Difficulty Brushing
Changes I Can See As Of Now:
-More defined jaw-line
-Centered and more visible chin
-No more neck pain! (praise!)
-No headaches post op. (another praise!)
Positives in Week 1:
-Significant swelling reduction
-Meals have not been dreadful
-Energy is up
-No wiring or banding on my jaw allowing me to speak more clearly & eat soft food instead of liquid only.
-No signs of infection
-Bought a dental mirror to help with brushing
-Slept better last night
Thank you again to anyone who has been praying, encouraging, donating, and listening. I appreciate you all so much! If you are facing an oral surgery and want to ask any questions or just hear more in depth about what this process has been like for me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org