On Wednesday, I made a 400km round trip to see my Ortodontist, and he removed my separators, and fitted my expander. It didn't hurt at all, it just felt weird, and made it seem difficult to swallow. Kinda like there is a big spit bubble stuck at the roof of your mouth, except you can't get your tongue up there because the expander is in the way.
My Mum had picked up my girls and made a yummy dinner which was great (aren't Mums the best!!) except that the spinach kept getting tangled in the expander, and it took me nearly an hour to eat a small bowl of pasta. My kids thought it was hilarious, and they also love that I have trouble pronouncing some sounds - so they kept saying "Say bees Mummy; Say please Mummy". I have to admit, I did sound pretty funny.
Then on Thursday, I drove back to Townsville where I had a pre-surgery appointment with my Surgeon (Dr Dance); did a few errands, and then checked myself into the hospital. I felt pretty relaxed (considering) until they called me in, and then I got a bit nervous. They got me to hop up onto the surgery bed (which was parked just outside theatre), and then left me there - alone - it was probably only for a minute, but it was long enough for the tears to start, and my brain to go - WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING???
I took a few deep breaths, and tried to suck it up and kept telling myself that I am in the best hands possible for this kind of thing, and that besides having a beautiful smile at the end of all this, I should also be able to close my lips in a relaxed state, breath through my nose when I am lying down, and sleep with my mouth closed. I guess the biggest fear was of the unknown - how am I going to feel when this is done?
It probably also didn't help that someone was testing out the saw (yes the saw) in theatre, and I could hear it. You know when you are sitting in the dentist office, and you can hear the drill, and it kinda makes you squirm (and think thank goodness that is not me.....). Well like that only worse, cause I knew that it was meant for me. I did manage to see the slightly funny side of that though.
The anaesthetic nurse came out to see me, and I remember thinking wow you have beautiful teeth - and that's when she asked what I was having done, and told me that she had had adult orthodontic work done also. She made me a lot more relaxed (without drugs - yay). My whole team were so lovely. I remember being wheeled into theatre not long after that, and looking around to find my surgeon who gave me a wave and then that was it. I didn't even get to count or anything - ripped off!
So while I was off in lala land this is what Dr Dance did: Firstly he removed two top teeth and two bottom teeth (an art in itself considering that my expander was right next to the top two); and then he made an incision on each side of my gumline at the top back of my mouth, exposed the bone and sawed my jaw bone right through. He also made an incision in my gum at the very front of my mouth and then wound my expander right out (to put my palate under pressure) and with a tiny little chisel gave it a tap and cracked it right down the middle at the natural weak point. He tells me that at this point he saw a nice big gap between my front teeth (which is what he needed to see) and then he wound my expander back in, sewed me up, and his job was done. Phew. Only took about 1.5 hours.
I remember waking up in recovery thinking thank goodness that is over - yay - I made it!! I stayed in there for about half an hour chatting (or perhaps mumbling) to the nurses, and then I was wheeled to my hospital room for an overnight stay (standard practice in Australia). I wasn't allowed to have a shower, but other than that I was pretty comfy. Took some pictures of myself and texted my family to let them know I was ok and awake, and then attempted to eat some dinner. Well, jelly.
It was the longest night ever!! By the time I thought that I wanted to go to sleep, my body was quite happy to relax, but my head just wouldn't stop - it was so annoying. Eventually got to sleep, but the nurses kept coming in to take obs and administer meds etc. The hospital is a pretty noisy place at night, surprisingly.
I was very glad to see the morning, and took myself off for a shower - so much better. Then breaky arrived, and although it took me a while, I managed to eat most of the porridge they gave me.
I had puffed up a bit by now; had had ice packs around my jaw, but I was puffing up at the front, on each side of my nose and around my top lip. So I was starting to look a bit like a chipmunk (or the rat from "Flushed Away"). Watched a bit of tele, and flicked through a couple of mags, but this made me a bit dizzy and nauseous, so I just went back to sleep.
The thing I most did not want to do, was be sick. I remember vomiting blood when I had my wisdom teeth removed some years back - and it was yuk yuk yuk!! Thankfully, I managed not to.
My partner came and picked me up from the hospital that afternoon, and we stopped and grabbed a pack of frozen peas for my face for the long trip home. Dinner at Mum's again then home - yay back in my own bed - so good.
Not too much pain - just pressure really across my cheeks and top lip. No numbness apart from my front teeth and gums - yay. Just a puffy face, and a nice bruise on my top lip. The hardest thing is trying to take my medication with this expander in my mouth. It is challenging enough to swallow, without having the added difficulty of getting the silly pills stuck.
Oh yeah - and I am not allowed to blow my nose for two weeks - WHAT??? Thankfully that has not been too much of an issue so far - I was a bit worried about that, I blow my nose so many times in a normal day.
Sleeping is going well, no dramas. I figure that I am not doing too bad at all.
So now for the next 24 days, I need to wind my expander once each day (1/4mm each time) which should give me a nice 6mm gap between my front teeth. The place where my jaw was sawn should fuse back together nicely (in a slightly different spot) in about 6 weeks.
Doc says that he wants me back on a normal diet as soon as I can manage it - so we will see how we go.
All in all, so far so good, and not too bad considering. I just feel like there is an elephant sitting on my face.
I managed to turn the key of my expander by myself yesterday, but today I am so much more swollen, that I can't see what I am doing, so I had to get my partner to do it. Bless him.
Have added some photos below - which show my progress over the last few days.
Back in my hospital room after surgery (21/06/12)
Trying to show the size of the gap (if any) between my teeth
The lovely gaps left behind
Starting to resemble a chipmunk (22/06/12)
Chipmunk from front (22/06/12)
Good look hey! My attempt to stop the swelling (er that is an ice pack under there), and still have two hands free to do stuff