Monday, 16 July 2012

I can't whistle

Oh how time flies!  It is quite bizare to think that it was just over three weeks ago that I had my top jaw broken into two kinda floating pieces. 

I say bizare because when you think broken jaw, you think pain, you think metal plates and screws, you think wired or banded shut, and you think basically liquid diet.  But that is not what I think of looking back over the last three weeks - and that is AWESOME!

SWELLING:  The bulk of the swelling went down over a couple of days after my last post, so by the time I went back to work (six days after surgery) I felt more like a normal human being instead of half human half chipmunk.  I was pretty tired on my first day back, but after that - no worries. 

BRUISING:  My top lip was still mostly purple when I went back to work, and my lovely moustache bruise started coming out then, but really that was nothing to complain about.  The bruising has now just about completely disappeared - so for me that was the thing that I noticed most.  My Aunty and Uncle visited from New Zealand, and they told me that they thought I had been beat up (but didn't want to say anything) - so they were kinda relieved when I told them what actually happened.   

JUST BIZARRE:  I have noticed some funny, some weird, some strange things about my mouth.  In the first week after surgery I noticed that from time to time I would feel like a tiny little rubber band had just flicked loose inside or close to, my front teeth (not sure if that makes sense to anyone else).  Almost as if tiny little 'strings' were letting go to allow my gap to form.  It didn't hurt at all, it was just strange - and describing that really grossed my sister out, which was funny. 

I have also noticed that as my mouth moves, my speech is different.  That sounds obvious I know, but I am talking about being able to speak fairly clearly one minute, and then the next, speaking like I have a lisp; or like someone who has not put their false teeth in.  My workmates notice it as well - but they are all very supportive which is great!  It generally doesn't take too long to adjust to the new configuration in my mouth, and my speech returns to my new 'normal' before too long; only to change again just a quickly.  Interesting times.....

We have the radio playing in our office, and one of the most played songs at the moment is "Blow My Whistle" by Flo-rida.  I find the tune quite addictive, and had become used to whistling through the song; however last week to my dismay - I found that I could no longer whistle!  What?  Oh that's right - I have a big gap between my front teeth - of course I can't whistle!  It is also quite strange when I say Fs - now I feel a big rush of air through my gap - something to get used to for a while I guess.   

I had also found it hard to lick my lips, put my tongue anywhere near the front of my teeth, or rub my lips together (like you would to smear lip gloss).  Actually I still can't rub my lips together very well, but at least I can lick my lips and feel the front of my teeth with my tongue now.  Must have been from all the swelling I guess. 

GROWING GAP: The gap between my front teeth has continued to grow day by day, which is quite exciting for me. From having the bottom of my two front teeth overlap to having about a 4mm gap (today - 14/07/12) is great! I do get some strange looks from people who have not seen me for a while - I can almost see their minds ticking - thinking - how is it that I never noticed that gap in her teeth before now - because logically, adult's teeth don't move like that. No-one has actually asked, although I would not mind if they did.

Turning the key to engage my expander every day has been relatively easy, and relatively comfortable up until the last couple of days.  The last few times that I have turned it (once a day) it has felt quite tight, and I feel pressure across my cheeks (logical since my top jaw is being expanded).  I also feel like some of the swelling has returned across my cheeks, and I have not noticed as much of a difference in my gap day to day like I did last week. 

My surgeon told me that during surgery when my palate split (all according to plan) he saw a nice big gap between my front teeth, which is exactly what he wanted to see.  It makes me wonder though whether the expansion process so far has been relatively easy for me because I have just been winding my jaw out to where it was when my gap appeared during surgery; and now there is more resistance because I am pushing it further than that.  Who knows?  I guess that is a question for my doctors next time I see them. 

I have been watching the changing shape of my upper  teeth with great delight.  If you imagine that their shape used to look like a U shape that had been squished in on each side; and that it now looks pretty much like a normal U, pretty exciting stuff. 

I know this is really long, but I want to make sure that I capture as much as possible, both for me to look back on, and also for general info if anyone else is going through this process. 

EATING:  This has been pretty good, and yes it has been real food.  I did have mash (or mush) for a couple of days, but that got boring really quick (not the taste, but the texture).  So, I figured I would try to chew softish stuff, with great success - yay!  I started off with things like fish, peas and mashed potato - all easy to 'chew' and not likely to get stuck under my expander.  I upped the ante to steak after the success of the fish, and am pleased to report that it went pretty well.  So the steak was cooked medium - so fairly soft all the way through, and I cut it into thin ribbons - and then into smaller pieces again - and I was able to eat that no problems. 

Anything stringy like spinach or cabbage tends to get tangled around my expander - and it is the most annoying feeling. Occasionally I have had a pea stuck underneath the expander, and if sucking it out has not worked, then I have had to resort to gently poking it out with a cotton bud.

When I say chew, it is not as a regular person would chew - it is more like exerting just enough pressure to just squish the food slightly so that it is easy to swallow.  I am pleased to say though that although this process was quite gentle in the first two weeks due to tender teeth, I am building up the pressure, and feel like I am almost chewing kinda normally now. 

Again 'normal' is different also.  Where my back teeth (all of them) used to touch nicely, with the expansion of my top jaw, all of my top teeth have moved out, and so now I really only have two teeth on each side at the back that touch.  And that touching is only about half of the tooth, but that is just another of the little challenges of this process. 

It takes me longer to eat that it did previously (not necessarily a bad thing), but I have also added yoghurt and custard with soft fruits like raspberries and peaches (yum) to my diet, so any weight that I lost in the beginning is back on. 

DISCOMFORT: I don't really notice the hooks (don't know what they are actually called - and they don't look like hooks) that jut out from the molar bands that are holding my expander in anymore.  To begin with it was uncomfortable to smile, but now although I feel them, they don't bother me.  These hooks will be what my braces are attached to when I get them on - so I hope that I adjust as quickly when the rest of them are added then also. 

NUMBNESS:  Really the only place that I feel numb is my gums, but not quite all the way to the back; and my front eight teeth.  I can feel everything else - the roof of my mouth, my lips, cheeks (inside & out).  I asked my surgeon about the numbness and he basically confirmed that since they sliced clean through my bone - that they also sliced clean through the tiny nerves that feed these areas.  He says that they should grow back on their own over time (hope it's not just before they get sliced for a second time (well maybe)). 

BLOWING MY NOSE:  I thought that not being able to blow my nose for two weeks would be harder than it was.  For the first few days I basically had a tissue shoved up each  nostril to catch the constant drip which seemed to be a combination of blood and just really watery er snot.  This dissapated gradually, and I only had a couple of occasions where I really wanted to blow my nose, and had to fight the erge.  Most of the time I would just fold a tissue up small, and twist it into my nostril to clear it.  (Sorry perhaps too many details here).  After my two weeks were up, I could blow my nose, but have only done so a few times - this is unusual for me because before this, I would blow my nose a couple of times each morning at least!  I wonder how what they did to my jaw affected my sinuses - but it seems to have made a positive difference.

SERVICE:  I had a call from my orthodontic treatment coordinator (Shona) about a week after my surgery - which was lovely.  She called to check up on me, see how I was going with everything, and make sure I was coping ok.  I really did appreciate it, and it was great that she could understand me on the other end of the phone.  It was only a small thing, but it really made my day.  They also sent me a card in the mail to wish me a speedy recovery after the surgery. 

WHERE TO FROM HERE:  I have been back to see my surgeon for a check up, and he says that all is going well.  The wounds from my teeth extraction are healing well, the stitches at the back of my mouth have all come out, and the ones at the front that remain won't be there for long.  So now, I won't see him for at least 12 to 18 months - until I go back for round two.

So, the next step for me is a check up with my Orthodontist at the end of next week, where he will check on the progress of my gap - and if all goes well then my braces will go on about a week later.  I am really looking forward to it, because that means that things are moving forward nicely, but I am also a bit worried that things won't have moved as much as they should, which will delay my braces.  I think that I need to not worry so much and try to have a bit more patience - easier said than done sometimes. 

I have taken photos everyday, and will continue to do so until my expansion is complete, and my gap is as big as it is going to get.  So far this has helped to see just how much my jaw is moving day to day.  Have uploaded some of these to show my progress. 

23/06/12 - Nice Purple Lip 

Looking like death warmed up - 26/06/12

First day back at work & feeling almost like normal.  Amazing what a little make-up an a pair of straighteners can do!

First day back at work (27/06/12) - the bottom of my two front teeth is just touching - yay some movement already!!

A week later (04/07/12) only my moustache bruise left

04/07/12 - Gap is still growing

04/07/12 Close up

Another week later (11/7/12) still growing :)

11/7/12 Close up

Today 15/7/12 close up