A whole year. Shocking. Only because it still feels like yesterday. I can remember with acute detail nearly everything from the moment I woke up from surgery to a few weeks later. But I can barely remember what I did last week! So a year later and how do I feel? Normal. Completely. Energy levels are 100%. No pain (well not on a day to day basis, more on that later). All swelling has completely gone. I can eat whatever I like. Speaking is easy. Basically, I am functioning like a normal human being. Hoorah.
Even after all this time I am still aware of the joints. If I touch the side of my head/face it still feels slightly tingly and numb. I can hear the joints squeak occasionally. But really, I guess it’s because I still think about the whole surgery shebang daily. Not in a bad way. More because it’s was such a unique and bizarre experience for me. I still can’t quite believe all that happened to little ol’ me.
My left back teeth seem to be coming back together. Just veeeerrrryyyy sllllooooowwwwllyyy. My orthodontist said there’s no need for me to wear braces again. I thought ‘good! There’s no way I’m ever letting them near me again anyway!’ He said my teeth will get better and better over time and will improve significantly more when I can wear my retainers less. I wear them at night, every night. Next year I can wear them every other day it seems. I STILL can’t get my lips together without straining. I’m so near, yet so far. It really bugs me. Maybe I’ll attach weights to my upper lip so they can drag it down…
Although I don’t experience pain anymore, recently I was in agony. One afternoon I started getting pains on the right side of my face. Kind of like a high pitched ache. Make sense? It went along my top and bottom right jaw and in my teeth. Over the next few day it kept happening, though only during the day. In the morning and evenings it was fine. I started to panic thinking it was an infection. It started on a Thursday. By the weekend I was preparing to call to make an appointment with my surgeon on the Monday but luckily by then it calmed down significantly. Looking back I think I did it to myself. On the Thursday I was EXTREMELY tense. And I think I was clenching my jaw and teeth together without realising. I used to do this years ago and clearly, I still do. It caused pain on my right side because I cant get my teeth together on my left. Hence a LOT of tension on my right jaw. I think next time I get stressed I had better chew on something. The pain was pretty bad and I had to scoff lots of painkillers. I’m guessing there will always be potential for pain. Even in 20 years time. Have to look after these babies! I also find that if I yawn looking down, I get a weird pain along my jaw on the left side. It’s a strange pain and it goes quickly. The joints do often like to remind me they are there. They’re quite needy.
I don’t need to see my surgeon now for another six months. He always seems ecstatic with my progress and how well I’m doing. All my hospital and orthodontist appointments are becoming less and less. Life is pretty much normal. Which is all I ever wanted.
One of the best decisions I ever made, was having this surgery. And now all the excitement is over, what do I do with myself???
I missed out 8 months post-surgery because not much had changed. Even now its all pretty similar. Main thing is I don’t feel any pain anymore. Not saying I never will, there’s definitely potential for pain. Recently something stressful happened and I definitely noticed the tension on my jaw. It was a teensy bit painful but I was aware I had done it to myself with stress. It went again pretty quickly. The joints are also more tender if I’m ill, say with a cold. I often had slight pain on the joints when sleeping on my side but I’m really pleased that’s gone now.
My left back teeth still aren’t meeting properly. Its so frustrating. I knew they wouldn’t, I could just feel it but when you’re getting told by people in the know it’ll all be ok you just nod and agree. I went to see my orthodontist just the other day but annoyingly he wasn’t there. I saw someone else and she agreed with me there is a problem that needs to be addressed. At last! But she wants me to talk to my orthodontist about it so I’ve been booked in so see him soon. I asked what the options might be. She said possibly braces. I said no way. I see a battle on the horizon…. Will keep you updated.
In other news… My energy levels are back to normal now. The left joint is still squeaky. There’s no stiffness. I can eat pretty much anything. My drinking capabilities are back to normal. Still get face tingles but barely notice. Lips still don’t meet 100% so have given up on that. Nothing else to report so apart from the teeth thing I couldn’t be happier!
This blog is designed to give you a little insight into what it is like to go through jaw surgery. Specifically bilateral total TMJ (temporomandibular joint) replacement and a Le Fort I maxillary osteotomy. Which in normal human terms means having the top jaw broken and wiggled around into a better position, and having both jaw joints replaced with shiny new ones. (Or as I tell people; top jaw surgery and new jaw joints). This was due to an open bite caused by idiopathic condylar resorption. So my jaw joints were wearing out (for no apparent reason in my case) and it was causing my lower jaw to slide further and further down. Just my chin, not my entire face. So something had to be done, and that something came in the form of this double surgery. (Performed at King’s College hospital, London.)
The open bite affected my speech and eating and altered my appearance. My chin was lower and it gave me what I’d call that ‘no chin’ look. So surgery was for cosmetic as well as practical reasons. I had occasional pain but it was rarely bad, and I never had trouble opening my mouth. But I did feel uncomfortable all the time and as a consequence was constantly aware of it. Quite exhausting really.
Eating was hard as only my back four teeth came together. Chewing could be a mission and I couldn’t bite into anything – even something as simple as a sandwich normally seemed to be out of bounds for me. Let me tell you, eating sarnies with a knife and fork holds no joy.
Speaking was affected because of the gap between my upper and lower teeth. My tongue didn’t have both sets of teeth to push against to form words so I was always on the verge of lisping. Trying not to lisp was often draining because you’re constantly concentrating on tongue placement. So tedious. I managed it for 12 years though (cue slightly hysterical laugh).
Before surgery I went on a quest, like you are right now, to find people with similar stories to mine in the hope of finding something useful in preparing me. I pretty much found none that actually had this exact surgery, and not many with really useful advice. So six months post-surgery I was compelled to write this. Hopefully you will find it useful. I’ve given a detailed account from day one of surgery up to six months later. But if you can’t be bothered to read all that waffle I’ve also written some (much shorter) tips, advice etc. Maybe you’ll find them more digestible.
Me: at the time of surgery I was a 32 year old chick. Still am the latter but a year older (looking) and wiser (marginally). I am not a potato. Just wanted to clarify.