What to Expect from Jaw Surgery
Two months have passed since my jaw surgery and I felt it was finally time to write down some tips and insights I have gained throughout this experience. Now that two months have passed, I can say with full confidence that I am feeling back to normal. Am I still swollen? Yes. Do I still feel numb? Yes. Do I still get tired? Yes. But putting things into perspective, I have come so far since week one.
1. Expect to look like a crazy person. I had well over a year to research everything there was to know about jaw surgery. I cannot tell you how many times I googled ‘jaw surgery blogs.’ Of course my favorite part of all the blogs were the pictures! Every blog was so helpful posting photos from those first few days after surgery. Those photos gave me a good idea of how my swelling was going to look right after surgery and thank god I had some idea because it is not pretty! However, because I was so aware, when I looked in the mirror for the first time I just laughed (or tried to laugh at least). Your face is going to be stretched as far as it can go or as my mom so wonderfully put, my face was 9 months pregnant. You just have to accept it and don’t waste time worrying about it. All the swelling is temporary. I think the quicker you come to terms with this, the better. Also, usually the third day is when you hit the peak of your swelling so don’t be too concerned if on day 3 you feel worse than day And it is important to remember that you’ll probably feel like your face is a lot larger than it is. I thought my face was absolutely huge but my family kept reassuring me that it wasn’t that bad.
2. Expect your sleep schedule to be all over the place. This was something my surgeon really emphasized. The first week was not great in terms of sleep. I was napping and resting fine during the day and then nighttime came. The first couple nights were so horrible that I was almost afraid of when it would be time for bed. Nothing is more frustrating then knowing you’re tired but you just cannot sleep for some reason. Prior to surgery, I had made up my bed to be like a really comfortable hospital bed. I put a body pillow under the mattress, another body pillow between the mattress and the headboard, and then piled a bunch of pillows on top. Yet, even with this heavenly bed, I was still resting better in a chair downstairs. So my parents had the idea of taking the back cushion off the chair and propping it up on my bed along with some pillows. From that night on, I slept like a baby! It was such a relief. So, be aware that sleeping can be tough and uncomfortable the first few days, but find what works for you and know your sleep schedule will eventually regulate.
3. Expect to be a little helpless the first couple days. If you’re a stubborn, independent person who can’t take help from anyone, expect to change your ways drastically. The first week it was like I Benjamin Buttoned and turned into a complete baby. My mom had to do everything for me. She had to feed me, speak for me, wipe my drool, walk me to the bathroom, make sure I didn’t fall in the shower, and make sure I was taking my antibiotics. I first fed myself Ensure through the syringe in the hospital, but mostly because I was curious to see if I could. For the first couple days or maybe even the first week, I was completely dependent on my mom to feed me. I may have been a little lazy/excessive with my mom taking care of me, but I think it is important to remember to not over exert yourself. This is a major surgery and there is no need to prove that you can start doing things on your own. Feel free to take your time.
4. Expect to be lazy. I am an excellent lazy person so this was no sweat for me. The couch is my sanctuary, I regularly binge watch television shows. I couldn’t tell how excited I was to watch multiple tv series without feeling guilty that I finished an entire season in a day. I thought this was finally my time to watch all those shows I had never gotten around to, Breaking Bad, 24, The West Wing. But I found I was even too lazy for those shows. The problem with good television is that it is wordy and you have to pay attention, and the first week post surgery I just couldn’t make that commitment. So I resorted to guilty pleasure TV: lots of Say Yes to the Dress, The Hills, and my favorite horrible (yet addicting) “reality” shows from across the pond: Made in Chelsea and TOWIE. However, this glorious lazy time does not mean you can turn into a total sloth. Remember the keep things moving, whether it’s walking around your living room or talking a short walk outside.
5. Expect to get creative with food. As I wrote before, I thought I was going to use this time to become the picture of health. I was going to drink protein smoothies with kale and spinach and pineapple to reduce swelling. But then drinking green stuff through a syringe grossed me out. The first couple days in the hospital I was only able to have maybe one bottle of Ensure, water, and apple juice. It was seriously a struggle to take in enough fluids; yet, getting enough fluids is one of the most important things you can do. It will make you feel so much better. When I got home from the hospital and started to feel a little better, I really craved comfort food like mashed potatoes and tomato soup. So my mom bought boxed mashed potatoes and cooked them stovetop and then put them in the magic bullet and milk to thin it out. It may not be the most nutritional meal, but it was delicious and got some calories into me. Another soup that was delicious was Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup blended in the magic bullet. For the past couple weeks my mom has been making me casseroles and then blending them up with some chicken broth. Recently, I’ve gotten really creative. I think it’s because I’m getting antsy for real food. The other day all I wanted was a grilled cheese and tomato soup, so that’s exactly what I had. I made a grilled cheese and then cut it into little pieces and then blended it in the NutriBullet with tomato soup. It was so good! Last night, my family ordered take-out from an Italian restaurant and after the success of the grilled cheese, I thought I would test the nutribullet’s ability even further with an eggplant parm sub. I cut up the sub and blended it with some marinara sauce and tomato soup and it blended really nicely. It was little filling, but overall good.
6. Expect to not need everything you bought pre surgery. Umm... humidifier...not for me.
7. Expect to take a lot of selfies...so many..more than I've ever taken in my life.
8. Expect weird tingling and feeling on your face. Still 2 months later, having this constantly. Mostly in my chin.
9. Expect things to be a little “off” for a while. It does take a while. Like my nose is still swollen and it's driving me crazy! I feel like my nostrils have never been so big!
10. Expect to feel better in no time! I'm in a new city without my family and taking a really intensive, full course load and I feel like it's totally manageable. There's still somethings I cannot chew and I'm still wearing bands on both sides of my mouth, but I do feel like a normal person.