Monday, September 16, 2019

Advice for Future Surgery Forgoers*

This post is dedicated to Eden. Good luck on your surgery girl.๐Ÿ’ž

*I wrote this post pretty shortly after jaw surgery, but did not remember to post it until now. I trust my past-self to have written accurate advice.

Be brave- Just because you've chosen to go through this whole process shows that you're one bad-a**. Getting your jaws sawed apart sounds like something out of a horror movie! Every single day you're going to have to do uncomfortable things. One day it may be attempting to eat from a syringe, it might be talking to someone you haven't seen in a while while you are still re-learning to speak. It might be getting an IV for the first time. It could be sleeping elevated. It might be making that transition from syringe to cup. It could be throwing up through jaws that are wired shut. There are so many things about this journey that are uncomfortable, and at sometimes it gets REALLY overwhelming. And it IS ok to break down and cry, because everyone does it at one point or another during recovery. When things get to be too much, and the hospital drugs are leaving your system, it is completely ok to break down and have a good cry, it's just not good to make a habit of it. Carrying on is the only way to recover, so you might as well be positive about it. For me, I adopted this saying:

If you showed this to anyone not going through this surgery, I'm sure they would think of things other than taking your rubber bands out for the first time, but for me, I've found the way to make it day to day is to put on my big-girl panties and do what I'm supposed to do, and eventually you'll make progress! And when you look at it, 6 weeks of discomfort is probably worth the rest of your life with a functional jaw!

Sleep Elevated- DO IT. It may be something you're not used to, and it may be uncomfortable, but it will help reduce swelling. For most of the first week I used a wedge pillow to prop myself up. I stopped sleeping elevated around Day 12... because I just couldn't stand it anymore. I would wake up a little more swollen than when I went to bed, but at that point it was either get a better nights rest, or be a little more swollen in the morning, and I chose the better nights rest!

Supplies- Luckily, I didn't have to buy a whole lot of stuff, because I already had most of it, but there is some things that you will need to go out and buy to be prepared for the recovery process. Here's what proved helpful:
  • wedge pillow-- for sleeping elevated
  • button up shirts-- for at least the first two days, I wasn't brave enough to pull t-shirts over my swollen face, so I liked using button up shirts. I had button up pajamas which made me comfortable and cozy.
  • jaw bra-- for compression and ice-pack holding. The hospital provided us with this, and I don't know where we would've gotten it if they hadn't...
  • waterpik-- I already had this from previous rounds of braces, but it was seriously SO helpful to get at least some of the food unstuck from the deep dark depths of my splint. HOWEVER, I suggest you don't try to use it until you feel like your incisions can handle it, and even then use it on the lightest setting.
  • baby spoons-- b/c you can't open your mouth very wide at first
  • baby toothbrushes-- b/c you can't open your mouth very wide at first, and sometimes having Winnie the Pooh on your toothbrush can brighten your day!
  • nasal spray-- I DETESTED using this stuff, but I do really think it helped with my congestion
  • hydrogen peroxide and q-tips-- if you dip a q-tip in a little hydrogen peroxide and gently swab the inside of your nose, it can help dissolve unwanted blood clots. This was helpful the first 4ish days.
  • TISSUES-- I went through about 3 boxes in just the first week. I used them for drooling, eating, and nose drippage. So go buy a lot. And the travel sized packs are handy for your first trips out and about.
  • whiteboard-- for when you can't talk. I also liked using this website.
  • entertainment-- for your sanity, find some TV shows to catch up on, some good movies to watch and rewatch, some books to read etc. etc. For the first day or so, the TV may act as background noise as you fade in and out of drug induced sleep, but it's still nice to have, and after that it's a real boredom buster.
  • vaseline-- I tried both vaseline and chapstick during the earlier days, and chapstick is virtually useless and hard to apply with numb lips. So vaseline, or aquaphor is the way to go. I believe 10/10 jaw surgery patients would recommend.
  • heat packs-- these are pretty important, because you are advised to use heat after the 48 hour-or-so icing period right after surgery, but I bought two that both smelled gross. One smelled like fried chicken, and the other smelled like melting plastic whenever heated up. I don't know what could've been done to avoid this, but I wish luck upon those on a quest for a normal-smelling heating pack.
Here's some of the things I bought that proved useless:
  • squeeze bottles-- most of these require lip suction or biting to properly use, which is hard when you're not allowed to suck or bite in the early stages of recovery.
  • neck pillow-- I just didn't use this at all... but I've heard some people really liked having this around!
As Far as Food Goes- Get creative! It might seem like you're running out of meal options by the second day, but there are seriously ENDLESS smoothie and soup recipes out there! Jamba Juices were my best friends (this handy website has a lot of their recipes!). You can pretty much blend up anything too, provided you have a good blender and the right ingredients. I've heard you can blend up pizza, cereal, hamburgers, egg salad sandwiches, cake etc. etc. etc. The liquid diet period doesn't have to be miserable! Just get plenty of variety. Some of the things that worked for me:
  • various fruit juices (pineapple, grape, peach nectar, Bolthouse Farm/Naked smoothies)
  • blended cereal (cereal and milk)
  • chocolate banana smoothies (bananas, chocolate milk. Sometimes some peanut butter.)
  • other smoothies (really. There are SO many recipes out there, or you don't even have to use a recipe, just throw some fruit in the blender!)
  • soup (if it was too chunky, I just blended that stuff right up)
  • pie shakes (pie, ice cream, and milk. SO GOOD.)
Then once you're good to move onto spoons...
  • jello
  • pudding
  • more soup (you can even get some noodles in there! Ramen works if you chop up the noodles small enough)
  • milkshakes
  • slurpees/snowies/snow cones/slushies/shave ice/icees (these were my BEST FRIENDS)
  • smashed fruit (raspberries, bananas w/peanut butter, blended up strawberries etc.)
  • bread pudding
  • cake soaked in milk
  • muffins soaked in milk
  • banana bread soaked in milk
  • ice cream/sorbet/sherbet
  • cookie dough (just leave out the chocolate chips)
And if you're brave enough, you can try swallowing things whole. JUST MAKE SURE YOU CUT THINGS UP SMALL ENOUGH. Or you will choke and it will be uncomfortable and you could potentially die. But with this method, I was able to eat pizza, mac and cheese, smothered burritos, french fries, fish sticks, bread etc.

Also, learn to drink out of a cup ASAP. It will seriously make meals SO much easier.
Also, while going the syringe route, I suggest you have several spare. My bigger ones would get sticky, and not want to plunge anymore, so I suggest finding extra. My parental units couldn't find ANY at nearby stores or online or anywhere, so we wished we would've asked the hospital for more. But if all else fails, try getting them unsticky with a little vegetable oil, or crisco/shortening (if you can stand the taste, I couldn't...).

STAY HYDRATED-  I didn't do too hot on this during recovery. I should really listen to my own advice, but anywho. Yes, drinking water can be hard when you have to pump it through a syringe and it takes you 10 minutes just to drink one glass, and half of it ends up dribbling out your mouth anyway, BUT, you will feel much better if you do your best to stay hydrated.

Fiber- THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. CONSTIPATION IS NO FUN. Right after you get back from the hospital, start getting this stuff in you. Do yourself a BIG favor, and drink some prune juice, or find some kind of stir-in fiber supplement (I prefer Benefiber myself) or you will find a lack of bowel movements in your life. NO BUENO. 

Embrace Messiness- Your mouth is numb and swollen, which makes eating and controlling your spit a struggle. Messes will happen! Don't be afraid to make a mess-- just imagine you are a one-year-old baby playing it it's first birthday cake! And don't be afraid to carry around a box of kleenexes with you everywhere. People will understand and it's a lot better than drooling on everything and everyone. If people don't understand, they'll just have to get over it.

Be active- This is something that requires you to listen to your body. Talking walks ASAP after surgery is important because it will help reduce swelling and your chance of a blood clot, but you don't want to overdo it. I remember the first week after surgery or so, just taking a shower for me really wore me out, because I was super congested, and couldn't breath through my mouth. So be active, but as your body allows you to.

Be Patient- This whole process is long and hard. Not even just the recovery process, but playing the waiting game pre-op is hard too. Sometimes, you don't want to be patient. But life is easier and happier when you are. So remember dear friends, patience is a virtue. And progress comes in millimeters (as we all know very well).

And hey, when all is said and done, jaw surgery is just a short moment of discomfort to improve your long-term comfort. You can do hard things. Go show your jaw who's boss.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Whaddup Nerds?

Long time no write am I right??? Here's a recap for myself.
So May 2015 I got my braces off. After getting them off, I noticed my jaw didn't perfectly line up and my orthodontist said verified that it had relapsed a teeny weeny bit but I tried to shrug it off... ¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯ perfection is overrated anyway right?
Summer and fall of 2015 I started college... I didn't really think about my jaw. I was mostly trying to survive socially, academically, and mentally. It was a rough couple of semesters.
July 2016, I got a mission call! I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka LDS church or Mormon church) for 18 months in Orlando, Florida!!!! It was the best year and a half of my life!!!!! But while I was serving, I noticed more TMJ pain and more relapse. I was away from my family and didn't really have the time or desire to go and visit a dentist so far from home so my mom and I decided to just wait until after my mission to go and visit with Dr. Jenkins again about my relapse
April 2018, I returned home from my mission and scheduled an appointment with my jaw doctor, Dr. Jenkins, within the following months. After our consultation everything made sense!!! Turns out, I have cheerleader's syndrome, AKA condylar absorption AKA my jaw joints are slowly disintegrating! Dr. Jenkins gave me two options: I could either have my jaw joints entire replaced, or we could do some type of construction on my top jaw and hope I wouldn't relapse again. The more favorable of the options was the TJR (total temporomandibular joint replacement lol) so we sent a case off to the insurance company hoping for approval. The insurance company did not approve the TJR, but they did approve the regular jaw surgery. I didn't want regular jaw surgery again, I wanted my faulty joints outta my body, but that was going to cost my family upwards of $40,000! So I've been trying to think of what to do ever since. The thing is, I'm fairly comfortable with my looks. I like my smile, I'm more comfortable with my side profile than I was pre-surgery. I've just been waiting for some kind of insurance miracle to happen to fix the functionality of my bite. It hurts to chew and my bite doesn't fit together really. Gracias a Dios, I think my insurance miracle might be here! My dad's company had to downsize, so they laid off 40% of the workforce, including him! So yeah, my dad's out of a job, which is sad, but he's on the hunt for a new one (and he's interviewed with plenty of people, so we're not nervous.) But when he gets a new job, we'll most likely have a new insurance company! Which means I have another chance to get my joints replaced! HALLELUJAH! But wait, there's more. My mom also got a job with the US Department of Justice, and she will start said job in the fall. Which means there's another chance for new insurance! Things might be looking up? We'll see man. Catch you on the flippity flip.



Profile shot circa Mar. 2016. I don't really want to know what my profile looks like nowadays... although it's probably not as bad as I've dreamed it up to be:))))

My fish, Eldridge, went to the fish bowl in the sky. R.I.P.

When I got my mission call to Florida! I got my call July 2016, October 2016, and returned home April 2018.

As a missionary in Florida.
As a missionary eating Subway in Florida.

As a missionary celebrating my 20th birthday in a church in Florida.

We got to help clean up the mess Hurrican Irma left

More hurricane clean up

My family teases me because most of the pictures I took as a missionary featured ice cream...

About to return home from the Florida Orlando Mission

Boarding the plane to go home to Utah:( April 2018

reunited with mis hermanos

amigos (I feel like you can see my open bite fairly well in this picture?)

I TOOK THIS SELFIE TODAY! I'M WEARING A MONKEY-PATTERNED SNUGGIE! May I just say, I'm definitely not unhappy with my smile.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

GO me.

Wow am I the worst blogger ever or what?
So LAST MAY, I got my braces off :D (May 8, 2015 to be precise)

After. Glorious day 'twas. (Also, what is my hair doing in this picture? Ew smh.)

It was a good feeling. For about .2 seconds. Right after I got them off I had a feeling my bite had started to slowly relapse.... I tried to ignore my bite... because my teeth and bite were better than they'd ever been in my whole entire life. I didn't bring my bite up at any of my follow-up appointments because I avoid confrontation like none other. So I tried to ignore the problem away... I celebrated by one year surgery anniversary by taking a million pictures <3

 But today I had an appointment to get new retainers (because mine have already cracked and I haven't even had them for a year??) I somehow gathered the strength to bring up my bite. Dr. Christiansen said that yes, my bite had relapsed a lil' bit. Right now I have about 4mm of overjet and 10% overbite. AFTER ALL THIS TIME. MY FREAKING MOUTH. After countless teeth extractions, 3 sets of braces and one jaw surgery my mouth still isn't perfect. And there's ain't a whole lot I can do about it. Dr. Christiansen said that even if I did get braces back on so I could wear rubber bands and fix my bite, there's still a good chance my bite would open back up a teensy bit after I got them off. He also mentioned I might want to go talk to my surgeon, Dr. Jenkins, to see if he could offer an in-depth explanation of my relapse :/
Not gonna lie, I am a little disappointed. But. My mouth functions a million times better that it did previously, and I'm a million and ten times more comfortable with my face overall. So idk bro. Surgery and braces weren't completely for naught. I'll probably just have to wait 'til I leave this life and pass on to the afterlife for a perfect mouth :)

San Diego<3

#gotogirls #minus2



My brothers love pictures. Merry Christmas.

(New Years..)

*I DYED MY HAIR ANNND I'm not sure I'll ever go back to blonde. I love it sooo much*

Family selfies are a struggle.
Catch y'all on the flip side

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015



May 8 is the big day!!!!! So only 23 days, 9 hrs and 46 min from now. But it's not like I'm counting down or anything.
Me, me, me so excited.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Day 239

Guess who had an orthodontist appointment this week...
Guess who might get their braces off roughly 2 weeks...

Yeah so at my orthodontist appointment Dr. C said that at my next appointment, in 2 weeks, we'll be able to schedule a removal date if everything looks good!
And the thing is, I actually kind of believe him this time! My mouth feels really good! Everything seems to be where it needs to be!
The first food I'm eating when I get my braces off is a caramel apple. I don't care if I'm allergic to sugar, I DESERVE IT. And then I'm going to get teeth whitener. Because I deserve that too.

Other than that, I'm lovin' my face!

I just got back from choir tour, which took place in DISNEYLAND. It's crazy, because last year for choir tour we also went to Disneyland, and I remember saying "This is my last trip to Disneyland with this jaw." And just so much has changed it's crazy.
So this next pic is from choir tour 2014. I'm the one on the far right...

Tour 2k14

Tour 2k15...

Me and my cute friends:)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Day 213 - Life Update

Here's a little life update for anyone that cares :)

So remember back when I got an endoscopy? Yeah, well the results came back from that last month, and it turns out I'm allergic to table sugar (sucrose) and grain sugar (so like wheat, white rice, etc.) Yeah. So life's been pretty fun for the last two months or so... I've had to reconstruct an entire diet for myself because SO MUCH STUFF has sugar and grain in it, it's ridiculous. But on the plus side, if I don't eat grains or sugar, I no longer get super bloated, and my skin is relatively clearer, and I no longer have acid reflux problems! So I think it's worth it.

Second, I got accepted to all three of the colleges I applied to, so it's time to make a decision. I'm probably going to end up going to BYU since that's where I've wanted to go since I was a wee lass, and that's where everyone expects me to go...
But I'm growing up! I guess that's the point I'm trying to get at. It's weird. And I really would like to get my braces off before I graduate high school.

Growing up is sketchy.