Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Selfies of 2014

Yesterday, I realized I hit my 5 month mark! (Whaaaaaaaaat?!?!???????????)
Time flies when you're recovering from jaw surgery! Not really, but really.
So in celebration of that, and in celebration of the New Year, I'm posting selfies from 2014! This is mostly for me. I'm just really proud of myself for making it through jaw surgery. Life has gone nowhere but up from there. It's just super crazy to see how much my face/mouth has changed in the past year!
2014 was a crazy great year. I went to San Francisco, Hawaii, and Disneyland (twice!). I made so many unexpected friends through school, work, and even jaw surgery. I learned so much, and I can't wait to learn even more in 2015! And now I can do it with a jaw that works properly.

This actually isn't a 2014 selfie... it's one of the last selfies of 2013. And all I have to say is wow. This picture just makes me realize how much I've changed since last year. And not just physically, but socially, mentally, and emotionally too!

Celebrating New Year's last year. Woot!

The first selfie of 2014. What a gem.

Disneyland with the bros.

Seeing Studio C live! That's right, I saw this live.
I tried to take a selfie with some otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Didn't actually work out too well.

So this doesn't necessarily qualify as a selfie, because I didn't take this picture myself (my mom took it), but this is one of the many times I got impressions done this year. And everytime I see this picture I'm just in awe of my lack of chin. Like, holy cow! There is NOTHING THERE.
Prom day-date 2014. What dorks.
My mom gave a talk at the Women's Conference at BYU this past year and this is her support team :) My family is pretty much the coolest. We almost take better selfies than Ellen DeGeneres. 

A shout out to all the people I work with. 'Cause they're some of the funnest, coolest, funniest, awesomest, nicest, best people I know.

Peter Pan Prom selfie. At work. Again, work is the best.

The first snowies of 2014

The sun was in our eyes. Eeeee.

Elevator selfie.

Cousin-work selfie :)

This is one of the faces I used to be able to pull before jaw surgery. Do I miss it? A little. I used to be able to make my whole chin disappear into my neck! It's a hidden talent I gratefully no longer possess.

This is one of my last true selfies before jaw surgery. I was at the surgeon's office and they had put wax over my braces to take my last impressions. So much fun!

The final supper.

THE LAST PICTURE OF ME BEFORE SURGERY. Ahhhhhhhhhh. I look so scared. Pretty sure this was taken just before I started crying. Also those socks are a spawn of Satan. I despise hospital socks with a fiery passion.

My first selfie after jaw surgery. I don't know if I have that crazed look in my eyes on purpose or if I was just really drugged. Probably both.

Measuring my recovery process in how well I can produce a "duckface". 

Lookin' swollen, but classy.

The first slice of bread after jaw surgery!

I wanted to get a picture of my splint before I got it taken out, but I just look like some kind of crazy alligator creature. I was too lazy to take my rubber bands out... no regrets.

THE SPLINT IS OUT. Easily the best day of 2014. 
52 days after surgery I hiked 14 miles up/down a mountain. I dunno, I think that's a pretty great accomplishment.

I was in my first play in since sophomore year :) It was unbelievably fun.

We're in Hawaii. But you can't really tell.

Dole whip in Hawaii. HEAVEN. 


Leaving Hawaii :(

This ukulele is my current pride and joy.
 2014 was fab. Mostly cause I can eat sandwiches less messily.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 153

Yesterday I had my second surgical procedure of the year. An esophagogastroduodenoscopy! (Or an endoscopy for short).
It was great fun, let me assure you. They put me to sleep and stuck a camera on a tube down my throat to look at my insides!
Long story short, for about the past 2 and half years I've been having digestive problems ranging from bloating to acid reflux, and my mom thought it might be related to some kind of dairy allergy, so I went to a gastroenterologist and after hearing about my problems he wanted to perform this endoscopy, which happened yesterday.
My 24-hour prep for this was actually a lot more intense than my 24-hour prep was for jaw surgery. They wanted me to shower the night before, sleep in clean pajamas and clean sheets, not eat after midnight, but drink enough liquids to produce a urine sample in the morning.
I was worried about producing enough urine in the morning, so I drank SO MUCH WATER before I went to bed. I drank so much water that my bladder acted as my alarm clock in the morning (which was actually a tender mercy, because I was supposed to wake up at 5:00am but my alarm clock didn't go off!) And then for whatever reason I was supposed to do the urine sample at home, so my mom grabbed a mason jar from the cupboard and I went in that. I was able to produce well over a full jar... the nurse was very impressed. And then she told us about this one time when she had a grandma patient who wanted her jar back after they had taken the urine out of it. Probably because she wanted to can some peaches for her grandchildren later. GROSS.
The procedure only took about 15 minutes, but I still had to get an IV and anesthesia. So that was fun. The IV wouldn't work in my right hand, even after a few minutes of digging around, but it worked right away in my left hand. And I also got some blood taken for blood work while I was asleep, so I woke up with three puncture holes in my hands.
For the rest of the day, I had a headache, it hurt to swallow, my hands hurt, and overall I just felt crappy and sad (boy, anesthesia side effects are just the funnest thing in the world!). But it was still far better than jaw surgery recovery!
I won't know if I have any allergies until I get the biopsy results back next week, but I do know my esophagus is a little messed up. It's lined with the equivalent of popped blisters. Bascially it's inflamed from acid reflux or whatever and so we need to figure out a way to fix it.

My esophagus is the #2 in the upper right-hand corner
All of my other digestive organs are lookin' good.
And this is still not as bad as jaw surgery recovery.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Day 124

An update is long past due. And this won't even be a full one, but I was looking through my past posts tonight and I got really emotional for whatever reason. I just realized all of the sudden how far I've come.
Last night, I finished a college application, and there was an essay portion. The essay prompt was "What is one of the most difficult things you have ever done or experienced? What made it difficult and what did you learn?". So naturally, I wrote about my jaw-journey, because this is BY FAR the most difficult thing I've gone through. And I was pretty proud of my essay... here it is:

Puberty left me with an underdeveloped lower jaw. This resulted in two problems: one aesthetic  (I had a receding chin), and one functional (only my back four molars touched making eating a difficult process). The only way to fix this was through surgery, so in October 2013 I got my third set of braces in preparation for a summer 2014 surgery. I spent the following school year with issues of self-esteem and self-doubt. With my deformed jaw, I didn’t feel good enough for anything or anyone— socially, I wanted to hide until I was “fixed”. I found myself counting down the minutes between each orthodontist appointment, desperate for any sign of progress. Finally my mouth was deemed ‘surgery-ready’ and my surgery date was set for July 30, 2014. After surgery, my mouth was wired shut for a week, and I was put on a liquid diet for six weeks; my mouth was too weak to chew anything. I was numb, swollen, and droolly. Even talking and breathing took a conscious effort. But it was worth it. Now, I have a functional bite, and a real chin! And I’ve learned some great lessons. I’ve learned the importance of kindness––that even if you don’t feel worthy, people will be kind. My self-esteem is improving. People may say looks don’t matter, but to each individual, looking good is important. I now know that it’s important to give others all the kindness you have, because you do not know what battles they may face. I’ve learned the importance of patience. That progress comes in millimeters. I’ve learned the importance of community— throughout this journey, I had an international community of internet-jaw-blog-friends that I could relate to, and gather tips from. Unity is strength. And finally, I’ve learned the importance of a good bite. Without one, you can’t properly consume sandwiches.

There was a word limit (and this was actually not my final draft, because it exceeds the limit), but because of the word limit, I didn't feel like I could fully explain what I learned. Especially what I've learned concerning physical appearance. It's just so complex and hard to explain! You live your whole life growing up with a deformed jaw. No one really thinks you look deformed because that's how they've known you, but you know you shouldn't look the way you do. Thus questions like, "But you look fine, why do you need surgery?" come up. You know you look wrong. Getting this surgery was 100% worth it aesthetically for me. My confidence has improved tenfold because of it.

Ok. That's all the thoughts I have the time for tonight. I have an orthodontist appointment this Thursday, so HOPEFULLY I can get myself to update again then! (I've been having issues with my bite opening back up which is scary...)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 79

It's been 79 days. Or 11.2857 weeks. Or 2.5944 months.
That's just really crazy to me! I remember looking at blogs who were 2 months post op and having them say stuff like "Man time is just flying!" and I remember thinking how nice it would be to be at that point in recovery... and now I am! I no longer think about surgery everyday, which is something I never thought I'd be able to say!
It's been a while since my last update. I apologize profusely. I never thought I would be one of those bloggers to leave people hanging for weeks at a time, but life just got really busy!
Anywho. Having my splint out has just been the best thing ever. Seriously, such a confidence booster. I no longer feel like a lisping fool whenever I talk.
Learning to chew again hasn't been so fun though.
I can't actually remember my first meal without my splint, which is kinda sad. I wish I would've written it down somewhere... but alas. When I first got my splint out, Dr. Jenkins told me to continue eating soft solid foods til six weeks, and then I could move onto harder things, but to hold off on super hard things like apples and carrots and such til 8 weeks. To be honest, I still haven't tried apples or carrots. The hardest thing I've eaten is probably... toffee? But crushed up, so I didn't bite any off with my front teeth, I just chewed with my back teeth!
Speaking of front teeth... having them properly aligned is pretty much the best thing ever! Sandwiches and pizza are significantly easier to eat now! I still struggle a little, but I think it's just cause my whole life I've gotten used to not biting through things all the way, and now I'll just need to teach myself to bite all the way through food. But seriously, SUCH A BIG DIFFERENCE. I've noticed I'm actually able to leave teeth marks in bread now, and I wasn't really able to do that before.

At my latest orthodontist appointment, I got to take a good look at a panoramic x-ray of my face! So much metal. But it doesn't freak me out... maybe it's just because I've accepted it? Maybe because I haven't really taken the time to internalize it yet? I don't know. But it doesn't phase me. Mostly I just avoid touching my face where the plates are supposed to be, but I'm pretty sure I've felt them a few times.
And Dr. Christiansen was telling me there wasn't a whole lot more they could do to fix my teeth with braces! That's saying a lot, because he's a real perfectionist. So maybe I'm getting my braces off soon? I've learned not to get my hopes up though. I have trust issues with orthodontists.

I also had a dentist appointment last week, and the hygienists were so funny! I told them I'd gotten surgery and immediately my hygienists took me to get an x-ray. I wasn't supposed to get one that day, but she told me she just really liked looking at stuff like that and that I wouldn't be charged for it so I just went along with it! And I got to look at it all through my appointment.

In the world of numbness, pretty much all of my gums are completely numb. And the right half of my lower lip and chin are still partially numb. I can't tell if the feeling will ever completely come back, because they've been partially numb for probably about a month? But it's whatever.
As of late, a lot my teeth have been super sensitive, which I know is probably just nerves and stuff waking back up so I'm just dealing with it.

My lips don't meet when I'm completely relaxed. It's kind of been bothering me, since it was the same way before surgery. It was a lot worse before the surgery, but still. I hoping this will change over time, because I remember reading someone's blog with the same problem and they said it eventually resolved itself.

I've still had people not recognize me... or not realize I was me. I've gotten better at explaining though, so that's good.

Also, I got another look alike! I was at dinner with a bunch of my cousins, aunts, my grandma, and my mom and my Aunt was complimenting me on my cute nose and cute cheeks and stuff and she said I look like a Campbell's Soup kid!

That's exactly what I was aspiring to look like when I went into this surgery! I'm so glad people are finally seeing what my vision was!
(Just kidding.)

I don't have pictures of my actual face at this very second, but as soon as I get them, they'll be up here!

Well folks. That's all for who knows how long.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 36

Guess what.....?
The splint is OUT.
I seriously almost cried tears of joy when I saw my teeth touching for the first time.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 33

Currently Singing: "Tomorrow" from Annie. Except I'm replacing most of the times it says 'sun' with splint.
Ex: "The [splint] will come out tomorrow!"


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 32

The one month mark has come and gone :) And it feels so good! I can't really believe I've made it this far.

My lower lip feeling is starting to come back! I noticed just today when I was washing my face. BTW, still not a fan of washing a numb face. Even though I've been doing it for a month.

I have not experienced any of the "jaw spasms" I've heard about on other blogs. I'm not complaining, because from what I've heard, they aren't very fun to experience, but I just think it's a little weird.

I GET MY SPLINT OUT THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. I can't contain my excitement, so I try not to think about it. I'm also planning on racing my first XC race of the season that day, which should be interesting. My goals are to not faint, and to get a time under 30 minutes. That's all I ask of myself.

In the past month, I've gotten a few "celebrity look-alike" assessments from friends/family. So far I've been told I look like...
Amanda Seyfried...

Elle Fanning...

And Shailene Woodley
This has made me oddly happy, even though I don't really see myself in any of these girls. I've never ever been told I looked like a celebrity, and I feel like that's mainly because there are no celebrities with recessed chins.
And I wish I could go on a big huge rant about my feelings, but angry rants aren't really my thing. I'm not a very angry person, and I'm not so great at articulating things that I feel strongly about, so I'll just say this:
If you go on pinterest and look up "normal quotes", stuff will come up that say things like, "Normal is overrated." and "Normal is boring." and "Don't be normal.". Throughout my jaw journey, I've thought a lot about quotes like this. I know they're mainly referring to emotional/mental things like motivation, potential, and achievements, personality, acceptance etc. but is normal really so bad? For the past year or so, I've been wanting so badly for my jaw to be "normal". For the past month, I've been wanting to get back to "normalcy" which includes chewing, no swelling, no numbness, not lisping, and not drooling. So no. Normal is not always overrated, or boring, or bad. Normal can be good.