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15.3.13

My Underbite Experience. (Post-Surgery) Days 1-10

 Hi everyone! I can't believe it is finally time to start my post-surgery journey. I wrote an enormous blog post last week (read here) discussing my underbite and the corrective surgery I was undergoing to correct it and other jaw problems. I apologise in advance if my writing isn't up to scratch, and if there is the odd typo - I'm still recovering and find myself quite drowsy at times. I was admitted into St. James' Hospital last Tuesday morning. I was brought straight into the day surgery unit, where I put on my disposable surgery gown and socks, had blood taken and was whisked away. It all happened very fast, thank god. Like I said in the previous post, the surgery could have been cancelled at any time if an emergency occurred that day. Thankfully, I went in within an hour of arrival at the hospital. I barely slept the night before, and didn't cry much - to my surprise. The nerves kicked in that morning and I was in a slight state of shock because what I had been dreaming about my whole teenage life, was finally happening. I was put into a wheelchair and then an operating bed. My Nana held my hand all the way into the surgery preparation room. I cried like a baby, all of my emotions hit me at once! I had 2 I.V drips inserted into my hand, and numbing spray was sprayed into my nose. Unfortunately, I had to be kept awake when the surgeons first entered a tube with a camera on the end of it through one of my nostrils. I was half asleep at the time, but I definitely remember passing out mere seconds after it - it was scary! A nurse was in the room when I was being put asleep, and I remember holding her hands all through it. You go back to baby-mode during experiences like these, trust me.
The next thing I remember, I was waking up in the recovery room. I kept waking up and falling back into blackness, but officially woke up at around 3pm. I was surrounded by young nurses admiring my tattoos, and they informed me that the surgery had been a success. I had a bandage wrapped all around my face, my nose was bleeding like the Niagra Falls but I wasn't in any pain. I had a tube with a bag attached to my bladder through my lady bits, to save me from getting up to go and pee during the first day. I personally felt uncomfortable with the attachment, and wanted it out asap. It was inserted when I was asleep, and didn't cause any pain - just the idea of it made me feel sick to my stomach. It was taken out early the next morning, to my luck. The first day is blurry to be honest, my family visited and I was still pretty out of it from the anesthetic. I remember coughing up blood a few times, due to swallowing the blood coming from my nose. It stopped bleeding after a whopping 6 hours, but it was still extremely hard to breathe. My surgeon (Dr. Kearns) came to see me and informed me of the surgery's success, however a nerve was damaged on the left-hand side of my face. It was repaired straight away, so fingers crossed it won't be damaged permanently! I had fasted from 10pm the previous night, and was still not allowed anything to drink for another 12 hours - even water. I went for a total of 30 hours without water; I didn't get some until Wednesday morning. It's probably one of the worst experiences of my life, being thirsty for that long. I was given water-soaked sponges to wipe on my lips, but wasn't allowed to drink it. I didn't sleep at all that night, and was given morphine at least 3 times on Day 1. I was in a state of shock that the surgery had actually happened, I was a ball of emotions.. and dying of thirst.
Day 2 is a much clearer day in my head; my bandages were removed and I was more calm and collected. I was dribbling like a baby and had to carry a paper bowl with me everywhere and have a towel placed under my chin. My right cheek, lower right eye, nose, bottom lip, tip of my tongue, jaw line and chin were completely numb (and still are). My swelling was nothing compared to what we had thought it would be like initially, taking Arnica in advance definitely helped. My nose was still blocked, but it was clearing with the aid of nose drops. I was unable to wash my face, so the blood and surgery gunk was still all over me - I looked like a right state! I went for x-rays, to make sure everything was ok and it was. My teeth were wired shut that evening, with tight elastics. I'm unable to open my jaws even an inch with them in, and still have them on until tomorrow (Friday 15th) where I'll have looser ones attached. I went on two walks, and drank for the first time since two days previous - I had a cup of milk, a milkshake, a cup of soup and 6 cups of water. I found it impossible to sip through a straw, so sipping from soft plastic cups was easier. I found myself not sleeping again at night, unfortunately. My lips and face dried out quite quickly also, so I applied dollops of Vaseline and lip balms on to the dehydrated areas.
Day 3 was quite a mess, as I felt quite claustrophobic with the elastics on - due to the blood in my nose drying up, it made breathing really difficult. I experienced my first 'was it worth it' thoughts that day, but they soon passed when I felt better. I asked for one of my I.V drips to be removed, as it was paining me. Out of everything, I hated receiving the anti-biotics and anti-nausea through the I.V's more than anything. The sensation of fluid going through my veins made me want to collapse - it still does thinking about it! One of the biggest differences I noticed, was not only my evidently changed "normal" bite but also my nose. I've always hated my nose, and have wanted to get it straightened and shortened in the future. I was over the moon to see that my nose looked like it had changed after the surgery; it was shorter. I asked my surgeon about this, and he said the nose does change slightly during the move on the top jaw in some cases. I was thrilled, I still am. It's shorter, and doesn't have the hook it used to. 
On Day 4, I felt dizzy waking up but it passed after an hour or two. I was sent home that morning; 4 days in hospital is little for some, but it felt like an eternity to me. The nurses were so nice, but it just wasn't a place for me at all. I craved my own bed! I was prescribed medications to take, a dietician gave me meal plans and food advice and I went home in a taxi with Nana at 11am. The first few days home were really difficult, I'm not going to lie. The first two nights were terrifying as I still couldn't sleep and was confused as to where I was at times. I slept with around 6-7 pillows behind me in bed to keep me upright, along with a V-Shape pillow. My Nana and I organised a list of my medication to take, and at what time etc. I was prescribed sachets of Panadol Max painkillers, and took them 4 times a day along with antiobiotics, Ibuprofen and many more bits and bobs. It was quite nerve-wracking to get into a routine and get back to myself. However, over the course of Days 5-7, I started to feel like myself again. The swelling was going down, I was finally able to wash myself in a shallow bath with a jug (showering after the surgery is not advised due to water pressure hurting the healing bones). Over the last few days, I've felt brilliant. My head and mind are completely back to normal, the swelling has gone down dramatically and I have a lot more energy. I'm only taking painkillers twice a day, which is great! (I'm still taking all of the other prescribed medication, of course). The numbness is still there, but I keep getting (annoying) pins and needles feelings all over the numb areas, especially my chin. I've also been able to start wearing my glasses again over the last few days; I couldn't wear them for the first few days as they felt as if they were blocking my breathing through my nose even more! My nose has completely unblocked now, and my breathing is fine. My lips have more movement in them, and talking aka mumbling is possible. Obviously I'm unable to open and close my jaws, so it's still tough but manageable. 
The most difficult part out of ALL of this, is eating. Eating liquidised food is a pain in the arse, straight out. I've never been too big a fan of soups, so I'm finding it SO tough adjusting to my new diet. We've liquidised everything from Weetabix, mashed spud and Quorn mince, carrot and parsnips, Ready-Brek - everything! We've resorted to jars of baby food however, as it's easier. Eating is messy; you'll dribble everywhere and find it hard to swallow things. You have to liquidise all of the food until it's practically like water. After you liquidise the food, you then have to put it through a sieve to make sure no bits are in it. To liquidise the food we use milk, cream or butter - not water. It's inevitable that'll I'll lose weight during this, so we're adding as much fatty goodness into the food. I'm also taking calcium and iron supplements, Manuka honey, health drinks and the likes. I've been told that I could start a soft diet in 4 weeks time, consisting of food such as mash spud and scrambled egg. To say I'm excited is an understatement, I'll never take food or eating for granted again after this. I have to rinse my mouth every hour with cool boiled water and salt. I'm unable to brush my teeth, so I also have to rinse my mouth 3 times a day with SensiKin mouthwash. I tried brushing with a baby toothbrush, but it does very little if I'm honest as I can barely get to any of my teeth because of the stitches and elastics.
I'm nearly into my second week of recovery, which is absolutely mind-boggling to think about. I just want to say a HUUUGE thank you to everyone for supporting me through this. The amount of emails, messages and comments I've received have been in their thousands. I'm still in a state of shock, I don't think it's all officially hit me yet! I'm so glad it's over and done with, it feels great to be nearing the end of this horrible road. I still can't visualise myself in my head with my new bite; I still have an underbite in my mind. Due to the numbness, I'm unaware of what's going on inside of my mouth. My bite doesn't feel different, and my lower jaw still feels "heavy". It feels odd discussing my underbite in the past-tense - it doesn't exist anymore, I have to keep reminding myself of that!
I had planned on posting weekly videos in conjunction with these posts, but I have decided to put all of the clips into one big video after the whole experience is over. I've unfortunately witnessed a great deal of immature negativity and disgusting jeers aimed at me and my appearance after this surgery. I'm not open to such nastiness anymore, so the videos will have to wait until the Summer. Let's face it, who is going to look like Kate Moss after major facial surgery?! I don't post these photos to impress people; they're there to help and inform. The majority of people have been kind, mature and empathetic, I appreciate it. 

I post daily photos and updates on my Facebook page here and on my Instagram; my username is LeanneWoodfull.