Monday, 10 March 2014

One Year Post Surgery

I did it, I have made it to one year post surgery and what a year it has been. I had intended to write at my six month post brace removal orthodontic appointment however there was nothing to report. I had that appointment on the 4th of February and everything looks perfect including the effects of my retainer which I will continue using as opposed to the proposed metal retainer. I had been finding it difficult to always remember my retainer at night in the beginning however I am pleased to report I have developed a good habit of placing them in every night. My orthodontist also gave me her record of progress photographs from my treatment however she was missing the very first set which I will receive on my final appointment in August which will be my discharge appointment. I will upload all of those together once I receive them. 

I am also due a one year follow up appointment with my surgeon which I have not yet received an appointment for however I am not too concerned about this as everything seems to be where it should be and I no longer feel any pain of any sorts. 

It feels like far more than a year since surgery as so much has happened in that year. This is a photo of me just two days after surgery, I was home from hospital and the pain was just starting to make an appearance. I knew I had a long few weeks ahead of me however my increasing positivity and wonderful family and friends got me though not only recovery from surgery but a few other major changes in my personal life that all happened at once and were equally life changing. The second is a photo of me now. 

'Luckily the he person in that first photo knew the person in the second photo was waiting twelve months down the line.'

I have finally started the tooth whitening process, today is day five of whitening and I am thrilled with the results. I was concerned about sensitivity as this is an issue I have had since brace removal and I had every reason to be concerned, It Hurts, A Lot. I have attached photographs with my whitening records as well as information on how the process works. 

I went to the dentist on Friday where she carried out a check up to ensure I had healthy teeth before taking molds of my upper and lower teeth. I received a call the following Tuesday to say that my trays had arrived and everything was ready to go. The process is fairly simple.
You half fill each tooth grove with the gel bleach and place the trays in for 30 minutes twice a day for 7-9 days depending on how white you want them to be. Then presto, a new set of pearly whites.

This photograph was taken four days prior to beginning the whitening treatment. 

This is after day one of whitening. 

This was after day three of whitening.

Overall I am not only satisfied with my progress in the jaw world, I am satisfied with my progress in all areas of my world. People have asked me a lot over the past year how my life has changed so much which has got me thinking about what created that change. I can certainly pinpoint the day my life began to change and that was 11th of March 2013, the day the surgeon put me to sleep and broke my jaw. However within days other major life changes occurred. I realize now that it was not those particular changes that created the life I live today it was my resilience to these changes. We may think we are strong but it is not until we are challenged with reaching low places that we can truly see and appreciate that strength. I have created a list with my philosophy for a happy life that has developed over the past twelve months, these are what worked for me, they will be different for everybody however you won't find yours until you really try. 

  1. Sometimes you have to put yourself first and That. Is. Okay. 
  2. A Positive Mind is essential. I realize it is not always realistic to strip all negativity from your life and if that is the case just be sure to nurture the positive. 
  3. Appreciate the people around you, the ones who lift you up when you're feeling down, they are invaluable, cherish them, be thankful for them and never ever take them for granted. 
  4. If you are fortunate enough to have opportunities open to you, Take Them.. All of Them. 
  5. Finally, See Beauty in Everything & Always Appreciate the Little things in Life.
Thank you fellow bloggers for taking this journey with me, thank you readers for making my blog worth while and to those of you about to take your own journey always remember to Stay Strong x 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Six Months Post Surgery..

This is my last monthly blog update as I have recovered, my braces have been removed and I don't want to stray away from the focus of this blog. This blog marks six months, a whole half year post surgery. Ironically enough exactly three years ago today my journey began with my first surgery to have my wisdom teeth and two lower fours removed. That's where it all began and this is where it pretty much ends. I'm hoping that in this blog I can highlight the most important aspects, in my opinion for a journey like this.

The first major aspect is the decisions involved in surgery. This surgery is optional in most cases.When I told my family, friends and some professionals about the decision I had to make, each and every one of them, with the exception of my Mother dismissed the idea and said instantly 'don't do it'. I found this difficult as it was a decision I was taking very seriously. I'm pleased now, at the other end of my journey that I didn't take everybody's opinion on board. Instead I researched online, through my orthodontist and reading blogs just like this one. I looked at the procedure itself, the risks and possible side effects of surgery and weighted up the pros and cons. This allowed me to make a fully informed and independent decision that I have not in any way regretted even at my lowest points. My point being that although it's good to talk about your decision with others, it is important to remember that you are the only one who can make your final decision (unless you're under 18!) and it should be based on what you think is best for yourself.

I've just spent the last hour and a half reading over my entire blog from collecting the items I needed to my seven day dinner countdown to my daily recovery records and it showed me how much of my life surgery took up and I realize now that it was not at all necessary however I do believe all the practical preparation also prepared me psychologically for the procedure and more importantly the recovery. The pain is easily worked on with drugs and ice and various other methods but the effect it can have on you mentally is far more concerning. I was very lucky to have a wonderful and supportive network of family and friends who kept my spirits and optimism high and picked me up when I was feeling down. I am aware however, through my research that depression is very common in those recovering from this surgery both due to the physical and dietary restrictions and coping with the physical changes. In turn this depression can have effect on your recovery and that's very unfortunate. To those of you about to begin your journey, while you prepare the practical things I urge you to consider your mental health, ensure you have people around you who care about you, who will support you physically and mentally after surgery, who can be your light when you're feeling darkness.

There are many milestones when having orthodontic treatment and surgery. These will vary from patient to patient however include things like your teeth moving, getting a surgery date, getting through the first two weeks of recovery etc. It is so important to give these milestones the reception and appreciation they deserve, they are what will give you the drive to continue. During the times treatment and recovery feel long and tedious, remind yourself of how far you have come, the reasons for getting there and that one day it will all be over.

Having a good relationship with your team of professionals also makes a significant difference to your journey. My orthodontist is a wonderful lady, she has been as excited if not more excited to see my progression from day one. I've looked forward to every appointment I've had with her, she greeted with a smile every time and I always left her office exploding with positivity. My surgeon although less excitable than my orthodontist was always very calming and reassuring, he never rushed an appointment and always offered me the opportunity to ask questions and answered in great detail, the fact he kept telling me I'm beautiful was only an added extra! He seemed very confident in his task ahead which gave me confidence in him and I trusted him 100%. I recall telling him that as I was drifting off into my drug induced slumber. My own dentist also played a part in my journey. He was given the task of removing my two upper fives and there is nobody else I would have trusted more to do the job. He just made the whole procedure so easy and comfortable. He's an amazing dentist, also very calming. I'll never go to the dentist again when he retires, it will be a very sad day. He has however had the stress of dealing with my tea addiction, I'm pretty sure it's very frustrating for him. I was due to go back to get my teeth bleached this month but my tea intake is still alarmingly high. I'd like to cut it in half before wasting a bleaching. I am beyond grateful for each of these people along with those who work with them including the nurses that gave me five star treatment in the hospital before, during and after surgery. I was truly blessed to have such wonderful people work with me in this journey and without who I would never have reached this point.

The main issue for me after surgery was the tiredness that at points reached exhaustion. I was aware that it would happen but was somewhat unprepared for the extent of it. It is important that you arrange significant time off work or college to recover from this. It is equally important that you have someone to literally wait on you hand and foot for the first two weeks or so, it's amazing how little you can do for yourself in that time.

Finally, blogging became a big part of my journey. It gave me daily goals, it kept me focused and now it's given me a detailed and fun record of this significant experience in my life that I know one day will be so valuable to me. I also find it exceptionally funny that I was willing to put photographs of me looking myself worst online for the world to see, if that's not confidence I don't know what is! I'm not saying you have to do that if you're not comfortable with it but I do suggest keeping some kind of record and regular photos as they will allow you to see your progress and keep you motivated. These were the most important and helpful aspects of my journey, I know this will vary for everybody.

Right now I am feeling completely back to normal, I'm living a life I didn't live prior to surgery however there are many factors contributing to that. People who claimed there would be no significant difference from surgery are now walking past me on the street because they don't recognize me which I find to be a major complement to my surgery. I'm happy, I'm comfortable in my own skin and life couldn't be better.

My next update will be January when I return to the orthodontist to replace my current plastic retainer with some kind of metal one which I will only be wearing at night also. Until then here is a snippet of my post surgery life.

I'm lucky enough to live in this wonderful, beautiful place!

Laughs with Friends <3

Thank you to my loyal readers for your following and feedback, it's made keeping my blog far more worthwhile. To those of you using my blog as research I wish so much luck in your journey, whatever you decide, decide with confidence, be excited and stay strong x

Friday, 9 August 2013

Five Months Post Surgery and One Month Brace Free..

This post represents my five month post surgery post, almost half a year on. It's a bittersweet feeling as although I'm very happy to be recovered and moving on there is also a sadness when ending any journey that takes up significant space in your life.

Jaw wise there has been no change as there is nothing more to change. I'm still pain free and no longer protect my jaw from any possible contact. I can remember not too many months ago when I would flinch at the thought of even a feather grazing any point on my face but now I can pinpoint the moment I realized jaw contact is no longer an issue to me. I recently went interrailing in Europe where I participated in various physical activities including white water rafting. During the rafting we did an activity where everybody sat in the boat and took it in turns to walk around the edge of the boat and try not fall. I did manage to fall but into the boat rather than out hitting my face off a paddle, my first reaction was not 'oh no my jaw' it was 'oh no, my nose'!! My jaw didn't enter my head until the friend I was traveling with said 'watch your jaw' and I actually had to think why!

Here's some photos from that amazing experience: I'm the one in the white sun glasses but these are a little small. I'm also on the back of the boat on the camera side :)

It's also been one month since having my braces removed. I got used to not having braces very quickly, in fact I can barely remember what it's like to have braces. My bite felt a little strange for a few days but it's fine now and the orthodontist was right in her predictions that the little gap on the right side would continue to close with use of the retainer. Considering the work I've been through for my teeth I am very committed to wearing my retainer every night as directed. I did forget them two nights so far but made up for those by wearing them for several hours during the day which is not pleasant as I find it a little difficult to talk with them in and you have to take them out to eat or drink. However, it has shown me the importance of wearing them as it was difficult to get them in after not wearing them for just one night. I can't imagine how distressing it would be for the orthodontist who has worked so hard to have a client who doesn't comply with the retainer directions. 

I still find it very exciting to see myself in photographs brace free. It's the first thing I look at and pretty much the only thing I look at. It was just before my 21st birthday that I was assessed and given a run down of the proposed treatment plan. I recently celebrated my 24th birthday and now the days of 'should I agree to surgery' are a distant memory. I have a photograph from both birthdays to compare:

This is not the best for showing my teeth but it's the way my face looked three years ago, pre-surgery and pre-braces!

This is how my jaw line and teeth look now :)

After surgery people struggled to see any difference in how I looked but since getting my braces removed people are complementing the difference on a daily basis. Although I was satisfied with seeing the difference myself regardless of others it is nice to hear that others see it now.

I mentioned in my previous blog that my confidence had increased dramatically since surgery and it's continuing to grow. I am continuing to take full advantage of any opportunity that comes my way and this confidence is helping me to meet new people all the time. It's very exciting to be out living life again and now worrying about my jaw getting hurt or having food stuck in my braces. My next and final step is bleaching which I am hoping to have done by the end of the month and before next months blog update.

For now here are some of my holiday photographs, as you will see I was not afraid to show off my new smile :)

Until next time have an Awesome August, I know I will :) 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sixteen Weeks Post Surgery & Brace Removal

Hello bloggers, it's been around a month since I last blogged and it feels like much longer. I never imagined what it would be like to get to this particular blog and I have to say it's a pretty awesome feeling. First of all I've reached the sixteen week mark post surgery and my jaw (with the exception of today) has been the furthest things from my mind, I often forget it even happened. I've also finally adjusted to the look of my jaw. Although many people told me they could see no difference, I certainly could and it's taken a long time to accept it as my jaw!

Pain wise there has been none. However, when I take the first bite of most foods I get this electric shock like feeling from my jaw right up to my head. At first it was a horrific feeling but now I'm just used to it I guess and take little notice of it.

Last night I didn't sleep a wink, most people aren't sleeping due to the heatwave over Ireland that's sent the country into a frenzy so as not to miss any ray of sunshine but not me, I was overwhelmed to the point of sickness with the excitement of getting my braces off. I jumped out of bed at 6:30am and off I went. By 9:00am I no longer had braces. There is no feeling quiet like the feeling of walking out of the Orthodontists brace free.

Getting the braces off wasn't the most pleasant of experiences but also not terrible. They literally have to just pull them right off and I think I was more concerned with the crunching noise than any pain. Following this I returned to my own town for a scaling and polish. This was the toughest part, my jaw began to ache from trying to keep it open and the staining on my teeth from the post surgery Corsodol and obsessive tea drinking certainly didn't help. My dentist has limited me to three cups of tea a day so I'm going to work super hard to stick to that.

I then returned to the Orthodontist to collect my retainer which I didn't expect to receive today. It's a clear plastic retainer on top and bottom and I only have to wear them at night time. I will have these for six months before having a metal retainer put in. They don't seem to hurt or cause any discomfort.

My gums are pretty sore this evening as the Orthodontist had forewarned me. This is due to them working near the gums and is pretty normal. Considering everything else I got through I'm pretty sure this is no biggie.

Anyway onto the photos. Before surgery I didn't mind smiling 'open mouthed' but since surgery I became paranoid about my mouth looking far to full of metal. I began smiling with a closed mouth in photos. Now that my braces are off, I'm only delighted to be smiling widely and showing off the end result.

I have found a photo from September 2007, when I was only 18, before braces or surgery was even on the cards. It's from a Safari I was on in South Africa and I hate the photo but it gives you a good idea of the overall change.

I also have a photo before going to the hospital today and on return but they were taken before the cleaning. I'm far too hot right no to consider taking photographs, us Irish are not built for 30 degree weather! I haven't taken any side photos either as nothing has changed since the last ones.

I can really see an overall difference in how I look, in fact I barely recognize myself in the after photograph. Although this new look of not having braces will take some getting used to I am beyond thrilled with the results. I know I'm not perfect, nobody is but I can now look down the lens of a camera without being horrified about my braces, I can look in a mirror and be satisfied by what I see and most of all, the biggest bonus from all of this is that I have grown in confidence. I had lost a significant amount of confidence due to allowing another person let me feel ugly and unworthy but now I feel far from that and this confidence has spread throughout all aspects of my life opening up opportunities that I would never have had before. Since my surgery my quality of life has changed beyond explanation, I feel a happiness that I never knew existed. So to all of you considering surgery or on your journey, go for it, be prepared, be excited and be strong :)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fourteen Weeks Post Surgery

It's fourteen weeks post surgery and just four weeks until I get my braces removed. I almost don't believe it as write it. My excitement in on a level that can't even be measured. It's crazy to think back to the day I got them on and they felt so big I could barely close my lips together, at that point removal was so far away it wasn't even worth thinking about.

Finally all the blisters and infection in my mouth have cleared up. It's such a relief. I used having the infection as a pretty good excuse not to wear my elastics at night time as I am supposed to and currently I am still not wearing them. I know I really should but I've been rationalizing it in my head. I figure I can live happily with the tiny tiny gap that is still there plus the retainer I will be wearing will help to continue the closure.

I have been having lots of random pains in my jaw this week but by now I'm so used to them I don't even consider them painful anymore, they're just little reminders of the journey I have been on and how far I have come.

As nothing much has been changing from week to week I have decided it's time to adjust to monthly updates or updates should anything significant in the jaw world happen. This means that the next time I blog I will officially be BRACE FREE.

So readers have an awesome June, Keep Smiling and always remember life is better at the beach.

Liz :)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

THREE Months Post Surgery..

I'm here... I've made the three month mark. I know six moths is where you reach full recovery but I don't even feel like I had surgery, if it were not for the lack of overbite there would be no evidence that a surgeon cut me open and split the bone on both sides of my jaw before pulling it forward and screwing it into place. Only now can I say all that without feeling weak. Before surgery I spent hours and hours searching through
the internet and soaking up every last bit of information I could and was unfortunate enough to come across a video of an actual surgery where you see exactly what they do. At the time I was unable to watch it however now I can watch it without feeling pain in my jaw or throwing up at the though. I think that's when you know you've truly reached the point of recovery. Although I wouldn't link that video to my blog as it would not be fair on those of you heading for surgery here is a great, simple and informative video explaining all types of jaw surgery. For those of you heading for surgery my advice is to not watch any videos with too much detail and visuals, don't do it to yourself!

I've had anther bad week with my mouth however it wasn't jaw related. I had a wire from my brace cutting me for a few days which as fellow brace wearers will understand can be a nightmare at times, it caused a cut on the inside of my lip which managed to get infected. This then spread and now I have lots of those little white blister things all over my gums, splendid. I've been washing my mouth out with salt and water for days now and getting pretty sick of it. Jaw surgery wasn't as painful and tiring as this infection. It has caused me to talk with a little bit of lisp which is pretty funny.

I went to my dentist (not orthodontist) on Tuesday to get the wire cute and one of the surgical hooks off as I thought that was the cause of my pain. It was a funny experience all the same. The dentists light was broken and he had to improvise until it gets fixed so as he was holding a big square red torch over my mouth as I laid there holding the suction tube in my mouth as he says hold extremely still and cuts the wire with a small electric saw type thing. I felt completely at ease as you can imagine. As it happened this didn't do the trick and I ended up with an unexpected visit to the orthodontist on Thursday where it turned out the elastic on one of the brackets has come off and that is what caused the damage.

Before surgery, during surgery and for about six weeks after my braces never caused me much pain or discomfort, I was patient, I thought ahead to when I'd have a correct bite and great set of teeth, I didn't mind having braces or getting asked questions about them but now that's all gone. I'm impatiently counting down the days until removal. I've had enough of cut lips and cheeks, I've had enough of being careful when eating and I've had enough elastics causing me sleepless nights. If I had my time over would I change my mind and not get braces or have surgery?!?! Not A Chance, No regrets!!

On that note, here are some photographs three months post surgery from my Goddaughters 9th Birthday, Happy Birthday baby girl xox

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Recovery Week Eleven..

Although this week has not been a bad jaw week like last week, today is definitely a bad jaw day. Last night took me back to week one, when walking A LOT after turning onto my right side. I'm pleased that I didn't need to resort to pain relief as I have firmly put those days behind me.  However today has continued to be a painful one. I can't open my mouth too far without pain and my right ear has sharp regular pain. Still the pain has not gone beyond the point of being worth it.

Two people have asked me this week if my energy levels are at a reasonable rate and although I hadn't thought about it in a while I now realize I have as much, if not more energy than I did before surgery. Those of you on your journey prepare to be very very tired and be sure to allow yourself the rest needed to recover from the tiredness. Embrace the rest! I have managed a 9km walk this week in the beautiful weather we have been having here for a change and this weekend I managed two full days, without any cat naps of being out about, walking on the side of a mountain, exploring at the beach and shouting on my cousins football team. About 4/5 weeks ago I would never imagined I'd ever reach this point again. So since surgery I've learned to appreciate the people around me, food and the ability to get up in the morning and live life.

On a final note, and an exciting one for me. I was told for the first time this week by somebody that they can see a difference in my jaw. They were referring to this photo, therefore now it has become my favorite photo!

Here are some photographs week eleven, I'm aware nothing has really changed physically and I'm pretty sure nothing more will change, I've no swelling left whatsoever. I am also aware I look a bit out of it but that is due to a sleepless, painful night. I'm so glad and grateful that those nights no longer mean spending the day stuck in bed, drugged up.