Wednesday, 13 April 2016

NHS Double Jaw Surgery Summary

I thought that it might be useful to make one post that kind of summarises the whole double jaw surgery experience from before braces up until post braces and surgery in case there's anyone that just wants a bit of information and doesn't want to go through a whole blog.

When your whole jaw journey begins is entirely dependent on when you developed your under bite, how old you are and ultimately, whether you actually want to do something about it. It goes without saying that just because you have an underbite or overbite it doesn't mean you need it corrected, If you've ever seen the band McFly the lead singer Tom Fletcher has an underbite and doesn't care about it enough to want to change it, everyone is different and everyone is unique and if you don't want to change then just work it! ;) I chose to get mine corrected for many reasons, for comfort, improved chewing ability, no risk of pain as I get older, and yes I'm not ashamed to say, because I didn't like the way it looked on me.

Pre-Braces
My jaw journey began when I was around 10/11 years old and my dentist told my mum that I had an underbite that would possibly need corrective surgery when I had stopped growing (at 18). At 10 I didn't know what an underbite was and I didn't even realise my jaw was different to everyone else, even though I have an identical twin. The first time I knew about it was when I overheard my Mum telling my Gran that I would have to have surgery when I was older and they would break my jaws. 10 year old me thought this idea sounded horrific and I couldn't imagine ever doing that to myself, although I liked to tell everyone at school I was going to have an operation because I thought it sounded cool. Obviously there was nothing to be done but wait until I was older and so in 2010 (when I was 15) I decided I wanted to go ahead with treatment and I had my first orthodontist appointment, it was basically just a consultation and taking of measurements and moulds so they could track my growth so they would know when to put braces on.

Braces
I had my braces put on in January 2012 when I was 17 and then had appointments roughly every six weeks for about a year and a half, before surgery, to tighten and adjust the braces to get my teeth into position for surgery. To start with I had blue spacers put between my back molars to make room for metal bands that go around the last two molars on the lower gums and last ones on the upper. Then brackets were cemented onto my teeth and the metal wire was threaded through and secured with bands around each bracket. At each appointment the thickness of the metal wire is increased when they replace it so that your teeth move gradually. I was quite lucky in that I had perfectly straight teeth pre-braces, however I still had to have them on as my teeth weren't aligned how they should be once my jaws were moved, for example my mid-line was aligned. Though it would be nice, there is no way to avoid braces. The braces are particularly important post surgery as that's when elastic bands are attached to hooks that are added in at an appointment just before your op, these are used to guide your new bite. I got my braces off about 5 months after my op (Op was in the end of July, braces off early December) and it was amazing! I had them off in the morning and then moulds taken so they could make my retainers and I could pick them up and try them on in the afternoon, then I went for my 'after' photos and went home. Since then I've had about 3 appointments that probably last 5 minutes all together because it was just a very quick check to see if my retainers still fitted correctly. 
These are my retainers, I now wear them 3 nights a week.
Pre Surgery Preparation

About two weeks before my Op I was sent in for a pre-op, this involved getting extra hooks added to my braces and answering a million and 1 questions about my health and previous medical history. Then I had to go to the pre-op department and have my height and weight taken to find my BMI, then get bloods taken and swabs to check for MRSA so I could be certified as healthy to be allowed to stay in the hospital. On surgery day it was the standard no food for 12 hours before and no drink for 6, however by the time it got around to being my turn to go in for surgery I could have had some breakfast but I couldn't eat in case I went in early. I didn't pack much for staying at the hospital, just two days worth of clothes (T-shirts were either button up or wide necked- to fit in my post-op big head) some PJ's, books, tablet, and minimal toiletries like deodorant etc. 

Post-op

I only stayed in hospital for 1 night after surgery, I was told that patients with my surgery usually stay at least 2 nights but I was okay to go home if I wanted to. I had some tight bands fitted to restrict my mouth movement but I could still open it to fit a spoon or straw in to eat/drink with. I was told to eat liquids and very soft foods for the first couple of weeks until my consultant said I could eat more. I wasn't in any pain really, just a lot of discomfort as my head began to swell, I took regular painkillers though to make sure that it didn't begin to hurt.
In the months following my op I had check ups every two weeks, until I was about 3 months post op to make sure I was making progress and wearing my bands in the correct formation and things. There was a slight misunderstanding when I was about 2 weeks post op and my consultant told me I could stop wearing bands and then when I saw an orthodontist on my next visit I was told I had to put them back on immediately and should have had them the whole time, it's fair to say I wasn't too happy but it all worked out in the end!
Pain-wise there wasn't really much at all, the most was from the stitches pulling when I laughed. This was because my face was very numb so I couldn't actually feel the pain which I suppose was a blessing in disguise. 

Post-op Numbness and Infection

I still have a few patches of numbness and reduced sensation on my lower lip, chin and tongue but nothing that would actually be able to interfere with my life.
I did manage to be in the small percent of people that got an infected plate and had to have it out, but again this was pain free and the recovery was 48 hours, the hardest part was getting it organised! If you are ever in need of a plate removal I massively recommend you ringing up the hospital if you've not been contacted within two weeks and saying you would be open to accepting any cancellations that might come up because this is how I got my operation October instead of January/February of the next year. I wasn't really up for being on antibiotics every three weeks when I'd just started University!

The top picture is when I had an infection in my lower right plates, the bottom is after my first found of antibiotics.
And that brings me up until now, I am approaching 3 years post op this July, I was discharged last summer at my 2 years post op appointment so the hospital visits are over! I can now eat anything and everything and my face feels so much more comfortable! Everyone's jaw journey is different but I hope I've given some information that could help someone, for every jaw patient and every orthodontist in the world there's going to be a slightly different treatment plan.

Would I do the surgery again?

YES. It was a couple of years of slight inconvenience for a lifetime with a good jaw!

Do I wish I'd paid to get it done privately?
No. I may have been able to stay in my own room, been given lots of braces wax I wouldn't use, and probably been able to choose my hospital food from a menu but ultimately I would have got the same long term result. I feel incredibly lucky to have not had to pay for anything (other than crazy hospital car parking prices) and my life is better, my jaw is better, and I'm just so glad I had it done.

Is there anything I regret?
The only thing I wish I'd done differently is I would have spoken up more when I was unsure of something, I was probably too worried about being an inconvenience rather than actually clearing up some of the questions I had. Like when 2 weeks post op I was told by my consultant that I didn't have to wear bands any more, I did wonder at the time that it was too soon and my mid-line wasn't correct yet then either but I didn't want to question the expert so didn't say anything. In the end I did end up wearing bands again after I saw a different orthodontist to my normal one when she was ill and then I was told I should have been wearing them the whole time. 

FINALLY...


I think it's crazy that when I started this blog I was about to sit my final A-level exams and now I've been through nearly 3 years of university and am going to graduate later this year, where has all that time gone?! A lot has happened between the start of this and now and it's nice to have a look back and reflect on everything that's happened and crazy to think about what the next three years may bring! 


Before and after pics


The difference a few days can make, the left is in the car on the way to get my op and the right is on the way to my first post op appointment.

The stages of swelling, it does go down eventually though!

No more Underbite :)



Wednesday, 14 October 2015

2 Years post op- I'M DISCHARGED!

Shall I start this with a typical 'I'm a terrible blogger and I forgot to post' as I usually do, or do I just get into it?

I'M DISCHARGED!

Yep you read that right, after 5&1/2 years of orthodontist visits; 2 years of braces and TWO years post op, I am finally no longer an orthodontic patient!
I could not be happier :D In fact I nearly sprinted out of the hospital as soon as my ortho uttered the magical words "You're discharged" (This also may have been partly due to excitement and partly due to the fact that hospital parking charged are expensive!). But when 8/9 year old me was told I had to have surgery when I 'grew up' I never really imagined beyond the day that I would finally have the surgery, so now that I'm not even a patient any more is kind of amazing.

I was discharged on the 14th of July this year, so yes this update is just ever so slightly late but I've just been enjoying post surgery life, and I don't really think about the surgery very often at all any more. During my final appointment I told my orthodontist about all the places that were still numb (The left side of my tongue, the right side of my lower lip and the centre of my chin) and she said it is almost certain that I will have this numbness for the rest of my life. But that's okay, because it doesn't affect my life in any great way. My ortho then told me that she was going to send a letter to my dentist to let her know I am now discharged and that should my retainers break I need to go to her to get some new ones made. I only have to wear them 3 nights a week now, but I'm hoping they don't break because I hear they are expensive to replace! Although I really can't complain because the only costs I've had to pay throughout this entire process is for the hospital car park, which I estimated would be roughly £120-ish.

This may be the end of my blogging or it may not, I'm thinking of doing 1 last summary post of the entire process in case anyone wants to read up on it but is short for time and doesn't fancy searching through 3 years of my ramblings.

Thank you to every one that supported me and to all the orthos/ doctors/ nurses/ consultants that have helped me along the way!

Monday, 8 December 2014

One year (and then some) post op! Update and pictures!

I feel like every post I write starts with "I can't believe its been that long" and if it doesn't start that way that's still exactly what I was thinking before I started typing. I am now 1 year and four months post op which is just absolutely crazy but exciting too because it kinda means its over, no more surgery, no more worries, and NEARLY no more orthodontist appointments,

The reason I'm posting this 4ish months after my actual 1 year post op date is because my jaw really isn't a problem any more and so I have no more progress to report or changes to update. So what does a year post op life look life? Right now I will occasionally get a little niggle or pain from it, mostly on the lower right side where I had my plate removed but not enough to bother me. The right side of my bottom lip is still totally numb, I think I can sense temperature with it, but just so slightly its really hard to figure it out. If I put hot metal on it I can't sense the temperature but I do get the pain you get when touching something hot so I don't really know what that means. I think when I talk you can kind of notice it, like it doesn't move in sync with the rest of my lips, it just doesn't really move properly, sometimes I feel self concious  of it but most of the time I don't really care, it's just me. I ask my friends if they can notice but they say no, they may be telling the truth or they may just be being nice. I think I went into the surgery thinking EVERYTHING would come out perfect and it's not turned out perfect but I'm okay with it because it works and that's the most important thing. The biggest piece of advice I could give to someone going into this surgery is to be realistic and accept that your new jaw/face will still have flaws but you have to try and realise they don't matter any more because of how much better your jaw/face will be. I'm still wearing my retainers every night, I've only forgotten once and that was because I was staying at my friends and forgot to pack them. I can eat anything (probably too much of everything) but I'm just enjoying life. :)

On a side note about enjoying life I am back playing football (soccer) again and have been for about a year. I left it the three healing months after the op before getting back into it competitively but now I play just as I used to. When I asked my consultant about playing again when I was a few months post op he said he would prefer me to never play again because of the injuries he's seen caused by playing football but I think that you're not really living life unless you're taking a few calculated risks. ;) I kind of learned yesterday why he didn't want me playing because in the freezing winter conditions I was playing and got hit full on in the face by the ball, it having been kicked about 2 yards from where I was, bloody heck did it freaking hurt! Thankfully nothing is broken or feels moved, I just have a sore nose, chin and cheek bone today. Maybe I wont mention that one at my next ortho appointment!

1 year post op orthodontist appointment

I had my 1 year post op appointment in July and it lasted all of about 60 seconds, I sat in the chair, opened my mouth, closed my mouth, she checked my bite, asked if I was still wearing my retainers at night and then I was out of there. I had hoped this might be my last appointment but then I was told to book an appointment for 6 months time, and so my next appointment is in January 2015. I had a laugh with the receptionist about this and we wished each other a happy Christmas and a happy new year (Seems as it's taken me so long to finish this post it's actually nearly Christmas now so this no longer seems odd, but I booked this appointment in July).

1 year post op dentist appointment

This was my first dentist appointment since the surgery and so I was slightly worried that I would have a mouth full of cavities and gum problems but thankfully that wasn't the case! I've been going to the same dentist all my life, she was the first one to notice I had a jaw problem in the first place and referred me to my orthodontists, and so she was very excited to see the results. She said it was amazing what they had done and said my teeth were in perfect condition, yaaay! She gave me an X-Ray to be sure that my braces hadn't caused any damage, however my sister was having a check up that day too and she also got an X-Ray to make sure her teeth were fine, but she has never had braces so I'm not sure but I kinda think it was so she could compare our jaws as its not exactly common to get identical twins, one with a jaw problem one without. I would be so interested to see if our jaws actually now look identical or if mine is slightly different, better or worse who knows?!



Here's a picture of my top and bottom retainers, they never explained why I was having two different types for top and bottom so I don't know why they're not the same. The plastic bottom one has a few more chips and dents in now so I can imagine that it will need replacing at some point because its quite weak plastic.

1+ years post plate removal

It's been just over a year since I had my lower right plates removed and I've not had any more trouble with infections or swelling which is great. I still have a kind of dip in the bone when I go along my lower right jaw line where I guess the plate was then the bones healed around it so when the plate was removed it left a gap. I'm not sure if that's right or not but that's my theory. It's not obvious and the only way anyone would know its there is by putting their finger on my jaw line. Thankfully I didn't have any problems with my remaining plates, the only slightly gross thing is I can feel some of the screws kind of poking out on the other side of my upper gums, they haven't broken through the gums they just push them out a bit and if I pull my lips far back enough you can kind of see the grey spot where they are (I got my house mates to check and they were very freaked out haha).


Pictures, pictures, pictures.


 These are me at different stages of swelling, with the top left being hours after surgery then the second a couple of days then the third a few weeks and the fourth after a few months.


 Some before and afters because every one loves before and afters!
Here's what my face looks like now, when it was all swollen up it was hard to imagine my face ever becoming 'normal' size again but here's proof that the swelling does eventually go down!


I don't know when my next post will be so I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And if you're having your surgery next year I know you are definitely going to have a happy 2015! :D

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

7 months post op- Ortho appointment and progress update

Another month has passed and to be honest everything is still pretty much the same. I still get the tingly feeling, it's so irritating when it's itchy because they is nothing you can do to scratch it and it gets REALLY itchy. My friends are used to me occasionally just moaning and groaning when it starts to itch, the only thing that settles me is the thought that it means there could be life returning.

At 1 year everything is supposedly going to stay the same as it will for the rest of my life, meaning any feeling I have then is going to stay constant, but the feeling I don't have will probably not return. I'm approaching 8 months post op this month and it feels a little like a huge countdown slowly ticking down whilst I'm trying to get feeling back. Instead of feeling like 'I have 4 months to get feeling back', I feel like, 'I ONLY have 4 months to get feeling back', slightly scary.

I've noticed over the last couple months that my jaw does occasionally click, its rare but I guess it's just something that happens, it only happens once in a while but its really weird. Also on my jawline on the right hand side, the side I had my plates removed, the bone kind of dips a bit, I don't know if this is where my plates were but I'm guessing so. It's not obvious though so it's not a problem, it's just a quirk of my reconstructed face. I do have cheek bones now that I never before so it's a fair price to pay.

In terms of food I've not found anything yet that I can't chew, I love eating lettuce now just because I can bite through it. I think there's still numbness in my gums so eating still feels strange sometimes, when I eat something spicy I get a kind of throbbing on my gums. My mouth wasn't too sensitive before surgery but now it's sensitive to really cold things and spicy food, a bit of a shame as ice cream and Nandos Chicken are two of my favourite things!

My orthodontist appointment was just a quick one, I went in sat in the chair, had my mouth looked at was given new retainers instructions and I was done. When I went in I got asked when I had been wearing my retainers so I said all the time other than when eating, then my ortho said 'but the bottom ones just at night right?' Again this is an annoying case of them just not communicating with each other, I've been wearing my top and bottom retainers all the time because that what i was told to do and now apparently i wasn't even supposed to be. Then was the 'So all your feelings back to normal now isn't it?' question, I felt like I was just supposed to say yes but i told her no that i still have no feeling in half my bottom lip and chin. My ortho then asked me when my op was and i said 7 months ago so she said 'oh well then there's still time'. Thanks a bunch for your over caring consideration, I have another appointment in 4 months that will bring me up to just under a year post op so I seriously hope that can be my last because I'm fed up of feeling like an inconvenience when visiting the orthodontists. Most of the staff are lovely and I love the NHS but sometimes it feels a little too much like a machine, one broken patient in, one fixed patient out.

My new retainer instructions are to wear just the top all the time and the bottom at night, until the end of April when I can just wear both retainers at night. Otherwise everything is going well, I only have a few months of my first year of uni left which is crazy, I can't believe how fast the last 7 months of my life have gone and how much has changed but I'm enjoying it so much. Every bad thing about this process is totally worth how it feels now, best life decision I ever made!! :D


Sunday, 26 January 2014

6 MONTHS POST OP!

How am I 6 months post op already?! Thinking that half a year has passed since my surgery is just crazy! I'm still doing fine and eating everything (probably too much) and just enjoying my new jaw.

I think I still have the same numbness in places, its still itchy and tingling so its a good sign that it will eventually return hopefully. I've developed a new habit of running my fingers on my bottom lip all the time because I think maybe the prodding will help to awaken the nerves, and it's a good way of tracking how much feeling I've regained. The other day it felt a bit like i had lost some feeling because i don't think i can feel as much of my bottom lip as i could a few weeks ago, this may just be my paranoia but who knows.

As much as i love eating I'm still getting used to it, it still doesn't feel quite as natural as it did before my op, I'm still trying to trust that my teeth are actually going to bite properly and that they're not going to break because they're so fragile! This whole process certainly has it's quirks. I don't regret a thing though and I'm so happy I got it done, the only thing I would have regretted was not taking the chance to get it done.

I'm still wearing my retainers all the time other then eating or drinking but at my next appointment in March I should be told i just have to wear them at night. Wearing them all day does help to stop snacking though, if someone ever offers me some food or a cup of tea/coffee i have to say no because i can't just take my retainers out all the time.

This also means I've been blogging for over 6 months, however i still haven't figured out how to place pictures where i want the to go so here's some 6 months pics that hopefully work in the right places!



























This one is with my metal top retainer
and clear bottom one in.

Just realised this is my first post of the new year so hope everyone had a good Christmas and happy new year!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Day 134- BRACES ARE GONE FOREVEEEER!

I actually can not believe I am at the point where I'm posting about no longer having braces, before I had them off I didn't really accept that it was going to happen and in the back of my mind I was worried I would get really excited and then on the day be told I'm not ready. But thankfully when I turned up to my appointment my ortho said I was ready (even joked that she hoped I was ready because she didn't want to wipe the huge smile off my face) and then it actually happened!! The whole de-bracing was actually pretty fast, but it wasn't the most pleasant experience to say the least, I'm not sure what tool she used but she went over every bracket to crack the cement and then just pulled the whole thing out. It wasn't really painful but it was just a really uncomfortable pulling on my teeth, then she sanded off all the extra bits of cement and I got to rinse and feel my teeth for the first time and man did it feel weird! The fact that I can run my tongue from  my teeth onto my gums is the weirdest part, I never realised gums felt so strange.

I had some moulds taken and then I had 5 hours to kill before my next appointment to get my retainers so I got the bus into Cambridge and did some Christmas shopping and met up with a friend for lunch, my first no braces no underbite meal EVER and it was so so good. I had a chicken fajita toasted wrap from costa so challenged myself with some proper biting, I can't explain how good it was but one day everyone reading who's going through the same thing will know, and it's a freaking good moment. I've been biting into everything since then and its still just as odd, I'm so used to my teeth not biting through things I don't believe they're actually going to work, I just need to learn to trust my teeth!

I have retainers to wear all the time for 3 months until my next appointment, they are not nearly as bad as braces and I'm supposed to take them out to eat so it's even easier. I have a clear plastic one for my bottom teeth and a wire one for my top, I don't know why they're different though.

I'm now over 4 months post op and I still have some numbness, now I can feel my gums I realised that some bits are actually still numb, the right side of my bottom lip is still numb and the right side of the centre of my chin. I still have the reduced feeling in my right cheek from my plate removal op but I'm only just over 1 month post op for that.

Overall I'm loving life and loving my teeth, I may be just a little bit vain and look at them in the mirror a lot but hey I've waited over 7 years for this! THANK YOU EVERYONE!

And now for the pictures... (the best bit) :D

 TA-DA!

 With my retainers in, I went to visit my sisters guinea pigs to celebrate!


 On a visit to see the coca-cola van!


 I have teeth again!!



I had to instagram a picture of course!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Day 129- Last full day with braces EVER!

It feels a bit like Christmas eve right now, normally I'm only this excited about things to do wih Christmas in Devember (I am a HUGE liver if all things Christmas). I know I'm so close to the end now so I even had a curry, the kind you know will stain clear bracket bands, but I dont care because ITS NEARLY OVER!!
It really does feel like I'm at the end of a looong journey, I don't think about what I eat now because of my jaw I just eat! The last restriction I have is my braces because I don't like eating anything you have to bite into when I'm out the house because I get food stuck everywhere so tomorrow I'm deffinitley getting a burger and biting into it like crazy.
Here's some new pics that will very soon be old pics of when I had braces. Thank you to everyone, I survived!
(Oh and i had a haircut, decided a change was needed)