Hi everyone! Well, I made it…officially 5 weeks post-op double jaw and palate surgery.
With Dr. Gunson morning of surgery
I checked in The Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital at 6AM for surgery scheduled at 7:30AM.
Well, that time came and went and Dr. Gunson came back to my room with some very bizarre news.
During the first two days of pre-op, he takes lots of measurements and scans and sends them to a company located in Denver that prints the needs surgical splints. This company then overnights the splints on two different couriers in case one gets lost. Well, the first courier’s splint was lost at the Santa Barbara airport. The second courier, FedEx, promised delivery by 9AM so my surgery was pushed until then.
Fast forward to 9:30AM and FedEx shows the splint was just checked in Ontario, Canada. What! So, Dr. Gunson calls the company for special authorization to 3D print the surgical splint in his office. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
At 12:30PM, six and a half hours after stepping into the hospital, I was wheeled into the O.R.
At this moment I started to wonder what I was getting myself into…
I was met by Dr. Funk, anesthesiologist, who started to push a medication through my IV. All of a sudden, I felt very relaxed, my vision faded, and I have no memory of what happened next.
I was intubated through my nose, eyelids were stitched shut, and a screw was placed between my eyebrows as a reference point for measurements. Then, the five-hour surgery began.
Once I was in recovery, Dr. Gunson came to speak with my family. He said my lower jaw was immature and that of a 16-year-old. The mandible did not want to break and the bone was malleable. Because of this, he had to spend quite a bit of time finessing my lower jaw for the breaks to occur. He found holes in the bone of my upper jaw which he packed with extra bone grafts. It also took a while to find spots to place my screws and plates as the bone was very thin and fragile. Once my jaw was moved to the correct position, a jawline and chin appeared, but my cheeks became too fat. So, he had to cut out fat from my cheeks to make things aesthetically pleasing. Overall, he was pleased with the surgery and outcome.
My jaws were moved out a whopping 16mm and up 10mm to close the open bite!!
My titanium plates, screws and perfect bite 😱 😁
This was the only point my teeth came into contact with each other before surgery.
These x-rays and bite scan show just how severe my bite was. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it feels to finally be able to close my mouth after 2 years!!
A few hours after surgery…
The next evening I was discharged from the hospital and things started heading south…quickly.
Bone pain is one of the worst and most eerie pains you can feel. It encompasses your whole body and is absolutely unbearable. I lived for my morphine shots until I was discharged from the hospital and given liquid opioids. Once I was home, my body would only tolerate small amounts of water and ginger ale. Well, a person cannot survive solely off opioids and soda so by day 4, I became enveloped in horrible nausea and could not keep even a drop of liquid down and wound up in the ER day 5 post-op. Back in the hospital, they gave me multiple bags of IV fluids, anti-nausea and pain meds. My pain was so out of control that I needed three doses of both Dilaudid and Zofran just to get some relief.
Back in the ER…
After that AWFUL week, things started to get better.
For the first two weeks, I was unable to speak or open my mouth AT ALL. At 14 days post-op, my bands were removed for 15 minutes and I was allowed to brush my front teeth for the first time with a baby toothbrush.
Currently, I have to change my bands, stretch, and speak for 1 hour three times a day. The remaining 21 hours I am banded shut.
I have two skeletal hooks that attach to my bone and surgical bands. The one in my maxilla is a screw and the one in my mandible is a wire and hook. They are awful but come out at 18 weeks post-op.
I can open my mouth 22mm which is about halfway. I am back on my 20 pill cocktail which will continue for another year. My diet has been liquid and will remain that for the next 4 weeks. That has been tough and leaves me in a constant state of hunger and nausea. I am numb from my eyes down and now have nerve pain as they begin to regenerate. Among other things, I cannot blow my nose, sniff or lower my head below my heart until I am 9 weeks post-op.
Last week, I was cleared to leave Santa Barbara and head home. Dr. Gunson is very pleased with my bite and healing progress so far. I have to go to Denver weekly to see Dr. Lindeman (ortho) and I’ll fly back to California in 4 weeks. I still can’t believe this surgery is officially in the past and my teeth touch! Each time I look in the mirror I can’t help but smile at that closed bite!
This picture is a before and after of my profile. I cannot believe the drastic change in my face while the bite opened…totally unrecognizable. The post-surgical picture still has lots of swelling…anxious to see the final result in the months to come.
Thank you for following along with me on my journey to surgery and for your continued prayers and support!❤️