Day 0: Surgery

So today was the big day. I live in Edmonton, so of course Mother Nature opted for a late-March blizzard which made my morning walk all but enjoyable. Still, ~15 blocks in the cold with sharp snow blowing into your eyes is nothing to complain about, right? Right.

I don’t have a picture for today. Those will begin once I get home and have a webcam to capture these oh-so-wonderful mugshots.

Anyways, I arrived at the hospital on time, put on one of those provocative gowns, failed to tie it up properly in the back, got an IV put in, made some chit-chat with the porters and was wheeled on up to the surgical ward. My surgeon came out, shook my hand, answered my few final questions, and then walked away, politely snapping on a pair of rubber gloves like he was about to do a cavity search at an airport security terminal as he did so.

I was then wheeled into the surgerical theater–#2, to be exact–and greeted by about 15 people. Anesthesiologists and their residents, doctors and their residents, my surgeon and his assistants, surgical techs–there were so many titles being thrown around, I became dazed about halfway through the introductions.

“We’re all here for you, Graham.”

If that’s not reassuring, I don’t know what is.

Here’s what they told me during all the appointments leading up to my surgery: “Everything is going to work out just fine.”

Here’s what they told me 5 seconds before putting me to sleep: “This procedure should take approximately 4.5 hours to complete. You’ll have a breathing tube inserted into your right nostril which will run down your throat, so you may have a scratchy windpipe for the next few days. Good luck.”

Here’s what they told me after the surgery: “We ran into a few complications, so the operation took 6 hours. We also had to insert a catheter into you, so it may hurt to relieve yourself these next few days. Oh, you’ll also be eating through a syringe for a minimum of 2 weeks.”

The news got progressively worse, right up to the mention of that God-forsaken catheter. The pain I experienced while trying to pee for the first time after that surgery was like nothing I’ve ever experienced (and remember, I once shattered my foot into 7 pieces after a graceful Superman dive off the roof of an elementary school). It led me to 2 conclusions:

  1. I never want to contract an STD.
  2. I never want to get old.

And now for the short talk on pain. There was virtually none… in my face. I was numb from my eyes right down to my chin and, as a result, was drooling everywhere. However, every muscle and joint in my body hurt. Apparently when you’re asleep, your body still feels pain. So if the surgery is extremely painful, your body responds in its natural way by clenching every muscle it has control over. The most painful part? My bum. Imagine clenching your buttcheeks together for 6 hours straight. You can’t, because if you’re conscious, you won’t be able to focus for that long. When you’re asleep, it’s another story. Let me tell you something: it will leave you in a state that absolutely inhibits you from sitting, bending, or moving in general for quite some time.

In any regard, everything turned out okay in the end and, after a few shots of morphine, I have a feeling I’ll be falling asleep in a timely manner tonight. That is, if the nurses stop interrupting me every hour to check on my vitals.

8 Comments

  1. @max, it happens, but not nearly as often as it use to. A relative of mine got screws put in his leg because of an accident in the late ’90s and would get pulled aside, but airport security is getting accustom to just letting people with plates and screws on their bones through with a double check to make sure it is only that.

  2. hi, I was just curious to know… when you walk though an airport security system do you get pulled aside/ the alarm goes off because of the titanium screws?… thanks 🙂

  3. @Christa, have you ever heard of a water pick? It really helped with my oral hygiene in the first few weeks after I got out of the hospital. The best way I can describe it is as a dental power washer, just light and small enough to be safely used on your mouth over the sink. It’ll be easier than flossing, especially when he first gets out and probably will be so tired that flossing is more than he wants to do.

  4. Hey! My boyfriend is going in for double jaw surgery and I’m trying to put together a carekit for him. Any suggestions on what he will need or will make him feel better? I got him books and comics and soup/smoothie recipes and some applesauce for when he can handle it. I’m looking for more things I can add to it. Any suggestions will be much appreciated!

  5. Hey Graham!
    Well. I am having this exact jaw surgery in just 11 days. I also have a class 3 malocclusion (a.k.a underbite), which is what you had. I am extremely afraid of having this surgery, which is why I turned to the internet. (Smart move.) I am generally not a fan of blood and needles, which makes this even harder for me. I had all four wisdom teeth out in February, which gave me a preview of what I’m in for. In fact, it makes me feel even more jittery and appetite-less. The wisdom teeth weren’t so bad and I recovered very quickly. I am hoping this surgery won’t be too bad either. However, your blog scared me back into reality- as soon as I realized what I am in for. In just 11 days. (I think the catheter gave me the shivers.) I got my surgical hooks yesterday and ended up sobbing as I walked out of the orthodontist’s office. It just really hit me that this surgery is not as far away as I had previously thought, and that I literally have less than two weeks. The best part? I am 15 years old, which is the youngest age they would do this procedure at. However, I am ready to have a beautiful smile and no braces. Thank you for reading and inspiring/preparing me!

    • Julia, the most important thing to remember is that in a little over 3 months, this will all be over and you’ll never have to deal with it again. Try your best to remain positive, and if you need to talk about anything at all during recovery, feel free to email me personally. =)

  6. I got my double jaw surgery on Tuesday, the 10th. Figuring out the right mix of food and prescriptions has been difficult, along with how long it’s been taking anastysthea (spelling?) to filter out of my system. But I did manage to punch my mother in the gut 10 minutes out for trying to take a photo with her phone before passing out again.

    • Maddy, happy to hear you were able to avoid having a photo of your swollen face released on the Internet. At least you can consider that a small victory during this frustrating period of recovery, right? =)

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