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.

32 Comments

  1. Hi, your blog is like my lifeline right now. I’m having the surgery in 17 days and am kinda freaking out because the last time I went under I woke up shaking. I was just wondering how you managed to stay to optimistic pre and post op because I can’t for the life of me get rid of the thoughts of all the things that could go wrong.

    • Syerra, while the surgery can certainly be daunting, I was actually really excited to have it done because I knew the outcome would be beneficial. Try to focus on how you’ll be able to breathe easier, chew with less effort, and smile more brightly. Also, you get to drink milkshakes for weeks! =)

  2. Coby Tumlinson

    May 28, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Laci,

    If you found this blog as I did, you will be comforted to know that other people have been through the same thing you are about to endure, and now we are all happy we went through with the procedure. As long as you can power through the discomfort and the restrictions on sleeping/ eating you will be fine. The first week is definitely the worst, after that it gets a lot better!!

    Cheers,

    Coby

  3. Hi Graham,
    Thank you for this website and 4 years later I see you’re still around answering questions and leaving comments. A little about me I’m 35 years old *yes I’m sooo old* compare to everyone here that’s having this done. I will be having this double surgery tomorrow and I’m anxious and scared at the same time. Not knowing what to expect – but reading your blog gives me an idea what’s next…I just wanted to say thank you again for putting this together. I do want to capture my daily if not weekly progress as well specially for people around my age!

  4. Thank you so much Graham 🙂

  5. opps sorry, I meant how long was it until you could resume to your normal activities (like going out in public, or taking walks.)I would like to take some light walks during my recovery just to keep my strength up. Is that normally ok to do with this surgery or is their to much force from walking?

    Thank you!

    • Stephanie, I would highly recommend taking walks right from the first day. They provide you with exercise, fresh air, and will do great things when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude. As for going out in public, I was pretty much a homebody for approximately the first month. After that, my speech had returned enough that I could hang out with friends again. It will go by quite quickly, though, so no need to fret! =)

  6. Hi Graham,
    I am actually having a class 3 Malocclusion surgery in 6 weeks, (kinda similar to yours) and I was wondering how long you were physically led up? Also was your jaw wired shut? They are cutting my top and bottom jaw and bringing back my bottom and forward my top. Im actally really excited to have this surgery, I have been waiting 6 years for it and two rounds of braces. (10-13YO)1st set -off- (17-18yi) (jaw was not mature enough the first time ehhh.) Sorry kinda long haha

    Thank you!

    • Steph,

      My jaw was held shut by way of really tight elastics. You can expect to have your jaw help closed as this is normal for the first month or so following surgery.

      You’ll have to explain what you mean by “physically led up” so I can answer that question.

      I’m glad to hear you finally get to take on this operation and put it behind you! =)

  7. Hi Jess, My surgery is also the same day as yours Friday, May 9. Good luck with yours.

  8. I just found this and I can’t wait to read more and more. My surgery is next week on Friday. I find it so interesting reading your experiences and other peoples fears/experiences. I too am really concerned about losing weight. It’s taken me a long time to gain weight (so I have been hitting the gym and eating more this month to try and help myself out)

    I have my Best friends wedding 6 weeks after surgery (she has also had this surgery but years ago) How do you think I will go dancing? (if you are even still about this blog as I notice the last comment is almost a year ago now)

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Jess, you should be able to dance with no problem at your friend’s wedding. You’ll still be a bit swollen at that time, but you’ll have your energy back by then. Enjoy the party!

  9. Hi! I just want to say thanks for posting your experience. I’m getting operated on my lower jaw on Tuesday to fix my underbite and crossbite and I am seriously freaking out! I’m going in solo and the doctor didn’t go into too much detail on how it’s going to go or how to recover. So finding your blog was a help on epic proportions. Your before and after pictures were pretty reassuring too!

    • Valerie, I’m always happy to provide a bit of reassurance for people like yourself. Be brave and remember that this will all be in the past in just a few short months!

  10. Graham thanks for that I am just trying not to panic too much I worry a lot I hate needles I hate blood work I just need to know what too look forward too the most maybe gifts idk I need to do a bolog like you do you have a Facebook so I can talk to you more about the surgery I am sorry I am bugging you. Wait did they make you get up the next day
    Thanks
    Bethany

    • Bethany, I encourage you to blog about your experience. During those first few days when you have difficulty communicating, writing can be of great help. You’ll want to get up out of bed and start walking around by the second day. Laying in bed all day is boring! =)

  11. My surgery is next Friday

  12. Hi Graham,
    I just read about your jaw surgery I am getting double jaw surgery I am really scared. How long will I be on clear liquids? I was wanting to take my own pillow with me to the hospital? I think my mom is going to stay with me over night and my boyfriend and my dad. I need to know if you we’re scared?

    Thanks
    Bethany

    • Bethany, the actual surgery will go very smoothly for you. You’ll be put to sleep and when you wake up, you’ll already be on Day 1 of recovery! It sounds like you have some great people are love you very much, so try to appreciate this blessing. And just think… three months from today, you’ll be smiling all day every day! =)

  13. OMG the bum thing was completely right! Although I think that was mostly due to the fact that I had to get all my meds through shots in the bum… yeah once I woke up after surgery my IV stopped working. They tried poking me about 11 times afterwards 6 in one arm and 5 in the other to no avail, my veins were just too small and kept collapsing. So it was fun bum shots every few hours! I am now at day 4 and am also thinking of making a blog of my recovery. I think it’ll make it go by faster, since at the moment I just wanna lie in bed until I wake up all better…

    • Allie, I find it amusing every single time somebody understands what I mean when I speak of some of the more awkward pains experienced after this operation. Enjoy the forced rest and you’ll be back in action soon!

  14. Hi Graham. I’m about to have the same kind of surgery that you had( T -25) and I was really happy to find your blog. I’ve started to write my own blog(in french) and was wondering if I could put a link to your site. I think it’s really complete and encouraging. Your before/after photos are great. My surgeon don’t have the software to simulate the operation so I have no idea what it’ll look like for me. But seeing your before/after photos is reassuring. I also liked all your tips 😉 I hope my blog will be as popular and helpful.

    • Sonia, I wish you all the best with the first few days of your recovery! It sounds like you’ve done your research and know what to expect, so you’ll do great! Also, feel free to link away! =)

  15. Really!?
    Okaay i was so worried i thought i was going to end up looking like a stick! ><
    But thanks(:

  16. OMG im getting jaw surgery, im just not sure if its double or just on top, but i know it has to do with my teeth on top, anyways i have the appointment for the appointment in december!
    anyways, im really worried about the weightloss.. BECAUSE im really skinny &i dont like it at all. so i really dont want to lose anymore weight because then stupid people start making comments & say im anorexic or bulimic or something, but its really not my fault i CANNOT gain weight i dont know why but i just cant!
    is there ANY way that i could stop from losing alot weight?

    • Hi Ana. If you’re already skinny, you don’t need to worry about losing too much weight. The only reason I lost so much is because I was going to the gym and intentionally gaining weight beforehand. Your body will hover close to its natural weight throughout the recovery, give or take 5–10 lbs. You’ll quickly gain that back as soon as you begin eating again, though. =)

  17. Hi Graham! I’m actually getting this surgery in about 4 weeks! This has helped me so much! I actually have to get double jaw surgery too. I’m so glad you made a blog because I really had no idea what I was getting into! Lol do you have any advice before surgery?

    • Hi Elizabeth!

      My only advice prior to surgery is to think positively the whole way through, make sure you get out for walks in the sunshine each and every day, drink as many fluids as possible, and find a good TV series to watch.

      Enjoy the next month and don’t worry about the operation—it’s going to go as planned. =)

  18. Hi Aziza!

    That’s crazy that you’re going to a different country to have the surgery performed. That sounds so important!

    I hope your recovery goes amazingly well!

  19. hey! 😀
    ahh I’m getting lower jaw surgery+ genioplasty (I don’t think it’s as severe as double jaw surgery, I guess I’m kinda..lucky? haha) this month and they’re sending me to Venezuela since there are no surgeons here that do this kind of stuff(Aruba). I’m veeerry exited haha since I’ve had my braces for 3 1/2 years (the orthodontist said “aww you’ll need braces for only 1 or max 2 years”…so untrue ;___;). Well anyways thaaanks your blog is very informative and entertaining haha cant wait until i can bite right into an apple or not having to cover my mouth when I eat haha.

  20. Hi Yalda,

    I wouldn’t worry about it just yet. It sounds like you’ve got ample time to get into the proper emotional state for this operation.

    Let me know when you head in for surgery. =)

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