Day 4: It’s Getting Tingly

  • Pain: 4/10
  • Inconvenience: 12/10

Even though they told me I would experience the worst pain in the first few days at the hospital, they lied. My pain is finally starting to increase. This is a good thing though, because it means feeling is returning to my face. So bring on the pain! Note to self: Fill painkiller prescriptions today.

I’m beginning to get tingly sensations in my lower lip. It keeps quivering on me.

Yesterday, I managed to eat 6 Ensure drinks (1800 calories, wooo!), some warm chicken broth (I was craving salt) and drank 2L of water. I’ve got to say… I’m becoming mighty tired of chocolate supplements. I cannot wait for the day when I can suck through a straw again! Who knew one of the best things in life was the ability to use a straw?

I’ve quickly learned to take naps the moment I’m tired because it hurts immensely to yawn. Every time I nap, I seem to have dreams of drinking from a glass or eating with a spoon. The human mind is somewhat cruel in that regard.

I remembered that I’m supposed to be applying heat to my face 4x per day for about 30 minutes each time. Since I can’t just tape a hotpack to my face, I rigged up some fancy headband thing to hold the pack in place. It involves a luggage clip, a towel and a belt–quite a feat of engineering, I must admit!

I’ve also realized I can’t shave because, well, I can’t feel my face. So I’ve opted to growing a sweet “fatman’s beard” while I’m under the weather here.

One last thing: I can’t watch anything too funny because it really hurts to laugh, so I’m trying to be as bored as I can so I don’t have to move my face in any way.

And since I’ve had this surgery, I’ve had several of my long distance friends from Calgary and Winnipeg let me know that they’ll be passing through town in the next few weeks. Oh dear friends, why must you decide to come to Edmonton now? You know if you see me, all you’ll be getting is a drooly hug and some awkward chit-chat, right? We could have a better conversation via email!

So, in conclusion, I can’t watch anything funny, I can’t yawn, I’m still drinking through a syringe, I despise chocolate, I’m craving chicken noodle soup and any kind of meat, and now that my pain is getting worse, I’m finding it difficult to read, sleep or concentrate on pretty much anything.

But I’m still happy, because I know this is only temporary and that there are plenty of good meals to be eaten once I’m all healed up!

Oh, and thank you to my friend who kindly sent me a text today inviting me to the Buck-A-Burger party at the university. *grumble*

30 Comments

  1. Hi Graham, just wanted to say how comprehensive and well written your blog is. I’ve read many of these and yours reaches out to me most since your physical profile and age is the same as mine, and your surgery experience is quite similar to mine (except no splint for me). That, and the content is good 🙂 My mum and I read your day by day postings together and find that at least so far, it tells me what to expect. At this stage I’ve lost 6lbs, but I didn’t bulk up pre-op like you and went in at my normal 180lbs. Loss of musculature is unavoidable but I’d like to keep that to a minimum. Le sigh… Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for making this blog, keeping it up, and for replying to people who post on here. You deserve some sort of award for service to orthognathic surgery recovery patients!

    • Jonathan, thanks for the kind words, mate! I know how comforting it can be to find a personal retelling you can relate to. Take care! =)

  2. Hey, Graham! Today has been much better. The nauseous feeling has dissipated much after throwing up quite a lot. Not pleasant, but sometimes it’s the only way to feel better. A lovely green/blue tinge has appeared on the right side of my face today. Oh joy. :/ I’ve been also feeling a little down lately since it’s been raining out, but luckily for me “Whose Line Is It Anyway” started a new season tonight!! I LOVE this show. It hurts to laugh, but it’s so worth it. I’m taking a mugshot a day like you, and thinking of starting a blog about jaw surgery for my own record as well. Finding your blog has been a blessing! Thank you for responding to me!

  3. I’m going on day 3…or maybe it’s day 4 (every day’s blurring together)…of post-op. I managed to get out and about with my dad and went to see my horse today, but nothing seems to be helping with the pain. The pain meds make me feel sick, and so does the “food” (liquids) I’m drinking. I constantly feel like I have acid reflux, or like I’m going to throw up. Anything I can take to help ease the tension of me possibly throwing up? I’m also starting to feel claustrophobic which is troublesome when you have to have things on your head to help with pain/swelling. I can’t wait for these first few days to be over!

    • AJ, these first two weeks are going to be quite frustrating when it comes to eating, breathing, and general energy. If you’re feeling nauseous, I would adjust the foods you’re eating. Try surviving on just water and smoothies for a few days and see if that helps. As for feeling claustrophobic, there’s no real remedy for that except time itself. Your sinuses will begin to clear up over the next 7–10 days, so try to be patient and I assure you life will be a lot better soon!

  4. Thanks Graham. I can actually drink a bit from a glass now and I can swallow the pills if I chop them in half. Slept better last night and there is more and more tingling everyday. One day at a time!

  5. Well I am on day 4 post-op and I must say this has been the worst thing I have ever experienced…including labor twice! I had read Graham’s blog over and over again and thought I was prepared for it all, but until the actual moment comes I don’t know if you can be ready for this. The surgery went well and the first night in the hospital wasn’t bad although my blood pressure was staying pretty low. The second night I actually slept better but I woke up with so much pressure in my face, which I’m contributing to the fact my nose was so plugged up with blood. So I have had two nights at home now, awake every 2-3 hrs at night and I am having a hard time taking the liquid clindamyacin, because it actually tastes like dirty diapers! I can’t swallow the pain pills and the Tylenol is also gross! I haven’t been able to drink much of anything else because it does take so much energy just to get a bottle of ensure down. I’m going to try to do better with this because I know I need these nutrients to heal. Thanks for letting me vent!

    • Terry, everything you’re experiencing actually sounds pretty standard, believe it or not. These first two weeks will likely be some of the most frustrating days of your life, but I promise it gets much better after that. Hang in there, make sure you get outside for walks a few times each day (sunshine and fresh air heals, I swear!), and you’ll look back on this moment with a smile soon!

  6. Awwww, Kathleen – so sorry to hear you’re in pain. Just remember, it has to get worse before it gets better, and what you’re experiencing is very normal. I went home on day three from the hospital, and I thought, “Huh, this isn’t so bad”. On day 7, I was on the floor, sobbing, and begging (yes, literally) my husband to take me back to the hospital because they took such good care of me. I hurt, I couldn’t breathe and I really thought that this could never, ever get better.

    It DOES…I promise. Day four is very early, so don’t get discouraged. It’s great that you’re being creative and blending foods, we did the same thing here. I ate everything that my husband was making for dinners – hamburgers, pizza, pasta, curry, etc. You will heal faster, too, if you’re able to get these nutrients into your body. So, keep it up, just make sure that things are completed liquified so that you don’t have chunks getting caught. Beef and chicken broth should be your best friend. I’m more than happy to give you some of the “recipes” that we used here for some ideas.

    I’m surprised you aren’t banded, but I guess all docs do things differently. But the banding is to keep your jaws aligned. You mentioned Tuesday – are they intending to put bands on then? If so, it will likely feel better once you have them on. Right now, you have movement in your jaw because there’s nothing keeping them in place. The elastics will help to keep things aligned and it won’t be such a chore to keep things in place.

    I guess the moral of this rambling post is that things WILL get better. It will just take some time and patience. I know it’s tough (Graham and I had essentially the same surgery, just backwards – his jaws were forward, mine were back). You’re early in, so give it a little time and it will improve. Let your pain meds be your friend, don’t try to talk and get a lot of rest, it will help your healing. I’ll be thinking of you. 🙂

  7. Kathleen Brodie

    April 7, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Hi Graham,
    I wrote on here many months before my surgery to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog and I just wanted to write again. I am on day 4 post-op of double jaw surgery and genioplasty. However, I do not have any bands on my teeth and I haven’t come across anyone else who not banded shut in some way right after surgery – I am already in so much pain that the idea of ADDING elastics this upcoming Tuesday is terrifying to me…seems like my swelling and pain is just getting worse and worse! Plus, I just started actually drinking some calories last night…had to take matters into my own hands because being served just broth wasn’t cutting it calorie-wise. So, blended vegan meatballs, broth and tomato soup is what resulted lol.
    But, I have read your blog over and over, and I know that I really must give things time to heal and improve 🙁
    Hope you’re doing well and that you’re still travelling the world!

  8. Hello there Graham I am day 34 post op for double jaw surgery as well as a genioplasty, and I also had a titanium implant put in in the left side of my lower jaw due to asymmetry on both sides of my face. I was in an awful lot of pain but slowly it has been going down. (It’s just seems like it’s taking forever!) To many of the staff’s surprise while I was in the hospital I didn’t seem to swell up nearly as much as most patients they have come across. Anyhow reading your blogs have been very helpful and informative. It feels to good to know that I’m not alone in this.

    • Noreen, that’s great to hear that you enjoyed minimal swelling. I hope you’re back to eating decent meals and are on the road to resuming normal life very soon. =)

  9. Thanks! I’m at Day 10 now, and feeling much better. It’s surprising, though. I feel like I’m not doing much at all, but I get tired so quickly. Must be all that phantom energy going toward healing. It was a godsend that the surgeon decided to widen my upper jaw on the right side only. I have less swelling, numbness, and stiffness on the left side.

    Definitely sleeping, “eating” (drinking), and breathing easier now. Everyone else in my family has a cold, so I’m trying to avoid picking that up. If I do, there’s always NyQuil. I stopped taking the codeine because it doesn’t play nice with my stomach. Children’s ibuprofen seems to be helping with the pain, which is mostly in my jaw joints. It’s quite intense. With the elastics, muscle stiffness, and probably my own paranoia about messing up my jaw position, there’s this constant clenching feeling in my face.

    My surgeon has me removing the elastics (there are three of them holding my teeth shut – I have a bite splint, also) 3x a day for an hour at a time, so I use that opportunity to brush my teeth. Still probably not cleaning them to perfection, but it’s something!

    Plugging away…looking forward to drinking from a cup and/or with a straw. Probably another week and I’ll be able to do that. 🙂

  10. Hi Graham!

    Well, here I am, Day 4 Post-Op. Thanks so much for your blog. It’s one of my go-to sites since I started preparing for my double jaw surgery (last week, 1/30/13). My upper jaw was widened on the right side, and my lower jaw was moved forward about 7mm.

    Honestly, it’s really, really hard right now. I’ve given birth twice, so I know a little bit about pain and discomfort. This is easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with, and never before has mental attitude played a greater role in how things progress.

    I’ve been battling intense nausea from basically starving from several days of being on nothing but clear liquids; congestion/swelling, which makes it fell like someone is holding a pillow over my face (can’t blow my nose, as you know!); pain/numbness; and an emotional wall which I fell perilously close to. A crying fit would be awful right now, because it’ll make me more congested and I can barely breathe as it is! They gave me steroids in the hospital, and this is just about the time when those wear off, which contributes to feeling low.

    All that said, trying to stay upbeat (or at the very least, emotionally neutral), take all my meds, and get as many calories in as possible. I didn’t count, but I might have hit close to 800 calories today. Trying to focus on the fact that this is temporary, and I’ll be feeling better soon. Just one day (hour, minute) at a time.

    I see my surgeon again on Tuesday. The surgery itself went well, and though I look grotesque on the outside (I’ve had a lot of swelling and bruising), my last x-ray looked really good. He told my husband (who is pulling double-duty as my “nurse” and shepherding our two kids, ages 8 and 5) that during the operation, he didn’t see many of my nerves, which means that the bones separated outside the plane of the nerve (that big one that goes all through the lower jaw). There are no guarantees, but that may bode well in terms of avoiding permanent numbness.

    Been watching lots of movies and drinking lots of water! I’ve written a few emails and am sooo tired from just doing that!

    Please feel free to email me directly at maryellin_brooks@yahoo.com.

    All the best,
    Mary-Ellin

    • Mary-Ellin, many people fail to understand when I explain that the most difficult part of the recovery is the emotional stress it brings upon the subject. It sounds like you have good people taking care of you at the moment (and thank goodness for that, considering you have 2 children to care for as well!). I hope you’re able to get more food in soon to counter that terrible feeling of unquenchable hunger. Take care, stay strong, and you’ll be back to normal soon, I promise! =)

  11. Hay I just got surgery 2 days ago n im havin hard time taking the neds cuz its so nasty any in takes? And im reallyb swollen bad

    • Ashlee, these first few weeks are going to be quite frustrating, but I promise there is light at the end of the tunnel. Try mixing your medicine with juice or yogurt or anything you’re able to drink. As for the swelling, that simply requires time to go away. Patience, my friend, patience! Make sure to go for walks every single day and keep yourself occupied with television and sleeping. =)

  12. Dear Graham,
    I spend most of my time reading your blog, which helps me try to forget the inconveniences which come hand in hand with the double jaw surgery I did 3 days ago. Good to know that others are experiencing similar situations. Today’s pain inconveniences are a bit more bearable than that of yesterday. I spent last night wiping the intensive blood coming out from my nose and which I could feel going down through my throat; this basically freaked me out. My eyes puffed up and the swelling in my cheeks is rising to my eyes as pockets underneath them are beginning to form. My surgeon told me to apply ice the first week to help ease the swelling. But sleeping with freezing packs on my cheeks is just too uncomfortable! So do you think it’s fine if I just lose the ice packs even though some blues stains are showing on my face. Also,when I lay my head on the pillow to sleep, some spasms occur at the back of my lower jaw which wakes me up abruptly. Is that normal? FInally, I haven’t seen the perfect occlusion of my teeth yet as I still notice some overbite on the left part. Will the orthodontist take care of this?
    Thanks so much for creating this wonderful blog which I assume is helping many overcome their recovery obstacles 🙂

    • Lara, I remember what it was like during those initial few days. You’re on a good path, though, especially considering you’ve noticed that each day is a little better than the one previous.

      Day 3 is when the swelling peaks, so it’s expected to be the worst day of them all. I think it’s okay to forego the ice packs as long as you continue applying heat packs to your face several times each day (and definitely when you sleep). The heat should sooth some of the pain you’re experiencing.

      Having your jaw spasm is perfectly normal. It happens as a result of your nerves reawakening and your bones trying to move back to where they would naturally rest. These will last for 4–6 weeks, but should go away after that. They’ll also occur at lower frequencies as time goes on.

      Any remaining gaps or misalignments in your teeth should be fixed by your braces during the few months following your recovery. Make sure you don’t stress about these things right now because, until the swelling goes away (a few months from now), your appearance will be different than it truly is.

      Stay strong and keep your mind occupied during these next few days. You’re doing great!

  13. Hi from Singapore! I just did a double jaw surgery + a chin procedure 4 days ago, and read that you’ve been using heat packs? The guys at the hospital told me to use ice packs instead… wondering what’s the difference and if it would help in reducing the swelling…

    Besides not being able to chew food, I’m actually doing pretty well, blending up almost everything I feel like having! 😛

    • Hi Daphne,

      I was told to use ice packs for the first 4 days, and then heat packs following that. I believe ice packs help keep the initial swelling under control while heat packs sooth your face so that you can sleep.

      I’m going to be in Singapore in February of next year. It’s a small world!

  14. I’ll ask him on Monday and let you know. Thanks a ton for the site; it was easily the most useful source of info about the operation/aftermath outside of my physician!

  15. Syringes? What are those? Been forbidden to use them by my surgeon and was ordered to drink from a cup immediately and am on Day 4 and am praying for the sweet release of death. While I have faith in my surgeon (supposed to be known around the US), not seeing anyone else who couldn’t at least use a syringe is a bit off-putting. Then again they did move my jaw 10mm! First follow up is on Monday so we’ll see!

    • I wonder why your surgeon is against syringes, Don. I’ve never heard of that stance, but hopefully your swelling dissipates enough to allow you to comfortably drink from a cup very soon. I’d be interested to hear what your surgeon’s reason is for boycotting syringes during the first few weeks.

  16. Glad to hear it was better. You’ll have good days and bad. I remember, at 10 days post surgery, sitting on the floor with a personal humidifier plastered to my face, sobbing and begging my husband to take me back to the hospital. I was a mess. LOL Unlike some others, I didn’t mind the Ensure at all, and since it was the only thing I could stomach at first, I drank a lot of it. After about 2 weeks, my husband started making me the same dinners he was having – you’d be amazed at what you can make AND have it taste good. If you want some ideas, feel free to let me know and I’ll shoot you an email. 🙂 I can’t help you about the liquid antibiotic because I had pills that I had to crush up and mix with a liquid. To this day, I can’t even stomach the thought of blue Gatorade because I only associate it with meds. Ask your doc if you can dilute them, that’s your best (and safest) bet.

  17. thanks Aimee! it was better today, I managed to drink a whole bottle of ensure and 20 oz of water. I don’t know how anyone manages 2 whole bottles in one sitting! Btw, does anyone know if I can dilute my liquid antibiotic, then just consume the entire bigger mixture? Asking because it is so gross, I gag and choke every time 🙁

  18. Kristen – it will get better! Hang in there. It’s been just over 2 years since my surgery and I still remember like it was yesterday. Give yourself time and go slowly. The first 10 days are the worst and though some of the recovery is painstakingly slow, it DOES get better. I know it’s tough to work with the syringe, but you’ve got to make that attempt to keep those nutrients in your body. Make Ensure your friend. You need those nutrients to heal. (((HUGS)))

  19. end of day 3 for me and I hate to confess that I haven’t consumed more than 100 calories today. I just got home from the hospital, double jaw, and banded shut. I get so wiped from using the syringe, it’s hard to stick with it. I need a break and (labored attempted) big breaths after every few swallows!

  20. 1800 calories this early is pure insanity!
    im really surprised you lost so kuch weight.
    Day 4 for me is going much much better, although initially i was somewhat worried because ive been able to feel pain in pretty much all of my face from day 1 except for partd of my bottom lip…
    im really glad ive got other people’s expreienced here too because theh got me thriugh a verh rough first few days, but its all easier frombhere on out 🙂

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