Day 14: Kermit the Frog

  • Pain: 3/10
  • Inconvenience: 6/10

I’m hoping my lips will one day be proportional to the rest of my face again.

I went back to work today. It was exhausting. Allow me to describe my job to you:

  • I sit in a really comfortable chair all day
  • I attempt to break servers located all over the globe (we call it “Quality Engineering”–the idea is, if we break it before the customer has a chance to, we can remedy those weaknesses and ship a more robust product)

I haven’t had to focus for more than a few hours here and there for the past couple weeks, so today completely defeated me. I had a headache for the better part of the day and my jaw kept trying to break out of my face. I blame my headache on these junky old CRT monitors we still have in the office. Why we don’t have LCDs is beyond me–I’m almost at the point where I’m willing to buy one myself just so I don’t have to stare at a device that still derives meaning from the term “refresh rate”.

I sent a building-wide email when I arrived this morning about how I was unable to speak, just so people wouldn’t think I was being rude. I guess I accidentally included my boss’s bosses from the company’s headquarters down on the east coast of the United States as well, because I received a few “Get Well Soon” emails from people I’ve never met or spoken to. I should really learn mailing lists before I use them. It reminds me of the time when I sent a random email to all 4000+ engineering students at my university a few years back when I was trying to set a mail server up. And they say I’m not professional… My email seems to have worked though, because most of my colleagues just gave me approving nods when they bumped into me. Success.

I ate alone today, upstairs in the relaxation room that nobody uses. I sat down on a comfortable leather couch and proceeded to drink 2 Ensure chocolate drinks and a glass of water. I didn’t want to subject my coworkers to all my slurping noises. I think I’ll be eating up there for awhile, or at least until I feel dignified enough to join the others. I was starving throughout the entire day, though, so I’m going to have to start bringing blended Chunky soups and heating them up.

You sound like Kermit the Frog.

I moved back home yesterday and I must say: I quite enjoy the independence. I think my roommate is finding it a little awkward to have me back without the luxury of simple communication, though. He told me I sound like Kermit the Frog when I speak. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement from Donald Duck or not.

I have big news, though, circa last night when I finally decided to boycott the syringe lifestyle! I can drink from a cup now! It’s slow and requires unwavering concentration, but it works! I haven’t used a syringe in 24 hours now! Granted, it’s still incredibly difficult. I have an exercise for you, just so you can spend a moment in my shoes:

  • Go fill a cup with your favorite drink
  • Stick a ball of rolled up paper towel in the roof of your mouth to simulate my friendly splint
  • Bite together as hard as you possibly can
  • Now attempt to drink whatever is in your cup without parting your teeth, without using your tongue, and without the ability to suck the liquid into the back of your mouth

It’s hard, isn’t it? If it still seems easy, you’re doing it wrong.

I’ve been getting a lot of tingly sensations and sharp little pains shooting through my lower jaw and down through my chin. I guess that means certain sections of the nerves are regaining consciousness.

I was also feeling a little cold last night, so I lit a few candles to warm my room up. I forgot, however, that I couldn’t blow them out because my mouth is forced shut. I quickly learned that if you position a candle properly, you can exhaust it with air from your nose. Noted.

Lastly, let’s chat about my sleep last night. I was dead to the world from 1-6 am–that’s 5 hours straight! A new record! However, I had that silly dream where you show up at work naked and you’ve forgotten all your keys at home so you can’t find your clothes. I guess I must have been nervous to come back. No worries though, I definitely remembered to wear pants once I was actually awake.

19 Comments

  1. Day 14 here.

    I had a really tough elastics adjustment last week that caused me a ton of pain, and then suddenly the pain subsided a few days ago to the point where i didn’t need any pain meds. I had a bad open posterior bite (molars) prior to surgery and my upper jaw isn’t very straight due to some ankylose (fused to jaw) molars, so the surgeon did the best he could. My left side is closed pretty well at this point but the right is still open, but better than before the surgery.

    Anyway, I had another adjustment tomorrow and we decided to crank down on the right hand side to see if we can make progress. I am suddenly feeling a lot of pain and pressure in all the right places, so Im thinking we are making progress. Im both pleased that things may be moving and in a lot of pain at the same time. 2 years of orthodontics and double jaw surgery is simply too much work to not have a result you are happy about, so I can deal with a few days of heavy jaw pressure and earaches again.

    The other reason I sought surgery is that I had severe sleep apnea, and I am happy to report that my apnea is completely gone. The surgeon was able to increase my airway size, and my wife is ecstatic.

    I too am in an upper jaw splint for 6 weeks total, and I have been on liquid only diet for 4 weeks (failed 1st surgery) and have another 4 weeks to go. Yesterday, I kind of cheated and fried up a super thin scrambled egg, and was able to feed myself bite size pieces that didnt require chewing. It was heavenly. Otherwise, it’s been soups, smoothies, and soylent only.

    Im down about 25-30 lbs now, but I was overweight prior to surgery so I am actually hoping to lose another 15 lbs or so to get me back to my fighting weight :).

  2. I’m on day 14 now and I’ve been drinking from cups/mugs for three days; it’s such a relief….

    I was told at my two week appointment yesterday that my splint would be removed next week. I’m still wearing (most) of my original bands…I think my surgeon was supposed to give me some and show me how to put them on yesterday but forgot lol. I suspect the bands are the cause of most of my discomfort so I didn’t exactly remind him–he really didn’t seem concerned either way. I see my orthodontists on friday and I’m sure they’ll give me some if they feel like I need them.

    I took three weeks off from work so I’m just glad I’ll be able to talk clearly and start on soft foods by the time I go back. My jaw is starting to spazz now and then, but I’m happy to be hearing/feeling less cracking overall.

    My surgeon did the usual shenanigans with the top jaw in terms of cutting bone out, but rather than widen my top, he cut my bottom in half and narrowed it in the back, as well as lengthening it. My bottom jaw still feels like it’s trying to pop off of my face but aside from a specific tooth aching now and then, the pain’s pretty much gone.

  3. Hey Graham,

    Awesome site! I’ve been reading it daily since my surgery, which was 14 days ago.

    A lot of the swelling has gone done, but I think I look like Kermit the Frog, too. I can’t tell if it’s because of my nose (I had upper jaw surgery only, which drastically changed the shape of my nose) or because of the swelling — or both. My schnoz used to be big and somewhat rounded, like a beak. Now it is straight and seems wider at the base. I can’t even recognize my face anymore — I don’t look like me. Did you feel this way after surgery?

    • Erik, I also felt like the shape of certain parts of my face changed drastically following surgery, but I assure you this is entirely due to swelling. You may feel this way for a few more months, but once your swelling is completely gone, your appearance will be back to normal. Try not to pass any judgement on your looks until at least 2 months have passed. =)

  4. Hey Graham, just checking in again! I’ll be at Day 14 tomorrow and while those bands are still on, it’s been really good! I still read your blog daily, just so to know what to expect each day, albeit our healing rates are slightly different.

  5. Hi Graham,

    I have probably read your blog like ten times! I was reading it constantly before my surgery was even definite and now I’m on day 14 post-surgery! I even showed this to my parents so they would stop worrying and finally be OK with me getting the surgery done.

    At this moment exactly, my two sisters and dad are eating rotisserie chicken, french fries and corn on the cob literally 5 feet away from me. I saw my surgeon today and he said 4 more weeks of liquids. I literally wanted to cry. I think the diet has been the hardest part for me so far! Have you ever tried any recipes with like blended chicken or meat in it? At this point I’m really desperate. Plus I’m extremely jealous of Alexandra eating Big Macs already!

  6. Haaahaahaahahaa! Still reading. I have the same problem with blowing daily, ‘cept no candles; every time I try to get rid of any excess eye makeup or powder (I’ve regained my desire to groom, almost immediately, even with jowls and bruises) I hold it to my mouth, and smile at myself in the mirror. I always manage to get it there before realizing I’m not blowing anything; but, sometimes, just for fun, I purse my lips and pretend before tapping off the powder. Thank you.

  7. Hi Ray,

    My tongue was number for approximately three weeks, so I wouldn’t worry about that just yet.

    As for excessive plaque, make sure you’re brushing and flossing each day as best you can. If it’s not bothering you beyond having poor breath, you should be alright until your next appointment. If you’re experiencing tenderness or pain, I’d call your orthodontist and ask them.

    Best of luck!

  8. My recovery is going on track im on day 14 of my double jaw surgery. I thought i’d post in this thread, Ive started to get creative with my food… I couldnt stop looking at photos of food that I took over the past few years, Dinner parties etc etc. My cheeks r still slight swollen, my tongue is like 70% still numb…. has anyone had problems with their tongue? Mine seems to build up a lot of crap/ from food etc etc, realised that i have to stick my small toothbrush right back to clean it cz i can only get to the front of my tongue. Also has anyone encountered “plaque” blackness around certain areas between the tooth… i seem to have 1 or 2 building up eventhough i been brushing, rinsing with salt and water and mouthwash… is it wise to wait for orthondist appointment which is like 2 weeks away or should i pop into my local dentist to have it checked up? I kno i probably cant have them drillin my teeth yet cuz im only 2 weeks into my postop. any ideas? thanks

  9. Hi Veronica.

    You’ll handle the surgery with style, I’m sure! I’m excited that you now have a date of deliverance set.

    Let me know how the first few days go! =)

  10. Veronica Encarnacion

    May 15, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Graham,

    It’s so good to be able to read your blog. I must admit I am pretty nervous about having my skull cracked open and put back together. I finally set a date of Saturday, June 2, for my surgery. It’s nice to know that I can read your blog for some helpful tips and encouragement.

  11. You’ll be alright in that type of environment, Abby. When I returned to work (in the same field), I immediately sent an email out to my entire team letting them know my situation. Everybody understood and was very accommodating.

    Be prepared to describe your surgery to every single person at work once you’re able to speak again, though!

  12. First day back at work tomorrow – it will be day 14. I’m glad I decided to take a couple of extra days. My surgeon had told me that he schedules surgeries mid-week, and people typically go back to work a week after the following Monday (1 1/2 weeks total). That just seems SO soon!

    I am very concerned about talking – I also work in IT (software QA), but I work in one of those lovely open “collaborative environments” that are the big thing now – with my team of 15 other people in a room that previously accommodated 8 cubicles. Really, it’s just noisy and you get interrupted 29346 times each day. Somehow, I am going to have to avoid talking too much.

  13. Good to meet you, Terry!

    I’m super thankful you caught your son’s infection in time. That could have proved to be incredibly uncomfortable for the poor guy. Infections are scary business.

    And you are so smart with your idea for using condiment bottles for drinks! I wish you were around to share that kind of wisdom with me back when I was hitting the syringe. =)

    I wish your son all the best in the next few months of his recovery!

  14. I just wanted to thank you so much for your blog. I started reading it a couple of days before my 18 year old son had double jaw surgery and it has helped us to know what to expect and to explain some of the things that have been happening. He had his surgery 14 days ago and he has really struggled with the pain. Then on day 12 his right side started to swell and by early evening his temperature started to go up. I called the surgeons office and they told me to take him to the emergency room. They did blood work and gave him an IV antibiotic. Then yesterday (the next day, since we were in the emergency room most of the night)I took him to see the surgeon and he suctioned the area and gave him a medicated mouthwash. What happened was one of the stitches on the lower right jaw let loose and bacteria got into the incision and got infected. Fortunately we caught it in time. The swelling is starting to go down today and the pain is starting to lessen, thank goodness. I hope he continues to improve. The last two weeks have been a challenge, but he looks great and his bite is fantastic, they did a great job. His life will be so much better because of the surgery.

    One thing I did that helped him eat in the beginning was instead of using the syringe, I went to a discount department store in the kitchen utensil aisle and bought several cheep squeeze condiment bottles. They are the ones with the long thin nozzle, for like ketchup or mustard. It was so easy to just fill them up and he could squeeze the drinks into his mouth. I filled two of them with water and kept one in the fridge so we could just rotate them. It really helped him to clean his mouth after eating too. Maybe this suggestion will help someone.

    So thank you again so much for all of the information you have shared, this blog is a great thing!!!

  15. I know right!!! Speedy recovery or what.. I’m already looking forward to my fish and chips tonight. Lucky enough I never had to have a splint so have been able to open my mouth since the first day really 🙂

  16. So worth half of them getting stuck in my braces.
    I feel like I just got braces and I’m learning how to eat with them again. It’s not an attractive site.

  17. Yum! That first bag of chips is much appreciated, isn’t it? =)

  18. Holy crap! I thought I was healig fast! A big Mac?! It’s my 6 week
    Mark pretty much back to normal. Get my splint out tomorrow! Managed to chew and eat a whole bag of chips today. First official crunchy thing! 🙂

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