Sunday, April 2, 2017

Janky No More: 5 Years Later

A lot can happen in five years. For one ... President Trump. 

But also, I'm no longer a journalist -- I moved into marketing back in 2014. That means we can take off the "journalist" from the blog title "The Journalist's Janky Jaw." Additionally, I don't have a janky jaw any more. So, I guess I have to rename this entire blog, or just finish it completely with this final post. 

Five years after my surgery, I can say the process was well worth the ordeal and I'm 100 percent satisfied with the results. 

Today, I can bite completely through a sandwich using my front teeth. I can also bite my nails, which I probably shouldn't. When I smile, I am not shy about showing my teeth. I have little discomfort. The chronic migraines I had in my younger years have decreased. And I breath better when I sleep.

All of these benefits can be attributed to my orthodontic procedure and double jaw surgery that realigned by jaw, and changed the features on my face.

This is me today:

On a more technical note, I wanted to write this final post on the experience of double jaw surgery for those contemplating undergoing the procedure, or currently in the process. Here are some notes post-surgery, five years later:

  •  I have no face or jaw pain, but I still have some numbness on my upper gums. This is understandable considering how much the process disrupted nerves in the area. The numbness does not bother me -- I got used to it quickly.
  • Touching throughout my jaw area with my hands, you can feel the parts where plates and screws have been placed. It feels weird, sure, but again, there's no discomfort.
  • Because of the numbness, it's hard to get a sense of how hard I actually bite. One really hard bite doesn't feel like I'm biting all that hard.
  • My chronic migraines I suffered with since a preteen have reduced significantly. I can't say for sure this is due to my surgery, but it's possible some nerves were altered during the process, and it helped. Dr. Relle suggested this is a possibility. I have stopped taking daily migraine medication since after my surgery.
  • I feel I breathe better, as the shape of my face changed, including my nose. I breathe less loudly when I sleep, too, according to my wife. 
  • I broke my collarbone in four places in 2014, and underwent emergency surgery, as the bone was about to poke through the skin. I went in for surgery at 10 a.m., underwent a 4-hour surgery, was out by dinner time and went out to dinner with my friends that same night. In other words, the recovery was a cinch. I credit my arduous jaw surgery experience for making the collarbone experience relatively easy and painless. Not being able to use my arm for a few weeks was no problem compared to having my jaw shut and being on a liquid diet.
  • I use a retainer for my bottom and top teeth each night. At this point, I've gotten used to them, and I've missed putting them in before bed no more than 5 times in the last five years, so it's a fairly natural part of getting-ready-for-bed for me. 

I think that sums it up. For those interested in my experience and for who followed me along through this journey, thank you for your well wishes. And for those who may stumble across this blog and have questions, please reach out and I'll be glad to help.


The (Former) Journalist

Sunday, October 21, 2012

No more janky jaw

I am officially braces free.

Dr. Montano removed my braces Oct. 1.  -- and it feels great. No more bulky mouth feeling. No more metal poking the inside of cheeks. No more food getting caught in between my wires. I'm free. 

Well ... almost free. 

I still have the issue with numbness. And as of today, certain parts of my gums -- the front parts mainly -- are still numb. And because of that, my mouth still feels a little awkward even with my braces being removed. 

It's been just more than 28 weeks since my surgery. Dr. Relle mentioned that numbness could last for 6 months, and a slight chance it could last forever. Well, 28 weeks is more than 6 months. This could be something I may have to live with for the rest of my life.

If the numbness is forever, it's not a huge deal. I am still able to eat anything I want, and bite through food easily now. And my smile is nice, if I can say so myself.

So with all this, my oral adventure is officially complete. I must wear retainers when I go to bed to make sure my teeth don't shift. That's not a big deal for me, and the retainers don't bother me. Each retainer fits right in like a mouthpiece.

In all, it wasn't an easy road, but it also wasn't the bad. It was fairly quick, and not too disruptive. To sum it up, it was all worth it to fix my janky jaw.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Countdown ...

Thursday marked 24 weeks (Day 168) since my double jaw surgery. The important day, however, is Day 179 -- Oct. 1. That's when I'm scheduled to be measured for a retainer and then have my braces taken off. The countdown starts.

The past few months have been more of the same. I'm still able to eat what I want now with the only restrictions being due to my braces.

I have no real jaw discomfort anymore, though my upper jaw is still numb in parts. I haven't had much feeling on the roof of my mouth near my teeth since the surgery. I'm starting to think I may never get the feeling back, which is a possibility. It doesn't bother me too much -- just feels kind of awkward.

I've made several visits to the orthodontist in the last few months (since I last updated this blog), and those visit have also been more of the same. They've installed new wires and "power chains" to align my teeth.

In fact, I had an orthodontist visit on Tuesday -- the last visit before braces are removed. Dr. Montano said everything looks right on schedule, and he's happy with the smile.

I'm still running into people who haven't seen me since the surgery, and they've all dished out compliments on my new look. Mostly though, I'm old news.

I have just about two weeks before my braces come off. I continue to feel somewhat like a robot, with no feeling in parts of my jaw, and a mouth full of metal. I'm anxious to see how my jaw feels once braces are all removed.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Three months later

It has been just more than three months since surgery (Day 87 today). It has also been a while since I last updated, but frankly there hasn't been much to update.Here's what's new:

I am now able to open my mouth big enough to bite into a burger. And I can actually bite into a burger (and other foods) cleanly -- which is the reason I got the surgery in the first place: to fix my bite.

Fitting three fingers in between my teeth by three months was the goal, and I've gotten there. I'm able to eat pretty much everything now -- even tougher meat, though it takes some time to chew. 

Dr. Relle removed the rubber band hooks more than a month ago, which has made it easier to eat, smile and brush. Removing the hooks required literally unscrewing them from my gums. The procedure required some local anesthetic, and hurt slightly. See the screw below:

I can blow my nose, whistle and smile normally again. Really the only thing still affecting me is the numbness on my top gums. No feeling. 

I had an appointment with Dr. Relle and Montano more than a week ago and they said things were working out as planned. Over the past few weeks I've gotten only positive comments on my new look.

Overall, things are great. I can hardly remember how tough the surgery or the recovery process was, which tells me that the whole ordeal really wasn't much of an ordeal. Don't get me wrong: I never want to go through something like that again. But I'm feeling now like all of that was well worth it.

In other news, the insurance claims keep coming in. I got one recently for Dr. Relle's offices' part: $52,475.

And that's about it. I'll update next time there is something to update. Until then, I'll leave you with a recent shot of me and the wifey:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 38: Chewing right along

It's day 38 (just a bit over five weeks), and things are going great. But I don't have too much new stuff to report. So I thought I'd post these photos below.

I've received insurance claim statements from my stay at the hospital that includes the services I received while there. Here's how much it all "cost," apparently (fortunately I'm double insured, so I don't pay this):

And in other news: I'm eating more and more items, including some of my favorite foods: hamburgers, pizza, nachos. I'm essentially able to eat anything that's not too hard, tough or chewy and as long as I cut it into bite-sized pieces. So, no steak still for a while. Some of my teeth, especially my front teeth are still too sensitive to put much power into a bite. It's mandatory I brush my teeth after every meal because pieces of food get stuck in the rubber band hooks and braces in my mouth. 

Rubber band business overall is going good, too. They're just annoying, but at least I can talk while I have them in. I have an appointment with orthodontist Dr. Montano in two days to get a new wire for my braces. 

And that's about it. Thankfully, it's all good news.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

One finger to go

Three fingers in three months ... that's the goal.

First, get your mind out of the gutter trying to figure out what that means. Second, it means that by the third month post-surgery, the goal is to be able to open my mouth the size of the width of three fingers (go ahead, see how many fingers you can fit. I'll wait). So far, one month after my surgery (Day 31 today), I have two fingers down.

I visited with Dr. Relle on Friday, who seemed sincerely satisfied with the healing and recovery process (he said he was "psyched" to be exact). He was kind enough to share some before-surgery and after-surgery shots of my mug.

Whatcha think?

This isn't it for changes, obviously. There are still more to come. I still have a bit of swelling and numbness throughout my mouth, and I'll still have braces on for several more months. But so far, I'm more than happy with the changes.

I'm eating more and more food. I keep on getting nice compliments from folks. And I'm back at work now, doing just fine talking with folks for articles I'm writing. It was a hassle juggling taking out my bands and putting them on between assignments, eating, etc. I won't have to do that for long though. I can now go the day without the front bands.

Dr. Relle gave me some updates to look forward to moving forward. The two hooks in my gums for my front bands will come out June 1 (2.5 weeks from now). And after that, I'll be OK to start chewing on more stuff, but no steak -- nothing too rough, Dr. Relle said.

Until then, I'll be stretching out my mouth trying to fit one more finger in there.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Back to reality

Tomorrow, it's back to reality. Well, back to work, anyway.

I've spent three weeks away from work (I'm now on Day 24), slowly learning how to use my new bite. I'm still not 100 percent - more like 75 - but I'm ready to work. That's according to my Dr. Relle, who cleared me as "fit to work." But I personally feel ready to work, too.

Energy-wise, I'm fine. In fact, I spent the weekend traveling around and visiting family (which included a hiking trip), and I feel fine. I believe I can handle an 8-hour work day with a little deadline pressure mixed in. Here's a picture from today (May 6) of the wife and I in Santa Monica.

As for my mouth, that's where the 75 percent grade comes in. I'm numb in certain parts of my mouth (side of gums, roof of my mouth), and slightly swollen still. And my mouth gets a little sore after talking, eating, etc.

For one work week, I'll have to manage taking off my bands to eat, brush, stretch, and to do long interviews, and then put the bands back in. Obviously it's easier to talk with the bands out. When I talk, it will be evident that something isn't quite right with my speech.

I can eat plenty now as long as it's on the soft side, and bite size. Examples: eggs, soft chicken, pancakes, soft breads, pastas, potatoes, etc.

I have another appointment with Dr. Relle on Friday. I'll ask him when he think I'll be able to eat harder foods, and when these hooks for the bands will come out.