Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Survival kit

Say you too have a bite that needs fixin' with a bit of surgery. Or say, God forbid, you get into a bad accident and your mouth hits the steering wheel. Or let's just say you make me really mad and I take it out on your jaw.

These are some things that you will not be able to live without during jaw surgery recovery. Here are just a few things that have been life-savers for me.

Clockwise from top left:
- Nasal spray: You will get mucus, most of it bloody mucus, it will dry, and you are forbidden for 6 weeks from blowing your nose. This liquid wets everything up there without damaging your insides. Once the junk is all moist, you can un-embarrassingly pick your nose with a tissue using your finger. I prefer the pinky.
- Temporal thermometer: You want to be sure you don't get a fever, and this of course will immediately tell you. You can't use a mouth thermometer, and most people don't really like to put thermometers in other places. Most people.
- Carmex: Without being able to lick your lips, they will get drier than the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Carmex or Vaseline will do the job.
- Ensure (or my cheap asses case, Equal): Contains many of the daily nutrients you need in liquid form. Comes in strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, and "Man this stuff gets old quick." No, it's actually pretty tasty.
- Mustard/ketchup bottles: Probably the most valuable player in the survival kit. For the first week, I used this device anywhere from 10-15 per day to feed and hydrate myself. Just point and shoot. Get at least four of them.
- Kleenex (or cloth): There will be mucus, blood and drool dripping everywhere. Use this instead of your shirt.
- Jaw bra (with ice and heat packs): Dr. Relle's office was kind enough to provide the jaw bra with four ice/heat packs. Besides pain meds, this setup provides the best relief to get you through the pain. Equally important, the heat/ice packs get you looking less and less like Shrek with each day (i.e. it helps decrease swelling).
- Baby toothbrush: Soft and small to help clean your sensitive teeth.

Other important recovery items not pictured include:
- White board: You won't be able to talk much in the first week, and when you do, you'll be hard to understand. Save yourself the trouble and just write what you want to say.
- Humidifier: Again, to prevent drying.
- Hydrating drinks: Gatorade, Pedialyte, cranberry juice and orange juice are my faves.
- Prune juice: To help battle constipation caused by pain reliever.
- Medication: It's prescribed for you to use, so use it. The strong pain meds helps you cope with pain, and will get you through the uncomfortable nights of having to sleep sitting up (you have to keep your face elevated always).
Get refills well before you run out. The last thing you want is to run out when your jaw feels like it's about to fall off.
And for your other non-jaw surgery prescriptions, be sure to chat with your doc before the surgery. Remember, you can't open your mouth to take any pills you may have to take. Prepare for that.
- Loved ones: Without these people, there is no recovery. You won't be able to use the items above in the first days because you won't be able to get them yourself. These people become your caretakers from the moment you're carted to your hospital bed (in my case, even more so than the nurses). Thank you Carla and mom.

In other news today:

My mouth felt uncomfortable most of the day. I didn't have any pain, but felt as though all I wanted to do was clinch my teeth constantly. It may have something to do with these damn rubber bands pulling on my teeth constantly ... maybe?

For my soft meal today I had breakfast for dinner: biscuits and gravy with spicy sausage. Delicious.

After eating, I did the routine of stretching my mouth and then brushing for a good five minutes and replacing the rubber bands. I can fit my finger in my mouth, but not much more. It's getting easier by the day to remove and install the four tiny bands. I face a mirror and use tweezers.

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