Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Day 194: Almost at the end of 2014!

Pain Level: 0.2 - I think I'm bleeding somewhere behind my lower left molar because I got irritated that I couldn't brush it properly (as my teeth are a bit too far back into my jaw - which makes brushing really difficult because it's a really tight spot). Using the interdental brush somehow made something bleed...again. I think it's the plaque that keeps getting stuck there that makes my molar-gums upset and prone to bleeding.
Swelling: Somehow the right side of my face is still tight. Still feels weird.
Sleep last night: Caught a bad bug and ended up with a burning fever. It's gone now. Thank God for water and Vitamin C.
Other weirdness: My right cheek feels weird and I think it's because of this weird clump of something in the inside of my cheek. I don't really know what it is, but when I press my tongue on it, it feels like it has nerves connected to the right corner of my lip or something. Also, I still can't quite chew naturally. My teeth feel like they are crashing together and it freaks me out a bit. Left part of lip and chin are still numb. Sigh.
Mood: A lil sleepy.

The end of the year is almost here and I'm not quite ready for it. When I take a quite glance of a stock take of the year, I feel as if a lot of my plans had stopped in their tracks because of 1) the jaw surgery, 2) the crazy issues at work. And yet, at the same time of feeling unaccomplished, I feel very much otherwise so - because I've learned so much through these experiences. This year I learned about courage, about friendship, faith, and hope. I learned that there is power in networks. I learned that as much as you give of yourself into the lives of others, there is no shame in asking for help when it is required. I learned that it's okay to be vulnerable...but as the saying goes "Love all, trust few, and do wrong to none."

This was my quote for the year:

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami

Before and after.
I'm always somehow back to this cabinet.
It's tough trying to keep things organized
when you live with 7 other people.
Beyond all that, I've been trying to get my house in order again - after it became this huge storeroom dump during a crazy time when we had to move the factory - and that has been quite therapeutic. It almost feels like I'm reclaiming my life back one box/bag at a time. There's still a lot more to go, and it's probably going to take me at least half a year to get through all of it, but it's a joy knowing that it will all be settled in time.

I'm going to spend some time later tonight thinking about how to close off this year and set goals for the next... there are so many things I want to get done. 2015 will be a better year. After a horrible end to 2012, an emotionally draining 2013, and a harsher 2014, 2015 has to be a better year. It has to be. God, let it be, please. I will do everything in my capacity to make sure it will be.

On other happier notes, Mummy bunny gave birth on the 16th of December, and I lost most of the litter (probably because of the conditions they were born in, or maybe Marshmallow (my 3 month old) got to them :(). I was distraught, but as I decided to clean up, I discovered that one little warrior bunny survived because he had somehow rolled out of the cage! And true to his character, he was named Warrior. Well, at only 14 days old, he's more like a little Warrior. :) He (yes, I assume he's a boy) has been my daily dose of happiness watching him grow. It's amazing how they grow so quickly! Just slightly over a week ago, he was this pink little hairless body...and probably only half his size that he's grown to now. :)

Warrior at 11 days. <3
At 13 days. :)
He grows so fast!
Marshmallow and her treats from the pet store that was giving out goodie bags. :)

It's going to be tough to let them go soon though... because it turns out that my sister-in-law who lives with us is allergic to animal fur. :( I've got to find a safe, loving family for my little family of bunnies...I don't even know where I'm going to find someone with such a big heart to adopt all four of them. Miss them already. :,( Well, going to treasure them as long as I can have them with me. #totallyenjoyinglovingandspoilingmypets <3

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 184: 6 months!

Pain Level: 0 - No pain, just still numb in my lower left lip and chin. 
Swelling: I'd like to think I'm still a bit swollen, but it may be just fats.
Sleep last night: I haven't been sleeping too well... bad working and life habits I think.
Other weirdness: When I wash my teeth with mouthwash and leave it in for a few seconds, my jaws feel like dentures floating in a glass. It's REALLY weird. Oh, and chewing is still weird. I somehow feel like my teeth are a bit spastic and I'm not sure where to fit them when crushing things in my mouth.
Mood: Tired

It's really early in the morning and I'm still awake. I had a really rough week as I'm trying to get life back on track. Tis' one of those days where I wonder what I am doing with my life and what needs to be done. 

It's weird, really, that even after 6 months post-surgery, when people tell me "you look really different", I don't know how to react. There's a certain sense of fear or apprehension in receiving such comments - even if they were meant to be complimentary. Even in telling the story, I always make sure to emphasize that I didn't quite have a choice - given it was told to me that I had only two options 1) either to do the surgery now, or 2) wait ten years when I would probably have worn out jaw hinges, arthritis and slower bone growth. The inability to react well is weird though. Perhaps it's an insecurity of some sort.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a Postsecret and it scared the heck out of me for a bit. 

This was it:

I know this particular PostSecret was probably made for a person who had some sort of plastic surgery, but I couldn't help but wonder if some of the people whom I speak to might think the same of me (and not say it).

But hey, there are bigger issues in life to think about aren't there?

I've finally gotten back in touch with my fencing coach, took my gear out and gotten it washed. I'm back to fencing next week! Hopefully, no one will hit my face (please don't!). I'm going to get back to running again, and Pilates. I got to get back some discipline and tenacity in my life.

Fencing next week! I can't wait!

Friday, November 21, 2014

God gives and takes away.

Taken just this afternoon...
I took in two 8-week old bunnies and two adult rabbits about a week ago, and tonight I just lost one of the little ones. She was sick by the time I got her. I knew something was wrong because she wasn't walking and she seemed to have breathing difficulties. I brought her to the vet two days ago and she was diagnosed with a cold, bone growth problems, and some infection on her ears.

For the past two days, I had been mothering this baby...and tonight, I lost her.

Her body was cold and limp when I got home, She was really weak. She start gasping, squealing, a seizure...then she was gone. I tried giving her some nutrition, I tried a hot water bottle, I tried to call an emergency animal clinic... but I knew she couldn't make it. And there was nothing medical or skillful that I could do.

I was so distraught I held her lifeless body and insisted there was still life in it as she was still warm. I put her limp body in my lap and sped halfway across Singapore to the 24-hour emergency animal hospital praying praying praying that God would revive her. But she had no more heartbeat. I just stood at the counter of the hospital and cried. Right now, I don't even have the heart to bury her.

I remember a time when I saw a litter of abandoned newborn kittens left in a box out in the scorching sun. When I spotted them, I panicked as I looked through the litter of six - hunting for some life left in them. I saw movements in three of them, so I shooed the flies away, picked up their little bodies reeking of excrement and brought them into my office. I remember praying so hard as I held them and took a warm damp cloth and cleaned each one of them. I remember out of the three I cleaned, only two showed signs of life and breathing so I eventually cleaned them up, prayed over them, and put them in a box with me in my office. They didn't survive till the end of the day.... I don't think their bodies could take the cow's milk that was all I had on hand... but it hurt to see how cruel people could be.

Then there was a time when I heard that some crazy neighbour was abusing some kittens and my brother heard it and went to save it. By the time he got to the kitten, it was completely wet (the crazy neighbour was trying to drown it) and unconscious. I remember seeing it in a box my brother found as I called the SPCA and watched the kitten as my heart pounded with every second that passed as we waited for the SPCA to arrive. I still remember how they just looked in the box and said "it's dead" and turned to leave. I also remember how I told them "LOOK CAREFULLY! See! It's moving!" as the little kitten twitched slightly. I was worried sick as they took the box and the kitten from me. I didn't know if I could trust them with that little life, though I had just met it, with as much care as I wish I could have offered.

I remember the bird with the broken wing, the baby bat hurt in the middle of a footpath, the turtle that was abused... animals have been a big part of my life.

When I was 16, all I wanted to do was become a vet. I remember the passion that I had and the deep desire to have the skills and ability to heal animals. There was nothing more i wanted... but Singapore simply didn't have that course back then. I even went to Australia and met the Dean of Murdoch university to explore the possibility of studying veterinary medicine...but eventually gave it up because I knew it was too expensive for my parents - and that I had two younger siblings whom had yet to go to university.

My heart hurts today. It hurts because I once again feel helpless that I couldn't save that little life. I really wish I could have watched her grow and overcome her illness.

But I guess God gives and takes away.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 144: Trying to deal with life now.

Pain Level: 0 - Guess most things are healed up. 
Swelling: My right cheek felt really tight yesterday and a little swollen. I wonder if it's because I've begun sleeping on my side again.
Other weirdness: Seen a few bone spurs in my gums.
Mood: Heavy-hearted.

Sorry for the lack of updates. It's been a tough time on the company and in my life. I haven't had time for myself or to think about rest or taking care of myself. My diet has gone to the dogs and my scalp is still sad. I'd also given up grad school in the midst of this hurricane of life.

Going to be quiet for a while here whilst I try to get life in order.

I can't wait for Christmas to come and for 2014 to be over already.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 120 (4 months!): Self-questioning

It's really early in the morning and I find myself drafting my powerpoint slides for charting the Vision 2020 for the company. There seems to be so many things on my mind and I feel like I just need to get it all out.

The company is in a very interesting transition now where we are making decisions whether to move premises. There are so many things that are on my mind - Whether to rent or to purchase, how is the team going to change and whether there are changes to the business model that need to be made... As my whole life starts to revolve around work - and all the organizations that I've begun to participate in in order to support it - I wonder if I've short-changed myself in terms of my personal life which seems to be going nowhere because I haven't made much time for it. From spending time with my family, friends, and even plans for the future.. it seems I've neglected the "more important" things in life.

One of my goals this year was to be more open to people and make more friends. I guess I've kinda been doing that...except it has been mainly for work. It's weird, but I feel like I've not laugh-laughed for a long time.

I guess I need to be a little kinder to myself as a lot of changes have kinda happened in the past two years - one of which was the surgery which was a pretty big deal. It's a little shocking to think that it's already been four months! Time really passes. I guess I'm still adjusting... as some people around me are (already in this past week, I've re-acquainted with two groups of business associates who seemed a little uncomfortable with the fact that I look different). But I totally understand that it's probably a little weird for them and I just need to give them that space and time to readjust and "reacquaint" with me. Takes a lot of patience and firmness in my own self-worth though. Guess it's a process all jaw-surgery patients need to go through. I can't imagine how much worse it must be for people who look a lot more drastically different than my case. I really feel for them.

I'm looking forward to this week ahead.

Monday and Tuesday are going to be "charting days" where I hope that my management team will be able to make some important decisions...and I should really finish my grad school applications. If all goes well, I should be off to Myanmar for the weekend, and hopefully back with some clarity with the road ahead.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 113: Coming to terms with depression

Pain Level: 1 - My teeth have started turning a nasty yellowish colour so I started getting more vigorous with my brushing routine by digging around more with my interdental brush... and that doesn't always make my gums too happy. Gross bloody brushes...
Swelling: Surgeonman still thinks there's some and says it's normal. I think that's a good thing.  
Sleep last night: A little better, but I think I would be happier if I could get even more restful sleep.
Other weirdness: Just weird gross yellowing of teeth... I have no idea why... oh wait, maybe it was that Mocha from Starbucks... and that tea... dang!
Mood: Having my monthly girly cramps. >_<

So I made a decision today. 

I decided that I really need to take a courageous step to come to terms with the depression that I've been struggling with for a long time. I've decided to take up Surgeonman's offer for help to deal with it. I think his guess was that I may have already been a little depression-prone pre-surgery, or may have already had a mild form of depression before the surgery. Or at least I think he was hinting at that. Do I give off highly-anxious-patient vibes? ^^ I suppose I should be thankful that I know that I'm struggling, but it isn't something that's really deeply hopeless - but rather that I probably just need someone more professional in helping me talk through my struggles with work and life right now. Surgeonman mentioned that sometimes some patients get into really deep depression - especially when they come out looking extremely different from before, or that they have severe adjustments they need to make like speech impediments and stuff. For me, I suppose it's just these past two years have been such a struggle for me - with issue after issue coming at me - how it's now physically affecting my health and having this really bad hair-loss due to stress and all, just isn't too good for me anymore. I'm literally losing little mounds of hair everyday. :(

So, I'm going get help (yay for courageous decisions) - I think Surgeonman has some connections with some counsellors or something - and we'll see where that goes. I do have a hard-rule on that route though - no psyche medications. After studying psychology, and numerous conversations & debates regarding treatment of mentally/emotionally-ill patients, I'm totally against psychiatric drugs unless it's a situation of life-and -death. So no, no meds.

In the meantime, I've also decided to take things a bit easier on myself, and to attempt to reduce the amount of stress on me as much as possible. Last weekend I'd just spent some time cleaning out most of my office - compiling files, cleaning, organizing... it did make me feel quite a bit better. I've started on some of my files at home too. This coming week, I'm going to try to clear out as much electronic data too... there's just too much to handle everywhere now and it's time to simplify life for a bit.

I'm praying that this week will be my "Breakthrough Week" for me - where things at the office will be a little more settled. I've plans to head to Myanmar for a wedding for one of my staff and perhaps to Chiangmai, Thailand after that - just to improve our Thai product selection...and maybe just to get a breather from all the stress here.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Day 109: Learning to love myself more.

Pain Level: 1 - A little bump of a bone in my upper palate hurts sometimes, but otherwise things are alright.
Swelling: Right cheek still tight. Same part of lip and chin still numb.
Sleep last night: Not too good. Been having trouble sleeping. Not sure why.
Other weirdness: I stutter sometimes as the jaw goes a bit wonky. Surgeonman says it's normal and it takes time to adjust.
Mood: A little tired.

Something has been affecting my energy levels and even Surgeonman was a little concerned about that. I suppose with my dropping hair and really bad rashes, I've begun to be increasingly concerned about my health. 

Chopped off something like 5 inches!
Had to do something to stop
the dropping!
This week, I popped by the polyclinic to check if my rashes was some issue with my immune system - because everything seems to be showing up only on the left side of my body. Two hours later (with a lot of waiting in between), the doctor's diagnosis was that my rashes and dry skin and scalp (which is apparently is what is causing the hairloss) were probably due to stress than a problem with my immune system or my stylist's guess of hormonal fluctuations. Surgeonman seemed to similarly guess the same - that it might be from stress due to the major changes in how I look and adapting to that.  I didn't think stress was that big an issue, but I suppose with all that's been happening, they might be right. And it doesn't help that I haven't been getting much exercise and that my diet hasn't been very good for me. I have yet to sign up for the Pilates classes that I've been wanting to do for a while, but I somehow feel like too much is going on in life right now for me to take anymore on.

I cleared a couple of questions with Surgeonman today too... including:

  • Q: When can I get my plates out?A: Preferably not. It's not necessary. If anything, maybe one year later.
  • Q: I think I have a cavity cause one tooth really hurts when I brush.A: <was referred to an in-house dentist who took a little xray and showed no cavity> Might be a sensitive tooth. Consider swapping to a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
  • Q: What's the bump on my upper palate that hurts sometimes? It feels like a bone.A: Turned out to be some hook thing that's connected to some muscles. Surgeonman says that it's normal because the upper jaw was moved up, but the hook wasn't, so it just needs time to adapt. 
  • Q: I've been having weird rashes. Does the surgery affect the hormones or the immune system?A: No. It's probably from stress. Think about what might be the cause of it. (Surgeonman was really nice about it saying they have the resources and stuff... but I don't think I want to go to a therapist. Issues might shift to old memories and I don't want to go there.)

The doctor at the polyclinic has referred me to the National Skin Centre for them to take a closer look at my rashes (which are honestly really gross with little bubbles). My appointment with them is scheduled for December... I hope I'll still have some hair come December. Please stop dropping! Oh, did I also mention that I decided to chop my locks to try to reduce the amount of hair that falls? Hasn't quite worked because I think the same number of strands are dropping....except that it doesn't look as scary as before because they are slightly shorter. 

Sorry, little roti prata. :/
About the memory lapses - things are a little better now. At least I can shower properly without weird "second-takes". The latest victim to my memory lapses was a piece of roti prata that I forgot on the stove though. :/ 

The plan is for me to try to take things a bit easier... I probably have to tell my sister and staff that I am under doctor's orders to breathe easier. I'm going to start a habit of taking walks in the mornings. Maybe that will help some. That, and to pray that the situation with my factory improves that would help to take some stress of life for a bit. 

Gotta remember that I'm still healing!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 100: Can't believe we're here.

Pain Level: 1 - Just the normal few bits of weirdness when I open my jaw.
Swelling: ?? not much idea whether it's fats or swelling anymore. The cheeks are still a little tight though... so I guess there must be a bit more.
Sleep last night: Restless. Can't seem to get into deep REM sleep.
Other weirdness: Just normal mouth weirdness - occasional spasms of my jaw when I talk.
Mood: I really didn't want this to be a sad post at day 100! I lost a lot of hair today though and it affected me quite a bit. :/

Gosh, is it already the 100-day marker? Time really flies. I can't believe it's already 100 days since the surgery.

Compared to the first two weeks of life post-surgery, life is pretty much back to normal, though I occassionally get reminders that I'm still a patient in recovery... including a really bad case of hairfall today. 

Somehow, after a little checking on my scalp the other day, I was shocked to find that it was almost a white colour and was dry and scaly. It was a pretty bad surprise... but I figure it must have been the root of my terrible hairloss. Today, in the midst of my graduate school applications, I decided to try a home remedy using coconut oil and sugar to exfoliate and nourish my scalp. I massaged the mix into my hair and let it sit for about 2 hours before rinsing it out... and goodness, what a shock I had.

This is only what fell in the shower.
There was more that fell whilst I was drying my hair.
It was terribly depressing.
It almost immediately brought back the post-op blues and I found myself wondering whether I should just shave all my hair off now or go for pixie cut (which I wouldn't have dared to do if my hair were in its original glory). I guess this is just part of the jaw surgery journey that I have to manage.

Part of me is pretty certain the hairfall is due to an immune system problem (with the weird stuff going on on my left foot, as well as some scaly skin patches on my left shin)...I think I'll go check it out at the polyclinic tomorrow.

I think I'm going to take the morning off from work tomorrow to go visit the doctors, as well as to sign up for a two-year gym package where I'll be able to get some pilates to stimulate my body a little. 

On the upside, I submitted part of my graduate school applications for a university in Singapore today. I have a professor who has encouraged me to submit for PhD in the States, but I don't have that type of courage yet with a lack of experience in the field of study I'm interested in. Part of me is excited that this part of my life - my love for the university - seems to be moving forward. I still owe them the GREs. But I'm just glad I got my essays in. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 98: Photoshoot Fears

I had a photoshoot today for a women's group that I'm involved in, and it was absolutely terrifying.

One of the photos we took.
I was glad to hide my face with the hat.
I never realized how shocked and scared I was about photo taking... not to mention how uncomfortable I felt. I was so self-conscious and worried about the way I was smiling - or not. I was worried about whether my face looked okay, whether I was looking like an alien, whether my swelling was making my face look fat, and whether my shortened face made me look like an imp. I totally didn't like so many shots... it was absolutely terrifying. Worse that I can't always tell how widely I'm smiling. At one point, I thought I was smiling, and one of the girls watching the shoot told me to smile... =_= Cooperate with me facial muscles!

For most of the day, I felt as if all my confidence was lost with my previous face which I was more comfortable with. I used to know what worked for my face, which angles to use, what styles worked for me... Now, more often than not, I find myself feeling that I look terrible in all photos of me.

It's weird.... but I kinda feel estranged from myself.
It's as if I don't really know myself anymore.

What I'm thankful for are friends who constantly remind me that it's not what I look like, but who I am... and those who also reassure me that the surgery was for the better. But yeah, I guess I am the greatest critic of myself.

I'm already 3 months post op and I'm surprised that I can't seem to get over this phase. Hope that things will be better soon.

On other notes:
I watched an episode of Running Man today and whilst I watched them be "punished" by one of the scariest roller coasters in the world in Taiwan, I realized that I probably won't be able to get on rollercoasters for a while! :( It looked SO awesome though!

Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMC07r8Pc8M
Fast forward to 5:47 - it's called The Screaming Condor. It's like an extreme viking ride.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 96

Pain Level: 2 - Teeth somehow feel really raw today.
Swelling: I am convinced that my face looks swollen, but it's actually fats.
Sleep last night: Meh. Woke up to my little sis banging on a lot of metallic stuff. Wasn't a good start.
Other weirdness: When I drink cold water or use mouthwash, very specific parts of my cheeks feel cold. It's as if there are "cold spots".
Mood: Tired

Please excuse the caps in the previous post. I was trying to use the Blogger app on my iPhone to test it out to see if it made blogging easier. The post looked completely fine on the app preview, but I was so shocked when I opened it today on the laptop. I have no idea how it became that way. I guess that's the last time I'm using the app.

I did go back and adjusted the font size, but it's a little too much for me to delete and retype everything sans-capitalization, so I'm just going to leave it as it is. I wasn't drunk writing that, I promise.

My body has been really tired these few days....and I'm starting to worry about the rate of my dropping hair. It's so bad that even my staff commented about it. Part of me is wondering if it's actually the supplements that I'm taking that is causing my hair to drop. Or more likely not enough sleep...

I think I'll start taking my "Sleep by 10pm" seriously.
Okay, off to try to get some rest.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day 95? - Pain at Orthoman's

Pain Level: 1 - Ulcers have healed up a little. Teeth hurt like crap at Orthoman's yesterday though.  

Swelling: Numb part of lip with ulcers still swollen. I don't really know if the rest of my face is just fat now.

Sleep last night: Slept pretty late again... Totally unproductive. I need to get disciplined!

Other weirdness: I'm still really sensitive to metal. The fact that almost all Orthoman's took were metal was not fun.
Mood: A little tired due to lack of sleep. Glad that it's almost the end of the week.

Visiting Orthoman's yesterday was a little weird and pretty painful. It was just another round of changing the wires, but this time it really hurt (especially in my electrocutey area of my chin and lip). That and the fact that I'm really hyper sensitive to metal now, it was a really uncomfortable experience. Everytime Orthoman's tools touched my teeth as he was changing some of the bands on the brackets, it felt like he was digging/scratching part of my tooth out. I don't know how to describe it... Maybe it's a bit like nails on a chalkboard, except the nails are constantly scratching to create a crater in the board. Yuck. Even writing that is giving me the goosebumps. Just thinking of metal gives me the hibbijibbies. I tried explaining it to Orthoman yesterday and he said it's the first time he's heard of people becoming sensitive to metal... Guess I'm just weird.

Oh, I almost forgot... 
My teeth haven't been very cooperative these past few weeks. The last time I visited Orthoman, he mentioned that it was possible that we only needed two visits and that I might be able to take the braces of in two months... But at this visit, he said that the bite on one side was opening and I might be going back to bands again. :( that means that the removal of my braces is now postponed. Drats. Just when I thought I could celebrate my birthday without braces. Hopefully I'll make it in time for Christmas!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 93 (well, 94 now that it's past midnight): 3 months post-op update!

Pain Level: 2 - The numb part of my chin and lip has been hurting quite a bit these few days. I've somehow got two mouth ulcers around that area, and it is swollen. I'm getting a lot of electrocutey zaps throughout the day.
Swelling: General swelling is going down slowly now, though the right side of my face is still a little tight.
Sleep last night: Slept really late because I got caught up in work. Still been sleeping faced up because I'm afraid of messing the jaw up whilst it's healing. Been using a higher pillow than I was used to before the surgery (just in case I still have to keep the swelling in check).
Other weirdness: Twice I had a weird feeling in my upper palette and my eyes were somewhat forced to squint for a moment. It was weird. 
Mood: A little moody because of the ulcers, the swollen left part of my lower lip, and my sad left foot (see previous post)

Thought to drop in and write a little note about how things are at 3 months post-op.

Sad little ulcers. :(
I suppose most of the swelling on my face has subsided... perhaps with another 15% more to go. I'm still quite careful with my face though because I can still feel the tightness and a little swelling. There was a period of two or three days when I wasn't feeling too well, I developed some sort of fever and somehow my upper palette became a bit swollen and slightly soft (a little bit like how it was in the early post-op days) and that freaked me out a bit. But it subsided.

Till now, I still can't chew and that frustrates me quite a bit - especially that I LOVE vegetables. Even tearing simple greens like butterhead lettuce leaves is difficult. I generally give up and either use my hands/cutlery to tear them up into little pieces and swallow them whole, or leave it altogether. I guess patience is the name of the game. Still, it kinda sucks that I can't seem to chew.

I also can't quite open my mouth as wide as jaws are supposed to be able to (I've checked with my sisters and a few friends and they can go up to four or five fingers wide!). I'm hovering at one and a half and actually think it might be my current maximum. At my last visit with Orthoman, he advised me to do a little more exercise with my jaws to stretch the muscles a little. I guess it doesn't help that I don't really like to talk, and when I do it's pretty tiring after a while.

Other than that... Hair is still dropping and that's not fun either.

On the upside, I think I'm getting used to the fact that I've gone through the jaw surgery and I look a little different. To some extent I think I'm also quite appreciating the results....but more so, the fact that I had gone through this experience with a courage I didn't know I had.

These days, life has been mostly about work and about governmental policies - of which the cases that I have had to deal with these past few months are a little too complicated to share. But let's just say that I've spent most of the past few months analyzing a specific policy due to the circumstances at work, and spent a few hours today drawing up a flow chart and drafting a long explanatory email to illustrate the exact problems with the policy.

Gosh, it's 2 in the morning.
I gotta get to sleep... Another long day tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Day 89: Unfunny stuff

I think my immunity and lymphatic system has gone to the dogs or something.

Look at the state of my left foot.... (Scroll very quickly if you're faint-hearted):

I'm sorry if it's really disgusting... It's revolting! I have never seen my feet in such bad shape. My skin is crap, I've been getting weird boils only on my left foot, and it's all peeling and it's all really gross. I'm convinced it's a lymphatic problem because my right foot is totally fine. But why????!!! Haven't I been a good girl with the supplements?? :(

Thank God my right foot is okay... At least half of me is normal:

I guess I should be thankful that it's only the left one that's so gross... But... Sigh, my body is being really weird. Not to mention I've been getting weird jaw spasms...

This is totally unfunny.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 83: Identifying with other types of sick people and weird stuff.

It's 4am in the morning and here I am writing a post because my sleep cycle has somehow been turned on its head a bit for the past few weeks. I don't know if it's stress from work, or just part of the recovery journey, but I haven't been able to sleep early.

It's been a tough few weeks in the sense that I've grown to identify with some aspects of three types of sicknesses in the world...well, two sicknesses, and one aging problem. With the issues I've faced, I've felt like an old lady, an Alzheimer's patient, and a cancer patient.

The Old Lady

There are a lot of things age takes away from you, and one of those abilities are that of chewing properly... except that my current inability to chew isn't from aging. I think it's a combination of the sensitivity of my jaws and teeth, as well as my fear of biting into something that will mess everything up, that has left me - at almost 3 months post-op - still tearing/cutting things into itty bits and swallowing them whole.

I met with Surgeonman last week, and when I told him that I can't seem to chew, he seemed a little shocked and joked that he didn't want me turning into an "auntie" (which is the local slang for an old woman). Thing is, I'm totally not used to my new bite and it really freaks me out that I might bite something and find my jaws locked in some weird position or something. Maybe it's a confidence issue that will build over time.

I haven't been losing weight though - in fact, I've put back 4 of the 10 kilos I lost from the first couple of weeks of syringing. I think after those first few weeks of close to nothing in my body because I had no appetite at all, my metabolism is probably at a rock bottom low and everything now that is put into my mouth now immediately goes into some "just in case" fat storage or something. Silly body. Stop it!

The Alzheimer's Patient

I now have an even deeper appreciation for the parts of the movie "The Notebook" where it shows Ally getting all worked up because of Alzheimer's. Being unable to remember is THOROUGHLY frustrating.

Not funny.
I have been forgetful. REALLY forgetful. And it feels horrible... especially when I forget things that I should remember. Names, people, plans, things to do, stuff I was just talking about and lost my train of thought mid-conversation... it's terrible. I literally asked my staff "What was I just talking about?" at least 4 times today in a span of 3 hours during our discussions. And today, I met a girl and asked her who she was, and as the group discussion went on and I listened to the comments she made and the little snippets she shared about herself, I realized that I might have had a really long conversation with her a few weeks back and had given her a ride home. I don't remember when or where that happened, but it was like a vague memory... and I honestly don't often forget people - especially when I've spent a while with them and heard from them. This forgetfulness makes one feel silly, stupid, and somewhat irresponsible. It's not fun and I really don't enjoy it.

I did a little search today and found that there's a real medical post-operative forgetfulness thing called "Post Operative Cognitive Dysfunction" otherwise known an POCD which is caused by general anesthesia... un-fun fact: its effects can be long-term. :( There goes my dreams of becoming a university professor. :(( The recommendation I've read so far is to take a gingko-biloba supplement. Great, ANOTHER supplement. I'm already taking a Vitamin C + D tablet, an Omega 3 capsule, a Vitamin B tablet, and another for my hair.

From zero supplements to popping seven a day... maybe I should explore natural remedies.

The Cancer Victim

There are a lot of things I remember about watching my sister's experience with cancer, but one of the tough parts of that was seeing her hair shaved off and how that affected her self-esteem. There was a lot in that phase of life for her, but I remember that the day she decided to allow my mum to just shave it all off, it really hurt me watching her suffer through that. But I guess I'm now experiencing a tiny little hint of what that felt like for her.

Even with my silica hair supplements, my hair has not stopped dropping. It literally drops so much, I am now afraid to wash it daily. Even tonight, the little drain hole in my shower got clogged because of all the hair that decided to leave me. It isn't a positive experience at all, especially as a woman. My hair is supposed to be my "crowning glory" darn it!

I'm thinking I should go and see a trichologist or something now... :( It's terribly depressing.

Other Weird Stuff

Imagine this sound
flowing through your bones. Yuck.
I have found myself VERY sensitive to the sound and feeling of metal on metal, or generally things that involve some sort of metal vibrations. Like when the metal zipper of my bag accidentally scratched against my Macbook pro cover, or when I hold a metal fork or spoon whilst eating and it taps on my ceramic plate. The sound/feeling somehow gives me the goosebumps and I feel like I can feel the vibrations through my bones or something!

It's really weird. I'm starting to think I'm one of the weirdest jaw surgery patients around. >_>

On Happier Notes...

  • My jaw can now open almost two fingers apart! Surgeonman says my lack of ability to open as wide (my sister can open her jaw 4 fingers apart!) is due to a jaw rotational thing I have to work on... but I think in time, with the exercises, things should improve.
  • I have now gone back to using my normal sized tooth brush. I didn't quite choose that - because what really happened was that I accidentally bumped my baby toothbrush straight into the toilet - but I guess it's a good thing somewhat. Not a big deal, but just something more "normal" I've graduated back to.

Okay, enough writing...time to try to get to sleep. It's almost five in the morning! And I have work today!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 72: Just walking through life.

I can't quite chew yet, but I've been pretty much eating anything. My jaws are still pretty tight and I can barely open more than one finger wide.... but hopefully with daily jaw exercises, things will loosen up and get better. My lip has been stinging quite a bit recently - especially when I am worked up about something and speak in an upset/angry tone. I guess it's stimulation that affects the nerves.

Yesterday, I felt as if something was stuck at the back of one of my lower molars (or that it was some gross plaque that was building up) so I decided to be a little more thorough with brushing around that area... and I don't know what I did, but when I rinsed my mouth out, I found that I had a considerable amount of blood in my mouth. It took me quite a few mouth rinses and it freaked me out quite a bit because the water kept running out a copper blood-stained colour, but I think it clotted up soon after. But gosh! Not fun.

Been in a very much reflective mood recently. The stress of work and life has been getting to me, and it's not very healthy. Part of me feels like I've lost myself somewhere these past five years - with entering the business, losing one of my best friends, the big break up, depression, surgeries, issues with work... it's just been a bit too much for me I think.

Part of me is just so tired of life right now. Overwhelmed, maybe.
It just feels like I've lost a big part of myself for a long time and I don't really know where I am at or who I am/want to be. It's like I just need a breath of fresh air of life, or a holiday by myself or something.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 62: Bands and Hooks are off!

Pain Level: 1 - Was pretty bad at Orthoman's when he was doing a lot of work on my teeth, but the pain has now dissipated down to just the little electrocutey zaps on my numb lip area and a little aching in the back of my jaws.
Swelling: Apparently going down by the day according to my staff.
Sleep last night: Went to bed REALLY tired.
Other weirdness: I think most of my stitches have dropped out though I think some are still in hiding somewhere. The other day, one of my stitches dropped out in the middle of an important meeting I was at. I figured I couldn't imagine holding it in my mouth for 2 hours, so I swallowed it. Yay fibre. =_=
Mood: Contemplative.

So I finally got to see Orthoman yesterday (after missing the appointment last Wednesday) and it made me a really happy girl. :)

At a little over 2 months post-op, my bands are off! And now all I need to focus on now is

  1. Getting my jaws to open wider by exercising and stretching my jaw muscles
  2. Getting my nerves in my chin and lip to heal back into full operational ability

All bands, surgical hooks
 and thick wires off. :)
The appointment with Orthoman was a pretty painful one though as there was a lot of stretching and pulling. What he basically did was take out the wires that he had banded in pre-surgery, as well as removed the surgical hooks. I never knew how sensitive my chin, lips and some of my teeth were till he had to do so much work on them! I could somehow feel everything so much more! And once, he pressed down on something that really hurt, I couldn't help but wince and made a pained sound. I guess Orthoman heard me, and he whispered a gentle "sorry", and that totally kept me alright for the rest of the process. It's amazing how a gentle apology and indication of genuine care totally carried me through the whole process - pain and all. I'm such a softie :). But I'm totally thankful for Orthoman. :) <3

So my bands, wire holds, and surgical hooks are off...and I think he also changed out my main holding wires (the main ones that bend around the teeth). No more snapping or digging into my cheeks and creating ulcers! Yay! I guess this is a good place to be.

On the softer, more emotional side of things, these days I've still been struggling with getting back on track in life.

I somehow seem to have lost my sense of drive and determination regarding work and life in general. I've been headed into the office, but with a lack of passion. I've been going to meetings, but with a lack of follow up. I've been talking to people, but with a lack of commitment. I have been trying to get some exercise in, and to regulate my sleep patterns, but with a lack of discipline. It's pretty frustrating. Part of me wonders if I'm carrying a low-grade depression that I refuse to acknowledge. It's really easy for others to judge and say "just force yourself to do this and that", but it's really much harder (or at least it feels like it) when you're on this side. And I guess it's especially knowing that there will be people who will judge and say nasty things, that people who struggle choose not to express or tell people about their depression - which really isn't healthy.

Today, I'm home from work to focus and try to overcome this. Perhaps it's just a matter of cleaning out my environment and just getting things in my scheduler and being able to see into the next few months ahead.

Okay post-surgery depression, I'm going to overcome you!


Oh, and regarding the alumni gathering. It went alright. I was pretty brave that I even dared to take pictures. Even a selfie with a friend. :) As so:

We got some hats at the photobooth and just had to take a photo. :)
It amazed me how many people knew about my surgery and asked me how I was. :) Thank God people have transitioned through with me! I am so thankful! And thank God for the reach of Facebook. I've also recently changed my FB profile pic to a new post-op one too...I suppose I'm starting to accept the changes. And based on the fact that people actually like the photo, I've been encouraged that this post-op transition is going to be alright. :) I am humbled and thankful.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 57: New Haircut! :)

Pain Level: 0 - No pain. :) And jaws are a lot less sensitive.
Swelling: I don't really know anymore, but I'd like to think there's more to go down.
Sleep last night: Only slept at 630 this morning as I got too excited about work. :) But got something like 5 hours after... and under-eye circles. :(
Other weirdness: Been snapping bands like no one's business. Yay eating. :)
Mood: Happy. :)

Nothing much to report...except that I happily went to the hair salon and got a haircut today! 

A new haircut was supposed to be Month 3's reward, but I just had to do something about my hair to prep for my event tomorrow. I was so glad to see my hair stylist and visiting the salon always makes me super happy. Next Hair Salon at Holland Village has THE BEST hairwash in Singapore (at least that I know so far in all my life). :) I did have a weird creepy experience with my hairwasher this time though... In the middle of the hairwash, whilst my eyes were closed, he leaned in and kinda said in my ear "Am I too hard?" (referring to the pressure of the massage that is part of the hairwash) with a weird deep voice...it was creepiness central, but other than that, the hairwash was still awesome. :) 

I love how awesome my stylist is. He just makes me so happy... there's just something about getting my hair cut and blown well. :) I was a bit hesitant about getting bangs...especially when my stylist made reference to Taylor Swift, but I'm glad I just courageously did it. I think it was a pretty great decision.

Gonna see Orthoman tomorrow morning! Can't wait!

Just another happy day at the salon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 56: We're almost at two months! :)

Pain Level: 0 - Incision sites just feel more sensitive.
Swelling: Slowly going down a little more.
Sleep last night: Slept ALOT. I woke up at 1030 today (even though I woke up at 4:45am but forced myself back to sleep). Hurrah! Sleep!
Other weirdness: Tingles still happen.
Mood: A little stressed about an alumni meeting on Saturday, but looking forward to some work stuff tomorrow.

We're almost at the two-month marker of my post-op journey and I can hardly believe time has flown by so quickly. I've not been posting as frequently now because I somehow find that I haven't had much time, energy, or fodder to write.

These few days have been a lot about work and about sorting things out within myself. I have been thinking a lot about the future and where I should be and where I want to go... it's been quite the struggle - this big debate within myself about wanting to be a simple girl with a simple life and family versus wanting to make a big difference to the world, go work in the Amazon or in rural India... it's complicated inside me like that.

Recently, I put up another profile comparison picture on the FB jaw surgery group as I was really upset last weekend when some people couldn't recognize me at a wedding. It was kinda distressing and I thought a lot about my identity and all sorts of weird stuff like that. I'm really so thankful how encouraging the group is... it's amazing how a group of strangers going through a similar situation in life can truly be some of the greatest support groups for such phases in life. I really trust their comments (because they have no social equity to be worried about) and I'm more convinced that my face has really changed quite a bit. One of the ladies mentioned that she didn't understand why therapy wasn't part of the jaw surgery process when so much adapting needed to take place. :) I guess that's pretty true, but I think therapy is not an option for me... I think all I need is time.

I've pretty much stopped keeping track of my food intake here too because eating is back to normal and I needn't worry about caloric intake anymore... in fact, I've been stress-eating a lot to the point that I've put on weight! >_> I've still be eating salmon at least 4 times a week and keeping to my supplements regime of Omega 3, Vitamin B, Calcium+Vitamin D, and a hair supplement though. :) Feels a little weird to be popping so many pills a day now (compared to NONE two months ago) but I suppose it's for the best whilst my body needs to heal up. I think I'll keep this up for the next 4 months till the 6 month post-op mark.

Bands still on...
I <3 you bands.
Thank you for making me feel safe.
Nothing too major has been happening with the jaws except that the teeth somehow feel a lot more sensitive nowadays and sometimes my jaw feels like an external part of me. I can still feel the incision of my upper jaws where my stitches have dropped out... it still feels a little raw. The tingles still come and go and I think that's probably why my jaws feel a little funny now - because the nerves are waking up and so I'm just starting to feel what has been numb for the past few weeks. The chin and lower lip is pretty much still numb now. I hope they wake up soon!

I still can't bite or chew anything without feeling weird though so I'm still chopping things up into small bits and swallowing them whole. The bands are still on too. Orthoman says I might be able to take them out soon... but yeah, I need to check in with him. I've actually grown quite attached to the fact that I have bands on - they somehow give me some security that everything is held together and is going to be alright.

Saturday is a big day considering that I'm headed for an university alumni gathering. I don't know how that's going to go. Looking at the mixed reviews that I've been getting - with a majority of people not recognizing me so far, whilst a few others can, I think a lot of people may or may not recognize me (I was pretty active in clubs and all sorts of extra-curricular stuff in my university). I think I need to be a little mentally and emotionally prepared for that. Part of me is really hesitant to go, but I think I just need to force myself out and meet more people so that it'd get easier over time. It's either sooner or later anyway.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Day 50! Milestone! :)

Pain Level: 1 - Weird pain in my lip where it's numb.
Swelling: Was pretty bad this morning, but better now.
Sleep last night: Better than the past few days.
Other weirdness: Read below.
Mood: A little celebratory... it's day 50! :)

Wow! I can't believe it's already Day 50! I'm just 10 days-ish shy of 2 months post op! Time does really fly.

Just another one of my recipes
I posted on my IG... :)
Considering how much I'm eating nowadays I think I'm going to stop reporting on the things I'm eating. :) I'm technically supposed to be sticking to a soft diet/liquid diet, but ever since the day that I discovered that I could actually use a small spoon and suck things through the small gap between my teeth... my diet has gone awry and I've started putting on weight! NOooooOOOooo....

I've been eating pretty much everything from roast chicken, leafy greens, various types of quinoa, bread, pizza even! All cut into little bits and sucked in through the little gap. It's pretty amazing.

The weirdest things that have been happening are that 

  1. The part of my lip that was numb has been having weird sensations the past two days. Most of the time, it feels raw and swollen - as if I scalded it - and other times there's some weird zap that goes through it... it almost feels like I had some really small caterpillar crawling a little distance on that area or something. There's just no other way I can seem to describe it.
  2. I still need to sleep on an incline. This morning, I woke up and found that I was lying flat on my bed. My face felt as if it were completely waterlogged or something. It felt as if my face had gone back to Week One levels of swollenness and was pressing against my teeth. It didn't look as bad as it felt, but the pressure was really uncomfortable. It went away after a few hours (and water and walking around), but yeah, that was pretty unexpected especially at Week 7ish.

Other than that, life seems to be almost back to normal. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of work, I'm eating almost anything...well, at least anything soft enough to swallow and doesn't require chewing or biting. I'm also now a lot more courageous and comfortable out in public (which is a BIG improvement compared to the first week where I would cover my face with a scarf).

On other notes in life, today I found out that I've been selected to participate in an International Women's Day Forum and I'm super excited about that! I'm feeling so blessed and really looking forward to it. Just praying that I'll be well prepared for that.

And for no good reason, and every good one, here's a random picture of me and my ability to stick out my tongue.

I considered sticking out my tongue a BIG achievement as I couldn't do it at all for a few weeks. It is amazing being able to lick things off a spoon again..at least with little licks now. :D