Monday, June 30, 2014

Just had a hard cry and I think I messed up my jaw :(

I was so overwhelmed by the stress of work tonight after a terrible strategic work discussion, and I ended up having a VERY hard cry. I tried to hold my jaw together whilst I cried to try to not move anything, but now that I've calmed down something seems VERY different in my bite.

For one, now all the back teeth on my right seem to be crushing down on each other, whilst some of those on the left don't meet. :((((((((

Not only am I now stressed about work, but now my jaw's messed up. :((((

Thank God that my clinic has an emergency hotline. My sister helped make the call and Surgeonman's partner called back. He's guessing it's either due to the reaction to the muscles, or that there's a palatal shift. :((( I am really praying SO hard that it can be fixed simply. I really don't want to have to go for a corrective surgery.

Lord, help!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Closing Day 10: Exercise and a new food list! :)

Pain Level: 1 - Seems like the stitches/hooks have settled down a little. Please stay that way!
Swelling: Not much changes from the morning. Just realized that my face is a little stiff though... I think it's also cause I haven't quite been moving the muscles (smiling, talking...) for fear I might bust something!
Other weirdness: Seems that every part of my face feels normal except the left side of my chin and bottom lip. I was a little worried about the underside of my neck feeling a little hard, but it seems to have softened up a little.
Mood: Very happy and full from a wonderful dinner of a delicious homemade mushroom soup! And it was a pretty productive day. :)

I ended up spending the morning googling jaw surgery blogs in hope to stumble on blogs of other people who recently had their jaw surgery so that I might have a community of people to encourage and journey with. But nope, not much luck. Even those who commented elsewhere that they were going to have their surgeries soon, or that they had them, didn't have blogs. Ah well, at least I tried.

During my research on health/jaw surgery blogs this morning, I somehow stumbled on something about the Primal Blueprint, which is a healthy way of life, and I've gotten really interested in it. Reading the success stories was amazing and I think that's going to be my reading material sometime in the next few weeks. Gotta find a time to drop by a library though. :)

But all that procrastination aside, I finally spent some time after that, as planned, to look for a simple workout/stretch/toning regime. I generally avoided those that I could imagine my jaw feeling really uncomfortable with or being way too cardio that I'd probably faint at the end of it. This is what I found that might work:

  • Pilates by Lisa: Butt and Leg Sculpting Workout
    • I am a bit cautious about being in the push-up position. But I think I'll put a pillow underneath me just in case.
  • Pilates Butt and Thigh (Slow Workout)
    • I like it how slow and achievable this seemed. I wasn't too comfortable with how they had to proper their heads up with one hand... I don't know how happy my jaw is going to be with that, but I'll try.
  • 10 min Pilates sculpting (Arms)
    • This looks really achievable too... maybe except the exercises where I might just drop the dumbbells on my head if I get woozy. But I'm going to try any way and see how it goes. 
  • RS How to tone your upper arms
    • I'm just going to incorporate the simple arm circles and wall press from here. 

I'm going to try them tomorrow. I'm a little excited about getting into the habit of some stretching in the morning. I think I'll try to wake up earlier tomorrow too and go for a walk or something too.

Something new: Carrot porridge
Yuck. :(
I'm really thankful that I have a househelper who's concerned for me and is trying to make foods that are more interesting in hopes of having me eat a little more. This morning she tried making a blended carrot porridge. I thought that I would be happy because I know how great carrots are nutritionally, but it tasted so watered down and bland, I couldn't get past 40mls of it. 

Sometime today, I became officially frustrated with my diet - or lack of. 

I guess it also doesn't help that I'm pretty picky with what I eat now. Other than for the reasons why I'm a little adverse to eating nowadays, it's also because I've become a lot more concerned about the nutritional value of the foods I eat. I think it's just part of the healing process - that one just becomes a lot more health-conscious. But it really limits my choices.

Total No-nos for me now with regards to food/drinks

  • Very watery porridges and soups (I'm SO sick of them!)
  • Anything too high in sodium
  • Alcohol (I really don't know why any jaw surgery patient in their right mind would have alcohol after their surgery. Then again, I never really liked alcohol anyway)
  • Anything with MSG
  • Pretty much canned-anything (soups, processed foods etc....): because of the MSG, super high sodium contents, colourings, and all sorts of rubbishy stuff in them
  • Caffeine
  • And of course the sad reality now: No solids, crunchy foods, anything that is bigger than 0.3cm that can't fit through my teeth. :(

In my frustration, however, I had an epiphany! I realized that I have been doing this finding alternative recipes all wrong and I really shouldn't have been googling stuff like "Jaw surgery soups" or "Jaw surgery foods" because a lot that turned up was all sorts of "You can do this! Put the pizza in the blender!" stuff... which I really can't stand for. What I really should have done instead, was to google something like "delicious soups and stews" and find recipes that made me feel hungry/happy. After all, at the end of the day, it's really for me to find something delicious that will motivate me to get calories in. Of course they'd plus points if they had really nutritious stuff in them.

On a side note, this is one of the most useful post-jaw surgery nutrition list, and another of her posts about nutrition for nerve regeneration that I've found. Thanks Wendy, I'm going to see what I can do with them.

These are some happy recipes that I've found so far that I hope to be able to get my househelper to try. Probably have to replace some ingredients (e.g. alcohol and stock), but I think they might work:

Here's the link for homemade chicken stock.

Homemade mushroom soup!
This evening, my sister and househelper helped with making some homemade mushroom soup for me. It was pretty thick, but after I trimmed the tubes on my syringes, I was so glad it could actually get in! I could only push out and swallow about 2mls at a time, but it's the most flavourful thing I've eaten for the past 10 days! The onion in it was a little spicy because my househelper forgot to carmelize the onions... BUT the soup contained cream and butter, garlic, onions, and fresh was so delicious! Calcium! Vitamins! Antioxidants! :D Anything homemade makes my day! I think I easily consumed over 150mls of this deliciousness! My caloric intake in this one meal probably superseded everything I have eaten for the past 3 days! Happy! :D

ALSO! I tried drinking water from a cup today! Achievement unlocked!
This is going to really up my water intake considerably! Seriously, drinking through a syringe is really tiring! It feels a little weird cause my lips (especially my bottom one) is still numb, but it works! No spillages. :) I don't know why a lot of past jaw surgery patients recommend putting towels under your chin and mentioning that there will be a lot of dribble in drinking from a cup, but I've found no problems so far...or maybe spillages happen if you try drinking from a cup much earlier post-surgery. But with a little patience and grace, it worked fine for me. At this stage, no one should be expecting any chugging anyway. :) I'm limiting drinking from a cup to water though. The last thing I want is the sugars in the milks or juices to get all over my barely brushable teeth. I am determined to not develop any cavities through this process!

Food Report

Carrot porridge - just couldn't get past 40mls.  :(
Ensure Chocolate Milk - I forced myself to consume this one and could only get up to 90mls. The last 10mls was so hard to go down.

About 80mls of prune juice. The first shot down my throat made me cough so much from the sudden acidity, I almost gave up drinking it altogether! Thank God for to-do lists that I have this thing about completing. Lesson learned: Always prep your throat with water before having prune juice, or anything with a higher acidity.

About/Over 150mls of Delicious homemade mushroom soup! <3
And perhaps another half a bottle of Yakult tonight.

"Plan for the day" Progress
  1. Research and decide on a daily light stretch/tone regime
  2. Drink milk and prune juice somewhere in the day
  3. Write important work letter
  4. Relook at graduate school essay submissions (maybe tomorrow)
  5. Organize work stuff on table 
  6. <maybe> Clear personal finance stuff
  7. <maybe> Finally finish the Day 1-2 post that is 70% done
  8. Respond to staff submissions on table (gonna finish this later tonight) :)
High point of the day
Getting some work done. Discovering info on the Paleo lifestyle. And the delicious mushroom soup!
Low point of the day
Sad carrot porridge at the start of the day, and lack of appetite. But that's all over now! :)

Day 10 - Pain pills, the basic essentials, and plans!

Pain Level: 2, though it was something like 4 or 5 last night - I don't really know if it's the surgical hooks or the stitches anymore, but they stung so much last night that I had to take another painkiller. I'm also starting to feel the aches of sleeping in the incline position for the past couple of days. My upper back is starting to feel a little sore.
Swelling: I think I can see a little bit of a shadow of my cheekbones now! Just a hint.
Other weirdness: Ears still feel blocked....though it feels less blocked than yesterday. (Does that make sense?) 
Mood: A little wary about the pain in my upper lip. Hopeful that it will be a restful, but productive day.

Last night was probably one of the heights of my pain so far in the past ten days. Somehow the back of my upper lip stung SO much I just had to take another painkiller. I did find my dental wax sometime in the evening though and I tried to put them on the hooks, but instead of making life happy again, the pain got worse. I'm not sure if it's now a combination of pain from the hooks and the surgical stitch right above my front teeth, but putting the dental wax in - even though it probably only pushed my lips outward by a single millimeter - made it hurt so much worse. So I took them out and took the painkiller.

My "happy" pills
Antibiotic - Augmentin
Painkiller - Paracetamol Codeine
For Swelling - Arcoxia
 I was only prescribed three types of pills - an antibiotic, painkillers, and one for swelling. They only gave me the one for swelling for a course of the first five days, and the antibiotics were prescribed for two weeks (to be taken twice a day), and the painkillers (to be taken three times a day, two tablets at a time). I'm not quite a person who enjoys reliance on medication, but understand the importance of them, so I'm really disciplined with my antibiotics and the pills for swelling. I thought the prescription of two painkillers three times a day was a little bit of an overkill though, so I have been limiting it to one in the morning, and one at night. Yesterday night was the only time I've taken two at a time. I'm still going to try to stick with the "two painkillers only a day" regime though. Please be kind, stitches/hooks. :(

I suppose the best way to overcome is to count one's blessings, so I shall! I'm just glad that I can swallow these and I no longer need to take them crushed! (Thanks to a kind soul who left a comment on one of my posts when I was so depressed about taking crushed meds. Thanks Wendy!)

Here are some "flashback" pics:
The Dark Days...
I really dislike you, pill crusher.
You were the bringer of sadness and depression. 
This has been my "bedside table" for the past couple of days.
4 syringes - for water, milks, meds (which later became for food), and gargle (which I no longer use).
Other things there is just water, nasal drops, and my lip ointment.
I think my body is getting a bit tired of sleeping propped up too and my upper back is complaining a bit. It feels a little raw today and I'm a little concerned about developing bed sores. Cosurgeonman told me that a lot of people who stayed in hospitals too long developed them. I'm determine not to let extra stuff like that befall me, so I'm going to find a new way to sleep tonight. Somehow.

Other than the similar need to sleep on an incline, I'm starting to think that my experience with jaw surgery so far has been quite different from the experiences of others that I've read. I don't mean to be rude, but the other experiences I have read seem to have been very very dramatic somewhat compared to what I have gone through so far. I somehow don't have a splint, so I don't have splint issues. Though I do feel nauseous at times, I haven't vomited at all. I don't have jaw jerks and stuff like that. I have only drooled unknowingly but once the first time I had a long chat at home about work. I was swollen, but not so bad that I couldn't open my eyes. I had bruises, but they mainly went yellow and are fading. And I didn't have to purchase a whole shopping list of items to get me through this... I mean, there are some really extensive lists out there. I think my essentials so far have been:
My happy, pink
Kodomo Baby Toothbrush
It's so tiny! :)
But has been tremendously helpful. <3

Stuff that I'm glad I bought/brought with me:
  1. Baby toothbrush
  2. Hot/cold gel packs
  3. Facial wipes (Specifically, the BioOil one which has healing properties for scars and to prevent/heal stretchmarks)
  4. My little lion stuffed toy for encouragement
I actually think that's about it. Everything else I needed (Ensure, syringes, medicated lip ointment, mouthwash...) was prescribed/given by the hospital. Or perhaps it's just my personality of "just essentials". (Although I did buy a few other things that I really have no use for now including - organic lip balm, extra can of Ensure, wet wipes, Vicks nasal decongestant.)

Hmmm... Maybe I've been blessed with a smoother journey cause of Singapore's warmer and more humid climate, or maybe it's because I just had a really great team of my ortho and awesome surgeons, or perhaps it's just that I have a very strong group of people who cover me in prayer. I should be thankful right? Okay...thank you Lord for your kindness to me on this journey. :)

I'm a little sad though that pretty much everyone on my blogroll now has stopped blogging/had their surgeries so long ago that it's now become more of a "Q&A" or informative site. I also can't seem to find anyone else who recently got a jaw surgery done and are blogging their journey too. I think it'd be fun to journey together with others at the same stage as me... perhaps blogging is so passe now that people just don't do it anymore. Ah well, it helps me cope, so I'm sticking to it.

It seems that I've started a habit of blogging twice a day - one to start the morning, and another to close the day. I do imagine that I'll start tapering off when life gets back to normality, or that I'll just be switching to other topics in life, but in the meantime this is working well for me. :)

This morning, I decided two things
  1. That I should make it a habit to write up a "work plan" every day so I keep productive in life, and
  2. That I should really research an exercise regime of some sort because I'm losing weight and I  think I'm losing mainly a lot of muscle and water... and I don't want to end up at the end of two months skin, bones and fats!
So here goes...

Plan for the day
  1. Research and decide on a daily light stretch/tone regime
  2. Drink milk and prune juice somewhere in the day
  3. Write important work letter
  4. Relook at graduate school essay submissions
  5. Organize work stuff on table
  6. <maybe> Clear personal finance stuff
  7. <maybe> Finally finish the Day 1-2 post that is 70% done
Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Closing Day 9: Upset stomach, clawing surgical hooks, and new foods.

Pain Level: 3 - The surgical hooks are clawing into the back of my lips which are now very raw, and I can't find my dental wax. :(
Swelling: I think it's gone up a bit after the bumpy ride and attempts to talk...that and the clawing of the surgical hooks.
Other weirdness: Ears still feel blocked. Back of jaws feel really tight after a really bumpy ride out to the supermarket. :(
Mood: Was weak almost all day because of the spoiled corn soup. A little frustrated.

Something happened to me after I consumed the 40mls of soup this morning. I think it had gone bad because I developed a bad case of an upset stomach. I didn't have toilet troubles, but I felt like all my energy was sapped from me. Everytime I got up, I got dizzy spells. I thought I was going to faint on at least four occasions throughout the day. I tried hard to stave off the tiredness for the time when my aunt and cousin came by (which actually turned out quite okay), but when it was over, I completely went to sleep for something like 5 or 6 hours.

I could barely eat anything, but forced myself to drink a cup of water with Redoxon, and later, half a bottle of Yakult - in hopes to settle my stomach and hopefully get some energy from the sugars. When 6pm hit I decided I needed to force myself to get out and go to the supermarket to hopefully find more substantial foods - somehow after the bad corn soup incident this morning, I just could not imagine myself taking anymore soup. I was also really tired of sweet fruit juices... and just couldn't think of anything else I would/could eat.

So I went out to the supermarket with my sister.

And as I had experienced before, travelling out with all the bumps in the road really drained me out by the time I reached the supermarket. But I decided to stay positive and hunted for edibles... and this was my haul:

Multigrain Os, Fibre Biscuits, Vegetable Puffs
100% peanut butter, 100% almond butter
and NUTELLA! <3
Pretty much everything was found in the organic aisle because:
  1. Being in my current state makes me very concerned about all sorts of health things.
  2. I couldn't go up to the biscuits section on the second floor because there were only two ways up -  by travellator (which incline and vibrations somehow make me queasy) and a wheelchair only lift (which made me feel weird because I'm not in a wheelchair).
It's an interesting season I am in of going back to healthfoods and label-reading. I used to be really conscious of these things in the past. But I guess this is also somewhat my natural self because eating healthfoods makes me happy. :) 

Interesting note: Did you know that every other brand of peanut butter on the shelf had all sorts of bad stuff in it? Pretty much every one of them had all sorts of hydrogenated oils, gums, emulsifiers.... in them. Adam's was the only brand that just read "Peanuts" (for the unsalted one). The one I bought has salt so it just read "Peanuts, Salt" on the ingredients list. I'm actually a crunchy peanut butter person, but I just kept thinking that I'd choke on the ones with bits. So creamy it is.

Yes yes, I also bought the Nutella because I figured that it might make me happy on some days... even though I don't think I'm going to be able to successfully get it in my syringe.

My plan for consuming the peanut and almond butters, as well as the nutella, was to maybe purchase something similar to a small ice-cream stick - maybe an orange stick - and use it as a small serving spoon of some sort...if I can fit in through my teeth, that is. The other three are meant to be soaked and made mushy. I figured I needed more carbohydrates and vegetables in my diet.

I tried to fit one of those vegetable puffs between my teeth tonight and it was so tiring (because they turned out to be 0.5 cm thick, whilst I can only open about 0.3cm between my teeth) and there was no pleasure in it being slowly disintegrated at the back of my mouth. It was pretty depressing.

Still! At least I have some rations now after a few weeks or something.
I made the effort, I'm proud of myself today. :)

Apparently tomorrow - Day 10 - is when my jaw will be the most fragile so I'm going to stay home and try to take as much milk as possible.

High point of the day:
Received sunflowers from my aunt! Plus I successfully made a food trip out and am making the effort to try to put more calories in my body!
Low point of the day:
Getting sick from soup at breakfast. Having my surgical hooks constantly digging into the back of my lips. :( It hurts! :( I need to get dental wax stat.

Food Report

  • 40mls of corn soup...that was bad. :(
  • About 100mls of water with a Redoxon tablet
  • 60mls of Yakult
  • About 60mls of fresh mango juice.
  • Three vegetable puffs. (My jaw just couldn't take any more than 3.)

Day 9: Bracing myself for the first visitors

Pain Level: 1 - Just numb as normal, though I have started to get weird prickly feelings on my face at times.
Swelling: Has come down significantly from Day 3, but still obviously round
Other weirdness: Ears still feel blocked. Bruises on my cheek and chest looks like I have some case of domestic violence.
Mood: Nervous and a bit worried.

I'm going to have my first visitors since the op - my closest aunt and cousin who will be over in half an hour and I'm absolutely terrified. I actually told myself I wouldn't have visitors till 2 weeks after the op, but I care for this aunt and cousin enough to allow them to come visit. I guess it's also cause I'm really close to them so they are in the primary group of people who I find it uber important for them to transit with me.

Still, I'm really worried about how the change how I look might affect them. I'm thinking of all sorts of things from sending them a pic on the way, or just surprising them when they arrive. But I think a pic might cushion the shock. Maybe.

Sigh. I don't even have the appetite for brunch now. I could only manage 40mls of cheese and corn soup. :( I'm feeling especially fat and ugly today. I regret putting on so much weight for the operation. I wish I didn't. I could be at my all-time lowest weight right now.

Why am I thinking these things?! :(

Friday, June 27, 2014

Closing Day 8: My appetite is coming back!

Pain Level: 2 - The pain in my chin comes and goes. I really don't know where it's coming from considering I don't think I have any stitches or fractures there. I'm praying it's not a nerve thing. :( The space above my upper lip also is starting to hurt a little too... especially when I accidentally press down on it when I wipe my nose. I know there's a stitch there, but I wish it would stop hurting.
Mood: Happy as I'm satiated from a big dinner. Well, bigger than normal. :)

Today I found out what works up an appetite for me - work.
Work makes me hungry. I'm was so hungry all day, all I could think of was how good a Subway Veggie Delight Wrap would be. I even let my mind drift off this afternoon to how good it'd be to have a KFC meal in a few months.

Delicious to melt in soups.
And great source of calcium
for milk-adverse me.
I think my appetite  is slowly coming back. This evening, I tried something new again for food. I melted a slice of mushroom Laughing Cow cheese into my soup... and it was DELICIOUS. :) A little salty, but it was good. And I'm glad it boosted my calcium intake for the day.  

I'm surprised how much I consumed today! But I guess I'm pretty happy that my appetite is coming back... though I hope not too fast! Today, I tried to lick some cheese from the pack and it totally didn't work out - considering that I can't stick my tongue out at all. I felt pretty silly.

On other notes, my ears feel a bit funny today. My left especially feels a little blocked. I wonder if it's because of all the talking I've been trying to do. Today I took one long call and discussion and was so tired that my jaws felt frozen at the end of it. I think I'm going to go back to no talking for the next two days.

That's about it for today. Can't believe it's been a week since the surgery now.
I'm going to be especially thankful for the weekend. My face is still swollen (though it has gone down considerably since Day 3) and I'm still really self-conscious around people, but I think I'm slowly accepting it and am contemplating taking in some guests this weekend...just to help people transit with me through the surgery. 

High point of the day:
Cheese and corn soup. :) And more flowers today! <3
Low point of the day:
Over-talking for work things till my jaw felt frozen and I almost felt like I couldn't breathe.

Food Report

  • 20ml Porridge water soup
  • 70mls Corn soup
  • 50mls Fresh Rambutan juice :D
    (Was probably a pain for my househelper to make because we used fresh rambutans, but it was so delish!)
  • 50mls Peach Vitagen
  • 1740 : 70ml of prune juice
    (I'm trying to get my bowels to cooperate with me because I have only been expelling liquids for the past week...then again, I probably haven't given my body much to work with.)
  • 2030: Almost 100mls of Corn Soup with Cheese
    (My newest caloric high! Yay!)

Day 8: A new day and new foods.

Pain Level: 1 - A small part of my chin on my left hurt a bit this morning, but it's gone now... and everything else is just numb.
Mood: Determined to get work done.

I did a courageous thing yesterday night - I actually went out! I told myself I needed to get out and see the world even though I still totally looked like a potato head because I could feel depression setting in. I needed a "mission" though, so I decided that I should go get some fruits to blend into more nutritious meals.

The trip to the supermarket was quite terrifying really because it was crowded. I was constantly afraid someone would point out something to their shopping buddy and say something like "look!" or "that way!" and swing their arms directly into my face. Yes, it was pretty irrational. But very probable.

The incline and the vibrations of the travellator and the smell of the bleach from the cleaning of the floors at one part of the supermarket made me a little queasy. And honestly, I was so surprised how quickly my energy was drained from just a little walk around the supermarket. I was walking SO slowly I think everyone knew I was not exactly healthy, Well, the slow walking was telling, but that and my potato head face...I think it wasn't difficult to put two and two together. I was really self-conscious because I did see some people stare at me a bit, but it honestly wasn't that bad. Though I have to admit that I developed a deep empathy for people with a disease, and more so a visually obvious one, and the scrutiny they come under when they're in public.

I remember a girl in my secondary school who had a disease that made her skin constantly dry and peeling. Her whole body (even her eyelids) was pink and covered in "scales" which were basically whitish dry skin. She was never in my class so I never really got the chance to talk to her, but I remembered feeling really sorry for her because of how much internal strength I imagined she needed to have to be out in public. People may not have wanted to sit with her on the bus because of the flaking skin, or the fear to catch the disease... there were so many reasons why people may have avoided her (mainly due to the lack of understanding and empathy), but yeah... that was my "growth moment" yesterday - developing a greater empathy for the sick.

Sleep wise:
Was pretty bad last night. Though I only woke up once last night, I woke up feeling really nauseous and could taste/smell blood from my stomach. It took a lot of self-control and "mind-over-matter"ing to not throw up. Otherwise, I'm glad that I only woke up once (instead of 2-3 times, as over the past few days)

Food wise:
DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT consume Maggi Instant Porridge if you're a jaw surgery patient.
I only took 70mls of a blended watered down version of it yesterday and it completely left my tongue numb and tingling the whole day because of the MSG. Silly me. 

For dinner last night, I've begun drinking what my mum calls "porridge water" which is basically the liquid you get when you boil rice in water. It's supposed to be good for you...though I think the nutritional contents are basically starch and water. I did mix a tiny bit of Bovril into the water though just to boost the nutritional content a little. And washed that all down with as much water as I could because of the salt content.

Corn Potato and Onion Soup
and my Food Syringe. :)
This morning I've become a little fiercer with forcing myself to eat and my househelper made a soup blend of potatoes, corn and onions. The recipe was pretty simple... something like

Corn Potato and Onion soup
Fresh Corn Kernels
1. Prep all the vegetables
2. Bring the water to boil
3. Boil the vegetables into the soup till soft
4. Place soup in blender. Blend.
5. Strain soup to remove hard and large bits.
6. Put strained blended soup back on stove to boil.
7. Serve.

I will wait for you...
I could only manage something like 70mls of it but I was glad I got up to 70! (Small achievements! :)) The potato in it was a bit grainy which irritated my throat a little, but it tasted really healthy and good for me. And it was naturally sweet too. Notice I didn't put any salt in because I'm trying to control my salt intake.

Other than that, I think my appetite is coming back a bit because I'm starting to get a bit sad when I see delicious things that I can't quite eat now.... like the Dark Chocolate Waffles that appeared on my FB feed. I did some research yesterday on some recipes for jaw surgery patients, but I just couldn't imagine blending and consuming a lot of the recipes presented - blended pizza, blended burgers, blended waffles.... it was almost sacrilegious for me to imagine blending a perfectly risen, toasted, crisp, fragrant waffle into a mush. It's an absolute insult to it! I will be patient.

Today, I'm determined to get some work done... also cause there's a huge deadline today and Monday I need to meet. I need to will myself into it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 7: Trying to be productive. Trying.

Pain Level: 2 - Still just numb. Though! I did try to exercise my upper lip today by trying to "flex" it a bit, and it hurt SO BAD! I forgot there's a long tight stitch there. :( Lesson learned: Don't move your lips anymore than necessary.
Mood: Tired, but trying my best to be productive. A little depressed and anxious today about physical appearance too.

I'm going to cheat today on the blog and just copy and paste from an FB note that I finally completed today which will give you a run down on pretty much everything related to how things have been going so far.

High point of the day:
Eating 70mls of watery porridge for breakfast, and getting some milk in for lunch. Yay!
Low point of the day:
Worrying a lot about physical appearances and being unable to focus on work. :( 

The rest of the day looks like it's going to be spent trying to get some work done...and sleeping. I've decided that I'm now going to try to stay away from mirrors and from the weighing scale. I'm not going to allow things to get me down. If the swell goes down a bit more tomorrow, I might just go for a walk in the morning. I need to beat the blues!

POST-SURGERY UPDATE (as posted on FB to help my friends and family transit)

Thought I'd write an update for the many questions people have. Thank you for your concern and prayers. They have helped tremendously and though my answers below may seem a little... depressing, I'm actually doing quite well compared to several other jaw surgery patient journeys that I've read. :) So, thank you. 

For the retrograde "How did..." and "How was..." questions...

The SurgeryWent pretty well according to my surgeons. No complications, no use of my autologous ( whole pint of blood I could have kept!). The surgery took 4 hours. Thank you for praying.

Coming homeIt's okay. I'm now convinced getting patients out of the hospital as soon as possible is one of the fastest roads to recovery. Somehow being around so many other helpless sick people in hospital makes you feel very helpless too. But when you're home and life feels somewhat normal, you tend to just psyche yourself out of it and get back on your feet quicker. :)

For the many current "How are you" and "How is..." questions...

It was the worst on Monday and it seems to just be keeping constant now... maybe it's going down by the day. My face literally looked like the shape of an upside down acorn at one time. It's pretty depressing. But it's getting better.

The highest "pain score" ("0" meaning no pain, and "10" meaning unbearable severe pain) I ever had was when I was just out of the OT and got to ICU. I was an absolute 7... but since then, my pain score has been pretty low (in the 1s and 2s). I've been mainly feeling numb more than anything.

Was pretty bad the first few days. Now I just taste blood at times. Apparently it's old blood I'm tasting that has pooled in my sinuses and drains down my throat. Blood in the stomach can make one feel very nauseous. It's just not natural to have blood in your stomach, but I can't quite spit it out though cause I can't quite cough nor open my mouth wide enough. I haven't had to throw up though - I think mainly due to self control, which I really thank God for because I've read of other patients who were constantly throwing up during their recovery. Not fun. I'm not going there. I'm determined not to go there. :)

This is the worst for me I think as it can be really labourious. My surgeon says that it's because I have a deviated septum on the left and that blood is naturally pooling in the sinuses but it is supposed to clear out over time. My upper palette is also really swollen and that and my tongue is pretty much taking up all the room in my fact it feels a bit like my tongue has been pushed back. Breathing nowadays is pretty shallow and I think I get sleep apnea a couple of times at night.

Hindered breathing has pretty much affected every other normal function for me. I have never appreciated the ability to breathe so much till it got so annoyingly difficult. Breathe in, breathe out. Seriously, appreciate your life like never before. :)

Very disrupted. I was able to have a proper 7 hour rest the first two days, but these 3 days have been bad. I don't quite get past 4 hours, and generally wake up after 2-3 hours of falling asleep. The past three days, I've averaged waking up 3 times a night - mainly from coughing, choking, or not being able to breathe. And having to sleep in an upright/incline position is really uncomfortable. But breathing is more important than sleeping.

Eating & Nutrition
Next to breathing, this is probably a little of my more worrisome bits of life now.
I have developed a fear of putting things in my mouth for four main reasons
1. Phlegm & Breathing
2. Fear of Cavities (because I now cannot brush all my teeth. :()
3. Swallowing is tiring
4. Nauseous feeling that comes and goes because of the blood in my stomach

The "peak" of my "eating days" was maybe about 300mls of some liquid (usually split between water, juice, and a bit of milk) on Tuesday or something (which averages about 100mls a meal). But most meals peak at 60mls. I'm drinking a little more water, but I can't seem to get past half a litre a day. Yesterday, I had a "work appointment" which I actually had to travel out for (yes, all swollen and fractured and all), and I actually got hungry and craved porridge. It was my "appetite highlight" of the week. Breakfast this morning was probably the most substantial meal I've had for the past few days - 70mls of blended watered down Maggi's Instant Duck porridge. 

And if you're asking why I'm measuring everything in milliliters, that's cause I have to eat/drink through a syringe. Not fun. It is true when they say there is pleasure in the act and ability to eat. Mastication is pleasurable. Believe it.

Energy Levels
I was pretty okay the first day I got back, but on Tuesday I was in and out of sleep like a light. I totally felt like a very old person. I think it's also cause of the breathing difficulties that I get tired just climbing my silly flight of stairs to the second floor at home (which I technically only do twice a day now to brush my teeth). But yeah, I get tired pretty easily...and that's annoying cause I prefer my life to be a little more productive. It sucks quite a bit when you cannot concentrate for long.

Motivation & Activity
This is very highly correlated to energy levels, but I have very little motivation for work and activity these days. Doesn't help that I can't breathe very well either. It's really a "spirit is willing, but flesh is weak" thing. I've literally embarked on activities (open document, open email, read, begin to reply), and found myself very quickly sapped of energy and somehow just very quickly falling back asleep. It's a huge battle between my need to be productive, and my silly lousy body. Even this post that I'm writing now has been written in chunks over the past 4 days... hopefully I'll be able to finish it today. Rawr.

I couldn't talk at all for the past couple of days, but forced myself a little bit yesterday...especially when I saw that my dad was starting to talk to me in sign language. =_= I guess it helps that I'm not naturally very talkative, but it has been a little annoying cause it makes one seem a bit... helpless? If you guys know me, I'm not a fan of "helpless". So yes, I'm making random sounds now through my jaws that can't quite move. I still can't pick up calls though. Trust me, it will be a waste of your money for me to pick up your call unless you intend it to be the only one talking. :) Please don't call me singing though. I'm still allergic to awkward situations. Haha. :)

Do you look different?
To be honest, I have a little fear of looking in the mirror too long. But so far I haven't noticed much of a difference. It's a little early to say... cause I mainly look like Mr Potato Head due to the swelling, but apparently the top profile of my face (which is not swollen) is the same. The siblings say I look younger and that my face shape will change a bit, but I'm not expecting anything too drastic. My househelper says I look like a little girl now though cause my face is quite a bit shorter... which is really frightening for me cause I still eventually have a team and company to run (I like my fierce look! :)). I'm just hoping that "reading" comes from my swollen puffy cheeks. Hopefully things won't change too much! :(

Can I/we visit you now?
Thank you for the love, but I'm currently going through a time of transition. I'm really swollen and can't really tell if I look different and how much social, psychological, and emotional adjustments I need to make. Not to mention that my energy levels are not constant and I don't want to be all "Hello! Thanks for coming!" (which will sound like random sounds from me), then suddenly be "Zzzzz". You will literally be sitting on my couch twiddling your thumbs and sitting in awkward silence whilst my body decides when to get back up from the temporal coma. It will be awkward. :) Do text/whatsapp me though. It's kinda my only form of communication to the world now and it's really appreciated. :)

I'll try to be more open next week, promise.

How can I help?
Thank you SO MUCH for the love, I guess maybe right now it's just prayers. The help I need now is generally beyond human help - breathing, sleeping, energy levels, adjusting... unless you have some secret formula to getting me to eat more. Haha. :D Maybe pray against infections too cause they can cause major complications. My surgeon seemed quite concerned about me catching some bug...especially cause of my almost non-existent appetite. 

But honestly, the encouragement and the love shared has been something that I have been so thankful for already. (Oh, thank you for the flowers too! You already know I really appreciate them tremendously!) Just knowing that we might all be okay transiting together is all that is enough for me to be thoroughly grateful for. :) Thank you. <3

Oh yes, for the friends who have followed the dramatic things that have been happening at my workplace too, if you could cover that in prayer, it would be greatly appreciated too. Things are not quite resolved and I have to still keep watch over it and we're still praying for breakthrough. I think about it often, and it kinda sucks for me to not be 100% on-form. Please cover my staff and my parents (who have temporally taken over the reigns of the company again now that I'm down). I'm so thankful for them and it's a season of growth for all of us. Pray for wisdom, love, unity, health, courage and tenacity.

Other random questions/statements

"Oh man, I want to do this  (/my nose, my eyes....) too!"
STOP. Go for a walk. If it's not a medical issue (TMJ pain, bone problems...), trust me, you do not want to do this. Honestly, looking back, after all this rubbish, I may have even chosen otherwise and waited it out for the pain to come later, considering this was a preventive surgery for me. 

You are beautiful the way you are. Beauty is from the inside. You can change how you look drastically on the outside, but the soul doesn't change. You might only be forced to discover a courage/confidence in you, but it was always there in the first place. (Although discovering insecurities and fear, instead of confidence, is just as probable a result too.) It's too much risk, too much pain, and too much time wasted. Invest it all instead on building who you are on the inside - and discovering that your identity is not on how you look, but who you are. :) 


Okies! Done! Can't believe this post is finally done!
Okies, have a beautiful day everyone! Enjoy breathing and eating and normality in general! You were uniquely and wonderfully created! :D

With all my love <3,
Claire Ariela

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day 6 : Work and tiredness

Pain Level: 1 - Too tired for anything. In fact, I don't think I feel much pain at all.
Mood: Tired. But more from the events of the day than anything else.

I'm exhausted.

Today's highlights...

  • Found that I could actually fit my pills in between my teeth. No more crushed meds! Happiest discovery ever!
  • Went to see Surgeonman today. He said that everything looks great, and he moved some of my bands from the middle to the side. I think he wants to encourage me to eat by moving the bands... but I really have no appetite. He was worried about me catching fevers too. I think it's the nutrition part... I really need to put in effort into my eating.
  • Had to make a special trip out for some work. It was a 3 hour long meeting I think and possibly the most exhausting in my life. Yes, I went swollen and everything. I tried to talk at some parts and it was a pain. :( Travelling really exhausts me.
  • I am starting to become really conscious about how different I might look. I can't tell, but it's starting to worry me.
  • I've started trying to talk a little with the limited jaw movements that I have now... ended up having a work discussion at night.
I'm so tired now and somehow my jaw feels so tight after all that "talking" and all the travelling today.
I need some rest...

Food achievements today...
I think I didn't get any milk in after the 40mls at breakfast.
All I got was some 40-60mls of pink guava juice for lunch and dinner I think.

But I was proud of myself that I've begun to be more experimental by asking my househelper to help me blend up the pink guava. And honestly, after all the work discussions, I was actually hungry and requested for some instant duck porridge... but was eventually just too exhausted to eat anything.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to focus on eating & nutrition more.
I really can't be surviving on 100mls of fruit juice a day. :(

Okay, time to rest.