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!