Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hot Dog Anyone?

I don't know if its all the excitement of watching Meredith come back to life on Grey's Anatonomy on Thursday night, or if I have phantom sympathy pains for my fellow bloggers who have recently undergone their orthgnathic surgery, but I've had a lot of sensations (pain, tingling, itching--how I long for just one good scratch! ) on my lower lip and chin in just these past days. And then I read Jennicole's post about nerve regeneration and I realized that at 4 months post surgery, my nerves may be at the point where they are trying to reconnect. How exciting is the possibility of that!
Here is Jennicole's post, which I thought most interesting:
The reason it takes so long to get feeling back in your face is this. When a nerve is severed, if not reattached immediately (within an hour or so) the nerve will die. At that point the nerve slowly dies off, imagine how roses slowly wither away. In about the third to fourth week, the stub were the nerve was severed begins to try to make signal to the old nerve. This is what causes the itchy pin and needles tingly sensation. The remaining nerves then acts like an octopus; it send signals to other nerves in the area, once a signal is made the nerve bud begins growing towards the nerve pathway. My OS explained it like this...The old nerves that died are like a hot dog. The inside dies away, but the outer bun stays in tact. The nerve then reaches through the path of the hot dog bun. The average growth of nerve is 1/2 mm a day. So depending were the nerve is can expect that there is about 25-50 mm of growth around the jaw that has to be regenerated before feeling comes back to the face. So for yself, I have a very long I can assume based on this fact that including the 3-4 weeks it takes for the nerve to die, and the nerve regeneration to grow...I'm looking at a minimum of four months based on 50 mm of growth.
Now don't you just want a hot dog!!!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Proud Mary Keeps on Burning

Sunday will be my 4 month anniversary since my surgery. I am still numb on my bottom lip and chin. For the past couple of days I have had more burning on my lip and more itching. I hope that's good! I also continue to have a strange feeling across my lip, like someting is pressing against it, restraining it, even though I can move it. Its hard to explain. Sometimes I have a really strong ticking sensation on my chin that I can't scratch. I had a lot of that right after the surgery and then it kind of subsided. My acupuncturist thinks there's a good chance I'll get my feeling back but I have to admit, I'm a tad discouraged. I wanted my feeling back since day 1!

And I'm eating quite normally even though I still have an issue with the mobility of food in my mouth. Seems I just can't chew as big as a mouthful as I'm used to. But I'm eating quite normally, almost everything. My scale says I still weight the same, 105, but my yoga pants say 125. I'm sure its just a matter of time before the weight comes back on. Its interesting how it took its time coming off.

I'm getting more comments from people who see me about how I look, how different I look, positive comments. Its kind of nice. Now I'm looking forward to getting my braces off and getting the rest of my dental work finished. Seems like it will be forever!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nostalgia--a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.

It's kind of wierd that with several bloggers just having gone through their surgery, I am experiencing this nostalgia for those first days post surgery. I know realistically I would never want to go through it again, but there were so many new and interesting experiences. Like going to Starbucks for a soy green tea latte (which I was seriously craving) and being completely embarrassed about my monsterous look and inability to speak clearly. And for the first week after the surgery, I seriously regretted doing it and I questioned my motivation and sanity. I rembember having a conversation with a girlfriend who had had a breast augmentation and she told me she felt the same way. But there was also something very special about those days, getting flowers, having Jeff cook yummy soups and being very supportive. And being off from work for two stress-free weeks and just enjoying, as much as I could, napping, watching TV (Oprah) and reading. I guess what I did enjoy was indulging myself, my emotional self, and being okay with it.

But then again, after looking at this photo of about Day 3, which I just came across, I think my nostalgia has now worn off. :-)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

So here's my new chin

That's quite a chin, don't you think?

And here's a "before" picture which kind of shows a side view of my chin.

And here's an updated frontal view, 15.5 weeks post surgery.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fifteen Weeks Post Surgery

So I saw my surgeon, Dr. Kaufman, yesterday, for my 15 week post checkup. My orthognathic adventure is pretty much over and everything turned out well, all 3 of my doctors (orthodontist, dentist and surgeon) are all thrilled with the result. Now we are moving forward with implants, starting with the three on top. And then finally, the cosmetic crowns. I can't wait until I won't be embarrased about my teeth.

I have decided to have Dr. Kaufman also do my implants and we had a long talk about it yesterday. He told me that there is a good chance that the numbness on the bottom will be permanent due to my age. I wasn't so happy about that. But, if the feeling does not return, this means that he will be able to do bottom implants without bone grafts. So it won't be all bad if I stay numb.

However, if the feeling comes back, he said there is a good chance he may not even be able to do the implants on the bottom, even with bone grafts, because of my small face structure and the nerve is too high. He would not be able to put the implants in far enough without damaging the nerve. Interesting. So, we'll see.

So now its just a matter of waiting for the braces to come off so that I can proceed with the implants on top. Probably about three months.

I really like my surgeon. He spent a lot of time with me yesterday. And he told me all about his adventures in India. Sounded a little hairy!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Good habits are easy to break!

Its funny how bad habits are hard to break. Like it took me years to wean myself off of coffee. But a good habit, like getting up to walk every morning, is out the window in no time flat. I got sick about a week and a half ago with a really bad cold. Of course I haven't been to yoga or walking in the morning. And finally I'm starting to get better. And this morning it didn't even occur to me to get dressed and go on my walk. Instead I have now gotten used to sleeping in! So its going to be like ripping a bandage off -- having to make myself get up and put on my sweat pants. And the funny thing is I love to walk. I have been in this routine for years. Oh well. Just a thought I had this morning.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

My "Benzo" Story

Anti-anxiety medications known as tranquilizers such as valium, zanax, ativan, etc. are drugs commonly referred to as benzodiazepines. Those of us familiar with these medications call them "benzos". I thought it might be worthwhile to post my benzo story here for others who are considering taking them to decrease their surgery anxiety. My advice unequivocally is -- DON'T!!!

I started taking valium in my early 20's which were prescribed to me by a military doctor for pain. I didn't think twice about it. Not too long after I started taking valium, I started having strange health problems. I never equated the two and when my perspcription ran out, I stopped taking them. Until about a year or two later when I was getting a divorce and I found another doctor who perscribed them. That's also about the time my panic attacks began. Again, I did not equate one with the other. What I didn't know was that benzos cause rebound anxiety and panic attacks, especially the ones with the longer half life. I then took valium and other benzos over the next 20 years mostly on an as-needed basis for panic attacks, sometimes as little as .5 mgs per month. Throughout these years, I continued to suffer from strange symptoms for which I went from doctor to doctor with no diagnosis.

Then in my early 40's I got really sick. One of my doctors told me I had "anxiety neurosis" and prescribed 1 mg of ativan on a daily basis. For a while the ativan did help alleviate my symptoms. What I didn't know was that I had developed tolerance withdrawal even though I was not taking the valium on a regular basis because of its long half life. That's why the ativan helped. But then I continued to get worse, having trouble even walking. I went to many specialists who diagnosed me with among other things, MS, myesthenia gravis, lupus, toxo plasmois, and finally, chronic fatigue. It got to the point where I really didn't think I could go on. All of the doctors knew my benzo history but not one of them thought to consider that they were making me ill. Such a small pill has such a tremendous effect on the nervous system.

Finally, it was my accupuncturist who suggested that I slowly taper off the ativan. And when I did, that's when it hit me like a DUH! that it was the benzos that had been making me ill all those years. By then, a lot of nerve damage had been done. But fortunately I was one of the lucky ones who was able to taper off and actually recover my health and my life. Unlike most drugs, benzos are not something that you can just detox off. Benzos alter the landscape of the brain, its ability to naturally calm itslef down. You have to taper very very slowly and even then its barely tolerable. It took a good 2 years before I started feeling somewhat normal again and even today, almost 6 years later, I still have chronic muscle fatigue and other benzo damage issues. For about a month after my surgery, the panic attacks and aggitation came back most likely due to the benzo they gave me right before they put me under.

So anyone who may be considering tranquilizers to deal with anxiety, I recommend that go to "" (click on My "Benzo" Story title for link.)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Three Month Update

Actually, not that much has changed. I'm still numb in my bottom lip and chin but more feeling is coming back into the peripheral areas. I actually have more pain on the inside of my lip and some sensation on my gums when I brush my teeth. I saw my orthodontist on Thursday and I am done with my rubber bands. I should be getting my braces off soon, within the next month or two, after some final tweeking, so that's good news.

I saw my dentist a few weeks ago and he is happy with my new bite and we talked about proceeding with a cat scan and implants as soon as the braces come off.

I'm still holding steading at 105 pounds for a total weight loss of 15 pounds. Two weeks ago Jeff got chicken pox (I know !!??) and just as he was beginning to feel better, I came down with the worst cold I have ever had, so I haven't been eating that much. I have been holding off buying new pants (inspite of people telling me I am "getting too skinny" coz my pants are bagging) because I am sure that the pounds will creep back on sooner than later.

I was looking at my profile the other day and it seems that my chin is now a little more pronounced than I realized. Mmmmmmm. Maybe its just me . . .

So that's about it, no big changes or anything. I see Dr. Kaufman next week so we'll see what he has to say.