Jaw Journal

Day 19: I ain’t nothing but a hound dog…drooling all the time

Well, I have no excuses. My shameful lack of blog posts is purely the result of laziness. That’s all there is to it! For the past few days I’ve had fleeting thoughts of creating a new post…and then those fleeting thoughts fleeted themselves out the window in favor of another episode of Dick Van Dyke or Vampire Diaries. Yup. My post-toddler days have been basking in couch-potato indulgences!

But, in all fairness to my couch-potato self, there actually hasn’t been a ton to report. No new sensation in my lips or chin. (Still lots of painful and irritating tingling, though. Especially at bed time. What’s with that?) No exciting editions to my diet. (Well…unless you consider lasagna exciting! I do. 🙂 ) And no major changes to my routine.

I did go to church this past Sunday for the first time, and gave many a side-hug. I thoroughly enjoyed my church outing, and came home exhausted and in need of a 3 hour nap. (I really am getting used to daily naps. They are wasted on the young, I say.)

OH! I did talk to a potential voice teacher! That was definitely exciting. I’ve decided that, since my jaw was never healthy in my voice training days, I’ve never actually used my muscles correctly as a singer. Because of that, I want to start from scratch and get training with the NEW jaw. So…I’ll keep ya’ll posted on that.

Anyway, I’ve been mulling over some jaw/ recovery things to share, and have decided to lump my musings into one convenient list for you. You’re welcome. 🙂

Things I’ve Learned During Recovery

1. I was, like, WAY over prepared. Wow. I had the expectation that recovery was going to be long and awful, and I planned on being bed-ridden and relegated to a liquid diet for MUCH longer than was a reality. The result has been the need to return a fair amount of liquidy food and a Magic Bullet Delux blender to the store. I also gave a bunch of utensils to Noah, including baby spoons (which were helpful for a few days) and several sippy cups (which I hated).

2. I was NOT prepared for my side effects to medications. Namely, the nausea caused by my pain killer. Also, having my vision blurred by myanti-nausea patches was a surprise, and prevented me from reading or writing anything. (Thank goodness for the Vampire Diaries. What would I have done with all that blurry time?!)

3. I didn’t give a lot of thought to the consequences of numbness. Granted, I did decide that numbness was preferable to chronic pain when I opted to have the surgery, and that’s a decision I’m still (mostly) comfortable with. However, I didn’t consider the ramifications of having a numb lip, which is the most distressing of my numbness. A numb lip means I have to make sure my food and beverages are lukewarm because I’m not really able to judge how hot something is, and therefore whether it will scald me or not. It also means I bite my numb lip a lot, causing it to swell and be even more inconvenient. And, it means kissing is much less exciting. (Take that into consideration, you newlyweds!)

Ok, I do realize my lip probably won’t be numb forever. But there’s a chance it may be. As it has been three weeks of slug-lip so far, I do need to face the slim possibility of permanent numbness. (But I’m not too worried, as the doc says it usually takes a few months to get feeling back. I’m a preparer, though, remember? Can’t help it.)

Also, numb gums is really weird. Brushing my teeth is officially tricky.

4. Drool: it happens. And people laugh. Not only the drool on your pillow kind of drool. I’m talking drool cascading down your chin unnoticed (by you) during meals. Drool that collects in the corners of your mouth while talking…or breathing…or existing. And, my personal favorite, the drool that forces you to hang your head over the sink while brushing your teeth.

Now, I’ve always been a travel brusher. I enjoy sitting on the couch while brushing my teeth, or watching the end of a TV program, or finishing the last few pages of a book. I’ve been known to peruse the contents of my fridge while brushing, or pet my cat, or pick out my outfit for the day. Once, when I was still single, I even vacuumed my apartment while brushing my teeth. What I hate is being confined to the bathroom. But the unbelievable amount of foam and drool I produce while brushing my teeth now forces me to stay in the bathroom, directly over the sink.

5. Sleep is super important. I strongly encourage you to be as generous with yourself as possible as far as the amount of sleep you get. You’re growing new bones, remember. And as Harry Potter knows, bone growing is tough, painful, and exhausting. So be good to yourself and sleep.

6. It’s important to be social. All things in moderation, of course, but nothing has aided my recovery more than the people around me. Having loved ones visit is great for your energy and mental health. And it’s just good to hear people say things like, “Wow! You look amazing!” I mean, saying it to yourself in the mirror is nice, too, but it isn’t the same.

7. When preparing for your liquid diet, don’t let yourself believe that your eating habits will suddenly change. By this I mean, when thinking about meals you may want in liquid form, don’t get too fancy. If you’re not a big salad eater, for example, don’t get the bright idea to add spinach to your smoothies. Sure, it may be a healthy and enlightened idea; but when it comes down to it, you’re probably gonna choose the pretty banana smoothie over the weird green one. (Trust me. My husband dumped out several green smoothies I had the ambition to blend prior to surgery, and no desire to go near after surgery.)

Similarly, with soft foods, you’ll probably be excited to see soft foods after your liquid days. Just take things slow. If it sounds gross, it probably is. If you discover it’s great, don’t make a huge batch of it. You’ll probably burn out and end up dumping it. All things in moderation. (Except baked beans. Them things are just dang good.)

8. Take pictures of yourself. It will help to have a record of your swelling, for example, on the day you say in exasperation, “My face is so freaking ginormous!” Then you can pull out the pics and see how much bigger your face used to be, and feel a teensy bit better.

9. Prepare for exhaustion. I think the hardest part of my recovery has honestly been the exhaustion. This kind of goes with the sleep advice in #5, but also stands as on its own. My exhaustion hasn’t just been the kind fixable with sleep. It’s a constant, heavy presence some days. In fact, I’ve had a few days of being too tired to even sleep. Be prepared for having very low energy, and listen to your body’s needs. 

10. It’s really not that bad. Yeah, there have been days that sucked, and some aspects of recovery are really hard. But when I put it into perspective of YEARS of pain vs. a few uncomfortable weeks in order to have a normal, pain-free life, I’m encouraged. Recovery has been pretty great, actually. Not easy, and not fun; but it’s gone well, I’m healthy and I’m on the road to being RECOVERED. It’s an awesome reality! So, take the good with the bad, and remember that each day is a step closer to HEALTHY.


  • Karalee

    Yay!! Thanks for sharing the insights – still so thankful that it’s been easier than anticipated! Matthew regularly thanks God and prays for your recovery in our morning prayers. 🙂 And friend, don’t feel guilty about not updating the blog every day. Seriously. The only one holding yourself to that standard is YOU! The rest of us just love you, and love that a blog even exists to track with you. We’re thrilled with anything we get. And your readers who DON’T know you are still getting lots of helpful insight about jaw surgery from a first-hand perspective, even if it’s not daily. Stop the guilt. 🙂 Love you so much.