It was hard to say goodbye yesterday and walk out the door. All eyes, except the boys, of course, had tears in them. Emerson was just flat out crying for me. It was so much more painful to leave this time.
Of course, after I left, I realized I had left some things. We had to turn around and come back for them, hiding around the corner where the kids wouldn't see us from their play in the driveway while my dad delivered them. THEN once I got them put into my suitcase and shut the trunk, I realized I also put the keys to the car in my suitcase as well - locked in the trunk. Whoops! I think Jon thought I was trying to miss our flight so we couldn't go! (I know I didn't do it on purpose, but you know how subconsciouses can be!)
Dr. Gunson (my surgeon) measured and took pictures and analyzed my face. He spent so much time staring at my face that the awkwardness had time to fade into routine by the end of my day there. He stared at me like he was looking right past me - studying everything about my face and facial structure, I'm sure.
Their kindness was conveyed as they walked through all the aspects of the surgery with me. I'll have bone grafts, bone shavings, lots of screws and plates placed in my jaw and after 5 -6 hours of surgery, I'll come out looking like a new woman - literally! My airway will be twice (or more, I believe) the size it is now, my jaw will have been moved up and out while my upper teeth will have been moved as well (that's where the bone shaving comes in). My face will, after all is said and done (in a year approximately) be better - it'll both feel better and look better.
In the meantime, however, it'll be painful. The nurse very kindly, yet bluntly, told me the first 6 days are terribly hard. A sore throat, major swelling, coming off of a steroid high (used for the surgery), nerves that will not yet wake up for several days, nauseousness, inability to breathe through my nose, teeth banded shut, the inability to speak and the very hard task of learning to swallow again will make the first week the hardest, she explained.
Swelling lasts several weeks, tiredness hangs on just as long, and while 80% of my swelling will be gone within 16 weeks, there will still be some residual swelling that will last for 12-18 months.
Some of this I knew, some I didn't.
Another thing I learned, they will place a screw in my upper gums along with a hook in my lower gums to stabilize my jaw with elastic bands. They will also place a screw in the bridge of my nose during surgery and only during surgery as a stabilizing point, something to use as a point of reference because my face will be so manipulated and moved around during surgery.
They will also stitch my eyes closed to keep my eyes safe from flying debris of bone and dust.
At one point, I began feeling a little panicky. I guess no one can actually be ready for something like this, and yet they have had hundreds and hundreds of patients with successful surgeries. Overwhelming, though, to say the least.
Last I decided to post some pictures of the process. I guess I desire for you to understand what it is that I'm going through - NOT because I want pity. I don't. But I want people to understand, to be knowledgeable, to know that no, I didn't have plastic surgery, and to recognize why and what all I will be facing in the process.
Also, I don't mind questions and talking about it (once I can efficiently talk again! Ha!) and explaining things.
(And if you didn't know before now, a very, very brief explanation is that I'm having surgery on my jaw to fix my torn and mangled TMJ joints and degenerated bone to prevent my jaw from just breaking in a matter of years)
So, the reveal (which, by the way, is slightly difficult for me to post and look at!). Here are my official 'before' pictures. *** You can see how the splint (which I had on my teeth at the beginning of this treatment), while putting my jaw in a healthier position, made my face, mouth and nose a little lopsided (which I knew would happen when we started). ***
Imagine my jaw and mouth being moved forward (and slightly up) 17 mm. Pretty crazy, but a reality in two days!
The board is hard to read, but it says 3 days before surgery.
I took the pictures the way I did (with my face completely relaxed) because I want to be able to show the full results to all of my face (including how much is may - or may not?- affect my nose. and lopsided-ness of my face)
Anyway, here goes nothin'! Surgery is on Wednesday morning at 7:15 a.m. Pacific Time. I appreciate and welcome any prayers - for me and my family, especially my kids. It's so, so hard to be away from them.
It makes my heart so heavy to know that I'm not there to tuck them in and hug them each day. The worst is knowing that when I return, in 15 days, that I may not be recognizable to them and the thought of them turning away from me just makes me ache. Please, please pray for them, too. Emerson, my sweet girl, seems to be having the hardest time. Talking to her on Skype and seeing her cry is one of the worst things for me to see. So, please remember them in your prayers as well. This will be a long hard adjustment for us all.