First Surgery Recovery Days 47-54: There's a problem, but I think it's fixed

Monday - Monday, February 24 - March 3, 2014

Nothing really worth mentioning happened with my jaw until last Friday morning February 28th. I woke up and checked my email on my phone. My surgeon typed to me minutes earlier stating that he was concerned about my jaw not being able to open more than 10mm. He told me I should probably be at around 30mm by now.

So I had a MRI done later in the day on Friday. Today, Monday, he performed a procedure called arthrocentesis. It's an operation that drains fluid from in front of the ear. Apparently there's something in there acting like a "doorstop" when I try to open my jaw. He believes this will help the situation immediately, and all that's needed are two small pin pricks. I believe he also introduced a steroid to the same area. Tonight, just a few hours later, I'm typing this blog entry with the bandages already removed from the side of my face and on my arm where the IV needle was placed during the minor procedure. My jaw opening is now 15mm and he gave me several exercises to do so I can be at 30mm by next week.

The jaw exercises include me sliding several tongue depressors stacked on top of each other into the sides of my jaw and leaving them there for a few minutes. I do one side and then a few minutes later I do the other side. Wooden tongue depressors don't really taste that great.


After the tongue depressors, I use a special stretching tool called a OraStretch Press Jaw Motion Rehab System (pictured above) seven times a day. Each of the seven times a day, I stretch open for about seven seconds, seven times each. So 49 total stretches a day. On the side of the tool it shows how big my opening is so that I can keep track. My surgeon told me it's very expensive, so thank you to my insurance for covering it.

On a more general level, pressure, minimal pain and any other abnormalities are getting less and less by the day. It's a very slow process though. If you're going to be having jaw surgery on both your upper and lower jaws, things obviously do get back to normal eventually, but it takes a lot of time. It likely takes a lot more time than any other medical recovery period you've been through in the past or maybe ever will go through in the future. Nearing the eight week mark, I'm able to feel happy and chew on tasty soft foods, though I'm just a touch away from being ok enough to eat in public. I look a little sloppy while I eat since I'm not quite fully there yet. The worst stuff is behind me though, so I'm glad to wake up each and every day knowing the previous day is done.

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