Man, oh man! I’ve been anticipating to write this spill about my jaw surgery for a while now. Where do I start?!? lol I’ll try to sum it up as much as I can. This post is a vulnerable and open post. I am not perfect. I like to be real and transparent as much as I can, no shame in my journey. (Just a head’s up, it is a lengthy post so bookmark it if you don’t have much time lol.)
Earlier this year, my organization put on a donation drive for the homeless in downtown Dallas, which touched a lot of lives. 🙂 I was ecstatic to start the year on a great foot by proactively doing some good for the community; which of course is a part of my God-given purpose on earth. Not long after, I had to begin the process of my double jaw surgery journey. I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.
(Sleep•Apnea): serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times, which can be fatal. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.
My obstruction so happened to be my jaw alignment.
(posting some pre-op photos for you guys of me so you can compare for yourself.)With double jaw surgery, I instantly knew the majority of the 2019 would be dedicated to spending many days on the phone with insurance, going to a million doctors visits and hibernating at home until I fully recovered. A full recovery is 1 year post-operation.
I started to mentally prepare myself for all of the “what ifs”. One of the unknowns about DJS (Double Jaw Surgery) is the payment part. This surgery averages at $150,000 USD and if you don’t have insurance, GOD BLESS YOU!!!!
This condition is something that I grew up having and it is deemed medically necessary, not cosmetic. At a young age, I always knew I would need it. My childhood physicians, including my orthodontist, said it was a dire procedure but truly necessary to obtain a healthy lifestyle. They recommended that I got surgery after turning 16 years old. Being at that age, my mother was not in favor of me going through such a procedure. My father had a similar jaw surgery over 26 years ago (when I was born) and she had to take care of him during his recovery. During that time, his mouth was wired shut and he had to be on a strict liquid diet for over a month.
Even though my very own dad had a firsthand experience of DJS, he didn’t talk about it much. I’ll never forget how Google was still being developed and I was already trying to research everything there was to know about double jaw surgery.
For the most part, I was mentally prepared. I came across many roadblocks that tried to stop or discourage me from getting the surgery; but Lord behold, it was all apart of my destiny. It was bound to happen for my good, one way or another.
Long story “shortened”, on March 22nd, 2019… I underwent an 9 hour surgery where they realigned both of my jaws. My insurance qualifies any jaw movement over 2mm to 3mm’s medically necessary. Mind you, my corrective measurements were 4-5mm’s (upward) for my upper jaw and 23mm’s forward for my lower jaw. One word: EXTREME!
Due to the grand measurements, it made my case more complicated than most.
Since my lower jaw needed to be moved significantly, they couldn’t do the usual “break the jaw” and screw it into its new position. For me, it wouldn’t work and my jaw would relapse back into a similar position as before. Not creating enough space for me to breathe properly.
So they had to insert a device on both sides of my lower jaw called a distractor device. (looks similar to the photo below)
Yes, the device was inserted internally but it also had two arms that sticking out externally by my ears. The arms of the device had to be turned 360 degrees, once a day for 22 days straight… which gradually extended my lower jaw into it’s new corrective position.
(Yup, this is me. I just took off my bandages to see the device’s arms.)
As the turning moved my jaw forward, natural bone grew behind the space and filled it. No plastic or filler… none of that gunk was inserted into my face. lol
If you’re wondering if this hurt…. BOY OH BOY… YES IT DID!!!!!!! 😭😭😭😭 The pain was honestly excruciating but God surely got me through it. The last few days of the turns, I was at my wits end. lol I seriously wasn’t sure if I could keep going.
One thing that didn’t help was the fact that the only medication that they give me was basically prescription Tylenol . So… YEA I felt everything! 😖
Ultimately, when I woke up from the surgery I was in a complete daze from the anesthesia and had the urgency to pee. Mind you, I only see my grandmother around and my dad nor a nurse was in my sight. I asked for her help to get up to the bathroom. In the midst of going into the bathroom. I blacked out and fell on top of my poor grandmother who is 81 years old. 💔💔 We ended up falling into this hospital bath tub and she hit her head. ☹️ She ended up being okay though, thank God!
The first moments out of surgery were rough!!! 😩 I threw up blood and felt really sick 🤮🤢🤕 but it got better. My mother stayed overnight at the hospital with me for 3 days to help and provide comfort. I love that woman. I’m grateful that I had her to help me there and once we got home.
My surgeon wanted me to eat soft foods during my recovery, instead of the old fashioned “liquids only diet”. Since I was still swollen and could barely talk, liquids were my go-to for the first 3-4 weeks. I did get plenty of liquids down but I was forever hungry. No amount of liquid got me full! In-between turning the device, sitting in pain for the rest of that day, trying to get enough calories/protein shakes down to maintain weight and take medication….. seriously EXHAUSTING! I woke up every 2-3 hours in pain and needed a huge dose of over the counter kid medication. 😂 lol
The first two months were harsh but they got better as time progressed. I already lost 17lbs at the time. 🤭 The last day of the distractor turns, they removed the arms of the device out of my face. They put numbing spray on the outer part so I didn’t feel it AS much. It was perfect timing because the next day, my friends and I were going to the B2K, Millennium tour concert. I didn’t want to miss it since this band/group hasn’t been together in YEARS. I came close to giving my ticket away due to how uncomfortable I was feeling.
Of course, I was super swollen at the time. My face was 60% numb, so I was still in the drooling phase. I had a mask just in case lol Again, by the grace of God. I managed to get through it. I had a wonderful time and I’m glad I went with the girls. All of them were supportive and made me feel less of a mess. Lol
Fast forward to July, I was finally starting to look like my new normal with an actual jawline. I had Minimum swelling, not much pain.
I had to wait 4 months (total) before the distractor device could be completely removed from my face. This gave the new bone time to settle and harden into place. On July 24th, I had finally my last surgery, which removed the device. HALLELUJAH!
During the 4 month wait for this moment, my surgeon reassured me (a million times) that this last one would be a piece of cake and I’d barely swell up. Instead of staying in the hospital for 2 nights, I would be released the same day.
HEY, it sounded like music to my ears! ☺️🤘🏾
The procedure took about 2-3 hours, much less than the 9-10 hours like the 1st one. Everything seemed to be okay the first few hours after I went home.
(Later that night, Day 1 Post-Op #2 above)
I noticed that my face was swelling more. So I thought to myself “Yup, this is normal. It won’t get much worse…“
(Day 2 Post-Op #2 above)
You guys………. IT GOT SOOOOOO MUCH WORSE! Worst than the first surgery. I looked like I got beat up by someone! Seriously 😂 I was laughing at myself while it was happening but it was uncomfortable. I could barely see out of my left eye!!!!!
(Day 3 Post-Op #2 above)
My mother was concerned that something wasn’t right. It got progressively worse all the way up to day 4. I saw my surgeon on that day as the swelling started to decrease a bit… he was ALARMED, to say the least. He was convinced that there was a blood clot in my cheeks that caused the extreme swelling and almost rushed me in for an emergency 3rd surgery!
I just went through 2 surgeries… I couldn’t fathom a 3rd! 😨😫😭😞 I couldn’t!!!!!!
Thank you Jesus I didn’t have to get it done. My swelling was monitored and after using a combo of ice packs and heat compresses… we noticed it slowly going down.
I cannot express how tiring and difficult this jaw surgery journey has been for me. During this time, I began to get a little upset and wonder “why God??” Why was I assigned not to have a functioning jaw alignment right out of the womb and it stay that way? Why was this apart of my destiny?
You know…the devil loves to confuse you or have you lose track of what’s important when you’re going through something. I knew beforehand that if I had this surgery when I was little or if I never needed it… I wouldn’t be the bold, vibrant, go-getter woman of God that I am at this very moment in life.
Due to my looks, a lot of people used to judge me and look down upon me. I got made fun of when I was younger. My peers looked nothing like me. Mind you, I am a black woman in a Caucasian suburban city. I didn’t have many (almost none, honestly) to relate to. My own family and I didn’t even favor. The only person who I related to the most was my dad and I grew up seeing him post-op.
Growing up with a dysfunctional bite and jaw alignment pushed me into who I am. It pushed me not to care what people think about me. It pushed me to understand and realize that I don’t need anyone’s approval BUT GOD! Although I looked different compared to the society norms, I steadily would fill the room with my light and personality. I didn’t let people of the world stop me. ☺️
It’s amazing how every bit of your life. The good, the bad, the horribly ugly are meant to mold you into who God created you to be. Without a doubt, everything ended up in full circle. 😆🙏🏾🌻
I was supposed to pay at least $7,900 USD for the surgery. I came too close of not having any insurance to cover the cost. I mustered myself to understand that paying out of pocket was a possibility.
The bill for my DJS, with hospital fees, rounded up to $500,000 USD. HALF A MILLION DOLL ARS! Best part about it…by the covering of being a child of God;
IT ENDED UP BEING FREE!
I can’t give anyone else the glory but solely to my Lord and Savior, Jesus. Hands down!
Now I am 5 months and 6 days post-op from the 1st surgery and a little over 1 month post-op from the 2nd.
My swelling is getting lower by the day. I ate my first burger of 2019 last week, which felt amazing. I still have physical therapy to work on my mouth opening. Talking and smiling normally is taking some time but other than that, I’m truly getting there! 😃👍🏾
I wanted to write this post to give you guys insight on why I have been gone from the blog, as well as, being inactive within my organization. It was for good reasoning and I’m THRILLED to jump back into my calling of helping others. I feel like myself more, each and every day. 💙💙💙💙
My mother used to watch me sleep at night due to sleep apnea, just to make sure I was alive. It’s amazing that I no longer have sleep apnea. I can breathe like NEVER before. It’s truly incredible of the difference that DJS made in my life. I’m still at awe that after years of begging and crying to God… He made a perfect way for it to come about.
I do look significantly different than before, but I also favor my younger self before certain growth spurts hit. lol It’s interesting. As I am getting back into the real world, I have to reintroduce myself to people due to the difference. Our flesh is just the vessel that carries our spirit. Yes, I have a new facial profile but my vibrant spirit remains the same! ☺️😇
(Day 24 Post-Op #2) – 2 weeks ago.. still swollen around my cheeks but that’s okay. 🤗 A few months out, it’ll be completely gone!!
All in all, I continue to give thanks to the Most High!
If you read this whole post, thank you!!!! I am humbled. Before my surgery, I found a whole Instagram community of people who had DJS /or is having DJS soon. They have been my rock through it all as well since they can fully relate. My surgery was MUCH more crucial than anyone’s on there but their support + insight helped me tremendously . To my WordPress, Jesus loving family, you all are also supportive and the community shows so much love to each other. Thank you for following my blog and being apart of my story as well! I will be more active on here, I miss you all!!!!!! 😆💙 God Bless!!!!!!!