Thursday, March 29, 2007

Residual Swelling & Numbness

Thanks everybody, for your comments.  I do have to say, though, that I know there's still some residual swelling.  It's only visible when I smile, or laugh - because it's around my nose and the cheekbone area surrounding it.  One word - ROUND.  I'll have to post some photos later. 
For those of you that have had the surgery - you know how for weeks post op, the first thing you notice when you wake up each morning is the incredible tightness in your jaw bones?  For me it felt as though someone grabbed my jaws and really put pressure on them.  My face didn't  Well, now that's STILL the case.  Not so much around my lower jaw, but definitely in my upper jaw, especially right below the nose.
My lower jaw has its own woes.  Namely, the numbness on the right side and also in the lower right lip.  The feelings in the lip are coming back faster than in the jaw.   I'd estimate 35% still missing, though. 
It's a waiting game.

Monday, March 26, 2007

It's Just Swell

Maybe Mrs. Shanton is right. I don't see significant swelling here. The two on the top were taken today, and the bottom two were from last Thursday, right before my MLD therapy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Que Syrah Syrah

Did wine tasting at Vino Venue yesterday after checking out the Picasso exhibit at the MOMA. They have a great blended red from Australia called Fifth Leg, an oak barrelled combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz with an inviting banquet of berries, cherries, plums and subtle oak. Not expensive, but very pleasant.

Headed to my friend Lawrence's birthday party after the wine tasting. As soon as his mother spotted me, she said - "Oh Kristen, you've gained some....". "Huh?" I did't quite get it. "You've gained some weight, right? It shows in your face. Your cheeks are puffier." LOL! Just when I thought the swelling had almost disappeared. It takes one brave and honest soul to tell me NO, it's still there.

Where was the wine when I needed it? Sigh. Que syrah syrah....whatever will be will be. ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Definitive Word on Cheek Implants

Had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Li this morning. He addressed the three burning questions I had:

1. The occasional click in my left jaw joint has returned. Why? Is it cause for concern?

Dr. Li's response: Jaw surgeries don't necessarily correct the clicking. If it's occasional and it doesn't bother you, then it's not a problem.

My thoughts: Whew! The clicking came back about a week ago, and it only happens about twice a day, IF that. It usually happens when I've been relatively still then have sudden jaw movements. It doesn't hurt. That reminds me - my right jaw joint used to click and SHIFT SIDEWAYS to compensate if I had to open wide. It went away completely! :)

2. How's my swelling?

Dr. Li's response: It's minimal. The majority of the swelling is gone.

My thoughts: Yeah, about time! ....OK, I know, I know, I'm an impatient patient. :)

3. Some people get cheek implants when they undergo jaw surgery. My ortho had mentioned it during my first consultation with her. I was overwhelmed and told her no. Should I have gotten them?

Dr. Li's response: Most Asians would end up looking funny with cheek implants. It's because we don't have the high nose bridges to balance them with. I didn't NOT give you cheek implants because you told the ortho you didn't want them. I don't think you NEED cheek implants.

My thoughts: Hooray! Subject closed. :)

Overall, it was a very uneventful (good!) appointment that lasted only about 5 minutes. Dr. Li, as I've said many times before, is happy with the results. I am happy with the results. It's all good!

Oh wait, the ONLY thing is, he seemed slightly surprised that my first ortho appointment isn't until April 5th (my surgery was January 31st). Not sure why my ortho wanted to wait this long to start the braces work again. Dr. Li definitely thinks I'm ready to go. I called my ortho to see if they can move up my appointment. No can do. Oh well. I'll be on a business trip all week next week anyway, so it's not as if I could gain that much time.

My ortho had estimated another six months of braces post op. I'm really hoping to be brace-free by September, so I can have my birthday without looking like Miss Metal Mouth. Well, que sera sera.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Cheek Implants - Part II

Thanks everybody, for your comments. I'm going to ask my surgeon when I go see him this Thursday. I just want his medical opinion on it - because it bugs me that my ortho had mentioned it... and I didn't welcome the idea, and the subject was closed. I'm curious what Dr. Li would say. Probably the same thing all of you already said - wait it out, see what the final result looks like, then decide. It just bugs me that my ortho had brought it up at all. Honestly, if my surgeon didn't see an immediate need for it at the time of surgery, I don't think I'd elect to have it in the future.

Did a Google Search and came across this price list on various cosmetic procedures - all performed in Thailand. All looked pretty standard, even the gender re-assignment, except the very last one - "Adam's Apple - Reshaving". Whoa. The things you never think of. :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cheek Implants - Part I

After reading other blogs and comments, I'm now wondering if I should've considered cheek implants?

There's still considerable swelling in my cheeks - which creates an illusion of high cheekbones, which I rather enjoy. It makes me "look" happier. I *think* my ortho had recommended cheek implants during my first consultation with her. And I was horrified, because of the way she said it: "You show a lot of gum when you smile. We could reduce that gummy smile. What else do you want to change about your face?" HUH? How about... nothing? I felt bewildered. I was certainly not ready for THAT discussion!

Oddly enough, my ortho never brought it up again, and my OS never brought it up, period. Now I kinda wish they had. I want high cheekbones!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Reactions at the Office

My first day back to work was last Wednesday. Most of my colleagues were just happy that I was back and could start pulling my weight again.

I went to the coffee shop downstairs to get some milk. On the way back, one of our engineers was running towards the elevator, so I held it open for him. Rushing in, he muttered, "thank you", glanced at me, then did a double take. "It's YOU! I didn't even recognize you! What happened? You look completely different! Nice!". Hahaha!

My old boss (new boss is in a different city) exclaimed, "it looks so much nicer now!" when he saw me. A few other folks noticed the remaining swelling. Everyone asked me about the hospital/surgery experience. I kept it short and sweet, sparing them the details. :)

Even though it is exhausting, it IS good to be back in the swing of things.

I love Yo-Baby yogurt!

Yo-Baby yogurt rocks. Especially the pear flavor. If you mix it with a bowl of steaming hot cream of wheat, it turns into this perfect concoction of texture and substance. Try it! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Watching CSI

CSI marathon on Spike. :)

Old Habits Die Hard

I'm not wearing rubber bands at night anymore. Woke up the other day to find my lower jaw slightly thrust forward. Very slightly, but very worrisome. Are my jaw muscles seeking their old positions?

Meanwhile, my right lower lip and right chin continue to feel numb and tingling. The jaws feel dull and tight, but less so as the days go by. The cheeks are gradually deflating, as the cheekbones gradually lower. I can't wait until all these changes finally stop and whatever I get stay permanent.

Still on a soft food diet, but I'm really enjoying cutting food with my front teeth! Sounds silly, right? Avocados, scrambled eggs, potatoes - even shrimp - bring them on! While slurping noodles the other day, I caught myself cutting the strands between my upper teeth and tongue (which I used to do to compensate for the gap between my edge-on-edge bite). THAT was a weird moment, realizing I didn't have to do that anymore. Old habits are hard to break. But it is time. And I can. :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


First day back to work. After a full day, I'm exhausted. Planted myself on the couch as soon as I got home. Ate a small avocado, a small chunk of yam, some plain yogurt, and a spoonful of nutella for dinner. Can't even bring myself to turn on the laptop (I'm typing this on my BlackBerry). Will write more later, folks.

My job isn't even labor intensive. It is software marketing. But boy, did I run out of steam!

Good night!
Sent Wirelessly from My CrackBerry.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Anthony Bourdain

I'm kicking myself for not picking up this book earlier, when I still had plenty of time before returning to work. Today, the last day of my five weeks off, I started reading Anthony Bourdain's the Nasty Bits. It's a collection of his non-fiction short pieces. He's apparently a world-famous chef, avid traveler, witty writer, and acute oberserver. His wild, but fitting analogies, made me laugh out loud. Since I'm not a book reviewer, and I don't even read that much (about two to three books a year, sad to say), you'll have to check it out and see for yourself - especially if you have some time to kill during your recovery. Not that reovery is so leisurely, by any means.

Here's one of his wildly wicked analogies, in reference to Masa Takayama's tiny, 26-seat sushi bar/restaurant on the fourth floor of the new Time Warner Building in New York City (not to be confused with Bar Masa next door). I don't know how I missed the place, since I've been to both Asiate and Stone Rose Lounge in the same building. Or perhaps it's a good thing that I missed it. Look at the price tag!

"At three hundred fifty dollars per person as a starting point (that's before tax, tip, beverages, and any extras), it's a steal. It's the deal of the century. It's a completely over-the-top exercise in pure self-indulgence, like having sex with two five-thousand-dollar-a-night escorts at the same time - while driving an Aston Martin."

'Nuff said. ;)

Speech Therapy?

I posted a question re: speech therapy and therapist recommendations on the metal mouth message board. Someone asked me why I thought I might need it. Here's my response:

"Since the surgery repositioned my upper and lower jaws, it's taking some getting used to, as far as eating and talking. For instance, I never used my front teeth to cut anything fine like noodles, because I couldn't. My curiosity re: speech therapy stems from the fact that as of now, I cannot pronounce the letter 's' without making it sound like 'sh'. Maybe it's because my back teeth don't meet yet (need further ortho work). I simply don't know. Also, I used to compensate with my tongue (pushing against the front teeth) whenever I had to say words like 'two', 'delta', et cetera. Now theoretically I shouldn't have to. But how? I feel like I'm learning how to talk again, and this time I want to do it right. "

Do you have a sister?

Dropped by the sandwich shop near my old office in downtown San Francisco for a bottle of water today. I hadn't been there in almost a year, since I started working for a different company, and no longer worked downtown.

The girl behind the counter gave me a long stare, and finally asked: "Do you have a sister?" "No.". I said, before the lightbulb came on in my head. "Oh never mind," she said, looking slightly embarrassed. "Did you mean the girl that used to come here a lot, and disappeared about a year ago?". "Yes!" she nodded. "Well, that was me. I'm her. Same person." "Nah, no way," she smiled, apparently thinking it was a joke. Then she realized I was serious. "Really? You look so different." She stared at me in disbelief. Hahaha! I casually explained that I'd had jaw surgery, which altered my appearance a little bit, and that seemed to put her mind at ease.

I wonder what my colleagues would say as I return to work tomorrow after five weeks. Maybe nothing. Or maybe they'd think I got a haircut and lost some weight!


Sent Wirelessly from My CrackBerry.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sam's Story - Scanned

My friend Li scanned this Chinese newspaper article on jaw surgery and sent it to me in PDF. For those of you who can read Chinese - enjoy.

For the rest of you - yep, you can probably figure it out from the photos. It's a story about a fresh college graduate named Sam, who had a severe underbite and corrected it through jaw surgery. The article explains in detail what the procedure involves. In short - yet another account of what the surgery's all about. Pretty interesting stuff. Thanks for the info, Li! ;)

Good life is....

....warm bread pudding. Courtesy of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. Alas, very bad resolution photo. Blame it on my BlackBerry Pearl Camera.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Braces: Age Is No Barrier

Came across this adult braces poll on Archwired. Pretty interesting numbers! Not exactly what you'd expect.


I'm going back to work on Wednesday. Just out of curiosity, what were some of the reactions you received when you returned to work post surgery? Did your colleagues notice a difference? Did anybody think it was cosmetic?

OS in Colorado Springs, CO?

Melissa lives in Colorado Springs, CO, and is looking for a good OS. She's been getting the run-around from her ortho. They've just not been very helpful. I asked Dr. Li at my appointment on Thursday if he could recommend anyone in CO, but alas, he didn't know any surgeons there.

Do you know of any good surgeons in Colorado Springs? Where can Melissa look up someone solid? Is there an online directory of oral surgeons in the U.S.?

A Dose of Reality

Since I'm now able to enjoy soft foods (mashed potatoes, fish, tofu, et cetera), I've been feeling somewhat normal and the whole surgery thing has weighed less and less on my mind. For instance, when I wake up in the morning, I no longer feel overwhelming tightness in my lower face, and the first thing that comes to mind is no longer "I'm soooooo hungry! What can I eat, er, drink?"

But last night, I had a dose of reality. Doug and I spent the whole day walking around the city, strolling through the farmers' market, having lunch (here I was, at my favorite hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant, opening wiiiiide), checking out charming local shops, and enjoying a cup of mocha. By the time we got home at 8 pm, I sat in bed and powered up my laptop, then promptly fell asleep. I could not keep my eyes peeled! Slept all the way till this morning. This almost never happens. I usually operate on 6 to 7 hours of sleep every night, and I'm usually very high energy. Now I realize that my body is still in recovery, and it just hasn't come back 100%. Oh well. At least, I don't stand up for 15 minutes and immediately feel dizzy (2nd and 3rd day at the hospital), or walk around in the house for an hour and already need a nap (first 10 days at home). It's definitely improving. I just need to take it easy.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Elephant Woman

Doug made a comment the other day that I thought was.... well, from an interesting angle. He said that the way they described my condition (Class III Malocclusion, severe skeletal deformity) made it sound horrible. If you've never met the person, and only read the description, you'd almost expect to meet the Elephant Man. But, he never thought I looked "wrong". Of course, he likes the new me. :) But the point he was making was - he never disliked the old me, either.

The power of words (medical terms, in this case) and a vivid imagination. Smile.

A Shout Out to Kim

Lady - you look fantastic! I just looked at your photos. Your last before & after photo, October 2004 vs. February 2007, shows such a difference. The surgery was totally worth it, do you agree? :) By the way, would you mind if I posted the link to your photos here on my blog? I certainly wouldn't do it unless you give me consent. :)

Oh by the way, you have amazing, Bambi lashes. I'm so very jealous. Where's my mascara? :P

OK, Kim says it's OK to post the link to her photos. So here it is: Doesn't she look great?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Highlights from My 3rd Follow-Up Appointment

Had my 3rd follow-up appointment with Dr. Li this morning. He was very pleased with the results and the progress. Said I only need to wear two rubber bands at night, and can run free during the day. Yay! The remaining swelling, concentrated in my cheeks and chin, is roughly 30%, and will take at least two to three months to completely go away. Oh well.

He addressed all of my questions, namely:

Why did he cut two incisions, one on each cheek? It was so that he could insert the screws at the right angle. Yikes! Screws and plates in my jaws. Yowza!

Will my cheeks deflate? Yes. Unfortunately, as they deflate, so will my seemingly high cheekbones. Grrrr.

Will the slope of my nose revert to its original state? No. It will most likely retain its perky new angle.

I now have permission to eat soft food - fish, really, really cooked noodles, et cetera. My next appointment is in three weeks.