Diary of a Jaw Wired Shut

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Here’s my video diary from Day 9. Check it out: 


before surgery

I slept well last night, and didn’t feel nervous about today at all. Just ready to have all these jaw issues behind me. Haven’t eaten since about 7 p.m. last night. Got to the hospital at 10:15 for a 12:00 surgery time. I was all checked in and in my cool hospital gown by 10:40. They had a hard time getting my IV in, and after 3 attempts, ended up giving me some local anesthetic to numb the area, and then finally got it in on the 5th try. By about 11:45, I was starting to feel nervous about the procedure. All the “what ifs” started blazing through my mind: 

What if I throw up when I wake up and my mouth is wired shut??
What if something happens to me while I’m under anesthesia??
What if the surgery isn’t successful?

My heart started to race, and I seriously felt like bolting. If Superman had been there, I probably would have begged him to take me home. Instead, I called him (he was out with our two oldest spending the day with them) and started crying. I wanted him there with me. He talked me down a bit. I hung up still feeling like I was going to throw up from my anxiety.  A nurse came to check on my periodically, and I told her I was feeling nervous. At a little before noon, the surgeon came in and said my surgery would be delayed about 45 minutes. That about put me over the top. I wanted outta there!  After the nurse came in again and I told her I was feeling scared, she came back a few minutes later and said, “I brought you some happy juice!” A.K.A. Valium. I felt relieved. She must have given it to me then, because I don’t remember anything after until I woke up. 


after surgery

I woke up to the nurse saying, “Shanti? Shanti? What’s your pain level, honey?” I felt something stinging my nose and throat, and assumed that it was the breathing tube. They told me ahead of time that they would keep it in until I was stable because I have a history of vomiting after anesthesia, and they wanted to make sure all the blood was sucked out of my stomach first. I didn’t feel my jaw at all. I just gave her a thumbs up. After a few minutes, though, my throat was very uncomfortable and I was starting to feel pain in my face. I held up 5 fingers to indicate my pain level, and she gave me a little more pain meds. After a bit (I have no idea how long), I asked if they could remove the tube yet, and so after making sure all the contents of my stomach were emptied, they pulled out the tube. A huge splatter of blood came spurting out. It was not a nice feeling, but it was nice once it was out. 

Not long after (I think–again, time was very warped here) Superman and the boys showed up. The doctor wanted to make sure I didn’t feel any nausea before they discharged me, so we waited a bit as waves of nausea kept hitting me. After a bit, it was time to go. Superman helped me get dressed, I went potty, and they wheeled me out to the car. By the time I got to the car, I was feeling like throwing up again, so we just sat in the parking lot for a few minutes until it subsided. Unfortunately, we were heading home during rush hour traffic, so it took us a lot longer to get home.  Once we were home, Superman immediately helped me into bed, and got all my meds set up to get me through the night. 

Day 1

Day after surgery

First of all, thank goodness for Vaseline. I seriously don’t know what I would do without that stuff. My lips are all cracked and chapped, and I can’t lick them, so Vaseline is my friend.

Last night was one of the most difficult nights I’ve ever had. Probably Superman, too. I woke up nearly every hour having to go pee from all the fluids they had pumped into me during surgery. The pain was awful. It was like a bomb had exploded on the right side of my face and the pressure was so intense. Superman had to help me out of bed every time, and would give me my meds as needed. He did an amazing job of nurse. I kept worrying about how he was going to be the next day, having to take care of 5 kids after being up all night with me.  Today was pretty much a blur. My face looks like a chipmunk. Superman started a log of all the meds I needed to take and how much I was eating to make sure he didn’t miss anything. All I know is that I made it to the end of the day, and had consumed  228 mL of food. I felt like that was a LOT. I had been drinking some food/smoothie every couple hours. When Superman tallied how many ounces 228 mL was and found out it was only about 8 oz, he said I was going to have to step it up the next day big time. I kind of didn’t like him for that. I really don’t have an appetite and have no desire to eat.  We had to drive all the way back to the surgeon’s office (about 45 minutes away) for an x-ray. I wasn’t very happy about that.  My pain was managed today with Children’s Ibuprofen and Hydrocodone. Here’s a picture of the log from today:

med log day 1


I’m going to try sleeping on the couch more upright tonight. I think even though I was elevated in bed last night, I wasn’t sitting up enough.

Day 2

naomi 7th bday

Today is my older daughter’s 7th birthday. I felt bad that I couldn’t decorate the house, but I did manage to put a few signs up for her before I went to sleep last night. My sister is taking her to a play today, so at least she has something to do.  Face is still swollen, pain is still very intense. It feels like I have a huge wad of something stuffed into my cheek. I still haven’t brushed my teeth yet, but think I’ll try later today with my princess toothbrush. The arch bars on my teeth are uncomfortable against my lips and cheek (I still am numb on the right side where they cut me open).  My friend brought us homemade soup and some goodies for the kids. I blended it up, and it was so good!

My nose was really stuffed up today, especially this evening. I have a ton of mucous in my throat, and I just can’t seem to clear it. Let me just say that trying to get a good cough out while you’re wired shut is not the most comfortable thing in the world. Thankfully, Superman went out and bought me some Afrin (which I absolutely hate, by the way, but was more than willing to do in this instance) and a humidifier with this awesome Vick’s Vapo Steam. I’m sure there are some essential oils that would have worked well here, but honestly, I don’t know enough about them yet, and I had no energy to try to find out what I could do.

Today I drank 462 mL of food! That’s about 15 oz. I was proud of myself. =)

Day 3

3 days after surgery

Superman told me that each day I need to beat the previous day’s amount of food. I told him I don’t think that’s very nice, but I get it.  We ventured out to my in-laws today. We hung out there for a few hours. It was nice to get out of the house, but by the time we were done, I was ready to be home. It’s amazing how exhausted I can get from doing absolutely nothing. 

Today I drank 510 mL of food! That’s about 17 oz.

Day 4

The kids have been so patient with being house bound. We wanted to do something nice for them today. They were all in need of new scooters, so we took a trip to Walmart and got them each a scooter, then went to the empty parking lot next door and let them ride around for awhile to get their energy out. I drank about 1/6th of a McDonald’s Frappe. Even though I know nutritionally it’s not the best, it tasted really yummy. =) Pain level seems to come and go. I’m still taking my Ibuprofen every 3 hours during the day, and then pain meds once before bed, and once during the middle of the night.

Today I drank 730 mL of food! That’s about 25 oz.

Day 5

syringe photo

Still sleeping on the couch. I miss lying down. I kind of had a pity party today. I’m hungry for some real food. After posting on Facebook about how I miss food, I felt ashamed that I was even complaining. I’m lucky this is just a temporary situation. SO many people have it worse than me. I have no reason to complain. I’m thankful to be alive, to have another day, to have the hope that this surgery will fix my problems. I’m trying to focus on that.

Today I drank 760 mL of food! That’s about 26 oz.

Day 6

6 days after surgery

Swelling’s gone down considerably. I still have no idea what the incision looks like. I can’t smile yet, and if I accidentally do, it hurts like a mother. It feels like my cheek is being ripped from its skin. So, I try to stay serious. But being married to Superman makes that a little bit difficult. He makes me laugh.

Today I drank 800 mL of food! That’s about 27 oz.

Day 7

7 days after surgery

Still not sleeping well, but I just got up once for pain meds last night. My mom came over to help again today, and it was so great having her here. She did math with the boys, read to Gracie, and did art with all of them. She brought lunch again without me asking (a God send!) and just helped around the house. Sometimes a girl just needs her mommy.  The swelling is much less today. I’ve been taking my Ibuprofen every 3-4 hours throughout the day, even though I don’t “have” to anymore. It seems if I go more than 4 hours, the pain is just too much. Hoping tomorrow will be better!  Going to attempt sleeping in my own bed tonight. I’ll try taking a full dose of pain meds before I go to sleep instead of the half dose I’ve been doing all along and see if that helps me make it longer without waking up. 

Yesterday I noticed a yellowish-green bruise at the bottom of my neck, in front (see pic above). I hear it’s from the blood draining from the incision site.

Today I drank 900 mL of food! That’s about 30 oz. 

Day 8


That’s me “smiling.” =) I know it looks like I’m purposefully kind of pursing my lips, but honestly, that’s as wide as I can go without it feeling like my cheek’s ripping off. 

Didn’t sleep much last night. Being in my own bed was nice, but I just wanted to turn over and sleep on my belly. However, I did make it through the night without taking any pain meds. Woke up this morning to a splitting headache and cramping jaw pain, but at least I made it through the night! My sister came over today to hang out. She did a Spanish lesson with the kids and made them lunch. It was nice to have her here!

Today I drank 1060 mL of food! That’s about 36 oz.

Day 9

I think I’m clenching my teeth at night. I’m waking up 10-15 times a night with fire in my right jaw. As I sit there, the pain subsides, then I fall back asleep and not too long after, it happens again. I’m looking into some ways to work on this. I feel like my neck needs to be adjusted. It’s so stiff from sleeping sitting up for the past week, and I’m sure the tension from my jaw doesn’t help. I’ve been using peppermint essential oil to help with the pain for that during the day.

I made it through the night last night without taking any pain meds again. I took 10 mL of Hydrocodone and 10 mL of Ibuprofen before bed. This morning, I just took 10 mL of Ibuprofen. Hopefully that will keep things under control for awhile. 

My pain has kind of evolved into shooting, throbbing pain. Hoping that this is just the next phase of healing, and tomorrow will be better! We ventured out to church today. It was nice to get back into our normal routine and to feel like I’m kind of normal again. =)

Tonight I’m trying something different. I’m going to try taking a Travacor and a Kavinace, as well as use peppermint essential oil on my jaw and lavender essential oil on my pillow. Lastly, I put a warm rice sock on my neck for about a 1/2 hour before bed. We’ll see if this helps with my clenching tonight! 

Today I drank 1020 mL of food! Not quite as much as yesterday, but still pretty darn good.

Only 2 more days until I get my wires off!

Day 10

Guess what? Last night was the first night I didn’t wake up every hour (or more!) with pain in my jaw! I’m not sure if it was the lavender essential oil or the Travacor and Kavinace or just consciously trying to relax my jaw before I fell asleep, but all I know is it worked! I finally got some sleep without jerking awake all the time! And, I didn’t even take pain meds last night!

Tomorrow morning I get my wires taken off, and rubber bands put on. I’ll update after that happens!

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  1. Laura Burch says

    You are doing great! Almost 30 years ago I had jaw surgery that left me wired shut for 5 weeks. I got physically tired from having to suck the liquids in (not with a straw) and from talking. I was hungry all the time, and kept sipping every couple of hours. The burning pain you are likely feeling is your facial muscles cramping from not being able to stretch and move. Muscle relaxants help that. You will probably not be able to open as wide as before for a few days after you are set free. After about a month, I was so hungry for “real food” that I went through the Burger King drive-thru and enunciated the best I could “bacon cheeseburger please”. I took it home and put it in the blender with beef broth! It was SO DELICIOUS! Hang in there!!


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