Post OP Pain Experience of a 19 Year Old Girl
I am a 19-year-old girl who has been bestowed with everything in life such as good family, education and all other material comforts. I have been blessed with good features such as shapely eyes, nose, etc. except for one thing, my jaw line and my buck teeth. My teeth made me very conscious of how I looked. Due to this reason, I did not have the confidence to smile and laugh openly. Due to my protruding front two teeth, I had become a chronic mouth breather, i.e. I was not able to breathe from my nose like other people do. I used to inhale and exhale both from my mouth. Another difficulty which I faced due to my teeth was I was unable to close my mouth completely, and due to this, my mouth structure looked very awkward. My entire school life I was the butt of many jokes, being constantly teased by my peers, they called me Dracula, vampire teeth etc. this went on and had a very negative effect on my confidence level and self-esteem, the result of which was me becoming very depressed. Seeing my condition, my parents wanted to take me to a dentist for treatment, but I had the typical phobia of dentists and backed off. Later on, when I was in my teens, my parents took me to an orthodontist. The doctor examined my jaw and even without any diagnostic tests such as x-rays, told us that my jaw was “V” shaped due to which I was unable to breathe through my nose and made my teeth jut out. The solution to my problem was surgery and for that I had to wait till the age of 18. My parents, like any other parents, were very petrified upon hearing the word “surgery,” but as I had to wait till I turned 18 (which were some yrs), they thought they will wait and see if the condition will improve (as if it would..!!!) L… anyway…I finished my high school, all the while conscious of my looks. My confidence level was so low, that I hesitated to talk to other people and participate in any extracurricular activities. I longed to turn 18…and finally my 18th b’day arrived…. my parents took me to the orthodontist. He ordered x-rays for my upper and lower jaw. A dental surgeon was also present, and both the surgeon and the orthodontist examined my teeth, jaw, mouth, nostrils…etc…they were talking in a lot of medical lingo with each other…I felt like some rare specimen which the docs were excited to discover. After the examination was done, they told us that I had to undergo treatment with braces on my teeth for at least 1.5 years to align my teeth before surgery can be done on my jaw. After the treatment and surgery, my smile would improve and I would be able to breathe through my nose. The only minor drawback from the surgery was that my nostrils would flare up a bit. I was proud of my shapely nose, but I also wanted to fix my teeth. In the end we decided to go for the surgery and the treatment was started. It was quite painful for me. The braces made me more self conscious. A metallic piece was placed on each and every tooth and my molars were surrounded by metal brackets, which was very painful for me. Another metal wire was placed around my teeth.
Starting days were really painful for me. I was unable to eat. Chewing became a painful process for me. I was very put off by food. Even my favorite chicken casserole and chocolate muffins failed to tempt me to eat for the fear of pain. Every month I had to visit my dentist in order to tighten the wire on my teeth, so the pressure on the teeth would increase to get them aligned. The whole process was unbearable and very painful. I had to take painkiller the day I visited my dentist. It felt like as if something heavy was placed on my teeth. As time passed by, I got used to it. During this process, I had to get 4 of my teeth extracted to create space. The extraction procedure was even more painful for me. Anyhow I went through it. For 2 more years, I went through that orthodontic (read horror) treatment. Finally the day came when the doc said I was ready for surgery now… before the surgery I also had to get all the 4 of my wisdom tooth extracted as they were in a sleeping (horizontal) position. God..!! I had lost so many teeth already….. I thought that at this rate I wouldn’t have any teeth to operate upon… My day had finally come…girls usually look forward to their wedding day, dressed in virgin white, but I was looking forward to my surgery day, dressed in white surgical gown..!!!! I had waited so many years for this day, survived so much bullying and teasing…. Before my surgery, I was examined by many other doctors. For them I was just another fascinating case, but for me, this surgery was my life..!!!! Finally I was admitted in the hospital on 8th Nov 2011. The doc asked me not to eat anything after 10:00 pm. Next morning I was going to be operated. This thought made me really scared. I had spaghetti for my dinner that night (felt like the condemned man’s last meal). I didn’t sleep the whole night. I was excited and scared at the same time. I fell asleep as the dawn crept in…In the morning, the nurse woke me up and told me to brush my teeth and do other such toiletries. Then she came up holding a horrible looking needle (is it called cannula??) to insert in the vein of my hand for IV purpose. That moron nurse inserted that cannula/needle in a wrong way… I had so much pain that I was screaming bloody murder….. she kept on maneuvering the needle to find the vein and I kept on screaming like hell the whole time…. The nurse scolded me that I couldn’t bear such a small amount of pain, but I always had a low pain threshold, hence the maniac screaming…. Finally another nurse came and was able to fit the cannula, but there was some swelling in my hand. I was taken to ICU, where I was made to lie down and the nurse kept an ice pack on my hand to relieve the pain and swelling. After sometime, they took me to the Operation Theater. After they placed me on the operating table, the doc asked me “how are you feeling?” etc… while asking me questions, he injected some medicine in my cannula…I began to lose consciousness slowly and my last thought was this is the end of all my pains, I will feel and look different after my surgery…this surgery will end all my woes…little was I to know it was the beginning of the most horrible post-op pain that I was ever to feel…
”Wake up, you are done with the operation”….. the words sounded like coming from a distant place, I slowly stated regaining consciousness. The surgeon’s face swam in front of my eyes, blurry initially, then it came into focus, that face was speaking to me, telling me that my operation was over, and it lasted for 6 hours and it was successful. As my brain started to focus more, I found myself in the ICU with a mask on my face (oxygen). My whole body hurt like hell, especially my legs. I was not able to move them at all, and the worst part was that I had a pipe exiting from my nostrils inside my throat and which extended down to my stomach. I could literally feel the pipe the whole way down to my stomach. My face was badly BADLY swollen. I still get tears in my eyes when I remember that day, the pain which I felt after the surgery… I was not able to speak a single word because of the operation and the subsequent swelling and the tube present for the purpose of feeding me. My mom came into the ICU, she pressed my legs to take off some pain, but it didn’t work… my whole body ached as if my bones were cracking one by one.
Later that night, after my vitals continued to be stable, I was shifted from the ICU to my room. My jaw hurt so much as if someone was trying to pull my jaws in the opposite directions. I couldn’t open my mouth or was able to speak…..saliva was constantly dribbling from my mouth, my face was so badly swollen, there were tubes protruding from everywhere, I felt like I had just walked out from a horror flick, I looked so horrible,…I had visions of myself after surgery, having the perfect smile and looking ah….so....beautiful....but boy was I wrong..!!! Instead of feeling or looking pretty, I felt and looked like a lead from a horror flick. It was like hell for me. I couldn’t eat anything, because of the swelling and all and I was in extreme pain. I didn’t have the courage to look myself in the mirror lest I had nightmares about my face….I had a glimpse of my reflection on the door’s shiny surface, that and my parent’s expression decided for me how I looked. I was on liquid diet like juice and milk which had to be passed through a tube in my nose. My throat was red and swollen and felt very painful due to the endotracheal tube they had passed to give anesthesia…the nurse used to come every 2 hours to feed the liquids through the NG tube, she injected the liquids into the NG tube via a big syringe like they use for horses and cows and I could feel the liquid passing through my nose, throat done to my stomach and the whole process was painful. I told them I would rather not have anything but I had to be kept hydrated and I had to have liquids. I had extensive pain in my jaw, I was dribbling the whole time, my whole face also felt numb, but paradoxically I was also having pain…. if I wanted to tell something, I wrote in a notepad to indicate my parents, nurses and the docs as to what I was feeling and what I wanted. At night, I couldn’t sleep bcoz of the pain, I wanted some sleeping meds, but the docs refused to give me any sedative as I had extensive jaw surgery and if I was given any sedative, there was the fear of me choking own my own saliva, as I was not able to swallow it or even spit it out (horror of horrors!!!)… I started crying with pain and I couldn’t even express properly how much pain I was in. I could only cry, thrash my arms around and make sounds in my throat…seeing my condition, the doc reluctantly gave me another shot of painkiller (diclofenac), but warned me that I was already maxed out on my analgesics and overdose could harm my kidneys. I didn’t care if my whole body was damaged, but I wanted to get rid of this excruciating pain. He told me to be patient and bear with the pain, but alas, patience was not one of my virtues and like I said before, I have a very low threshold for pain. Days passed like this, I was always restless, not able to sleep soundly for any length of time, I was dozing off, then waking up crying from pain…It felt like I was about to die. I was not able to breathe properly and had lot of pain on my face. I felt nauseous. Nights were even more horrible, I was crying a lot bcoz of the pain and discomfort which persisted despite the bucket full of meds I was taking. Daily I used to roam in the corridors of the hospital to divert my mind from pain and for a little change. I could feel and see the shock on other patients’ face after they saw my face… My face felt heavy and swollen, it didn’t feel like my face anymore.
Every morning and evening, the nurse would clean my mouth, jaws, nostril etc. I would jump with pain every time she touched my face, I couldn’t scream like before, only make muffled sounds in my throat and thrash my arms wildly to indicate the extent of my pain. When cleaning, the nurse always used to tell me to try and open my mouth as widely as I could, but it was very difficult and painful for me, but I had to do it. She used to squirt water in my mouth and clean it with a cotton bud…..but again that moron was so rough in doing that, I used to grab her hands when she was doing it. Finally, my father went and made a complaint and they sent another nurse who was more experienced and had a better bedside manner for the cleaning job. There were 4 surgeons who operated on me. My regular surgeon would visit me twice a day along with 3 other surgeons who had helped him to operate on me. He said that I was doing fine and would be discharged in a few days. As I was on liquid diet, I would feel weak ad dizzy constantly. I also felt bored. I passed my time by playing games on my blackberry and to distract me from my pain. Whatever I needed, whatever I felt, I conveyed it to others by writing it down. Finally my day of discharge arrived. The nurse came to remove my NG tube. When the tube was coming out, it felt very uncomfortable and weird. Seeing the blood on the tube made me quite dizzy.
I went home with my swollen face. For me, it was embarrassing to go out in such condition, so I tried covering my face as much as possible. I was feeling weak ad was not able to walk properly as I was completely on liquid diet and didn’t even remember what solids looked like..!!! My daily diet comprised of juice, milk, soups, tea or coffee. But my pain never left me..! Upon my discharge, I was prescribed quite a lot of meds such as Forcef C-V-200 mg, Ornidazole-500 mg, Flozen AA, Zincovit syrup ( for strength), Limcee-500 mg……. It was painful swallowing the meds. As I thought that worse was getting over, I was in for another shock…! At my next dental appointment, my surgeon sealed my mouth so that my jaws would heal in complete alignment. It was to be kept sealed for 1 whole month. Oh My God! That pain was extremely horrible, awful; terrible; no words are adequate enough to describe that pain. Just imagine, closing your both jaws together and not able to open them at all..!! I bet you can’t be like that for more than a few minutes, but I had to suffer that too. Due to my mouth being sealed, it was now more difficult to have liquids as well. I had take liquids very slowly and cautiously through a straw. Drinking half a glass of juice would take half an hour for me..!!! Each day was like a torture to me. I was not able to talk and had quite forgotten how to speak. Slowly days went by…….
I still didn’t look myself in the mirror because I was scared of seeing how I looked. Some of the swelling had reduced, but still there was major swelling on my face. I covered the mirror in my room to avoid even an accidental glimpse of myself. After one month, the doc pronounced that my jaws were in alignment now and removed whatever was keeping my mouth sealed/shut together. The doctor advised me to start eating soft food now. I had lost a lot of weight, as I was on liquid diet for more than a month now. After almost 2 months, for the first time I had some rice porridge, my first meal which was not completely liquid. I finally found the courage to look myself in the mirror, as almost 2 months had passed after the surgery and the swelling also had subsided somewhat…I was surprised at what I saw…...I looked so different..!! so much prettier than before (albeit a little bit of swelling) My smile was almost perfect…. the only drawback which the doc had forewarned me about was that my nostrils had flared a bit, but the upside was that I was now able to breathe through my nose more freely now. My new face made me plenty happy and gave me the courage and motivation to put up with the rest of the treatment. I still had braces on my teeth though. The treatment was still far from being complete, and I was still stuck in the storm of discomfort and had a long way to go ……
The treatment with the braces was to be continued for one more year so as to enable my teeth to heal and settle in a perfect alignment. Again the same old routine started, the same pain, the doc use to tighten the wire of my braces every month and the whole day I had pain. For me, the dental clinic had become a second home for me, the dentist’s chair a bed for me and the dentist himself felt like a beloved family member. I had to wear small rubber bands with my braces to keep the teeth in alignment and that was for 3 months. It used to hurt a lot. I could literally feel the movement of my teeth. Those small rubber bands used to get stretched completely and increase my pain. After 3 months I was finally done with it, but still not completely yet!!!!
After a routine x-ray, I came to know that I had a cavity in one of my teeth. I thought “here we go again..!”…more surgical procedures for me. I had to undergo a Root Canal treatment which consisted of two sittings…. More pain for me (L *sob*…*sob* L)..Again I had to swallow a load of pain killers. The RCT itself was quite painful. It felt as if someone was poking in my gums using a very sharp pin searching for God knows what..!! Anyhow I had gone through that as well. In the month of Oct 2012, my braces were removed. I was very much satisfied with my teeth and my smile, my overall looks, but still my treatment was not completely done yet!!!
The doc put a plain wire which is not visible to others and which will remain for at least 2 years and I had to wear two removable braces, for both of my jaws for 1 more year. Five metallic plates were fitted in my jaws during the surgery, which are visible only on the x-rays. Now it has been almost a year since my surgery, but I still feel pain in my chin and sometimes in the cheeks when the weather is cold. I feel some numbness in my chin too. The doc says it will go away gradually and the residual effect of anesthesia around my chin would also pass. Although the pain is much much bearable now and it is not like the severe pain which I had after the surgery (obviously), I still can’t open my mouth to its full extent. If I try to, then it starts hurting me. I hope that eventually I will be completely and totally pain free.
After going through years of mental and physical pain, the extensive surgery and its recovery, I have got a very dazzling smile now. Almost 3 years of painful treatment and more 2 years with the plain braces, almost 5 years of my life I had to tolerate pain, just to have a beautiful smile….
I am very happy now. I don’t feel awkward or conscious when I laugh. I flaunt my perfect pearly whites now… and I can breathe better through my nose as well, which I was not doing previously. Hats off to my surgeon who did my surgery. Today I just can’t stop grinning from ear to ear…..literally! I want to flaunt my smile all the time. Throughout this ordeal, my faith in the God kept me strong and helped me get through all the pain…. one thing is for sure, in order to value every good thing in your life, you have to suffer from this heavy word “PAIN.”