Three Years Gone By (Jaw Surgery)

***READ HERE FIRST***
Before you start reading, I have to warn you guys that the post you’re about to read contains the procedure of my jaw surgery and my past experience with bullying. If you’re okay to read, go ahead and do so, otherwise, this may be triggering for some people. I have already put warning labels before the two contents. Though, I actually encourage people to read as this is focused on my life changing jaw surgery because it’s an incredible story that I love to share with people. Thanks for taking the time to read this guys! =)

Have you ever had something that changed your life forever or maybe you have been given a new life by somebody? I know I have. Just recently, there was a certain anniversary that went passed by and I totally forgot about it. What was the date? It was the 18th of October. Three years (2010) ago on that day, I had a life changing experience and it was my orthognathic surgery! Can you believe it?  It has been 3 long years since I had that jaw surgery and it feels like as if it was yesterday when I had it. What a ride it has been! After what I’ve been through in my life, I can’t believe that I’m still here. I’m enjoying life so much better now even tho, it’s been a wild ride for me!

Now, some people are going to ask me what is this jaw surgery I’m talking about. I’m not surprised that you don’t know since this was 3 years ago before we even meet but let me ask you something, I look normal, right? As in terms of my appearance, my talking and my eating…and you probably think I was born this way, right? Well, that’s not entirely true. Yep, you heard it…I wasn’t born like this. Before I had the surgery, I was born with a Class III Malocclusion (basically another word for an underbite) so in my case, the position of my lower jaw was in front of my upper jaw but now where it should be, it’s aligned together with the upper jaw in front on my lower jaw. I hope that doesn’t sound too confusing for you guys because I know people can get mixed up with the classes. There probably be some of you who have (or maybe had) a similar problem like me but probably not as severe as mine.

I was also pretty lucky because I had all my 4 wisdom teeth taken out at the same time so I didn’t need to do two surgeries thank goodness! I’ve been through so many surgeries in my entire life, it wasn’t fun at all! I might have to get another one to fix my vision via laser eye surgery since I’m short-sighted. Having to wear contact lens and glasses can be annoying sometimes. Like if you travel a lot like me and you’re on a long flight because the air is so dry, your contact lens can go dry too and irritates your eyes. Even having to take off your contact lens before bedtime or putting them on in the mornings can be time-consuming (Lolz yeah it’s stupid!) but then you get used to it so it’s not that bad.

Anyway, back to my original story…what problems did I had with my underbite? First, I was not able to eat properly because my upper and lower front teeth weren’t aligned together and I had to use my back teeth to chew. Foods that I couldn’t enjoy would be lamb cutlets, corn on a cob, lobster, anything on a bone really. People couldn’t understand what I was saying because apparently, I was just mumbling the whole time and sometimes I had to speak louder but sometimes I was afraid that if I talk too loud and I do have a speech problem which I’ve had since at the age of 3 which affected my self-confidence. Speaking of it, I was so so self-conscious about my appearance. If you look at me from the front view, I look normal but if you look at me from the side, you can really see the difference. Being a very shy person I was a couple of years ago, I was so scared of meeting new people and I didn’t want to go outside.

*WARNING*
The next four paragraphs contain my experience with bullying. This may trigger some people, if you want to, feel free to skip it otherwise, continue reading.

Primary and high school was even worse because of the bullying I went through. The bullies made fun of my appearance due to my underbite and I also have a congenital ptosis, a condition where one of my eyelids (my left eye) is lower than the other one. You can’t really notice it now because it’s been treated through surgeries and seeing an eye specialist but back then you could really notice it. So anyway, the guys who were attacking me, they were being racist because of me being Asian. So they were just like mocking me by saying made up Chinese words or talk with a mimic of an accent.

There were other times where I got beaten up, had my personal belongings got stolen, rumours about me were being spread around (some were true, some were aren’t), fake friends betraying me, being threatened and also the cyberbullying. It was one of the worst experiences I had to go through. I was so alone back then because I had no one to talk to and sometimes when I asked for help, some people didn’t do anything about it. There were a few points where I was so over life because I was sick of the bullying and other things that were happening at that time, I just wanted to escape from everything which I almost did. I’ve been told that I was very lucky on a few occasions that I didn’t escape from life and was saved but I got over it eventually. Sometimes I’m thankful that I’m still here but then there can be other times I wish I did escape but I’m still here so maybe that counts…I guess.

You know, this is just me but bullying is just wrong and it’s just really sad to hear that people are getting bullied now these days especially with the cyberbullying and hearing stories about people being bullied in the past. I mean, something must be going on for those guys who are bullying others. Maybe they’re getting bullied themselves or they have other problems they’re dealing with in their lives, who knows?

Unfortunately, there will always be bullying and something needs to be done. If you’re getting bullied, my advice would be to tell someone because I know from past experience, it can only get worse. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do but it takes lots of courage to do it. The fear of the unknown and/or people judging you if you ask for help is a common fear. I was like that before but I’m glad that I made the decision to tell my school counsellor. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I wear a ring that I bought a couple of years ago (since I’m a jewellery guy) and it has two words on it – Fear Not. Every time when I’m struggling, I try to remind myself to look at those words and it can really help you if you believe in it. Tho, it probably won’t work all the time but I believe that you can get through it and this is the reason why I’m reaching out to people.

*WARNING*
Before you proceed to the next paragraph, I am about to tell you guys the procedure for my surgery. Just wanted to let you all know first before as I don’t want to scare people.

Okay so I’m getting off track here which I didn’t mean to. I’m still not fully recovered from my surgery as I have some numbness (which it’s a bit tingly) in the lower of my chin and lower lip. From what I remember and it’s been awhile sorry but I think they had to cut the bone (I don’t if it’s was only one or two bones in my case) via entering the mouth/gum so they could move my lower jaw back in the right position with screws inserted so the jaw wouldn’t move. Because they had to cut the bone, the nerves were damaged which resulted my lower part of my face was all numb. It took about 3 months to get most of the sensation back but It’s kinda a bit scary that I don’t have it all my back even after 3 years because my doctor (the one who did the surgery) told that it will take some time to get it back. To be honest, I doubt that I’ll get it back and probably have to wait for a very long time to be healed and I still have to wear a retainer at night time so my jaw won’t move back in it’s original place. It can be annoying that I have to wear it for the rest of my life but I can understand why I have to. I don’t want to have to do treatment all over again.

Before this gets too long, about my jaw surgery, I have to say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and I don’t regret one bit at all because I’m loving life at the moment. If you want to hear a more detail about it, (the actual surgery and recovery) I have written two posts which can be read from here -> Life Changing Experience & Positive & Negative .

If anyone is thinking of having this jaw surgery, go for it! I know the jaw surgery can sound scary but believe me, looking back at it…it wasn’t that bad. I thought it would be scary too. Though I was surprised that I couldn’t feel any pain but that’s because my face was numb. It’s mainly more of the discomfort and the numbness that you have to deal with and it’s just the thought of it plays on your mind. It’s a long treatment but it’s worth it in the end! I almost gave up but I never did and if I had to go through it again for the good, I would but I’m kinda glad that I don’t have to. =P

What I always love to say, I am living proof (and those who have been through it) that this jaw surgery can change your life forever! I have also uploaded a couple of before and after pictures down below and if you want to view all of them, check it out on my Facebook page! (for those who are friends with me on Facebook!)

Peking Duck (or Beijing Duck) is one of my favourite Chinese cuisines and this was in Beijing back in 2010 before my surgery. I didn’t enjoy it as much since I couldn’t use my front teeth but was still yummy!
On a night train to Nanjing to watch the China and Paraguay football (aka soccer) game
In Beijing yet again at the Military Museum (I think that’s the name) and this is only the good side view picture I could find.
Another view of my underbite
Day 1 – Pre-op if you notice, I had a major breakdown before I went in and as I hate surgeries and always get panic attacks every time.
After I got out of surgery recovering n the ICU, it was the worse days I had to go through as you’re recovering from the anesthetic. My dad took a picture of me even tho I didn’t want him to take it but I’m glad that he did. Apparently, I was really out of it.

 

Day 2 – My face was all swollen and had to use an ice pack to reduce the swelling. I also couldn’t breathe properly so they had to give me a nasal cannula to help me get some oxygen as well as the oxygen mask. I couldn’t feel any pain at all but mainly discomfort coz I couldn’t move that much.

 

Day 3 – You can notice that I had bandages and there’s where they could get the entrance in so they could do the surgery.
Day 6 – Back at home and Get Well soon gifts from my family

Day 6 – I made a sign (that was a bit cheesy!) because I wasn’t able to smile at all. It made me feel sad that I couldn’t.
Day 9 – Side view. You can notice the swelling has gone down significantly
Day 16 – Yay! I can finally smile now!
3 months & 3 days – front view. So much better now.
Same as above but it’s the side view and you can see my jaw is in the correct position
23rd June 2011 – Final results with my braces taken off! I look so much better now, people wouldn’t notice that I had the jaw surgery. Hopefully, I don’t need to wear braces again as I’ve worn them twice now.
Comparison over the 8 months
Top – 1 week & 3 days before surgery
Second row – 1 month after surgery
Third row – 7 months
Bottom – 8 months & 10 days (Final result – no braces)

Before & After X-Rays. You can see the massive difference that the surgery did after almost 1 month and if you look closely, you can see the screws and bolts so that they stay in position permanently. My face was still swollen and I still had braces on. It’s really scary but amazing how they were able to do the surgery.

All of the professionals who were involved with my treatment did an amazing and successful job and I thank them for giving me a new life. I also very much appreciated all the people (especially my family and best mates!) who supported me at that time and even now. It’s overwhelming for me and I thank you guys for that!

 

Be random but stay safe all! ^_^

One Comment on “Three Years Gone By (Jaw Surgery)

  1. Pingback: Graduation Day | Kawika In Sight

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