Friday, 23 March 2018

On the Eve of my 30th Birthday 🎁

It’s been quite a reflective time in the run up to my 30th. Thinking about where I am in life, where I thought I’d be, looking around at my family and friends, who is with me, who isn’t. Where they are, what they are doing and what they’ve managed to achieve. It’s been emotional to say the least.

When I was 21 I never thought life would have u turned the way it did. I was in a stable relationship, working 3 jobs, at university studying HR and business management, healthy and relatively happy. I was confident, had friends, I had a car and a safe home. Then it all changed. By the time I had my operation I’d been in agony for over a year. I was suicidal. I just didn’t know how I was going to live with the pain I was in. I was delusional from lack of sleep and heavy pain meds and muscle relaxants. Thinking back... I just don’t know how I did it. That pain! Stabbing, stinging, burning, pulsing through my face 24 hours a day, every second was miserable. It was agony just to think about talking. 

Then the neighbours and the nightmare of fearing for my family’s safety as they shot a gun at our door, or attacked a woman in the street with a brick, or mounted the pavement to try and run my young brother over. The police gave us a flame retardant mailbox and set up CCTV but there was little they could do to protect us until one of us was actually hurt. Eventually, in between the pain and university we moved. With the help of some very special people.

We were safe, but now I had to complete my university degree. I will never forget sitting in my mother’s living room with my mum until 4am for nights on end cutting up small pieces and clippings from academic journals just to break the info down into manageable chunks. Just so I could make some sort of sense out of the text. Everything took forever. An essay that once took a couple of hours took days for me to put together. I couldn’t read properly, think properly, type efficiently and I could hardly move for pain and fatigue. Then my mum would put her head down for a couple of hours and wake at 6 to go to work for the day. If she isn’t the definition of the world’s greatest Mum I don’t know what is. The nights she would wake hearing me sobbing and just hold me and tell me it would all be ok. I used to cry a lot. I just felt so helpless and trapped in this pain. I couldn’t escape. 

After my operation in August 2011 Mum was there night and day. Syringing my food, helping me to lift my head, bathing me, washing my hair, helping me to get dressed, sitting up with me when I had insomnia and getting up in the middle of the night to help me take my pain meds. All while going to work and looking after my brother and the house. Moments I will never forget. 

No one thought the operation was going to leave me in such a state. People often ask me what happen after the operation. All I know is, I opened my eyes in recovery and was in the most pain I’ve ever been in in my life. I couldn’t lift my head, it felt like a million tonne weight and my arms felt like there were glued to the bed. Years and years no one has been able to answer why I was in so much pain and why my muscles seized up. All we have been able to guess is that I was allergic to the muscle relaxants used during the surgery and that is what caused this. The same thing happened when I had my plates removed. But because that was a much shorter operation the rigidness and pain wasn’t as bad. 

I was so upset. I thought this operation was going to make it all better. Yes I knew it could make it worse (my surgeon warned me), but I hoped and prayed it wouldn’t. 

For the first time since I was 17 I couldn’t work, I couldn’t even look after myself. Mum was caring for me and trying to support a whole house. Running home in her lunch break to feed me and give me my pills and then running back all on a couple of hours for sleep. I looked around and saw all my friend’s had graduated and secured jobs. They were going on holidays, buying homes, getting married, planning families and here I was being fed by my mum through a syringe. 

I hoped things were going to get better, but even Mum didn’t know. Recovery was long. Even the jaw surgery itself. I took quite a while to heal and be able to open my mouth fully. I had to learn how to smile, feel and eat again. It was strange, I would bite the side of my mouth by accident or miss my mouth completely. But even after the orthodontist and surgeon were happy and signed me off of their books, I still had a long way to go.

So years and years of physiotherapy, psychological therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, osteopathy, sports massage, chiropractors, cranial therapy, aromatherapy and meditation. I’m still numb on both sides of my lower lip, bottom teeth and gums. My muscles in my neck, face and shoulders spasm all the time. They also rip and tear for no reason what so ever. And my nerves fire up and shoot pains down my face and jaw, through my eyes, head and neck and down my arms. Sometimes the nerves are so painful and fire off so strongly I can’t lift my arm or grip at all. 

In November I started with a personal trainer and I’ve learnt a lot about my body. Since starting training, I have discovered that certain muscles in my body just don’t react or wake up. There are a few core muscles that take on all the work and then some muscles that don’t work at all. I also have reduced feeling in certain areas like my shoulder blades and peck area. I’m seeing a neurologist at St Thomas’s so hopefully this is something he is going to look into. 

As you know, recovery has been a long road and I still suffer from pain daily... but look... this time 5 years ago, even 3 years ago I didn’t think I’d be able to sit up all day and  support my neck unaided, I didn’t think I could manage a flight of stairs without a walking aid or walk for more than a few meters or stand for more than 1 minute at a time. I never thought I was going to work again. Things were bad.

Yes I struggle. Lifting that 500ml bottle of water hurts, but I can do it, I can hold that glass or that tea cup and drink without getting it all down myself (the majority of the time). I’ve eaten some amazing foods, in some amazing places and been able to live a life I thought was out of reach. It’s not the life I imagined. But it is a life! 

Yes it’s easy to get caught up in the what ifs, what others are doing and comparing. I thought I would be in a stable career by now, be married with kids... but I’m not and those thoughts aren’t going to help me. 

I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I now run a successful company and I’ve just set up a new one. I’m independent. I’ve travelled. I can afford to go to a personal trainer and go for massages to help my pain. 

I struggle yes. It’s hard, yes. I feel exhausted, down trodden and uncomfortable all the time. But I’m moving in the right direction. If this is what I can do in 7 years. Imagine what I can do in the next 7!

I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without my mum. I literally wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for her. I was on the edge of giving up so many times. But she kept me going, kept me strong and gave me a reason not to be selfish. How could I do that to her. 

So on the eve of my 30th birthday I would just like to say... I love you Mum. And I am so thankful for everything you have done and do for me. You truly are an angel. You’ve been there for me through this all. On my side and fighting for me all the way. The one person I could rely on. I hope I can make you proud and maybe one day we can sit on a beach somewhere hot, with the sun shining and toast to being pain free. Until then we have many happy memories to make and special times to spend together. Just mind that step :) 

I looking forward to spending some quality time together :) and you too Fraser!

Love you both. 


Friday, 2 March 2018

Constipation after Jaw Surgery

Disclaimer: this blog post will being talking about pooping. For any guy who still believes girls don’t poop, or for anyone who is a little too proper to read about this online, I suggest you skip to the next article now.

Ok not to alarm anyone, this blog post won’t be graphic. I saw someone post up on a Facebook group about problems going to the number 2 after surgery and thought this would make a useful blog post.

So here we go...

After surgery your body can go either one or two ways. Either you vomit and have an upset stomach... possibly due to the stress, anaesthetic or dramatic change in diet. Or you can go the other way and not go at all. Again this could be due to the dramatic change in your diet from solid to liquid and pain relief medications such as co-codomol which are well known to cause constipation.

Constipation can be painful and rather unpleasant. I’ve always had a lazy bowel... ever since I was a child... once a week if I was lucky. Before you freak out... I’ve had all the tests and I’m fine. Nothing untoward, just lazy bowels.
Coupling this with the co-codomol, I suffered terribly post op.

The first 2 weeks weren’t too bad as I lost a lot of water weight and was only on watered down fruit juice, milkshakes and soup. By week 4 things became a little uncomfortable and I realised I needed to do something.

So here are my top tips to get moving again

Drink plenty of water

Whilst recovering from your surgery try to drink lots of water and watered down pure fruit juice.

Natural over the counter remedies

You may also want to ask your pharmacist for some Senokot tablets or lactulose in liquid form. If you are looking for a more herbal natural approach Acai Berries, Flaxseeds, Aloe Vera and Green Tea are also great for constipation. 

Or alternatively you may want to try syrup of figs, prune juice or 2x teaspoons of coconut oil. I still take the coconut oil capsules and Aloe Vera now. However, these capsules are quite large, so I would suggest sticking to the liquid form while you are recovering.

When you move to a soft food diet you can incorporate a high fibre cereals like porridge and Weetabix.

You can also try purée fruit and vegetables - broccoli, spinach, pineapple, coconut, figs, grapes and mixed berries are particularly good for this type of problem.

I also found runny egg yolks can help.

Move around

If you can do a few sit ups and leg raises. Nothing strenuous and if it hurts your jaw stop immediately. Stretch, move you hips in a circle and go for a walk.

Use heat

Try hot baths, showers and hot water bottles to get things moving. They also double up as a nice pain reliever.

Things to avoid

  1. Don’t eat bananas
  2. Avoid milk and other dairy products as this can have a binding effect for some people
  3. Don’t eat white - go for wholemeal versions of rice, pasta, bread etc.

But if you change your diet and you're still stuck, it might be time to go and see your doctor. If your constipation is an ongoing issue and you have done all the right things and still have problems then these are things that should be evaluated by a doctor or a gastroenterologist.

Continue the chat in my closed Facebook Group 

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Who gave me my diagnosis?

A jaw surgery and chronic facial pain patient recently asked if I could write a blog about who I spoke to in order to get my diagnosis and who I went to see to be referred for my different treatments. I realise the way modern healthcare works changes like the wind and the criteria they once used to assess certain diseases and treatments has changed, but I thought this information may be of benefit to the UK patients and some international patients who are just starting their treatment or part way through their journey and are looking for their next step.

Jaw Surgery & Brace Work (Dentist)

From a young age my mother was told I would need to be referred to a specialist about brace work and maxillofacial surgery. I was around 8 when this was flagged up as a concern by my dentist. At the age of 11 I was referred to St Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup. They agreed with my dentist and started brace work to correct my bite and prepare me for surgery when I was 18.

Changing Hospital / Treatment Team (Dentist)

If you have read my previous blog posts you will know they weren’t particularly child friendly and a lot of my esteem issues stem from my time with them. I was deeply unhappy with the way they treated me and the way they made me feel, so I spoke to my dentist who wrote a referral letter to King’s College and Guy’s Hospital in London. This is when I met prof Cobourne and Mr Shaun Matthews. They agreed to take my case on and they were the team who operated on me.

Second opinions about surgery (Dentist)

During my treatment I started to develop terrible left sided facial pain. I was desperate to be out of pain and to have my surgery. I was also very nervous about having surgery at King’s College as this is where my baby brother died and it had some horrible memories for both me and my family.
 I wasn’t sure what my surgical team had proposed would be the best option and I did not want to wait, so I spoke to my dentist again who wrote to Eastman’s hospital and asked for a second opinion. This is were I saw Mr Lloyd. He stated that he was a good friend of my team at Guy’s and he wouldn’t feel comfortable to take me on. He said that the team at Guy’s had my best interests at heart. 

Going private (GP)

Unable to wait much longer and unsatisfied with Eastman’s response, my dad added me to his health insurance and requested an appointment at the Sloane Hospital. There I met a very senior consultant. And I am terrible because I cannot remember how to spell his name. He explained that it was he who actually mentored my surgeon and reassured me I was in good hands. He explained the same procedure my surgeon had proposed and said it would not be any quicker and certainly not cheaper to take the private route. Even if I were to pay for surgery I would need to have surgery at King’s College because it was the only hospital in our area that had the required machinery, equipment and specialist team required for my type of surgery. He suggested that I be patient and wait it out. Feeling a little deflated and very worried, I had to bite my tongue and hope it would all be ok.

Diagnosis Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia and TMJ (Maxillofacial Surgeon & Neurologist)

As previously mentioned, 2 years into my brace treatment, I started to develop terrible left sided facial pain. I was and still am in pain 24 hours a day. This pain was debilitating, distracting and unmanageable. I had never experienced anything like this in my life. I would describe it as the worse migraine of my life, but in my face and it just didn’t stop. Stabbing, shooting pains all day and all night, clicking and muscle spasms around my jaw joints and huge painful balls behind my ears. My neck, jaw joint and face was hot and it felt like half my skull was on fire while being crushed by a vice. My surgery team asked for x-rays, CT scans, MRI of the joints. All came back clear. Just a slight slip of the disc on the left side. This is seen as quite normal.

I spoke with my GP and dentist. My GP referred me to see a neurologist who did more MRIs and x-rays. I was also tested for Lupus using a blood test. The neurologist diagnosed me with Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia based on my description of the pain and the absence of anything untoward on the scans (cancer etc).

My surgeon who is a TMJ specialist believed that the joint pain was TMJ dysfunction and it was he who diagnosed me with TMJ dysfunction.

Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia (Psychiatrist & GP)

After several years of pain, severe issues with my mobility post operations and complete exhaustion, my psychiatrist and GP diagnosed me with CFS and Fibromyalgia. To remind you I was completely unable to move from my neck to my lower chest after surgery and had to go through years of physiotherapy and rehab to get where I am today. Often these diagnoses are only given after all other disorders have been discounted. I had been feeling exhausted for a period of years. I believed it was the combination of crippling daily pain and the sedative pain meds which had caused it. But my GP and psychiatrist believed it was Fibro and CFS. They said that the muscle weakness, shaking, urinary tract issues, inability to walk far without pain all over my body and the flu like symptoms were a result of these two disorders.

I also had glandular fever when I was 18 and had a terrible reaction to the medication Amoxicillin. I was a lobster and burning up for a period of weeks. Then I turned a horrible black and blue colour when the fever finally broke. We found out in 2015 that I am severely allergic to Amoxicillin and Penicillin and I won’t be able to use these ever again. Apparently, Glandular fever makes you more susceptible to getting CFS in the future and this was another tick in the box for my psychiatrist and GP.

Optical Neuralgia and Trigeminal Neuralgia continued…

I have recently seen a new neurologist. My psychiatrist has now referred me to St Thomas’. I am now awaiting further tests and scans to see if anything can be seen on the new scans. Since the surgery I get terrible migraines, face pain attacks and neck spasms and weakness. This was never investigated. Instead it was assumed my lack of mobility post-surgery was due to a reaction to the muscle relaxants used during surgery. My neurologist would like to discount anything new and would like to see if there is anything visible which could be causing the tension, muscle spasms and muscle weakness. I also have trouble with shooting pains down my arm and problems with grip now. So this is a new development.

In conclusion, there are a lot of people involved in making my case and diagnosing me. If you are having problems with your surgical team or need a second opinion, ask your dentist to refer you to another hospital. If your dentist isn’t helpful, go elsewhere. Try a different dentist.

If you are having problems with long term facial pain or chronic pain of any sort, speak to your psychiatrist or your GP about a referral to a neurologist. If your GP isn’t too helpful and you don’t have a psychiatrist, you can always ask your pain management team to write a letter to your GP who will be able to refer you to the correct team.

I know it is frustrating and it sometimes feels like you won’t ever get the answers you want or desperately need. But do not give up hope and do not give up trying. If at the first, second, third or fourth attempt you don’t succeed, try, try again. It only takes one good specialist to diagnose you.
Always ensure you have a full list of your symptoms to take with you and keep a pain diary and calendar. Something like this….

If you go fully prepared and with as much information as you can, this allows the specialist to be able to assess you a lot faster and get a better grasp of your overall condition and how it effects your life. Without this, you could forget crucial symptoms, examples and pain management tactics. All of this helps to develop a story of your life and what you are dealing with on a day to day basis.

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,



Sunday, 4 February 2018

Cleaning my retainers

I have had my retainers for years now. Not the same pair. I have had 3 replacement pairs since my first Essix retainers given to me by the hospital in December 2011.

In that time, I have heard all the warnings; don’t keep them in water, don’t use denture cleaner, don’t brush them with toothpaste, don’t use warm water. Apparently, all these things will break down the plastic. Well news is, general wear will break down the plastic. So there is very little you can do to prevent them breaking. The truth is, after a while they will just break. Plus, if it is a choice between putting dirty bacterial infested retainers on my teeth or clean retainers, I am saving my teeth and choosing the clean retainers every time. I did not go through this many years of treatment and pain to destroy my teeth.

So here is what I do to keep my retainers sparkling clean –

Note: I still wear both my upper and lower retainers 1-2x per week and I wear them overnight.

  1. In the morning, I take the retainers out and wash them under cold clean water.
  2. After this I fill up my denture pot with water, add the retainers and pop in a non-scented Steradent Active Plus tablet.
  3. I leave the retainers to soak for the rest of the day while I go about my business.
  4. When I return home from work, I rinse the retainers and give them a light brush using the spare head on my electric toothbrush.
  5. Then I pop them back into the pot with clean water. I change the water once a day until the day comes for me to wear them again.
  6. When it is time to wear them again, I run them under cold water and brush them with my usual minty toothpaste and rinse.
  7. I brush my teeth, floss and then rinse.
  8. I then brush over my teeth with Eucryl and pop in the retainers. The Eucryl acts as a whitener and reduces the amount of bacteria and plaque building up under the retainer during the night. 

I have tried many different ways of maintaining and keeping my retainers clean. This is the one that has been most effective.

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,



Sunday, 10 December 2017

Exercise after Jaw Surgery

Let’s be realistic here for a moment…. After surgery your surgeon with advise that you do not participate in any contact sport for around 8-12 weeks. Your surgeon will most likely say you can resume non-contact sports and exercise as soon as you are ready.

I have spoken to many people who have had jaw surgery and I do not know anyone that was able to participate in any kind of sport for the first 4 weeks post-surgery. You may be lucky and be recovered within a few weeks, but for most people this is not the case.

After jaw surgery there are many aspects that you need to bear in mind when planning the amount of time off you will require from work and school. It is also important to be realistic and not to plan too much too soon after your jaw surgery. Regardless of what the surgeons have told you, hardly anyone is recovered within two weeks. It is imperative that you do not partake in any heavy or contact sports for the first 8-12 weeks. It is also important that if you have had a bone graft or have any external wounds that you do not get them wet. All in all, that means no weights, no heavy sweaty cardio and no outside sport when it is likely to rain.

After surgery many people experience swelling, numbness and (sometimes) a vast amount of pain. There may also be complications caused by the surgery and your ability to breathe easily. This could mean nose bleeds, mucus build up in the nasal cavity or just general swelling around the top jaw, nose and cheeks. This makes exercise difficult.

You may also have existing or new issues relating to TMJ pain and/or posture. Many patients say their jaw joints hurt a lot after surgery and any exercise can cause pressure around the jaw joints.

Further to this, your body will be under immense stress due to the surgery itself and the dramatic change in diet. You will be losing weight and trying your hardest to maintain a nutritious and high calorie liquid or soft food diet.

Separately these issues may or may not affect your ability to participate in exercise, but after surgery the combination of these aspects can leave you feeling exhausted, weak, tired and dizzy. I would suggest asking a friend or family member to accompany you when exercising. At least for the first few weeks, while you get back on your feet and get back to some normality.

My story

Before surgery I was in immense pain. I have TMJ issues and Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia. This meant that I experienced excoriating shooting and stabbing pain 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I was unable to exercise at all. The pain took over my life. I went from being a very energetic person who loved to ride my bike along the river Thames, go to the gym weekly, swimming, dancing to doing Pilates in my home living room, to a zombie, navigating between my day job and a full-time university honours degree. I was on Baclofen, Ibruprofen, Cocodomol 30/500mg 8x daily and Amitriptyline 30-70mg. Even so, before the surgery I was still quite strong, able to walk, stand and get through a day’s work.

When I woke up after surgery I was rigid from my eye socket down to my chest. I could hardly move my head, neck, shoulders or arms. The surgeon had no idea what had happened or why I was in so much pain. The medication continued to roll on and on and I was discharge 2 days after surgery.

After surgery I was unable to walk or stand for any period of time and would often faint or feel dizzy on the high dose of pain relief. My head also felt like it weighed a tonne and I needed to constantly support my head and neck. My face would swell up and burn if I did constantly use ice packs. After a few weeks I was starting to feel a little better so tried my hardest to go for a 5 or 10 minute walk each day or use my exercise bike on the easiest setting.

The combination of the anaesthetic, lack of food, pain, swelling, broken bones, external scars and sedative pain relief meant that I wasn’t fit for much and walked around like a zombie for a good 2 months after surgery.

Picture of me post surgery - Working on balance. As you can see my shoulders were still completely turned in. 

Is exercise good?

Exercise after jaw surgery is supposed to be really beneficial for reducing the level of swelling. It is also important to maintain good muscle tone as your body adjusts to the change in diet and your inactivity. However, even after a short walk my face would often burn up and turn bright red. I was so exhausted that I would need to have a sleep after any exercise. I lost around 12 lbs and 6 lbs of that was in the first week after surgery. The muscle wastage happened so quickly.

When I had my titanium, plates removed I attempted to go swimming 6 weeks after surgery. I only managed 50 metres and I had to stop. My face turned bright red and started to go hot and swell up. I was worried but went home to rest. After a couple of days my face recovered and the swelling decreased. After discussing this matter with my friend, he suggested that it could be due to the opening of the face and the rupturing of the capillaries, arteries or veins during my surgery. He suggested that I should stick to a lighter form of exercise for the time being.

Important note

The final note I would like to highlight would be that your jaw bones take 8-12 weeks to fully heal and even after this point the bones may be very weak. It is important to be conscious of the sports you are participating in and ensure you do not hit or put too much pressure on your face or jaws.

Do not push your body too hard, too fast. Ease back into exercise and your normal routine slowly. Do not participate in any contact sports for at least 8-12 weeks and only go back to it once you and your surgeon are happy for you to do so. No point going through all that pain and suffering just to set yourself back to square one.

Recommended blog post:

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,



Monday, 4 December 2017

Kissing after jaw surgery

This is a subject that pops up in my inbox time and time again. Until now, I must admit, the thought of writing a blog like this felt rather embarrassing. Family, friends and maybe my ex might read this, so I didn’t know if this was too personal of a subject.

Approaching my 30th birthday, I thought, why not, I talk to jaw patients about this all the time.
After surgery the thought of anyone coming anywhere near my head, let alone my lips, would send me into an anxious fit. Even my mum kissing my forehead scared the life out of me. I was numb from the eye socket down. I remember stroking my eyebrows as this was one of the only things I could feel. This gave me a sense of comfort and made me feel like it would be ok.

It was months before my nerves started to wake up and I am still COMPLETELY numb on both side of my bottom lip, chin and gums. People message me panicked all the time; “What if I am numb, can I kiss my boyfriend/ girlfriend?” The answer is, I can and so can you. Yes it is different because you don’t really know what your bottom lip is doing, but as long as your tongue isn’t numb and you can feel your top lip you will manage just fine.  

About your lips

For your lips to move and work efficiently, a complex system of muscles and other structures is required. The lips are made up of an upper lip and a lower lip, which are connected and form the transition point between the skin on the face and the lining of the mouth.

It is the flexibility of the lips that allows for people to express different emotions. This is due to the muscular structure responsible for controlling the lips, which allows great freedom of movement and is interconnected with the rest of the muscles on the face. It is because of these lip muscles that movements like whistling and kissing are possible.

After the surgery

After the surgery your nerves and muscles will be stretched and damaged. They have suffered great trauma. They may be swollen, painful and numb. This may cause dribbling, drooping and the swelling can make your face feel hot.

Over the course of a few months, your nerves will recover or wake up. You may experience itching and shooting pains as they start to rejuvenate. It is important to note it can take up to 18 months to 2 years for your nerves to fully recover.

The nerves that are damaged, stretched, broken or dead may never recover, but the helpful part is, all those muscles connected to the lips will still work. Once the swelling has subsided and the muscles have recovered, they will serve your new face, just as well as they did before. This means that you will still be able to talk, eat and kiss without having a drooping or dribbling mouth.

How long before I can kiss my partner?

It really does depend on your recovery. I would say no sooner than 2 weeks. You need to be careful. Nothing too passionate. Your face is broken in several places, remember!

On top of the broken bones, you also have swelling and pain. You need to ask yourself, how do you feel? Are you in pain? How confident would you feel about your partner touching your face? If the answer is, no or hardly any pain, you are confident and you are a few weeks post surgery, go for it, but be careful. Even if it feels ok at the time, you may find your jaw plays up a lot after. There are a lot of muscles involved in kissing. Muscles that have gone through a lot of trauma and need to recover. I didn’t kiss my partner for 2 months after surgery. It wasn’t nice, but I couldn’t have anyone near my face. When we did kiss, it was little pecks. I had to learn how to do everything again. Talk, kiss, chew etc. It was like being a teenager again, having my first kiss. How should I move my mouth, what should I do, am I dribbling? It was pretty stressful. My boyfriend at the time was very understanding so that was nice.

Does it feel different?

Once I had recovered, my bones had healed, my nerves were mostly awake and working fine, things became a little more “normal”. My muscles still hurt and my bottom lip, chin and gums are still numb. If my partner and I had a “make out” session it would hurt quite a lot afterwards. Not so much at the time, I am sure it was something to do with the endorphins that meant I felt less pain. But afterwards, it would hurt quite a lot. We split up 10 months after my original surgery. I had gone through a lot and was still recovering. Dealing with pain, infections and learning to live with my new face and he had fallen out of love with me and just didn’t think to finish it. I was single for a long long time after that. When I got into a relationship again, almost 2 years later, it was all new again. Even now, if I haven’t kissed for a while, I need to teach myself how to do it again. What way do my muscles have to move and where is my bottom lip in relation to the other person’s? While it is not ideal, I can still do it and I am LUCKY because my nerves are completely dead. I know some people who can’t kiss their partner’s because it hurts. I am used to eating and drinking now and no one else watching would ever know my lip was numb. I am sure my kissing technique has suffered, but there are worst things in life, right?

Be kind to yourself, don’t rush yourself and do what feels comfortable. Be patient with your recovery. I really do hope you have an understanding partner who won’t pressurise you or rush you into it.

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,



Monday, 20 November 2017

Learning to live with limitations

I’ve been up, I’ve been down, I’ve been unwell, I live with pain and sometimes you just have to accept that things are just as they are supposed to be.

This year has been a rollercoaster for me. Battling my demons, taking on my body and fighting between duty and self respect.

I’m not here to share my struggles or my achievements with you, I’m here to let you know, even as you sit reading this, feeling scared or assured in yourself, anxious or calm, in pain or pain free, stressed or relaxed, tired or rested, lost or empowered, weak or strong, ashamed or proud, sad or happy, hopefully or hopeless that every moment you are living… you are doing just that. Living! You are awesome! You (your body) and your mind are doing several million processes all at once; breathing, smelling, sitting/ laying, standing, holding a phone, tablet or sitting with a laptop or computer, reading, seeing, holding your head up, healing, digesting, your heart is pumping oxygenated blood around your body. And a whole host of other processes!  You are just awesome! Yes your body might be in pain, or behaving in a distressing way or not working at a optimal level, but you are here, reading this, possibly searching the internet for answers, learning, connecting, communicating, influencing. You are here and you are doing the best you can.

What has 2017 taught me?

If I were to summaries what this year has brought me, I would summarise it as a sense of oneness and a little bit of acceptance. Not fully, but a little.

My limitations may always be there, but my body is amazing and I need to be thankful for that. The immense pain, the stress, the exhaustion, it’s me and that’s ok. It may have taken me 7 years longer than it should have but, I respect my body and what I do every day just to get through. Thinking back to just a few short years ago when I couldn’t even hold my “fat head” up for more than an hour, or stand in a queue for longer than 2 minutes or walk from my house to my car or get dressed unaided. Heck there was a time when my mother had to hold my phone up (because it was too heavy) just so I could text my friend’s and family. I should feel proud of that and not be ashamed. Sometimes things regress in life, you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Where one day after the other is just a cycle of pain, medication and a pure struggle to just get comfortable or sleep. But there will be moments (be them seconds, minutes, hours or days) where you will do something different. You’ll open your mouth a little wider, you’ll try a chip or a piece of bread, long term pain sufferers, you’ll take one less pill or get yourself out of bed, or call a friend. All while, breathing, pumping blood, thinking, planning, moving. How amazing!

Never belittle your achievements and please try not to compare yourself to others. You are special and amazing and you need to look after yourself.

I know things aren’t perfect, but where possible eat and drink well, open the curtains and the windows and get some fresh air, go for a little walk (if possible), surround yourself with glorious fragrances and beautiful images, quotes or photos, drink water, moisturise your skin (even if it’s just your hands), do your nails, or go any get them down, take a shower or bath, meditate, be proactive. Enjoy the small things in life and be kind to your body.

Lessons Learned

A few weeks ago I worked myself into a horrible bout of illness. I was sitting on the bathroom floor, in tears at 3am, bladder on fire (girls you know), kidneys in agony, vomiting, shaking, sipping water waiting for the antibiotics and pain meds to kicked in. I crawled from the bathroom to the bedroom, picked up my blue bunny (the one my nanny bought me and my favourite pillow), my phone and a lighter. I literally crawled back into the bathroom, lit the candles by my bath, turned off the light, sat on the floor, put on some soothing meditation on by Louise Hay and cuddled my teddy. I stayed there for some time, waiting for the meds to kick in and trusted everything was ok and I could trust my body to let me know what to do. I made a decision right there and then, enough was enough, I had to put myself first. Running my own business and working 60 hour work weeks was not sustainable. And what was I achieving. I had no quality of life, no friendships, relationships, hobbies, or self care, it had been months since I went for a massage, saw a psychologist or eaten properly. What was I doing to myself?

I was so scared of work drying up, letting my clients down, or worse letting myself and my family down that I was on the treadmill. I need to be able to pay my bills and I was scared that if I did get off that treadmill, I wouldn’t be able to get back on. I thought a few hours off a week will work ok, my body had other ideas. I was enduring the face and neck pain daily, pumping myself with pills and Sumitryptan nasal sprays. I started amitryptline again, dulling down my nerves and sending me to sleep every night. But now, I sat on my bathroom floor helpless and out of control. The only way things were going to get better was by partnering back up with my body and working as a team. I couldn’t keep mistreating it and not listening to it. After all it’s the only body I’ll ever have.

I’m back on the road to recovery now, eating better, working less, drinking more water, topping up with vitamin rich foods and supplements, signed back up with a psychologist, go for a massage every 2 weeks and I’m starting with a personal trainer on Wednesday doing 30 minute sessions per week.

So what I’m trying to say here is, whether you are recovering from jaw surgery, dealing with pain or just not treating yourself right. Acceptance of the current state of things and putting yourself and your mind and body first is so important. Trust me you deserve it. Be patient with yourself. You know you are doing a bloody great job!

This marks the start of a new phase in my life and I am looking forward to getting back to you all and my blog. I have several blog post ideas lined up and I am excited to get writing again.

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Bad skin and sore lips after jaw surgery

After jaw surgery your body will be full of drugs and anaesthetic. In most cases you will not be eating or drinking as much as you usually do. You may also be covered in the yellow iodine used to clean the area during surgery. As a result of these factors you may find you break out in spots or hives. Or alternatively, you may find your skin is very dry and peeling. Providing you do not have any external scars you can resume your usual skin care routine and make sure you drink plenty of water. However, if you have external scars, like I did, you may have to adapt the way you clean your face.

Cleaning my face after surgery

After surgery I had several external stitches and as mentioned in my previous blog, a very sore bloody nose dot between my eyes. When I was first home from hospital I cleaned my face using cotton wool and warm water (avoiding the wound areas). It is really important that you use a mirror and fully wring out the cotton wool to avoid any drips falling onto your wound sites or stitches.

Within a few days I was using sensitive perfume-free baby wipes to wipe my face after food or medicine. These were great for a quick freshen up. My skin was really dry, red and at times was very sore. I invested in a good night cream for sensitive skin by Olay and used cotton wool with E45 after I had a bath. Other patients who have very sensitive skin suggest using organic Aloe Vera products during their recovery. Personally, I have tried quite a few of these natural products and none of them worked particularly well and none of them provided the level of moisturisation my skin needed. However, this isn’t to say that they will not work for you.

Very sore peeling lips

During the surgery the main body of work happens inside the mouth, but on rare occasions small cuts can be found around the mouth area after surgery. This is due to the extensive pulling and stretching of the mouth during surgery. These small cuts are usually less than 5mm in size but can be quite tender and red in the early stages of recovery. Something that I was all too familiar with during my recovery. When I woke up I remember feeling like someone had tried to literally rip my bottom jaw off. My lips were so swollen and cut that I did not think I would ever be able to shut them again.

I had a very sore and dry mouth area after surgery. Each corner of my mouth was quite swollen, sore and slightly ripped. To combat this, I used Vaseline in the early weeks after surgery and bought an intense lip moisturiser once my lips started to properly peel and heal. It is important to note that this is completely normal and the area of redness can last for up to 10 months before fully healing. It does not usually leave a permanent scar.

Stitches removed after jaw surgery

Once I had my stitches removed, my surgeon told me to moisturise the area so the scars would fade. I used e45 body lotion on my face every day and also rubbed a small amount of vitamin e oil onto the scars before bedtime. My scars have almost completely disappeared and the only time they are noticeable is when I point them out to someone on a sunny day or when I have a tan (scars do not tan).

It is not uncommon for people who have had this operation or similar operations to have skin complaints after surgery. Some patients I have spoken to have had really greasy and unmanageable skin after surgery. Others had a very similar experience to me. I am lucky because my skin is no longer dry and I do not get any spots or skin complaints since the operation and this is the same story for most other jaw surgery patients.

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,



Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Nose Dot

So what exactly am I talking about here? After surgery I woke up in the recovery room, in agony and totally groggy. I woke up with weird numbness and a crazy level of pain radiating along my jaw, down my neck, back and shoulders. meaning I was completely paralysed in these areas and unable to move my head. On top of that, I had a splint in my mouth, which was not holding in place my bottom teeth, as I now had a 3mm overbite and I had a lot of excess saliva in my mouth. Anyway, besides all of this going on, I was very aware of how painful the bridge of my nose felt. It was so painful that I actually thought it had been broken. I didn't remember my surgeon talking about a nose job and I had no way of checking what was going on or why it hurt so much. 

I was wheeled back to my room an hour later to be welcomed by the sight of my mum's horrified face. I had external stitches and a noticeable red dot in between my eyebrows. All of which I was totally unaware of and too drugged up to care about. 

After a couple of days in hospital I was able to look in the mirror and see the images mum had taken of me on her camera phone. It was then I noticed the bloody scab between my eyes and what seemed to be the main cause of all my nose pain. 

Before I was discharged I had to have the splint removed by my surgeon's assistant. It was causing me to gag and produce a lot of saliva. And it was also restricting me from drinking and swallowing properly. When he removed the splint I was finally able to talk with a little more clarity. It was then that I asked what had happened to my nose.

My surgeon's assistant went on to tell me that the dot was caused by a pin that had been inserted into my face during the operation in order for my surgeon to use as a reference point to align my jaws. He assured me that my nose wasn't broken, but admitted that he was quite baffled as to why it was causing me so much pain. 

Over the next few weeks I visited the hospital for a weekly check up and was told to avoid my stitches when washing my face. I was told that my nose dot would disappear within a few weeks, the pain would subside and the dot would simply dry up like scab and fall off. 

It went on for weeks. I was careful not to scrub it and gently patted it with wet cotton wool when I washed my face. Eventually the scab fell off, revealing what I felt like, was a mammoth hole in my face. As we can see from the images, it was not big, nor a hole, but merely a small dent. To be honest, I was mainly annoyed that I'd never been told anything about this pin or the possibly of it marking my face. Thankfully, the pain in my nose had died down and I was only left with the dent. The dent that I still have to this day. 

You can now continue the chat and speak with other patients on my new closed Facebook group:

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!

Lots of love always,