Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Memories of the Pumpkinhead

What the heck is going on with me?  I want to eat everything in sight!  I think my body has a comfort zone that it likes to stay in....that zone would be....fat.  I start working out and my eating increases.   I just bought 2 large bunches of celery.  I figured if I must snack on something, at least celery has negative calories.  (You know the takes more calories to chew it than it actually contains!).  I'm thinking about having my jaw redone just so I can have it banded shut again! 

If you didn't know me then, here is a brief synopsis.  I had my overbite corrected about three years ago.  My overbite was pretty substantial - I had no chin.  It sort of blended into my neck.  I was also missing several permanent teeth so as my baby teeth came out, my remaining set become very crooked.  One of my teeth in the bottom front is a baby tooth and a bit pointy - it came in when I was four days old.  My mother was thrilled. my early 40's, I opted to get braces.  Not the cool Invisiline....not even the clear brackets...nope...I had full on metal braces on my teeth.....for about three years.  Followed by jaw surgery...and more braces.  I will recap my learning experience for you...
1.  All Orthodontists lie - when they say that your problem will be corrected in 18 months, don't believe them.
2.  The face is very vascular and jaw surgery causes you to look like Charlie Brown for about a week.
3.  Ensure looses all palatability on day three.
I saved my emails from that time period and decided to post them for nostalgia's sake.  I hope you enjoy....

Subject: Living with a pumpkin head

Good morning all! It's Sunday morning at 4:30 am and although my verbal skills have left me, my insomnia has not. Thought I would give everyone an update as to my post surgical status. Over the past three days, I have had much time to deliberate "what the heck have I done!" I keep telling myself that this will all make sense in a few weeks but right now, I am questioning every judgment that I have ever made. For those of you that have seen me, you know why! My face has taken on the shape of Charlie Brown. Yes, its true, I have become a cartoon character. The pain has not been bad so that is one positive. My focus, however, is another story. I can't seem to sleep all night so I exist on short naps over a 24 hour period. If I feel asleep in the middle of our conversations, I apologize!

I had a victory last night when I relearned how to drink from a cup. Small thing though it might seem, my lips have taken on the appearance of someone who got about five doses too much of collagen and they have no sensation. My teeth are banded shut and my cheeks and neck are swollen. If you can paint that picture, suddenly drinking from a cup is up there with winning the Nobel peace prize. My diet has been very limited so I am sure that I am loosing weight. Why my tummy bulge is still here, I don't know. I was expecting to be a size eight after five days. Life just isn't fair.

I miss you all and will be on yahoo more often now so please write to me. Written communication is my only form now so I do cherish it. I use a white board at home. You can still yell if you use all caps. My husband has been absolutely wonderful and the boys have been about as helpful as I had expected. They will do anything I ask as long as I can get the white board in front of them before they avert their eyes. I also am using sign language. When Tommy turned the heater way up last night, a few loud grunts and pointing to the thermostat seemed to do the trick.

Thanks so much for those of you that brought food. The kids and Eric have enjoyed it. I know that it took one thing off of Eric's plate that has made this easier for both of us.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers! I look forward to writing to you again soon. My bands come off next Friday so hopefully then I'll be able to attempt some talking. Have a good remainder of the weekend!


Subject: Part Two - Now I'm just a Squash

Hi Everyone! Thought I would update you to how things are going this week. I am no longer a Pumpkin Head. Now I'm just a squash. You remember the cute baby on the Gerber bottles? The one with the chubby little cheeks - so cute? It's not so cute when you're 43. No amount of hair styling can take away those cheeks. I haven’t tried makeup because eventually I would get to my mouth and I don't have that much lipstick available! I did realize yesterday that when you stop plucking your eyebrows for a week, you actually grow a second set. My eyes are warm.

I have achieved several milestones this week.

I am able to get up and perform some household duties. Dishes are fine, laundry is fine...vacuuming and mopping wears me out. Hmmm - that’s right - hated those before the surgery! That’s OK - that’s what boys are for!

I wore jeans instead of sweats for the first time yesterday. They were looser! Well - I couldn't actually tell if they were clean or if I had worn them prior and my helpful husband had just folded them. But, heck, for the moment, life was sweet!

I completed my Professional Development Plan for my class. It was a little depressing. The class is very big on being active in nursing community. Had a whole section of "Political affiliations - None" "Community Service - none" "Committee meetings - none". Let’s see how that one gets graded!

I get my bands off on Friday. Thank you Lord because the inside of my mouth is starting to feel like something off the set of the Titanic - the part where it's finally found in the ocean after years of growing barnacles. Warm salt water only does so much.

OK - back to doing my favorite activity this week - Napping. Kids really don't appreciate what they have. I think we should all get to do it every day!

Love you all!


Subject: Part Three: Ensure Forever

Well - it's Friday....I had my doctors appointment today. You know, the one that would end in my bands coming off. Welllllllll - It's Friday. The bands are still on. I didn't see my doctor. I saw another doctor. Another doctor that believes that the splint and bands need to stay on for two weeks. I'm sure he's a very good doctor. I hate him. Well - dislike him very strongly. The only thing I did hear from him today? You need to keep your mouth cleaner. I frantically wrote...what would you like me to add to my daily agenda of warm salt water swishes, mouth wash and band brushing? He said...I know it’s hard. Well - that helps. This is why I like nurses. At least they would have said "Try this...or this..."

Oh well - I'm going to buy a scale tomorrow. If I haven't lost any weight, you may want to stay away from me for a while. I feel like I'm going to be on Ensure forever - it had better result in smaller hips.

The swelling has gone way down. I am now able to go out in public. Loree was my awesome chauffeur today. After the doctors, we went to Albertsons. All went well even when we got up to the checkout. The clerk was chatty. Good for her. She has a movable jaw. Loree saved the day by saying "she had surgery". The clerk made some comment about "yeah, I saw her smiling..." What does that mean? "She was smiling like a senseless deaf mute?" Or was it simply "i noticed that her front teeth are covered with elastic?"....I'm getting grumpy.

I’m getting hormonal. Not a good combination with jaw wiring. Fortunately, Ensure comes in chocolate. I've had two this evening. Don't worry...that takes my calorie consumption for the day up to 750 calories. I'm still good. I think I'll get a box of See's tomorrow and melt them over the stove.

I'm no longer on pain medication. I'm pretty much pain free other than some minor annoyances here and there. After the surgery, I read that my bottom lip and chin could be numb for up to 12 months. Didn't catch that one before they severed my nerve endings.... It's really not that big of a deal actually. When I need to drink, it's very easy to move my bottom lip under the rim of the cup...most of the time. Other times that needs to be done manually. You know...with my hand. On a positive note, my lips feel like they could rival Angelina Jolie's. All this without collagen. My chin is perpetually cold unless it’s really warm in the house. Which is really helpful if you think about it. I have a barometer on my face. Who else can say that?

Overall I am still happy that I did the surgery. I think the end effect will be good. Hopefully I will end up with a nice profile and a smaller waist. And I am enjoying being home. Next week, though, my excuses for not cleaning the house may be gone. Wait...I'm feeling woozy again....

I love you all and thanks so much for your support during this experience! I feel like you all have been going though it with me...well except the whole thing of you not actually be silly enough to get your jaw broken. But no one told me I was nuts. Even if you thought didn't say it. Thank you for that.

You are all good friends....

I'm off to Tommy's Volley Ball game. Have a good night and I will "talk" to you all again soon!


Subject: Part Four: Adventures in Eating

Hello ladies! My sixteen days of oral prison are over! I am not bandless and splintless but....I am able to open my mouth about an inch! My really, really, really tight bands were replaced with looser bands that enable some jaw movement...not much but.....ENOUGH TO TALK!!! Yes, it's true - I am verbal once again. Hallelujah! Well, verbal with a very pronounced lisp but verbal just the same. Life is sweet!

I went to eat right after being released from my rubber band cage. My father and I went to Denny's. I ordered the only thing on the menu that looked like I could eat it without chewing - eggs and grits. Yes, I am a country girl at heart. Eating is an interesting experience when you can open you mouth only an inch and have no sensation in your bottom lip. Interesting is another word for messy. It took me twenty minutes to successfully get about four bites of eggs and a small bowel of grits consumed. Where did the rest of the eggs go? Well - I'm glad they had a vacuum. My breakfast came with bacon also. My dad asked me "aren't you going to eat that?" I contemplated how to eat bacon without chewing and decided that sucking on it would be a bit inappropriate in the restaurant. I just pushed the plate over to him. He told me "good honey, I don't want you to overeat." Not much chance of that Dad - for me to overeat, we would have to be committed to at least another six hours here.

I had a few revelations while I was banded that I thought I would share. A major thing is that you never know how much you need a tongue until you don't have access to one. Some situations that arose....

1..You are going to the store and offer to pick up some tea for a dear friend. You realize that not only your lips are very dry but the inside of your cheeks as well. What do you do....? Well, what you would do is lick you lips. What I do? Hijack the tea and beg for forgiveness later.

2. You go to do an ATM deposit. You sign the back of your checks. You fill out the deposit slip. You add with your typical mathematical genius. You complete the deposit envelope, put everything inside and then read the five words that strike terror in your heart "please seal envelope before depositing". You look frantically inside your bag to see if the kitchen sponge fell in there by accident. You look in the car to see if they hijacked tea is still there. And quietly look around, and rub your finger inside your cheek several times and wipe it on the envelope. Disgusting? And what... you think actually "licking" the envelope is sanitary?

I am still banded so I still do not have full access to my tongue. It's more like I have visiting rights. I have four bands and a splint that keep my jaw in place. I will be learning exercises tomorrow to begin to loosen the muscles and enable me to open further. I can't tell how my family feels about this. My guess is that they enjoyed the silence.

I am back at work for six hours a day this week. Everyone has been very supportive. They keep telling me not to talk. I don't think that has anything to do with my recovery. I think they enjoy the silence also.

It's been quite a ride. I have lost sixteen pounds and one pants size so far. I am hoping to continue with this trend. I have been able to cook dinner and no longer will 'taste' as I go. Since I can't put it on my tongue, I would have to wipe it on my cheek. Its already covered in envelope glue. I don't like mixing tastes.

So.....have a good night. It's been great to get responses back from everyone. Thanks for all the support! Love ya dearly!



  1. Second set of eyebrows? That's so funny! As for the dental surgery side-effects, thanks for the "pumpkin" heads-up! Getting braces in your 40s is a very brave thing to do!

  2. Very funny! I went through braces for a second time in my thirties and that was traumatic enough. Reading your post gave me flash backs. :) You were a brave soul.