A List of Recovery Tips

I'm going to try and list a bunch of tips and suggestions for those having surgery to make things easier and stress free, because that's how we enjoy life right? I've made this list on the fly and will update it whenever I think of something or remember it.

Before the surgery

  • Gluttony. Embrace food for what it is, tasty, chewable, delicious, nutritious, and make sweet love to it. Eat till you are sick, ironically in the long run you will feel better for it.
  • Unstress yourself about surgery. Even though some people think it is a big thing, it really isn't. Think about the pros of getting surgery and how it negates all of the cons. Surgery is a good thing, everyone you've seen have it done seem to only improve. It isn't a coincidence. You've probably read enough jaw surgery blogs/watched enough jaw surgery videos to do the actual surgery yourself! 
  • Take pictures! Just so you remembered what you looked like before, just in case.

After the surgery in the hospital

  • Listen to the nurses, take all of the medications necessary and here will be your first chance to learn the syringe and how to swallow again(your neck muscles could be a bit swollen). 
  • Pain will be controlled with the amount of painkillers they decide to give you via IV. When a nurse asks you how much pain you are feeling, try and keep a consistent idea of where you are at.
  • Apply moisturizer or vaseline to your lips! They will start chapping if you don't because the skin on and around the lips gets stretched during surgery. This can save you from the pain later down the road.
  • Get out of bed when you feel comfortable and go to the bathroom. The first time you get out of bed, you will feel really weak. Just take your time, and don't rush anything.  My first bathroom trip reminded me of the time Austin Powers was first unfrozen in "The Spy who Shagged Me."
  • Keep your nostrils cleaned. Maybe it's just me, but the mucus/blood build up in my nostrils really really irritated me(and was the only discomfort for my whole recovery). Take the liquid meds and if provided, a saline nasal spray to keep things cleared out. This will help you breathe better. 
  • Adding to the before tip, my surgeon suggested using hydrogen peroxide on the end of q tips to break down the blood clots in your nose. Gently swab around the ends of your nose lightly, and it should break down some of the build up.
  • Ice! Make sure ice is applied as frequently as possible during the first 48 hours. Those 48 hours are very impactful on your next few days of swelling.
  • Keep entertained. I brought my laptop and used facebook, skype,  my phone to bbm, and the social support was great to keep me busy throughout the day. Thankfully I could barely concentrate on much for the majority of the day and would just pass out. Time flew by better than expected. Do whatever kills time for you. 
  • When leaving the hospital, get as many supplies from the nurse as you can. My surgeon suggested it the day I was released to ask for extra syringes, gauze, etc. I've read about many people getting syringes that stick and don't work, so get as many of those as possible.
When at home

  • Have a shower! You probably smell from the hospital stay. 
  • Keep your skin and face clean by washing it daily. If not, the vaseline you slathered on can make your skin a bit oily. Keep applying it too!
  • Drink as much fluids as you can! The first day or 2  I could only get down maybe a 1.5 L of fluids. This was so difficult. Go for 2 L everyday(1 L at the very least). This speeds up your recovery big time. I cannot stress how important this is. Consider adding gatorade powder for the electrolytes. Take as many opportunities in the day to drink whenever you can. A good time is when you are taking regular antibiotics. Schedule yourself so you drink at the same time, as well as in between. I would drink 6 times a day. It broke up my sleep a lot but it was really important to get anything into my system.
  • Use a mirror to help yourself get the syringe into your mouth. I found without it I was just poking around my face and it made a serious task look like a joke.
  • Stay on schedule. Create a routine of brushing your teeth, taking your drinks, showering, taking antibiotics, and sleeping. 
  • Sit elevated all the time, even when you sleep. Keep your head above your heart at all times so that the swelling goes down. It may be uncomfortable, but is necessary. Don't sleep on your sides right away either, wait for your surgeon to let you know when you can stop sleeping on your side as well as sleeping upright. 
  • Swelling peaks around day 4 plus minus a day. Once you get over this hump you will be in the clear.  You will hear people say that the first week is the worst. It generally is, so once you are there, it only gets better.
  • Find that one tv series you like and watch it endlessly. The time you kill will be fantastic. I played roller coaster tycoon and beat it.
  • Fiber! If you make smoothies make sure to add fruits for fiber, or if you make soups add plenty of vegetables. If there's anything a liquid diet misses it's fiber.
  • Whenever you have the energy, go out for a walk. Sunlight is considered nature's prozac with an additional bonus of vitamin D. Bundle up and wear shades if you feel like you don't want to be seen(hey you will look different once the swelling goes down anyways), but the most important thing is that you walk. Bring a friend to keep you on track. Walk everyday that you have the energy to, it keeps your muscles active and helps your bloodflow.
  • Once you can fit a vitamin in your mouth, take a daily multivitamin/other supplements you need to take. 
  • Embrace the drool, don't feel ashamed. I started using a towel because I used so many tissues. My shirt was unacceptable, but I would still need to change it everyday.
  • Don't worry about the puffiness and swelling of the face! It takes a while to go down and won't be back to normal right away so don't be critical on yourself or doubt the surgery. It always works out better so just keep your head up high.