Happy 11th Anniversary to My Face and an Ode to the Solstice.

Eleven years ago today it was under the knife.

I used to have a really bad underbite, Jay Leno-style. In a desperate attempt to make contact with each other, my teeth had angled in.  I couldn't bite through things well (not that it stopped me from eating or anything, I was a really overweight teenager), and my teeth were wearing very poorly. I was showing early signs of TMJ.  Not so bueno.

I had two options: 1) leave as is and risk needing dentures at a young age and developing TMJ, or 2) get braces, straighten things out, then get my face realigned with some good old orthognathic reconstructive surgery.

My family and I opted for option 2.

I had undergone a lot of pre-surgery prep work in both the physical and metaphysical senses; I lost some weight to better deal with anesthesia, I had hypotherapy, my mom's friend lent me a figurine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and she gifted my mother a protective crystal.  We pulled out all the stops, seriously.  When it came time for surgery, I felt really well prepared, very positive, very well protected.  I felt good that it was happening on the Solstice, a powerful day that is full of transformative energy.  My maxilla (upper jaw) was slit away, and pulled forward, creating more of a cheekbone with titanium plates. My mandible (lower jaw) was slit and pushed back, and pins inserted to hold it all together.

The surgery went without a hitch, one of the best my surgeon had ever seen, especially considering the magnitude of my situation.  My mom held that crystal through my entire surgery; after the surgery, she looked at it, and noticed it had changed color from pale lavendar to a deep purple-black.  I think all the possible negative energy was collected by that crystal.  I know that sounds woo-woo, but I'm dead serious.

My mom's friend told us to bury it in the backyard.

After spending a couple days in the hospital, I went home, my mouth banded closed.  I was hopped up on pain meds, my face was all swollen, I wore this crazy ice pack around my head.  We hit the arnica gel (a homeopathic anti-inflammatory) hardcore, which helped with swelling and totally eliminated bruising.  I had my fair share of interesting food adventures during that time too - everything had to be pureed since my mouth was banded shut, and I ate through this big medical syringe thing.  I was vegetarian at the time, so thankfully, there were no bad pureed meat situation, but I had plenty of other interesting foods.  My parents' Vita-Mix came in handy, as you can imagine.   I took baby food to school with me for lunch.  I ate a lot of tofu pudding and sorbet and soup.  I lost weight (pureed vegetarian food is a very effective weight loss plan).  Then there were the humorous moments - in a drug-induced haze, I tried blending cheesecake at Christmas dinner and made it explode all over my grandmother's ceiling. Worst part was that I couldn't laugh about it because it hurt my face too much to smile, so it was this combination of laughing/crying that happened instead.

Honestly, despite the intense pain and all the stitches and everything that went along with it, I thought the worse part of recovery was that I couldn't brush my teeth or blow my nose. I had stitches in my mouth and sinus cavity that could easily rip out, so no blowing/brushing was allowed.

Overall, I healed really really well, no complications, just the normal struggle involved with recovery from a major jaw surgery.  I had a positive attitude toward the whole thing; I knew it would only get better - and it did.  Sure, I had to get the lower pins removed in three separate stages, which was a little unusual - and painful - but in the end, it all worked out just fine.

Today, I have a really perfectly aligned smile, cheeks full of titanium (no, metal detectors do not go off), and a mouth full of scar tissue.  I still have a little numbness in my gums and cheeks.  Sometimes I still have pain - I feel weather changes in my face the way people with fake hips feel the snowstorm coming in. The strangest part is that my face is not the one I knew for the first 16 years of my life; the surgery completely changed my appearance.  I don't think of it much anymore, but when I see old photos, it is a vivid reminder of the incredible change.  It was strange to see my face change; at first it was very swollen, and as inflammation decreased and scar tissue healed, my face gradually took on a totally new look.  It took about 2 years for things to even out.

It's funny; I like the way I look much better now.  I like my cheekbones.  I like not having such a strong jaw.  I think I look prettier, whatever that means.  I suppose that is because my face is aligned now with the correct proportions and anatomy.  But despite getting a face I'm happier with out the whole thing, and a really well aligned jaw, the best thing that happened is that I learned who I am.  I really realized it didn't matter so much what I looked like, it was who I was inside that made me me - old face, swollen puffy face, healing face, current face, whatever.

I learned a lot going through that process; it was a big change, I had to approach a long, painful healing process and - literally - put on a brave, new face.  It was very transformative, and I thought it was very appropriately timed.  The  Solstice has an incredibly strong, transformative energy.  During Winter Solstice, our planet's axial tilt is turning back to the sun, allowing in new light, ushering in the rebirth of Spring.  Try as we might, we cannot be separated from our surroundings; this day provides us the opportunity to allow positive light and new energy into our lives. This day literally indicates a major planetary turning point, and is the perfect time to embrace change, look forward, and pave the way for personal transformation.

A little too metaphysical for you?  Sorry man.  The beauty of my blog is that I can ramble on and on about whatever I'd like.  And I like metaphysics. I'm a well-grounded, rational woman with a strong connection to the Universal energy.

Today was, by all accounts, a totally crappy day.  It started very early, by 7:30 am I got injected with radioactive goo, then had one SPECT scan and a CT scan that didn't work, so they redid it and that one didn't work.  I couldn't find the car I was driving in the parking ramp.  I got to work much later than expected, and then got a call from the repair shop to tell me that my new (used) car requires $500 of repairs.  I had to schedule another SPECT/CT scan for tomorrow.  And I got a huge project thrown at me at work.  Today was not a good day. I was crabby. A Salvation Army bell ringer stopped me in the skyway and said "What is a gorgeous woman like you doing with such a frown on that beautiful face?".  Yikes, did I look that unhappy?.  He did, however, make me smile, and laugh, especially after he tried getting my phone number for his friend.  I decline the offer.

Okay, so despite being totally annoyed with all the crappy junk I dealt with today, I know I'll be okay.  Tomorrow is a new day, a new day with a fraction more sun.  I know I'm lucky.  I feel grateful that I had the opportunity to learn lessons about healing so many years ago, and I know that experience informs the way I approach my current healing journey with Lyme.  Hell, I know it informs the way I deal with life in general!  And  I am thankful I feel connected to the power of this day.  And I know that tomorrow, oh thank goodness, we start letting a little more light back into our lives.  I plan on fully embracing that opportunity -literally, figuratively, physically, and metaphysically.

And that brings a smile to my perfectly-aligned, titanium-dependent face.