7 years a go I was referred to the hospital by my dentist with a severe under bite. Years previously I had been "bullied" about my protruding chin. I use the term "bullied" very loosely because it didn't worry me or upset me very much at all, but comments were made and names were called. Kids can be cruel. When the idea of an operation was first suggested the idea was that I would have braces put on in 3 years time aged 15 and have the operation at 16, in the summer between my gcse's and a levels. To me, having just started high school that seemed like a million years away. I had appointments every few months to measure my jaw and finally when I turned 15 I did have braces fitted. Having the braces fitted was fine, no problems. Having the braces tightened every 6 weeks was painful but not half as bad as I had anticipated. I turned 16 - "Your teeth aren't in quite the right place for the surgery just yet." For the next 3 years this was all I heard, I turned down a place at University and several jobs that would have seen me in a much better off position than I am now all because I didn't know when they would finally do the operation. What I did know was that this operation would take at least 3 months of quite difficult recovery, with this is mind how could I possibly start a new job or take on a degree knowing that I would have to have all this time off with not a lot of notice.
In the summer of 2012 I took on a part in the York Mystery Plays, a life changing experience, that built my confidence to heights that it had never been. With my confidence at an all time high, was this the right time to have an operation that would completely alter my face? Probably not. Nonetheless the date rolled around 14th Septemeber 2012. After all this waiting I wasn't going to back out so I had the operation done. A four hour operation, I didn't wake up from the anesthetic as expected so I ended up being "under" for 7 hours. Not something I reacted well to I felt horrendous when I finally woke up. My face didn't hurt at all I was pumped full of morphine and most of my face was numb due to temporary nerve damage. I couldn't talk or move my mouth at all really which was a double ended sword if I ever experienced one. As the feeling came back my jaw was painful and my skin very sore and dry making it almost impossible to eat or drink, all I wanted to do was come home. I wasn't allowed to go home until I was consuming not only water but some form of food - soup and ice cream. The same two "dishes" I'd be eating for the next 10 weeks. I cried when I knew it was time for my family to visit me, I cried when they were by my bedside and I cried when they left. I was in a room with two of the nicest girls anyone could wish to meet, both of them with stomach problems, not deformed faces. They were so sweet and tolerant, I really couldn't have wish for more from them. They were sympathetic at my irrational fear of having plasters taken off - any of you that have ever had surgery will know that there are plasters all over your chest stomach and arms. I was also not particularly tolerant of the drips in my hands, absolutely convinced that my hand was swelling and would explode at any moment. Despite all of this my experience of the operation was not half as bad as I was anticipating. I think it was the age old case of expect the worst and the best will surprise you.
For me, the worst part of the operation was the recovery and not being able to eat. I was so hungry for weeks, I lost nearly a stone in weight - if I had been as active as I normal was I would have lost a lot more but lack of food meant lack of energy. I am four months on from my operation and the swelling is almost completely gone and I have nearly all of the feeling back in my jaw. Part of the permanent side effects of this operation is nerve damage. Overall, four months on, I am very happy with my decision and the outcome of the operation. I would do it all over again and I have recommended it to people who are in a similar situation as this surgery is none compulsory nor is it essential to an individuals health but for me it is key to confidence. I feel like I look like everyone else now without losing my distinctive jaw line. As part of having the operation the surgeon will agree to correct any changes made to a patients nose due to the jaw surgery. The tip of my nose has been raised ever so slightly but I am happy with the way it looks.
Obviously, my hair and makeup (fake tan) choices have changed and I am still a bit swollen in the after picture but I thought it'd be interesting (for me) to compare.
If you read this, thank you. If you've just skipped to the bottom, no worries. As I said before, this post is for me. I feel so much better for writing it and hope that I can look back on this in years to come and still feel like this was the right decision for me.