1 Year Later

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I am back! After disappearing for the past few months, haha.

My external harddrive actually died on me, along with many of my precious photos… and I was so bummed that I couldn’t muster the mood to blog.

Hmm. Things have been pretty ok on the jaw side of things. There is this little portion right at the tip of my chin, where I only have maybe 50% sensation. This is probably going to be permanent, but meh why do I need to feel my chin 100% anyways? Compared to what I gained, this little tradeoff is totally fine.

So… I will be done with my retainers FOREVAR in about 3 months. I’m still going to wear them though I officially don’t need to, cos I’m cool dat way. But probably sporadically, not every single day haha.

Best things that have happened since the surgery, & because of it?

1. I have not had a single sore throat for a YEAR now, compared to having them once every month at least, no thanks to not being able to close my mouth when I slept. Completely awesome.

2. I no longer look awkward in videos. Sure, there are still bad photos every now and then, but I no longer am super self conscious when I see someone pointing a lens at me. Also awesome.

3. I can wear lipstick! Bright, gorgeous lip colours that don’t make my lips look like bright sausages.

4. My face just overall feels RELAXED, mo muscles feel tense, strained, what have you.

Worst things that have happened since the surgery, because of it?

1. My nose is DEFINITELY wider now, and widens further when I smile. I feel like it is also slightly more upturned. Kinda bummed, but still feel that it’s worth it.

Other than this….. nope there’s nothing else that got worse as a result of the surgery!

Guessing that no one is reading this blog anymore, but it’s alright! Ha. 

Day 129 – Retainers taste terrible

Day 128

Day 128

Hello! This was a selfie taken at home after work yesterday.

I still have a area right below my lower lip, maybe about 2cm in diameter, where it’s numb. But it doesn’t affect my daily life at all so I’ve decided not to pay any heed to it.

It would be nice if it eventually sorts itself out, though!

My retainers are the clear plasticky kind, as opposed to those where a metal wire shows on the front of the teeth.

I’m supposed to wear them 10 hours a day, and all I can say about them is - 

Bleargh.

The taste in my mouth every morning is no joke. It’s completely gross and tastes like something is decaying in my mouth. 

Oh and #protip? Fill a small spray water with some vinegar and spray it on your retainers before brushing them and rinsing. It helps to get rid of any foul smell, and really cleans it, and keeps it from yellowing as well.

It’s something I discovered myself, tried it out because I use vinegar for so many things at home, and voila it works!

Candid profile shot (after)

Bonus pic! A candid taken by my friend recently… a before below (taken by the same friend lol) for comparison. Even my facial outline looks completely different?!

Candid profile shot (before)

Day 118 – Life without braces and thoughts

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Day 117 – My birthday dinner!

Just an update, a week into living without braces! Wordy post coming up!

As expected, it’s beyond magnificent. I’m no longer conscious whether there’s food stuck, I’m able to FLOSS. I missed flossing so much!!! Yes I did use the special flossing threads for braces when I had them on… but it was so troublesome and it was almost impossible to reach the back teeth!

Sometimes I forget that my braces are off, and I wonder why my mouth feels so strangely free… then I feel happy all over again when I realise I’m braces-free. Haha.

My friends and family all expressed surprise and delight at how much better I looked without braces, which made me even happier! Honestly, I didn’t think it made *that* much of a difference, but I guess they thought so? In any case, it makes me happy that they made a fuss! Haha.

The only person who was nonplussed was my husband… whoops. Haha. He thinks that I pretty much look the same with and without braces. In a way, I’m thankful for that I guess… since I personally felt that my mouth looked grimy with braces on. If he didn’t think so, then… phew? I think?

Since I’m also retainer-free for this week, I’m also pretty nervous about my teeth shifting, and I randomly do checks and look in the mirror in fear that they have shifted back to the original pre-surgery position. :S I know I’m just being paranoid, but it’s scary…

Anyway… thought I’d post a photo right of us right after my surgery too, just to remember… 

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Day 0 – RIght after surgery

Looking back, I’m pretty amazed by myself, at how positive I managed to be throughout everything. Looking at my photos in the first week, I now wonder how on earth did I find the strength to go through what I did? But yet, during those first 2 challenging weeks, I was genuinely happy and at peace with the recovery process.

If anything, this process has taught me that it is possible to cope with situations with strength that I didn’t even know I had. It’s my small but lofty hope that my experience can let others believe that it is possible for them as well. :)

However, I hope that I don’t give the false impression that a smooth recovery magically happens without any hard work.

It is indeed possible, but only with a relentlessly positive attitude, thorough knowledge and solid preparation (mentally, emotionally, and getting supplies ready).

I probably read through at least 200-300 jaw surgery blogs, and even found a medical journal on orthodontic procedures and painstakingly read through it as well. Then I bought every supply that I thought I could possibly need. I ended up only using maybe 50% of what I bought.

Over-preparing, perhaps? But my mentality I was not going to take any chances, not when I have the opportunity to make it easier for myself in advance. Why should I?! 

“Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.” 

Any underestimation of how tough the recovery process will be, can potentially cause it to be devastating and miserable. I have read a lot of bad experiences people go through during jaw surgery recovery, and I was determined not to be one of them, as far as I could help it.

And just to say this in advance for those who haven’t gone through surgery – if you don’t feel like eating after surgery, or don’t usually enjoy dairy/calcium-rich foods…. for goodness’s sake… put aside your mood for a moment and eat anyway!! 

While I understand that emotions are very real and all that, sometimes, in some situations, there are things that are more important than our feelings. I hope no one goes through a painful recovery where they lose weight, hair, then go into depression… because it really, really doesn’t need to happen. Ok?

Ok that has been pretty heavy, so here’s a photo of me and my cat to lighten things back up!

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Day 111 – Eating like a rebel

Day 111 - Choc donut

Day 111 – Choc donut

It turns out that the way I express joy is through eating. Haha. I went over to Starbucks and ordered a chocolate donut because it belonged to the group of foods that I couldn’t really eat without getting everything stuck.

Then I had sambal stingray for dinner, which was delish.

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Stingray!

And then, my friend sent me a before photo which she went to dig for, because she couldn’t remember how I used to look. People get used to faces really fast!! Myself included. It was a bit unsettling to see a different face in the mirror after surgery, but that feeling passed before I knew it.

Before / after

Before / after

And of course, what was the first thing I did when I got home? Try on red lipstick. Haha.

Red lipstick

Red lipstick

Yay!

Day 111 – Liberation from braces

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Day 111 – 2 minutes after taking off my braces

I am officially free from my braces!!! This photo was taken at the toilet outside the ortho clinic, which I beelined for to check how I looked. Haha.

When I first lied down in the dentist’s chair this morning, my ortho made me break out in cold sweat when he said “I checked with Dr. Winston Tan whether we could take out your braces, usually we wait longer as the bone needs to stabilise, even if the teeth are okay.”

Then he followed by saying “Dr. Tan says your correction is very stable, so it’s okay to remove braces now.” 

PHEW.

As he proceeded to take off my brackets, it felt like everything was happening in slo-mo and I had scenes of my entire braces/jaw surgery process flash past me, haha. From the first time I sat in his clinic, to the time I was putting on the braces, to the times food was stuck in my braces… grrr…

He spent a lot of time polishing and cleaning my teeth after the braces were taken out; it was nice! 

It felt really good but strange not to have anything in my mouth anymore. A very strange sense of freedom. It felt as if my lips were “floating”, if that even makes sense? Previously they would rest on my braces. Now that it’s gone, everything feels so soft and smooth…

I couldn’t stop touching my teeth on my way to the washroom to look in the mirror!!! I’m still touching them now (at 5pm). It’s crazy how good it feels haha.

I ate a small cheese bun from Jollibean for breakfast afterwards, and it was so nice to be able to bite into it without having my whole mouth stuck with bits and pieces of the food, and having to rush to a nearby washroom to rinse my mouth!

For lunch, I had a plate of beehoon and procceeded to be amazed all over again. 

It feels so clean. T___T

And it looks so much cleaner too… I always felt that my mouth looked “dirty” somehow with braces, although my husband tells me he honestly doesn’t see much of a difference before/after my braces. 

But the difference is huge to me! 

I don’t know about other people, but when I smile with braces, the row of braces kind of restricts how you smile, because my teeth have to be on top of the row… I think my smile looks even more natural now again! #LevelUp

I get my retainers only next Tuesday, so I have a week of complete freedom for now… yay!!!

I feel so grateful for my successful braces/surgery procedures…. My doctors, husband, friends… and I would like to thank all of you who read my blog too! It really feels good to be able to share everything with people who have/are/will be going through this as well. And I’m always happy when I receive news of other successful surgeries, & when I receive congratulatory comments on my progress too! Hehe.

*Big virtual hug* Thanks for being here with me for everything! I’ll still continue blogging every now and then if I think of anything, or if there are any tips I think of and would like to share… of course, there’s also the final before/after photo post that I still haven’t done. 

Day 111 – THE NIGHT BEFORE REBIRTH

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Day 111

It’s the final 8 hour countdown before I get my braces off FOREVERRRRRRR! I’m sorry if I made you cringe at the cutesy purikura (also known as neoprint in Singapore) style photos above. Wahaha. 

And that headband omg lol. 

It’s out of character for me to take such photos, but basically my mind has short circuited for the night. The top left photo is an accurate representation of how I look now. Delirious with excitement hahaha.

And those neon yellow teeth/bands? It was a result of my Trash The Dress ceremony, which is like trashing the dress, but well, for braces. #duh #statingtheobvious

I ate curry and drank milk tea earlier this afternoon, like a rebel. Note to everyone having clear or light coloured bands now, don’t do this. It was my tiny act of fearlessness on the last day of having braces, haha.

Hopefully I’m not getting too ahead of myself here. Who knows? Maybe when I lie down on the dentist’s chair tomorrow, I might hear “Wendy, your teeth are not ready for braces to be off. I can see that they have shifted slightly. Let’s wait 1 more month.” K I feel cold sweat just imagining this. 

But… it’s a cold dose of reality just in case… cos it ain’t over till it’s over. But I still hope fervently for tomorrow to be THE DAY.

My friend who had jaw surgery 2 years ago, described the day he got his braces off as feeling like it was a “rebirth”. Yes it’s quite dramatic haha, but I suspect that’s how I’ll be feeling too.

Crossing my fingers until 8:30am tomorrow!!! May the stars be aligned and may the force be with me!

Day 104 – 1 week to braces off!

Day 103

Day 103

Hello, me again! I have a lot of excess energy from being over-excited about my braces coming off soon. Haha. So here I am.

The above photo was taken yesterday when I was out with my friends. It included my friends (I cropped them out), and I was pretty happy that I looked ok in a non-selfie photo! This is the first one!

With a selfie, I have time to angle and pose (haha), so better results are more achievable. But so far I’ve looked pretty crappy in regular photos taken with other humans. 

Also, my smile with teeth is now wider! I think it’s almost at the point where it’s as wide as my pre-surgery smile! My nose also no longer feels like it’s puffy and stiff.

Annnnnd, it’s 1 week to the day my braces come off! This time next week, I’ll probably be pulling an all-nighter in eager anticipation of getting my braces off on Monday. 

I stupidly ate curry a while ago, forgetting that they would stain my bands. So now my teeth look like I haven’t brushed them in a month. T_T

You can compare them to the white of my eyes to see how far off the colour is, sigh. My teeth used to be almost the same colour as the whites of my eyes before surgery. This sucks.

But the bright side is that I’m in the home stretch of this whole thing! So I’ll just need to endure yellow teeth for 1 more week. 7 more days… 7 days that will feel like 7 years, undoubtedly.

Time always crawls when it should be flying, and flies when it should crawl. C’est la vie. Ah. Life.

Day 102 – Too excited to sleep

Day 102

Day 102

Remember my little foster kitten Oreo? He’s gotten a lot bigger now and has found his forever home, with my very nice neighbours upstairs. :) He’s staying over for the night because I need to take him for his vaccination with SPCA tomorrow, since I’m still listed as the official fosterer (before the adoption papers are signed).

Also, it’s 4.45am now and I am still awake because I keep thinking about the day I’ll be taking my braces off, to the point it’s making me too excited to sleep. Haha. The day is so near that I can almost smell it!!!

I feel a sense of dejavu… this reminds me of the time I was counting down to my surgery, and also felt very excited. Just a few months ago…

Oh and my friend commented that I look 16 in the photo above. Ha. Not sure if he meant it though, because 16 is a bit too much of a stretch lol. But it’s been nice to receive comments that I look younger, especially when Dr. Tan warned me during the first consultation that I could look older post-surgery.

I really can’t wait for my braces to be off and lick my teeth, eat lots of food without anything getting stuck, whiten my teeth, and finally try wearing that red lipstick out! Just thinking about doing these things is making me grin to myself hahaha. I need to calm down!

Sorry if this sounds too chirpy for those still in the initial stages of recovery. Do hang in there, and stay positive! Days may seem like they crawl by sometimes, but a minute passed is a minute passed, and it all adds up faster than it feels. 

Day 100 – Blast from the past

There’s nothing like a flurry of Facebook tagged photos from a pre-surgery event, as a (not so pleasant) reminder of how I used to look.

I think I’ve officially become used to my new face, because seeing myself in these tagged photos felt weird. My knee jerk reaction was wanting to untag them, because that’s not me. Haha. Then I realised that yes, it is still me. Lol.

1 week before surgery

1 week before surgery

And to think, this was me on an occasion where I had full makeup on, and hair done! Good golly gosh. 

Although the politically correct thing to say is that “everyone is beautiful in their own way”, but dude. Objectively speaking… not so beautiful, eh.

Also, I guess these shots are representative of how I must have looked to everyone? Wow. Weird. Suddenly I feel so relieved all over again that I had the surgery.

Medisave Claimable Amount for Jaw Surgery

Here’s some information on Medisave & jaw surgery for those who don’t have insurance! It’s also a good-to-know for those who have insurance, just in case the claim doesn’t go through.

I wanted to find out this before my surgery so that I knew what my maximum exposure would be. This is very important!

Sorry that this won’t be applicable for those residing outside of Singapore. :)

My surgery was classified under the following code, on Ministry of Health (MOH)’s website at http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/costs_and_financing/schemes_subsidies/medisave/Withdrawal_Limits/updated-table-of-surgical-procedures.html.

SB801M Mandible and Maxilla, Various Lesions, Osteotomy including Segmental Osteotomy with/without Grafting 7C


SB801M
refers to the operation code, and the next column describes the procedure.

7C refers to the Medisave claim table, which I have copied and pasted below, from http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/costs_and_financing/schemes_subsidies/medisave/Withdrawal_Limits.html.

Table of Operations Medisave Limits
1A / 1B / 1C S$250 / 350 / 450
2A / 2B / 2C S$600 / 750 / 950
3A / 3B / 3C S$1,250 / 1,550 / 1,850
4A /4B / 4C S$2,150 / 2,600 / 2,850
5A / 5B / 5C S$3,150 / 3,550 / 3,950
6A / 6B / 6C S$4,650 /  5,150 / 5,650
7A / 7B / 7C S$6,200 / 6,900 / 7,550

 
My procedure for jaw surgery was classified under 7C, which is for the highest claim limit of $7,550, making this a very major surgery indeed!

However, the amount that Medisave covered for me (before my insurance claim went through) was even higher than what’s listed here.

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I got $8,450 instead, which is $900 more. To date, I’m not sure why, but my best guess is that perhaps they covered the daily room charges and maybe some other miscellaneous fees as well.

Hope this helps!

If I had no insurance, I could have still gone ahead for the surgery and not have to pay cash, if I chose Alexandra Hospital instead of Mount Elizabeth Novena, which charges around $8K in total (estimated by my surgeon).

Disclaimer: This is based on my personal experience and research, which may vary from yours. Please do not take this as absolute fact, because your surgery may be different, and policies may have changed between the time of my surgery and yours. 

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