Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Twas the night before surgery so I have to be brief. The purpose of this blog will be to guide others in the journey through Orthognathic surgery.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea. My RDI was 66 and I have desaturations down to the high 70 percent range. This puts a significant strain on your heart while you sleep as its trying to keep you alive. My main problem is I, and my sleeping side, hate the C-pap mask with all my heart. I throw it off in the middle of the night while I am sleeping, which is not good for me.

So I am left with one final option. Change the geometry of the airway I have been given. The best way to do this is to bring both your lower and upper jaws forward using a procedure called Bilateral Sagital Split Osteotemy and Maxillary Osteotemy - Lefort I. Effectively, the doctor will saw off both my upper and lower jaws, move them forward about 10mm, and bolt them back on. Sounds Frankenstein-ish right? My thoughts exactly.

In order to do this, you really need to get braces first for at least a few months. This has been an adventure in itself. Its weird looking like a teenager again when your near 40, and its like having a prickly pear in your mouth with all the surgical hooks they like to put on the brackets.

There is also the approval process with insurance companies. Its not like you just had a heart attack and are rolling you back for a triple bypass. They try to view this as elective and grill the surgeon for bits of information for months. Luckily, I have a nasty condition which gets me a bit more sympathy than the folks who have an overbite, underbite, or open bite.

Finally, what I view is the most difficult part of this journey is the mental process. Its not often that medical procedures saw through perfectly good bone. The one I am thinking of is heart surgery where they saw through your sternum. But more often than not, that is after a heart attack where you don't have months to think about it. In addition, the surgery is through your mouth, around a bunch of sensitive facial nerves, and five hours in duration. This surgery can significantly alter your appearance.

So for the last few months to prepare for this surgery, I have been reading the Yahoo Orthognathic surgery support group everyday on my blackberry as emails have arrived. Its been extremely informative, and at times scary. I just read about some persons hematoma that formed in their face post surgery which caused blood to "spurt" out her incision! Not for me please! I have over researched this surgery on the internet, read research papers, and even attempted to watch a youtube of the surgery being performed. I bailed after the second incision knowing I wouldn't continue with the surgery if I didn't stop watching. I also drove my surgeon nearly crazy with alot "what if" questions.

So, after all this, it now comes down to game time. I check in tomorrow at 5:45AM for the five hour surgery. Wish me luck! More updates and pictures to come soon!

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