My Double Jaw Surgery Journey
Last updated: August 2022
I remember the first time I was teased because of my jaw dysfunction. I was in middle school and this girl always used to make fun of me because my jaw was crooked. The first time we were in science class, she shouted so loud from her seat: "Look at Nadine everyone, she's ugly with her crooked face! Look at it just look at it, it's so ugly!" I ran out of the classroom and cried my eye's out in the bathroom. I felt so embarrassed and ugly I had no friends, no one to turn to.
In school everyone was cruel to me
This went on into high school and I couldn't handle it anymore. It got so bad that I wanted to end my life. I told my mom that I no longer wanted to be in school or I would take my own life...that was my cry for help, because I didn't actually want to die, I just wanted the bullying to stop and the only way that I knew would stop it was to take me out of school or end my life. So, my mom took me out and home schooled me.
It was tough, but we made the best of it
As I got older, my jaw kept shifting to one side of my face causing a lot of pain and discomfort, so I went to the dentist and got braces put on because I had an open cross bite. However, he informed me that the braces would not fix my jaw issues, only my teeth. He referred me to see a jaw surgeon to see why my jaw was so out of place because I never injured myself or got hit, so no one knew why my jaw kept shifting.
Jaw surgeon consultation
When I went for my consultation with the jaw surgeon they ran some blood tests and also did a CT scan of my whole face to determine the cause of my jaw dysfunction and to see if it could be surgically corrected. It took a few days for all of the results to come back but when they did, they informed me that I had a dental facial deformity that was caused by joint damage in the joints of my face. The CT scan showed irreversible joint damage and my bloodwork showed a positive result for the HLA B-27 Antigen which I had no clue was at the time.
It was a rheumatological issue
They informed me that I would have to go see a rheumatologist because that blood test is an indication that I had a rheumatological issue going on and before they can perform the surgery to correct my jaw, I would have to be cleared by a rheumatologist first. It took a few days for me to get an appointment. I was very anxious to know what was happening.
I got diagnosed with AS
When I finally got in to see the rheumatologist, she performed an MRI and x-rays as well as a physical exam. That day I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, which explained the joint damage in my jaw. I was cleared to have double jaw surgery in April of 2018.
I started my journey in January of 2018, so it took a few months to get me in for the surgery. I was very scared of having surgery to my face. How would I look when I wake up, am I going to be able to handle the recovery process, will this surgery be worth going through, is it going to correct my jaw fully? These were all the questions running through my mind.
I think it's safe to say I was a nervous wreck, but I went through with the surgery and I don't regret it. The recovery process was awful. My mouth was wired shut for 6 weeks. I couldn't eat anything but liquids! It was a great way to lose weight and keep me from talking because I'm a talker! I had to relearn how to chew and speak.
I did physical therapy and speech therapy for 6 weeks, but I got through it with the help of my mom and the grace of God. I had a 40% success rate from the surgery because I had such bad joint damage for years without treatment, they did the best they could. Below is a picture of the before and after of my jaw surgery.
Has changing your diet helped manage your pain and flares?