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Orchid Blog

The Impact of Jaw Surgery: How Bone Plates and Screws Improved My Life

Posted: Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Being told you have to have surgery can be pretty terrifying news. It can postpone plans, cause you to worry, and put you into an uneasy mood. At fourteen, most people don’t expect that they need to have surgery. Fourteen is when you start to focus on high school, friends, sports, hobbies, etc. Although all of those things were my focus at fourteen, they weren’t the only thing I was focused on. After a few orthodontist visits, my doctor informed me that I would eventually need jaw surgery.

He told me that my jaw was crooked, I had an under bite, and surgery was the only way to fix it. This terrified me! Even though this surgery couldn’t take place until I was done growing (eighteen), thoughts circled my mind, and I pictured the worst outcomes. It took time, but I eventually got used to the idea of surgery, and after a few years had passed, the time had finally arrived.

I met with the surgeon who would perform the surgery; he gave me a consultation and prepped me on everything that would happen during those eight hours on the operating table. I will not go into the details - they may be too graphic - but I will admit that knowing exactly where I would be cut and exactly what would be moved around brought a better sense of ease to my mind. I trusted my doctor a little more. He let me know that I would have metal plates and screws in my face and this would help hold my jaw together after the procedure. 
A few more weeks flew by, and on January 15, 2015, I walked through those hospital doors and made my way to surgery. First, nurses started prepping me for surgery, asking me questions, and poking me with needles. Then, an hour or two later, I was being pushed into the operating room. I don’t remember much after this, but the next thing I knew, I was waking up. I started to hear voices all around me, nurses/doctors discussing how my surgery went and other doctor discussions. After hearing these strange voices, I started to hear a familiar one - my mom. Yes, she accompanied me on this terrifying mission and I don’t think I would’ve survived this without her. Although she wasn’t in the operating room with me, she sat and waited all those hours until the surgery was complete.

After I had woken up, my doctor gave me medicine to help with the pain and I ended up falling asleep. I woke up a few hours later and my face was swollen. I looked like a chipmunk! Recovery day was a rough one. I was in constant pain and discomfort. I also had a horrible night’s rest because nurses were constantly poking my IV and waking me to give me medication. I was in so much discomfort that I regretted getting the surgery altogether. I didn’t look pretty, I looked horrifying. 

After a horrible first day, day two rolled around and I didn’t feel much better. The only upside of day two was that I got to go home and rest in my own bed. As I a waited to leave, doctors were informing my mom of everything she needed to know to care for me. I had to be placed on a liquid diet for six weeks (which was not fun) and I had to be given medicine constantly so I wouldn’t be in terrible pain. 

As the weeks passed on, regret was still on my mind. I hated myself for getting the surgery because my face still looked like a balloon. On top of being super swollen, I had bruising from my cheeks all the way down my neck to my chest. This lasted until the end of the six weeks. During this time, I had a few doctors’ visits. They let me know that my jaw was healing nicely and that there were no signs of infection or anything to be concerned about. 

I started to have a little faith that maybe I would look normal soon. That faith turned into reality. The swelling was going down and I could see “me” again. Not just any “me,” the “new me.” I noticed a huge difference in my appearance and I began to love the results. After the six weeks were up, I am happy to say that the impact this surgery had on me was amazing. Although the road to recovery was a difficult and challenging one; if I had to have the surgery again, I would. The results are amazing and every day I love my smile even more. 

Working at Orchid, I’ve had the opportunity to see another side of the medical industry. During my surgery, I knew the impact of the doctors and nurses. Now, I see the passionate people that have a hand in making the implants and instruments that were used in my surgery and are still in my body today! Thanks to everyone in our industry, including our suppliers and customers, people like me have the opportunity to live a better life!

By Michaela Zuzula, Administrative Assistant at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions

Photo: Michaela (second from left) with her sisters and father