So, I sit in my ortho's chair, and as always, he's all smiles. Seriously, I love the vibe off of him when he gets to look at where we are with all of this. I'm glad he's proud of his work. He very much should be. As usual, my teeth are perfect. Zero relapse. Zero changes. By the ortho powers that be I have gotten lucky for once and my retention phase has really gone well with no shoes that have dropped. He decides to release me from treatment. I don't think my brain registered what that meant, because on the way out I just gave a normal, "Thanks! See ya next time!" and then when I got in my car driving off I realized..... there might not be a next time if all goes well. I should have given him a giant hug and told him thanks a million again. I was tempted to stop by after my jaw follow up to do that, but I didn't want to be creepy so I just sent him an email telling him I kind of had a brain fart on the way out and it didn't really hit me that it was for real good bye this time and sorry if I came off kind of distant when it was a legit, 'bye I may never see you again,' type of bye. I think he understands. And honestly, knowing my teeth, it probably won't be a forever goodbye... just until next time. And as much as I love seeing my super amazing team, it's always good to NOT have to see them, so lets hope I can get a break for a while there.
I see Dr. Karas right after for my 2 year follow up. All smiles from him as well. Everything looks amazing. We chatted about my right disc that has been slipping a little the last few months, and like I thought, it's really nothing out of the ordinary for an issue I may experience after surgery. I knew that, but did want to let him know what was going on in case he thought anything different. Like the rest of my subluxing and dislocating joints, I just need to learn to do things to avoid pissing the joint off, and knowing when it's time to back off and give it a rest, and how to strengthen and treat it well. No biggie. Overall though he's super happy, and especially happy with how far I can open. Typically patients do not get the opening back that I have after what I have gone through, so I'll definitely take this win here! Otherwise everything else is great too. Hardware looks good on latest xray, and osteotomies still looking well healed. It's always nice to go in and get great news from my docs when I am so used to hearing not so great news.
Toughest part for me will be to stop this clenching I have been going hard at the last few months, which is probably a huge reason that disc is not happy. I've been under a lot of stress with work and with life in general (recently had knee surgery, and every surgery is so anxiety provoking for me given what happened in my first jaw surgery), and I have been clenching like a mofo lately. Hopefully life calms down and I can take a deep breath to let those muscles relax. In the mean time, both my ortho and surgeon have suggested a custom guard again, which I will ask for at my cleaning next week with my prosthodontist (I see the trio for check ups this week-- a rare treat in retention phase lol). I also got a chance to ask how my condyles look. I am always on my toes for changes there since 1.) it happens as you age and increases risk with each jaw surgery and joint remodeling from that. 2.) it happens more to women. 3.) I'm higher risk because of my connective tissue issues with the Ehlers. But great news here too-- I have had no changes since the remodeling from surgery. My condyles are big, healthy, strong, and happy in their homes. My MRI report pre revision did mention some flattening to the heads of the joints, but again, these are all changes that are par for the course with jaw work. And honestly probably happens with natural aging too. But, this news made me VERY happy. I'm crossing my fingers this continues for a super stable happy class I long term occlusion.
The reason I opened this post up with "life works in weird ways," is because when I got home from both check ups, I got a Facebook memory from 5 years ago. The day I got my braces on for the first time with my first team. What are the chances that I would get released from treatment exactly five years to the day?! I was already feeling kind of emotional to be truly closing part of the chapter on all of this, and then when I realized it happened exactly five years to the day on the dot from when I was first banded.... it was just weird. Meant to be I guess. It's been a long road:
May 2013: First banding with first orthodontist.
April 2014: First jaw surgery with first surgeon.
August 2014: Switched to a new orthodontist and jaw surgeon for retreatment.
December 2014: Braces come off for a month to reset for retreatment.
January 2015: Lower incisor extracted. Braces go back on for revision.
February 2016: Revision jaw surgery.
August 2016: Debanded.
May 2018: Final ortho check and released from treatment. I will continue to follow up with my jaw surgeon yearly.
It's not an easy process. A lot of the last 5 years has been hell for me, and I am kind of a different person now after going through all of this. Some changes are for the better, and some not so much. I do still feel like I lost a part of myself going through the trauma and abandonment in the first treatment. I'll never be the same after that, even with all of the therapy I am going through to talk about it and despite the more than successful retreatment. I feel like I am still left being a little bit of a bitter person now. My revision team would tell you I have a great attitude, and overall I do, but compared to how I used to be, I am definitely more depressed and bitter. I've lost that child like optimism and instant trust, like when you didn't know any better as a kid. Now I trust no one, especially when it comes to medical providers. I have had SO much anxiety over this recent knee surgery. Any doctor who handles me now is going to have his hands full of somebody who 1.) is a little too much science geeky and asks too many questions to understand EVERY little thing happening with their treatment, and 2.) is full of skepticism and distrust. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe things will get better with time, but there is probably a likely chance this is a life long thing for me now, which sucks because with my EDS issues, I see a LOT of doctors.
For patients reading the blog and needing revision-- it's tough. It's one of the toughest things I've ever gone through. But it was worth it to get fixed. For me especially since my issues were so impactful in the functional aspect and I was in so much pain after my first surgery. Know that you're not crazy. You're not alone. And if you're in a state where you feel crazy because your team is telling you nothing is wrong, then be an advocate for yourself! Get your records, start going on other appointments. I've had several patients recently (and one from my infamous first surgeon!) go through exactly this, and learned on their consults that they were right-- things weren't correct and need to be addressed. I just can not fathom how a surgeon and/or ortho looks a patient in the face and tells them everything is great and results are perfect, when it's very obvious they aren't. This was the deal in my case too. It was laughable how obvious my results were, and I have no clue how they thought they were going to get away with spinning it any other way. My first surgeon probably knew this, and it's why she choose to just not talk to me or see me instead of trying to explain something away that couldn't be explained away. And she knew I was too smart and knew better right away. She was screwed, so she ran. I don't know how people like this sleep at night. If your gut is telling you something isn't right, then pick up and go get some other opinions. Sometimes we have to be our own advocate, and it's not easy. That is why I make myself available off of my website. I'll help the best I know how through my own experiences.
Anywho...this has become a long post. Here are some recent shots to show where we're at. The one shot is the Facebook memory I had pop up to tell me it was 5 years ago to the day that I got banded. That is a pic from that day. I kind of miss that face in a lot of ways, but I am SO happy to have normal looking teeth and bite now!
**I got a new pano from my surgeon the other day. It will be loaded once they send it to me**