Monday, November 27, 2006

Welcome to My Blog

Before I started orthodontics (what a mess), just over a year ago:

Just before my operation:

Things to note: The center line of my upper jaw and lower jaw are almost a full tooth-width off; My upper and lower teeth still don't meet in the front; Those metal things are the daggers that I refer to (the rubber bands connected to those after the surgery).

J. Riley, I look forward to the post-surgery pictures!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tis The Season...

...for Atkins diet treason (what else rhymes with season?)! Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and let me tell you (although Susannah already did) that there was no shortage of carbs in my dinner this year - even turkey didn't make the cut because it doesn't have enough carbs (and I was feeding a vegetarian and and a mush-puppy). We're talking about creme fraiche mashed-potatoes, sweet potato soup, Stove Top stuffing (only the best for this tummy), homemade cranberry sauce with equal parts water and sugar, and gravy that resembled refried beans, which must have a lot of carbs (maybe the missing ingredient was part of the problem). But it was pretty darn good for a thrown together meal. And not to forget the half-pint of Ben & Jerry's oatmeal cookie dough ice cream for dessert (yea, I bought that later Susannah). I highly recommend inheriting high metabolism and having jaw surgery (I can't really milk that one anymore though ;o) !

I topped off the nice evening with a wine-induced comatose nap during a recorded Miami Ink - I'm loving that show. Tatoo in the near future? "Yes, I would like to get a dragon that morphs into a kettle-ball around this bicep to represent the transformation from being a skinny guy into this hulk of a man that I am now (in about a year I'll be able to say that). Every morning I can look down at my bicep and admire the muscle and remember the effort that it took for me to start doing 100 pushups and 50 lbs of kettle-ball lifts (??) a night." Then I woke up. And then I got something stuck in my eye that made my eyes water during Mad Hot Ballroom (Netflick it). Yes, I am that beastly man with the dragon tattoo.

Frugalitarian. This is the Bushism-adjective that I came up with tonight somehow to describe myself. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I've had $40 in my wallet for two weeks and still haven't spent it all. Or maybe because today's Black Friday and I'm wishing that I went down to Best Buy last night in the 35 degree, raining weather and stood in line so that I could get a $250 laptop that I have little or no use for. In any case, it is a big shopping week and I made the most of the sales by buying an assortment of cotton sweaters from Mexx (cotton doesn't keep you warm in the winter, but still) and a plethora of goods from the old standby, H&M - uniquely selected goods with little-or no-chance of shrinkage or stretchage...stretchege...stretching. Like $5 thinsulate-lined gloves for this winter, $12 multi-colored 50% wool scarves, and the elusive $5 white belt that I've been searching for for the past two+ years. At the same time, in the spirit of Christmas, I began trying to find websites to spend my money on Liverpool gear, like this one. The retro items and the new Adidas long-sleeve (Carra-style) jersey are certainly eye-catching. As are the damn-fine Pumas on Kitbag's website. Decisions, decisions...

Although I don't entirely agree with Susannah's anti-consumerism attitude during the holidays (stated while wearing the trendiest of trendy expensive jeans - five finger special or not ;o), I heretofore declare once again that I do not want ANYTHING for Christmas - except for Mom's coat-pole thing which I agreed to accept and see as a valuable investment. And a new pair of High Sierra pajamas (the current pair only have a hole in one the knees, but I'm willing to take the preemptive measure and get a new pair). And dryer sheets (I'm almost out). Other than that, I'm traveling light this year. Got it?

J. Riley, yum and yum.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Clean Bill of Health

I had my first official appointment with my orthodontist today and he gave me a big thumbs up - very minor adjustments are all that are left to be done. I got to see the pictures from when I first came in and the pictures right before my surgery. He'll take more pictures when I'm totally done and I'll post the progression of the past year and a half on the blog. Good news is that I don't have any rubber bands still because he wants me to heal up before he changes anything. The bad news is that the rubber-band holders (aka mouth daggers) are going to stay in until my next appointment - in January! Unfortunate, but oh well. I did pay off the remaining debt on my account though, which is exciting. I gotta rack up my miles so I can book my tickets for the Vas / Mohos wedding!

J. Riley, here's a pic of my crooked, swollen face from Saturday night

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hard Candy That I Can't Eat

"Justin! Glad you could make it! How are you feeling? Bite down for me..." . Was I at the orthodontist office, or was I at a midtown nightclub lit up in red with 80's tunes blasting through the speakers at 11:00pm? A mix of both, I guess - a fundraiser hosted by my orthodontist at Lollipop. But I was definitely moderately amused by the fact that my orthodontist, decked out in a chic sport coat that had red stripes and red characters of some sort under his left arm (red was the theme) wanted to see how my bite had changed post-surgery (I haven't been in for an appointment since before the surgery). I gave him a sneak preview of my new mouth before feeling a bit awkward about showing as much mouth as possible to him while he's peering in in front of the crowd of socialites, super models, etc. that were attending. I told him he could take as much time as he wanted to check it out on Monday, when I go in for my next appointment ;o).

Like his previous party, I didn't see any other people with braces on, so I guess I was the only patient who attended (other than his surgeon brother's trophy girlfriend, who is lucky enough to be getting Invisalign treatments). I love going to his parties because the people-watching is absolutely fabulous. I would say that a majority of the girls who attend are either models or are Eastern Europeans, or both. I spoke to one Russian girl and to an Estonian dentist, who couldn't stop talking about herself and how she's so popular and knows the owner of Tao and who sometimes goes to work after partying all night and not sleeping (good way to impress potential clients). Talking to the Russian, who had no accent, was like pulling teeth (no pun intended), so many of these people are just so un-interesting to me! So it's more fun to sit back and just watch these people...

Netflix annoyed me by sending me the wrong movie on Friday. Instead of Legends of the Fall, I got three episodes of The Sopranos. Now, everyone raves about this show, and I've seen it a few times when I've stayed at hotels and it's never done much for me, but I figured I'd give it a chance since I was stuck with it for the weekend. Wow, what a waste of three hours! What is it about this show that people like it so much? The wife is a terrible actor and other than it being a mob movie, can someone please shed some light and why this show is so popular??

J. Riley, some great shows on the Discovery Channel, though (like Everest and Koppel on Iran). Oh, And yesterday I ate a vegetarian Mediterranean platter for lunch/dinner and pizza (fork and knife) for a late night snack!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How Tuesday Feels

Feeling pretty much the same these days. The stitches come out tomorrow so I should be getting an update from him on how I'm doing. I've eaten semi-solids a few times and things don't feel right in there yet so I haven't pushed it. Or maybe they do feel right, I guess I wouldn't know :) !! Ortho appointment is next week. I was thinking about it and I have a feeling he will be the one who gives me rubber bands on my teeth to move my jaws forward/back for the tweaking. I'm not really looking forward to that, but we'll see what happens. My chin and pallete are still numb but I'm starting to have dull pains in my chin at night so maybe that means the nerves are starting to reconnect in there. My lips have finally recovered for the most part, though they aren't very enthusiastic about stretching still.

J. Riley, I'm using the new Blogger Beta, which let's me add labels like those below to each post! You other bloggers should make the switch too.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

When Mom Comes To Town

J. Riley, I can't find the post of how my apartment used to look

The Week in Review

On Tuesday, I had a meeting with my surgeon to have my fresh flesh wounds checked out and to get my dreaded stint taken out from behind the teeth on the upper jaw. That thing pretty much prevented me from eating anything that wasn't through a straw. It also made my voice indecipherable, made it difficult to brush my teeth, left a foul taste in my mouth, and made my lower teeth sore.

Much to my surprise, he actually took the four rubberbands (one of them had fallen off) off and said that he'd take the stint out the following week. I had lost sleep over getting this stupid thing taken out and I wasn't about to let him get away with that. I begged him to take it out and after some careful instructions about what I could and couldn't do, he somewhat begrudginly took it out. Ahh....freedom. My mouth felt liberated (again) and now I just had to deal with the canker sores, lips that were still extremely chapped and bleed occasionally, and sores outside the corner of my mouth that were extensions of the original lip wounds. But I still can't believe that all the rubber bands and everything else are gone from my mouth after less than a week! What happened to the six weeks of misery???

We had lunch with Susannah later that afternoon and my taste buds were delighted with pecorino-cheese mashed potatoes and some assorted squash soup. It was very nice to be a part of conversations again and I was feeling very good, though tired after a while outdoors.

On the way home, we stopped at Pier 1 and my mom got me a little table that goes next to my futon. It's got four cushons on the inside that can be used for sitting on and a glass top. It's got kind of a North African look to it, which is pretty sweet. I resisted my mom's desires to get things for my apartment for a whole week, but she eventually won the battle - and then some! She re-arranged the paintings and pictures on my walls and then we even re-arranged the layout of my apartment just enough to make it feel more space-efficient and different. I have to admit that Susannah's very nice apartment layout had significant influence on the new layout. To add to the splendor, I took advantage of a fire-sale in my neighbor's apartment to buy a cedar-chest/table that needs to be shortened a little bit but I still feel was a great buy. Now, if I can just get the stank of cigars and god-knows what else from my sketchy neighbors off of it....

Feeling very good this week, I decided to go back to work two days early and save the two vacation days I'd planned on using. My mom was leaving in the morning, so it would work out well, or so I thought. Unfortunately, I am not sure why, but I could not sleep at night. I didn't go to sleep until about 2:00am and then woke up again at 4:00 and fell asleep sometime around 4:45 after email my manager and letting him know that I wasn't going to be coming in after all. I figure it's better not to push things, especially with my lips still on fire at night and the wounds around my mouth growing by the day.

J. Riley, let's hope that I can get some better sleep tonight!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Day of Suffering

Is it Lent yet? Because I'm suffering over here. My face feels fine and I've dropped the amount of Motrin I'm taking. But - the food. Oh, the humanity of it all. My mom's been making me some great soup and there's more in the pot right now, but all I really want is some spaghetti, some falafels, some cheese toast that my mom ate earlier. She's cooking clam spaghetti sauce with over-accentuated oregano and I'm feeling quite famished at the moment.

J. Riley, time for another Ensure and some Keifer yogurt stuff...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Quick Update

Well, like the Energizer Bunny, my recovery keeps going, and going, and going. I don't know that the swelling has gone down too much, but I expect it to in the next few days. However, after a massive offensive assault with petroleum jelly and bacitracin yesterday, my lips have improved immensely and there's only a few more cracks and raw spots left. But, to replace that, my cheeks are starting to get ravaged by the little daggers and brace brackets as a result of abrasion while I suck my meals through straws. I haven't been able to let up on the Motrin yet, my whole head still hurts after not taking it for a few hours.

In addition to a massive overhaul of my jaw's functional ability, my mom has undertaken what could be an even bigger project - my bathroom. She spent the first couple days cleaning it and making it look white again (quite a lot of work) and now she is taking all the HGTV shows she watches to heart and is accessorizing it. We found a pretty nice wall unit to go over my toilet in the basement the other day (I hope it wasn't someone moving in/out ;o) and now it's full of bins, tubs, all the stuff that covered my sink, and of course the fifteen bottles of whatever that my mom brought with her :o). She keeps trying to get me to re-arrange the rest of my apartment but I'm not drugged up enough to fold to that one! Then again, she has also completely pampered me with my food and cleaning up and I could sit on the couch all day and do nothing if I wanted to (well, I don't do much more than that) that maybe I should give in and let her reorganize. Unless I don't like it :o)!

J. Riley, I hope we do Christmas #2 before Christmas #1 this year so that I can see everyone and eat everything (hint hint!)

Friday, November 03, 2006


Here are some pictures from recent surgery:

Day 2 after returning home from the hospital:

Day 3, Post bandages:

J. Riley, damn my lips are chapped!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Playing the Cards Dealt

I consider myself a bit of a card player, so that's exactly what I did last weekend, the final weekend before my 11/1 main event jaw surgery. I got together with some of my local and visiting friends on Saturday night to eat some steak at an Argentine steak house, a nourishing meal considering the fact that as of 11/1 both my social outings and my solid meal outings would cease to exist until roughly Christmas time. The real kicker, and further evidence of my card-playing skills and eccentricity, was getting this group of Manhattanites together to actually leave the island and hit up Little Columbia over in Queens for a night of salsa/Latina dancing at a place I visited a few weeks back. The steak dinner was totally a kicker. It was the Saturday before Halloween, so naturally everyone was going to Halloween parties while we ate steak at an Argentine restaurant? Well, it was actually quite appropriate because the ambiance of the place was totally Adams-Family with long, wooden tables and multi-tiered melting candles and a farm-house feeling. Way cool.

The Columbian nightclub? Not cool at all. It was an older, mainly male crowd, so the only Latina for me to dance with was my friend Melissa. Not to mention that no one else that came that night knew how to Salsa! Naturally, the Columbians were circling our table trying to get dances with the plethora of single girls :). We did find it interesting that sometime around midnight, a guy who had clearly spent hours in the bathroom doing his hair, cleared the dance floor and began karaoke singing classic Spanish songs. It was the most hilarious thing I've ever seen. This, in fact, must be a Columbian thing because people were cheering him on and this had happened before, as well. It was a terrible event, in any case, but at least we've got some stories out of it.

Now, the jaw surgery. Basically, my understanding was that there was going to be three procedures done on my jaw: 1.) a cutting of my upper jaw to pull it back, 2.) a cutting of my lower jaw to pull it forward, 3.) An extension of my chin so that my lips would naturally close and cover my teeth. Last week, in my final meeting with the surgeon, he mentioned that his resident and him would meet later that night to discuss my procedure and there was a chance that, because of the nature of my jaws and the way the lower jaw works, there might not be any cuts necessary to the back of my lower jaw. Before the surgery, I found out that they weren't sure if it was going to work because of the in-exactness of the models they were working with, so they would make that decision during the procedure.

So I arrive at 7:00am on 11/1 to check in with my mom. I am quickly and efficiently taken through check-in and meeting with the nurse to take my blood, change my clothes, discover my medical history etc. At around 9:00am, when the four-hour procedure is scheduled to begin, I meet with the surgeon as I lay on a gurney outside the operating room and begin to feel the nerves. The way I mentally built myself up for the event, like most events, was by convincing myself that the worst case scenario was going to happen, that my social life would cease to exist, that I wouldn't be able to talk for the rest of the year, and that I would have a complex over the fact that medical insurance typically considers the chin-extension "cosmetic", essentially a chin-job. Add to that the fact that they were having trouble getting a massive IV into my arm before I went in, and we've got a full-house. So naturally, there were nerves.

After they whisk me into the room, I make a joke to the plethora of residents surrounding me about wanting to get to the main event. The oxygen mask goes on, and the next thing I know I'm being woken up in the recovery room. Through the haze, my mom appears but I'm in and out of memory at this point. All I know is that I'm whisked through the halls of the hospital and eventually end up in a room near the nurses station. There were apparently discussions going on about whether they would let my mom stay with me that night and also considering the fact that I there is a possibility of vomit as a result of the anesthesia and with rubber bands holding my jaws together, that wasn't a good thing.

[Parental Advisory: gross details below. Not for the wary]
But we ended up getting a private, solo room. All I knew at this point was that I could hardly breathe and I needed some pain killers. The pain wasn't excruciating, but I felt the dull pain throughout my head and needed something. Also, there was a large amount of phlegm in my throat, so thick and voluminous that I was having difficulty breathing. Thankfully, there was a suction pipe in my room and for the rest of the night my mom put that thing down my throat whenever I called her or starting coughing and it would suck out all of the phlegm - and blood (runoff from the tubes that went up my nose, I'm guessing). According to my mom, the first time the nurse sucked the stuff out of my throat, about 1/4 cup of disgusting junk came out. It was like this for most of the night until they started feeding me sudafed in addition to me sleeping on my side. I also was hooked up to morphine, antibiotics, and fluids that caused me to wake up every half-hour and pee a huge amount. If my Montezuma's Revenge / parasite wasn't dead before surgery, I don't see how it could have survived it after! I also laid with ice packs that were re-filled by the excellent nurse staff every half hour or so. To be honest, I didn't sleep a whole lot last night. Possibly because of the nurses who kept coming in to test my vitals, possibly because of the ice pack refilling or urinating, or possibly because I'd slept the whole day under anesthesia!

In the end, today arrived and I'm doing great. I can't talk because they put some sort of implant behind my front upper teeth where my lower teeth glide into. This is a result of the fact that they didn't have to cut my lower jaw. They found that by moving my upper jaw up (i.e. shaving or cutting bone out), my lower jaw would extend further up and back, lining up perfectly with my upper jaw. Now, my lower jaw teeth will spend the next week gliding into this device, more or less training my lower jaw to extend further than it did before. They also extended my chin "as far as it would go", which was about 8mm or 1/2 inch. It is in fact a very minor change, but we'll see how everything looks afterwards.

My surgeon, as always, impressed me with his positiveness when he visited me this morning and had only encouraging things to say. In all honesty, this surgery has been less (or, rather, the same) painful as the first one, despite the use of two metal plates, eight metal screws, and one "emergency screw" (yikes). My lips are quite beat-up, but otherwise the swelling is not too bad so far, I've been on simple ibuprofen since getting cut off of the morphine, and am in good spirits. The rubber bands are similar to rubber bands that many people with braces have - flexible and extendable, allowing me to open my mouth. It will be much better when the tooth-slide implant is removed and I can eat pureed foods. Currently, the buck stops at the implant and I can't get food past that without using a straw, which limits me to liquids only for the time being.

J. Riley, pictures of my face will be posted tomorrow. But here's one taken by my mobile phone of the view outside our hospital window. Central Park in the fall from the 8th floor ICU room: