46 Year Old Double Jaw Surgery for Sleep Apnea. Canberra, AU

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In july 2013 i was diagnosed with severe sleep...

In july 2013 i was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea i stopped breathing 70 times an hour. I was within my height to weight ratio but mum said i snored since the day i was born. I started cpap but couldn't imagine doing that for the rest of my life so started researching cures. In America there was surgeons doing double jaw surgery to open up airways but i couldn't find anyone in Australia until i called dr Peter Vickers who also worked in Canberra.I felt very confident with him and his ability, i booked surgery six months in advance and just forgot about it for a while. I had surgery on the 1/5/15 and had one month off work it was tough but was manageable . I had read heaps of blogs so was very prepared for what was to come. I am at 18 weeks now and still feeling better each week that goes by. Last month had another sleep study and am down to 7 blockages per hour so i am cured!

Lead up preparation prior to the surgery - 6 months to surgery date

After being diagnosed with Severe Sleep Apnea and utilising a CPAP machine to control my disorder, I started researching surgeries so I did not have to use a CPAP machine for the rest of my life. As much as I had adjusted to wearing my mask to sleep, I hated having to use it and the inconvenience of travelling with it (Europe, through the USA and weekend aways), setting it up when you got somewhere and then packing it up, it drove me mad.
That may sound ridiculous but not only did I now have to live with being in the top 10 percentile of Sleep Apnea sufferers but now I had to rely on a machine to control it.
Also, after wearing my mask overnight, the lines left on my face from the pressure of the mask sometimes would not disappear until after midday. That may sound vain but I work face-to-face with people and I was always self-conscious of these creases.

On finding a surgeon who would perform the operation (luckily he was Canberra/Sydney based which is local for me) and also with a very good reputation throughout Australia, I booked my initial consultation. Dr Vickers was very informative and gave me the confidence to book my surgery. On the second consultation he organised a patient that he had performed the same surgery on for me to meet and discuss how she was going post-surgery. This was an invaluable meeting for me and I was more comfortable about my decision.

I needed to organise this surgery around a friend's wedding and another friend moving overseas but I also wanted to do it in winter when I tend to hibernate more and the recovery would impact less on my social life. A very important consideration for me as I am very social. Believe it or not, this created its own stress as i wanted to have the operation but had to consider other things as well.

I researched the operation obsessively, I read every blog, articles.....anything and everything. Some of the blogs online are so well done and were very useful to me before and after my decision. I read the GOOD and the BAD, I knew what to expect and I was also realistic to the fact that my journey would differ from others. Being informed about everything I feel is very important, knowing what to expect, seeing other people's 'before and after' photos was inspiring and gave me more confidence in my decision. I found it difficult to find information on Sleep Apnea surgeries so I broadened my search to ALL double jaw surgeries which opened up a world of useful, informative and inspiring blogs.

I avoided telling ANYONE (apart from my partner) about the surgery, I did not want anyone's opinions, concerns or thoughts on the operation. I needed to be in my own head and not have anyone influencing the decision that I had made. When I started telling people I told them that I was having Sleep Apnea surgery but avoided giving any details of the operation, I still didn't want anyone putting their 'two cents' in.
About one month prior to the operation I told my closest friends/family and by that time I was confident with my decision and nobody could sway me from my final decision. I ensured I was strong in my mind and prepared to ignore others concerns.

Having my partner being able to take Carer's Leave for the first two weeks post surgery was extremely comforting and necessary. I relied on him a lot in the two weeks after surgery and he was brilliant! He was supportive, he blended my food (in very creative combinations which made liquid food very palatable) and he was my emotional rock - at times you are so tired, you get depressed and at times fearful - you really need a trusted support person with you post-surgery.

More to come about my surgery and the recovery......including photos!!!


first month

first week after surgery

My surgery finished at about 2 pm on May 1st but i woke up next morning at 11am in ICU. It felt strange to know i was out for that long. My partner had come to check on me me night before he said i looked a sorry sight i had a big head frame on so as not to move and nostril expanders in so i could breath. As i was waking up i felt compressors still on my legs and the blankets felt very heavy but was not in much serious pain. It was hard to breath as your jaws are wired together but i had read enough other blogs to be prepared and was not panicked . I had a breathing tube from my nose i think down into my lungs which was removed in the first day after i woke up. it was a relief to get that out but it also made it harder to breath. i was given nasal sprays to keep nasal passages open but you also just had to try breath through your teeth as well. I was sharing ICU with another of Dr Vickers patients who had similar surgery and he was managing to communicate quiet well whereas i just was incomprehensible, lucky we had bought the costco electronic writing pad but if i got over enthusiastic no one could read my writing! Also your face does not move so people have no other clues to how you are feeling... you can't smile or laugh. I now know how it feels to have a disability and how other people cope with that. I spent another 24hours in ICU with a nurse just for me and was given cold packs for my hot face and given lots of small amounts of liquids to get use to drinking slowly through a syringe with very swollen lips and face.

I was then moved to another shared room in high care and next 48 hours were spent sleeping, you are very tired after this surgery and trying to communicate is exhausting. I was given self administered pain killer but i don't think it works that well ...when someone is sleeping this much you wake up in pain then have to press button i would have preferred to have shots every six hours or whatever they do instead. I had some very good and very bad nurses i wish i had the energy to complain. One male nurse thought he was funny when he said i looked like shrek,he was also very full of himself and very impatient of someone who was finding it hard to communicate lucky I'm not a young girl and didn't get offended but he did make me cry and it was very dangerous because i could hardly breath i think people like that should not work in that sort of industry. I also bet he is divorced!
It's very important to keep calm and just let the process progress there is nothing you can do to speed it up!

I spent 4nights in hospital and left in the evening before the 5th night i was so glad to be getting home to my own bed, pillows and cats,without all the strange hospital noises and nurses waking you up every few hours to take your blood pressure! My partner was now wholly responsible for me and i am a demanding patient.
I didn't have the dribbling a lot of people complain about but the last nurse i had before i left hospital was lovely and attentive but i think she gave me her cold so i had a humidifier in the room 24h and took lots of nasal sprays to help me breath. When got home i also had a hot steamy bath and got heaps of hard disgusting hard lumps out of my nose so felt heaps better!

Eating was a challenge we started with 20ml syringes and also tried 60ml ones as long as everything was very very well blended with enough water or liquid it was ok but often my partner would have to reblend with more liquid to pass through gap at back of the teeth and through the teeth.We found the ninja blender much better than our expensive breville one, it was better for the small quantities and also blended it much finer.I could also just try drink it out of a cup which was easier but didn't always work. I blended anything i felt like eating i tried to mainly eat nutritious food but if i felt like cake i would blend it with a hot chocolate and it was heaven! I tried to have vegetable soups some of which i had already prepared and frozen with a little bit of meat protein to fill you up.breakfast was yogurt and fruit with oats and hospital sustagen. Raw green juices in the afternoon just whatever worked !My friends were quiet disgusted i managed to have a blended french toast with maple syrup!
Just don't think of the calories and do whatever works for you! Because you are on so many pain killers and not moving much make sure you have plenty of fibre, i wish i had started taking stool softeners from day one.

Exercise was really important it make you feel much better and get you out of the house. At first i tried to just walk around the house and garden as often as i could between trying to eat and sleep. Make sure you have plenty of tv series to watch nothing to full on, just something on to keep you entertained i couldn't concentrate on reading

I think swelling is worse day 3 and 4 and then slowly starts to get better from then on. I am almost 6 months now and people are still commenting that i look less swollen.

May 8th First Dr appointment post op

I Had my first post op appointment with Dr Vickers , i felt quiet self conscious but it was nice to be out and about.
I had an Xray done and was told that during the operation one side of my jaw moved quiet a lot more than the other side! The Doctors were keen to check my alignment and make sure it all looked all right ,I had much more swelling on that side and felt quiet lopsided! I am still not sure exactly how much each side moved, but it was just the way my jaw worked...
It took months to settle down and i can still tell a difference.
dr peter vickers

Dr Peter Vickers and Dr Micheal Cooper were very professional

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
4 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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