Growing up, I’d always felt insecure. From smiling in pictures to avoiding putting my hair up. I always wore a scarf for as long as possible. I avoided public situations or talking to people because I simply didn’t feel comfortable with the way I looked. I had always been plagued by a lack of self-confidence. I analysed my face down to every meticulous detail; not only did I continuously compare myself with the people around me, but was at war with myself. And at night, I was suffering under gnawing pain. Swallowing, chewing and even changing temperatures were all a catalyst to my internal, everyday pain. My life was plagued by one, agonizing insecurity: my jaw.
Medically termed ‘malocclusion’, a variety of classification methods exist within this inborn jaw misalignment, most commonly ranging from Class I to III. Subsequently, this results in a range of different treatment options. Following many long years of failed attempts at ignorant, avaricious dentist’s offices, I finally convinced my mother to seriously consider undergoing an orthognathic surgery, or what is simply known as ‘jaw surgery’. Following my Class III diagnosis, I would have to wear braces one final time so my teeth would be in the right position prior to my surgery. I received my lingual braces a few days before my sixth form prom. Now, I was about to finish my second year at university. Final preparations were being made with my surgeon at the end of April. At this point, my excitement overshadowed any uneasiness. After all, I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life.
May 4th. The day the surgery came around, I was hit with an unexpected and heavy sense of trepidation. It was not the surgery I was scared of per se, but more so the pain I would feel after the surgery. As my parents and I headed to the clinic early in the morning, I still remained calm. However, as they dropped me off, and the nurses told us they were not allowed to visit me during my two-night stay due to Covid regulations, I did everything I could to hold back tears. Nonetheless, once I was brought to my room, there was no time to feel woeful. I had to be ready.
The moment I woke up, the first thought which crossed my mind was, ‘It’s already done?’. Yet my excitement was crippled by the weakness and nausea I would be fighting for the next 48 hours. From puking blood to severe difficulties consuming anything other than water or soup left me utterly drained. I had never been so weak my entire life. By the third day, my face swelled up so much, tears were continuously streaming down my face. It was a grueling process, to say the least. But once I came home and sandwiched my face in between two ice packs, before slowly consuming yoghurts and protein shakes with a little straw, I could feel my body regaining strength. It was the start of a lengthy healing process.
It’s been a week and a half since my surgery. Every day remains painful, but by far not as painful as my life before. No words could describe the growing happiness I feel every single day following my decision to undergo this surgery. Finally, I can be me. No more insecurities, no more scarves, no need to keep my hair down, and hopefully no more aching pain doing the most simple tasks such as chewing or swallowing. Albeit all the excruciating pain, this surgery has, so far, changed my life in the best way possible. But I also couldn’t have done this surgery without the undying support of my parents, closest friends and the people I’ve reached out to who went through the same experience. From care packages to endearing ‘get well soon’ cards, my friends and family truly made each day more and more bearable. If you are considering orthognathic surgery, reach out to me. I’ll be here for you.