My Double Jaw Surgery

At the time I'm writing this, it's been 18 months since the face and jaw surgery that changed my life. Many of the changes have been good, and some not so good. Little did I know this journey would influence the way I ran my business.

So here it is: The honest story of what happened and how our lives have changed; the good, the bad, and the ugly.




I suffered through years of terrible jaw pain and got to the point where I was barely opening my mouth. It was when eating became unbearable and I started dropping weight that we knew something had to change.

The surgeon said the source of my pain was skeletal deformities that I was born with coupled with severe osteoarthritis in my jaw joints. My joints were worn away to the point that they were no longer able to function normally with about 1" of bone loss on both sides. I also wasn't breathing well because my airway was being cut off by a receding lower jaw. In order to fix the structural problems and degeneration, the upper jaw would be rotated forward and shifted up (called a LeFort 1 Osteotemy), both jaw joints would be replaced with titanium implants (Bilateral Total Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Replacement), as well as straightening and widening my nasal passages with 2 additional procedures.

Hearing for the first time the many things that needed to be fixed (as well as the extreme risks) was too much to take in. I cried after I left the office that day. A few times. Ok... lots of times.

Hearing the hugeness of the surgery was not easy, but it was a relief to finally have a clear cause for the pain and know there was a solution. A painful, scary, risky solution, but a solution none the less!


The Surgery

To say I was terrified would be an understatement. It took a year for the team of surgeons, orthodontists, and implant makers to prepare for the surgery. I was in weekly counseling sessions to get my mind and heart in the right place. Lots of prayer, lots of fear. On surgery day, I climbed onto the surgical table and prayed the 2nd biggest prayer of my life (the first one was when my twins were being born). The nurse asked if we could hold hands. The anesthesiologist put her hands on my shoulders and bowed her head. I prayed for the people in the room. For their hands. For God to answer the prayers they had in their hearts. I thanked Him for their education and dedication. I prayed for my babies. I asked for protection. I asked for peace. It was a beautiful moment and when I said “Amen” I was ready. I thought about a river of God’s love surrounding me and all the people praying for me outside the hospital and in their homes, and then I was asleep.



My husband had to wait in the parking lot due to covid protocals. My family and friends were told the surgery would take 8-10 hours. After 11, they got the news I was out of surgery.

Things were bad for a while. My little girls had to be sent away from our home for about 10 days because the swelling was insane, scary - it was terrifying to behold. There were a few instances, one that landed me in the ER, the pain and swelling was so severe I couldn't breathe. I know what suffocating feels like. I also know, having lived through this, I will never suffer like I did during these first few weeks after surgery. I thought often about the verse in Isaiah 'Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you by your name, you are Mine. When you go through the water, you will not drown. When you go through the flames, you will not burn. You are precious in my eyes.' Lord, help me I was drowning in my own body.


Dark Days

Recovery was measured in months, not days. Darkness took over my heart and mind. I couldn't speak, eat solid foods, sleep, or go a minute without pain. One of my precious daughters was so upset she didn't touch, hug or kiss me for 9 1/2 weeks. The surgical complications we were warned about weren't just conversations anymore. They were real and hard to accept.

During this time we discovered the right side of my face was paralyzed and I had extensive nerve damage on both sides of my head and neck.



My mantra was: Healing takes time. Nerves take time. Pain takes time. I CAN heal. I will heal. God is good.

We did months of electroshock therapy and rehab to help me learn to move, eat, talk, and breathe again. I wish I could say the physical challenges were the hardest part, but they weren't.



I didn't expect the mental and spiritual struggles.

I had become a stranger to myself. I didn’t recognize myself, so much so when I looked into a mirror I said “who’s that?”…. and then it hit me. That’s ME. But it can’t be me because that’s not what I look like. I analyzed every detail and begged my brain to see something familiar, but nothing changed. To this day I don’t like looking in the mirror because it’s so disappointing and hard to take in. I want to look like I did before the surgery.


Before and After Surgery


What life is like now

Life is different now, in good ways: My pain is gone (praise God!) and it is not lost on me how huge this is. I'm thankful for that every day. I'm alive and so happy. My posture is better. I can breathe!! By moving my jaw forward, it's estimated I'm taking in about 7 times more air because my airway is wider. My new joints should last me the rest of my life. There's even humor... I tell people there's so much metal in my face I have my own wifi signal. I've gained quite a bit of movement in my facial muscles and can smile again! It's a different smile than I had before, but still filled with joy.



I've come a LONG way, but life is different in difficult ways too: I have 7th cranial nerve damage on both sides that causes muscle spasms, numbness in my face, teeth, and mouth, and facial paralysis. The muscles in my face and neck don't move in the same way and get fatigued easily. I need botox on the left side of my face in order to balance out my facial expressions due to the the paralysis I have on the right. I've had a 2nd surgery to reposition my lower lip and chin and will likely need a 3rd. My sense of taste is weaker. I can't chew with my mouth closed, hold water in my mouth, or drink without a straw. My kids and husband are still dealing with the trauma of the first surgery. Lord knows I'm still dealing with it. I have gone into deep depressions about my body image, my sense of self worth, my appearance, and asked God to change my brain so I can recognize myself. I struggle with how to deal with the past and accept my life now.



Surrounding all of this is my relationship with God. He is showing me every day that He recognizes me, and He knows who I am. I am re-defining my own beauty, what it means to love who I am, and how I display that beauty to the world. I am so thankful to be truly seen by my husband, family, and friends even if I can't see myself. I hope by sharing my struggles and triumphs other women will see they aren't alone. How you feel about how you look matters.

So that's it! My surgery, my life. It's an ongoing story, one I hope to write more about on this blog. I am deeply passionate about helping other women, particularly in the realm of beauty and self-worth, and I hope this post has made a difference in what you might be going through today.

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