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Jaw Surgery - Take Two

cleft lip and palate patient after a maxillofacial osteotomy (jaw surgery)

I want to firstly highlight that this is NOT an expected part of cleft lip and palate treatment.

I had a second round of jaw surgery in September 2016 after my first round didn’t heal properly. This is extremely rare.

Okay…so when my first lot of jaw surgery healed, the point where the jaw was broken to be moved into a new position healed with a fibrous union rather than a bony one. This meant that where bone should have grown, tissue grew instead. This caused my jaw to be wobbly and allowed it to move back to its original position before surgery.

My team and I decided the best course of action was to have another lot of jaw surgery. This time, however, I would also have a bone graft from my hip so that there would definitely be bone to help stabilise the break and encourage bone growth (rather than tissue).

Luckily, second time around, it worked! I was made to stay in for longer post-surgery and I had more regular check-ups to check the jaw was actually healing properly, which, as annoying as it was to go back every week, it was! I’d had a bone graft and jaw surgery before so I knew what to expect. Walking around was slow and painful, but I soon got used to it, and the eating was a pain (again), but I also got used to that and tried out some new ideas too.

This was a very stressful time for me, since I had it in the September before my second year of uni. I was worried I would miss out on lots of lecture material and I worried about how much of an impact the surgery would have on my assessments. Luckily, my university was very understanding and put in place ways of helping me to catch up. It also helped that I felt ready to go back to uni two weeks earlier than I had planned (although I still took it easy), so I didn’t miss out on as much as I had thought I would.

As draining, stressful, upsetting and annoying as this whole process was, I’ve come through the other side now, knowing that the pain and stress was worth it and learning that perseverance and patience can help you overcome anything.


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