- Don't rush.
Just because somebody else did x activity y days after surgery doesn't mean you have to too. Jaw surgery recovery is different for everybody because everybody is different. So, take it easy, relax, start doing things when you feel ready to or when your surgeon tells/recommends you to. I started taking short walks a few days after surgery and build up from there. You'll be surprised at how fast your body heals.
- The first few days to a week are THE WORST.
Seriously, they are horrific, and nothing in this world can prepare you for them. You will feel like shit, regret everything, be moody, probably cry, get sick of the food you are given and how little you can eat of it, and be tired because you can't sleep. Make sure that you have someone to be there for you during this time, and make sure they are someone who is prepared to see you at your absolute worst. Because I promise you, it will be your worst. A parent, SO, sibling, caretaker, whatever works, and make sure they know it will be hard for at least a week. They will be doing most things for you. For me, this person was my mum. I stayed at her place for two weeks after surgery before I felt independent enough to go back to my flat. She pretty much needed to be there 24/7 for the first few days.
- Make sure you are as comfortable as possible.
This kind of ties into the above point. Your body is going through hell right now trying to recover and it's not like you're going to be enjoying it, so you may as well make yourself as comfortable as possible. Don't be ashamed of buying 10 pillows from Briscoes, you're gonna need them.
- It's not going to be what you expect it to be.
For me, I expected to come home after discharge and sit on the couch and watch movies and be sleeping all the time because I was so tired trying to recover. This is not what it was like at all. First of all, you do not get enough sleep for the first week or two after surgery. Having to sleep upright, combined with the general uncomfortable-ness of facial surgery, and possibly pain as well, does not bode well for sleeping. I didn't manage to sleep for more than two hours at a time for the first week, I kept waking up and then not being able to get back to sleep for ages.... so prepare to be tired. This leads to my second point, you may not have enough energy to even watch TV. I couldn't even sit through a movie or read a book during the first week. I just couldn't do it. This is when going out for short walks was helpful (I also got quite restless). When I was at my mums I brought so many things that I could do while I was recovering so that I wouldn't get bored... I literally didn't do a single one. Painting my nails? Nope, too strenuous.
- Even with this in mind, make sure you have enough activities to keep yourself entertained if you need it.
Books, movies, crafty things, facebook, video games, board games, anything that doesn't require much energy.
- You can't afford to be fussy with your food and diet after jaw surgery.
You just can't. Vegans/vegetarians, prepare to possibly have to eat animal based products. You need to get those calories in you pretty much any possible way you can. For me, I managed to cut out sugar from my diet for two weeks. This was the extent of my dieting, and it's because I am paranoid about cavities and knew I couldn't brush my teeth properly during this period. Now that I have started chewing again, I am eating food that I don't particularly want to eat because I know it's bad for me, but I am because I know it will help with muscle strengthening. I will do another page on food ideas at some point because damn do you need to be creative when you're on a liquid or no-chew diet.
- Prepare as much post-surgery food as you can before surgery.
And make sure it's food you will enjoy, mix it up. You will not appreciate having to eat tomato soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 2 weeks in a row.
- Try and stay healthy.
This goes for before and after surgery, and specifically for food and exercise. If you are quite active then I would recommend trying to get back into normal activities as soon as possible after surgery (but discuss this with your surgeon first and don't do something if you don't feel ready). For me, I started walking the day after surgery (just down the hospital hall and back). I started light exercise after two weeks (cycling), and I started running again after 6 weeks. Weight training I took it easy until about 7-8 weeks. I had a bone graft taken from my hip though, I think I could have started running earlier if this had not been the case. Nutrition is important for a fast and healthy recovery. Your body needs adequate nutrition to heal itself properly so make sure you are drinking/eating enough protein, calcium, and vitamins. For more information you can read my Recovery Food Ideas Page (when I have made it).
Things you probably want to get:
Stick blender (seriously, these are the bomb), lip balm, pillows (or a pillow chair if you're flash!), tissues, squeezy bottles (for when you graduate from syringes), heat or ice packs, your painkiller prescription, baby toothbrush.
For more tips, Graham has a great page on his blog:
You'll also figure out what works for you too. And when you do, make sure you post it on your blog for other people to benefit from!