Recovery timeline

Here are what I think are the important events in my recovery from my various injuries. All dates are in 2009.

Sunday, April 5, 10:45AM – I am transported to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center after falling off of my bicycle. I know that my front teeth are chipped, I’m bleeding everywhere, my jaw is sore on the left side, and I experience an intense pain when I try to tilt my head back.

Sunday, April 5,  3:00PM - I am released from the hospital, having learned that my jaw is broken, without any bandages (but some stitches) on the abrasions on my right shoulder, my elbows, my cheek, or my hands.

Monday, April 6, morning –  I begin taking Vicodin twice per day.

Monday, April 6, morning and early afternoon - I see various doctors. At University Health Services, a doctor authorizes my visit to the oral surgeon and has a nurse examine and bandage my wounds. The oral surgeon tells me that he’ll need to wait until my face is less swollen (either later this week or early next week) to work on me. He sends me to my dentist, who temporarily seals my chipped teeth.

Wednesday, April 8, 10:15AM – The oral surgeon puts my bone in its proper place and wires my jaw shut.

Thursday, April 9, afternoon and early evening – I am scheduled to teach but have other people fill in for me because of my condition.

Friday, April 10, morning – A number of significant events:

  • I return to class, but have trouble staying awake.
  • I have my stitches removed at University Health Services. I’m told that I’ll only need the bandages on my face for another day or so.
  • I take my last Vicodin.

Saturday, April 11, morning – I wake up to find myself able to talk. I conjecture that this is related to my having stopped taking Vicodin. Also, I no longer need bandages on my face, but I do bandage both of my elbows and my right shoulder.

Wednesday, April 15, 1:15PM – I have my one-week check-in with the oral surgeon. Everything seems to be going well. I make my appointment to have the wires removed.

Wednesday, April 15, early evening – I arrive at home to find my supply of Vega, which revolutionizes my diet.

Thursday, April 16, afternoon and early evening – I teach as regularly scheduled.

Thursday, April 23, evening – I am finally able to catch up on my school work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2:15PM – The oral surgeon removes my wires, but I’ll still have to wear rubber bands in my mouth when I’m not eating or brushing my teeth. I learn that I can’t chew for another three weeks, and I’m also not able to open my mouth very far.

Friday, May 1,  ~12PM – I’m experiencing enough discomfort in my jaw that I call the oral surgeon to ask whether I should  do something about it. I leave a message but don’t hear back by the end of the day.

Monday, May 4 - The oral surgeon returns my call and tells me that my discomfort is normal, but by this time it has gone away.

Wednesday, May 6 – I begin commuting by bicycle again.

Tuesday, May 12, 3:15PM – I have a check-in with the oral surgeon. He looks at my mouth briefly, but not much happens. I make an appointment to see him again next week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2:15PM – My oral surgeon authorizes me to chew all but “super hard” foods. He leaves the arch bars on my teeth, in case they should prove necessary for straightening my bite later on. I celebrate the occasion by getting a falafel sandwich, which I have trouble fitting in my mouth.

Friday, May 22, 9AM - My dentist repairs my two chipped teeth by composite bonding, but warns that this will probably eventually require a crown.

Monday, May 25, 7:30PM - I discover that one of the two bonded teeth has broken already.

Tuesday, May 26, 2:00PM – The dentist repairs my broken tooth again.

Friday, June 10, 9:00AM – I have my teeth cleaned. The hygienist does not find any cavities, which is no small matter given the various challenges to cleaning my teeth my treatment has presented.

Friday, June 10, 12:45PM – The oral surgeon is impressed with my mouth opening and removes the arch bars. He tells me that I’ll be able to eat the hardest foods around July 4. I am warned that my gums are likely to bleed a lot when I floss for the next two or three weeks.

Friday, June 17 – By now, my gums have stopped bleeding altogether, even when flossing.

Saturday, July 4, 12:05AM – I eat a whole apple for the first time since the accident.

Current status (as of Saturday, July 11, 11:30PM) – I can open my mouth a little bit further than when I got the arch bars off. I still have some numbness on the left side of my face. I’m hoping it’s just due to internal swelling around the nerve. I had something like that last year after getting my wisdom teeth out, but I have also read that mandibular fractures can be accompanied by nerve damage. I have occasional pain in my jaw, usually on the right side (opposite the fracture). I also have some scars on my hands and elbows.

28 Responses to “Recovery timeline”

  1. wendy myers September 17, 2009 at 6:24 am #

    Sept. 17, 09

    I enjoyed reading your blog. My daughter broke her jaw in three places a week ago . Her surgery went well and she is wired shut for three to four weeks. She is only 11 so this has been difficult thus far for her. I have had a hard time finding things for her to eat or rather getting her to eat. I also am concerned about her returnng to school next week. Getting bumped and feeding herself is going to be a challenge. I have also been wondering what to expect after the wires are removed. Thank you for sharing your trip with us down this long road of recovery!
    w myers

    • Adam September 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

      Hi Wendy,
      Sorry I’ve been so slow to reply. Your daughter’s situation sounds really tough. I managed to stay pretty upbeat about my injury while I was recovering, but I know I wouldn’t have been able to do that when I was eleven years old. I hope her recovery goes smoothly. Also feel free to ask questions if you want to know about something that I haven’t written about. I can’t guarantee that I’ll have an answer that’s useful to you or that I’ll even remember anything, but I’ll do my best.
      Adam

  2. Michelle Yetter November 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm #

    Hi. I enjoyed reading your blog. I just had mine wired shut but they said 6-8 weeks. How long did they tell you at the beginning. Im hoping i get them off sooner. Aslo was it easier to talk once you got the rubberbands in compared to it being completely shut?

    • Adam Merberg November 24, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

      Hi Michelle,

      In my case, the oral surgeon told me I’d be wired for three weeks and that was how long I was wired. He never did any x-rays after the day of the surgery, so I don’t think there was really much room for a change of plans. However, if you’ve been given a range of times, clearly the decision on how long it will be is still to be made. You might try asking your oral surgeon what factors will go into making that decision (if you haven’t asked already).

      Talking without the rubber bands was a lot easier than talking with my jaw wired shut. In fact, even with my jaw wired shut, it got easier as I grew accustomed to it. I had plenty of conversations with people who didn’t realize that they were talking to somebody whose jaw was wired shut. After I got the wires cut and had rubber bands in my mouth, I was able to talk pretty much normally. Of course, your results may vary, particularly because you’re expecting to have the wires on for longer than I did. Let’s hope for the best, though.

      Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

      Adam

      • ketta August 27, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

        i found your journey to very helpful, in a time where i needed to hear it the most, i recently had my mouth wired, and i am still going thru the experince as i type this reply, however my oral suregon told me that my mouth will be closed for 6weeks, what is the chances of the wires coming off before then, i am having a hard time finding things t eat… this is very uncomfortable, my lips are cracking and i get keep my mouth from stayin dry! smh, @ the wires in my jaw, i am so upset, loosing weight, like crazy, ( especially my butt)….. what should i do, all i really want to know is how do i take the wires out by myself?

      • Adam Merberg August 29, 2010 at 12:34 am #

        Hi Ketta,
        Hang in there! Have you looked at my guide to eating while wired? If you’re able to invest in a good blender, I’ve heard that can be very helpful (though I didn’t do so myself). You might also look at the blog Jaws Wired Shut, which focuses exclusively on food for people with wired jaws.
        Good luck!
        Adam

  3. Leslie September 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    Adam,
    Thank you for your very detailed log. I have been wired shut for 3 weeks so far (bike accident also). My wires are supposed to be cut tomorrow and I’m so disappointed to see on your timeline that I will not be able to chew for 3 more weeks. Soft foods like mashed potatoes, etc. will be better than this, but were you able to broaden your horizons a little if you cut things that require a little chewing very small (how about toast or cake?) Thanks. Leslie

    • Adam Merberg September 22, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

      Hi Leslie,

      Something like toast or cake will probably be just fine if you cut them up into little pieces and then allow them to dissolve in your mouth instead of chewing them. Something like a carrot or an apple probably will have to wait longer because those things won’t dissolve in your mouth.

      Of course, your oral surgeon’s plan for you may be entirely different. But the point remains that with a little creativity there are many things you can eat without chewing. I was initially discouraged when I found out I couldn’t chew for three weeks, but I ended up finding plenty to eat.

      Best of luck tomorrow and on your continuing recovery.

      Adam

  4. Sean Clohisy October 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    Wow. This is a long recovery. I

  5. Sean Clohisy October 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    I broke my jaw August 13th and now I have everything off and still chipped teeth. I can play all sports with no contact. Im due to comeback DEC 1 and i am counting the days down. Its really hard to cope. Im also a freshman so it doesnt help my mental strength but im ruggid an tough it out like you did.

  6. Sean Clohisy October 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    This is an amzing recovery. I had broken my jaw august 13th and now im all fixed. Except for the fact i cant play sports. I see you coped well and i was looking for some help. Im also a freshman so it doesnt help me very much.

  7. Just Me June 5, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    I fractured my jaw on May 29th. Because of my injury my mouth had to be wired shut on May 31st. My doctors advised me that I would be wired shut for 6-8 weeks. Of course I’m hoping that the wires are removed before then. My biggest challenge is eating. The shut is so tight to where there is hardly no room for even a liquid to enter. It is mentally exhausting. How long will my gums be sore? When sleeping, what position do you advise?

    • Adam Merberg June 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

      Sorry I’ve been slow to reply here.

      For sleeping, I would suggest whatever is most comfortable to you. After my bike accident, I had so many bruises and scrapes, and so much swelling that every position was at least a little bit uncomfortable.

      I doubt having wires in your mouth will ever be particularly comfortable, but you’ll at least get used to it before too long.

      Best of luck with your recovery.

      Adam

    • becky June 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

      I broke my jaw on May 26th when a softball hit me, so I understand completely what you are talking about! I personally was sleeping in a recliner, because it was so sore to sleep in any other position, it felt as though my jaw would slide and cause intense pain. I was not comfortable enough to sleep on my side because I am a light sleeper and move alot during the night. Try different things out, it is tough, but it too will be over before you know it. The worst part for me has been the mental aspect, hunger, and plain feeling sorry for myself. I have good days and bad, my family has been very supportive. I don’t feel like going overboard on preparing meals for myself, I would just prefer to drink and be done. Carnation breakfast drinks have been very good, might keep that up once this is all over! Best of luck to you!

  8. Leslie Wood June 5, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Just Me – Sorry about your situation. As far as sleeping, whatever feels good to you is fine. No limitations except those set by your own comfort level lying on the side of your face. My jaw was wired (as I assume most are) with my teeth completely shut. My molars were against each other. You will be surprised how liquids will just find its way around the spaces. I was also able to suck applesauce and and yogurt through a straw. Many people are much more interested in being creative about what food they can make and put in a blender. Not me…. I pretty much lived on protein shakes, yogurt, applesauce, McDonald’s milk shakes and berry smoothie, milk, Gatorade and tomato soup. I figured as long as I getting a pretty solid dose of protein in those bodybuilder protein shakes that I was getting enough nourishment to get through 6 weeks. There was no enjoyment to eating, just a job to get done. Fortunately I only lost 5 lbs which is great since I started at 122. I know it is mentally exhausting to contemplate this journey, but it will pass. You will get through it. Bear in mind that other folks get through much worse things. I think that is what kept me sane. I knew this would end. Some other people don’t get to be “done” with their ailment. Keep your chin up! You’ll get there. My jaw was broken last fall (Sept 2010) and is fine. My teeth are all fixed and I’m back on my bike.

  9. C October 11, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    this was so good to know — recently fractured my left jaw. I am now just waiting for an appointment with my oral surgeon.

    my work involves talking on the phone alot — would you advise me to stay home during the time my jaw is wired?

    • Leslie October 11, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      My job also requires a lot of talking on the phone. I stayed home the first week because I had stitches in my face and was self-conscious about that. Once they were out, I went back to work. You very quickly get used to talking with your teeth clamped shut. Most people don’t even notice when you are on the phone. It’ll be better in about 3-4 weeks when they removed the wires. Once you have just the rubberbands, you will be able to move your teeth when you talk. This’ll pass……

    • Adam Merberg October 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      I’d definitely defer to your oral surgeon on that question. I was able to talk with my mouth wired shut, even teaching a few classes, but I’ve heard from people who have been advised to avoid all talking.

      Best of luck!

  10. Cherie December 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    Thank you for this blog, especially your tips on keeping your mouth clean.

    I currently have a titanium plate and my mouth wired shut for three fractures to my jaw. I fainted and fell on my face after giving blood.

    I found the days after surgery very challenging. Though I was making good progress with the pain and psychologically for the first 10 days.

    Yesterday however my follow up xray showed that the surgery wasn’t successful in aligning my right jaw joint and is sitting strangely. Why the doctor didn’t pick it up on the xray after the operation I have yet to find out. I have to see another specialist in the new year.

    Despite all the pain and frustration I am so thankful that I live in a time where skilled people are able to fix me. And I am so glad that I live in a country that provides its people with free public health care (I’m not usually so patriotic, but having gone through this, I do love Australia more)

    All the best with your recoveries :)

    Cherie

    • Adam Merberg December 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi Cherie,

      Sorry to hear about your injury, as well as your recent setback. I’m glad you a least have public health care. (Here in the US, we’ve at least taken a baby step in that direction since my accident, but we also have one party determined to repeal that change.)

      I know I would have been very frustrated if I’d partway through the recovery that learned that my fracture hadn’t healed properly. (Curiously, though, my oral surgeon didn’t take any X-rays after the date of the surgery.) Anyway, I hope you get some answers when you have your next appointment.

      Best wishes on your recovery.

      Adam

  11. Fran Snell July 5, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    I have found this site so helpful and have appreciated all the encouragement and advice I have received. I would like to comment on where I am now and see if anyone has anything they can tell me. I am seven weeks out from my accident. My bite is not where it should be. The oral dentist put on one rubberband and we are hoping it will pull my jaw in the right direction. I know they want to put on either arch bars or do something else drastic to me. I would like to give this time to see if things start to move in the right direction. I heard from one woman that her dentist gave her that advice and it worked for her. I am trying to live a normal life and doing pretty good with it. I just take my own food where ever I go. Thank you all for your help and my best wishes to all who have to go through this!

  12. Jude July 26, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    It’s been 21 months since I fractured the mandible in three places. As the bite was off post wiring jaw shut, I went through orthognatic surgery this past March after a year of braces. Just wondering…does anyone else have constant facial pain so many months after their jaw fracture(s)?

  13. pielala February 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    I was just wired shut for a fall ( tripped on cheap carpet with walking shoes after a walk. Right condyle snapped off and back . My oral surgeon has only told me about rubber bands after my wires come off as i am having braces so he will work with my orthodontist. He said i could get teeth cleaned 2 weeks after wires are removed but no date on ortho and I dont live here and need to get home. Also he has not mentioned chewing would not be possible but sort used to soft food from dental ortho adjustments. My big worry is if closed reduction is successful. I will be using the The Therabite System to rehab my jaw open for 3 to 4 weeks. No one has mentioned using this or doing therapy like this?? Also very anxious wired its very challenging 13 days left.

  14. Adam February 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    This blog really is great and has been helpful. I face planted off a yard long piece of rebar sticking out of the ground in a parking lot new years eve and ended up with a crack in my lower jaw just to the left of center. Oral surgeon said I was lucky that the force didn’t crack anything higher up as well. Anyway, I’m four days past having the wires cut and going to rubber bands. I actually have pretty good movement, I can open to two fingers easily and could probably come close to three but don’t want to push it. My teeth and mouth are starting to feel better, although I’ve really only been like gumming some soft foods. My archbars and everything come out in 5 days, which are a few days early. (I was wired for just over 4 weeks, and will have the bands on for only 9 days). I actually got nervous and confirmed with the doctor that it would be ok to have them off early and he said a few days wouldn’t make a difference. Its a tough on me because I actually live and work in South America so I have unpaid rent, a job, everything waiting on me to get back. I do still get little pains in the area where the fracture was, although not nearly to the same degree they do sometimes remind me of how it felt before I was wired, like there’s some movement and its scaring me a little. Anyone else experience this?

  15. Kathryn Naufragous July 4, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Wrecked my bike* and broke my jaw Sunday night, got wired Monday night. Sounds like your injury was similar to mine — broken parasymphysis, broken/chipped front teeth and condylar fractures?

    Thanks for logging all this; it’s good for reference — I’ve been really anxious about the recovery timeline and fearful about not being able to open my mouth properly or without pain for a long time after all this is said and done.

    I’m not vegan, but I am mostly vegetarian, so the food tips are useful, too.

    * The cyclist question: How’s the bike? I haven’t really gotten into the repair process now, but it seems a moderately out-of-true rear wheel may be the worst of the damage. I’m hoping to make some progress on fixing her up this weekend.

    • amerberg July 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Hi Kathryn,

      I’m glad you’re finding the site helpful. I only broke the one condyle (and no parasymphyseal fractures), but otherwise it sounds like our injuries were similar.

      My bike was pretty much okay. I ended up just replacing the derailleur hangar which had been bent, but it’s possible that I could have just un-bent it if I’d really known what I had been doing. That and I had to clean all the blood off of it.

      Good luck with repairing your bike and yourself.

      Best,
      Adam

  16. Beverly Davenport October 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Fell broke jaw in 3 places. Rubber band were used to band teeth together. Week 4, bands off except for 2 front teeth and back 2 molars. Bands had to be removed after each meal and replaced. Replacing bands on the molars was between difficult to impossible. Week 5. All bands off I can cew soft food pasta,etc. Big problem my bit is off. My front teeth aren’t meeting. No surface to chew on? Has anybody had this problem and how did you go forward. I keep thinking is this ever over.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Old news « Shock and Jaw - July 19, 2009

    [...] On the right sidebar, you’ll now see links to my Broken jaw recovery guide and Recovery timeline. These are intended to condense information from the blog in a way that might make the information [...]

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