I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis from a very young age, as a result my jaw joints started to deteriorate during my teenage years. This lead to, at the age of 21, looking like I was going to need a bilateral TMJ replacement due to the disease progression and having exhausted every other option.
My surgeon Mr Halsnad, Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow was outstanding. He made sure I was at ease every step of the way. It took a wee while to have everything lined up from scans, teeth extractions to moulds, all the staff were fantastic throughout. At the age of 23 I was set to have my joints replaced in March 2020.
We saw Mr Halsnad and his lovely Registrar Jamie on a Tuesday in March for consent and a chat. I was scheduled to have surgery the next day, this was postponed to the following day due to the beginning of the covid pandemic. The staff at GQEUH were fantastic even calling me late evening to keep me up to date with theatre scheduling.
The morning came and the staff in the pre-op ward were fantastic and Mr Halsnad saw me to go over everything one last time and have a final photoshoot. Then I was away to theatre.
That journey down to theatre was a mix of feelings, mostly of what will my face look like after and how visible will the scars be. When seeing previous patients who had joint replacements, the first thing I noticed was the age difference, it was easier to contour their scars into the wrinkles of their necks. Now being the ripe old age of 23 that was going to be slightly trickier to hide those scars as thankfully I don't have many wrinkles on my neck... for now.
So my brilliant surgeon spent a while after our agreement that the bilateral TMJ surgery was the best way forward perfecting his technique on how best to leave me with minimal scars. FACELIFT! Now that's something I wasn't expecting to hear but the incredible man had perfected his facelift technique so he could do my surgery with minimal scaring showing on my face and the majority in my hair line whilst still being able to access the joints.
I was in awe with how he took into consideration me being young and having visible scars and how I would feel if I got married and looking back seeing those scars on my neck. I am so grateful he took the time to consider that and look at other avenues to reduce this. A good few hours later and I was out of surgery, not that I can remember much but when I did fully come round I was eager to see what there was and the great thing was there wasn't anything to see! Well apart from the pressure bandage around my head but I was thinking it could feature in the next Vogue as I would be wearing it for a wee while.
I was able to be discharged two days after theatre to do most of my recovery at home. Now that's when the hard part came as I was on a sloppy diet (no chewing) for a while and you saw everyone else tucking into big dinners... next came the swelling and that was intense... I was like a hamster on steroids which was quite amusing but blimey it was sore. The worst part was washing my hair for the 1st time 1 week after surgery, it was such a relief to everyone when I got to wash it as it was really beginning to reek and my poor boyfriend who was sleeping next to it every night was saying it was starting to turn his stomach.. I was nose blind to it and it took a couple of washes to get the smell out.
As much as Mr Halsnad is a phenomenal surgeon and I will always be grateful to have had him operate on me... his hairdressing skills were less admirable. It was a massive ball of hair matted together with a combination of old blood and antiseptic wash from theatre. Jamie was saying the day after surgery if she was there earlier she would of put my hair in a French pleat which would of been much easier to wash out. Mr Halsnad may need to learn this skill for the future.
After the swelling went down and I was starting to eat it was an easy recovery, Mr Halsnad was in regular contact over video due to the pandemic and would have my jaw physio equipment sent to me. His secretary Lesley was fantastic helping arrange appointments and delivery of equipment.
Mr Halsnad and his incredible team have given me a much better quality of life, I have gone from needing an NG tube for feeding due to the sheer agony of chewing to not having my trusty tube and eating pain free and even gaining weight. I no longer have headaches every day from the joints rubbing against my skull. I can open my jaw significantly more, it doesn't hurt to laugh or talk.
He has given me my life back and I will always be grateful with how much time and research he put into my unique case, from avoiding facial scarring, even down to getting in touch with my Rheumatologist wanting to know the implications of my medications and how that will affect the surgery or my recovery. He was fantastic with my family keeping them up to date and reassuring them, even recognising my partner whom he had only met once in the waiting area and going over to speak to him after the surgery. I fully trust him and his team and had every confidence in them. He also has good banter which helps when you can have a laugh with your surgeon!
"Having my jaw joints replaced"
About: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow / Oral Surgery & Medicine Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow Oral Surgery & Medicine Glasgow G51 4TF
Posted by KatieMacD (as ),