I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.

I worried about permanent nerve damage for the first time today.

On Monday I underwent sleep apnea surgery. I wasn’t afraid. I trusted my surgeon.

I had my first post-op visit today. I’m healing a half-week ahead of schedule. My surgeon removed most of the rubber bands holding my jaw closed. He said my muscles were still too weak to hold my jaw in place. He showed me how to replace bands that snapped.

Two hours later, I moved a band to make my right and left sides symmetrical. My maxilla, lower lip, and parts of my chin went numb. I had recently regained feeling in these parts, having lost it after surgery. Losing it again concerned me. My speech deteriorated. I sweat in fear.

I sent a message to my surgeon. Those can take days to return. I called his office. They close at 5. I called a doctor I knew. She said permanent nerve damage can’t be done overnight.

I believe her. I still feel panicked. Each sensation in the chin prompts terror. Sure, they remind me I have sensation there, but they also feel like a stretched nerve. Worse, I still feel pain from the surgery and can’t separate the normal surgery pain from any pain I might have caused. My mind spins:

  • Will a stretched nerve always regain sensation over time, just as happened in the days post-surgery?
  • If properly-placed bands are holding my teeth in the right position, will I definitely be all right?
  • How much leeway do I have in the band placement? (I.e. I am pulling my jaw forward slightly more than when I left the doctor’s office. Is that safe?)
  • Did I cause myself permanent nerve damage?

I’ve never dealt with questions like this before. They terrify me.

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