Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thirty-Seven Days Post-op! Hospital Bill Breakdown + Profile Shots.

Two more days until skeletal wire removal...oh yeaaaaah. As I said before, that will be the final major step performed by the surgeon in this whole process. Then I get to see my lovely orthodontist again and HOPEFULLY hear some fabulous news regarding removal of my braces within the next several months. Fingers crossed!
And I'm actually feeling a bit guilty about how experimental I've been with food over the past few days...BUT IT FEELS FINE! No pain when I chew, only a little tenderness if I try to bite clear through anything with my front teeth (which I therefore have NOT been doing!) I figure as long as I'm not in pain and my bite doesn't seem to be affected, I should be broadening my culinary horizons as quickly as I please. After all, it has been 37 days. Whew.

For the purpose of financially educating anyone out there who may need this surgery in the future, I will now include an outline of the cost of my specific surgery, copied straight from the bill we received in the mail.

Hospital/Clinic Bill Breakdown (EXCLUDING Physician Charges):
Inpatient Services 08/01/11 to 08/03/11
Summary of Charges
Surgical Stepdown 2 Days ------------------------------- $6,000.00
Recovery Room -------------------------------------------- $1,947.00
Procedure Room ------------------------------------------- $23,903.00
Anesthesia, Materials, & Serv. -------------------------- $7,694.00
Radiology --------------------------------------------------- $391.00
Pharmacy ---------------------------------------------------- $5,130.59
Laboratory --------------------------------------------------- $70.00
Central Supplies -------------------------------------------- $2,455.00
Respiratory Therapy --------------------------------------- $1,026.00
Total Charges ----------------------------------------------- $48, 616.59
*Estimated Insurance Coverage ------------------------- $48,616.59
Amount Now Due From You --------------------------- $0.00

Now, the whole billing/insurance thing confuses me greatly but if you'll notice, the above amounts don't even include physician charges. I don't know why. Probably because there would be an uproar over the massive amount of money the physician receives for such a procedure. (BUT HELLO - THEY DESERVE EVERY PENNY!) That is complete speculation obviously. What I do know is we did have to pay the deductible on our insurance plan so I suppose that went toward paying the physician charges...? Maybe. And don't forget that you also have to pay for braces and wisdom teeth extraction (had that done summer of 2010) for a procedure like this, and that can cost upwards of $6,000 - usually not covered by most dental or medical insurance plans. In order to receive maximum insurance coverage from your provider, you have to send them the information as well as reasoning regarding why the procedure is medically necessary as opposed to being purely cosmetic. Waiting for approval can take around 3 months, and you're not supposed to start ANY treatment (not even braces!) until you receive approval. In our case, it took about 2 months to hear back.

Another weird little factoid that occurred to me recently: I had my surgery exactly one year to the very day after my braces were put on, and it was totally not planned out that way; just occurred by chance. How odd.

So many of the other jaw surgery bloggers I've followed mention the numbness lasting quite a while afterward, and I am pleasantly surprised by how little I've had. My upper gums are still numb, but nowhere on my face or lips has been numb in quite a while. I didn't really even have much facial numbness the DAY AFTER surgery. My lips were never numb or gigantic at all and I remember that being a huge complaint from fellow orthognathic surgery patients. Even my swelling was very minimal compared to the majority of cases I've seen online. After all of my research, I was expecting to come out of the hospital with lips the size of watermelons and bruises all over my face, but neither were the case. I think my surgeon just has actual superhero powers/capabilities or something..... :) Haha...really though. He is meticulous, meticulous, meticulous about everything, so I really shouldn't be surprised by how physically problem-free my recovery has been.

Another thing that has been bothering me is the fact that people refer to being wired shut as an antiquated form of recovery since elastics can pretty much do the same job. Well...that is NOT the case. As much as I despised it at the time, I fully understand why my surgeon still wires patients shut for the first 3 weeks, especially patients like me who had one jaw split into multiple sections. It really is the most stable way to keep the jaws immobilized in order to encourage optimal healing. And if I'm gonna dedicate 6+ solid hours of my life standing over a patient on an operating table, meticulously sawing away at their face then bolting it back together, I'd be darned to not take every precaution afterward to make sure nothing screwed up the results.
Plus, if I had been forced to mess with 8+ elastics during that exhausting time period immediately following surgery, I would've gone NUTS! Dealing with 2-3 at the front of my mouth right now is plenty. Was being wired shut and eating through a rubber tube miserable? Absolutely. Would I go through it again without changing a single thing? NO DOUBT. You truly don't understand how much more satisfied I am with my facial structure now that I've been able to see it in proper proportions. I don't have to worry about smiling/talking/laughing with someone looking at my ugly profile from the side. It's pretty incredible.

One thing I've noticed about myself is that I now study and mentally critique the teeth/jaws/facial arrangement of every single person I encounter. I can point out even the smallest discrepancies - too much of an overbite, too much gum showing, sunken-in cheeks, asymmetrical chins, open bites, slight crookedness of the teeth - everything! I hate being that way, but I really can't help it. I've conditioned myself to spot these things after analyzing and criticizing my own for sooooo long. For years, I've planned on going to medical school after I finish my undergraduate degree, but after this experience I am seriously considering dental school instead so that I can possibly go into oral and maxillofacial surgery. I've already researched the (post-dental school) oral surgery program my university offers, and as daunting as the academic journey may be, I feel this weird inner exuberance when I contemplate being able to help other people the way Dr. McKenna has helped me.
Plus, how cool would it be to have an oral surgeon who has undergone orthognathic surgery herself?! Talk about empathy.

Now for some pictures:

I really did not like my face from this angle before, but now I love it!
Teeth shot, sans elastics.

Definitely looking forward to not having to wear the elastic bands at all - which will hopefully be next week? I'm not 100% sure. And I've been forgetting to ask Dr. McKenna about how many millimeters he moved each jaw, so I'm sorry to the person who asked! I will remember this Friday, I promise!  I believe it was along the lines of 7 mm forward on the upper jaw and 3 or 4 mm back on the lower jaw, but don't hold me to that.

Also, if you haven't watched my most recent video (25 days post-op), you can check it out here: Double Jaw Surgery: 25 Days Post-Op. Keep in mind that was 12 days ago! I'll probably post another update video within the next week.


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