Thursday, 31 July 2014

Working with Saving Faces

Hay all, I have not blogged in a while. Hope you are all well. The weather in the UK has been awesome the past few months. The heat is really helping to keep my pain levels down. This is just a quick post to let you know about some work I am doing with Saving Faces (The Facial Surgery Research Foundation).

About Saving Faces

Saving Faces is a registered research charity based at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in West Smithfield, London. The charity is the brainchild of consultant maxillofacial surgeon, Iain Hutchison, who launched Saving Faces in 2000. Over the years Iain and his colleagues came to realise that very little research was being conducted into the treatment of facial diseases such as oral cancer and that many of the facial injuries they saw everyday could be prevented through education.

There are now more than 40 facial surgeons throughout the United Kingdom collaborating with a team of nine talented Saving Faces researchers. Together they are carrying out ground breaking work in areas such as the role of selective neck dissection in early oral cancer treatment, the psychological factors in head and neck and gastrointestinal cancer, the prevention of smoking and binge drinking amongst teenagers and the use of microcytoscopy to provide a non-invasive, in-vivo rapid detection tool for oral cancer.

This collaborative approach enables our researchers to answer vital questions more rapidly than even the most famous of single institutions. In addition to the surgeons who volunteer their services, Saving Faces is also fortunate to have patients who are willing to participate in clinical trials to give hope to others who will in future undergo treatment. Former patients are also providing support to newly-diagnosed patients and their families through a support network. The emotional and psychological impact of surgery is often just as traumatic as the procedure itself.

A couple of months ago I was asked to help them with some patient led research and I have been asked to gather information about UK orthognathic surgery patient’s experiences.  The data gathered from this research will be used to help improve services and care in the NHS around the UK. It would really help if you could spare 5 minutes of your time to fill in this brief online questionnaire about your experience.

Please note this is for UK PATIENTS ONLY!

Additional Information about this Questionnaire

This project is run by the National Facial and Oral Research Centre (NFORC) which is funded by Saving Faces, together with British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) and British Orthodontic Society (BOS). The online feedback survey only requires initials and month/year of birth, which means the result will be anonymous and no individual will be identified from the result.
The short questionnaire has already been distributed to clinicians at hospitals all over UK, and has received hundreds of results. However, we would like the result to be the least biased, which means we need more entries directly from orthognathic patients, as opposed to those selected by clinicians.

As always, sending my best wishes and love and thank you for checking out my blog

I will be sure to update you with my case and progress soon and to share some more information on the research I am partaking in.

Stay Jaw-geous


To read about my recovery from orthognathic surgery and titanium plate removal surgery follow the links below.


To find out more click on the link below:

If you would like to be kept informed about the latest work I am undertaking and want to receive more content from the Jaw & Face charity project, you can subscribe for FREE on the link below.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Brushing Your Teeth After Jaw Surgery

After speaking with many patients, I have been asked to write a blog on how to brush your teeth after orthognathic/ maxillofacial surgery.

On leaving hospital you may be given a mouthwash to rinse with. This mouthwash is often used after any type of surgery or dentistry work to decrease bacteria and to reduce the risk of infection. You will be encouraged to start brushing your teeth as soon as possible. In the beginning, I found using a soft baby brush was beneficial and Corsodyl mouthwash to ease the ulcers and to stop bacteria. However, it took me several weeks to get to this stage.

With the combination of scarring, swelling, bleeding and bands/wires it was nearly impossible to brush my teeth. I was in a huge amount of pain and found opening my mouth wide enough for a syringe was very challenging. To ensure that my internal wounds did not get infected and my mouth was hygienic, I rinsed with medicated mouthwash and salt water every 2 hours.

When I was discharged from the hospital I was given a bottle of Chlorhexidine Gluconate Mouthwash. This is a medicated mouthwash which can be used alongside regular brushing to help prevent everyday issues such as gum disease. Chlorhexidine belongs to a group of drugs known as antimicrobials. This chemical is found in very low doses in many mouthwashes and some contact lens solutions. Chlorhexidine works by decreasing the amount of bacteria in your mouth and can aid in reducing swelling and redness of the gums. If you are not issued with a medicated mouthwash when you leave the hospital you can often pick up a bottle at your local supermarket or pharmacy. Corsodyl is a branded name for this type of mouthwash. However, the non-branded Chlorhexidine Gluconate rinse is significantly less expensive than the branded mouthwash.

Due to my limited opening I resorted to using the mouthwash in a syringe and ensuring it was squirted on the stitched and sore wound areas. I would usually alternate the mouthwash with salt water rinses and chose to clean my mouth every 2 hours with one or the other. I also ensured I drank plenty of water to flush out my mouth. Unbelievable as it may sound, my oral hygiene was great and both my surgeon and orthodontist could not believe how clean my teeth and wounds were. I believe this was mainly due to my liquid diet of watered down fruit juice, milkshakes and smooth soup, which was administered through a syringe straight onto my tongue.

After several weeks of being unable to brush anything but my front two teeth I managed to brush some of my teeth. I used a soft baby toothbrush and a very small amount of Sensodyne toothpaste. I was terrified that the stitches would become trapped in the brush and I would rip my scars open. By this stage in my recovery the stitches were hanging low on my gums and my scars were quite tight and sore. I lightly brushed my teeth and as I became more confident I would brush more thoroughly. I continued to use the medicated mouthwash and salt rinses up until the scars and stitches had completely dissolved. Do not be disheartened if you find it difficult and your jaw aches. Take your time and brush where you can. Something is always better than nothing.

The last point I would like to discuss is gargling. In the early stages after surgery you may experience a sore throat so this may impede your ability to gargle with mouthwash. Secondly, you may also find with swelling and pain that your stitches and wounds pull and make it hard for you to swish liquid around your mouth. If you find this challenging you may want to use a syringe and aim the mouthwash along the gum line and effected areas to ensure the highest level of hygiene. If you can not spit, let the mixture run out of your mouth into a bowl. This is messy business, so ensure that you have a wet wipe and towel to hand. 

Steffie’s Top Tips: Brush your teeth 30 minutes after eating anything. If you are unable to brush your teeth do not be upset as this can be a very challenging task. Instead, ensure that you rinse your mouth with medicated mouthwash and salt water rinses every couple of hours and always use mouthwash after eating or drinking anything other than water. This will ensure that the wounds remain clean and free from food or bacteria.

To find out more and to read about recovering from jaw surgery, why not download my “Jaw Surgery Survival Pack?” Now at the lowest price ever!

Plus feel free to message me and add me on social media

As always, sending my love and hugs

Steffie xx

Read about my jaw surgery recovery on....

Monday, 12 May 2014

Numbness after Jaw Surgery / Orthognathic Surgery

Nerve damage is one of the main risks of having orthognathic surgery. Nerve injuries can be caused by direct or indirect trauma to the nerves. Indirect trauma can be in the form of compression or swelling. Or direct trauma, caused by the nerve being stretched or cut during the operation. There are many nerves in your face that help with sensation and movement. During orthognathic surgery the two main nerves at risk are; the trigeminal nerve and the lingual nerve. The trigeminal nerve has three branches that spread across the side of your face and the lingual nerve serves the front 2/3rds of the tongue.

After lower jaw surgery it is expected that patients will feel numbness or pins and needles around the chin, lower jaw and lip area. This is completely normal and should only be temporary. In most cases the lower numbness starts to wear off within a couple of weeks. However, sometimes it can take up to 12-18 months for full sensation to return to the area. In a few cases the numbness may become permanent. As the muscles will be unaffected, the numbness should not restrict you from speaking properly or using your lip or lower jaw in the future.

If you are undertaking upper jaw surgery the area of numbness may be larger. With upper jaw surgery it would be expected for the patient to feel numb from the eye area downwards. The numb area can spread down the face and cause numbness in the upper lip, gum and teeth. As with the lower jaw surgery the upper numbness should start to fade between 8-12 weeks and full sensation would be expected within 12-18 months. 

Finally, there may be a risk of damage or sensory loss to the lingual nerve following lower jaw surgery. This nerve controls the feeling in the front two thirds of the tongue and is responsible for taste. Although this is a recognised complication of orthognathic surgery it tends to be rare. This particular problem is usually associated with a patient who has had their nerve stretched or bruised by retraction during the operation.

My Case
In my case, when I woke up from surgery I was in a huge amount of pain, however, I could not feel my face from the eye socket down. Due to my unique anatomy my trigeminal nerve was in a different position from everybody else’s. My surgeon had not known this fact and had accidently cut the nerve during surgery. My surgeon stitched back the nerve on the left side of my face and hoped that it would make a full recovery. During the first few weeks that followed surgery, I would find myself stroking my eyebrows as these were the only things I could feel on my face. It brought me some sort of comfort knowing I could touch my face.

In the early stages of recovery my face felt fuzzy or hot.  I could not feel my teeth, gum, nose, cheeks, chin or lips. If I touched the face, it felt as if someone had poured a glass of water down my face. In the weeks that followed the water running down my face sensation seemed to intensify and sometimes I would not be able to concentrate. I also had periods of a few days where I lost sensation in my tongue. The first time this happened I was lying in bed at night on my own and the sensation just disappeared. Because I had a blocked nose, I was breathing through my mouth. When the feeling left I could no longer feel the air flow on my tongue and started to panic. No one at the hospital had mentioned anything to do with my tongue being numb after jaw surgery. However, due to my high level of exhaustion from not sleeping for weeks, I decided to slow my breathing and concentrated on taking deep breathes. I used a syringe to have some cold water and this is when I realised my tongue was numb. I could not feel the cold water on my tongue and could only feel the coldness once the water had hit the back of my throat. The next day I had soup through a syringe and I had the same issue. I could not feel the warm soup and I could not taste the soap either. When I visited the hospital next, my orthodontist assessed me and said that it was normal to have tongue numbness and as mine was only coming and going it should only be temporary.

After this phase in recovery, there came the relentless itching and the pins and needles in my face and lips. This was highly annoying. As I was so sore, swollen and in pain, it was very hard to touch my face. I would try to distract myself when I had these attacks of itching. I saw this as a positive thing that my nerves were starting to wake up and heal at last.

In total, I would say it took 3 months to regain most of my feeling back in my face. I still have permanent numbness in both sides of my lower lip, chin and teeth, but I am learning to live with this. I would much prefer this, than to have nerve pain or constant pins and needles. The lower numbness does make me self-conscious and I do worry when I go out to restaurants or bars. I usually have a napkin to hand whilst I eat and take a small hand mirror with me in my purse to check my face after I have finished eating or drinking. My friends and family are understanding and would never let me walk around with food around my chin (well apart from that one time, thanks guys). I tend to use a straw when I drink as this gives me more control about where the liquid is going. I also use cups with small lips at the top, as this makes it easier for me to drink from than large rimmed cups or glass tumblers.

To read more about the risks involved in Orthognathic Surgery and to get more information and tips on how to help regain feeling in your face and reduce swelling….. why not download my “Jaw Surgery Survival Pack”?

Feel free to message me and add me on social media

As always, sending my love and hugs

Steffie xx

Read about my jaw surgery recovery on....

Friday, 25 April 2014

How to Cope with Pain!

How Do I Cope With Long Term Face Pain?

Recently, many of my clients and people I speak to have been asking me the same question; “How do you cope with the pain?” I wish I could give you the miracle answer and tell you that everything I am about to write in this blog will solve your problems. But the reality is that, well, I don’t cope. More to the point it is not really about how do I cope? It is a matter of having to cope…We do not have a choice and life goes on.

When patients ask me; “well how do you put on such a strong face every day?” I respond again with a very unhelpful “I don’t”. A lot of my online persona and posts are upbeat, informative and what some might class as “normal” behaviour. I know this sometimes is to my own detriment because even close people and friends do not understand the half of what I contend with on a daily basis. 4 years day in and day out, hour after hour, I have been in pain and been on medication. Remember that wisdom tooth you had for a week when you were 19, remember that flu you had last week, remember that tense migraine you got after a long Monday at work? Remember how bad you felt and how debilitating and disruptive that was to your life? Remember having to cancel your plans and tell everyone, I can’t sorry, I am too ill? Imagine that every day of your life? How would you cope?

Well the reality is there are thousands of people all around the world suffering, often having to endure and cope with much more than me. I suppose this is one of my first mechanisms to put in place when I am having a bad mental moment. I try not to think of all the people who have more than me; my friends who are settled down with careers, families and beautiful homes, I remember people who are in a worst state than me, with no home, no family and no food. Some people do not even have access to pain relief or a warm bed at night. This is when I put my life into perspective. I may not have a lot in terms of what I think I “should have”, but I have so much to be thankful for every day. I have an amazing mother and younger brother and if I had the choice between trading my pain and swapping my life for somebody else’s, I would hands down decline the offer. Many people say “through pain and suffering, come the greatest lessons” and I have definitely been learning and growing through this experience.

Task 1: Grab a diary for the year and write down what you are thankful for every day

An example of my diary entry is:

Thank you for my mum and my brother. Thank you that we are safe. Thank you that it was sunny today. Thank you that the antibiotics are clearing up my sinus infections. Thank you that I had dinner. Thank you for my warm bed. Thank you for my phone and the internet. Thank you that I have people to talk to. Thank you that I have the ability to read, write, think and create. Thank you that I can walk and talk, even though it hurts.  

I am fortunate to see 2 psychologists and a psychiatrist and through their help and my own research I have begun to understand why my body decided to stop functioning properly and cause me so much pain. Your body is always your friend, even when it is attacking you with illness, pain and disease. Coupled with my lack of self-love, my workaholism and my perfectionism, my body had really had enough. The warning signs were there for years, but I just pushed through and thought that nothing ever came of relaxing (it is counterproductive). January 2010, my body took it upon itself to say “you are not listening to me, so now I will make you listen to me”. Since that day I have not been pain free for more than a few minutes. I was forced to re-evaluate my life, forced to change course and forced to recognise that all the trauma, hard work and lack of self-love was the undoing of me. I 100% believe that I still have not learnt my lesson and if I was pain free tomorrow, I would go back to the exact same destructive cycle. Hence why my body will not allow that right now, not until I fix the underlining core beliefs and negative automatic thoughts that come from this. Everybody is different, everybody has their own lessons to learn and find the solutions in many different ways. For me it started when I met my friend Peter and read a book called “Wild Love” by Gill Edwards a professional psychologist and spiritualist. It was then that I really started to open my mind and explore ways in which to help heal myself. Although, we are not as close as we once were, I will always love and cherish Peter for the absolute amazing person he is (my Anam Cara) and I am grateful that he was a light in a time when I really did not have a clue what direction I was going in.

Task 2: Clear your mind and understand what you are attracting into your life

Sit down with a pen and paper and write anything and everything that comes into your mind. Odd words, random drawings, sentences, feelings, quotes etc. You do not have to write in a straight line and many people find writing in a circular direction to be helpful, as this opens up your creative brain, as well as your logical brain. Pour it out, overlap the writing, add colour, do whatever feels free and natural. At the end of this exercise do not read what you have written and get a new fresh sheet of paper. Now write down all the things you enjoy and take pleasure in. Even if it is stuff you cannot do right now, like; have a holiday, run away to a country retreat, see your family etc. Try to not get caught up on the reasons for not being able to have the things you want and make sure you do not miss out on the smaller things  you enjoy, like; reading, watching a certain television programme, watching YouTube clips, texting your friends, Facebook, meditating, maybe even browsing the net for answers to your pain issues J etc. Now chose one item off of the list, one that you are most drawn too and do it. Say you chose to read a book, pick up a book or go onto amazon and buy the first book you are drawn to. When you are reading, pay attention to the main themes in the book, what is it about, how does this relate to your life, if you were in this character’s shoes or in the authors shoes what would you do differently?

Just being aware of what is going on around you and what you are drawing into your day can have a great impact on how you feel and how you view your world. You will be surprised to find many of the everyday things we have in our lives, are clues and markers to help guide us in a more positive and reflective direction. I noticed a lot of tv programmes, people, books and activities were not actually having a very positive effect on my health and well-being. I also noticed a lot of them had negative thoughts and feelings attached to them. Even when I meditated, I was always picking on myself saying you are not doing this right, this spiritual teacher says do it this way. I did it out of some sense of duty. I “should” be meditating every day because it is good for my health. After realising this, I no longer force myself to meditate and I only do it when I feel like I want to. I also do it my way and not the way teachers or friends tell me to.  I want to enjoy this for me and do it my way without judgements or expectations placed on me, by myself and by others.

So after experimenting with many prescription drugs and being allergic to most of them, I am currently only being prescribed Amitriptyline, Co-codamol, Ibuprofen, Sertraline and antihistamine. I am also on and off of Doxycycline antibiotics for my reoccurring sinus infections after jaw surgery. I am not one for drugs, but I realise that at this moment in my life they help to relieve some of the pain and muscular pressure I am experiencing. The amitriptyline has definitely cut down the number of tension headaches I was experiencing. My doctors are keen to start me on gabapentin (an anti-epileptic drug), but I am reluctant to start this due to my high intolerance for prescription medications.

Again everybody’s pain and condition is different, so different medications may work better than others for you. If like me you know the horrible side effects these medications can have on your body and mind, you will be looking for more natural ways to ease your symptoms. When clients ask me what I recommend they try for pain I always list the same 3 things. Lots of fruit and vegetables, massage of the upper body (upper back, shoulders, neck and back) and I always suggest trying acupuncture or cupping. Although, acupuncture has not worked for me, I am a great believer in its benefits and many healthcare institutes; such as the NHS, now offer it as part of their physiotherapy treatments
If you have tried these, then here are a few other ideas which might aid in reducing your pain. Remember that you should always seek out medical advice before undertaking any new activity and always use a professional and reputable therapist.

  • Reflexology – I tried this several times and find it very beneficial. I had minimal pain for 2-3 days after each session
  • Physiotherapy – I pay for private physiotherapy and although it does not help the pain levels, it greatly improves my mobility of my neck and shoulders
  • Graded Exercise Therapy – Those with CFS will know what this is. I am still waiting for my place on the programme. So I will have to let you know how it goes
  • Aromatherapy – I studied aromatherapy independently, so please seek out professional advice before using any of my suggestions. To help my muscles and sinuses, I light orange scented candles in the morning, boil coffee and put 10 drops each of pure tea tree oil and lavender oil into my bath. I also make my own essential oil rub that I put on the back of my neck
  • Epsom Salt, Sea Salt and Baking Soda – I put salt and baking soda in to my baths to help reduce pain, inflammation and muscle tightness. I also drink ¼ teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of mineral water every day to help make my body less acidic
  • Magnesium – Many people with long term pain take high doses of magnesium supplements. I prefer to keep myself on a balanced diet and take an all in one high dose multivitamin and mineral supplement
  • Reiki / Spiritual Healing – Again this is another avenue you may wish to explore
  • Meditation – 15 minutes of daily mediation has been proven to aid in the reduction of muscle inflammation and stress levels
  • Green Tea – If you are trying to relieve the pain and swelling in your face you might want to try drinking a lot of green tea.  From my personal experience I find green tea is one of the best ways to relieve swelling and pain. Green tea has a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in it, which are great at getting rid of all types of swelling and irritation. Green tea contains salicylic acids, which is one of the main ingredients in aspirin.

Ok so here are just some of the ideas that you could research to try and reduce pain and/ or inflammation in your body. If you would like to discover more why not have a look at my Survival Pack on the link below:

So back to the blog in hand. You are in pain every day, you are not sleeping and you are becoming really upset, angry and agitated. “Why can’t I just be back to normal?” The last thing you need is a close friend or partner making you feel guilty for not keeping a lunch date or being too tired and sick to go on a shopping trip. They do not mean any harm. They just do not understand. Chances are they have never had to deal with anything like this. Even if they live with you and see the pain and fatigue, they still cannot understand why you are so restricted. How could they? You look ok, so what is wrong with you, just stop being such a drama queen and attention seeking! Stop being so lazy! Sound familiar? No matter how great and understanding people try to be, the only person who truly understands you and your limitations, is yourself. You are the one living in this nightmare day in and day out. Why does it always feel like we are fighting to defend ourselves and our positions?

I am fortunate to have some great doctors who have been willing (after 2 years) to give me the help, support and diagnosis that I need. I have been signed up for pain management classes and CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and recently have been placed on the waiting list for GET Graded Exercise Therapy. I would recommend that anybody living with long term health issues see a psychologist and undertake CBT. It is one of the most valuable tools you will ever gain. Knowing how and why we think and behave the way we do, really does help me to cope with my limitations. Yes I will not lie, I have days when I want to give it all up and hide from the world in my pjs, curl up with my teddy and stay in my little bubble, but you know sometimes this is ok. Everything learned in CBT is about self-realisation and balance in life.

One of the fundamental things I discovered from CBT, was that one of my core beliefs is that I am unworthy and useless. Therefore, I am extra helpful and always want to help others, even when it is at the detriment to my health. My belief is, if I do not prove my worth and usefulness to others they will leave.  Knowing what I know now, I have an assertiveness plan in place, where I take time out for myself and realise that it is ok to be resting and (in my terms) “being selfish”. It is ok to look after me a little bit and to take some time out in the little bubble. If that’s what my body and mind needs right now, then I need to honour that. We don’t want to play the martyr or the victim. It is all about balance and working with what you have right now.

Task 3: The Best Friend

A well-known CBT technique is called the Employing the Best Friend. You have to imagine like you are your own best friend or you are talking to someone you care about. Essentially, yes I am asking you to talk to yourself. But don’t we do this all the time when we are reading a book or when we are sitting in the seat worrying about life? Ok you may not have a best friend, but you have to imagine how you would treat a friend if they were in your exact same shoes. What would you say to your friend? What would you advise her/him to do?

Chances are you would be sympathetic and tell her/him to rest up, take it easy, treat yourself to a nice bath and a cup of tea. You would congratulate and reward her/him on achieving the shopping, the hospital trip, looking after the kids, cooking a dinner (or whatever task it is). You would probably say “if I was in your shoes, I don’t know how I would cope, you are doing so well under the circumstances, you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself”. This is what you would say being a good and caring friend wouldn’t you? So why is it when it comes to ourselves we sit there and attack ourselves….  it’s not good enough, I should be able to do more, so and so does it, why am I such a freak, I am a failure, I haven’t done anything today, I can not do this.

What would you say to a friend who was in this position? I am pretty sure you would not attack her/him and tell them they are not good enough? You would tell them to take it easy and acknowledge that they had some issues and they were doing the best they could. You would want them to look after themselves and be feeling better mentally and physically. So this is what we need to do, we need to take our own advice and listen to our bodies. We need to be our own best friend. Yes it is frustrating and draining but the more we ease into the life we have, the easier we make it for ourselves.

If you are interested in the life couching or mentoring sessions please feel free to email me At the moment I am only offering a limited number of slots as I am still operating my PA services. Visit my Facebook page and Twitter for news, blog updates and availability.

Additionally, if you would like to be kept up to date with the work I am doing and receive exclusive offers, please sign up to my mailing list for free on the link below: 

On a final and trivial note, I finally had my hair cut :) Selfies, to accompany such an important update :)

As always, sending my love and hugs 

Steffie xx

Read about my recovery on....

Sunday, 30 March 2014

My Products / My Mission

Read my story from the beginning by clicking here

Over the past few months I've been battling with friends and family who tell me about under selling myself and my products. I have always had a problem with money and accepting money and I constantly battle between the need to survive and the want to support and help as many people as I can.  

On many occasions I got myself into such a state about taking money from people for my services. I cried on the phone to my friends for hours and tried to justify my lack of action. I was reading new age books and psychology papers, trying to understand what this mental block is. In an ideal world I wouldn't charge for anything and I would willingly give my all to help people who need me. Here is where my friend stepped in and said.... Surely it would be better to give people your all and pursue a career you love, than to go and get an office job and leave all these people to work it out for themselves. After all isn’t it all about the quid pro quo in any job we undertake? Even the voluntary ones?

I've been through a lot in my life and I know some amazingly strong people who have been through worse traumas than me. I have lost my brother, I have lost people close to me, and I’ve had countless illness / accidents, strings of bad luck and been hurt countless times. No matter what, I have always picked myself up (with the help of my amazing mother) and carried on. Despite the first class BA Hons degree, despite the countless attempts at career paths and numerous jobs, I still end up back here, communicating with people, mentoring, life couching and writing. 

My friends always come to me when they have a problem and I always know of things they can try to help them. My friend’s sister is very ill with cancer at the moment and during my extensive research into pain conditions, fatigue and illness I have gathered a wealth of knowledge on cancer curing techniques. It's often easier to help and heal others and not ourselves. My friend Peter calls me an AFE. At first I was coming up with ideas like “absolutely freckin excellent” and “a friend everyday”. Obviously these are lame ideas and the answer was; I am and have an “Answer For Everything!” Brilliant and not too sarcastic haha! I'm glad I can help people and share my experiences. It would be a shame if they all went to waste. 

Moving back to Jaw & Face... I couldn't get around to writing a hard hitting catchy sales pitch to promote my eBooks, so I didn't. I asked my friend to write me a snazzy sales page and set the price and the exclusivity. Yes I sold packs over the past few months, yes I sold books but still something did not feel right. It was not me selling the books, it was my friend. The page was his creation, not mine. He wanted to sell the books for £100 because that is what they are worth. I couldn't allow that so we agreed on £50 for the whole ePack. I think in this current economic climate for many people this is unrealistic. There are enough people being ripped off by so called health care providers and healers without me withholding vital information (regardless of its worth). Yes the information is worth more than $79.99, but I am depriving many of a resource that they need. 

I want to lower the price. I feel there are too many people missing out on this valuable information. Yes in an ideal world I would give this away for free but it's not viable when I have to pay to keep my sites open and running. I also want to expand my life couching and mentoring services. I want to share my knowledge and experience, but to do this I must stay with the flow of give and take in the universe and bite the bullet. 

I know my product is unique, I know this is the best resource for people who are about to have surgery and I know how much it has helped others. I wish I would have known what I know now because my recovery would have been so much less traumatic and lengthy. I also know how the money raised has enabled me to keep the blog and mentoring running and has also helped charities such as the brain and spine foundation and the pain society. I have enjoyed helping and mentoring people and answering questions and concerns patients have. It is amazing how many people from all over the world have been struggling with these problems alone and it is great that I have had the opportunity to share my experiences and become friends with such amazingly strong and resilient people. 

So with this in mind my last and final proposal is this…… 

For the price of $49.99 (approx. £30.00) I will provide the whole jaw surgery survival ePack.  (Was $129.99 then $79.99 NOW ONLY $49.99 for the ePack) 

What the ePack Includes:

  1. “What They Don’t Tell You About Orthognathic Surgery!” The most valuable book you will ever need in your jaw surgery journey from the perspective of a double jaw surgery survivor!
  2. Patient’s Liquid Diet Recipe Book – 42 of my favourite recovery recipes
  3. 10 Myths About Braces – put your mind at ease with this great little booklet that dispels all the worries you have about braces.
  4. Patient’s Guide to Retainers – this booklet lists with pictures, all of the different types of retainers out there and shows you how to maintain them through proper care and cleaning.
  5. Patients Guide to Facial Pain Diagnosis – be prepared and understand what type of facial pain you are experiencing.
  6. Patient’s Guide to Acupuncture – a detailed review of one natural way to combat pain and swelling post-surgery.
  7. Patient’s Guide to Cupping – a cool like booklet listing the benefits and drawbacks of using cupping as a natural pain therapy.
  8. PLUS BRAND NEW to Jaw & Face – Patient’s Guide to Swelling, my ultimate guide to decreasing swelling fast!

This ePack Also Includes:

  • How to cope with braces help sheet
  • A list of simple soft food diet ideas
  • Detailed Pre-op questions to ask your surgeon
  • A list of essentials for after your surgery
  • Your Hospital Check List – For The Big Day!
  • Access to my online community, which includes world renowned surgeons and other jaw surgery patients, just like you and I
  • FREE subscription to Jaw & Face newsletters, promotions and research projects
  • As a valued customer I will also continue to update and forward on to you all new editions of these ebooklets when they come to market.

If you do not require the full pack, you can purchase the exclusive "What They Don't Tell You About Orthognathic Surgery" eBook with FREE patients guide to retainers booklet separate for the new low price of $29.99 (approx. £18).

To purchase my other eBooks please visit my eBook store on:

If you are interested in the life couching or mentoring sessions please feel free to email me At the moment I am only offering a limited number of slots as I am still operating my PA services. Visit my Facebook page and Twitter for news and availability.

Additionally, if you would like to be kept up to date with the work I am doing and receive exclusive offers please sign up to my mailing list for free on the link below: 

I look forward speaking with you all. Have a great day and stay jaw-geous ! Xx

P.S Thank you to everybody near and far who wished me a Happy Birthday. I had a lovely time catching up with family and friends. Here are a couple of selfies from my celebrations :)

Read about my recovery from Orthognathic / Maxillofacial Surgery:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Well, what a whirlwind the past few weeks have been. I was contacted at the beginning of January by a lady from Caters News Agency. She had seen my blog and Facebook page and wondered if I would like to share my story with the national press. At first I was really nervous and wondered why anybody would want to read about my story. What if they poked fun at me or bullied me like some people have? Then I remembered why I started this blog, to help other people who are going through the same thing as me or people who can relate to the issues I have had to overcome. If I could get my story out there, more people would be aware and it would probably help raise awareness for people who are in the same boat and felt alone on their journey.  

So after I built my confidence up, I bit the bullet and called the lady back. I spoke with the lady for over an hour about my story and she asked a lot of questions. The next week she had sent over a draft copy of her article and needed it edited and returned for the next day’s press. I was so stressed. I really did not want the article to glamourize corrective jaw surgery and I most certainly did not want to come across as a victim of circumstance. 

The Original Daily Mail Article:

Recently, I have been reading a lot about the latest trend in Asia (especially in Korea) for young women to undergo jaw surgery to achieve a more western looking facial profile. This really makes me sad. This is a huge operation and there are so many risks. I personally believe that you need to be comfortable in your own skin and address the underlying psychological issues before undergoing any life changing surgery. I am not against cosmetic surgery. But I feel a lot of people do it for the wrong reasons. For me personally, I would like to arrive at a place where I am confident and happy in myself naturally, not because some doctor changed my outward appearance to fit in with society. We are all beautiful and unique. Why would we all want to look like clones? 

South Korean Presenter Ruins Face Article:

Throughout my blog I have never really talked about the bullying or the hurtful things people use to say to me before the operation. And I never feel the need to discuss the attack that took place when I was 17. In my opinion these people took enough of my time and emotion and do not deserve to have their egos inflated any more. They thrive on attention. To be honest they will never think they are in the wrong for singling people out for the way they look or act. And the root of their issues come from a place inside themselves which is unhappy. To treat others in this way means that you have no respect or love for yourself or anybody else. You do not live in a state of love but a permanent state of fear, where your ego is in constant defence mode. I do not wish any ill to these people, for I can see why they behave the way they do. 

As many of you who know me have stated, the paper does like to make the story seem a bit more dramatic and theatrical than it actually is. But that is what they have to do to sell papers. I just wanted to reinforce the fact that I did not have this operation for any type of cosmetic reason; it was purely from a health perspective. For all the lovely people who read my articles and took the time to comment, I thank you so much. Especially, the people who stood up for me and corrected others, who maybe did not fully understand why I had to undergo this surgery. 

If you did not know my story, I was born with a birth defect and as I grew my upper jaw was quite compact and my lower jaw was very asymmetric and prominent. This in turn, meant that my back teeth did not meet at all and my jaw joints were under a lot of pressure from the inability to function properly. I had a slipped cartilage on my right jaw joint and by the age of 21 they were starting to show deterioration. Alongside this, my jaw would click and sometimes I would find it hard to eat and speak. At the age of 21 I developed severe and constant left sided facial pain. Literally, even a slight touch or a breeze would cause the pain to sky rocket to the point I would be in tears. I was put on a lot of medication to try and dull the pain. But that only made the muscle spasms and exhaustion worse. Alongside this, I was still trying to complete my university degree and work to support my family. With that in mind, the last thing on my mind was the way I looked. I just wanted to be out of pain. After having severe, constant and crippling pain for over 2 years, I was suicidal and desperate to try anything that would help me. 

Although the operation was a huge success in correcting my bite and taking pressure of my jaw joints, I still suffer with pain every day and I still take high doses of pain medication. I undergo psychological therapy and most recently have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, agoraphobia and PTSD (from the attack). I do not think these illnesses will be with me forever, no matter what the hospital say! They are simply my markers to steer me in the right direction at the moment. 

On a more positive note, the blog has just reached over 100,000 views. This is thanks in part to the recent publicity that saw my story go global. I was front page news in Italy, had news reports in Hong Kong and was featured in Marie Claire. I have had such an amazing response to my story and I thank you all for your kind words and friendship. 

My story will also be featuring in UK pick me up magazine and I will be doing a more detailed article for the Sun Newspaper's health section. I will let you know when they are released. In addition to this, I would like to thank everybody who has been investing in Jaw & Face charity project through eBook sales and donations. You are all truly amazing and I am sure the information provided will help you through your Orthognathic journey. 

Do not forget to scroll backwards to view my journey through double jaw surgery and plate removal surgery. As always, sending my love and healing thoughts. Wishing you all the best! 

If you have not already, join me on social media :)

Love Steffie xx 

Here are just a few of the articles 

My DailyMail Article:
Yahoo! Lifestyle:
TGCom24 Italy:
Leggo Italy:
Mako Israel: 
Marie Claire Portugal :
Iefimerida Greece:
Bluewin News Switzerland:

Available now

To find out more click on the link below:

If you would like to be kept informed about the latest work I am undertaking and want to receive more content from the Jaw & Face charity project, you can subscribe for FREE on the link below.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Happy 2014!

I’m back!

First of all let me wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year! I hope you all had an awesome Christmas. Sorry it has taken me a few days to get my head together enough to write this blog.

It's been a long old year in some ways but in other ways it has absolutely flown by. I have had some wonderful moments and some pretty bad ones but I would definitely say 2013 has been a year of learning and personal growth. It has opened my eyes to a lot of new ways of thinking and coping with the challenges that have come up in my daily life. I've also learnt to be more accepting of the "now" and I have been trying not to worry about the past or the future as much. At the age of 25, I never could have imagined this is how my life would be. Constant pain, restrictions and major confidence and esteem issues. But here I am and to be honest it could be a lot worse :). So let's have a quick review of my year.

January - March

January - March revolved around me conducting research on behalf on the NHS and deciding to create my own website. I really wanted to expand the work I was doing with the blog and help a wider audience. Anybody who knows me knows how much I struggle with technology. But I did it and I'm proud of myself. Here's the link if you are interested.

I also started to look into alternative pain therapies such as reflexology, massage and aromatherapy. I decided to purchase a couple of day courses to see if that was an area that I would like to work in. Unfortunately, due to my ongoing health issues it was too physically demanding. Maybe it would be something I can get back to, once I'm back on my feet.

In January time I also started a course of psychological treatment called cognitive behavioural therapy. As a starting point, I discussed all my issues with my psychologist dating back to my early childhood. It soon became clear that my esteem issues started at a young age and stem from when I was first told I would need surgery at the age of 11. As I grew, so did my deformity, more people noticed and this was never addressed, until this year. During the sessions we worked on behavioural techniques, such as; thought records and the best friend techniques. This involved me learning to be less hard on myself and trying to silence the self-critic. I am still undergoing treatment but so far it has been useful in helping me to get out more and socialise with friends. I was also able to go to the shops and to the doctors on my own for the first time in years. I also visited the spot in which I was attacked 8 years ago. This was obviously very scary but good for me and I now have a positive reference point of the area.

In the first part of the year I also started Physiotherapy again. I was pretty desperate to find something to help with the pain in my face, neck and shoulders. I really don't like taking pills. They make me so tired and cause all sorts of side effects. For me, I prefer to try more natural therapies. Every time I have physio it just seems to cause more pain and muscle spasms. The physiotherapist was really confused by my case, so just suggested 5 second stretches and lots of heat packs. Then I was sent on my way for another 3-6 months. Not very helpful at all!

This year I was also encouraged by my physiotherapist to try acupuncture again. However, just like the times before this proved to be unsuccessful. The muscles contracted around the needle areas and this caused me more pain than I had initially been in before the treatment.

Around March time I visited my surgeon. I was a little concerned with my bite as my muscles had been playing up terribly. My face muscles often pulled on my lower jaw and caused me to bite the inside of my mouth. I was also concerned because I had read online about jaw relapse after plate removal. A lady I spoke with online had the exact same symptoms as me and after years of hospital visits her surgeon told her she would need to go through the whole procedure again. She was understandably upset and felt that if her team had listened to her concerns in the beginning, she would not be in this position now.

From speaking with other jaw surgery patients the symptoms of jaw relapse include:
  • Changes to the bite
  • Teeth movement
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Spasmed muscle around the jaw and TMJ
  • Spasmed muscle around the back of your ears
  • Constant pain and pulling of one or both jaws
  • Relapse is more common in people who have had their titanium plates and screws removed

My surgeon reassured me that my bite was stable and said that if I was concerned I could always book an appointment with him in a few months. He referred me back to the pain management department to see Dr Poate to see if there was anything more we could do about my widespread pain. At this appointment my surgeon also mentioned that I could have another operation to straighten my chin (genioplasty). I have a very asymmetrical face so this would improve my physical appearance. However, it would not do anything for my pain or muscular issues. In fact it may make my pain and numbness worse. It could also compromise my lip and chin muscles.  Personally, I am against having surgery for cosmetic reason, so I declined this offer.

April - July

After a very unsuccessful course of physiotherapy and acupuncture I decided to take it upon myself to research alternative therapies. One of the therapies that appealed to me was hot stone massage and sports massage. Heat packs and mum rubbing my neck normally give me a little bit of relief so I thought this may help. When I asked my physiotherapist he advised against massage and stated they he did not think it would help. Even after the first appointment I could feel my pain levels had decreased. I was taking less pills for two days following the treatment. Although I was in pain, it was a nice pain. Like the pain you feel the day after a workout at the gym, not the excruciating muscle spasm pain that renders me unable to move.  Ever since that day, I have paid to see Christine weekly for 30 minutes for a shoulder, back and neck massage. When Christine was on holiday and when I received a free spa voucher I saw other masseuses but they are nowhere near as good as Christine. She really works on the muscles and you can feel the tension being released as she presses and rubs on them.  She has many clients who have health issues so she is very knowledgeable about a lot of conditions. To anybody who is having problems with muscle tension/spasms or is highly stress, I would definitely recommend trying massage as part of your pain relief treatment.  

After a few months of seeing Christine and seeing some reduction in my pain levels, she suggested that I might want to see an Osteopath. She has problems with her hips and lower back and Christine found that seeing an osteopath helped to relieve some of her pain. I booked an appointment at a local osteopath. I saw John Roberts who was a lovely man. I spoke about my symptoms and briefly outlined my medical history. It was a rather strange experience. I was pulled about and put into weird positions while he pressed on trigger points around my face and neck. At one point he was actually cuddling me and I was trying not to laugh.

He was baffled about my pain but still tried to reassure me by saying he believed it would ease off in time. As part of the treatment he also suggested using laser therapy. But I was not too keen on trying this. By the end of the session I think we both knew that osteopathic treatment was not going to work for me and that it would be best to carry on with the sports and hot stone massages. After leaving the centre my pain went through the roof and was unbearable by the evening. I could not eat properly and my pain medication was not working. This high level of pain lasted for around 5 days before wearing off. This obviously put me off trying this type of treatment again. I was due to see John again in 2 weeks’ time but I cancelled the appointment. Although this treatment did not work for me, I would never discourage anybody from trying it. What works for one person, does not necessarily work for another. There have been numerous studies to support osteopathy as a form of treatment.

On a positive note, me and my family went on holiday to Rhodes in Greece at the end of July.  This was our first family holiday in 14 years and my brothers first time going on a plane. My dad had received some money from a life insurance policy that had matured and my parents had decided it would be a nice idea to send me, mum and Fraser on holiday as a surprise for my brother’s 18th. My brother had been going on for years that he wanted to go on holiday, so he was really excited. We had a lovely time and the hotel was wonderful. We stayed in a little family run hotel at the edge of Rhodes town. The people were very friendly and the island was beautiful. I would definitely like to go back one day. Unfortunately, on the last day mum fell and broke her ankle. It was a very stressful time for all of us, especially when Thompson were not sure if they could let mum fly home with us. We managed to get home and thankfully mum did not need any operations. She is now on her way to recovery and is managing to get around with little support now.

August to October

August was mainly taken up with hospital trips for my mum and my brother. Fraser had nearly finished his orthodontic treatment and just needed a few tweaks before his braces could be removed. He was really happy that he would be brace free before his 18th birthday.

Mum was in plaster on and off with suspected blood clots and then a&e plastering her in the wrong position.  By early October she had her final cast removed and she was fitted with a moon boot and sent for physio. Very fetching! As she was out of action, I had to resume the role of head of house. I was doing all of the cooking, cleaning and shopping. I was suffering quite a lot with pain and would get very frustrated with myself. I wanted to be superwoman and kept beating myself up because I should be able to do all of these things being a 25 year old. The more stressed I became the worse my pain was. I also felt extremely guilty that mum had to go back to work in her state because otherwise we would not be able to pay the bills or have food. I felt like I should be out there making money and being in full time employment. The reality of it though was that I struggle to sit on a computer for more than 2 hours at a time and if I go to the shop I am exhausted and need to have a sit down. The prospect of work is out of the question. I do miss work and I feel a lot of my confidence issues come from the fact I lost everything in 2012. I broke up with my partner of 5 years, I had to quit a job I loved and I lost people from my life who I thought I could trust. It was a lot to adjust to and now it seemed I needed to make a whole new identity and life for myself.

My two year anniversary on the 26th August was pretty uneventful. Mum had been in her plaster cast for 4 weeks now; my cousin had visited from Cornwall and had stayed with us until the Sunday. The anniversary fell on bank holiday Monday so it came and went without much notice. Nothing had really changed since December last year when I had my plates and screws removed. I was still in pain and suffering from severe muscle weakness and tiredness and the sinus infections that I thought would be resolved were still haunting me. Every time I get a sniffle or a cold it seems to escalate into a full blown infection. According to doctors this is to be expected and it is something that I will have to learn to deal with.

In the midst of all of the emotion of the year, I decided to take a little break from blogging. Although, I love blogging and I love connecting with all of you, it does take a lot out of my mentally and physically. Constantly reliving my surgery and issues can be therapeutic, but at the same time it can be really upsetting. I sat down one afternoon and decided to write down all the skills I have and all the things I am good at (besides the mentoring and blogging). Out of this, I realised I have over 8 years of experience in PA, Administration and Human Resources under my belt and maybe this could be something I could utilise. I find this area of work easy and enjoyable. It allows me to help people and pull together all of my knowledge in the field of admin, law and HR. So on the 9th September I launched SG Virtual Office. SG Virtual Office is a remote based office offering a wide variety of business services. Everything from; logo designs and website building, to diary management and recruitment services. You can check it out on the link below:

November - December

On the 18th November I finally got to see Dr Poate the Pain Management Consultant at King’s. The 2x before I had to cancel the appointments because I could not find anybody to come with me. I do not travel alone or take public transport. Mum was still on crutches so she was unable to come with me. Luckily my god mother volunteered and I finally made the appointment. I was in the treatment room for over an hour and we reviewed my case again. I have seen Dr Poate on and off for the past 4 years with my face pain issues. The last time he only suggested muscle relaxants (which I was allergic to) and tricyclic antidepressants (used for pain). These just seemed to make everything worse before my original orthognathic surgery. My GP had recently placed me back on to amitriptyline after I had been experiencing increased pain and terrible headaches. I am still taking co-codomol 30/500mg 8x a day and ibruprofen 400mg 3x a day. I have also been prescribed sertraline antidepressants because of my low mood, which was causing me to have suicidal thoughts. With the combination of pills I feel a little better pain wise but I am still very tired. Dr Poate sat there and discussed my options but was reluctant to alter any of my medication. He asked me what I thought of a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, to which I responded I am not quite sure. He stated that he thought this was it for me now and that it did not look like I would make a full recovery as we had all hoped. We both agreed that it was not something a young woman wants to hear but to move forward it would be something I would have to accept. He suggested seeing a psychiatrist to be assessed for a final diagnosis and that with the psychological help I could learn to live with the chronic pain and fatigue. He stated that a lot of people’s pain is made worse by stress and depression and that if I worked on these aspects, I may find that my pain levels would lessen. I totally agreed with this point of view and was very willing to give it a try. He sent me on my way and said that I should receive an appointment just before the New Year.

6th December was my 1 year anniversary for plate removal. I do get a lot of people messaging me in a little bit of a panic asking why my plates were removed. My plates were removed because my top plates and screws were stuck in my nasal cavity and were causing reoccurring sinus infections. My bottom plates and screws were causing me pain. The muscle would often spasm around the plate site and the screws would poke through the skin and cause red patches. On top of these issues, my face would sting badly in the cold and my breathing was very restricted.

My surgeon was not too worried about removing the metal work as it had been in over a year. I know some surgeons are reluctant to remove all the metal work because it is expensive and can be tricky if the titanium has fused to the bone. Although there are risks (like all surgeries), I felt like this was the best option for me.

On the 5th December my brother turned 18. It is crazy how time just seems to fly by. I still remember the day he was born like it was yesterday. As the weather was poor we were very restricted in what we could do to celebrate. Me and mum had talked about hiring a scary open top bus tour for him and his mates to go around London. When I passed this idea on to my friends they said “Stef, you are going to put your brother on a bus for his 18th Birthday?” I thought it was a brilliant idea because all of his friends are into scary zombies and ghosts. However, after this rather weird reaction from my friends, I decided to ask my brother what he thought of the idea before we booked it. Originally it was going to be a surprise. Lucky, I did ask! He thought it was a terrible idea for a birthday gift and moaned about how cold it would be. Instead we celebrated by going for a meal with my mum and dad and then he invited some friends around to our house for the evening. I remember when I was that age I was always having my friends around and playing silly games and listening to music. But times have changed. I felt so old. The kids drink like fish and listen to the most horrific noise. Me, my mum and friend Peter were standing in the kitchen for most of the night trying to keep our eyes open. At one point mum suggested that we get scrabble out haha. But the main thing was, Fraser had a good birthday and it was lovely of his friends all to make the effort.

Christmas was nice but quiet this year. It was actually the first Christmas in 3 years that I could actually eat a full Christmas dinner. Halleluiah! I really enjoyed it and loved having a relaxing pyjama day with my family.

Most recently, on the 30th December I went to see the psychiatrist and after years of the hospital being vague, they were finally willing to put a diagnosis on the problems I have been suffering from. Not really much of a surprise, apart from the long list of acronyms that most people wouldn't understand. According to pain therapists, my physiotherapists, psychologist and psychiatrists I have post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, overlapped with fibromyalgia, Agoraphobia and Depression. Phew what a mouthful that is. With everything going on I probably will write a second post on this when I have the brain capacity.

As some of you may be aware, alongside my book launch, I have continued to create material to be sold through my blog and charity projects. This material has taken months of research and writing to compile. After speaking with some of my jaw surgery friends and online family it was decided that it may be a good idea to bundle all of the booklets and material into one package for patients to purchase. The package is aptly entitled: Jaw Surgery Survival Pack. Enclosed in the pack is everything you need to prepare you for your jaw surgery / orthognathic surgery journey. This pack will guarantee that your mind is put at ease before, during and after your surgery. It will also help you to speed up your recovery through the use of tried and tested self-help tips. As an added bonus, I have decided to reduce the pack from £99 to £49 for the duration of January.

For more info click here

I will continue to update my blog with new material throughout the next couple of months.

I hope you have had a great start to the New Year and I look forward to catching up with you all.  

Love Steffie x

orthognathic surgery before and after 2014