Friday, 2 January 2015

Chiropractor for Face Pain

So as I mentioned previously, I went to see a chiropractor last year to see if this would be an option to reduce my face, head, neck and shoulder pain. After speaking to my massage therapist and a family friend I decided to book myself a consultation.

I suffer from a range of issues and have been trying out different and more natural pain relieving methods over the past 2 years. I must say my pain is less than it was 4 years ago, but nowhere near the level that I would find tolerable. My symptoms include: TMJ pain, trigeminal nerve pain, migraines, muscle spasms and muscle weakness around my jaw and neck. The pain radiates down my arm and sometimes I am unable to grip. I have a very irregular menstrual cycle. I only had 3 periods last year. I have cold hands and feet 90% of the time. I always have a slightly elevated temperature. I have fatigue and muscle weakness in the rest of my body. This feels like having the flu every day of my life. And finally, I suffer from reoccurring sinus infections. 

So one afternoon my mother and I went to the clinic. I was quite nervous as I tried osteopathic treatment in 2013 and it made my pain 50 times worse. I could hardly move the following day. I tried to ease my nerves as I knew this would not help my pain levels.

According to the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), a chiropractor is "concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health". Although some osteopaths and chiropractors operate very similar practices, my understanding is that a chiropractor focuses more on the bones in your spine and an osteopath is more concerned with your muscles and overall body health. Chiropractors employ a wider range of techniques for manipulating the spine, whereas osteopaths employ a wider range of techniques overall.

During the consultation I had to go through my medical history and explain the issues I was having. We then moved on to the manipulation. At first I was asked to stand and sit and bend forward while the chiropractor places small pen marks on my back and neck. The chiropractor I saw was not into clicking and crunching my bones. Instead he moved my legs, arms and neck into weird positions and we had to hold it there for the count of three, while he continued to put pressure on the area. It was really painful to start but as soon as he released me, the pain disappeared. It was very odd indeed. Apparently, my hips were a few centimetres out of place. When I stood up I noticed the difference straight away.

We then focused on my upper spine. Len (the chiropractor) focused on my atlas and axis. These two vertebrae play a crucial role in the functioning of the nervous system. When these are aligned it allows for better body functioning. After my neck was manipulated, I was asked to lie on the bed, while he worked on my head and jaw. He could see I was very wary about letting anyone touch my face so he said we could leave this area. I wanted to see if this treatment would be of benefit to me, so I opted to continue.

We moved on to cranial therapy. Cranial therapy is a gentle hands on treatment that aims to release tension and induce relaxation. Len went on to explain, although we think of the skull as one huge bone in fact it is a complex system of little bones. Much like a jigsaw puzzle! The surrounding soft tissues and scalp should feel like a football to touch. Firm but slightly springy. Apparently, mine was so hard he described it as a bowling ball.  After around 10 minutes of very light touching I could feel the pressure in my head decreasing.

According to Horsley Chiropractic care- “Cranial therapy releases restricted skull joints and their supporting tissues through a painless procedure involving gentle application of focussed pressure. It is a gentle, safe and extremely effective approach and may be used in a wide range of conditions for people of all ages, from birth to old age.”

The consultation took 50 minutes and cost £35. Len was great at explaining exactly what he was doing and why it was important. He believes that my body has gone through a huge shock and that it will just take time to heal itself. He doesn’t believe in the use of pharmaceutical drugs, but can appreciate why people require them. He really seemed to have my best interests at heart and you can tell he does it for the love, not for the money. After leaving the consultation I felt a little better. I definitely saw an improvement in my walk and also experienced a lot less pain in my bottom half of my body. I did not have another crazy migraine for a few weeks. At which point I booked up to see Len again. He advised that I see him when I need to. I did not need much of an adjustment, but he was happy to do cranial work on me.

So in my opinion seeking the help of a good chiropractor may be beneficial for some pain relief. Especially if you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, TMJ disorder, fibromyalgia or migraines. As always seek a medical opinion (if you have not already) to rule out any other possible reasons for your pain and discomfort. If you recently had jaw surgery, please discuss this with your surgeon before undertaking any treatment or activity.

Happy New Year!

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Before & After Double Jaw Surgery

Before my operation (Atypical TN & TMJ Disorder)

 (latest selfies)
Could have tried to smile.... I know :)
201 andddddddddddddd 5
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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a lovely festive period. I cannot believe another year has come to an end and what a year this has been! Like all years there have been ups and downs, some magic moments and some not so nice moments. Here is Jaw & Face’s recap for the year 2014.

In January 2014 my story hit international news. My puffy face was everywhere from London to Paris, to Italy to Peru. The kind words and support I received after my article was amazing. If you have been a long standing reader of my blog you will know why I started this project. For those of you who are new, I started my blog because there was not enough honest information out there for people like us. Surgeons and hospitals have to be very careful what they say to patients. But I don’t, I am a normal person and I can share my case and the possible risks with you.

I felt so alone whilst I was going through surgery. It was horrific. I was underprepared and scared. After my surgery I was mortified. What the hell had I done to myself? I wasn’t myself, I was in so much pain, I was losing hair, not having a period for months at a time, my teeth were weak, I was getting sinus infections, I was pale, I was tired and I hated my new face. On top of that, I had to deal with a number for personal issues. My whole life was crashing and burning around me. They say you find out who your true friends are in your hour of need. But regardless of all the bad stuff that happened, I am thankful to these people. If it wasn’t for them doing that, I would not be writing to you today. I would have never had that push to make this project into something amazing.

I have been asked by a few readers to give my advice or guidance about making their own blog. All I would say is…. Write what you want to read. Write like you are a compassionate friend, somebody who understands what you are going through and offer advice to others who are going through the same. Do not get caught up in making it sound right or worry about your grammar. Your blog should be an honest and open reflection of you.

After my media success in January I was inundated with emails, skype messages and friend requests. These people felt as alone and scared as I did and had finally found somebody who they could talk to about their concerns and who they could really relate to. I was more than happy to help and even started my own mentoring project. I also started to sell my “Jaw Surgery Survival ePacks” and set up a dedicated website. From a few thousand views, my profile rocketed to 1.8m in a matter of months.

In February, I was approached by a couple of modelling agencies who said that they would like to work with me. If you know me well, you will know I am not too much of a girly girl and I definitely do not do well in front of a camera. Lidl and their training videos will be able to prove this! I spoke to a lady called Jan from one of the agencies and she was really friendly and upbeat. I decided to go for a test shoot and asked if I could bring my brother #mrdiva/perfect eyebrows along.

We trekked up to Earls Court one afternoon. I was told, do not wear any makeup and be prepared to send 1-3 hours at the test shoot. A very flamboyant photographer opened the door and threw us into a waiting room with 2 other hopefuls. As we sat in the waiting room we were surrounded by pictures of famous models and people. I could not help but feel out of place and quite ugly with my hair messy and no makeup on. Everybody seemed a bit on edge and everybody was glaring at one another like we were part of the Hunger Games. I felt really uncomfortable. One of the girls came out of the office crying. Gosh what were they going to say about me and my asymmetrical features? Then it was our turn and we had to go into the interview room. The two agents loved our looks and were amazed that we were siblings. They were really complimentary and said some really nice things to me. They loved my brother’s freckles and his fashion. We then went into the studio to have a test shoot to see if we were suitable. I had to do the shoot without any make up! Apparently, I did not have enough attitude and my brother had too much attitude haha. Says it all really!

After the shoot we were accepted almost straight away. However, the agents said that we would have to get a portfolio together. I cannot say this is something I ever want to do or get into, but at least I gave it a go. I realised my self-esteem and confidence is not what it should be and this is something I need to work on. Although I look in the mirror and see a monster staring back, this is not what other people see when they look at me.  So it was a comfort to me.

After working alongside my surgeon and the NHS providing research and mentoring, in June I was approached by the charity “Saving Faces”. 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. Much like my work, they saw an opportunity to help people and to raise awareness for a very underrepresented area. Saving Faces asked if I could become part of their patient led research group, provide feedback on research proposals and collect much needed patient data.

Which reminds me; if you live in the UK and have undergone Jaw/ Orthognathic Surgery could you please fill in this patient questionnaire? It will take about 5 minutes to complete.

So this year in the summer I also decided to try a chiropractor. My friend’s family use one all of the time and have recommended somebody to me. I was a bit nervous as I did not have a great experience with the osteopath last year. I was really hoping that this would be something that could help me and maybe bring me a bit of relief. I will be writing a separate blog about my experience in January.

In September I met with my Surgeon and Orthodontist to have my annual review. I had an x-ray and had my face and joints examined. They were pleased with my progress and asked again if I would like another surgery “genioplasty” to straighten my chin. My face is extremely asymmetrical and I did not do well with the plates or the swelling last time. I think that my body has gone through enough! The operation would not help my functioning or decrease my pain, so I decided it would not be worth it.

Many young people have this operation because they are deeply unhappy with the way they look. I, more than anybody, can sympathise with this.  I was taunted and bullied throughout my school and working life. I still get called names now. But the nice comments totally out way the bad. I have been seeing a psychologist now for over 2 years and I realise that the reflection on the outside can change as many times as I like but the feelings I have about myself cannot be changed. I often think of Michael Jackson as an example of this. I know some people have this operation and are surrounded by amazing and supportive people. They go on to be confident and outgoing individuals.

However, for some of us, our problems do not really stem from the way we look, but more from the feelings and core beliefs we have of ourselves and the world around us. I would recommend to anybody who is suffering with anxiety, self-esteem issues or depression to seek some psychological help. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel like I am more empowered and can take ownership for my life. Before this I felt like it was all out of my hands. I also realise that I am of value and I can go out there. Confidence does not just appear overnight, especially after going through your whole life as a withdrawn and shy person. Confidence must be a conscious choice you make before you leave the house. It takes practice and guts to get out there into the big wide world. Just because you do not do it today does not mean that you won’t ever do it.

I am looking to campaign more in 2015. I feel like it is so important for people to have access to the help and support that they need. I feel passionate about my project and I know that I now have a solid platform to continue to expand and make a difference.

In October this blog was nominated for the National Blog Awards in the Health Category. I was very humbled and grateful. I would like to thank everybody who voted for me and my blog. Your votes have seen me being shortlisted for the final…YAY!. It is now down to an expert judging panel to decide the winner. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony next year. I shall keep you up to date with any news.

October also saw the launch of my new personal business website:

This was just an extension of my virtual office work. I now offer personal assistant services for sole traders and small businesses in and around the London area. It has been received well and I have taken on many new clients. This has been such a great opportunity and it has really helped me to gain confidence in myself and my abilities. After being out of the world of employment for almost 2 years I seriously doubted my experience and abilities. I was not sure if this was going to work. But what did I have to lose? I am so glad I did it and I would not change it for the world. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to continue to work with some amazing and enterprising people.

Pain Level in 2011: 10
Pain Level 2013: 5/6
Pain Level 2014: 5/6 sometimes 7

Pain levels are stable and mostly controllable. However, I have been experiencing a lot of migraines and optical nerve pain this year. Muscle spasms and muscle strength has not improved. Current pain medications include: co-codamol 30/500mg, ibuprofen 400mg, Amitriptyline 20mg, Sumatriptan Nasal Sprays 20mg and Diazepam 5mg. I am still taking raspberry ketones, green tea extract, multivitamins and fish oil supplements. It really is not ideal and I do worry about the effects these medications are having on my body. I have tried to cut the medications down, but these attempts have been unsuccessful. I have recently started using Sumatriptan and diazepam because my migraines and muscle pain was becoming relentless. I had a crazy migraine on the whole of the right side of my head for 5 days straight. The pain would start at the top of my head; travel down my face and also through my eye to the back of my head. When this happens, the nerve that runs down my right arm fires off and I cannot grip with my right hand. These episodes started to become a weekly occurrence and it was stopping me from functioning at all. I could not read or drive, or do anything, so I decided to try some new pain medications. I am quite sensitive to many medications, so I was very reluctant to try anything new. I have tried muscle relaxants in the past and they had a very negative effect on me.

I am currently waiting for funding to undergo some treatment for CFS. Fingers crossed I get it and it will help with my pain levels. I really want to get off of these heavy medications. I have just finished another group of CBT sessions for depression and I am waiting for my case to be assessed by Professor David Veale. This is in hope, that I will be offered some more long term support.

So in terms of my year’s recap that is all. I wish you all a Happy New Year and I look forward to speaking with you all in 2015. I have more blogs to work on and will continue to keep you informed about the work I am carrying out. As always, feel free to message me if you have any questions and I will be sure to respond to you as soon as I can.

Sending my love and hugs. Enjoy the celebrations.


P.S. Congratulations to my friend Aashbir who got engaged this year. We have been friends since we were 3. I am so happy and proud of you! I cannot believe where life has taken us. You and your family have always been a constant in my life and I am so privileged to be part of your journey. You have been my light in very dark times and for that I am truly grateful. Wishing you and PJ all my love and best wishes for the future.

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

Merry Christmas My Jaw-eous Lads and Ladies

Christmas and New Year can be a magical time, but for some people it is a very difficult time. For people who have had the operation and cannot eat, do not worry, those extra calories are no good for you anyway. You can pig out double next year. Winter is finally here in the UK and don’t we know it?! The cold plays absolute havoc with our jaws and I feel especially sorry for those of you who still have your titanium plates and screws. Try to cover up the best you can.

For those of you, like me, who suffer from chronic pain, Christmas can be a very tough time. Being surrounded by family who are happy and healthy can be upsetting. Not because you begrudge them happiness, but because you feel like your happiness is out of reach. There is the added pressure from all of the endless to do lists; cleaning, wrapping, shopping, visiting, cooking, money worries etc. I just about cope with my normal duties!

For those who find it difficult to fit it all in and to do everything they want to, Christmas seems like more of a punishment. Sometimes though you just have to put things into perspective and say ok, well I am not a healthy and fit person, as much as I would like to be, maybe I need to find another way around this? Maybe sacrificing on wrapping and putting everything into gift bags is a better idea? Maybe asking for help with the cooking and cleaning is a better idea than soldiering on? First world problems ay!

Me 6 months after Double Jaw Surgery! First Xmas

I know it is difficult to see the wood through the trees sometimes. Over the past few weeks everything seems to have fallen apart around me. This time last year I lost half of my family and now this year something equally as shocking has happened. It is really upsetting. After going through the different emotions and having time and space to reflect on the situation, I have had some very sobering and humbling thoughts. There are people all over the world who do not even have food or a roof over their head. Not through any fault of their own, but because they were born in a different part of the world. We take so much for granted and some people just cause unnecessary hurt and drama for no reason. Some people are fighting to survive the day.

Life has never been about the material for me. But living in a society where everybody shares their lives has its drawbacks. You may look at people’s lives online and they seem so perfect. You may look at the things they have and be jealous and/or upset. Damn it, so many times I have seen things on Facebook and thought, I wish that were me. But you know what? I speak to a lot of people and what I have come to realise is…. Facebook is a depressive and what you see online is not reality. Most people will not even realise what a negative effect Facebook or other online social sites have on them. But trust me they do. Everybody is trying to soothe their ego and make themselves feel important, in a world where we are all in competition with one another. It is so sad and life really should not be this way. I ask that you be mindful of this the next time you are scrolling through your news feed.

Ok so it is all very well and good for me to say this, but what is the alternative?

Try to surround yourself with positive people and positive things. I like to read inspirational quotes when I am feeling down. I like to look through photos I have taken on my travels. I write down positive affirmations for me to read. I read nice books and watch uplifting and happy films.

Write to do lists and be proactive. Even if you complete one task a day or you managed to make a phone call to your friend, accomplishing a goal or target you set out to achieve will help to lift your mood. Make sure your goals are SMART and that you remain organised throughout the day. Give yourself structured breaks and be kind to yourself. As humans we love to create patterns and stability, so a daily schedule may be helpful over Christmas.

My final message is for everyone, from the Jaw Surgery patients, to people who have long term pain and health conditions, to my friends, family and readers, be compassionate to yourself and your body. You are one of the same. So many people are not able to be compassionate to themselves. I was directed to Paul Gilbert’s work in August of this year. It has been one of the resources I have used to get me through.  You need to create some time for you and to do what you want to do. Spare 30 minutes a day for relaxation; meditation, a hot bath, listen to music, read a book in a quiet room, walk in the park or be outside in nature. Please find below a link to one of Paul Gilbert’s Seminars. I have found his teachings and tasks to be very useful.

After learning to be more compassionate to myself I set up my own Freelance PA & VA service. I am now working for myself and having the time of my life. My confidence is growing and I finally feel like I am back on track.

I do not pretend to have the answers for you, but I do know that you are important too. This is your Christmas and your life. You cannot be superman/woman 100% of the time. If you have recently had surgery please be careful over Christmas. Be mindful of your limitations and what you can manage. You cannot afford to push back your recovery time. Also, please be careful when you go out in these icy conditions.

Sending you and your family my love and best wishes for this festive period. I hope Santa brings you everything you wish for. 

Steffie x.x.x

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hair Loss After Surgery & The UK Blog Awards

So we are now 3 years post Orthognathic Surgery and 2 years post titanium plate removal. All is not perfect, but it is ok. Jaw & Face is still going strong and I am currently working with King’s College and Saving Faces to conduct research into facial pain conditions and maxillofacial surgery. 

Even more exciting news….

I have been nominated for the UK Blog Awards 2015. I have worked so hard over the past few years and I am so grateful for the opportunity. It would make my year if you could take a second of your time to vote for my blog. 

Now on to more important matters….

Recently, there has been a surge in patients who are noticing their hair falling out after surgery. So this is why I have decided to print a free extract from my “What they don’t tell you about Orthognathic Surgery” eBook. As you are all aware none of the money I raise from my “Jaw Surgery Survival Packs” goes into my personal fund. It is used to maintain the websites and to fund research and data collection for people like us. So if you like what you read than please check out my ePack on the link below. 


As with any type of surgery, orthognathic surgery can have a traumatic effect on your general health and wellbeing. Along with the stress that you may feel before and after the operation, the anaesthetic can make your body go into shock and react in a negative way. This can cause numerous problems from low mood to hair loss. Several weeks post operation my hair became very thin and would alternate from dry and lifeless to greasy and flat. My hair started to fall out in clumps when I washed, brushed or combed it. Hair would fall out onto the floor and on my clothing throughout the day. Thankfully I had long and thick hair prior to surgery so I was able to retain enough to cover my head. 
This was a very stressful time and I went to seek my GP’s advice. My GP ordered for me to have my blood examined and report on my vitamin levels. At the same time as the hair loss I was also very pale and had translucent gums. My dentist had advised that I start to take a multivitamin that included iron. My GP suspected that iron deficiency may be the cause for my excessive hair loss and low energy levels.  When the results returned, it was found that I had post-operative stress related hair loss and that my vitamin levels were normal. I did not have an iron deficiency.

As there was nothing my GP could do for me, I set about resolving this issue myself. After hours of researching I decided to try omega 3,6 and 9 fish oils and took a tablet once a day. At the same time I went to get my dead hair trimmed at the hairdressers and underwent an extensive conditioning regime. I reduced the amount of times I washed my hair per week. Within a couple of weeks I could see improvements and within a few months my hair was growing back and in a much better condition. However, after a couple of months I started to experience more hair loss. I sat at the computer and looked through hours of blogs and forums. But to no avail. I started to look at different supplements and decided to take raspberry ketones and green tea. These are both antioxidants and some people claim they have helped to regulate their hair cycle. 

During a normal cycle of hair growth, your hair will grow and then enters into a resting state. This is called a Telogen period. The hair will eventually shed and new hair will grow in its place. When you undergo surgery your body is rushed into a resting state as the body suffers a huge shock or stress. As all your body’s resources are redirected to help heal the injured area, your body will temporarily shut down new hair production. This means that when your old hair sheds in the usual cycle you do not have any new hair formed to take its place.  As your body recovers and gets back to normal, your hair should start to grow back again.

Steffie’s Tips: It is advised to maintain an iron and protein rich diet as soon as you can. I would also advise that you go to your doctor and ask for a blood test to rule out any other conditions. When my hair started to fall out I limited the amount of times I washed my hair. I also invested in a good quality intensive conditioner and wore my hair up in a bun style.  I used a comb opposed to a hair brush as this is less stressful on your hair. Finally, I still take daily vitamins, fish oil tablets, green tea extract and raspberry ketones. 

If you found this useful, check out the Jaw Surgery Survival ePack: 

And if you have ever read and enjoyed my blog please vote for me. It will only take a second.

Thank you so much guys and girls. If I do not speak to you before, I hope that you and your family have a lovely festive period. 

Steffie x.x.x

Monday, 8 September 2014

How to Whiten your Teeth after Jaw Surgery!

And My 3 Year Anniversary!

Since partaking in research, I have found out so many crazy things about how teeth can become discoloured, especially as we get older. This is not my area of expertise, but I find it very interesting and also beneficial to know about. A lot of medications (antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure pills) can significantly contribute to the discolouration of teeth. Alongside the processed food we eat, teeth discoloration can be caused by the excessive amounts of fluoride we use in our drinking water, toothpaste and other products. 

Patients who have had jaw surgery or any type of trauma to their teeth can also experience significant changes in their teeth and gum health post-surgery. I know after both of my surgeries I had translucent teeth and gums and a receding gum line for quite some time. The trauma can disrupt the formation of tooth enamel and this can be attributed to the pulp of the tooth dying and causing issues from within the centre of the tooth. As your diet gets back to normal and you maintain good oral hygiene, your teeth and gums should repair and become strong again. However, like with all health advice it is best to speak with a healthcare professional.

There are many branches of research that look into the topic of teeth discolouration. I think the first area to look into is the level of yeast/ candida and bacteria in the mouth. If your PH is off and you have a large amount of candida in your system, this can contribute to staining and tooth discolouration. To resolve this issue you may want to cut back on yeast and sugary products. The most obvious of these include; bread, cakes, sweets, candy, grains and corns, ready meals, beer and fizzy drinks. Many people who have a high level of candida find it beneficial to reduce their carbohydrate intake and increase their consumption of anti-bacterial food stuffs, such as; coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, raw garlic, onions and kale.

In terms of correcting the colour issue, my friend who is a hygienist would recommend seeing a hygienist above a dentist for issues relating to teeth cleaning and whitening. They are much more thorough and can have different equipment to the average dentist. 

A few of my friends are quite obsessed with teeth whitening and have bought several kits from online or visited a dentist for professional whitening. I would never recommend having your teeth bleached, especially within the first 2 years after jaw surgery. Your teeth have undergone serious trauma and the change in diet would have affected your whole body. I know it is frustrating but please be patient and wait for your body and your teeth to completely heal. 

For an alternative to bleaching, some of my friends swear by banana peels to whiten their teeth and they also rub crushed strawberries on to their teeth. Be careful though, as these have lots of sugar and this could cause the enamel erosion to worsen. 

My personal recommendation would be to decrease the amount of fluoride you have (fluoride water and toothpaste). I use Aloe Vera Fluoride Free Whitening Toothpaste by Aloe Dent. My whole family love it. Also I would alternate that with Sensodyne Proenamal whitening toothpaste, as this is great to help strengthen tooth enamel and warn off painful sensitive teeth. Alternatively, you could brush with baking soda and tea tree oil. This is great as it is antibacterial and whitens teeth in a very natural way. 

In addition to this, try to wait 30-60 minutes after food and brush your teeth or chew gum. This will help to balance out your mouth’s PH level and removal harmful bacteria.

You could also try a high vitamin diet, with lots of vitamin c, d and calcium and also take multivitamins and minerals (if you can). If I were to give advice to anybody, I would suggest cutting out as much sugar and yeast from your diet and seeing if that has any effect on the colour and health of your teeth. In addition, you could try cutting back on things like coffee, tea, wine, smoking etc (that is if you do any of those) and drinking most drinks through a straw to save enamel erosion. Overall, in my experience the more alkaline your diet is, the better your teeth health will be. 

Update from me

Ok so now on to other news. It was my 3 year anniversary on 25th August. I wrote a small note up on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks to all who wished my face a Happy Faceday, 

Recently, I have been finding it difficult to blog and mentor. I have actually calmed a lot of it down. This is only for the short term. My friend lost her sister a few weeks ago and it really hit home about how short life is. People who know me, know that I run Jaw & Face and this blog because of my love and drive to help others who are going through a bad time. Be it personal, medical and psychologically. People who know me, also know I have a crazy family and a very eclectic group of friends who I love and adore. However, sometimes I seem to neglect myself in the quest of helping others. Since my life broke down a few years ago, I lost myself. The blog was the first big step I took in dealing with all the past hurt and trauma and channelling my energy into something positive and uplifting. I feel like now I am coming to terms with my limitations. After partaking in CBT I am able to reflect more on myself and be compassionate to myself. For so long I have focused outwards by helping others to be happy because I did not believe I could be happy or that I truly deserved happiness. But I feel like now it is time for me and to find out what makes me happy. Find out what I like, what I enjoy, have some creative hobbies. I am really trying to stop looking back at the past and what happened there, what I cannot do and learn to live a new way, without fear and what ifs. I am unique, as are you all, our stories are unique and we all deserve happiness. Every single person is beautiful and in time you will all see how perfect you really are. 

I am still going to be around and I will still be running Jaw & Face, selling the e-packs for charity and answering and supporting you all. But it may take me a little more time than usual. 
Stay Jaw-geous 

Sending my love and hugs always


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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.


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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.

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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....