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What is that? An airway for ants? And why I will be having surgery

If you have been following me on social media for a while you may have seen me mention surgery. Now that my surgery date is nearly here (only four weeks to go!) I thought I would explain what I will be having done and why.

Don’t worry, Mille Saisons will be staying open though! While I won’t be able to take custom orders during recovery, I have been preparing plenty of all my usual products for you so that orders can still be posted.

You may have also seen me moan about my braces hurting. A few years ago I realised I still wasn’t happy with my overbite despite having had braces as a teenager. I still had an overbite and I thought this was also giving me a weak chin profile. Weirdly I had joked to my housemate at uni that I wanted my jaw broken without realising this was even a procedure to fix my lack of a chin.

I was referred to another orthodontist who managed to glance at my notes (which mentioned my depression) and my face before asking if I snored. I’ve also been quite conscious about this as I do snore loudly and my friends even filmed it at uni! My orthodontist then listed several other symptoms; did I wake tired and unrefreshed; did I often have headaches and did I have vivid dreams? Three massive ticks to those questions! She referred me to the sleep clinic and after some tests, I was diagnosed with Upper Airways Resistance Syndrome or UARS which is similar to sleep apnoea. After having x rays taken I was also told I had the smallest airway my orthodontist had ever seen. Because if something is wrong with me, I want to be the best at it! In a nutshell at some point my jaws didn’t develop enough causing a teeny tiny airway which makes it hard to breathe at night when I relax. In turn this was causing my heart to beat faster due to a lack of oxygen in my blood and was often stopping deep sleep from occurring leaving me waking tired every morning.

My teeny tiny airway x ray

Since my UARS diagnosis, I have been sleeping with a CPAP machine which makes me look a bit Darth Vader/Hannibal Lecter/Bane/other pop culture reference here. The CPAP pushes extra air through my airway which allows me to sleep better. I still get tired but nothing as bad as a few years ago. At my worst I was sleeping 10-12 hours each night and napping another 2 or 3 hours in the day. I was also really struggling to see a future for myself as a full time job seemed impossible for me to manage. While I had been in therapy for my depression and was thinking much more positively generally, I was still finding I was tired. It had always been assumed that this was emotional tiredness and part of my depression. It also turns out that UARS and sleep apnoea can be misdiagnosed as depression or can instead be the cause of depression. If you have ever had a bad night and felt grumpy the next day, imagine that happening for months or years and you can quite easily see how it can lead to depression. It is likely that instead of my poor sleep being caused by my depression that my poor sleep was more likely to be making me depressed. If I want to find one positive from this however, it would be that this led me to start Mille Saisons so I could work around my naps. I realised finding a job would be difficult so I decided to try and create a job and living for myself instead!

Me when I first started wearing my CPAP

UARS can also cause cold hands and feet, headaches, low blood pressure, those crazy vivid dreams and loud ass snoring. It can also put your body in constant low grade stress and raise cortisol levels so I have thought it could also have been part of the cause of my panic attacks too. Since using my CPAP I have had far fewer panic attacks although I have also dealt with my anxiety a lot in therapy too.

I chose to have the jaw surgery offered as I feel I am still quite young to use a CPAP forever when jaw surgery can widen my airway and I feel lucky to have this option as not everyone has a sleep disorder which can be helped with surgery. Surgery will also fix my overbite which is what I originally went to the orthodontist to ask about so I can finally eat thin crust pizza without a knife and fork! I try to keep my dreams small and realistic!

My braces have been on for just over two years to prepare my teeth into the right position. I’d be lying if I said I’d found this process easy. Obviously overall it should be a positive ‘journey’ and I am grateful for it. However adult braces really hurt as the teeth have to move through your solid adult jaw bones and they have affected my confidence. I wish I could say I was comfortable enough with myself for braces not to dent my confidence but again, I don’t want to lie. I look quite young for my age and braces have just made me look younger. If you want proof, I was ID’ed last year for buying superglue. I was 27!

Other than fixing my airway, I should come out of this with lovely straight teeth and a much improved jawline! If you have made it to the end of this massive post then please bear with me as I recover and phase myself back to sewing. Thank you also to everyone who has supported Mille Saisons so far and for helping me to create a purpose and living for myself. I know that sounds a bit cringey but it’s true!

Hopefully I'll be writing about how surgery went soon :)

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