Tomorrow’s the big day… and I’m flooded with all kinds of emotions.
If you’ve been around for the past couple of months (or years), you’ve probably heard me talking about my jaw surgery happening TOMORROW.
This surgery has the potential to, directly and indirectly, impact so many unexpected aspects of my life…
My face will never be the same as it’s reshaped by the surgery. My business will never be the same as I entrust it to our amazing community. My relationship with all of you will never be the same as I feel your outpouring of love and support. My ADHD-related systems may never be the same?! You’ll have to watch the video to learn how.
This surgery truly changes everything and I’m so grateful to have YOU by my side. In today’s video, I will share a few personal updates, ask for your support through this turbulent time, and explain a surprising connection between this surgery and neurodiversity that can impact the way you work with students.
Click the image below to watch the video… or continue on to read the transcript.
Hi, everyone. It’s the day before my surgery.
This drops on YouTube on May 23, 2023 and my big deal jaw surgery is on May 24, 2023. So it feels really important to me to do three things:
- first to update you about some things I’ve discovered recently about what’s going on with my jaw and my airway,
- secondly to ask for you to be sending a particular kind of thought my way in the next 24 hours because I really truly believe it will help my surgery process and my healing process, and then,
- third and perhaps most importantly, stick around to the end because there’s something, as a result of my whole health process, I’m going to forever think about differently when I talk to parents or students about their ADHD symptoms.
Let’s dig in!
Okay, first I just need to say that I’ve just come from a massage so my hair is a little greasy and my curls are a little wonky, but, you know, such is pre-surgery Gretchen! I’m doing my best to take care of myself and one of those ways is to reach out to you all, my beloved community, to keep you updated about what’s going on.
Recently when I went to St. Louis for my pre-surgical appointment we did something called the DICE: a drug induced sleep endoscopy. They put a camera up my nose and down my throat…and then I got to watch it the next day! I got to see my esophagus open and close, open and close. Now I understand what’s happening when something goes down the wrong tube and you cough a little—now I’ve seen that.
But here’s what I got to see that was both sobering and so hopeful for me: I got to see that my airway, my windpipe, is not very open. And I got to see how, because there’s no room in my mouth for my tongue, my tongue presses into my airway making it really tight and small in one area. Then I got to see, as the surgeon put my lower jaw into the correct position it needs to be in, boom! My airway just opened up! It was like a flower. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe it, and he said, “that’s what your airway is going to be like after the surgery.”
I’m so hopeful that my life is gonna’ be so different. It never occurred to me how little oxygen I was getting! Over the last seven to ten years, I’ve been getting more and more forgetful, and I thought it was just aging. But what’s been going on is, as my arthritis has worsened and my jaw has been deteriorating, my jaw joint has been regressing (moving backward), which puts my tongue closer to my airway and squeezes off my airway.
I think during these years that my business has grown, I was like “why can’t I make certain decisions? Why do I forget so much stuff?” I think now it’s because I’ve been getting less and less oxygen and also my sleep has been impacted because of that. So now it’s just like, “Wow! is the brain fog gonna go away?”
I’ve even wondered whether I have ADHD after all. Now I realize I don’t think I have ADHD—I think I’m just not getting enough sleep and not getting enough air, and those two things create ADHD symptoms. (This, by the way, is a hint! I’ll tell you at the end of the video how my coaching is gonna’ forever be different now as a result of this information.)
I want to tell you something else. I recently went on a retreat. This is vulnerable to share and here I am putting it out on YouTube, but it really feels important. Part of being an anti-boring educator is being authentic and also including my beloved community in supporting me, so I’m just going to tell you all that I went on a spiritual retreat. At the end of the retreat, we were asked to come up with what they called a “confirmation sentence,” a statement or sorts. My statement was really powerful, and I’m going to share it with you now because some of you, if you know and love me, would like to send me Good Vibes during the next 48 hours as I have the surgery and I’m recovering.
I’d love for you to tell this to me in your mind’s eye, you know ‘send it to me,’ remind me that: I am the woman who surrenders into the resurrection that has already begun.
I am the woman who surrenders into the resurrection that has already begun.
It has begun with the braces two years ago. It has begun with all of the physical therapy and myofunctional therapy I’ve been doing. And now, hopefully, the last leg of the resurrection is this surgery.
The word surrender feels really powerful to me because it’s scary to surrender, and it’s what I have to do. I have one of the best surgeons in the world, one of the best medical teams in the world, one of the best communities—you all—in the world. I know I am loved and supported, and I want to surrender into that knowing.
So if you can just remind me over the next 48 hours—or whenever you watch this, right? I believe that time isn’t quite linear so maybe you hear this two years from now, you can still send me the Good Vibes and it will be powerful, I’m sure!
I just wanna say thank you and pour out my gratitude for the loving, creative, fun, silly people who are attracted to me—you’re amazing and I appreciate you so much!
So how is this going to change my coaching?
Back when I had my very first myofunctional therapy appointment, my myofunctional therapist told me something [by the way, myofunctional therapy is lip exercises, tongue exercises, & cheek exercises] I will never forget. She said whenever she hears of a young person who has been diagnosed with ADHD, she now asks their parents, is your child a mouth breather? Do they breathe with their mouth, rather than the way we’re supposed to breathe and the most healthy way for our body which is with our lips closed and through our nose?
I’ve been a mouth breather all my life. I even remember my mom thinking it was so cute when I was growing up that when I had to think hard about something, I would stick my tongue out. Well, what we know now is that my tongue was too big for my mouth and that’s why I was sticking it out, and the structural issues caused me to also breathe with my lips open, which is a sign that a person is not getting enough air.
My myofunctional therapist said she has worked with so many little ones—first, second, third graders—whose teachers complained of their ADHD symptoms, but then, after they went through myofunctional therapy and strengthened their musculature and reshaped their mouth through that process, their ADHD symptoms have gone away.
Now, I’m making this video without having looked up a bunch of research for you, so I trust my myofunctional therapist’s experience. I’m sure the research is out there. I haven’t looked at it myself, but I just want to implore you to pay attention. If you’re a coach, ask your clients’ parents, “does the student breathe with their mouth or their nose usually?” Or watch your clients and see what they do. It’s possible that so many ADHD diagnoses are kind of like me. I was diagnosing myself as ADHD, but I just wasn’t getting enough air to be able to use my executive functions well. So my symptoms look like ADHD, but really they were airway issues. So ask that question. Check it out. Let’s see if we can better support our students in getting all the air they need and all the sleep they need, so they can have all the attention they want and need.
I will say that my surgeon gave me a compliment when he took my final x-rays! He said, “your resting posture of your tongue is very good now; you have been doing hard work,” which I have! Apparently the tongue is supposed to live on the roof of your mouth, on the palate. Mine always had hung in the bottom of my mouth. I’m doing it right now. I’ve taught myself how to let my tongue live up there, so now all we need is to move my jaw into the right position. Then it will ease up so much muscular energy that’s going to try and keep my airway open because it will naturally be open.
I can’t wait!
I am the woman who surrenders to the resurrection that has already begun.
If you’d like to follow along on this journey and check in on my progress, I invite you to stop by my Caring Bridge site: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/gretchenwegner
Thank you for being you and for being an important part of this community. I can’t wait to be back with you in October.
In the meantime… Please, Please, Pretty PLEASE watch as many of my YouTube Videos as you can and like them all. Oh and share with a friend who may benefit! It would be so amazing to come back to a monetized YouTube channel…which would mean we’d be able to share the Anti-Boring Approach with more educators than ever.
I’m so excited about all you’ll learn as other amazing members of our community take the helm and share their expertise and passions with you.
See you on the other side.