A Patient Story: Courage in the Line of Fire


A Patient Story: Courage in the Line of Fire
Clay Behrendt’s Experience with Oral Surgery

Clay Behrendt has just finished his training to be a firefighter at the San Diego Firefighting Academy here in San Diego. He is currently stationed up north at Mammoth Mountain with the city department and is awaiting a move to the forest service. And while his training and job take a significant amount of dedication and strength, he also found a use for that determination in his personal life…to undergo and recuperate quickly from not one, but two oral and maxillofacial surgeries within a 3 month period.

While training in San Diego, Clay was evaluated by Dr. Richard McLaughlin for braces in order to address an underbite. At that time, Dr. McLaughlin suggested that he needed to have his wisdom teeth removed. However, Clay was surprised to hear that he might also need to have corrective jaw, or orthognathic surgery. The reason was that Clay’s underbite created a misalignment of his teeth, and without repositioning of his jaw for proper alignment, over time his teeth could be permanently damaged or broken. Dr. McLaughlin suggested that he make an appointment with Dr. Grant McGann.

Clay called McGann Facial Design to schedule his “two-in-one” appointment to check his wisdom teeth and have a consultation for possible jaw surgery. Making the appointment with Lauren and Natalia was “super easy and the ladies were super nice.”  His initial impression of the office? It was really clean and everyone was so very friendly. His observation was that this did not feel like a doctor’s office. “You know how no one ever talks in doctors’ offices? Well that is not this office. It felt fun.”

More importantly, Clay was put at ease by his consultation with Dr. McGann. Outside of finding him very tall, he found Dr. McGann to be a “really nice guy, very funny, and thorough”, going over every detail of what the surgeries would entail. He asked if Clay had any questions, insisting that no questions are dumb questions.

Clay was scheduled to have his wisdom teeth removed in Dr. McGann’s office, but the more involved jaw surgery was to be carried out in the hospital. The wisdom teeth were scheduled first and went smoothly as expected. Three months after having his wisdom teeth removed, and after several follow-up appointments, his orthodontist gave him the green light to move forward with the jaw surgery – a Lefort Osteotomy on the top jaw and a Mid-Sagittal Osteotomy on the bottom jaw.

December 3, 2013 was the day. Prior to surgery, he had watched a video of a similar surgery (Lefort 1) on YouTube, even asking Dr. McGann to film his own surgery, but Dr. McGann joked that he couldn’t because his hands were too big! All kidding aside, Clay tells us that the surgery was rough. This was his first experience with anesthesia and his first surgery, so he wasn’t exactly sure of how he would do compared to other patients. Unfortunately, he needed to stay an extra night in the hospital until he was able to keep fluids down. When Dr. McGann visited him, he was encouraged by Dr. McGann’s words – Clay’s surgery was one of the smoothest he has ever done. He let Clay know that the first week was going to be the roughest, but that he would heal quickly because he was healthy and strong. After all, healthy people heal more quickly. And who is more healthy than a firefighter? The next day, Clay felt good, and when Dr. McGann examined Clay’s jaw, he said he was well enough to be discharged with a follow-up after one week. One week later, the swelling was almost gone, to the point where Dr. McGann asked him what he was doing differently – amazing progress! Another week passed, and at his last appointment just before Christmas, the swelling was 95% gone.

While he does need to have another follow-up and he has lost a bit of weight after the surgery, Clay is certain that if he had to do it all over he would definitely have Dr. McGann perform his surgery. He jokes that while being moved to recovery, he asked the nurse if it was “too late to change my mind.” The surgery was tough, no question. As Dr. McGann put it to Clay, it will be rough because the surgery is of the mouth and not the foot. You smile with your mouth. You laugh with your mouth. You talk with your mouth. You eat with your mouth.

Clay says that even though it was tough, the team at McGann Facial Design “made it really easy and not so stressful.” He enjoyed having a younger doctor who talked and joked with him while at the same time looks at the process as a true professional. He “has a good conversation with you, which I liked.” We are naturally glad that Clay had a positive outcome and thrilled to help all patients be as healthy as possible, even if that means chasing fires for a living.

Visit our website to read more patient stories.


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