I have recently been dealing with a malady that is slowly driving me bonkers! I don’t know if it does that to everybody who deals with this…or if it is just my own personality and quirks that is making it worse. Anyway, let me tell you my dilemma and perhaps you can tell me if I am slowly losing the few marbles still in my possession!
I have developed a pretty severe problem of TMJD. This is short for “Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. It means “you hurt in front of your ear and sometimes causes headaches” according to Ms Google and Medicine Net.
I beg to differ. When you wake up and your jaw is locked into position and you can not even open it to talk…that’s a strange feeling. And, if you try to force it to open…you should remember there are quite a few pounds of pressure pushing against you. They are angry and they are mean. And, they will wait in the closed and locked position for you to learn that if you ever wish to open your mouth in a normal way again…you are just going to have to lay back and wait till they are good and ready to move.
When they finally do choose to move again in to the motion we generally use for such things as talking and chewing…you will quickly learn that even though they are allowing you entrance to your throat again…they are not over being difficult. You will learn you, now and forever, are at the mercy of this little joint in front of your ear.
Tiny little thing. Think you could certainly yank that little piece into submission., huh? Well, friends…don’t even try. And, I tell you this becauseI did try. I got some steroids at the doctor’s office…and by day 4, it was better. It was sore for a few days and then it got slowly better and I thought to myself, “Tonja, you have just bypassed a big mess. Luckily this went away. You must be living right.” And, I did not have much trouble…just an occasional twinge for the next 7 or 8 months. However toward the beginning of fall last year, it began to tell me it was having anger issues again and I had best get ready because it was on its way back! And, it was. I went through Thanksgiving and Christmas eating a little soft food on one side of my mouth…almost breaking into tears when I would have to yawn. My whole side of my face hurt…even up into the temples. I was even having full blown migraines. I finally called my dentist and they sent me to an orthodontist who works a dedicated program of help for this condition and the pain it truly causes.
I immediately set up an appointment and quickly made my first visit. Super nice…everyone. Extremely knowledgeable and interested in making my pain go away. It so pays to go to a specialist when you have varying health issues…they know things about specific issues that other doctors may not know just because that is their area of expertise.
Well, they tested me…hooked me up to computers, x rayed me, gave me a thorough explanation of what was happening to me. I thought it was all in my jaw…but it was involving my face, neck, shoulders and upper back as well. I signed up for all they were selling. I was in pain and I wanted out. And, so they began. I wear a splint over my teeth at all times…have extensive physical therapy, ultrasound therapy and laser therapy. Whew! A lot to throw at ya all at once, huh? They also explained to me that it could go away for a while, but each time it came back it would be a little worse.
First thing of all was the worst thing of all. Now you all know I don’t exaggerate!!!!!, but they had to make impressions of my bite. Top and bottom. You ever had that? I have…and I hate it every time! They get this tray designed to fit a horses mouth…
…and fill this hollowed out tray with the most gosh awful chalky smelling, thicker than toothpaste, goop. They they expect you to open your little human mouth wide enough to fit that trough in there and bite down. I don’t know if they even think about the fact that you could ingest some of this devil goop down your throat, but rather play soothing music so you can relax and smile inside. I didn’t…smile inside. They took out the bottom one. I survived.
And, here they come with the top one. But, they didn’t have it smoothed down and neat like this…so right there where the curve is in the round of the tray…there was a little glob of goop sticking straight up. And when it went into my mouth and suctioned around my teeth…that little blob was just touching that place in your mouth where the gag reflex is! Oh. I Thought. I Was.GoingTo. Die….right there is that lovely little reclining bed in the little room with the dimmed lights. I clinched my hands, I clenched my arms to my body. I clenched my butt cheeks. I was trying to get through this because I knew it was the end. They started wiggling and wrestling with that thing trying to remove the suction and pull it out of my mouth. YES!!! they did it. They inspected it. And, then came the most dreaded words I had heard up till then…, “We’ve got to do that top one again.” One of the f assistants caught me as I tried to ease out the door and make a run for it. And, they did it again. This time no little glob on top…I told em to make it smooth. And, I willingly went back into the lion’s den and did it again!
They finished. I left. Stopped and bought the biggest glass of sweet tea McD’s offered and washed that experience out of my head…and mouth! I made it! I talked to myself all the way home. “This is going to be fine, Tonja. They know what to do to get you better. No more impressions! The worst part is over.” They could now make me a splint for my mouth that would fix my bite and strongly urge those teeth into cooperation and make those muscles behave and let me live my life and eat steak again.
So, I’ve been to therapy sessions for 5 weeks. A good majority of the pain is better. But there are still issues with the ear and the headaches. The girls there are so kind and caring and they go out of their way to make things pleasant…except for the impressions. I kid…maybe I don’t. On the fourth week, the doctor seemed to think perhaps I needed some different kind of splint that coerced more of my teeth to get involved with this program and make me well. “Cool!” I thought. “I’ve already had impressions, so there’s not that to do again. Thank you, sweet Jesus!”. They kept my splint and I figured they would just fix it and give it back. And, I started on my merry way to the therapy room. It is about an hour massage and though it is painful at times, I can tell it is working what needs to be working and it is very relaxing. Three girls have worked with me and they are the tops.
But, one of them …and I won’t call any names here….they are all just so lovely. But she really did try to pull a fast one. I was headed to the therapy room and she slyly said, “Mrs Tonja, come right over here first, we need to…” and then I faded away, because it looked as if her mouth was making the words ***do more impressions***. And, I knew that was not in the plans I had made for me that day. I stopped and looked at this sweet dear young lady and thought…surely she is mixed up bad. I already have done impressions. She beckoned me closer. And, I caught a whiff of devils goop mixed with chalk. She was actually holding it in her hands and smiling at me all sweetly like. “Just sit right here and we’ll get his taken care of and get on with your therapy.” I sat…I reclined and we did the bottom one. OK…done. Then the top. I told her about smoothing it down. ( Cause even though she does this every single day, I had a better way she should know of!) She put in the top one and I clenched and shook and shivered and through all that, I heard her voice coming through saying,” Relax your lower jaw, Mrs. Tonja.” I thought I was. “Mrs. Tonja RELAX your jaw. “ For the life of me, I could not get my lower jaw to do anything but what it darn well pleased. I pulled on it…she was trying to get the goop out and I pulled my jaw and moved it and she said “RELAX it.” Well, You could have hit me with a hammer, but my jaw was not in an obedient mood…and I could not help it. The TMJD devil got in there and just would not turn loose. She laughed and said “come on and relax.” UH UH! was not happening! All I could think of was that this tray was going to be cemented to my teeth and I would have to have it chiseled off and who knows what else and HOW COULD I RELAX? I still don’t know how she got that horse trough out of my mouth , but she did. I was really trying to relax my jaw as best as I could, but it was just one strong force after another! Ask her…she’ll tell you she was ready to slap me! Not really!
So, I am this far in treatment and don’t know what the next step will be. I can hear the bones moving against each other…which is an unnerving sound at best. At least it’s not crackling like crumbling up paper anymore. Don’t know where the next steps will lead me…possibly even surgery. But, I’m committed to this program. It makes so much sense and is quite logical from my limited medical knowledge. I will follow it through!
As long as there are no more impressions!!!! Thanks sweet girls for serving me with your kindness and mercy!
I added some information here, because I am at heart a teacher. I love to convey knowledge. I never knew TMJD was this involved. This is just a short synopsis, but I urge you that if you are having trouble in any of these areas to perhaps consider this help. I am not a doctor, so I can make no claims except what it is doing for me. And, the caring and consideration of the staff involved is tops. If you should perhaps want to know the name of this doctor, I would be happy to share it with you privately. He is local, but I did not ask permission to use his name.
INFO ON TMJD
The temporomandibular joint is more commonly referred to as the TMJ joint, but what is TMJ? This joint is actually located at the base of the skull in front of the ear structure and connects the lower jaw (mandible) with the upper jaw (maxilla). Unlike most joints located in the body, the TMJ is unique in its structure, composed of a rounded protrusion of the mandible that sits against an indentation in the skull, and a disc-like structure made of a soft bone called cartilage found in between the two bones (articular disc).
These three parts of the TMJ are held together by ligaments originating from different parts of the head and neck to support the jaw and guide its movements. Several muscles are connected to those ligaments, and many aid in the motion of the lower jaw.
How Does it Work?
The TMJ works in two ways to open your mouth: The first way is like a hinge to simply open and close the mouth, just like a hinge on a door. The second way is a sliding motion called translation, wherein your lower jaw moves down and forward. This motion helps the TMJ to move backward and forward and from side to side for actions such as eating, yawning and singing – some of the most common.
What Can Happen to the TMJ?
Like any other joint in the body, the TMJ can be fractured, swell and become sore, causing limited movement of the lower jaw and pain radiating to the head and neck area. A fracture to the actual articular disc is rare, but it can be displaced, causing severe pain and swelling. Unlike other joints such as knees and hips, arthritis of the TMJ is very rare, and hard to treat with anti-inflammatory drugs alone.
You can find loads more info on google to familiarize your self with this condition.
I had all of the above too Tonja. Dentist visit after another. Then therapy after therapy. Then all those impressions. Meanwhile I was trying to work., which did not help. Finally Dr Dollar sent me to a specialist in Birmingham cause he did not know what else to do. Wow my MRI showed what the problem was & I had surgery & have not had any more problems. But I did enjoy the way you expressed the whole ordeal. Your loving jaw friend.
Thanks for the info, Kay. I did not know you had had this. You understand the pain then. He told me this week it looks like it is going to be a surgery for me, too.