Just to let you guys know I’m alive. Due to blinding, constant pain in my jaw, long suspected to be this, there were moments where the alternative seemed kinder. It drove me to the ER on Wednesday, in fact, as I was convinced my jaw was dislocated. TMJ can do that, apparently. And it is officially TMJ now, because a doctor said so. I’d long suspected due to previous and much less severe flare-ups that it was, and now I know.
As it happened, my jaw wasn’t actually dislocated, it’s just that the muscles on the right side of my jaw were so strongly and unrelentingly contracted that it’s stretching my jaw out of alignment. I mean, I knew the jaw muscles were really powerful, but goddamn. They also have some kinda endurance, because they still are. It lets off a tiny little bit each day.
If that sounds bad to you, let me just confirm that it is in fact as painful as you might imagine. While that’s the worst part – it seriously, seriously hurts – there’s more, as you might expect when half of your face goes haywire on you. Currently, it feels as though someone injected a bunch of foam rubber in there; it’s reminiscent of that novocaine feeling you get when a dentist sticks you up with that stuff, but a lot different. The only reason it resembles injected rubber/novocaine rather than a baseball bat to the face is because of that Tylenol that has codeine in it. Jaw will only open maybe an inch, and it doesn’t quite close right either. Takes conscious effort to talk without chewing the inside of my right cheek, which is ironic considering that I am entirely unable to chew anything else, such as food.
It’s okay, I’m well-armed; aside from the happy Tylenols, I have cold compresses, chamomile (a decent muscle relaxant) and ER paperwork justifying potentially a fuckton of sick leave. As well, the pain is mostly gone now; it gets sore toward the end of the day, but it’s mild, and I refuse to not talk. There’s only so many concessions I am willing to make to an extremely unreasonable jaw. Working against me is a horde of female relations who were already terrified for my nutritional well-being because I’m skinny, so you can imagine their reaction to the news that OMG I CAN’T EAT. You cannot know how much chocolate pudding I have in my fridge right now. And applesauce. And Jello. This sounds ungrateful, I know, but I’m not. It’s only that under the circumstances, my profligate cynicism gets pretty much free reign until I consciously think to check it. Plus, you have to admit that when you’re in severe pain and irrationally fearing that your jaw may be stuck like this forever, the last thing you need is to have people constantly asking how you’re doing, thereby reminding you of your sudden and painful deformity. It is a deformity too: if you look at my face very closely, you can see my jaw jutting off to my right very slightly.
It not only hurts like hell and takes away my ability to chew food, but it literally twists my beatific visage? It’s like it’s tailor made to piss me off.
The ER trip scared me a bit. I have what a Carter Blood-Taker vampire called White Coat Phobia (no seemingly relevant link on Wikipedia, sorry), so as they took me into the back to do the preliminary checking of blood pressure/pulse stuff, my heart rate was high. The agony of my maw didn’t help much either. She checked my blood pressure twice, resorted to taking my pulse on my wrist instead of using that finger thingie they have, and asked me if I normally have a fast heartbeat. No, I don’t think so. Then they take me back to a bed in a room full of beds, and judging from the way the others were moaning, I suddenly didn’t think my little jaw thing was all that bad. Then she asks me to take off my shirt as she’s getting out wires for that heart monitor thingie that’s always flatlining in TV shows; you know what I mean. This has me thinking fuck, how fast was my pulse anyway? Nightmare scenarios about underlying problems, most of them cancer, begin to form in my mind. Then she starts putting sticky pads on my chest and hooks me up.
Doctor shows up a little later, I tell him I think my jaw’s dislocated, tell him why, the history, etc. He feels my jaw and, oddly, sticks his fingers in my ears while he tells me to open my mouth. No idea. I’d usually ask, but talking hurts. He says he doesn’t think it’s dislocated and tells me about TMJ as if I didn’t know what it was. I start nodding immediately so as to show my preexisting knowledge of said acronym/disorder, incredibly irrationally annoyed that he disagrees with my diagnosis. I know it’s TMJ, duh. He prescribes x-rays. You’re goddamn right x-rays. We’ll see who’s right, doctor.
They wheel me shirtless to the x-ray room; or, well, not shirtless exactly, but the gown I had kinda looked like how a little kid would make a toga, I mean what the fuck. I overhear the woman taking my x-rays asking questions of another older woman standing in the background like some CIA handler or something. So good, trainee taking my x-rays. She also took my glasses off my face, which pisses me off so bad, but anyway. Get wheeled back to the bed, doc comes in a few minutes later: no dislocation. Fucking asshole.
I have no idea why I wanted to be right about that so bad, but I do know that had it been a dislocation, they could have reset my jaw and the pain would have ended. As is, there’s pretty much nothing they can do. So it wasn’t entirely my absurd ego scoffing at the notion that a doctor knows more about medicine than me. It also rendered the whole exercise pointless, as I only went to the ER because I thought they’d need to reset my jaw, and I know they have to use like muscle relaxers and general anesthetic for that, so I figured a general practitioner would just send me to the hospital anyway. Ah well.
So, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. It fucking sucks. In other news, I’m very behind on my writing, as horrific pain does make it difficult to concentrate. Upcoming: a Book Report on Moby Dick and an article on science and religion that I’ve been meaning to write for a while. Sneak preview: I enjoy various crucial aspects of both and consider that there is no conflict between the two. Or actually, more like the conflict is manufactured by overly militant science nerds and religious fundamentalists, both acting as though they represent the whole of their respective sides. I’m gonna try to make some peace. I also have to catch up on the blogs I follow, particularly that kindly vegan woman’s and B-Dog’s. Have not been capable of reading with attention for a while now.
It’s gonna be jawsome.
Yep, I went there. I always go there.