Friday, January 6, 2012

My Struggle

Since one of my New Year's resolutions is to share more about me with you, that's just what I'm going to do.  And unfortunately that means that I am going to share some of the bad along with the good.  Gotta share the struggles along with the joys if I'm gonna be honest.  Hope you don't mind.

That's what friends are for right?  RIGHT.  So here goes.

A small rant and a rave about a BIG problem in my life.  Is it ok if I just rant and rave for awhile?

TMJ.  Have any of you heard of TMJ before?  You may have a friend or family member who has TMJ, or you may be experiencing it for yourself or you may have never heard of it before.
For YOUR sake, I hope you have NEVER heard of it.  But if you have, you know how much pain and discomfort it can cause to the individual who has it. 

I may have lost a few of you by now.  I'm sorry.  I will explain.

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint disorder which is an inflammation of the jaw and which can cause lots of pain and discomfort.  You can read all about it in the link above to spare me from having to explain all of the symptoms and other details about it.

And yep, I have it, and it has been one of the WORST things that has ever happened to me.  I am normally a very energetic and positive person, but having TMJ has taken so much of my energy away and given me so much pain that I have struggled a lot with getting down in the dumps.

I grind my teeth at night, always have.  Not quite sure why I do, but I remember waking up at night a lot and hearing my mom say "Sara, STOP grinding your teeth".  I never meant to, of course, but it was just one of those things I was known for.

But grinding my teeth never really gave me problems till more recently.  The worst flare up was when I was teaching school full time and the kids were giving me problems and I must have been totally stressed out.  And I'm sure I was busy grinding my teeth away at night. 
I started having horrible headaches and feeling just AWFUL and not really knowing why.  It scared me silly and I remember one night I felt SO bad that I told Dave that I thought I was going to die.  It was scary.
I even had a panic attack one night, along with all of the other stuff.

{Insert:  A little before that I had a bad car accident and am thinking that MAY have something to do with it, not totally sure}

SO I decided to go to a doctor and see what the problem was.  I was thinking annerism, brain tumor, yeah, not feeling well makes you think of crazy stuff!  Imagine my surprise when the doc said, "Oh you have TMJ", just like it was no big deal, but he was sure that's what it was.  At that time my jaw didn't hurt at all, only my head and everything else, so I was just like yeah right, whatever you say.  But I didn't tell him that of course.

Two weeks after my doctor visit, my jaw began to hurt.  WOW!!  I couldn't believe it.  I got a mouth guard and thought that would solve my problem.  And it helped.  A little.  But the problem never went away.

Then I got pregnant with Whitney and couldn't bring myself to wear my guard.  I knew I shouldn't do that, but the nausea just doesn't go very well with a HUGE thing stuck in your mouth and I just couldn't do it.  So I got another TMJ flareup and got miserable again.

I'm wearing the guard again but it doesn't seem to be working as well this time.  Must be the way I sleep or something.  I get dizzy and get those yucky migraines again and just don't feel like I should.  It's a pain.  Especially when you have kids to take care of.

I know this just sounds like a sob story.  And I guess it is.  The only reason I wrote it though was in case someone else might be struggling like me OR someone might have some ideas of what I can do to help myself.  I just got a book the other day that says TMJ can be cured through occlusion, which is changing the bite.  The only problem is that there are no specialists around HERE that do that.  The closest one is in NE and we don't even know if the procedure works or not.

One time when I am not so happy to be living in the middle of nowhere.

And in case you were wondering, the only thing that regular doctors do for TMJ is to prescribe mega doses of drugs which make me feel more sick than ever.  I don't do well with drugs for some reason.  {I mean the point of medicine is to make you feel better not worse, right?} So really there's no FOR SURE cure for TMJ.  Discouraging?  Sure is.

I'm just praying about it right now and hoping that God will show me what to do.  Or maybe it will cure itself eventually.  I can only hope!

Anyone out there with a miracle cure?? 


Desire Empire said...

Hi My friend Sarah has a similar problem. I'll pass on your story to her as I don't think she even has a name for it.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Carolyn xx

Amanda said...

Oh poppit, what a horrid thing for you to deal with. I wish I had some words of advice or comfort but I have nothing I'm afraid, I just hope you can find some respite from your pain very soon.

Karen Greenberg said...

I saw a dentist for my TMJ and got a mouthpiece that I wore for several months. Eventually that corrected it. I know the pain you go through. I hope you feel better soon!

EllensCreativePassage said...

I have a custom night guard from the dentist...expensive but can't sleep without it. Another thing that might help is a Medrol dose pack, short burst of steroids to calm the inflammation down. It is miserable, sorry you have to deal with it!

Patrice said...

My daughter has TMJ and also got a night guard from the dentist. It helped her a lot!

Susan said...

No fun! I have TMJ, and my new doctor is a specialist in the area. I discovered I tend to clench my jaw a lot! I’m now trying not to so I don’t suffer from things later on. As it is, I would have been a good candidate for surgery when I was younger. He’s recommended a custom guard, but it’s not cheap, and since I’m not in pain (yet) I’m holding off on it. I hope you can find someone that can help soon!

Catherine @ Stone and Rose said...

I just found your blog and love it (except for your TMJ problem of course). I teach school full time and am just now having my jaw corrected as I had been dealing with the same problems with you as well as having my jaw lock up (closed!!!) when I was eating something chewy. Scary. For a couple of years I had a custom mouth guard I wore at night that moved the jaw around a little. It helped a lot. Finally, though, to get it corrected for good, I ended up with a braces-like appliance that is moving my jaw/ teeth. It fits on the inside of your mouth so you can't see it, but it does make talking a bit difficult. You get used to it though. Because I'm an adult, I didn't really want braces for two years or so, and this appliance is quick. About 6 months to move the jaw and then a couple of months with invisalign braces to fix the rest of the crookedness and retain the new bite. Even though my teeth ache, it is hard to talk, and I often feel ridiculous, the relief of getting my jaw moved is wonderful!!!!! Like it physically feels good. I would recommend you get yours fixed rather than try and live with it if it is at all possible for you. And I would go straight to ortho rather than spend money on a guard and then go to ortho afterwards. I really hope you can get your problem fixed. Good luck!!

Bec@littlelucylu said...

I sure hope you get some good suggestions and maybe even a FIX for this through your readers! (Or if nothing else, just knowing that you are definitely not alone!) Sure wish I had some wisdom to share here ... :-/

Laurie in SC said...

Sara, thank you for opening up and sharing this part of your journey with us. I am deeply sorry you are going through this and my heart literally hurts for you. Guess what? I get it. Know why? I have suffered with chronic migraine disease for over 10 years - this means that I have migraine headaches (and other symptoms) almost every day of my life. I have 3 kids, ages 15, 12, and almost 10. So most of their lives, they have had a mommy whose head hurts most of the time, light hurts her eyes, noise hurts her ears, and on and on. So I get it. It is hard. It is not fun. But, the one thing that saves me (in addition to the most loving and supporting hubby ever) is my faith in God! He makes it possible for me to keep going and to have a joyful life. I have even realized that I am learning things about life I never would have learned w/o migraine in my life. That being said, I sure wouldn't miss it if it went away! I guess I'm saying all this to say, I am sorry for what is happening to you. I am praying your pain is relieved as soon as possible. I am also praying for your peace of mind and comfort in the meantime. AND - I am here for you! Love u! In Him, Laurie

Gwen @ The Bold Abode said...

I totally used to grind my teeth when I was teaching..I quit teaching and no more grinding...unless something really stressful comes around. But I've never experienced it like when I was teaching full-time. Funny thing is, I loved being with the kids, but I would have nightmares from the stress of it...But it's not worth my health!

Misty said...

I feel your pain. I had TMJ as a teenager and it wasn't till I got braces that it was fixed. Getting braces put everything back into alignment and got rid of it completely. That's one motivation for me to continue to wear my retainers because if I go too long without wearing them my jaw starts to act up again. Not sure it's the miracle cure you were looking for, but it's what worked for me. I hope you find some relief.

Alexis Tanner Lane said...

My mom has TMJ and I think I'm getting it too. I can feel myself tense at night and notice that my jaw is super tight. So then I just try to relax my jaw. My mom had the retainer, but it made her snore a ton, so she doesn't wear it either. She said that when she feels tense to put your tongue between your teeth so you don't clench your jaw. I don't think it gets rid of it, but helps it not be so painful.

Mary said...

Sorry to hear you're going through this. I have TMJ too and my night guard is so huge it makes me gag. I have a friend whose TMJ was cured through occlusion so I know it can work!

Kristel said...

Hi Sara, I just found your blog, and this was the second post I read. I have a mild case of TMJ, and like you, I did not even know it, I went to an ENT, thinking I had a bad ear infection, but nope, he told me I had TMJ. I currently have a mouth guard, but like you, hate to wear it. Lately though, I have noticed that I cannot sleep on my right side of my face, as that causes even more pain. I feel a pressure between my jaw and ear, and of course, the headache. I do try to stay as stress free as humanly possible for me, because I have noticed that the more stressed I am, the more I clench my jaw, and cause the pain to return. I'm sorry that you too have to go though this, it is miserable having this everyday. I have heard that in severe cases, you have to get surgery done. In the meantime, I will try to keep using that annoying guard, and practicing breathing techniques to help with the stress :(

rain said...

You can consult to a dental clinic myrtle beach sc on the right treatment. It depends on your dental condition.

sevierville cosmetic dentist said...

There are different cases when it comes to TMJ. Find the suitable treatment to your condition.

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