Friday, May 3, 2013

More Obstacles

Ever since I went to my dental exam, my jaw has been worse. I don't know if it's because she kept yanking the bite wings out of my mouth, but it has been a lot worse ever since. My jaw has been locking, popping, and hurting a lot more than it ever has. I don't know if you read my last post, but I have TMJ.

About a week before I needed to get my dental work done, my mouth locked to where I could only open it enough to fit one finger in there. I was really worried. If I couldn't open my mouth how would they be able to work on my teeth? So many things ran through my mind. Would they have to break my jaw? I work as a receptionist and a cashier at Walmart, so that would be terrible. Would they have to cancel my appointments delay my progress even farther?

I called the dentist office to let them know what was going on, and to ask them what we were going to need to do. The doctor wasn't in at the time so she said she would talk to him and call me back. When she called me back she said that she had talked to the other doctor (not my doctor) who was there. He said to use moist heat, to chew gum, take ibuprofen, and that it was too soon after my wisdom teeth extraction to tell if there was a problem.

I didn't know that I had TMJ at the time. A few months before I go my wisdom teeth out, I noticed that my jaw was locking and my gums were swelling up, so we thought that I had an infection. I got my wisdom teeth out in December. My jaw has been doing the same thing ever since.

I was doing all of the things that they were telling me to do and nothing seemed to work. I called my dad and told him that I was really worried. I told him to talk to my dentist directly, not the receptionst, because my dad knows me and what I've been going through better, and that way it wouldn't be communicated through like ten people. I told him that I knew that they said it was too soon, but that I just wanted to know what I would need to do if I couldn't open my mouth for my dentist appointment.

My dad called me as soon as he talked to the doctor. My doctor said that they hadn't realized how long it had been since my wisdom teeth got taken out, and that it was a problem. He told me that I had TMJ and referred me to a couple of specialists. The only problem is  that the specialists are in the Provo area, and it's hard for me to drive that far that often. He advised me that I should go see a specialist before I come to my appointments. I didn't have any days off until the days of my appointments, so I would have to cancel my appointments and reschedule, which would mean at least another three weeks.

I did some research and also found out that most insurance companies don't cover TMJ. That really worried me. I'm working two jobs right now just so that I can pay for my mission, so I there's no way that I have money to cover it. I called my insurance company and found out that it wasn't covered. At this point I was so stressed and starting to almost lose hope.

I talked to my parents, we prayed, and we decided that I should just come to my dentist appointments and see what they could do. My first appointment was fine. It was just a cleaning I was actually able to open my mouth, which was amazing. It was still painful, but I was just grateful that my mouth was able to open. They prescribed a muscle relaxer medication to me that night before my next appointment. I was to take it that night and some in the morning before I went to my appointment.

The only thing that the medication did for me was make me tired. My mouth was not opening at all. I went to the dentist appointment anyway, because I would have already had to pay a fee. I got there and told them that my mouth wasn't opening. They asked me if I still wanted to see if they could do anything, or if I wanted to wait. I said that I wanted to do as much as I could do that day because I didn't want to wait any longer.

He had me open my mouth as far as I could and he just made sure that he could fit all the tools in my mouth. He could, but barely. He got out a block, that's the size for toddlers, to put in my mouth to keep it open. We had to shove it in there basically. It was very painful, but I didn't want to wait any longer. Would it be any better if I had to reschedule? Who knows.

After about two hours, we were finally done with the appointment. All I had to do was suffer through one more day and I would be done. I asked him if he wanted me to take the medication for my appointment the next day, and he told me that I shouldn't come. He said that I needed to see a specialist and get things worked out. He didn't want to make it worse. I understand, but it made me so upset. I didn't want to wait at least another month to put my papers in.

I went to a chiropractor that day to see if he could do anything. I heard that chiropractors treated TMJ. My dad does a lot of computer work for him, so we normally don't have to pay a lot of money for the visits. He adjusted everything that needed to be adjusted. He put a tens unit on my jaw and my back, and also put ice on my jaw. It felt good, but it didn't really help.

He then told me to lay on my back. While his assistant was holding my head, he put his finger in my mouth on the side of my teeth and pushed hard back on my jaw. He twisted his finger and kept pushing hard. I want you to imagine this. Put your finger in your mouth on the side of your teeth, and try to reach as far as your jaw. It hardly fits, right? Now, Imagine a man's big fingers going back there and putting pressure on your jaw. It's painful! Now imagine BOTH sides at the same time. I honestly didn't think that my lips could stretch out that far. It was one of the most painful things that I have ever experienced.  I knew it was supposed to be painful, but I don't really think that it was supposed to hurt my jaw that much. It didn't even really help.

I talked with my bishop from home that night because that will be the ward that my records will be in while I'm on my mission. I was telling him how worried I was and that nothing was working out. He told me that if I ever needed help with money, paying for my mission or my doctors appointments, that they would do it. I felt so blessed. That relieved so much stress off of me. I usually have a hard time letting people help me, but I felt so good about this. He told me that if I let people help, then they would be able  to receive so many blessings from it.

I arranged an appointment with a oral surgeon for the next day instead of my dental appointment. I was surprised that they could see me that soon, but it was on my way back to Logan, and it was an answer to my prayers. They also said that they would just charge me for a dental check up, since I've only had one this year and you get two a year. That was so great to hear!

They did an x-ray of my jaw. He saw that my jaw was very flat, instead of round like most people's. That what is causing the clicking and popping. He explained a lot to me, but it's hard to explain on here. I'm not very brilliant. He essentially told me that I had a 40 year old person's jaw. That's comforting?

He told me about all of the options and treatments that are available. He said that he didn't want to do surgery because what they have found is that surgery is most of the time less effective or just as effective as other treatments. I was very glad to hear that. He also said that others wire your mouth shut, but he didn't agree with that either.

He chose a different treatment  to start with. He told me not to eat anything that I could chew for 3-4 weeks. WHAT?! I could barely handle that for just a couple of days after my wisdom teeth. He also told me to stop talking as much. That's a little hard considering I'm a receptionist and I'm required to be on the phone the majority of the time. I work at Walmart as a cashier, so that requires quite a bit of talking, too. He said that I should take ibuprofen to help with the inflammation, and to use moist heat on my jaw.

If this treatment doesn't work, then he will inject a steroid in my jaw. If that doesn't work then we will start considering other treatments like surgery. I really hope this treatment works because I don't want to deprive myself of such deliciousness for nothing.

Patience and faith. Patience and faith. That is definitely something that I need to keep remind myself of. Everything will work out.

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