Okay, anyway. Here's the deal.
I saw Dr. Auvenshine, TMJ specialist, yesterday for FOUR hours. The $440-priced appointment was pretty dang thorough. They interviewed me, surveyed me, performed ultrasounds, x-rays, put weird contraptions on my head and magnets in my mouth...it was a lot. Oh, and I had a migraine during this. I was doing a lot of deep breathing to get through it all. SO thankful to have my mom by my side. Seriously.
So then we finally had a consult with the Doc. The "jaw issue" unfortunately has been going on for so long that it is now a multi-faceted issue. Five, to be exact.
1. Slipped Disc: The teeny tiny disc that is in between your jaw joint and (some other face bone?) has slipped out of place, probably years ago. Doctor said it may have been any small fall that did it, since I have never had a car accident or any trauma to the face. That's scary to me - the fact that any slight blow to the jaw can eventually do this kind of damage down the road??
That disc has caused a lot of havoc. My brain apparently is always confused (ha), because it can't properly place the jaw. It is constantly working to find "home base," as Doc put it. I feel more pain on the left side though because it has been compensating for the right for so long. If you look at the x-ray of my right jaw bone, it's all chipped away from bone-on-bone. Lovely. The left jaw bone looks good though.
The pain and muscle tightness I have under my ears, behind ears, right under jaw bone, on the top of my head, across the forehead and in the eyes ALL stem from the jaw problem. It also contributes to my neck, shoulder and back pain, but it's hard to say how much of it affects those areas.
Oh, they measured my muscle tightness (which is really cool that they can do that) in my jaw. Anything below 3.0 is concerning. Usually they see just below that. Mine measured in at a 0.3. Like as in LESS than 1. Umm...yeah...ouch. It's amazing I can still talk, really.
2. Constricted airway: I guess my airway in my throat is too small. It may be partially due to the swollen, tight muslces, or maybe not. No way to tell until I start treatment (I'll get to what the treatment is). So less air = less sleep. Or not good quality sleep like I need.
3. Deviated Septum: This I've known for several, but haven't fixed. If anyone wants to donate $6,000, I'd be happy to fix it! When I say deviated, I mean DE-viated big time. Like it's nearly closed up. This contributes to lack of air, lack of sleep. So #2 and #3 combined make me breathe through my mouth at night, then forcing me to swallow several times per minute...causing me to stop breathing several times a minute...ALL...NIGHT...LONG. More lack of sleep
4. Sleep: It's important to note here that lack of sleep is the #1 most important issue at hand. Any of you who have had long-term sleep issues or actual insomnia can relate. No sleep intensifies everything - the muscle and jaw pain, aching joints, migraines, dizziness, nausea, mood swings, anxiety, stress. Then my immune and adreneline are working over time to compensate which hinders my healing. That's why I'm always saying "No I don't want another baby right now. I NEED sleep." It really is absoultely necessary for my road to recovery.
5. Spine Alignment: Somehow the upper part of my spine (neck region) is out of whack. When you look at the x-ray, my vertebraes are all misaligned. It could be from the muscles being so swollen or just how my body has grown. He said I have a really long neck and tend to carry my head forward. That could have caused this issue or not.
What do I do from here?
1. Hop on board with Dr.I-don't-take-insurance-I-drain-your-bank-account-Auvenshine's six-month treatment plan. That means getting another mouth piece, wearing it 24/7, learning physical therapy I can do myself, and I'm not sure what else. I'll learn more next week when I actually start.
2. Massages. Massages. Massages. Basically continue what I've been doing - 1-2/week to continue to try and loosen things up. My poor massage therapist is probably sick of me. And sick of working out the same knots and trying to losen the same muslces that just. won't. give. But I'm thankful I have a good one who is willing to help me. (still working on my attitude here)
That's pretty much all I can do right now. We'll have to pray my airway opens when I start wearing the mouth piece. And hopefully some day I can get a nose job! This all should improve my sleep. It's all so overwhelming. You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that I almost fainted during the consulation and then broke down and cried while paying for my appointment. I was paralyzed when we left the office and felt totally numb. The air had been knocked out of me. All of the x-rays, and images of crooked, messed up bones shook me. What had I expected? A simple answer? Immediate relief? I think part of me did.
Thank God for my mom. I'm telling y'all she's an ANGEL. She knows just how to support me and love on me during these sometimes excruciating times. Now, a day later, I see this from a more positive perspective. The treatment cost and iffy outcome was a hard pill to swallow. I don't want to pay a single cent more to something that may or may not take it all away. And I want to KNOW when I will feel relief. But that's not how it works. I'm getting more okay with that. Everything is a process that I'm dealing with here. Everything in life, really, is a process.
I'm so tired. I usually would wrap this post up in a nice, deep, thoughtful, and maybe witty paragraph, but I'm so so drained. Today wasn't as painful as yesterday but mentally, I'm beat. So there ya have it. The answer. It's bittersweet.
But I have a God that will turn it ALL sweet, soon enough. I have faith. He has yet to let me down.