Sunday, December 1, 2019

Learning the hard way, there’s nothing more important than family

Here’s 3 of my 5 siblings:  that’s my sister Shawn and her husband Jim on the left, my sister Courtney and her husband Robert on the right, my brother Steve and his wife Ann seated.

Courtney & Robert traveled from Ohio to Pennsylvania on Saturday to spend the day with family.

It breaks my heart I wasn’t there too.  (With this awful oral splint, I’m unable to talk, unable to eat solid food, unable to crack a smile—not that I have any reason to.)

I was happy to see this, but at the same time it makes me sad too.  What makes this especially difficult is that I haven’t seen my sister Courtney in 19 years, since our Dad’s funeral in 2001.  Until a year or so ago she’s lived in Florida and…. oh, it’s a long story, as most family stories are.  Suffice it to say, it just would’ve been really nice to see everyone today, together again.  

I read recently that 5-10% of the population wrestles with temporomandibular jaw disorder; if that’s true, why do I feel so damn alone with this?  Still, if you google ‘TMJ Reddit’  there sure seems to be a lot of people out there with this issue…

I also read that for 80% of TMJD sufferers, the condition often goes away within 18 months; tomorrow’s my one year anniversary with it, I sure am hoping it’s true & I’m in that 80 percent.

Anyway—I didn’t mean for this to be a big self-pity party.  I’m just missing a lot of people, places & things right now, namely this group above.   I love & miss you all, and hope I’m well enough to see you all again soon.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving from a couple of turkeys: oh heck, why not…

I love this picture of Mom & me.  It was taken at my sister Shawn’s house on Thanksgiving Day, 2002.  Of all the family photos I have, this is the only nice one I have of the two of us together. 

(As much as Mom loved to snap pictures of Dad and us kids, she hated having her own taken; so photos of her are few & far between.)

Anyway--a couple days before, Mom called me and asked when I was driving down for Thanksgiving. 

As I had just gotten my driver’s license (and a new car) that summer, and no longer needed to rely on a family member to come get me or bring me back to Pittsburgh, I said I’d make the trip Thanksgiving morning. 

Mom said “Oh.”  I asked if that was okay.   She said “You used to come down the night before and stay a few days…” 

Doug you turkey--what was I thinking?  I said I’d make the trip home as soon as I got off work Wednesday.  As I was one of the people scheduled to work the day before the holiday, I knew my boss would only require us to be in the office a half-day.  So I’d spend the night at Mom’s house (she now lived alone as Dad had passed in February 2001) and we’d head over to my sister Shawn’s house together the next day for Thanksgiving.

When I arrived at Mom’s, she came outside and said “Hi honey!  Why don’t you park in the garage instead of leaving your car in the driveway!”   Hmm… I’d driven down several times since getting my car a few months earlier, she never suggested I park in there before… was she expecting snow?    

A couple hours later, my sister Shawn pulled into the driveway.   Mom said “Shhh!  Hide in the other room, I don’t want Shawn knowing you’re here!”   Mom met her at the kitchen door (where Shawn had picked up some items for Mom from the grocery store on her way home from work).  Mom asked how her day went, Shawn said fine, but she had a lot to do tonight in preparation for tomorrow.  Mom asked if she was sure she didn’t need her to bring anything.  Shawn said no, she was good. 

Then I heard Shawn ask “I thought Doug was coming here today?”   Mom said yes, that’s what she thought too. 

Shawn said “Well, it’s dark now.  You know he has trouble driving at night, shouldn’t you call him and see if he’s okay?”  Mom said “You’re right.  OH DOUG…..!!”

I walked into the kitchen.  “Hey Shawn.”  Shawn said “Hey Doug.”   Mom said “Waitaminute!  That’s all you have to say?  You’re not surprised to see him here??”  Shawn rolled her eyes. “Oh Mom… when Doug came around the corner I figured you had him park in the garage.   Okay I’ll see you two tomorrow, the earlier the better.”  

After she left, Mom said “Can you believe her?”  I said yes Mom, I knew Shawn all too well.  Mom said “Did you remember to bring that can of cranberrry sauce like I asked?”   I said yes, even though Shawn already told us she was making a fresh cranberry salad.   Mom said “Aren’t you going to ask why I had you bring it anyway?”  I said nope, ‘cuz I knew HER all too well too!

Oh I know this is a dumb little story… but since Mom’s passing (15 years ago this December) I can’t help but look back and think about these happier moments when the holidays roll around.   I guess I’ve been feeling especially bummy this year… last year I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital (after getting a uretal stent placed for a blocked kidney).  This year, I’ll be spending it alone again (as I’m pretty much unable to talk or chew with this godawful jaw splint I’m wearing 24/7).  

But next year, come hell or high water… I’m going to make it to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving if it kills me!

shocked turkey

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mining for that silver lining yet again: I see it, but…

Sunday night I was talking to my sister Courtney (well, we were exchanging emails) and I wrote I had to wrap things up and go to bed.

I told her that before this whole ‘temporomandibular joint thing’ came along, I used to stay up until 1-2am simply because I could.  I’m retired!

I’d sleep a few hours, jump back up around 6:30am, then doze off & on thru the next day.  You know how some people are morning people or night people?  I liked to consider myself both.

But after finally seeing a doctor two weeks ago (the terrific Dr. Marvi) for my tmjd, and getting put on Naproxen and Nortriptyline at bedtime, I was instructed to take it at the same time every night and go to bed within one hour.  So I’ve been taking it nightly at 10pm, going to bed at 11pm, reading for 1/2 hour before zonking out for 7 hours.  At least now, I was getting a good night’s sleep.

My sister responded with this:

Please don't gag when you see me trying to find the "silver lining", and I'm definitely not saying that everything happens for a reason because it surely does not; but it sounds as if your schedule is straightened out now, at least.  After the pain & pressure works itself out, you'll have a better quality of life with your new sleep-schedule.

I wrote back that it wasn’t worth the TMJD, and she promptly replied with an apology.  But she was right; that was a silver lining, whether or not I liked how it came about.

It got me to thinking about other silver linings I’ve seen but didn’t appreciate at the time:

In 1993, my shady landlord was arrested and his tenants (myself and 2 others) were handed eviction notices.  But I found a nicer apartment in a MUCH nicer neighborhood, and wound up living there 23 years.

In 2001, my poor dad succumbed to cancer.  But it motivated me to get my driver’s license and a car, so I could begin making weekly visits to see my mom who lived 65 miles away.  She died 3 years later, but we got to spend a lot of time together before that.

In 2014, my dipshot boss told me I’d be taking on additional work (after I’d been requesting help for 10 years and ignored).  It pushed me into taking the “early retirement leap” I’d been mulling over for a couple years, but was afraid to do.  His stunt gave me the kick in the pants I needed.

It got me to thinking about these silver linings yesterday, when I went to Mercy Hospital yesterday for my second round with the TMJD treatment.   It did not go as I expected.  After Susan (the same nurse I had 2 weeks ago) took my weight & blood pressure, she said “You’ve lost 10 lbs since your last visit!   Dr. Marvi isn’t here today, but Dr. Syed will see you in a couple minutes.”   I followed her into Exam Room 2.

aleem-salikI’m moving up in the world—my PCP Dr. Marvi is a first year resident, Dr. Syed here is a third year resident!

A couple minutes later, another nurse comes in.  “Mr. Morris?  My name is Gina.  I’m going to take your blood pressure again.”   Um… okay.

A few minutes after that, Dr. Syed enters the exam room, wheeling some weird contraption in front of him. “Douglas?   Before we get started, I want to take your blood pressure once more.”   The machine makes some happy chirping noises, and whistles a happy little tune when it’s done.   He wheels it back out then re-enters.

DOC:   Douglas, what do you think has been helping you the most with your TMJD?

ME:   The Naproxen—and wearing this occlusal splint 24 hours a day.  (I open my mouth and tap the hard acrylic to show him.)

DOC:   I was afraid you’d say that.  I’m glad you’re wearing the splint—but the Naproxen is not meant for long-term use and I fear it’s damaging your kidneys.  It’s usually prescribed for 10 days dosage max.   You’ve been on it 14 days.

ME:   I’ve read enough about it to know it’s dangerous. 

DOC:   You’ve lost 9.8 pounds since your last visit.   I don’t know how you managed 10 lbs loss in 2 weeks time but…

ME:   From not chewing.  I’m living on vegetable juice, water, coffee, scrambled eggs, applesauce.

DOC:   But your blood pressure… Douglas.  It’s thru the roof.   It was in red-flag territory on your last visit.  Your upper number has gone up by 15-20 since then.  That’s why we took your blood pressure reading 3 times.  I’ve alerted the attending physician, and we want to get an EKG.  

(After the EKG…)

DOC:   Your heartrate is too high.  We need to put you on medication for hypertension beginning today.   And we are doubling the Nortriptyline you take at bedtime, but you need to cut your Naproxen dosage in half, or stop taking it altogether.  Have you considered surgery on your jaw.

ME:   You’re the doctor, but I’ve studied tmjd enough to know that surgery is ONLY a last resort, and only to restore range-of-motion… not for pain.

DOC:   I’ve treated 2 or 3 other tmj patients, and you’re just like them—they’re experts on it compared to us, I’ll admit that.  Alright, well, we just have to hope the Nortiptyline will lessen the muscles spasm.  Let me feel your face… you’re either running a fever or dealing with inflammation.

ME:   The inflammation comes & goes throughout the day.

DOC:   Okay.  Go to the lab across the street on the first floor, submit your blood & urine samples, pick up your Carvedilol—that’s a BP med—from the pharmacy asap and start the dosage today.  We will see you here again in 2 weeks.

ME:  Er… okay.  Do you think the high blood pressure is from the jaw disorder?  It hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park…

DOC:  You had high blood pressure last December, before that kidney stone operation and before your TMD began.  You should’ve been treated for it then.

ME:  Oh.

So, here I am the next day—my jaw feeling sorer than usual without that awesome Naproxen (it figures the good stuff turned out too good to be true) and a little dizzy from the blood pressure meds.   I suppose one can say if it wasn’t for the jaw thing, I wouldn’t have known I was in stroke territory….

So yes, there’s a silver lining here, but right now I’m having a tough time seeing it!


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

You may not be hearing much from me for awhile…

A couple days before my last post, I called UPMC Mercy Hospital and said I wanted to see a doctor about this facial pain that’s been going on since the day after my kidney surgery (nearly a year ago).   The woman on the other end said “Dear, that’s not how it works—you need to contact your PCP.”  

I said “Ma’am, you are my PCP.  Mercy treated me so kindly after several kidney stone attacks last year, I called UPMC Health Plan and asked if I could make Mercy Hospital my new PCP.  They said sure.”

The woman on the phone said “Isn’t that the nicest thing… alright, let me get your name & number, I’ll call you back!”  

She did an hour later, and told me to come in on Tuesday.  My new PCP would be Dr. Bhukari. 

Later when my friend Danielle called, I told her what was going on.  She googled my new PCP and said “She’s a first year resident”.   I said “Oh no!”   Danielle said “No, that’s a good thing!   She’ll probably pay close attention to everything you tell her and go out of her way to help!”   I wasn’t sure what to think, but Danielle turned out to be right on target.

On Tuesday I caught a bus downtown (gosh I love public transit) and getting there earlier than expected, walked about for an hour on Wood Street, Fifth Avenue & Smithfield, reminiscing about the decades I spent downtown working, the men’s shops and bookstores I used to visit (all gone now), the years of lunches and occasional happy hours with coworkers. 

For someone who grew up in a rural community, I loved working in the city, feeling a part of things... I don’t now.  I really miss those days sometimes.

I caught a second bus to Mercy Hospital, had my weight & blood pressure taken, and was scooted into an examination room.  Soon a very petite Indian (rather, Pakistani) woman in a white doctor’s coat entered the room, smiled & shook my hand.  My God, she doesn’t look much older than my 15 year old niece.   She said “Hello Mr. Morris?  May I call you Douglas?”  I said “You certainly can, Dr. Bhukari.”   She said “Oh please, call me Marvi.”   I said “You certainly can, Dr. Marvi.”    She laughed and said “Right away… I like you!”    That’s exactly how I felt too.

bukhari-marviDr. Marvi, who’s on a mission to find out everything wrong with me

She explained she was indeed a first-year resident, but she’d be reviewing my case with the attending physician.  She then asked what exactly was going on.

I said “Before I begin, I feel it’s important I give you my backstory… so I don’t get sent on another medical merry-go-round.”  She said okay and opened a small notepad to begin writing. 

I told her I first developed TMD in 2016, my dentist sent me to my PCP, who sent me to an ENT, who gave me a steroid pack which sent me to an ER, they in turn sent me to an endodontist, who sent me to an oral surgeon who said it wasn’t advisable to operate.  I got some physical therapy, then sat around in misery for 7-8 months before it healed on it’s own.

She said it sounded like a pretty traumatic experience.  I told her all was good for the next 20 months, until I had a series of kidney stone attacks last November and the urologist wanted to operate.  They did a laser lithotripsy, a 2-3 hour procedure, and put in a breathing tube while I was out.  I woke up the next morning with my face in a lot of pain; my TMJD had returned.  I KNEW this could happen, I even warned the doctors beforehand.

Dr. Marvi said “I’ve never worked with a TMD patient, but I do know any surgery involving oral intubation can bring on the affliction.”

I told her I’d been suffering with it for the past 11 months, waiting for it to heal.  Instead, it seems to be going in the opposite direction.  I took Advil & Montrin for months (before realizing it was doing more harm than good), wrap my face in moist heat wraps & ice packs daily, but the relief is minimal. 

The first time I had TMD, I was able to eat fairly regularly after a couple months.  This time around… just the opposite.  I ate at the start, but stopped eating most solid foods a couple months ago, it just became too painful.

Also, this time it’s not just the swollen muscles in my face, but it’s in both sides of my head, squeezing me like a vise.  I’m also dealing with ‘burning mouth syndrome’.   It’s all a hot mess.  

Dr. Marvi said “I see you’re 25 pounds lighter than your weigh-in last November.  I’m guessing that wasn’t intentional?”   I said no, but I know I needed to lose the weight anyway; one of the perks of having TMD.   She said she’d be reviewing everything with the attending physician, then asked if she could take some pictures of the inside of my mouth (with her smartphone??) and gave me a cursory examination.

During the exam, she said “Douglas may I ask you a very personal question?  Do you wax your legs?”  I laughed and said no, all the hair fell out several years ago.  She squeezed my calves then said “I know it’s not your reason for being here today, but in 2 weeks we’ll be doing a complete series of bloodwork.  I suspect you have hypertension and are pre-diabetic.”   Oh dear.

We talked some more (she asked if I was in a relationship—no, she asked if I liked cats—yes) then left to meet with the other doctor.  When she returned, she said “We’re going to put you on 1000 mg of Naproxen daily for the time being, and give you something to take before bed.  It’s an antidepressant called Nortriptyline, but it’s also used to manage persistent pain from affected nerves— it’s a cumulative treatment, so it may take a couple weeks to be effective.  I’m going to have you come back in 2 weeks so we can check on your progress… and do your bloodwork.  And 2 weeks after that… and 2 weeks after that.”

After thanking her, I headed out to the checkout station.  I asked the nurse “Will I be getting a new PCP everytime I come here?”  Dr. Marvi suddenly appeared from around the corner.  She said “No Doug!  I am your PCP now!  For the next 3 years!”   I smiled and said okay.  She then said “Your next appointment, I will be away doing a clinical study so you’ll be seen by another resident.  If you don’t like them, don’t be discouraged because I am your doctor now." 

I said ok, thank you.  My stomach rumbled and the nurse at the station asked if I was hungry.  I said yes and she said “You should visit the cafeteria, they have a ‘hot dog bar’ set up today.”   Before I could respond, Dr. Marvi said “NO DOUG.  I don’t want you eating all those nitrates or sodium.”   Ok, Dr. Marvi.   

(After she left, the checkout nurse said “You’re very lucky to have her as your new PCP.  People here are singing her praises.”   Good to know.)

And so, for the last week I’ve been taking those naproxen twice daily, which take the edge off—sometimes, and that nortriptyline before bed (which usually zonks me out).  I wake up, do the heat, ice & meds all over again.

It worries me though—that naproxen is pretty heavy-duty.  I can’t take it forever.

I will admit, it’s been rough.  Particularly this weekend, when I thought I’d tear my hair out.  Sunday afternoon I was sitting here holding a couple of frozen gel-packs to my face and feeling a lot of anxiety, wondering if this will ever end.  I decided to pray.

“God… you know I don’t believe in the whole Bible church thing.  Or in any supreme being, for that matter.  The last time I prayed was 15 years ago, when I begged you to spare my mom.  But now I’m praying for me.  I know I’m being a hypocrite, but please help me out, I need a little bit of relief here.”

The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” immediately sprang to mind, and I got on my blog here and looked up a couple TMJ-related posts from my first time with it in 2016.  I found one about having a custom occlusal splint made, and it made me stop & think for a second;  I’d almost forgotten the thing.  (I DO remember it costing me $300 for the fitting and the appliance.)

splints2019The fitting took place the first week of January, 2017.  By the time it finally arrived in mid-February, my jaw was starting to feel better;  I think I only wore it for a couple weeks.   (It separates your upper & lower teeth by a 1/2 inch, taking some pressure off of your rigid, spazzed out masseters.)  

Dr. Marvi HAD asked me if I owned a night guard, I told her I had a couple—a cheap, rubbery one from Wal-Mart that hurt my gums, and an expensive custom-fitted piece that was too tight on my teeth.  I haven’t worn either in ages.

It’s been almost 3 years, I wonder if the pricey one is still wearable?  I found it in it’s little blue container under my bathroom sink.  I rinsed it under some warm water and snapped it onto my upper teeth.  Ouch, it’s tight alright—but unlike the cheap rubber one, doesn’t chafe my gums.  After a few minutes, it felt a little more comfortable.  

I also detected a small (but noticeable) drop in pain in my jaw muscles.  It couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3%… but it was something.   

So I wore it to bed, and was surprised when I awoke and it was still snapped in place.  (That $5.00 green thing has never lasted thru a single night; I always awoke with it in my hand or under the covers.)  After brushing my (very tender) teeth, I thought “what the heck” and put it back in, wore it most of the day. 

And I think that’s just what I’m going to do for the time being—besides wearing it at night when I sleep, I’m going to wear it as often as possible during the daytime too. 

It’s impossible to eat with, but I can drink liquids with it in and that’s pretty much what I’m living on right now anyway.  It’s also difficult to talk with, but it’s not like I’m able to do much gabbing outside of email or on my blog here.

I’m just desperate to get my old life back.  I miss my family, my friends.  I miss eating real food.  I miss having a reason (or being able) to smile.  Wish me luck.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Corny as it sounds, friendship really is the best medicine

Last Friday evening, I was sitting here on my couch wondering what to do.  I was tired of looking at the TV, tired of looking at the internet, didn’t feel like picking up a book and was trying not to think about my sore jaw.  On a whim I picked up my phone, dialed my friend Erin’s number and was surprised when she picked up—“Hello Doug!” 

Erin and a 25 lbs heavier me from my last day in the office 4 years ago

I said “Erin?  What are you doing home on a Friday night?”  She said “I’m getting old Doug, I don’t have the energy to run around like I used to!”

(Erin’s in her early 40s, 15 years younger than me.)  I asked if she felt like talking, she said sure and as we began chatting, my TMD got angry and said “what the heck do you think you’re doing, Doug”  as my left masseter began to swell, closing off my salivary gland.  I was close to saying “Erin, bad idea—nevermind”  but I just—didn’t—care.  It had been a pretty rough day already (I’d walked to the store earlier, had a dizzy spell and fell against a US mailbox on my way home) and was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

We wound up on the phone for a good 4 hours.  It was probably the best Friday night (for my heart & mind, at least) I’ve had in months.

I first met Erin in 2007 when she joined my work-group at UPMC (but it feels like I’ve known her a lot longer).  She sat directly across the aisle from me, and surprised me one day when she began sharing her love of all things ‘Star Wars’.  What the—a girl who’s a sci-fi geek like me??   We’d often recount (crying & laughing) the previous night’s episode of Big Bang Theory to one another, and I still laugh when she asked me one day what I thought of The Walking Dead and I told her I had no need for zombies; I’d never seen it.  She said “DOOG!!  (Her nickname for me.)  YOU MUST WATCH!!”

She was right, of course—it became my No.1 favorite show for many years.

She left the company several years later, then returned (to a different department) a couple years after that, but we never lost touch.

fatheadswitherinErin & myself at Fathead’s, our favorite hamburger place on the Southside in happier times

I don’t think we’ve ever had a typical friendship, whatever that is.  I have a couple people I’m close to—my sisters Shawn & Courtney, my friend Danielle—who I pretty much keep in daily contact with via email.

If either doesn’t hear from me in a couple days, they’ll be quick to reach out and ask what’s going on.

Erin & I can go weeks—a couple months even—without hearing from one another and unlike my sisters & Danielle, we don’t text or email one another.  But we get on that phone, and talk like we just saw each other yesterday.   She’s funny, sweet, open with her feelings… a terrific listener. 

If there’s a pause in our conversation, she always seems to know just what to jump to next.  I think that’s what I like about our calls best.  (Every other person I know uses that moment of silence to let me know I’ve rambled on long enough!)

I know a couple times in our past, others have asked me or joked about us pursuing something romantic.  I can’t imagine it, neither could she.  But I had no problem asking her if she’d seen the movie Friends with Benefits when it came out a few years ago, and what she thought of the idea!

I can’t remember where I was going with this… to be honest, my brain has been a little fuzzy lately.  As this uncomfortable jaw disorder stretches into it’s 11th month (I’m very much hoping it’s in the home stretch), it sometimes inflames the temporal muscles on the sides of my head and gives me a hot, tingling panicky feeling.  The jaw isn’t enough for you, TMD?

That all-night chat with Erin didn’t exactly do wonders for my jaw…  but it was just what the doctor ordered.

Erin, if you’re reading this… thanks again.  Smile

Saturday, October 26, 2019

When it comes to birthdays… oh, what I wouldn’t do to be a vampire again

NOTE:  This is from November 4 2012, 4 days after my 51st birthday.  But I recently found some artwork I wanted to include, and seeing that it’s almost Halloween…

A few days ago I celebrated my birthday.  Well, I’m not sure I’d say celebrate—it was a ‘work from home’ day for me, and I had some leftover chicken for lunch and a bowl of cereal for dinner.  The day before was much nicer though, some lovely friends took me out to lunch & got me a giant cookie afterwards. 

Thank you Dani, Gwen, Kathy & Jamie!

I got a nice assortment of birthday cards in the mail too, a couple of them even came with music and you can never go wrong with the Starship Enterprise.  I especially liked how a couple were for people with Halloween birthdays like mine (and wait you didn’t know that?  I thought I told everybody).  But truth be told, as much as I appreciate the ones I got this year and every year, I still miss the ones from my dad more than anything.

I’m talking about the hand-drawn cards my Dad made for me on my birthdays, which were far better than anything that Hallmark or American Greetings could do.

Besides his job in coal shaft construction and playing music on the weekends, Dad enjoyed drawing too.

While he drew birthday cards for everyone in the family, I got a big kick out of how he always portrayed me as a vampire. 

That’s my mom holding a newborn Doug with the caption “Look Don… it’s another boy—and he was born with two teeth!” 

(Click on image to enlarge)

Here’s another “Vampire Doug” card, with me going to the Blood Bank to make some withdrawals (naturally)!


Here’s one of my favorites that Dad made for my older brother Duke on his 16th birthday in 1975 (and boy did he get things right on the money here!)


This one was for our baby sister Courtney, who turned 4 on July 2, 1979.  Mom liked to remind us that July 4 may be celebrated as Independence Day, but the actual date of said event was July 2!


And here’s one Dad made for my younger brother Steve (again, click on any of these images to enlarge):


Dad captured our little sister & both of my brothers so well, with Duke on his academic soapbox (when he wasn’t chowing down) and Huckleberry Steve and his love of all those darn critters— both before and after they became road-kill. 

And then there was me, always with the fangs!

Well, when you’re wearing a set of pointy teeth and carrying your sister’s Barbie Makeup Head around in the middle of July, what can you expect?

Monday, October 21, 2019

I’m ready to join the Bloggers Club… oh dagnabbit, now the bug’s bitten me too

A couple weeks ago, I was on Google’s Blogger forum looking for a solution to why the ‘Contact Me’ gadget in my sidebar had stopped working.  I was reading other blogger’s issues, and one asked “What happened to the ‘Next’ button in the toolbar, that took you to a blog similar to the one you were on?  I really miss finding new blogs to read.”

Good question, I’d been wondering the same thing for a couple months now—I used to click on that ‘Next blog’ button a lot.

Blogger’s response was they had removed that feature, as it wasn’t popular.  What a shame, I used to come across some real zingers in the blogosphere.

Plus it’s removal reduced the odds of your own blog being randomly ‘discovered’ as well.  Forget my gadget issue, I suddenly had the urge to find some new blogs to read.  I discovered it’s easier said than done. 

It’s simple enough to google ‘food blog’ or ‘tv blog’ or ‘travel blog’, there’s dozens—no hundreds of homegrown themed sites out there.  I wanted to find PERSONAL blogs, like mine.  People just sharing their own life stories.  How do you google that? 

On a whim, I googled “baby boomer blogs”  (people born between 1944 & 1964) and got a link to “The Top 100 Baby Boomer Blogs of 2019”.   I believe every blog listed had a variation of the word “Boomer” in the title, each with similar topics on how to be one.  (Not exactly what I was looking for.) 

But one stood out, “Time Goes By – What it’s really like to get old”.  I clicked on it.


I must’ve spent 3-4 hours reading (that first day, I’ve been back several times since).  It’s basically the life story of a 78 year old woman named Ronni, diagnosed in 2017 with pancreatic cancer.  It’s her own life’s journey, her mother’s battle with cancer, book recommendations, thoughts on everything from ageism to politics to pop culture.  She’s a remarkable writer and it was just a joy to read. 

Recently, one of her pieces was on Old Age & Loneliness.   Unsure if I was regarded as an old man (I’m sure my 15 year old niece would think so) but still relating to this piece in a big way, I posted this response:

Ronni, this topic is precisely how I found your wonderful blog just a week or so ago. I don’t know if 58 is considered old age, but this is a problem I wrestle with. If it wasn’t for a couple of my sisters (who live far from me but we connect thru email) I’d be in real trouble. I never married or had kids, so they’re the only family I’ve got.

I was able to save & invest thru the years, managed an early retirement a few years ago. I guess I didn’t realize all of my physical relationships were work-related ones. I was naïve at the time to think I’d maintain friendships I had there. Anyway, was just coming to my senses that I needed to be more proactive about this a year or so ago, when I developed chronic TMD after a kidney operation (a jaw disorder which limits my speaking & diet).  So… reading others blogs (and writing my own) has been a real help.

I didn’t expect or receive a respone (no one does, or she’d be spending most of her waking hours just doing that—her site’s very popular) but a couple hours later I received a personal message from someone who’d seen my comment—and then another, and another.  

Hmm… there’s some pretty nice people out there.   I later go on my own blog, click on the Visitors Map to see if anyone’s been there since morning and—what the—I’d gotten 29 visits in the space of a couple hours??

(What I soon discovered is that Ronni isn’t your typical blogger; she’s a professional writer, a world traveler & was Barbara Walters’ long-time producer.  My comment on her site had included a link to my own blog as well.)

I also received a few very nice comments on some of my own recent posts, from like-minded blggers.  When I visited their sites, I was surprised to find just what I’d been looking for—some warm, personal (and often funny) blogs.  The New Sixty, Cranky Old Man, Musings, Rants & Scribbles… written by older folks, and blogging the type of stuff I enjoy and appreciate most.

I was also surprised to discover a couple of them had chosen to ‘follow’ me.  For real?  They weren’t just one-time visitors?  I pulled my “Followers” gadget out of mothballs and plunked it in the upper mid-right of my blog’s sidebar.   Sigh, only 15 followers… a fraction of what these other bloggers have.   I wish I had more followers… why?  Why is that suddenly so important to me?   I emailed my sister:  “Do you have a gmail account?”  She said yes.  I said “Would you please click the Follow button on my teepee?  If you’re not a blogger it’s not going to send you alerts or anything, but it will allow you to leave comments on my posts without jumping thru any security hoops… and will help me feel a little less embarrassed about having only 15 followers.”

Hooray, 16 followers!   After 13 years, I’m starting to feel like a real blogger.  Smile

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ten dippy things you may or may not know about my teepee (my personal blog)

Way back in 2005, when I belonged to a message board devoted to comics, sci-fi & other nerdboy interests (to this day I believe that forum was the inspiration behind The Big Bang Theory), I would often share stories about my friends, family & coworkers. 

Then one day, Ross S. (one of the members and someone I considered a friend as we talked outside of the boards) said “Doug you should start a personal blog.” 

I replied “What in the world would I blog about?” 

While I definitely had a bigger audience on that forum than I do here, I’ve very much enjoyed having this corner of the internet to share my life.  (Sometimes I like to imagine someone nice will come along, read some of my nonsense and ask where I’ve been all their life.)  The truth is, I rarely hear from anyone anymore and can’t help but wonder if it’s time I wrapped this blogging thing up.  

Anyway, just for the halibut, I thought I’d share a few dorky tidbits about my so-called teepee.  Here we go:

1.  ApacheDug’s Teepee did not exactly start out as a blog. 

I began ApacheDug’s Teepee in November 2006 on another platform, MSN Spaces.  Here’s how my teepee looked then:

orig_tee (2)

This was before Facebook, and was only meant to be a place to display photos, a list of personal interests, book & movie reviews.  (An MSN version of MySpace… remember that?) 

A couple weeks into it, I thought of my friend Ross’ suggestion and added a “Doug’s Journal” module.   I haven’t shut up since.

Three years later, in the summer of 2009, I began hearing rumors of MSN Space’s demise and decided to migrate my written content to Blogger. 

(Oh and for the record, I’d just gotten those 3 framed art pieces pictured above & was trying to decide which wall to hang them on!)

2.  It was almost titled “ApacheDug’s Wiki”.  When I first set my page up and alerted family & friends to begin visiting regularly or else, my (Native American) friend Todd Tamanend said “Doug!  Apaches didn’t live in teepees, they lived in wikis!  More precisely, wikiups—or wigwams!”   I came close to changing it, until I did a little investigating and learned Apaches settled in wikiups (a more permanent structure) but still used teepees too. 

(Hmm…. I rather like the idea of ApacheDug’s Wiki now.  Maybe I should’ve listened to Todd.)

3.  The title is clickable.   Awhile back, someone said I needed a “Home” button on my blog to return to the main page.  There IS a Home link, in the sidebar on the top right, directly under Pages on the Teepee.


But all you have to do is move your mouse (or finger on a touch-screen) to the title at the top of my blog.  If you’re not on the main page, clicking on the title will always take you there.

4.  I have no control over which posts appear in the “Popular Posts” column on the right side of my blog.  Well, more like next-to-no control.  I can set the number of posts it displays (up to 10).  I can specify it to show visited posts in the last 7 days, 30 days or all-time popular posts.  But I can’t choose what posts appear there.

I wish I could make it display my own favorites… I’ve got some oldies but goodies out there!  (Do people still use that phrase, “oldies but goodies”?  I’m showing my age…) 

5.  My Visitors Map (supplied by MapLoco) is loco, alright.  While it IS good at tracking visits to my blog, I’m never sure where they’re from exactly.  When someone from back home (Waynesburg, PA) comes here, their location is shown as somewhere in Ohio. 

Is Waynesburg too small-fry for you, MapLoco??

6.  My 2 most visited posts (click on either to see what all the fuss is about).  I’m guessing they come up in Google searches because the titles contain people’s names (like Paul Shannon, who was a local celebrity in the 1960s). 

I should add more uncommon names to my post titles.  

vp1  vp2

7.  The only reason I have a ‘Movies in the Teepee’ page is because of my sister Shawn.  She’s always been very appreciative of those mini-reviews, but I think she’s the only person who reads them.

So don’t be surprised if that Movie page disappears in the not-too-distant future…

8.  I’ve published 368 posts to date:  this one is my favorite.   I made myself laugh while typing it (I swear every word is true) but a couple weeks after posting, my cousin Amy in Florida wrote & told me she read it over the phone to her dad (my Uncle Mike) and it made him cry laughing.  

It doesn’t get any better than that!  (Click on the image to visit this post.)


9.  There’s a “hidden page” containing my dad’s (and his brothers) music recordings from the 1960s-1970s.   You can only get to it from this post (by clicking on one of the 45 records).


10.  If you’re reading a post on the same date as the date shown at the top, you’re probably reading a poorer version of the post.   I always proofread my posts several times before I post them online.  (Checking for typos, run-on sentences & the like.) 

But for some reason, any poor writing doesn’t stand out to me until the day AFTER I publish it.  Then I frantically go online and edit half the darn thing!

So if the date at the top of the blog matches the date you’re reading it… trust me, it will be better tomorrow!


Saturday, October 12, 2019

The view from my kitchen window, people below and across, and other junk

This is the view from my kitchen window—from one angle.  If I stand at the center or center-right of my sink, I have a lovely view of California Avenue, Avalon’s “Main Street”.  It’s lined with tall trees and nice homes. 

When I get up in the morning I like to wash my face & brush my teeth, turn on my tv to ‘Morning Joe’ as I stumble thru the livingroom on my way to the kitchen.  And while Joe Scarborough & Mika rail about Trump’s latest in the other room, I slide open that window above my sink and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the going-ons below.

I see joggers, male & female both.  There’s people walking their dogs (more like finding a spot for them to do their business), and even a couple moms with their baby strollers, getting some morning sun while the weather’s still warm. 

I think my favorite ones to watch are the sprinters, the people making a dash for the bus stop to get to their jobs downtown.  I was one of those sprinters once… I suppose watching them is a nice reminder I’m no longer on that hamster wheel.  Sometimes I miss it.

Early morning is definitely my favorite part of the day.

ANYWAY—from my kitchen’s entrance (the far left of this window), I can see my neighbor’s window at Chaize Place, the condo building next door (which is set back from the street a bit more than my own apartment building).

A few days ago I noticed that window had it’s vertical blinds open.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen those blinds pulled back.  When I moved into this apartment in April 2017, an older gent used to park himself at that window.  We never made eye contact, for all I know he was looking at the person who lives below me.  But he was always at that window.

Then 7-8 months ago he disappeared.  His window went dark, and someone pulled his blinds shut.  They haven’t been opened since.  Until now.  Someone has moved in.

kit-entrance_thumb11So yesterday morning, as I’m making my trek for coffee and I’m at the entrance to my kitchen, I see a woman (around my age) fiddling with a potted plant on her windowsill.  She looked up & saw me.

I’m at the perfect angle for her to see me head to toe—and all I’m wearing is the t-shirt and underwear I slept in.

Sorry lady!  I don’t get dressed until after I shower—and I don’t shower until after I have my morning cup of coffee

She didn’t hear my brain’s apology though, and just stood there.  I slunk into my kitchen the rest of the way and got my cuppa joe. 

Later on, I worried about it some—could she call the cops and report me for indecent exposure?  In my own apartment?  

It’s not like I was standing in my sink & giving her a “Magic Mike” routine.  And for the record, I was wearing boxers not briefs.  Okay they were boxer briefs, but that’s plenty of coverage.  Am I over-thinking this? 

I later googled the law and read this:

“So, if you were walking around your house nude and someone else sees you through the windows, could you be convicted of this crime?  It depends. Your intent is very important in cases involving lewd acts in public. If you forgot the curtains were open and your neighbor saw you naked, you are not likely to be convicted of any crime because you did not intend to expose yourself to them and your act involved no sexual gratification.”

Ah, okay.  Well, my only gratification in the mornings is coffee!  So I decided not to worry about it anymore, and go about my day.  I drink my coffee, watch some news, look at my computer, make a small list of stuff I need from the store, shower, head out (whew it’s hot), come back, put said stuff away, go into my bedroom to change into something I can flop around in, undress, but I’m a bit damp from the walk to the store so I head into my kitchen to grab a paper towel to pat myself dry…

And that lady across the way is back in her window again (replacing her potted plant with a little cactus) and looks up to see me in my kitchen’s doorway again—this time without pants OR a shirt.  Howdy neighbor, you’re just in time for the afternoon show!

I try to look embarrassed, grab a couple paper towels and head back into my bedroom.  Fully dressed now in my baggy lounge wear, I go back into my kitchen for a glass of iced tea (and to show this woman what I look like with clothes on). 

The only thing looking back at me is her cactus.  Lady, welcome to the neighborhood.  But I think you’re going to need a bigger plant.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

It’s Tuesday, it’s chilly outside… just another day of living with this personal tug-o-war

It’s driving me crazy; I watched this video the other night of a beautiful woman slamming some guy, and at the end she “cricks” her head from side to side, making some pretty loud cracking sounds, all while smiling at the camera.   I can’t remember what it was.

(Darn it, I even saw it twice—was it a commercial?  I watch too much Youtube!)

I was reminded of it this morning when I awoke and sat up in bed, and heard the same “craaaaack” in the side of my face while stifling a yawn.  Good morning, TMD— could you let me know how long you plan on staying?

It’s an annoying, scary sound—I’m not even sure what it is.  The oral surgeon I saw recently told me it could be broken cartilage in my jaw’s joints or the breakdown of calcified muscle fibers (from the muscles surrounding my joints being in spasm for the last year). 

A couple weeks ago (against the advice of several other TMJ sufferers) I made an appointment with an oral surgeon in my neighborhood who shares a practice with his mother, a dentist.  I wanted to see about getting an arthrocentesis done on my TMJ.  They inject 2 long needles into your jaw’s joint, the first needle fills the joint with saline (and possibly an anti-inflammatory solution), while the other simulatenously rinses out tiny, broken pieces of cartilage and trapped fluid causing the inflammation. 

Repeat on the other side.  Don't tell anyone smile

It’s considered the least-invasive surgical procedure on your jaw, but doesn’t exactly come with a guarantee.  It’s estimated that it reduces pain in roughly 25% of people who have it done.  (For 50% it does nothing, and for the remaining 25% it can make things worse.)   Not exactly great odds—and I’ve read accounts from others who had it done, some good, most indifferent, some bad.

The surgeon listened to my joints as I opened & closed my mouth, and pulled my head to the left & right.  He did hear some crunching sounds, but said they weren’t consistent and didn’t think the procedure would help my own disorder.  From what he could tell, my TMJ issues are largely muscular, with a pulled ligament on the right side.

The muscles on the left try to overcompensate, and it LITERALLY becomes a tug-of-war in your face on a daily basis, as both sides try to level the playing field.  

He was willing to do the procedure if I insisted on it, for $750.00 (per joint).  He also said it would probably put me out of commission for a month.  Doc…  I’ve been out of commission since last December!   Still, I thanked & paid him for the examination and left.

When I got home, several TMJ members were quick to ask how the consult went, and one medical professional onsite reminded me that “even the least invasive procedure is STILL invasive and should be avoided if at all possible.”  I think I need to keep telling myself that.

The very next day, someone sent me a link to an article posted by the AMA (American Medical Association) in conjunction with the ADA (Dental) that was just published this summer, that said 2 out of 3 people who develop a TMJ disorder will suffer with the condition for 6 months or more.   This is finally being known now?

Another person sent me a link to “My 5 year battle with TMD”, a woman’s personal account of what she went through and the $15,000 she wasted on ineffective treatments.  Her first sentence hit too close to home.  “This began in 2010 with a trip to the dentist to repair a single cracked filling…”   Mine began in 2016, much the same way.  

This is from the TMJ website:  my 7 month bout in 2016 (and my current one) HAVE to be because of the reasons I highlighted in red below:

What Causes TMD?

Some known causes are the following:

  • autoimmune diseases (in which the body's immune cells attack healthy tissue)
  • infections
  • injuries to the jaw area
  • dental procedures (even prolonged mouth opening)
  • insertion of a breathing tube before surgery
  • various forms of arthritis

I’m just surprised how different mine is from the first time I had it.  Still the same dull, steady burning sensation in my face, but I wake up some mornings feeling like my head is in a vise (both temples feel pushed in) or my neck feels like it’s a rope being pulled at from two opposite directions. 

thermophoreI recently got this “moist heat” heating pad from Thermophore, cost $40.00.  It does provide some relief, sometimes— but you have to hold the button down while you use it (so it doesn’t burn your face off if you fall asleep with it on!)

I’m sorry for sharing all this, I just need to vent.  But I HAVE been getting some glimmers of hope—an hour or two every several days where things calm down for awhile.  Every time—EVERYTIME—I tell myself “Oh it’s getting better now!  Well, it’s about time as it’s been a crazy 10 months” and then it starts back up again…  it’s a very defeating feeling.

One woman (Marion) wrote “Those good moments can be fleeting, but you gotta believe they’ll come more frequently as time goes on, and gradually become your norm.”

Gotta keep on believing.


Saturday, October 5, 2019

My niece Sophia & her date Jud: For everything there is a first time

I wanted to wait & share these pics next weekend (so I could also wish my lovely niece Sophia here a Happy 15th birthday), but it’s already been a week so…

Last Saturday was Sophia’s first high school formal, and here she is with her date Jud.  From what I hear, he sounds like a pretty fine young man.  My sister Shawn (Soph’s mom) told me that she was already discussing wedding plans with his mom!  

Relax Shawn, people know you were joking!  (More like half-joking…)  Smile 

During the dance, I called my sister & we talked for nearly 3 hours about our own memories at Sophia’s age, and frankly how little things have changed since then.  If anything, it seems kids today are more responsible, more respectful towards one another.  

(And thanks to Sophia’s iphone, my sister was pretty much kept in the loop the entire evening.)

Anyway, not much to say here; just thought I’d share a couple photos of this sweet couple and was happy to hear Sophia had a nice time.   

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Am I the only one feeling some real battle fatigue here?

Friday morning I swallowed a couple ibuprofens, said a quick prayer (to whomever may be listening) and headed to the barbershop.  It was a week or so early for me, but my barber (Rose) is getting a thyroid operation this week and doesn’t know how long her shop will be closed.   I love her dearly, she’s a good friend and I hope she takes all the time off she needs. 

After I arrived and whispered I wouldn’t be doing any talking (as my TMJ muscles are slowly shifting to the far back on their way to healing, but making it difficult to talk) she said “No problem, Dougie Fresh—you just have to listen!”  As she began clipping my hair, she went on a rampage about Trump & the gall of his Ukraine shakedown.

I nodded my head up & down (well, when the scissors weren’t too close).  Meanwhile, a well dressed, older gentleman reading the newspaper (more like pretending to read) waited for a lull in Rose’s diatribe and said “Have you considered this is some elaborate hoax cooked up by the Democrats?  I wouldn’t put it past them, I’m 70 years old and remember when they tried to convince everyone to turn Communist in the 1950s.”   


Rose said “HEY PAL—ARE YOU HERE FOR A HAIRCUT?”  He said “That I am.” She said “THEN SPARE US THE BULLSHIT.  I’M A DEMOCRAT, SO IS DOUGIE FRESH HERE.”  She spun my chair around to face him (haha, I almost burst out laughing) but I gave him the angriest look I could muster.

He picked his paper back up and said “I was only offering a just suppose, it wasn’t intended to be taken personally.”   He seemed like a nice enough fellow, had an “educated air” about him.  But still… wow.  Rose cut the rest of my hair in angry silence.

After I got home, showered & changed and plopped on my couch to get on my laptop and check my email, I opened a message from my friend Danielle.  It included this early morning tweet from the Donald, I’m sure everyone has seen or heard about it by now.


I wanted to laugh, wanted to cry.  This oaf is as petty & simple-minded as he is deranged.   Is there a Trump supporter out there reading my blog?  Can you explain or justify this tweet?  You can?  Omigod, what’s wrong with you?

I sent it on to my sister Shawn (who responded with a reminder that she hated him) and turned on my tv.  More Trump stuff.  I even switched it over to Fox News, looking for a laugh.  I got one alright, but it was them laughing instead. “Will the Democrats stop at nothing??”  “The Democrats OWN this!”  “The Democrats have just handed President Trump his second term in office!”  

Well, I hope not.  I turned my tv off, put my shoes on to walk to Redbox and rent a movie to get away from Trump and all this impeachment mania, and when I got downstairs, saw (what appeared to be) a 108 year old Muslim woman in the lobby, spinning in place and shouting

    !!هل يمكن لشخص ساعدني شخص

A cluster of senior women sat there watching, shrugging their shoulders and nudging each other and wink-wink isn’t this hilarious.  I said “Ma’am, ma’am—can you understand me?   What’s wrong??”   She shoved an iphone into my hand and I heard a man’s voice “Hello?  Hello?”   When I put it to my ear & said hello back, he said “Yes sir, my name is Amir—we live on the sixth floor, I am not at home.  Are you the police?”   I said no, just a tenant.  He said his grandmother had left some groceries downstairs, but when she returned to get them, they were gone.

I told him I’d try & find out what was going on.  I asked the women in the lobby if they’d seen any bags of food.  They all shook their heads no, and one said “This is Avalon!  People don’t steal other people’s food here!”   I looked about, and there on the “Free to take” table was a small white note.  The woman in #112 had seen the bags, noticed they contained perishables and brought them into her apartment so the milk & meat wouldn’t spoil.  I asked Amir if he was still on the line (he was) and explained what happened, then took his grandmother by the arm and went to said apartment.  After we got the missing food back, Amir said “SIR WHAT IS YOUR NAME?  HOW CAN WE REPAY YOU SIR, THANK YOU SIR, THANK YOU!”  while his grandmother smiled and nodded and hugged me.

After heading back into the lobby, those same women (who had enjoyed that worried Arabic woman’s Dance of the Seven Veils) asked if I got things squared away.  I said yes and one of them said “This is why we need Trump more than ever, to stop these people coming into our country!”  and another said “Can’t they go somewhere else?  This is Avalon!”  The other women nodded.  The smaller one (Sue) said “Doug, are you for or against Trump’s impeachment?  Or would you rather not tell us?”

Sue, I don’t want to get into it with you or your friends.  Truce.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Saturday nights at my new hangout—it’s a real head trip

Jimmy Stewart Vertigo

For the past several weeks, I’ve been spending Saturday nights at my new hangout--“The TMJ Cafe”.   I wish I could say I was joking, but it’s (sadly) a real online site where people suffering with TMJD gather to swap stories, look for answers or even encouragement to keep hanging in there.  The truth is, I’m relying on it more & more too.

The other night, some poor woman wrote this:

I almost wish I had cancer instead.  Cancer can be treated.  It seems that TMD cannot.  I wake up, and begin to have a throbbing pain in my left jaw, traveling up into my head, and sometimes into my inner ear.

My left jaw bone is actually bone on bone, so even washing my face is painful and causes gravel sounds in my left jaw.  I cannot chew, I cannot eat, even drinking out of a straw is sometimes impossible.

I am told I am not getting enough nutrition and try to eat more things like chicken. AHA, if I could.  I have a physician who fortunately prescribes medication to calm me when I start shaking with the pain and the loneliness.

It seems like every other ad on TV is about food, restaurants, etc. I need the remote in my hand all the time because I lose my breath if I watch one.

I am in a black depression.  I can no longer go eat lunch with my friends or have dinner with relatives, or have anyone over for "dinner". Thus, I am losing friends since we don't do things anymore.  Go to a movie?  If only I could do things like that.

I cry every day, shake every day, wish I were dead often.

I have seen many "specialists", but no TMJ experts can be found in Florida. I have been seen by so many dentists I can't count. The problem is that insurance does NOT pay for this, no matter how horrible it is.

This is a daily pain, daily stressor, daily walk down a path to loneliness and no joy in life. What is life worth to me at this point?  Unless I find a miracle, nothing. We need a miracle.

Of course, she got sad emojis from others and promises to include her in their prayers.  Why do I want to read stuff like that?  I don’t know.  It makes me feel a little less alone about my own TMJD, and it helps me convince myself “mine isn’t as bad as hers… right?”   (Sometimes yes, sometimes no.)

At the same time, since last December I’ve met up with friends (Josh & Danielle) exactly once.  I love this pair, but after an hour or so I knew I had to get home.  You can only fake being well for so long.

sickmemeSpeaking of “faking it”, another member posted this meme recently.   Boy, could I relate!

I’m not looking for sympathy from anyone (I feel sorry for myself enough already) but when you’re dealing with something that isn’t apparent to others… it’s tough. 

Anyway, this woman DID get one helpful response.  As I approach 300 days of living with this awful disorder, I’ve read it several times over. 

I understand all of it!  Yes, at least with cancer the suffering ends, one way or another. 

In most cases, it’s not the bones that hurt but the muscles working in ways they’re not designed to, to support an unstable joint. Muscle spasm cause pain, and spastic muscles pinching nerves cause pain. These tight muscles affect the flow of the lymphatic system and cause pressure and pain.

Unfortunately, surgery is not necessarily the answer. Have you tried regular and max dose of anti inflammatories? Heat, Voltarin, Ensure, baby-food? Your aim is to calm the muscles down. If you’re shaking then you’ll have to work extra hard. Acupuncture, physiotherapy, sacral cranial therapy if done right should help over time.

There is no quick or easy fixes for you or the rest of us. Dentists aren’t trained to treat TMJ, neither are doctors...the specialty doesn’t really exist yet. It’s being looked on more now than ever before, but it will take years.

Start with the anti-inflammatories, in case there’s any swelling in the joint. Keep your strength up with meal supplement drinks, or baby food. If you can afford acupuncture or physiotherapy, try it. Get a heating pad or make a rice bag you can heat in the microwave.

If you have an understanding doctor, see if he’ll give you a prescription for Zanaflex. It’s an antispasmodic for your muscles. It will help you sleep. I wish I could tell you there’s a simple fix but there isn’t.  Please hang in there.