Saturday, July 13, 2019

I miss him too, but the Doug you knew doesn’t live here anymore

I wake up every morning around 6am, sit on the edge of my bed and gently tug this oral splint off of my top teeth.  It hurts to wear (sometimes too much & I go without) but it helps keep my jaw muscles from clamping my mouth shut while I sleep. 

I wash my hands, then using the first finger of each hand, gently rub the inside of the right & left side of my mouth for a few seconds, massaging the swollen masseters within.  They’re hot to the touch and feel like they’re filled with tobasco sauce.

I then (carefully) brush my teeth, ponder over the medicines in my medicine cabinet (I’ve been trying to stay pill-free for a couple of weeks now) then take a shower and turn on the tv while doing jaw stretching exercises in my entranceway mirror.  Now in it’s 8th month, I’m coming to the sad conclusion that this TMD, this jaw disorder, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  It’s not like it comes & goes either.  If someone asks “Is your TMJ acting up again?”  I usually say yes, but it’s always this way.  Sometimes the ache will reduce to a dull burn for a couple hours, and I’m filled with hope, and other times the discomfort will climb a notch or two and I’m on the Hemlock Society’s website, looking for… best not to go there.

No one understands it, no one has real answers.  A couple months ago when I talked to someone from my old dentist’s office, she said “We refer our TMJ patients to a chiropractor right down the street from you.”   This is the same dentist’s office who referred me to an oral surgeon a couple years ago (when I first got TMJ) and asked me if I was seeing anyone else for it, and when I said yes, a chiropractor, said “Stop going, they can’t help you.”  

(FYI, after 13 visits, I’d already come to the same conclusion.)

I don’t sit here and wallow in self-pity.  I watch the morning news, get dressed, head outside if it’s nice, exchange some greetings with people I both know & don’t know.   I have to keep it brief though.  Talking for more than a couple minutes and the inside of my face swells & aches too much.  Then I’m just biting myself when I talk.

Two days ago I went to one of those CBD shops and got a crash course in CBD oils and their supposed anti-inflammatory & pain control properties; it sounded a little hippy-dippy for my old-school thinking, but I’m ready to try anything.

This little bottle (a 1 month supply) cost $85.00

Sometimes a friend will write and say “Don’t tell me you still have that, c’mon!”  like it’s a bad habit I’ve developed and haven’t quit doing.  Or I’ll get something like “I’m going to cheer you up if it kills me” or a promise to make me laugh.   I play along & say okay, but it makes my jaw crackle & pinch for a long time afterwards.

Others (more tired of my TMJ than I am, it would seem) talk normally like everything is fine & dandy, and don’t understand why I’m not being equally engaging or writing gobs back.  Yes I’d LOVE to be old Doug again, and rant and joke & all that fun stuff, but I’m constantly preoccupied with this discomfort.  More than anything in the world, I HATE when someone says “You need to do something to keep yourself busy and take your mind off it!”    They don’t have a fuckiing clue.

You read or listen to all the experts:  You’re not stretching it enough.  You’re stretching it too wide.  You’re not exercising it enough.  You’re exercising it too much.  Don’t use cold, use heat.  Don’t use heat, use cold.  Take NSAIDs.  Stop taking NSAIDs! 

No one really knows.  I think the best advice I read was from a New York orthodontist on the TMJ Forums who wrote “For 9 out of 10 people, it WILL go away.  It can take years sometimes.  If you don’t learn patience, you’re in real trouble.”  

I think after 8 months, my patience deserves a medal.

A part of me feels bad for sharing this here (again).  A blogger friend of mine has been writing more & more about her depression, and the first time she spoke of it I was a little surprised, a little worried for her & curious.  Six months later, it’s become a train she can’t get off from.   I don’t avoid her, but I don’t enjoy her blogs like I used to.  I’ve been trying not to go down that same track here.

What I AM trying to do is to stay positive, upbeat, focus on life after this.  I guess I’m just saying, to the few out there who take my lack of presence in their lives personally, it’s not you, it’s not me either.  It’s the TMJ.



  1. That was well said. Not hopeful, not despondent, just is what it is. However, unfair and I hope and pray every single day.

  2. Thanks Shawn, I appreciate that.


Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad to hear from you and appreciate the time you take to comment.