Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
LJ Idol week 8: first world problem


I didn’t get to put a star on the calendar yesterday.

I know it sounds silly, but our grade school teachers had a point – stickers, smiley faces, and stars are more motivating than you might believe.  Last year I did several rounds of monthly goals, setting a short list of things I would do every day to be a healthier person, hoping they would become habits.    Some things stuck better than others and I decided to reboot the idea again for January.  Every day I would eat at least one fruit and one vegetable, move for 20 minutes, stretch, and floss.  And every day I do all of those things, I get to draw a star in colored pen on that day’s square on the calendar.  But yesterday, I didn’t floss; so no star.

Or rather, I couldn’t floss.

I have an ongoing issue with pain on the right side of my jaw.  Occasionally it gets sore and makes chewing crunchy foods more difficult.  But it wasn’t a big deal.  Since Thanksgiving it was hurting more often than not; I figured that the stress of work was just radiating up from my always tight shoulders and neck into my jaw.  And if I kept my mouth shut a little more regularly, no one seemed to notice or complain.

Then in the last week or two I had momentary trouble opening my mouth very wide, like getting the toothbrush between my teeth would hurt.  After a brief pause and a yawn to stretch everything out it always went away.

Yesterday I had trouble opening my mouth very wide when I got up.  I had my usual peanut butter toast and that crunch was a little sore, and oddly the right side of my jaw kept clicking. I went ahead with my day as planned; went for my run, came home and vacuumed, then showered.  I was looking forward to my lunch of soup and grilled cheese.  Except eating the grilled cheese hurt.  A lot.  Apparently two pieces of bread was one too many when it came to thickness.  I did all of the pausing, yawning, and light massage that had worked before.  Nothing doing, my jaw was stuck.

As the day went on I tried warming muscle gel, ice, and more massage.  I even tried forcing my teeth apart with my fingers.  But no matter what I did, I had about a half inch of clearance, and constant pain. 

However, I’m not a total idiot.  I can ignore a problem for a long time but when my mouth wouldn’t open this morning either I left a message for the nurse at my doctor’s office.  She called back and recommended I go to urgent care, or even an emergency room (which seemed excessive).  I met my boyfriend for lunch and figured I should see someone, even if my jaw was loosening up over the Indian food.

At urgent care my jaw was almost back to ‘open wide’ mode.  She checked my ears and throat, and felt my jaw open and close.  It appears the right side of my jaw lowers just fine, and then does a side to side shimmy on its way back up.  Likely this has stressed out the muscles, which is why they are sore and so tight that I don’t have full movement.  She recommended the basics – heat and ibuprofen, and also that I try an over the counter mouth guard thingy to sleep in.  If it’s not better in a week or two, I should see my dentist.

So I’ve got the mouth guard thingy to boil (so bizarre) to customize, and plenty of ibuprofen.  It appears that today at least my jaw gets better when it is working steadily for a bit, ie. eating, but once I’m done it tightens back up.  This almost certainly means that I won’t be able to open my jaw wide enough to floss tonight. 

So it’ll be another day without a star.  Some problem, huh?

***This was written for LJ Idol week 8, other takes on the same topic are
here; and to express my desire to someday eat carrot sticks again.***

I use one of those boily night guards. Very unattractive, I sneak it in after RAT is asleep and try to take it out before he sees me. I hope yours doesn't turn out to be TMJ? That's the first thing I thought of.

I hope you get a star tomorrow!

I wrote this yesterday, so last night was the first night with the guard in. J insisted on seeing it, and then kept trying to give me eighth grade kisses (think way too much tongue, no finesse). The urgent care doc asked if I had heard of TMJ, have but it's never been said to me by a doctor before so I'm hoping not.

What do you wear your night guard for?

Oh yuck. I have jaw issues after being knocked off my bike when a woman opened a car door on me (every now and then it swells up and is incredibly painful). You have my fullest sympathies.

It's just weird, you don't expect your jaw to stop working normally. I honestly think mine is out of alignment slightly which is part of the issue, but I'm not certain how to fix that myself, or even if I should try. I hope your swelling doesn't attack you very often.

TMJ is the first thing I thought of, too. Hopefully that's not it. If it continues DO NOT put off going to the dentist to get it seen about. If your jaw's hinge dislodges or locks completely it will take surgery to fix it. And 8 weeks with your teeth wired together eating through a straw is no picnic. I hope the night guard takes care of it.

Well written.

I sincerely hope it's not TMJ, but just tightness I let get way too far, and that the new mouthguard and being good to it will fix it. Actually a friend who had lunch with us mentioned it could be tetanus which is unlikely, but ew. I certainly want to stop whatever this is before surgery becomes necessary, if my jaw got wired shut I'd have to buy a new blender.

BTW I really enjoy your icons for each topic, this one is especially cute.

Not fun at all. I can sympathize with mouth and jaw pain.

It's just weird. Like most things I suppose, you don't give a whole lot of thought to it until it starts to hurt.

Maybe until your jaw gets better you should replace "flossing" with the chores you're supposed to do to keep your jaw feeling well! I think that would be fair, don't you? Sometimes life means we have to adjust our goals for short periods of time.

I hope you feel better!

That's not a bad idea. Maybe kept mouth guard in for more than four hours (it wakes me up so I keep taking it out part way through the night).

I am feeling better though, so hopefully I'll be back to flossing soon. Thanks!

I hate pain, and not being able to open your mouth must suck in a major way. I hope the mouth guard thing helps.

It's just weird, because it's not a place you expect to hurt. So far the mouth guard things seems to be helping, the pain is lessening and I can open my moth again. So yay for that.

I had a night guard prescribed for clenching years and years ago. I am so much more comfortable with it than without. If I choose to skip it, even one night, my face/jaw will ache the next day. I hope you get to draw all your stars back soon. :D

Huh. Right now I'm still adjusting to sleeping with the mouth guard which is not so comfortable. Well, and getting over the vanity of letting my boyfriend see me with it in. But it does seem to be helping, and it's good to know that they've helped other folks. Thanks for your good wishes.

I hope your nightguard does indeed solve the problem, it sounds horrendous.

The nightguard certainly seems to be helping; I can now open my mouth all the way more often than not which is a good thing. Especially since the plan is loaded nachos for lunch today.

Oh no- that sounds terrible. I hope it stops hurting and isn't TMJ related!

Well after being careful for several days the pain is now intermittent and I can open my mouth as wide as I want almost all the time. So at least it's getting better. Thanks!

I would give you a star for trying!

Aw, thank you. I'm enough of a stickler to still not have starred those days, but I flossed again last night so I'm back on track!

Oh ouch! I hope this goes better for you. I had just about every dental appliance they make between ages 7 and 14, so unfortunately, I know all about mouth pain. It just sucks!

That is part of what is so weird, I got my first cavity ever last year and never had any dental issues at all as a child. Which I guess means that it's my turn. At least all the things I am doing so far are helping and things feel better.

You should still see your doc and get TMJ ruled out. It's not a dental problem, it's a medical problem and there are treatments for it.

I use one of the mouth guards because my jaw dislocates owing to the Ehlers-Danlos. Fitting one is really bizarre, almost a surreal experience, but it does help a lot. I never realized how much tension I was putting on those muscles by grinding my teeth until the pain went away.

I know you're right about seeing a dr, and I shouldn't put this off until my physical in the summer.

The little over the counter mouth guard is helping so far, and now that I'm so aware of it I'm realizing how often I clench my teeth all day long. Hopefully breaking that habit will help a lot.

I hope the mouth guard helps!!!

It is true - even as adults, the stickers, smiley faces, and gold stars are motivating!

So far things are better with the mouth guard.

Heh, I still have gold stars that I occasionally give out to actors in rehearsal for totally silly things. They tend to start inventing reasons they should get extras.

I've had these issues with my jaw. One side will still click pretty religiously if I yawn or eat something that requires a lot of chewing.

My jaw used to only click if I opened it way too wide, now it's more common. I hope yours isn't painful at least.

(Deleted comment)
It's getting better, though not gone yet. At least I can eat whatever again.