Yesterday I headed down to St. Paul’s Hospital, the hospital where I was born, for an appointment with a specialist. I’ve been having issues with what I’ve dubbed “the ear troll” for months now, since the beginning of July. Well, some rather surprising news was revealed; it turns out it’s not an ear issue at all. I have Temporomandibular Jaw/Joint Disorder (aka TMJ or TMJD).
TMJ can mimic things like Eustachian Tube Disorder, which I was told by a family physician was the problem, because the jaw joint is actually located right next to the ear canal. In fact, if you put your finger in your ear and open your mouth you’ll feel the joint moving. That joint is what’s been causing all the ear aches, head aches, popping noises, dizziness, disorientation, and other associated problems. It’s nice to have an answer, but I’ll admit… I was hoping for a quick fix, and there is no quick fix for TMJ.
Dr. Shoman has put me on a liquid diet for a week, to allow my jaw some time to heal. And wow! It’s been almost a day and a half and I’m finding it rather difficult to adapt to. With most things only containing 100 – 200 calories, meals have to be every couple of hours or you get real weak, real fast. You can only drink so much thick liquid at a time, so you really are limited to small amounts. I find if I get busy or involved in something I’ll end up shaky and faint. So I’m having to be very conscious of my intake and my timing. I’m very much a chew-and-enjoy-your-food kinda gal, so this drink it down thing is definitely not me. I have a feeling that before the week is out I’ll have gotten to the point where I’m willing to lick dip off a ham stick just for the taste of real food – to be honest I seriously considered it last night. LOL And the idea of all those yummy crisp veggies just sitting in the fridge waiting for me? They are darn difficult to resist. This diet has been kicking my ass so far, but I’m determined to have it licked (pun intended) by the end of this.
After my jaw has been rested, we’ll decide the next step from there. Chances are my treatment will involve consultation with two or three specialists including Dr. Shoman (who’s an ear, nose, and throat guy), and oral surgeon, a dentist, and possibly my family doctor as well. We may also end up enlisting the help of a physical therapist at some point, but we’ll get there. Spring is my deadline. I’ll be fit and well adjusted again by Spring. Just in time to get back on the show circuit. Momma is missing her dog shows in a REAL big way. LOL
Unfortunately the “ear troll” is raging once more… It had gotten to the point that the pain had subsided. I still had all the other symptoms, but at least the pain had gotten under control. Unfortunately I finished my last antibiotic pills on the weekend, and it wasn’t long after that the pain started to creep back in. I’m on an antibiotic ear drop now, but it looks like I may end up needing a referral to a specialist as the pain is still escalating. As always, I’ll keep y’all posted on how things are going. I am feeling super frustrated though. This has been going on since the fifth, and it’s now the 31st – that’s almost an entire month for something most folk get over within a week. Clearly something isn’t right. 😦 The good news though? The doctor said that my right eardrum looks really good, that it’s weathered it all really well, and he’s positive it will make it through without long term damage (the news isn’t so bright for the left – which is the one which is perforated and causing the most pain). As always though, I’m determined to focus on the positive. 🙂 Now to text the hubby and see if he’ll heat up the “rice sock” so I can apply a nice warm compress while I wait for some pain killers to kick in. 😉
It is Poverty Awareness Week here in Saskatoon, and one of my favourite annual events is Hands Across the Water. Unfortunately, due to my pain level, I wasn’t able to participate this year. I have to admit, it broke my heart a little.
Hands Across the Water brings people from across the city together. We all gather at one end of the Broadway Bridge, and in silence, make our way onto the bridge – holding hands. The goal is to make a chain from one side of the bridge to the other. We hadn’t made it the last two years… but I’m hopeful that the people who gathered today were able to make it across.
As some of you know, I’ve suffered from FMS for the last decade. It’s typically diagnosed in women who are between 40 and 60, but I was diagnosed in my early twenties. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that effects the muscles and soft tissue. I’ve gotten used to the daily pain, and cope quite well. You’d be surprised what can become “normal”. 😉 I don’t like to dwell on the negative, so don’t focus on what the pain has taken away from me, rather I choose to look at the opportunities I’ve had because of it.
Earlier this year I found myself in the emergency room because of debilitating back pain. We don’t know the cause yet, only that it doesn’t seem to be going away. I hate taking medication, and always try to wean myself off of prescriptions as soon as I’m able… unfortunately it’s looking like I’ll need a higher dose before that happens as I’m finding I’m having breakthrough pain more and more often these days.
It hurts my heart a great deal when I end up missing events like Hands Across the Water. My city, my community, is so important to me. And awareness events, and political activism are how I demonstrate my commitment. Poverty, equality, human rights… these things need our attention, our focus. And I feel badly that my pain has kept me from being as active this month as I’d have liked.
I am also sorry that I didn’t feel ready to share this before now. Even as I type this blog post I’m wary about sharing it. Chronic pain, and Invisible Disabilities, are not well understood… and those of us who deal with them on a daily basis often feel a lot of guilt associated with each. They take us from things that deserve our focus, and despite our best efforts, they take over completely from time to time.
So. I hope you’ll understand. And I hope you’ll forgive my absence tonight. I was with you all in spirit.