right in the jaw. To be specific, the left jaw muscle. OMG, it hurts.
While in grad school, I worked part time as a medical secretary to a oral & maxillofacial surgeon at a large midwestern university whose colors are NOT green and white. This surgeon was known for his guru-ness in TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders (I just had to see if I could still type it as I did when transcribing). One of my duties was to schedule patients who needed a consultation on their TMJ disorders...it would drive me nuts when people would call and say "I have TMJ and need to see someone,". Uh, yeah. Most everyone has a TMJ, dumbass.
I digress. My point was that I always thought of these people as incredibly whiny and pretty annoying. Wow. I am the biggest a**hole on earth. Because over the past few days? I've been experiencing at least some of that kind of pain, and it sucks.
I had a bite splint made several months ago on the recommendation of my new dentist, who told me that the culprit of my gum recession was not, in fact, due to my vigorous brushing habits, but rather from clenching or grinding my teeth. I was basically unaware that I was clenching or grinding, but apparently the wear pattern on my teeth was indicative. Okay. So give me one of those $500 pieces of plastic that insurance will only cover at 50%, I guess. I wore it pretty religiously for a number of weeks, even though I really didn't like wearing it...I mean, I hated wearing my retainer at night because it gagged me. Then I stopped wearing the splint because I was starting to get some muscle pain from it...I was like, what the hell!? This is supposed to keep me from having pain, not cause it! And I had every intention of returning to my dentist and telling him it needed adjustments, but never did.
And then the stressfulness of the past 3 weeks came upon me.
I guess I must have been clenching and grinding like a fiend, because last Monday and Tuesday I had pain mostly in my left cheek/jaw joint area. Wednesday it was radiating to my head, temple, and chin. Holy mother, it felt like someone was stabbing me with dull metal toothpicks. At this point, it was hard to tell whether the pain was originating from my back molars (one of which has a pret-ty deep filling, unfortunately), my jaw muscle, or my sinuses (allergies have been nasty lately in my neck o'the woods). Thursday was more of the same, and I was going crazy. So I made an emergency appointment with the dentist. He took x-rays of my back molars and declared that situation okay. (phew, no root canal looming) His prescription? Wear.your.splint. And take copious amounts of Ibuprofen. So I've been wearing it the past few nights, and trying to consciously relax my jaw. It seems to be working, cause I've been able to cut down from 4 advils every 5 hours.
Did you know that women suffer from TMJ disorder and/or associated muscle pain far more often than men? Supposedly it's because we tend to carry our stress in our necks, shoulders, and jaws. You know what I think that means? We have perfect excuses for weekly massages, preferably from tanned, handsome, buff men who are not gay. In fact, I order you now, woman friends, to seek one of these said massages STAT.
You'll thank me later.
And by the way, to add to my stress level, we got an offer on our old house. Only took 54 weeks. It's for $14,000 less than the list price and $56,000 less than the mortgage balance. Now we have to wait and see if the bank will accept the offer and release our shackles. Oy. Keep your fingers crossed, pray, send good karma, whatever it is you might do to wish us a speedy end to this ever present stress.
Oh yes, and I have to go back to work today. Full time. *Sob*
I'll stop whining, at least for now.