Friday, April 01, 2011

Rabbit rabbit! Happy April!

Today is, in many ways, a happy day. It is new contact lens day, pay day, and Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs. Hooray! Baseball is back! I listened to a couple of spring training games on the radio and it's not quite the same without Ron Santo, but it's still nice to have our boys in blue back on the field.

But I have to admit, I'm also in a fair amount of pain. On Wednesday afternoon, my jaw started to hurt, at sort of the corner of the jaw bone. I was a little freaked out because jaw pain can be a sign of heart attacks in women and my job was driving me particularly nuts on Wednesday so I would not have been all that surprised if I had a little stroke or heart event. But seeing as I did not collapse or lose control over my extremities or forget how to speak, I figured it wasn't that. And the pain moved down to below my jaw and I could feel the glands or possibly lymph nodes were swollen and tender. So I went to the doctor yesterday. She diagnosed me with a TMJ, which is an acronym for a few very long words that basically mean there is swelling in the tissue between the bones of my jaw.

Thing is, if you look at a picture of the human skull, the jaw is sort of U shaped - it attaches to the rest of the skull kind of under the cheekbone, goes around to form the chin, and attaches again on the other side under the other cheekbone, yes? The ramus is part of the mandible - they're not two separate bones with a joint in between them. The mandible connects to the skull at the temporal bone where the condyle forms a sort of ball and socket joint. I can see pain developing in the condyle-temporal joint. But that's not where my pain is located. My pain is under the mandible where it turns into the ramus, and then down into my neck, not so much up towards my ear. And I don't hear a clicking sound when I chew like some other people with TMJs do. So why, if there is inflammation in the tissues between the mandible and the temporal bones, is the pain manifesting under the mandible and in my neck? That's about an inch away, with no pain at the actual inflammation site. Is that normal?

My doctor gave me a medication to, I guess, help with the pain. Reading the information that came with the prescription, it is an anti-seizure/anti-epileptic drug that is also used to treat pain after someone has had shingles. So I'm kind of confused. Fortunately, even with my craptastic insurance, the pills weren't dreadfully expensive, so I'm giving them a shot. So far, they're not helping very much. She said I could up the dosage after a couple of days if it's not helping and I should call her if it's not better in about ten days.

It's kind of funny what hurts my jaw. Opening my mouth too wide hurts. Lying on my back hurts. The tension that happens when I'm lying on my back and go to sit up hurts (tensing my neck). Yawning hurts. I tend to talk out of one side of my mouth anyway, and this is making that more pronounced because I keep trying to talk without moving my jaw too much.

I am a little afraid that it has something to do with the tumor behind my ear and that I might have to actually do something about that in the near future. I'd kind of rather not have surgery on my head just now, thanks. So I sent an email to my cousin who does cranial sacral work to see if she has ever treated TMJs. If she wants to work on me, it would mean probably a few trips up to Madison. Which could actually be really nice - I love my family that lives in Madison so it would be an extra excuse to spend some time with them. But we'll see.

I don't like being in pain. And as an actor, I particularly don't like not being able to talk. In rehearsal last night, I was just shouting through the pain and went home really hurting. I don't know that I'd be able to turn off the acting enough to protect my jaw - I'm not that kind of actor. I will always act through the pain instead.

So yeah, it should be a good day today, but my face hurts and I'm kind of confused as to why.

Happy April, everybody!