Posted in Be Brave, Be Still, Breathe, Dr. Piper, Listen, Open Joint Arthroplasty, Slow Down, TMJ, TMJ Surgery

LaCroix and Mustaches

People keep asking me about this jaw thing. I mean, I can’t blame them. I kinda keep posting about it and talking about it, you know while I still can. My favorite question – and no offense to the people I love that have asked this – so you like, have TMJ? Y’all! Asking if I have TMJ is like asking me if have a knee. Or an elbow. Or a pinky toe. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. And if you yawn or eat or talk or open your mouth at all, you have one! Some just work a little better than others. My left TMJ happens to be dead currently. Not working so well.


What’s common are TMJ disorders. My guess is most of you have or have had some type of TMJ pain. How can you not? It’s 2017, the world is crazy, we can’t keep up with half the shit on our plates (oops, sorry. I do love Jesus but I also cuss a little. Or a lot. Ok, a lot.), and for the love of all things holy, we have to spend $5 for a 12 pack of LaCroix. Life is stressful! So we bite down. Hard. We grind our teeth. Hard. We clench our jaws. Hard. Most of the time, we don’t even realize it.

My case of TMJ issues started a couple years ago with a boy. Or so I thought. You know how it is when you’re all crazy about someone and the kissing is all passionate and exciting! Then your jaw pops. And you’re like – what the hell just happened? C’mon. I know I’m not alone in this. But if I wanted to continue kissing said boy I had to find a way to get around the popping so I could enjoy more of the kissing. A bite guard. That’s the answer! $500 later and two months of wear, the popping stopped and the kissing ensued. It was lovely.

But then the pain began. And for anyone who has experienced pain or chronic pain, then you know about playing games with yourself to find relief. Like if I wear my bite guard tonight, I’ll feel better tomorrow. Or if I wear the bite guard for two days and stop wearing it for another two, that’ll fix the problem. Or better yet if I take three Advil liquid gels (I should buy stock) before bed, and wear the bite guard every Monday through Friday, the pain will subside for weekend festivities. And you know, for most people with TMJ trouble that probably is accurate. Stress lessens, LaCroix goes BOGO at Publix, the shit on your plate actually becomes kind of enjoyable, and the world begins to come together with a little bit of love and peace and hope. And no, I do not have a political agenda.

There are over 3 million people who have TMJ concerns. I’ve been told that 95% of them are mostly muscular issues. Relief is possible. Think massages and muscle relaxers and spa treatments. Ahhhh. I can hear the little water falls trickling now (look at me all listening and stuff). About 5% have some type of dysfunction of their TMJ and of those 5%, 1% require open joint surgery to repair it. So I pretty much hit the flippin lottery when it comes to TMJ! Like, I’m playing Powerball from now on. I’m that lucky. And sidenote – I really hope I win something because the cost of this surgery is no joke. It’s like the equivalent of a Mercedes-Benz C class. No, more like a Land Rover LR3. Oh my gosh! I’m going to have a jaw that’s as valuable as a sleek SUV. That’s kind of sweet!

So what’s next? Surgery. Open joint arthroplasty to be exact. Really this is just a fancy term for…. we’re going to move your ear up and over to the side for you so that we can get to where your joint is. And then we’re going to remove the defunct disk that’s blocking off blood supply to the bone. You know, the one that’s dead. Next we’re going to take a few centimeters of fat from your abdomen. And that’s where I stop him and say – do you think you could take a little more? And then I think oh wait, 9 months of a no chew diet. Never mind just leave the fat there. I’m probably going to need it. So they take the minuscule portion of fat, create a new disk to replace the jacked up one, pump my blood vessels up with ketamine to promote healing of the dead bone, wire me shut (holy hell), put my ear back in place, and stitch me up. Voila, in five short hours, an LR3-styled jaw made just for me.

I’m not sure about the rest. Well, I know little bit about the rest. And it doesn’t sound very pleasant. It actually sounds like hell. Maybe worse. But y’all! I’m really excited. Never mind that I might finally have the chance to live without head pain or eat anything I damn well please, I get to kick back and keep my mouth shut for a while. All this talk of not talking has me on the edge of my seat. I have a wild new adventure ahead of me and I can almost hardly wait! No surgery date has been set but stay tuned. I’ll be listening intently the next time I talk with my surgeon, who by the way is Dr. Mark A. Piper in St. Petersburg and he sports the coolest mustache I’ve ever seen. Like Groucho Marx except much cooler because he wears these chic small round glasses, too. He’s like the king of TMJ and mustaches. And you know what, he’s a really good listener.

Posted in Dr. Piper, Jesus, Listen, Open Joint Arthroplasty, TMJ, TMJ Surgery, Trust

Keep Your Mouth Shut

A few weeks ago every proverbial pot in my life was moved off to the side for cooling. What I expected pain management or massage therapy to be the answer to my TMJ pain turned into my worst nightmare. Literally.

But guess what, God was not surprised!

Over 500 miles, two MRIs, multiple talks off the ledge, a CT scan, a nerve block (the best part hands down – the picture below does not give it justice), 2 specialists, buckets of tears, a surgeon, 75 panic attacks, and countless hours of Google searches, I faced the reality that I would need open joint arthroplasty on my left TMJ. If you’re curious what that means, I encourage you to Google it. There are very graphic images and countless blogs outlining every step of the procedure and the aftermath. Believe me, I have seen and read them all! I have also worried myself to death over little things like how am I going to breathe with my jaw wired shut (worst nightmare) or how I’m going to talk when my jaw is closed for 90% of the day… larger things like when will I be able to bite into a juicy cheeseburger again, or have the pleasure of kissing a kind boy once more. I mean really. Those are two very important things in life (namely the kissing of the boy, or if in your case, the girl, which is wonderful and we should all be doing more of it)! Sadly, when you’re looking down a road of 9 months to possibly 2 years of recovery, those very basic human functions come into question.

But guess what, God was not surprised!

I’ve had to face some of my greatest fears in these last few weeks but I’m no longer living in a state of panic, sadness, and fear. I keep reminding myself that God is not surprised! This experience will be another amazing story in my journey with Jesus and though I have my own theories about His purpose here, I also know that any plans He has are greater than I can ever imagine.

He is not surprised!

Kind of funny isn’t it?! This super chatty chick is going to have to keep her mouth shut. Like, for real. Like, for a while. He has such a great sense of humor, doesn’t He? I can’t wait to sit and listen.

The Nerve Block