Sunday, March 1, 2009

At Least I'm Not Too Crabby To Be Funny

You know what blows? Lockjaw. Every morning, I wake up with my jaw locked a little bit. I can open my mouth so that my teeth are about an inch apart, but in order to open wider, I need to pop my jaw. The locking lasts about thirty seconds to two minutes on most mornings, and I can pop my jaw either by moving my mouth a certain way or pushing slightly on the left side of my face, right in front of my ear, where the lock is happening. It's annoying, but it's never been too big a deal.

About two weeks ago, I woke up and had the lockjaw, as usual. I tried all the regular things, but it didn't go away. I did a little extra massaging with my fingers, tried some relaxation (really difficult for me, especially with the jaw - sometimes I'll think I'm relaxing but I'm not), but nothing worked. It wasn't until after I brushed my teeth with my handy electric toothbrush and did a bit more massaging that it finally popped. It was stiff for the rest of the morning, but at least it popped.

It is now 3:58 pm. I woke up this morning at 10:45 am with the lockjaw. I still have it. My mouth opens, but my teeth will only go about an inch apart, like this:

I've tried a lot of the regular stuff, none of which worked. I did some research online about lockjaw and TMJ, and after getting thoroughly scared, I started looking up "temporary solutions" and found this list:

Put ice on your face for 10 minutes.
Then open as wide as you can for 2 minutes.
Follow this with 10 minutes of hot, moist packs.
Then, massage your jaws and face as deeply as you can without hurting yourself.

I did that, and it hasn't really helped. I did, however, document each step so that you all could get the full effect. Here you go:

This is me icing my jaw.

This is me stretching my jaw open.

This is me, laying down with the heating pad.

This is me, angry and crabby because nothing is working.

This is me trying to read some book for book club tonight, mostly as a means to distract myself from my jaw. That's not working either.

I'm so annoyed. And I know I should have gone to the dentist or to a specialist or something by now, but I haven't, okay? Jeez. Lay off. I am, however, also kind of amused at the range of emotions I've gone through this morning. The regular feelings of having the lockjaw when I first get up slowly shifted into a slight panic. Then I used my awesome dealing-with-anxiety tools to calm myself down. Then I got angry, man! I sort of shoved the bathroom counter really hard, which then made me laugh because, really Reem? The bathroom counter? I almost cried at some point too. I wondered it I should pray. Later on, thinking about this whole situation, I laughed some more.

Finally, I felt some acceptance and went out to breakfast with Lia. See, this is the thing! I was totally able to eat, and it's not that it's terribly's just that I can't open my mouth all the way. My sister asked me about my levels of pain and discomfort; so far, it's only uncomfortable when I try to open my mouth because, obviously, I can't. I gave it a 4-5 on the Discomfort Chart. The pain, I'm not so sure about. I have a slightly skewed pain tolerance...I'm never sure how bad it "really is," you know? So...what is there left to do, really? I'm thinking I should probably go to the doctor, but only if it's still around tomorrow morning. For now, I'm going to keep laying down and trying to relax. Talking is mostly out of the question at this point because I'm trying to relax completely and not really move my face. So I guess that's that, for now at least...I'm gonna lay on the bed.

Just as an aside, do any of you watch Arrested Development? I've had this one thing in my head all morning...Tobias (David Cross's character), who is notorious for saying some pretty homosexual remarks on accident, says at some point that he'd like to "have a jaw session" with Michael (Jason Bateman). He means he wants to talk with him...I can't stop thinking about it. See, pain and discomfort bring on funny things once in awhile.

Here's Tobias saying funny things (not including "jaw session," but still funny):


Luper said...

That is really annoying: I'm so sorry!

I have TMJ issues a lot and sometimes I wonder if it's linked to my migraines, but the treatment options seem so unguaranteed. Like will filing down some teeth actually help my jaw sit better?

I've told dentists since I was little that I thought my jaw was going to be a problem and that I could feel it misalign, but nobody ever did anything, and sure enough- now it's a problem.

So please keep me posted on anything that you find that helps. obviously, you not being able to get it to stop locking is pretty serious. I hope that it goes away. Let me know if you need anything. Feel better, watch a lot of comedies, and avoid oral sex.

Tara said...

Oh my god, that sounds incredibly claustrophobic to me for some reason. I would probably cry out of frustration, that's usually what I do.

And it's really weird you mention Arrested Development because I had a dream that last with Lindsey - can't remember her real name- she was driving me somewhere and I had to pee, I kept seeing port-a-potties on the side of the road and she wouldn't stop! Later in the dream I was trying to get her to have sex. Weird.

Sara Ashes said...

I love your various photo series instructionals!

ANd yes, you do have a skewed pain tolerance- what with being told to "walk it off" for two weeks after breaking your arm as a kid, and then actually having to walkit off, rather climb it up, after breaking your wrist in a canyon!!

Tara said...

Oh p.s I forgot to say I like all your pictures. Nicely done. I appreciate the visuals.

jx said...

oh no! this sounds pretty unreasonable. you deal with this all the time?! thanks for the photos. i wondered.

syb said...

oh sweetie! first of all, can i say that despite the pain you look really pretty in yr pictures?

my mom had lockjaw when i was little - it was all emotional/stress-related and sometimes comes back if she's feeling stressed out. i hope you feel better real soon!

Samoura said...

Umm.. i sent you fb message b/f reading this.. but.. you know what.. i'm just gonna call you to talk bout it cause it's easier than typing it! Pick up phone if u hear it! ;)

Bea said...

did you know that I had upper and lower jaw surgery? not for TMJ but to correct my bite. if you ever want to know about the experience (in case it is ever an option for you) let me know. It was definitely not a fun time, but when all is said and done I'm glad I did it.

my favorite tobias moments are totally mrs. featherbottom's scenes, haha!

123456789 said...

omg that sounds like such a crappy problem, the lockjaw!

man, i know how hard it is to "relax"! you're having a bunch of anxiety and you're supposed to relax? it's fucking impossible.

Genia the Queenia said...

I did a little research today and you want to massage the masseter. If you come over tonight I could do a little more "in depth" work. Haha! Really though, I will.

SophisticatedBrew said...

good luck reem. that sucks. good job with the Tobias, though. i'm impressed that you followed the instructions with the ice and massaging. when i read that i was like, "omg so much work!" so good for you.

Marc Anthony said...

"You know what blows? Lockjaw"

Actually, Lockjaw decidedly does not blow...

God.. i'm sorry, but I've been restraining myself from making stupid lockjaw jokes for days and I just couldn't resist this stupid comment.

Reem Tara said...

Um, that's hilarious, Marc, because I've been making little bets with myself about who would and who wouldn't make stupid lockjaw jokes. Well done!

luai said...

I believe I have the solution to your anxiety that will help you relax. It grows in nature and can be found in different forms, rolled, packed, baked, cooked, burnt, vaporized, and shotgunned.

Also what about tying a string to a doorknob and then to your mouth and then slamming the door shut. I was never brave enough to try it myself, but I would love to see a photo sequence of that, especially the "Right Before" pic.