Saturday, July 11, 2009

It Wasn't TMJ

Well, I saw my dentist on Monday, my birthday, to tell him I had TMJ. He x-rayed a tooth just to be sure, said the tooth looked fine, and I told him I'd like muscle relaxers, cause that's how it was treated 10 years ago. I also wanted anti-inflammatories and he told me to take Advil. Then we discussed how much ibuprofen I was taking and he declared it was way too much.

I left his office and went to work. I kept taking more ibuprofen. A co-worker told me I should call him back and tell him I wanted "the good stuff" to relieve the pain. I thought I'd wait for the muscle relaxers to work.

The next few days were a fog. I tried going to work for a few hours on Wednesday and a co-worker offered to get me a McDonalds shake at lunch. YES, I said - THANK YOU. And as I sat at my desk, falling asleep cause the pain was keeping me up all night, I thought once I get that shake, I'll be fine. Well she called and said guess what? McDonalds has no shakes today. I never understood how a place like McDonalds could run out of shakes. That was the final straw for me. I left work, stopped at another McDonalds, got my shake, and went home.

Thursday I woke up with a face that looked like the Elephant Man. I had a 7:30 mammogram scheduled, and I went from there back to the dentist, with no appointment. This is the second time in my life I have done this. Once when I was pregnant, I had horrendous head pain and didn't want to be told I could come in later in the day, so I had walked in as soon as the office opened and said I can't wait for an appointment. So I arrived at the dentist and the friendly receptionist said hello. I said I don't have an appointment, but I know I have a problem. After 3 nights of googling TMJ in the middle of the night, I had spent the previous night googling "abscessed tooth" because I knew that's what I had. The dentist graciously examined me again and said "this isn't TMJ." I said "I know." He said but the x-ray was fine. I said "I know." He handed me 3 antibiotic pills and said "I'm writing you a prescription - fill this right away, and if you don't see improvement by tomorrow, call me and I'll try to get you in to see an oral surgeon." The pain was horrendous. First thing the next day, I couldn't talk because I was so swollen and it was like I had 100 marbles in my mouth. I had my husband call and ask the dentist to get me in to see an oral surgeon. He did.

I went to see an oral surgeon at 12:30. He looked at me and said "I hope I can extract this today." That shocked me; I thought that's why I was there. I asked "why do you say you hope you can do this today?" And he said "because I don't know if I can control the pain." At that point, temporary pain didn't bother me if it would just end the chronic pain. He walked out and I said to his assistant "I am a wuss - can he knock me out?" She said she didn't know. He took more x-rays. I was surprised to learn that an x-ray will not always show an abscess. He said "I am confident this is the bad tooth" (the one the dentist had initially x-rayed, that showed nothing). He gave me a local anesthetic and pulled out the offending tooth. I looked at that little thing and thought I can't believe that little thing can cost me so much money and so much pain.

That was yesterday. I am on vicodin (the good stuff) and an antibiotic that I have to take every 6 hours and I can't lie down within a half hour of taking it. That makes sleep hard. I finished my book club book and caught up on People Magazines. I still look like the elephant man. The pain is less intense. The ultimate irony is that I have lost weight during this ordeal, but I look like I've gained 50 pounds. My formerly double chin is now a quadruple chin.

People have said "you're lucky it wasn't TMJ - that is very hard to treat." I think I am lucky that this is behind me, but I was hoping for a normal face by this point.

I missed almost a week of work. I have watched every episode of Housewives of New Jersey. I have learned I can't stand being out of commission.


Delaney said...

So sorry to hear that you have had so much trouble with your tooth. I think that dental pain is some of the most intense pain you can get and all you usually want is some sleep but who can sleep with your whole face hurting. Glad you got it taken care of and hopefully you will be back to normal soon enough. Take the "good stuff" and get some well needed rest.

The Wired Angel said...

I feel for you so much!! I'm not sure how I found your blog, but when I saw the TMJ reference I had to stop and read it. I have suffered with TMJ most of my adult life.. I've had bi-lateral surgery, a jaw resection to correct my overbite, braces, and now suffer with tri-geminal neuralgia... if you research/goggle that you might find it closely matches what you are going through.. I had to self-diagnose. Thank God for the "good stuff" to get you out of pain.

Jeanie said...

I hope by now it's feeling much better. That's gotta be the worst!

anno said...

Ouch! That sounds like pure misery! I hope all that suffering is completely behind you; a restful and enjoyable weekend ahead of you.

The Last Post said...

I am sorry to hear about your tooth, there is nothing worse than being in constant pain or discomfort. I hope you feel better soon, my thoughts are with you.

Mich said...

Just getting caught up on your blog. It's been busy around here. What an ordeal! I hope you're feeling better soon.