Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Just Passing the Time

Donna and I have not done much lately.

This past Saturday, Donna went to daughter Courtney's house to celebrate the grandsons' birthday. All 3 boys were born within a couple of weeks or so of one another, so each year, they share a common birthday party.

Aside from that, we've done very little.

For the past 6 weeks or so, I've been battling a temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to simply as TMJ. This is a problem with the jaw joint and the muscles around it. TMJ disorders can be caused by many problems, including arthritis, which I've suffered from for many years. Sometimes TMJ is due to a combination of stress, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and other things that strain the jaw joint and the muscles around it. I more or less attribute my problem to a combination of my love for chewing ice, my arthritis, and my habit of grinding my teeth over the years. I've also eaten lots of almonds for the past 30 years or so; these are somewhat hard and may contribute to the problem as well.

The main symptom of TMJ is a dull pain on just one side of the face, near the ear. For me, the problem is on my left side. In fact, at first I thought I was getting an ear infection, but my first visit to a clinic resulted in a diagnosis of TMJ. Sometimes the pain also affects the ear, jaw, or back of the neck. I've also experienced a few headaches. Actually, I don't consider the symptoms so much painful as I do a type of pressure. It's really more a type of discomfort for me rather than pain. I can feel my jaw joint actually popping when I move my mouth, as if the joint has been dislocated. This might be a result of all the times Donna has slapped me around.

There isn't much you can do about TMJ, it seems. You can take anti-inflammatory medicine to alleviate the pain, perhaps even muscle relaxers. But these simply treat the symptoms, not the cause. Some folks may find help by using bite plates, which are special devices that fit in your mouth to prevent you from grinding your teeth during sleep. For my part, I'm simply watching what I eat. I'm avoiding hard foods (almonds, for example) and I have given up ice chewing. I also do some mouth exercises. It's taken a while, but I'm finally feeling somewhat better. I'm still experiencing some discomfort, but not nearly as much as I did a couple of weeks ago.

Now, to top things off, mean old Donna has come down with a summer cold and/or sore throat of some type. She's really dragging about today, which is unusual for her, so we are staying home and resting.

Perhaps soon we'll do something interesting enough to write about.

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