January 29, 2018

January Fog

"You're boring! Completely and utterly boring!" That's what the doctor had to say when I saw him more than two weeks ago. My labs were perfect, my knee xray was unremarkable and my ears were clear as can be. He suggested I try a decongestant to resolve the crackle I described in my ears. I've never been so disappointed to have a clean bill of health. If I'm perfectly healthy, then, why do I feel so shitty?!

I popped Advil Cold and Sinus the whole weekend, the crackle improved, but the pressure was unbearable. The following Tuesday, I went in to see the TMJ dentist. I supplied him with my laundry list of complaints and he adjusted the appliance, applied some suture release techniques, and suggested a nightly dose of Vitamin C. It didn't provide much relief, but the adjustment stopped me from biting my tongue so that ulcer has been able to heal. The following day, I felt like I busted my face - like my skull had fractured. I was miserable. Later that night, I teared up watching "600 LB Life" and then my nose started to drip.

Thursday, I was so congested, I felt I was underwater. I went into work, only to be sent home. That afternoon and the next four days are a blur. I rotated between the recliner and spare bed propped up on half a dozen pillows. I wanted to keep the sickness out of my chest. I tried all sorts of OTC medicine and finally (last) Monday, I threw in the towel and wanted to see a doctor. The local quick care clinic had a wait of 90 minutes, while on their site I noticed an ad for the NOW Clinic which touted no waiting via virtual appointment. It sounded good to me! No leaving the house, no wait, no exposure to an even worse virus or the flu. Sign me up! Of course, the registration was flawed. I couldn't create an account because it claimed one existed, when I tried to resend the username/password it said the account didn't exist. I called the number and held for 33 minutes. A gentlemen solved the problem and kindly waited on the line until I was able to successfully login. Then, $10 and 8 minutes later I was connected with a doctor in Florida. We Skype, I tell him I'm convinced that my cold has turned into a sinus infection, but he insisted I have the virus that everyone is getting coast to coast. He asked who at work or at home is sick? A few coworkers caught cold over Christmas and New Years break, but that's about it. Maybe I picked it up at the doctors office on the 12th? Who knows? I just want to feel better. No antibiotics, but he'll call in some RXs stronger than my OTC medicines. I sent Frank to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions, he came back with the same strength decongestant I was taking, 600 mg of Ibuprofen and Promethazine. That was a week ago. I felt like crap through the weekend, but I never had a fever or shortness of breath so I guess I was fine. It's perfectly normal to sleep for hours on end. Yesterday, I finally got color back, and today, I finally feel relief from congestion. A tickle remains in my throat and my ears feel full, but I can breathe. Thank goodness.

I'm a week shy of a month wearing the appliance. I'm still not a fan, but I guess I've acclimated to it. I can eat more foods, but my diet is very heavy on carbs. I really miss greens. I still plan my meals around brushings. So, snacking is definitely a thing of the past. You want to lose weight? Start brushing & flossing after everything you chew. You'll quickly find what a nuisance it is. Between brushing and being sick, I don't think my lips will ever be soft again, but I'm continuously applying chapstick to keep the cracks from bleeding. On day 17, I noticed the first visible change, a space began to form between my two front teeth. I suppose that means it's working.


January 11, 2018

8 Days In

Last Wednesday evening, I stood in front of my bathroom sink for nearly an hour... Just to practice spitting. Gross, right? Thankfully, I've since gotten my saliva somewhat under control. I'm no longer gagging or insistent that I'll drown in my own spit, but there is still an abundance. I have a sore throat, clogged ears and sinus pressure. Sounds like a cold, right? But I'm not sick. I'm beginning to wonder if some of the achiness I feel is from my salivary glands working overtime? Maybe creating post nasal drip or something. The first couple days I had brutal acid reflux like I used to get before my allergy shots.

I go to the doctor tomorrow with any luck he'll provide me a better understanding of what's going on. I've never been so excited to go, I want my ears examined so badly. There is so much pressure, sensitivity, clicking, crackle and echo - I'm so over it. They haven't felt this bad since I had an ear infection two years ago. I'm actually hoping that there is an infection and all it will take is a round of antibiotics to begin feeling better. It definitely sounds like a better alternative than the source of the discomfort being this appliance or the latest TMD symptom.

Fortunately, my speech improved fairly quickly. I could barely form words without gagging the first day. By the third, I could say most words. It just sounds like I'm chewing gum or sucking on a cough drop. Though, some words do trip me up and a lisp is occasionally clear. I practiced by speaking aloud, reading anything in sight. I have to speak slower and enunciate more, but there is no more gagging - thank goodness. My jaw just grows tired and saliva increases the more I talk. ...The more my throat hurts. I'm sure you can recognize the cycle. Anything with carbonation is somewhat soothing. Needless to say, my diet coke habit has doubled or even tripled.

My teeth brushing, flossing and cleaning of the appliance routine is down to ten minutes from thirty. I've eaten a few things of substance like a burger from Freddy's and a grilled cheese. I tire easily and it takes me a long time and I rarely finish anything, but I can chew... sorta. I can eat soft noodles, I made chili thinking I could manage, but the chunks of tomato were too hard to chew. I pureed it and doing so provided great relief. The meal was no longer a chore. My hands and lips are dry as can be from (toothpaste) brushing 3x/day. I no longer snack and I drink protein for breakfast to save me one brushing. I've developed an ulcer on the right side of my tongue. It doesn't feel like there is enough room for it and this appliance in my mouth. I wanted to wait for the first adjustment to see if it helped the positioning. So far, today, it is better. But it didn't develop until the forth day or so, so I'm not confident that the problem is corrected. I fear once it settles in, it will bother me again.

By settling in, I mean that when I first got the appliance it didn't seem to really fit. Pressure on my teeth was more intense and there was a large gap between the roof of my mouth and the appliance. As the week went on, the gap got smaller. The more snug it got less food was captured, my speech was better and my muscles relaxed a bit. I was feeling pretty confident yesterday. My discomfort was easing up, chewing wasn't quite as hard and my speech felt almost normal. I wasn't popping ibuprofen every four hours. Then, it was time for the first adjustment. One crank of the key and I was back to feeling like I did last week. Everything was harder again. I'm so tired today as a result. I'm afraid this will be the drill over the next 6 months. Which if that's all it would take, I could cope a bit easier. But I have an incredibly long road ahead of me. When I outgrow this appliance then, it's on to the next which is sure to have its own set of aches, pains and learning curves.

Oh my goodness! Sneezing is the worst. I was a violent sneezer as it was, but now it's companied by the worst spray because I cannot close my mouth. It is the most awkward feeling. Let's pray I don't catch a cold.

The tension in my neck is considerably higher than it used to be. At first, I thought it was a good sign maybe I was using muscle that's been ignored for too long. Like the day or two following a good work out. No pain, no gain. But it's so stiff and it won't let up. The tension just builds. I sought out an osteopath hoping they can help. Of course, only one in the valley takes my insurance so my appointment is two months out. I pray I find relief much sooner than that, but at least its on the calendar just in case.

It's not all bad, though, otherwise, I'd probably throw in the towel. The left TMJ joint does feel a bit more relaxed in the morning. Also, I kissed Frank last night and my jaw didn't lock or pop. So, there are a couple victories to counter all my other defeats.

January 10, 2018

January 4, 2018

And So it Begins

As I previously mentioned, some big changes are in store this year. The first of which has begun. I'm embarking on what's to be expected as a two year (maybe three) journey to correct my bite and provide relief and (hopefully) repair my temporomandibular joint. About seven years now, I've had TMD symptoms, but the severity has worsened in recent years. It's become a daily burden. Back in August, my symptoms became pretty severe hindering every day activities like chewing, yawning, kissing, etc. No matter what I tried to ease the discomfort, nothing provided relief. I was referred to a TMJ Specialist. I underwent a series of exams, tests and imaging. My issues were clear from the very first panoramic xray and everything else supported the diagnoses. First, I have a Class II Division 2 Malocclusion. My overbite is so bad, my upper teeth completely cover those on the bottom. I've chipped a tooth and the one next to it has become loose. My lower jaw has receded over the years. I also have significant damage to the left TMJ joint and both joints show signs of arthritis. The left disc is displaced and the condyle which is the bone that fits into the joint has been worn flat. Normally, these are rounded. When my jaw opens and closes it shifts to the side sort of like a misaligned jewelry box. This causes pain in the joint, ear, tension in the neck and shoulders and headaches. I have bone deposits on my skull from the tension - the muscle on the right side of neck is tight like a banjo. No amount of manipulation releases it. It is literally a constant pain in the neck.

My treatment plan includes multiple appliances over the course of a year (or two) followed by another year in wire braces. Or in other words, I'm on my way to gilding yet another joint in gold. Yesterday, I received my first expansion appliance. This is a custom fit, with three sets of screws. I will turn only one for now once per week. This will push my two front teeth outward. Down the road, I'll start adjusting the other two which will expand/grow the roof of my mouth. Which is much too narrow. Once the expansion takes place, I'll transition to a twin block which will encourage forward growth of the lower jaw, and finally the braces will align everything as it should be. Correcting the bite will allow the joint to sit in the proper position which should promote healing. I'm told I should feel relief from TMD symptoms shortly because it will be under less stress.



I'm only a day in, but right now, it seems unfathomable that it will feel comfortable to have equipment in my mouth 24/7. The only saving grace is that the appliance is removable. If it were fixed, it'd be a deal breaker. I'd have countless panic attacks if that were the case. I'm only to remove the appliance for cleaning when brushing my teeth. Currently, I have an abundance of saliva. I'm told this will improve. It is difficult to swallow and a challenge to speak. I keep practicing so I'm hopeful for a quick adjustment. Eating is the most difficult task. Only my front teeth feel free so little bites are all I can handle. But, I can't really push food again the roof of my mouth. It just gets stuck around the appliance. It feels awful and it is utterly disgusting how much gets caught up in the crevices and around the screws. There will be a large learning curve.

Fortunately, sleep came easier than I expected. I thought for sure I'd drown from the amount of saliva and inability to fully clear it. But there was no gagging - so some of my troubles are more anxiety driven. Usually, I wake with a sore jaw and teeth. This morning my jaw felt more relaxed which was nice. However, I have a weird sensation in my ears. They were clicking like mad this morning, but it's improved throughout the day. My nose, upper lip have felt tingly and today I feel a lot of pressure behind my front left tooth. The tension in my neck feels higher today than usual and a headache set in last night and hasn't let up. Below you can see how differently my mouth closes in a resting position. I have sensitivity on the left lower molar that's new. Hopefully, it is only temporary.

January 2, 2018

Another One Bites the Dust

I'm not sure how it's possible, but 2018 is here! It seems like only yesterday the world was a buzz for Y2K. Yet, kids born in 2000 will turn 18 this year. Freaky.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and floods, and most recently bitter cold. It is safe to say 2017 was rough! It was tough on Las Vegas with the 1 October shooting. Losing my dad so suddenly was hard on me. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing good riddance to 2017. Thankfully, I had just enough grit to see me through.

Even in the most shitastic years there are plenty of beautiful moments and treasured memories. I try to focus on the good, rather than dwell on the heart ache. Even if challenges outweighed my triumphs I'm extremely fortunate to have my home, my health and my core. Frank, Mike and Amy and the kids make me whole. To see them thrive and grow make all the difference in my world.

It felt like I longed for trips on the calendar. The end of the year felt like a real drought, but we snuck in a few trips. Overall, we traveled far more than I had realized, with trips to San Felipe, San Diego, Cancun (Tulum, Mahahual, Xpu-ha, Akumal, and Playa del Carmen), Hualapai Mountain, Los Cabos (La Paz, Buena Vista, Los Barriles, La Ventana, El Sargento, Todos Santos, El Pescadero and Cerritos), San Diego (Tijuana), Chicago (Johnson's Beach, IN), Palm Springs, Chicago, Louisville (Frankfort) and finally San Francisco.

After 20 years together Frank and I found something new - Hockey. Watching the Vegas Golden Knights has been a wild ride. The city was ready for a professional sport and they came when the community needed it most. We've rallied and united. The games are electric. It's been great fun.

Dining has taken back seat, we're cooking more at home. But we still visited our favorites (Cleo, Joe's and Mariscos Playa Escondido) and found some new gems like Meraki and El Tamalucas.

In 2017 we got started with home improvements by painting and adding shutters. There will be more to come in 2018.

More importantly, we'll be improving ourselves.

The past few years have really taken a toll on me. I'm hopeful 2018 will be magical. If nothing else more kind. Unlike years past, I've chosen a word to kick off the new year because I know there are big changes on the horizon. Resilience. With any luck it will serve me well, and provide encouragement and inspiration as I navigate these 365 days of 2018.

And now, the notable of 2017 (local eats were lacking this year; so they've been excluded):

Biggest Regret - Letting my dad return home in July

Do More - That feeds my soul

TRAVELS

Life Changing - Carne Asada Tacos, Tijuana



Best Eats - San Francisco it's such a melting pot; the best of every cuisine.

Suppenk├╝che


Most Disappointing - Baja Fish Tacos

San Felipe

Cabo

Most Relaxing - Farewell tour of Al Cielo, Xpu-Ha



ENTERTAINMENT

Best Song - Good Old Days, Macklemore and Kesha.

Best Album - Divide, Ed Sheeran

Best TV Show - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Amazon

Best Concert - Rebelution at Mandalay Beach

Best Movie - Slim pickings. Pretty sure I saw three and not one wowed me.

Television Movie - The Wizard of Lies, HBO.