Unhinged… In The Face

Because my skeleton seems to think it is a lot older than it is.

Let’s go back to the beginning.

One morning last October I woke up and yawned. There was an audible click and my jaw locked shut. Not being a stranger to joints popping and locking I thought it would resolve itself in due time.

It didn’t. Two weeks passed and I went to my dentist. He suggested anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen), a paracetamol-based painkiller (co-codamol) and a muscle relaxant (diazepam). I was sent away with instructions not to eat anything too taxing for my jaw, to take my meds regularly, not to try and open my mouth wide by force and to return in two weeks if it hadn’t improved.

Two weeks later although the pain improved with regular pain medication the actual jaw still would not open wide enough to eat “proper food” and chewing really hurt. I returned to my dentist who sent me to the dental hospital in the centre of the city.

From then (November) till now I have seen the oral surgeon at the dental hospital a couple of times just to check in and been referred on again – this time to a maxillofacial surgeon who has an interest in TMJ (temporomandibular – the “hinge of your jaw) issues. Now all I have to do is wait for 8 – 12 weeks and wait for an appointment coming through. In the meantime, I was sent for an MRI (The results are here).

Last Monday I had an appointment with the aforementioned TMJ specialist. Who confirmed the results of the MRI and went through the next steps with me in detail. The next steps are to get me in as soon as possible for disc relocation surgery. Hopefully, the disc will be salvageable and the surgery will involve re-situating the dislocated disc on my left side of my face and then anchor the salvaged disc in place with a screw. The surgery will leave me with a shaved area of hair as well as a scar from in front of my ear then up through my scalp. I’m hoping I’ll rock the one-sided undercut look. If the disc itself isn’t able to be salvaged then the disc will need to be replaced with a graft from another area of my body.

On the other side of my face, the issues aren’t as severe as my left side. Therefore, the treatment is going to be conservative but at some point, I will need the same surgery on the right-hand side.

I am nervous but glad to see some forward momentum in treating my jaw. Surgery isn’t something anyone enjoys; but the prospect of hospital time, surgery, anaesthesia and shaving part of my hair is making me feel completely bewildered and overwhelmed.

As always, I’ll keep you posted.

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