Does your face hurt?  Because it’s killing me!

That old chestnut comes to mind often for me.  I have “TMJ Disorder” which stands for Temperomandibular Joint Disorder, but really should stand for Throbbing Mother-Fucking Jaw disorder. This means that the joint between my jaw and the rest of my skull is a train-wreck, and I have almost constant pressure on all variety of nerve endings that make a home there.

Here’s a diagram of what my jaw should look like.

Here’s an illustration of what it feels like.

By the time I’ve had my morning coffee and attempted to chew something, my face, neck, head, and jaw start to ache.  By lunch, I have downed a handful of ibuprofen and start reaching for my binator.  By evening, oxycodone addict seems like a desirable lifestyle.

What is a binator, you ask?  It’s a modern version of a medieval torture device that I have to wear that moves my jaw into “proper” alignment.  I wear it while I’m sleeping or whenever I have a lot of pain. It makes me talk like Shelley Marsh on “South Park” and makes me just as pissed off as she is.  Thankfully, it doesn’t include head-gear, but it couldn’t be more uncomfortable if it did.  Part of the discomfort was the $1800 price tag on this God-forsaken chunk of translucent pink plastic and wire.  The other part is that is puts my lower jaw into what feels like an unnaturally forward position, like a shih tzu with an underbite.

Self portrait?

TMJ Disorder is so difficult to treat that many insurance plans won’t cover it; those that do put a cap on how much they will pay for treatment.  One “option” for treatment is several years of braces followed by a reconstructive jaw surgery, wiring my mouth shut, and months of the inability to eat anything chewier than Jell-o.  Frankly, that doesn’t sound like much of an “option” to me.  I don’t even like Jell-o.

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