Updated: Apr 17
As I sit here in misery, curtains closed, lights off, all outside noise completely shuttered, I am grateful. My face feels like someone used my eyes, sinuses and jaw as a punching bag, or perhaps a brontosaurus tread all over me. I am grateful because I've suffered these headaches as far back as my memory stretches and last week someone finally handed me what might be the key. FangSmith has brought many things into my life. The opportunity for massive self growth and exploration, a way to express myself creatively, new friends and stronger friendships and this; the discovery of my malaligned jaw. In gradeschool the counselors used to ask me why I stayed at home so many days out of the year, child psychologists, wrong diagnoses, my mother's grief at having to scramble for a babysitter or try to shove me out the door to the bus anyway. Meetings with the principal about my absence, my single parent mother shamed and embarrassed. I developed into a nervous little girl, sensitive, overwrought by the pain behind my face, unable to retain memories of my day, prone to panic attacks, unable to interact without stuttering, hiding inside from the sunlight that stabbed an icepick through my eyeballs. People told my mother I was making it up or that the headaches were imagined. I had a tonsillectomy at the age of nine because they thought it would fix my chronic ear infections. The ear infections only faded off when I was about twenty, so bad at one point that grey liquid leaked out and I went deaf in one ear for three months. I have no sense of smell, anosmia that I thought was congenital. As an adult I have chronic neck, shoulder and sciatic pain. I'm exhausted when I wake, people close to me telling me it's fibromyalgia. Scalp sensitivity, headaches that last for weeks, dizziness, tinnitus, fingers and toes that go numb and my jaw and sinus; oh how they ache. FINALLY I have the answer. After spending way too much time looking at my odd jaw alignment and asking me to show him my bite again and again and again, Mr FangSmith figured out that something was misaligned. This was confirmed this week by my regular massage therapist in town and when I mentioned it to someone at random they suggested it might be Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ for short). All the symptoms sound like what I've been suffering with all my life. These headaches have been extremely disabling. I can't learn with them, remember people's names and faces, keep my thoughts in any sort of order or get things done at all without writing myself a schedule the night before. I can fully identify with Bela Lugosi, who suffered permanent sciatic pain from an old war wound that drove him to a pain killer addition and crushed his life. The stern furrowed brow of his classic Dracula visage was caused by near crippling pain. I've made the appointment to see the orthodontist and get scans done to see what exactly the problem in there is. It seems insane that such a tiny muscle can be the cause of a lifetime of pain and disablement. I'm pretty scared for the appointment but at the same time I'm excited to be able to become the headache free person that I'm meant to be. No more broody looking face held by one hand or one furrowed eyebrow, broken blood vessels and bruising around my eyes. Looking forward to it.