Sunday, May 29, 2011

on the tongue

PT told me to keep my chin down, like make a double chin, throughout the day. This stretch counteracts the weight of my head being placed on spinal nerves C1 and C2 when we slouch and let our chins move forward (as in listening intently in conversation, looking at TV or computer, driving) which could be contributing to tongue, ear, throat pain. Hmmm. Just wanted to pass this along... let me know if it helps you. I do think I feel a bit of relief from these stretches.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May updates addition to the lingual nerve damage, orofacial pain specialist #2 (who I avoided earlier because he doesn't take insurance, and specializes in TMJ) diagnosed me with severe temporal temporalis. There's an explanation of it here

I never thought of myself as having TMJ, or being a teeth clencher, but you'd be surprised what stress does to the muscles in our necks, shoulders, and faces, and how everything is attached all the way back from your mouth to behind the ears to neck.

It became a perfect storm after the initial injury, IMHO, because that initial glass- crunching-like pain in my mouth naturally made me tense, which creates more pain, which makes me anxious, which makes more pain, and...well, you know. A vicious circle. The physical therapist told me my biggest problem is that it is now chronic; but the muscles are in spasm that's not going away; I may never get completely back to what used to be "normal".

Add two root canals to that I had last Spring which were possibly unnecessary and - voila - you get extended, chronic pain that may take years to resolve, if ever. At least I have a diagnosis - after dozens of doctors looking at me like I'm from another planet.

Things are a little better in the last 2 months, since wearing the bite guard at night, doing 2 courses of low dose steroids, and physical therapy, I'm feeling reduced headaches and facial pain. However, the burning continues... I don't know if anyone is going to be able to treat that. Everything -from shoulders to throat to ear to temples -is made worse by stress, when muscles tense up.
FYI - Reducing the number of hours I'm on a computer or in a car commuting has been very helpful.

Being on leave from work has saved my life, given these treatments a chance to actually work and show improvement in my condition; that boss and the stress was absolutely killing me. I wouldn't have made it there - I'd have quit by now. I'm interviewing for other jobs but have hit some speed bumps (I was promised 3 job offers: one company went through a merger so the job disappeared, at another the CEO was fired so there's a hiring freeze; a third wanted to cut my pay 30% and I just couldn't accept it). Even with all this, the economy still looks brighter than at this time last year.

All I can do is focus on deep breathing, relaxing my shoulders and face, and trying to stay distracted when the pain ramps up.
Here's what I still rely on:
  • Viscous Lidocaine applied directly to tongue - numbing for about 20 mins. (use before meetings and other important events)
  • 1/2 Klonopin on the tongue - a good temporary fix but (yawn) makes me drowsy.
  • Pina colada flavored gum - not supposed to chew it, so I try to just let it rest in my mouth... Try being the operative word in that sentence.
  • Biotene mouthwash rinse for dry mouths (won't burn like others) after eating
  • Low doses of painkillers, still almost an every day necessity...but no more Lyrica or Neurontin for nerve pain - too much brain fog, and the blurred vision I experienced never really went away. Or, maybe I'm just OLD! (just had a birthday and now I'm pushing 50 - ackkk!)
  • Avoiding spicy foods, excess sugar, and caffeine

Hope all is well - please be sure to take a minute to post how you are doing :)
- J