Monday, May 28, 2012

Botox for TMD, Part I

My sister-in-law, Lindsay, wanted to know more details about how I got Botox. But first a background post to fill all you other readers in.

The Nature of The Beast
I have TMD (commonly but incorrectly referred to as TMJ). My jaw is so tight that it causes me to get headaches and tight shoulders. About 98% of the time I have a dull all encompassing headache. On top of that I get sharper, intense headaches generally on a daily basis. They vary in degree of intensity, the most painful are the migraines that are sensitive to light, moving and noise. I have had this problem for more than ten years.

How I Found Out What It Was
My general doctors (I had two) could not determine what it was. My first doctor looked into diabetes and other blood related problems. My second doctor just wanted to give me pills to mask the symptoms. They both had my eyes checked. The second time I got them checked they said that I needed glasses. I thought it was a brain tumor for awhile. My mom thought maybe it was hormone related. Then last summer I found out on my own that it was really TMD (temporal mandibular joint disorder), a tightness of the jaw muscles. It was a huge relief just to know what it was!

Rules I Live By
I have a few rules that I live by. Minimal processed sugars, I weigh the sugar against the size of headache that I'll have later from it. No gum or hard chewing. LOTS of water. Stretching. Good nights rest. Decrease stress. Stay calm and relaxed in general. Neck and back massages (my favorite). Good posture.

Treatments for TMD
  • Jaw surgery is costly and takes a LONG time to heal from. My bones did not need reconstruction, so surgery was not necessarily. (Sigh of relief)
  • I ended up getting Botox shots in my jaw a month ago while we were in DC. I was VERY hesitant to do this because isn't Botox for vain, crazy, rich, or famous people? I didn't feel I fit that stereotype. Botox weakens the jaw muscles causing them to be less tight. After doing a LOT of research it seemed to be a great option for me. (I'll write more details in my next post.)
  • I also got a better night guard, special for teeth grinders. I wear it at night and around the house during the day. It helps especially at night when I am grinding my teeth, which makes my jaw tight. Night guards help retrain the jaw muscles to stay open and not clamped together
  • I also have tried several alternative medicine type methods such as EFT, cleanses, self-hypnosis, Chinese medicine techniques, chiropractic, miotechnic massage, specialty yoga, healthier eating, physical therapy, meditation, etc. I am still trying to work several of these into my daily life.
Living With It Now
I still have a dull constant headache all day long. My intense headaches have been more manageable though. My jaw muscles are definitely not as tight or strong because of the Botox. And my jaw placement has improved because of the better night guard.

I often wonder what it would be like to be a "normal" person, a person without a constant headache. My headaches definitely cause me to be more introverted. They take a lot out of me. I feel like I am in "survival mode" the majority of the time. I go about 5 months then I have a break down where I just go crazy from having to hold this burden for so long. But despite all the weight of carrying this around and rarely getting complete relief, I generally feel positive about it. I feel like I have more compassion for others because I often wonder what unseen burden they carry, just like myself. I honestly believe that my headaches have been and are a school master for patience, wisdom and compassion.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April's Happenings

My ulterior (and often primary) motive in blogging is that it also serves as a family journal. In that spirit, I'm going to recap what's been going on for the last month or so.

Rachel's 24th birthday was on March 2nd, but it was about a month after that that one of her birthday presents finally arrived in the mail—a journal of her first 24 years of life. In my free time and typed her handwritten journals (about 5 books that were only about 1/4th full each) into her account. You can back date the entries and do a lot of other stuff. I use it for my personal journal-ing and recommend it.

We moved out of one apartment and into another and could not be happier. Compared to our old place our new place has washer/dryer, an extra bedroom, bigger in general, many new upgrades (kitchen/bathroom floors, ceiling fans, floor heaters), a back porch, a back yard, a bus stop right in front, a park a stone's throw away, and costs the same. We signed a lease through June 30th, 2013. 

Hannah is potty-trained. Here she is below getting an ice cream shake from Cookout (This place deserves a post of it's own. Everyone who has visited us has gone there and loves it, kids and adults alike). Having twins for me is as natural as being married—I never knew any kid scenario without twins. But I try to think about how it makes things different some times. I feel like teaching them things is a lot harder, potty-training being one of those. Hannah has led the way in acquiring new skills (e.g. walking, talking). Heber is doing okay, but has a way to go. But he excels in other ways (i.e. brave, diligent, persistent).

The day after we moved into our new place, we left and drove up to Washington D.C. for a couple of days to pick up Kimball and Lindsay from the airport, go to the D.C. temple, and see some of the patriotic monuments. It's about a 5 hour drive, so we rented a vehicle since ours hasn't been very trustworthy lately.

We only had time to visit the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial wall. The White House had a long line just to get near it, so we had to settle for a distant view. However, I thought riding the subway was a sight in itself. It was a 3 minute escalator down into.

3 minute escalator down to subway

Daddy and daughter in front of the white House
Heber and Talmage in the Museum of Natural History

Heber was captivated from beginning to end. He didn't nap until the ride back to Blacksburg

Vietnam Memorial Wall

In front of the Lincoln Memorial

Olive, Hannah and Heber on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

Washington Monument

Heber and Hannah in front of the Lincoln Memorial statue

Aunt Lindsay with Hannah and Olive
Kimball, Talmage and Heber pestering the ducks

Hebey being Squeeby

D.C. Subway

For the next several days we got to enjoy the presence of my brother Kimball, sister Lindsay and her boyfriend Steve at our house. We took them out to some of our favorite places like Due South BBQ, Cookout (of course. I think Steve and Kimball went here 3 or 4 times in their short time), and Lefty's Grille.). Interestingly, 

Just as we moved in the Town of Blacksburg began a project to put a new sidewalk all along our street.

Kimball and Steve both had interviews while here that sealed up jobs for them. Steve comes out next week to work as an ICU nurse in Bristol, VA and Kimball will come a couple of weeks later as an intern in Blacksburg, VA in my office. Just to give you some context of these places , here's a map.

Since they left we've been riding our bikes around everywhere, eventually trying to get to the point where we no longer use our car at all. So I'll end this with a story of pictures.

Ethiopian food at Excellent Table. Different but good.

Frozen yogurt at Frost Parrot. Not different and delicious.

Rachel's backside down the Huckleberry Trail

Talmage's front side on the Huckleberry Trail

Multi-tasking on three computers

Hannah probing the produce

Heber contemplating his appetite

Biking through town

Hannah reading/telling stories to Heber

Piled on top of our favorite girl