I frequently think of all the people in my life who have been my support since my TMJ surgery, the so-called "wind beneath my wings." On December 27th I lost one of my staunchest supporters, my husband's mother. My own mother died when I was 27 and Norma Cowley generously, graciously, and lovingly filled that void. She always introduced me as her daughter and, more importantly, treated me as her own.
When I had the TMJ surgery, when my life of TMJ pain and dysfunction began, she and my father-in-law (a cardiologist) were in the dark about the disorder. But what mom did know is that I had difficulty eating and when she was cooking, all she cared about was whether I could eat what she was preparing for dinner. If I said it would be difficult, that dish was off the menu. It wasn't the biggest thing someone could do for me but in many ways it was, because it showed that she believed I had pain and that I had trouble eating—symptoms I rarely talked about because they were doubted by so many people.
As The TMJ Association grew and Allen and I discussed the state of science and treatments, and the plight and needs of the patients we represent, mom and dad were among our staunchest moral and financial supporters. Allen and I would discuss TMJ science with dad and mom cheered my activism. During my last visit with her when her words were few, she simply said, "Keep doing what you're doing. It's important."
Most of us are fortunate in having such support, people without whom life would be incredibly more difficult than it is. We’d like to hear from you about them: the ones who hold a special place in your heart because they understand how TMJ disorders affect your life and want to make it better. It would be a great way to honor them!
Terrie Cowley, President & Co-founder of The TMJ Association