My name is Jennifer Feldman, and I have suffered from TMJ dysfunction since age ten when I was in a car accident. All of my memories are attached to my "condition." I remember sitting in waiting rooms for endless hours forming friendships with other patients who shared my pain. My family spent more than one birthday singing next to my hospital bed while I tried to blow out a candle standing up in a jello cup, working with pharmacies to concoct inventive ways to push pain meds through my wired jaws, battling with insurance companies for pre-authorizations, and trying to convalesce while fighting for reimbursement. Like many patients who have chased after a cure for many years, I have undergone 18 surgeries. In 2015 alone, I had 2 bilateral rib graft surgeries and a sagittal split osteotomy.
Ten years ago, I enrolled in law school with a goal of becoming a patient's rights advocate, but my studies were interrupted by multiple surgeries. I managed to graduate with my class, but the uncertainty of my health made it impossible to tackle the healthcare system and take care of myself at the same time. I am totally and permanently disabled. The sad truth is that I can't be that patient advocate, which is exactly why I am so grateful for the work that the TMJ Association (TMJA) does to fight for better research and advocate on my behalf.
If not for the hard work and relentless dedication to research based solutions, we would continue to face a world of TMJ care that mimics the Wild Wild West. I am so thankful for the work that Terrie Cowley and her colleagues do to raise awareness on Capitol Hill, at the NIH, FDA, and other government agencies. The community of patients constantly seeking verified information on the subject of TMJ go to the TMJA for comprehensive and credible research updates.
When I can't speak because I am in too much pain or my jaw is literally wired shut, the TMJA is my voice. If the TMJA wasn't fighting for us, who would?
It is the time of year that we give thanks and express our gratitude to those who, like the TMJA, work tirelessly on our behalf. I ask you to join me in sending a contribution to The TMJ Association. Changing the face of TMJ is not easy, but working together, we can make change happen.