My TMJ problems started when I was 13 years old. We're not 100% sure what started it, but my doctors think it was a combination of me already having Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and the fact I had my fourth open heart surgery and I was intubated for a long amount of time.
After the surgery my jaw started clicking and it started to hurt a lot. About three months later, I was back to school, eating lunch with my friends and my jaw locked open. I started freaking out, my friends rushed me to the school nurse and she drove me to the ER. This would soon become my life.
From the ages of 13 to 17 my jaw locked open about 300 times. A part of my jaw bone formed a chip and when it would lock, it would lock right into the chip. I would have to be sedated at the ER each time it would lock. My head was wrapped with Co-flex [flexible bandages] days after, just to keep it in place. Off and on it would get so bad I had to be home-bound, because I was going to the ER so often and the pain was so bad. I was on Vicodin and a muscle relaxer.
I've had my mouth wired shut two times. I've had both sides shaved down twice and then my most recent surgery was three years ago when implants were put into each side. They worked well for three years; but as of the past six weeks, my implant on the right side is now moving.
I live in Illinois and, as of July 1st, dental isn't covered either by Medicare or Medicaid. Everything I ever had with my TMD was always covered, which I'm thankful for, but now I'm worried what’s going to happen. I don't want to know what the pain is like when my jaw locks with the implant still in, and I don't agree that TMD is dental. I have a heart and lung illness− one lung and a long list of issues with that. Even with all of this, TMD is the most annoying.
I didn't do a lot from the ages of 13 to17, because I was afraid of having fun. I'd laugh and it would lock. Now it is starting again and my doctor won't give me any good pain meds, other than Advil. I guess she doesn't get that a titanium implant moving inside my jaw is quite painful. Eating anything other than soft foods and soup is out of the question. I'm hoping so much I can get this fixed ASAP!
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