This is part two of Jessica’s TMJ story. A couple days ago, we left off with Jessica telling us about her first arthroscopy. In this interview, we pick up with Jessica telling us about her most recent TMJ surgery. (Catch up on the first interview.)
Here’s the rest of our chat:
Stacy: Prior to your recent arthroscopy did you do anything
Jessica: I changed my diet to soft foods, took muscle relaxers and
pain medication. My dentist gave me some physical therapy
exercises, but they made the pain worse. I have become a
big proponent of MRI’s, but this time around my MRI came
back normal. I was confused because I had the same
symptoms as before. I gave the report to my doctor and
found out that the MRI was read wrong. She said that a lot of
radiologists don’t have the experience, or the knowledge they
need to read a TMJ MRI, and as a result they get it wrong.
Stacy: Your current surgeon gave you the option of having
arthrocentesis the second time around, why did you choose
Jessica: I questioned why if I had a more invasive procedure the first
time would a more conservative procedure work this time?
Again I had zero quality of life. We talked about both options
and agreed to do arthroscopy again. I had my second one
in June of this year.
Stacy: One of the things you mentioned earlier is that the second surgery was
totally different, what did you mean by that?
Jessica: Prior to surgery this time I spoke with my anesthesiologist
about how I felt immediately after the first arthroscopy, he
adjusted my surgery medication, and consequently I felt good
after the second one. Also, the first time around my surgeon
gave me a schedule of things that I could introduce into my
diet during recovery. This last one I couldn’t open my mouth
as far. I think it was because it hurt too much. Liquids were
pretty much it for the first week.
Jessica: My surgeon gave me a Therabite, it was wonderful. She gave
me goals, when I first went in I could open maybe 9mm, by the
second followup I was to be up to 25mm. By July 1st I was at
38mm. I have some other issues with that, in the last year I
haven’t been able to floss right, and now I have 11 cavities.
But I am definitely getting better and can eat more. I still have
Stacy: That’s an amazing opening!
Stacy:Has your family been supportive?
Jessica: Yes, they were really great both times. They saw the
condition I was in, and were all for the surgeries.
Stacy: You mentioned that you had hoped your last surgery would
have lasted longer than 4 years. What are you looking for in
the future? Do you think you will have other surgeries?
Jessica: I try to be optimistic and realistic at the same time. I know
that this may not be my last surgery, but I hope this latest
will last a long time. I try not to worry about it. I’m doing
everything I can, but I can’t control what that stupid disc
Stacy: How has this affected your work & school? Have they been supportive?
Jessica: As a nursing student I still had to take care of patients. My
school has an impaired nursing policy, so I was worried about
taking my pain meds. I talked to them about it and they were
very understanding. They said that as long as I didn’t feel I
was impaired, everything was fine with them. My clinical
instructors were good with it too. As far as work goes, I am
a nanny and I have managed to work around any issues that
may have popped up. For the most part everything is good.
Stacy: What have you learned…….what would you tell someone who
is just starting this journey?
Jessica: First of all…….Don’t chew gum! Seriously though, know
your body, & know your limitations. Ask questions, learn
all you can, & trust your instincts.
Stacy: What do you think the role is of communities like TMJ Hope?
Jessica: This is the first time I have found a place that has not just
information about procedures, but offers me the ability to
share my experiences and learn from others.
Stacy: Thank you Jessica for answering all my questions. I think this
will really help those who may be considering surgery. It is
nice to hear from a patient who is doing well and has had a
good ending. You give us HOPE!
Thank you so much, Jessica, for spending time with me to tell your story. I know that many patients will benefit from this! If you are interested in doing an interview for this series, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
One of my favorite parts of this interview is when Jessica says that it is important to know your body, learn all you can & trust your instincts. I think those are fantastic words of wisdom for any TMJ disorder patient, just diagnosed, or not.
Do you have any words of wisdom for newly-diagnosed TMJ disorder patients?