Come, blessed peace, we once again implore, And let our pains be less, or power more.
-Alexander Brome (1661)
Here I’ve been toeing the line these past 10 days to adhere to the guidelines established by the ENT physician who diagnosed my TMJ syndrome: Advil, heat, no gum chewing, soft foods, check with the dentist about a device to keep me from clenching my teeth at night, and so on.
$450 (for my lovely night guard device which makes me look like Bugs Bunny) and days later, I was still suffering pain from what I thought were residual TMJ issues. On Saturday evening, I was so discouraged, I even said to Joel, “I wish this were an ear infection instead, so I could just take an antibiotic and be done with it.” His response was, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Sunday morning I awoke and discovered I couldn’t hear at all out of my left ear (on the same side as the TMJ). The sensation felt as if I were under water, with only muffled sounds coming through. I soldiered through church and later the youth choir rehearsal that I “mother”, explaining to all that I couldn’t hear very well, so if I were off key, so sorry!
My friend Bill said, “well, I WAS going to say something!” He was making fun of the fact that I don’t really sing on key anyway, but hey, I do try! So I whacked him for his total disrespect for my singing abilities (a big joke). Aside from all that, I was still having acute pains which required more Advil, which I hate taking.
I told myself I’d call the ENT doctor back if I didn’t improve on Monday morning, which I did not. So at the crack of 9 a.m. when their office opened, I was on the phone. Dr. Hung could see me at 2:00, thankfully.
When he came into the exam room, I had a sense that he was skeptical about my complaint; perhaps he thought I was a big wuss who wasn’t doing what he had originally prescribed? I outlined what I’d experienced since our last visit ten days prior, and then he took a look.
His reaction? “You DO have an ear infection!” He was so surprised! I think he halfway expected to see a nice clean ear canal like he saw ten days ago. He said that I was only the second person he’d ever seen that had an ear infection along with a TMJ diagnosis. But now I finally had an explanation for why all my efforts didn’t help reduce the pain. It would have to be me, of course.
The good doctor cleaned out my ear, and although it wasn’t exactly pleasant, the relief from the pressure was so immediate, it felt good. He prescribed an antibiotic ear drop twice a day, with no follow up unless I still had problems after ten days.
So by that time, I should be finished with the ear drop protocol AND the night guard prescription. I cannot begin to say how grateful I am to finally have a positive outlook, and for that gift, I am rejoicing… and thankful on this Thanksgiving weekend.