Nothing creeps out boys more than a girl coming back from a doctor’s appointment and declaring that she have some TLA-named something. And I know this because I over-share. I am a very open person, happy to talk about myself no matter how embarrassing. Maybe I got into the habit of telling everyone around me (and since I am work most of my waking hours, these tend to be coworkers) after working for five years with other women about my age.

So anyway, I have been getting many stress-related things-wrong-with-me over the past year or so. And today I was at an ENT doctor because I have TMD.  And I had to tell everyone at work. Who are all men. Which would explain the “I don’t know and I don’t want to know” looks that I am just starting to recognize.

Does it really sound that bad? I just went to a ear, nose, and throat doctor because my jaw hurts. My jaw hurts because a am so stressed out that I clench it even when I sleep.  Better than my hormones getting out of whack or my immune system getting so suppressed that my spine is inflamed by dormant chicken pox viruses. Those things happened early this year. TMI?

But back to bitching about my current ailments. My TMJ (temporomandibular joint)  is injured thanks to my clenched-jaw sleeping, and not getting better because of my big yawns and constant munching on bagels and french bread. To fix it: no opening my mouth when I yawn, and no hard foods like bagels and french bread. At least until it gets better. And I get a sexy $700 mouth guard to wear at night.

The visit to the doctor started out pretty typical, waiting in a waiting room for ages, and then waiting in an exam room for more ages. But the exam room was the most non-medical feeling, old skool exam room I have ever been in. I sat in a chair like they have at the eye doctor’s, but this one was brown vinyl. All of the equipment looked 30+ year old. The metal jars and instruments were labeled with typewriter-typed sticker labels. Everything had a thin layer of dust on it. Since I had nothing better to do, I assessed everything in the room and determined that I was the youngest thing here, aside from the magazines.

Shortly after hearing through the wall of the adjoining exam room “Can you hear me better now? CAN YOU HEAR ME BETTER NOW?”, the fatherly looking ENT doctor came in and we joked about the yelling and how there was nothing wrong with my hearing at least. He  spent quite a bit of time just talking to me, and talking about TMJ in general. He liked to talk a lot. He did some quick physical tests to confirm his suspicions, and recommended non-dramatic ways to make me feel better.  No crazy MRIs, no physical therapy, and definitely no surgery ever. I could tell that he prided himself on his old-skool ways. Why spend thousands of dollars to confirm what you can tell by talking to someone and poking around a bit when the treatment is going to be the same?

I was told that I am the classic TMD patient, which in his words are “young, intelligent, educated, compassionate young women who have a lot going on in their lives.”  I was also told that this happens to lots and lots of people, that this is really common thing and not to feel bad about having it, and that there was nothing that I did to cause it. It is mostly a problem with younger women and he almost never sees an “85-year old grandma with TMD, so just give it 60 years.” Then I was told that I had to be on a strict soft-food diet, not open my jaw very far, even to yawn, and make an appointment to see the dentist (for the mouth guard). I am to “be a good girl and call in three or for weeks to talk” about how I’m doing and then to come in for a visit in two months. Okay, Dad.


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