“What’s gonna happen to Chess Piece Face?”

A couple months ago, I started getting this pain in the left side of my head, behind my ear. It felt like I was wearing a tight headband. It would just come on for a couple minutes and then go away. That started happening more frequently, until there was just a constant pain behind my ear. I got a little concerned. Then it started hurting in my ear. I got slightly less concerned – maybe I just had an ear infection or wax buildup or something. I tried some Debrox drops and decided if it didn’t get better in a couple days, I’d go to the doctor. Then I started getting a pain in the back of my head, like at the base of my skull, and I started worrying again – what if I had meningitis or something?!

So I finally went to the doctor, and she basically took one look at me and said, “TMJ.” I have had TMJ issues for a while now. Five years ago I went to see a TMJ specialist. Since then, I’ve just lived with my retainers that I had modified in like 2004 or 2005, and everything’s been fine. But apparently I had a “flare up,” which caused the whole left side of my face to be inflamed (I didn’t really notice that until she pointed it out), and strained all the various muscles of my head. She gave me some Ibuprofen for the inflammation, and muscle relaxers to take at night so I wouldn’t clench my jaw so much in my sleep, giving it a chance to heal.

I took the anti inflammatory, but put off taking the muscle relaxer as long as I could. I have never taken any kind of sedative, been under anesthesia, or anything like that, and I was nervous about what kind of effect it would have. The first night I took it, I had GG set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night and check that I was still breathing. But guess what – not only did I not die, it was amazing. My face felt fabulous the next morning.

I actually had a dental appointment that same week, so I mentioned it to them as well. They remained unconcerned about my condition (despite having several minor chipped teeth in the past year, likely due to grinding), and suggested I go back to the orthodontist to have my retainer bulked up. (My theory was that I’d chewed my retainer down those last couple millimeters to where my teeth were touching and grinding at night again, causing the flare-up.) So I went there, which is always a surreal experience because the office is filled with middle and high school students getting their braces adjusted. They took my retainer for a week and thickened it up in the front so there was no way my back teeth could meet. Meanwhile, I relied on bedtime muscle relaxers to keep me from getting my jaw-related headaches. When I got it back a week later, it needed a little adjusting, and then they had me come back a couple weeks after that to see how it was and make any final adjustments. They want me to come again in three months just to make sure everything is still ok. (Meanwhile, I think I will need to go sooner because my teeth must be hitting it strangely and I’ve already chewed an edge out of shape in less than a week.)

I’m trying one other thing for my jaw, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I finally found an acupuncturist, and I just finished visit four (of about ten). He’s a real Chinese doctor, so you know it’s authentic. He specializes in pain management, and I’d read reviews from people who went to him for acupuncture and he ended up giving them injections or something. I really wanted to try acupuncture, so I just went in, told him what was going on, and that I’d read that acupuncture could really help with TMJ. He agreed, and explained about the treatment. Then he stuck a bunch of pins in me.

I’d tried reading up on acupuncture, but I guess I wasn’t really prepared – and it’s different every time. He’s been doing 10-15 needles each time, mostly in the left side of my jaw (that’s the side that clicks), but sometimes the right side; also a couple in the top of my head; a couple in my right hand and wrist; and a couple in my right foot and/or leg. The first time I went, I didn’t know where he’d need to reach so I wore loose clothes. He just did my head, hand, and foot. So the next time, I wore jeans, and that time he decided he needed to do one up by my knee, and I had to roll up my pant leg. Then he focuses a heat lamp on a certain area (the side of my face, or my hand) to warm the needles for more effect. And he’ll hook up two needles (two in my leg/foot, or one in my foot and one in my wrist) to this low electrical pulse thing.

The needles don’t really hurt at all, though they seem to get more uncomfortable every time. Also, I thought I would be laying down, but I guess because of where he needs to do the needles, I sit up in a chair, with a pillow on my lap for my arms to rest on. He sets me up with the needles and the lamp and the electric thingy, then turns off the lights and leaves me for like half an hour, during which time I try to zone out and relax (though I usually just think about a bunch of stuff I need to do). Then I hear a timer go off somewhere, and he shows up and pulls all the needles out and I go home.

He says after about ten visits my jaw should stop popping – we’ll see about that – but that I should also continue taking the muscle relaxers for 3-6 months to help prevent further damage. So right now I’m not sure if any improvement I’ve noticed is due to the acupuncture or the pills. (I’m ruling out the change to my retainer, because that was really just to build back what had already been there.) But anyone I know who’s tried acupuncture has had great results, and everyone is very curious to see how it works out for me. I’ll keep you posted!

“There’s a war in all the streets and yes the freaks must dance or die”

Things I’ve done in the past almost two weeks:

  • Hosted a very successful Thirty-One party that included guests from every facet of my life, which was weird, but of course everyone gets along :o)
  • Went to see Reggie Watts at the Troc, which was a totally awesome and bizarre show. I would love to see him again, though, because he does a lot of improvization, so I bet it would be completely different.
  • Started acupuncture. It’s weird. I haven’t noticed any change yet, but he said I need like ten visits. I’ll write about this whole TMJ thing after I’ve done a few more acupuncture treatments and have some perspective.
  • Teared up at the Kristin Wiig farewell sketch on SNL.
  • Made some awesome foods, thanks to Pinterest, including Cilantro Lime Chicken, Honey Yogurt Berry Pops, and an awesome Black Bean and Corn Salad that is almost exactly like the one they made at this Mexican place we loved (now closed).

I have almost no plans for the long weekend coming up, besides going to a friend’s BBQ. But I do have a long list of projects I want to get done – wish me luck!

“It’s a good thing that I’m not a star, you don’t know how lucky you are”

There’s been a bunch of stuff I’ve wanted to write about, and I just never get around to sitting down and doing it. It also doesn’t help that I’m so busy that I feel like I’m always just catching up with the internet – I’m so behind on reading blogs and stuff, I can barely keep up. I should just keep a running list of topics or something. Enjoy, I think this post is going to be all over the place…

1) Rhapsody in May: Our band concert was last weekend, and it was amazing. I think it was our best concert ever. The feature of the concert was that we played “Rhapsody in Blue,” which has always kind of been a dream of mine to play. As of concert day, we had still never actually played the whole thing all the way through! I have to admit, I was nervous. But everything went so well. The soloist was great, and we all got a standing ovation. I had been saying all along that after playing that, I could safely quit band or die or whatever, and I’d feel like I’d accomplished a life goal. But on the way home from practice the other night, one of the women in my carpool said something about playing “An American in Paris,” so… new life goal? (I do love me some Gershwin.)

2) The Shops at Target: I was kind of “meh” about these mini-collections when I first heard about them, but I happened to be in target last week and they happened to have a bunch of enormous signs all over drawing attention to The Shops, so I briefly checked them out. The Webster, I just walked past, it’s not really my style. I also didn’t look at the Polka Dog Bakery, since I don’t have a dog and even if they had cat treats (I don’t know if they did), we are very well-stocked on treats and toys for the kitties. The Cos Bar display was neat, but it was just like soaps and nail files, and as Target Addict mentioned, you can get fancy wrapped soaps and things for less at places like TJ Maxx. I just looked past The Candy Store, some of the things were cute, but I had no need for special candies at the time. The Privet House collection looked nice; I didn’t look at the prices on the serving pieces and things, but I liked them. However, they had this set of blank notecards with rubber stamps to decorate them (like “thank you,” “you’re invited,” etc.) and it was like $12 or $15, which I thought was a bit much. I’m kind of interested to see how the fall round of Shops does. I’m interested in the Curiosity Shoppe and Kirna ZabĂȘte; it’ll be nice to have something for the guys with Odin; and I already like Patch NYC, so I’m excited to see what they bring to Target.

3) Mother’s Day: I went out with my mom and grandmother for lunch on Saturday to celebrate Mother’s Day early. I got them both the same gift, a Scentsy warmer and some bars, and I think they really liked them, so that’s good. Lunch was good, and then we went to Charming Charlie’s, which was really fun with them, we are all big fans of accessories :o)

4) Fringe Finale: I was a week behind on Fringe, so I got to watch both parts of the finale in one sitting. It was kind of a weird turn for things to take, but they wrapped everything up at the end. (I may have shed a tear. Just one.) This show always seems to be up for cancellation and it keeps coming back, but honestly, if this were the last season, I’d be ok with it. I think they ended in a good place. But it did set things up to be where we need to be for that flash-forward episode from a few weeks ago, so I’d definitely be happy to see the show continue and finish up that storyline.

5) Get Offended Comedy Show: GG performed in a comedy show last night with the Get Offended guys. I went to this show, for once, because it was at a restaurant that was non-smoking. Well, the show started like an hour late because they were waiting for restaurant patrons to finish eating so they could clear out the area where they’d be setting up the stage. The last guy there was actually the restaurant owner, who was lingering over dessert with, apparently, his teenage kids. He finally moved to a different spot so the show could get started, and things were going really well. There was a good crowd of fans, and the comedians were good. Then this one guy cut his act short because three little kids walked into the restaurant. Who brings their kids to a bar for dinner at 10:30 at night? I don’t know, but apparently the fact that there were children there was enough to derail the show. Some of the other guys just got up and started singing. I prodded GG to go sing, which he did, and in between he made loud comments about the young visitors. I guess that finally got to them, because the dad in the group told someone that they didn’t realize they were interrupting a show, and to please continue. I don’t know if he knew what he was getting into, but the show did go on! GG was the headliner, he did a thirty minute set, and he was a big hit!

6) Pen Organizer: This is barely blog-worthy, but ever since we lost our kitchen “junk drawer,” we’ve been keeping our pens, scrap paper, scissors, chip clips, and other assorted items in a big cardboard box. This was hard to get into, hard to find things in, and generally stressed me out with its disorganization. I’ve been looking for a while for some kind of organizer thing with pen compartments, slots for paper, and drawers for our little odds and ends. Today GG and I were getting ready to go to the supermarket, and I sketched him a little picture of what I was looking for. We stopped at Michael’s craft store before food shopping, and I swung him through the scrapbooking department to show him these organizers I’d seen there that are similar, but not exactly what I was looking for. Guess what – in addition to those close-but-not-quite organizers, there was another item that was pretty much exactly what I had sketched! And it was 40% off! I was so excited! I have all my pens and stuff organized in the kitchen now and it’s making me smile every time I walk past :o)

“You put down that telephone, you’re not calling anyone”

I haven’t done an actual life update for a little while, have I? I’ve had a busy couple of weeks. A couple Fridays ago, my friend JK and I drove up to Perkasie for a Scentsy/Thirty-One party. The girl selling Scentsy was a friend of mine from college (who I hadn’t seen since college!), and a friend of hers sells Thirty-One, so they teamed up. It was fun to see my old friend again, and all the other girls there were really nice, too. I bought a bunch of stuff and actually got talked into hosting a Thirty-One party of my own, so that’s coming up in a few weeks.

GG and I went to see The Cabin in the Woods. I don’t usually like to go to scary movies, but there was something weird about the preview and I was curious. The movie was fabulous! Yes, it had scary/gross moments, but it was super original, hilarious, and really turned the horror genre upside down. (I’d see it again just for the Japanese schoolgirl scenes.)

Between me, GG, and the cats, it seems like we’ve had nonstop doctor, dentist, and vet appointments the past couple of weeks. In addition to Ivan’s dental issues (he is already back to normal, by the way), I’ve also been having some jaw problems that warrant their own post that I’ve been meaning to write. I have two more medical appointments on the calendar this month, and then hopefully we’ll be done for another year. But I am thinking of trying acupuncture, so maybe more other appointments will be added soon…

Last week I had a three-day meeting at work with our boss and three of my co-workers, from a total of four different sites. This could be nightmarish to some people, but our little fraction of our team gets along really well, we got a lot done, and I think it was a really good week. I was talking to GG afterward and was kind of amazed: our group overall is kind of dysfunctional, and past team meetings have been awkward and unproductive. But the five of us work well together, get things done, and also get along as friends. We spent all day together and then had dinners together too. Thursday was the last day of our meeting, and that afternoon a friend of mine, who was in a different three-day meeting this week, IMed me because ice cream and toppings for 30 people had just been delivered to her conference room, but her group had finished up early and everyone left, so did we want to come over? It ended up being a big reunion of everyone from our old department who was still on-site, and it was nice to have everyone together to catch up for a little while. That night my other PA co-worker had us all over for dinner (minus our boss, he had to leave right after work – probably a good thing!), which turned into a late-night drinking and cupcake party. Because GG was there, of course, and he could talk all night if you let him. Anyway, it was a great week and great to see everyone and also to be able to just sit in a room together and get stuff done.

Today was kind of a waste. I woke up at 8AM and had a horrible headache that only got worse over the course of the day. I spent most of the morning and early afternoon in bed, then finally felt well enough for about 15 minutes to brush my teeth, change, and move to the sofa, where I napped for a few more hours. I was starting to feel better around 4PM and ate some crackers, but even now, at 10PM, I still feel some traces of headache. Luckily, I was able to take some time this evening to do some of the chores I was planning to do today, but this was really bad, I had big plans and a lot to do today, and I really couldn’t get most of this stuff done. Maybe I’ll catch up tomorrow…