The treatment is going quite well. Although the progress is not as swift as hoped I am slowly regaining some control over my muscles and learning to control my moods and anxiety better as well, all without medication! With that said, I have been a little lax on my food and exercise regime, being occupied with things that I normally do. I have been out in the city a couple of times to see my friends and catching with some overdue work that had stacked up since I have fallen ill. It does feel good to finally have some control over my life and although it’s not perfect and sometimes it’s frustrating I am constantly trying to remind myself what I was like when I first came here. I am extremely grateful and whenever I am reminded I feel at peace.
As regards to my diet, it has been awful the past couple of weeks… I have never craved naughty food so badly in my life and cannot seem to handle it at all. I have had cakes, pastry, ice cream, fried chicken, beer and the list goes on. And it serves me right for having the most hideous abdominal pain today. It felt similar to food poisoning and it came out of nowhere when I was receiving treatments during the afternoon. Fortunately, Dr Lee gave me some sachets of dried herbal medicine for the stomach pain and told me to take it with warm water. He said most of his patients go through similar things so he has those sachets ready. So I took one (didn’t taste nice..) then I went to bed with a hot water bottle. Together with pain, I was also getting some flu like symptoms; I had the chills, dizziness and nausea. I had food poisoning before (really bad ones) and I was quite worried that it might go on for a while; it certainly is not a pleasant thing. Surprisingly, I just woke up after a 2 hour nap and I feel completely fine. Don’t think it was food poisoning, maybe it was a little telling off of my bad diet…
For the past week, I have managed to stick to a strict routine and diet, doing exercises (even started jogging!), stretching and meditating. It has been just over a month since I started the treatment and I feel normal most of the time. Dr Lee always asks me how much progress I think has been made and this week, I feel I am around 80% back to normal. I still do have odd moments when I suddenly become conscious about having muscle spasm and get quite anxious. The sensation is still there almost constantly but I think I’m learning to ignore it and not think of it as a big deal. Pain is at least 90% gone which is probably why it has been much easier to focus on the treatment and getting better rather than allowing all sorts of thoughts go through my head like I did for the first 3 weeks.
However, I have had itchy body for the past few days and quite a sensitive tingling sensation on the face, as if I am being tapped by a bunch of needles delicately, if that makes any sense. It’s not very pleasant and I’m hoping it will disappear soon.
Unfortunately, I think I’m still quite dependent on the mouth piece, worrying what will happen if I don’t have it on; a bit like the training wheels before you learn to ride a bicycle. I never got to take off the training wheels when I was younger and still can’t ride a bike… Anyway, I’m trying to come off the mouth piece slightly so I have had it out for a few hours today which has not been easy to be honest. Hopefully, I can learn to carry on with life without it soon and maybe learn to ride a bike too.
Over the past few days, I have concentrated on meditating and working on exercises that improve balance. A new thing that I am focusing on is chewing on both sides. I have a habit of chewing on my right side since I was young which got even worse after having braces because my orthodontist made me wear an elastic band only on my left side for over a year which made it very difficult for me to chew on that side. Looking back, the most logical explanation of my unendurable TMD is probably due to the fact that my orthodontist did not properly consider the position of my TMJ and his only goal was to make my teeth align. After 3 years of agony, I was finally free from the train track but my face eventually became more and more asymmetrical to the point where I became very self-conscious. Then, when I started work, I did not even have the mental strength to reflect on my looks because of the constant pain and depression that I had to cope with. It makes me quite emotional and perhaps angry when I think about my wasted youth, something that was completely out of my control but what can I do? At least I know what it is now and being caught up by what has already happened will not make anything better.
Anyway, I was aware of my habit of chewing on one side but I did not think much of it until now. However, I was told that chewing on one side does affect the balance of TMJ so I am making a conscious effort to chew on both sides – I can certainly feel my jaw muscles on the left side are much weaker. Something else I am trying to improve on is having equal muscle strength left and right side of my arms and hands. I am right handed and I do everything on my right hand. When I clench the fists I can really feel the difference between strength I have on my left and right side – so I have decided to do a few simple exercises and activities that improve the use of left hand, such as wrist exercises and practicing writing with my left hand. Hopefully I can become ambidextrous; this pushes me to work even harder!
Yesterday was quite strange. My body must have gone through a bit of change and my mood was uncontrollable for a good 2 hours. For example, I really craved some pastry with chocolate inside so I went to the bakery but by the time I reached the shop pastry became the last thing I wanted. So then, I walked round for a bit and came across a restaurant serving noodles which I suddenly fancied having. By the time the food came out I didn’t feel like eating at all; I ended up not even touching the noodles (I loved the food from this restaurant before so it certainly was not the food). I was so confused and could not explain why I was so temperamental. It carried on when I came back to the flat and every 5 minutes I would switch from watching TV to listening to music to going on my laptop and so on. After a while, I got so annoyed that I just went to bed. I’m so thankful it had stopped after I took a nap otherwise I would have literally gone crazy.
Then today, I made some very good progress which has made me feel very proud of myself (doesn’t happen often). I finally managed to have a CBA fitted without looking at the mirror. Dr Lee would instruct me to shift my jaw to the right but for some reason my jaw always moved to the left. Like I mentioned before, my body was doing exactly the opposite of what my brain was instructing to do. When I realize that my jaw is tilting to the left when it should be moving to the right I start feeling nervous and completely lose control over my muscles causing my jaw to tremble. So until today, I had to hold a mirror in front of me and keep a watch on my unstable jaw whilst having a CBA fitted. I hope today’s progress is a sign of significant improvement and hopefully I can pull this off again tomorrow.
Sorry for the delay in uploading posts! I can only blame my laziness which I am ashamed of. But I promise I will finish uploading soon!
I realised something very interesting on Friday (25th October). I came back to the flat in the morning after having 2 sets of treatments and lied down to rest. Whilst I was lying down I noticed something quite peculiar – that my brain and my body were not in harmony at all. In fact, my body was doing exactly the opposite of what my brain was telling it to do because the more I tried to stop the muscle spasms, the worse it got. I knew anxiety and stress made spasms worse but I was not stressed at all (or at least there was nothing that I should be stressed about). It was very strange; the more I tried to focus on controlling the muscle, the less control I gained. Dr Lee had recommended trying meditation but I never tried it because I simply did not believe it would be useful. I realised then that subconsciously I was stressing myself out unnecessarily which of course did not help with muscle spasm. So I decided to try meditating, taking deep breaths and visualising my body and brain working in unity (I know this sounds weird but I could not think of any other way of meditating). In all honesty, it did not help much at first. I don’t think I noticed much difference in muscle spasm but it did help me to feel more relaxed and peaceful.
On Saturday, instead of going to the clinic, I went to see one of my friends who lives in the city. I thought it might do me good if I kept my mind off treatments for the weekend. For the first time since I started the treatment I travelled for longer than an hour on the tube. It was very tiring even though I only got to see her for a few hours; by the time I got back I was ready to go to bed. Also, it was the first time that I took off OBA for longer than 4 hours. I must admit I could not help worrying about my spasm kicking off randomly. Recently, the symptoms did not appear outwards but I wasn’t sure whether it would suddenly appear again if I was out in public for a long period of time. Despite my concern however, spending time with my friend completely took my mind off it and nothing embarrassing happened! It made me a lot more confident and reminded me that I did not have to worry so much. It also reassured me that the treatment was working.
Today, I just had the day to myself – catching up on emails, cleaning the flat and doing a few sets of exercises. I also carried on with meditating and to my surprise it really is making a difference – I actually felt that I could control the muscles better. Something odd that I observed today though – whilst my mind becomes calmer (during meditation), my heart beats faster as if I’m nervous or scared. However, I’m not bothered much by it because I know it is due to lack of control that I have over my body at the moment. All I can do at the moment is to keep telling myself it will get better soon and concentrate on positive things.