A little over a week and half ago, I woke up with awful tightness running from the top of my left ear, all the way down through my jaw. It hurt to open my mouth, eat, yawn — staring at it for too long in the mirror made it hiss and growl.
Moaning my way into the kitchen, my mother-in-law, a nurse, told me that it could be a couple of things, the likeliest of which being either a sinus infection or a rotten tooth. I pooh-poohed at the latter (My scruples for dental-hygiene eliminated this possibility right away.) and chalked it up to a sinus infection, seeing that I quite definitely have inherited the WORST allergies on the planet. Those of you who suffer with me, you know . . . Anyhow, I figured, like a bruise, it would go away on its own. Regrettably, optimism was short-lived when a day later my jaw began clicking in and out of place, sliding clear across the width of my face with every chomp. (Picture a cow chewing its cud, and behold me in all my elegance.) For someone who loves her food and works very hard to reward herself, I was bereft, let me tell you. By now this had been going on for about 4 days and I was starting to get a little nervous. I decided to give my chiropractor a call to see if he had any idea why I was beginning to display signs indicative of Emily Rose. I’ve included a picture for your convenience.
So . . .
Something had to be done, right? Right. Dr. Black, my chiropractor, said he believed I was suffering from TMJ. “Too much juice?” I asked him. The gracious man he is, he overlooked my terrible joke and invited me to come in as soon as I could. My distended jaw — Carl, I named it — and I left immediately.
I will fast forward now, cutting out all the parts where I tell you how excruciating that exam was, so much so, that I was — I am not kidding you — dripping sweat when I left. I won’t tell you that I shrieked — repeatedly — as Dr. Black’s nimble fingers made themselves well acquainted with the tissue surrounding my jaw, and that at one point, I actually locked my hand around Dr. Black’s calf and proceeded to make a few violent, empty threats.
None of that you need to know . . .
This, I will tell you: I did in fact have TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) and had it gone on for much longer, I might have needed surgery to correct it. Also, did you notice the past tense of “did” ? :) Yup! 7 days later and I am 90% healed. You, like me, might be a bit dense when it comes to estimating a reasonable time for total recovery for one suffering from TMJ. Apparently, it’s not 7 days. I accredit this healing to the thoroughness of Dr. Black’s ministrations and the exercises he made me swear on my cheat night I would do regularly.
I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Black and the staff of Helm Chiropractic Wellness Center. Well, I suppose I could, but I’ll save that for the Yelp review. The most important thing, besides the fact that he is attentive, empathetic, exceptionally thorough, has a great sense of humor, and genuinely cares about the well-being of his patients, is that his methods yield results. You can hardly ask for more from a doctor.
Plus, after a few visits and establishing familiar terms, you will have the pleasure of receiving a kiss to the cheek by way of greeting. (Men, this doesn’t apply to you; sorry.) Women . . . Need I say more?
** I haste to mention now that Dr. Black is married with three beautiful children.
And yes, he is as nice as he looks. In my years of doctor hopping — and I’ve been introduced to plenty of them who spent a whole 64 seconds with me — I had yet to meet one who took the time to ask how my husband was doing and inquire about the book I’m working on; all with genuineness. It’s not that, “So, what seems to be the problem?” *flip-flip through medical records* “Not getting enough sleep?” *snaps scary gloves* “Tell me, Clara . . . do you feel depressed?”
Um . . . Now I do.
I also want to mention that Helm Chiropractic is where I went as a last ditch effort to seek relief for chronic insomnia. Diagnosed at 18, and after being on medication for over 10 years, I was lucky to get 6 hours of sleep each night, and during bad-spells would go days — sometimes weeks — with no more than a few hours – cumulatively. For a while I had been hearing great things about acupuncture, but associated it with something that only tree-huggers and socialites with a surplus of time and money did. Very long story short, after a couple months, I was sleeping through the night for the first time — un-medicated – in 10 years.
Good things happen in this place. Whether it’s a simple adjustment to keep your body operating ideally, or you’ve been suffering with pain for a while and nothing seems to help, I invite you to check them out. What do you have to lose? Additionally, you would be doing me a great service.
You see . . . my tolerance for pain falls somewhere between a 1.2 and a 1.5 on a scale ranked from 1-10. But! Let me just say for the record, that it really, really, really hurt when Dr. Black vanquished the intense spams dancing the Macarena up and down my jaw. However . . . I may have – there’s no conclusive evidence proving this — screamed my bloody head off a few times and scared away some of their more squeamish patients. It’s only right that I earn him back a few new ones. :)
Thank you, Dr. Black; Carl and I are extremely grateful for healing us!
*** Patrick Black of Helm Chiropractic and Wellness Center
217 El Camino Real Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 544 1500
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Happy Friday, Everyone!