Sunday, October 30, 2005
The inevitable degeneration of our sausage casing
I sat at the computer on Friday, desperately continuing the hopeless job search, and when I was finally done praying for death, I stood up to move to the kitchen and eat a bowl of cereal. Immediately, I noticed something had gone horribly wrong with a usually reliable part of my anatomy. My jaw was locked. I could only open my mouth a quarter of an inch. When I attempted to open it wider, the pain in my jaw was excruciating and the terrible grinding and popping noises that ensued made me want to resign from breathing. I tried to open my mouth a few more times, but the pain only increased and the jaw locked ever tighter. Already thoroughly depressed by the lack of employment opportunities and the ticking clock of 11 months and counting, I got lost in some kind of horrific black hole of panic and despair before I was able to get my shit together and call the doctor. There is something incredibly frightening about not being able to open one's mouth. I'm so glad I'm not a weapons collecting kind of guy, because for ten scary minutes, I believe I would have used something on myself if it had been within reach. This is it, I thought. This is the start of the physical decline. This is how people die. Something goes horribly wrong, then other things go horribly wrong, then you're in the hospital, then you're dead. Why is my jaw locked? Do I have a tumor? Do I need surgery? I have no money. I've wasted so much of my life. At the very least, I probably need jaw surgery. There are so many fuckers I hate who are going to get to live while I waste away and die. What the fuck? What the fuck do I do? Who the hell do I call? My doctor or my dentist? Why me? Will I have to go to the hospital? I've only watched one of the four movies I rented this week. I can't go to the hospital. Goddammit, it's Friday! Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret! Eat a dick, motherfucker! I bet Conor Oberst's jaw is perfectly fine today, that rat-faced lucky talentless fuck. I got it together finally and called the doctor. He was able to fit me in that afternoon. I showered and hopped in the car. It's funny how quickly the body can adapt to pain. I went from suicidal despair to calm acceptance in about thirty minutes. I drove the half-hour to my doctor's office with the windows down. It was a sunny day, perfect weather, good music in the tape deck. My jaw was hurting worse and worse, and I was nervous as hell, but I felt like living again. I get there, look at Forbes in the waiting room like I give a flying fuck about money, and get called in. A nurse weighs me, takes my blood pressure. My weight's back down to a healthy normality, my blood pressure's perfect, but my craw is jacked the fuck up. I can't open the fucker. Who gives a fuck about my weight and blood pressure. I can't eat solid food. I can't yawn. I can't sing along to Deep Purple's "Child in Time." I can barely talk. I sit there, unshaven, needing a haircut, filled with snot from my week-long feverish cold, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for my doctor to finish his prior appointments, reading and rereading and rereading again a wallposter about cancer prevention and deciding if a death sentence is proscribed I can take comfort in the fact that I will never live to endure fecal occult blood testing and prostate exams. Finally, my man shows up. I like my doctor. He told me I could have twenty-five drinks a week and he's been hesitant to put me on cholesterol medication even when my levels were sky-high, figuring I could get back down to normal on my own. I'm now only three points too high, so I trust him and don't think he's a whore for the drug companies. He put me at ease immediately. Though my jaw bullshit was new to me, it is apparently a common problem, usually caused by prolonged stress. My job search has certainly been that. Apparently, it's like dislocating a knee. The jaw problem, not the job search. The joint on the right side of my jaw dislocated itself. He said it would probably fix itself on its own, but if it was still fucked up by mid-week, I needed to see my dentist and oral surgeon. The $25 prognosis: take three Advil twice a day, consume only liquids, soups, and soft foods, and put heat on my face for 15-minute intervals. I followed this regimen for 12 hours, then my jaw popped back in place. It popped back out in the middle of the night for a few hours, but popped back in by morning. My jaw has been normal for two days, and I replaced the Advil with beer by Saturday afternoon. I have a newfound love of being able to use my jaw properly, and a continuing hatred of insurance companies. My doctor said my particular malady (fucked-up craw for short, TMJ for fancy pantsers), was not covered by most insurance companies if surgery had to be done, for reasons unknown to him. They have some kind of escape clause in their coverage literature, saying they cover all surgeries except TMJ. Here's another reason why I like the guy. He wrote "facial pain" in my file instead of "TMJ" just in case I needed surgery. He justified it by saying it wasn't a lie, that I did indeed have facial pain. No such justification was needed. It wasn't a lie, but a lie wouldn't have troubled my conscience. Lying to an insurance company is like lying to Hitler. My jaw is back, baby. I ate meatloaf today. It was good. My god, Bright Eyes sucks.