Monday, 25 September 2017

Health Scares : The Lump & A Diagnosis


Back in April, I shared that I had found a lump on my jaw and had seen the Consultant who wasn't overly concerned about it. I had a follow up appointment several months later  where it was decided that a CT scan would be appropriate and I had this in August. Fast forward to now and I finally have a diagnosis, much to my relief.

The diagnosis came in two parts.  With regard to the lump, I wish I had thought to ask if I could take a snap of the CT scan that I was shown but it is sitting directly on a nerve, as I had expected. There's two options, one of which is to remove it which has the possibility of permanent nerve damage or to just leave it.  Because the Consultant thinks that the sensitivity hasn't reduced too much (the right hand side is a little duller than the other), he wants to leave it for the time being and will arrange a follow up appointment in a year's time. If nothing has changed with it in that time the plan is to just leave it there.  I must admit that I would prefer it to be removed, I don't like how it feels and if I'm playing with the kids and they get over excited etc, they've knocked it a number of times and it bloomin' hurts!

So, onto the second part of the diagnosis. The other problem I was experiencing was earache and facial pain which the Consultant has told me is Temporomandibular Disorder. Or TMD, its much easier to say.  TMD is a disorder that affects what are known as the chewing muscles and joints between the lower jaw and base of the skull. 


(I'm just relieved the lump cant be seen or I'm sure I'd feel much more self conscious about it)

Symptoms

My symptoms mostly affect my right hand side and include:

- Facial pain 
- Earache. Sometimes dull but often intense and it feels as though its deep inside.
- My face will often feel tingly and heavy, especially my eye.
- Occasional neckache
- Discomfort when eating.  

From what I've read since, headaches and/or migraines can be a symptom, as well as clicking, popping or grating during chewing or movement of the mouth.

Causes

- Clenching the jaw or grinding teeth in sleep
- Osteoarthritis 
- Injury to the jaw joint, eg following a knock to the face.
- Stress
- Uneven bite
- Specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia. 



(Photo by Rhema Kallianpur on Unsplash)

The Dr's Advice

- I can help rest the muscles and joint by eating soft foods, so that I chew less. I should avoid foods such as chunky sandwiches and apples, where the mouth needs to open as wide as it can to get those first bites. I also need to avoid chewing gum.

- Making use of hot or cold compresses throughout the day, holding against the face for 10-20 minute periods.

- Avoiding jaw exercises found online. I was told that these aren't all that helpful and could even make the problem worse.

- Avoiding clenching my teeth.

- Trying not to yawn with my mouth wide open!

- Learning to keep my teeth slightly apart when I'm sat, whereas I often sit with my teeth resting on top of each other. Apparently this is a big no no as its fighting against gravity. 

- Asking the Dentist to create me a mouth guard to wear at night incase I grind my teeth. 

And, the two biggies:

- Learning to relax and destress. 

Stress is a big factor in TMD according to the consultant and indeed, he spent a good chunk of time talking to me about my lifestyle. I'm a working Mum of two young children and often feel stressed or anxious.This has been me for as long as I can remember.  I often feel like I'm not doing enough or letting someone down. 

- Sleep hygiene

Something else that we spoke about for quite some time. Briefly, its about creating good sleeping habits. So, limiting day time naps (I should be so lucky!), limiting screen time before bed, avoiding caffeine and foods that might be disruptive before bed and making a pleasant sleeping environment.  This one is easier said than done as T still wakes me at least once or twice in the night and D often keeps me awake with his snoring. 

So, I have some things to work on. I'm trying to eat softer foods and I have been careful to avoid chewing gum. I'm conscious that I do clench my teeth and I do yawn, a lot!

This won't be a quick cure, if at all.  I was told that it can take 18 months to two years for the symptoms to develop and they will often last a few months before improving. I'm currently at approximately six months but in all honesty, I wonder if this will be an ongoing issue as I have had similar problems with my ears since my teens. I have also suffered with migraines and headaches since I was 14 or 15, with spells of weekly migraines not uncommon. The migraines I've been suffering from recently have been really debilitating, leaving me with no energy and feeling as though my arms and the side of my face are almost paralysed so I do wonder if this is part of it. It would certainly make sense to me.  

I have a dental appointment in November (unfortunately I can't get in any sooner) so shall be asking about having a mouth guard made.  I'm making an effort to avoid clenching my teeth and from resting my chin on my hands when I'm sat working, which was something else I read so I am really hoping to see improvements soon. 

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Silent Sunday



(You'll have to excuse the background mess but I couldn't help but take this, its pretty representative of life with a five year old at the moment... )

Linking up with:

OneDad3Girls

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Summer in our Garden


Oh summer. As I sit here with the rain absolutely pelting down outside, it seems so long ago.  Not that I'm a fan of the hot weather, you understand, but I do love the sunshine and being able to potter around in the garden. Now, I know I've waxed on about our garden before and the changes we've made to it here, but I - we - have put so much time and effort in to it, I just have to share it with you again. 

To recap, when we moved in it was a complete state. The patio though large was covered in weeds and had steps down to the grassed area and a sheer drop off the side of it.  The garden was a real state having not been tended to for years, waist high with overgrown grass and packed with weeds, brambles and ivy.  




Two big changes have taken place with the garden since moving in. The wall along the patio was rebuilt and balustrades added to make it safer for everyone.  And on the right of the photo directly below, the wall and fence have been taken down and rebuilt by the builders who have purchased the land next to us. The patio still needs to be relaid as bricks have been taken out and its sunk in places but its usable and safer than it was.


Last year was the first real year of having my own garden to tend to and I was completely clueless about it. This year, I had a much better idea of what I wanted to achieve and, whilst its not perfect, its certainly a lot closer to the vision I had compared to last year.  I wanted country garden - lots of traditional plants of differing heights, packed in and full of colour. When the builders replaced the fence I was quite worried I would lose the existing plants so it was a relief to see they survived.  So, in the borders we have some climbing rose bushes, lavender, delphiniums, marigolds, snapdragons, lupin, cornflowers, gladioli, foxgloves and hydrangea... I think that's everything!   I still didn't get it quite right in terms of getting the positioning right but overall I'm still really pleased with it. 

As well as concentrating on the plants, we have made a few other additions. The children have a playhouse, trampoline and swings to play on.  And then, at the end of the garden is the change that I think I'm most pleased with.  Here's how it looked before:


And here's how it looks with the newest addition:






Isn't it lovely?  The garden is a complete sun trap and whilst the kids love playing outside, I hated being out there with them as there was nowhere shaded for me to sit.  I had been looking at garden arbours to pop in the corner but then D saw this and we thought we might as well pay a little extra for it.  Not only does it look lovely, if I do say so myself, the shed also covers the corner of the garden that I was really unable to do anything with as it was too awkward to plant anything in it and keep it weeded - that and the next door neighbour's cats were using it as a litter tray.  

Now, I just need to get some more use out of it before it gets too cold to sit in there! 
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Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday, 10 September 2017

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