Or, if you look at it another way, limbering up; stretching; flexing the word muscles; basically trying to put a coherent thought together and not rely on fragmented sentences or non sequiturs (amazing how many blog posts are full of them, if you look).
Blah. Let’s start again, okay?
For years I congratulated myself for not taking anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants, through periods I really should have at least considered the option. Not even that mental break (for lack of a better phrase) I had at twenty-three, or the horrible time after Riley’s birth, did I stop to think, ‘Hang on. There’s help available. Why don’t you stop and think for a moment, woman’.
No, that would’ve been… well, the sensible thing to do and traditionally I have always ‘toughed it out’. How I have loved that phrase – it is get-up-on-my-cross-and-stay-there territory. But there is a limit to how much one can be valiantly independent, or at least there is a toll or price that gets paid along the way that you might be unaware of unless it’s too late, by which point, once it gets uncovered, you wonder well, perhaps, those choices made long ago may not have been the best, in retrospect.
All of this is to say that while I didn’t take medication, I was also clenching and grinding my teeth, battering their condition years beyond their chronological state. In my twenties, in bad patches, I would wake up of a night and feel the pain in both TMJ joints, spreading down my jaw and across, until it met in the middle. This was at the time when all it took to go away was a swift rub. Fast forward to these past eighteen months, when at almost any point in the given day I’ve felt like the Tin Man, fantasising for Dorothy to come along with her oil can; a squirt in all the right places to loosen everything up and I’d be off again, singing and dancing. I wish it was that easy.
Of course, there’s the possibility that even if I had taken meds I’d be in this predicament, a TMJ surgery later. But I’m still at that point in my recovery, frustrated at the limits of what I can and can’t do, where I look back at that fork in the road, signposted with a question mark and, like a dog, take a piss on it because I’m sore and I’m angry.
So it was in this conflicted frame of mind that I returned to my surgeon’s offices yesterday. The stitches were clipped from my body. Visions of a flattened stomach from the liposuction were replaced by the reality of a spot around my appendix scar that resembled a sinkhole you see on the television (“It swallowed a whole CAR!”). Even our conversation was surreal:
“I still can’t lift my left eyebrow or wrinkle my brow.”
“It looks like you’ve had botox – look, so smooth!”
“But the other side works, so now I’m left with a quizzical or ironic expression. People think I’m having a laugh at their expense.”
“But you can close your eye, at least…”
(Me, internally) Jesus, I never knew that was a possibility!
“… and you can still smile.”
Yes, I can still smile. There’s always that.
I don’t know what else to say on this subject. I’ve been floored, honestly, by the number of people who’ve contacted me or even flagged me down in person to say, “My mouth doesn’t open properly either – I didn’t know what it meant!” or “My mouth clicks when I move my jaw”. I hope I’m helping, but by the same token, I just want to ‘move on’ – even if that will take six months (estimated time of recovered full mouth movement).
I’m just going to have to be patient and take my pain relief drugs when required. Although, if I take much more codeine, I’m afraid my body will forget how to poop. I’ll leave you with that.
Or, okay, not!
Instead, here’s a photo, taken outside the surgery, in lush spring sunshine. I’m turning my cheek to it today, as I sign off, with my thanks to everyone who’d wished me well. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped and mattered. x