Big realization: My world is my mouth! I’d been fighting an infection since last July that was “multi-factual”. It all actually began toward the end of June when I caught what I thought was a silly Summer cold, followed by a weird sensation and sensitivity near my left jawline and back molar that developed into what was misdiagnosed as a sinus infection. How strange is that, right?
The x-ray taken at my dentist’s office showed my upper sinus in my cheek was impacting a nerve that went around the back of my jaw out to my two lower front teeth. I then promptly went to see my primary care doctor to discuss the problem and she agreed that it sounded like a sinus infection and put me on a ten-day dosage of antibiotics.
Post Round 1 of Antibiotics
By this time I was starting to experience intense pain at the jaw, so bad sometimes I couldn’t move the jaw, or talk without pain. Not very good when one’s living is made in voiceover by being able to speak! But continue to work I did, despite the pain spikes. Eventually the antibiotics helped, but the sensitivity around that molar remained to greater or lesser degrees.
I was feeling generally better, but occasionally felt fatigued and chilled during the heat of summer. But that molar was still feeling kind of loose, and painful, like it was moving whenever I’d chew on that side. But the dental x-ray and endodontic testing didn’t indicate any problem there. I was just told to wait it out on the tooth and things should clear up. Over the counter pain meds, like Naproxen helped relieve the inflamation, and life went on, and I tried to forget about it.
In October, after returning from a long homebound flight from Europe in that dry cabin air, my jaw began to ache profusely. We got home on a Saturday. I bit down on a fresh apple and nearly went through the ceiling. By Sunday, Naproxen didn’t help, and I decided to call the dentist first thing in the morning. The jaw pain returned and I was truly in agony. I kept thinking, that a ton of pressure would go away if I could just yank that tooth out!
Post Round 2 of Antibiotics
At 4:30 AM Monday, I awoke to intense pain and a sizeable bulge in my neck on the left side. It looked like I’d contracted mumps! I freaked and ended up in the ER. I was afraid something was seriously wrong with me. The jaw pain was so bad I couldn’t open my mouth. And I had a big session booked the next day for a national client! The ER doctor knew right away I had parotitis, an infection of the salivary gland, most likely caused from dehydration from the eight-hour air flight or the fact I was passing a salivary duct stone, or both! I went home with a prescription for 90 antibiotic tablets, 3x/day for 10 days.
My session the next day went fine. I was a little slower than usual. The remainder of the week was crazy busy but I powered through the work, ever the professional, hurting like crazy, but getting the job done. It was exhausting, but occasional naps helped. Prescription pain meds really helped, but I wanted to get off of those ASAP, as they cause all sorts of issues, including dry, clicky mouth noises.
In November, I visited an ENT (Ears Nose Throat Specialist) and confirmed I had passed a salivary duct stone, but told him I still had that weird sensation occasionally in my jaw. He said it takes time for the meds to work their way though our bodies, and to consult him if my gland swells again.
I’d been fairly pain-free through the holidays and went to my six-month dental check up a few weeks ago, and mentioned that the reason for my previous visit in July was this problem that after x-ray and endontic check eventually went misdiagnosed as a sinus issue by my primary doctor. Plus I had a salivary issue landing me in the ER, but my mouth discomfort was persisting.
New X-ray Tells All
The new x-ray revealed an extensive infection around the molar root that wasn’t present six months ago. It was probably just the beginning of my long saga. I was right. I felt that tooth had issues before anyone else could see it!
I opted to get it pulled out. No root canal because the tooth was already cracked. Cosmetically, it means nothing, as the gap, once pulled will never show. And it will not affect my ability to speak or formulate words or sound funny, strange or weird. And I didn’t feel like shelling out thousands for an implant. I just wanted it out and that infection gone. And over with, once and for all. Oral surgery day came fast, and I was full of anxiety.
To Oral Surgery and Beyond
I awoke at 3:30 AM. My appointment wasn’t until 1:30 PM. Finally after hours of trepidation , I arrived and was escorted back to the procedure room, where I was given a medical release to sign. OK, possible things could happen, like nerve damage that may affect speech, lip or tongue movement, or perforation in the sinus, and other possible issues requiring subsequent surgery. By this time my blood pressure was soaring, and started shaking and crying. I had a total melt down, panic attack, whatever. It made me realize how dependent I am on my mouth, and the ability to help care for and provide for my family, and be there for my clients. To not have my mouth be in a normal state, at the ready…downright terrified me. My Dentist and his staff were so wonderful, and helped me calm down and proceed. I’m glad I did.
Post Round 3 of Antibiotics
It’s going on three weeks post op, and I’ve finished the third course of antibiotics and things are going well. I’m thankful for my decisions along the way, and there’s no more pain!
The lessons learned from my ongoing experience tell me over and over that as voice over talents, we must honor the health of our mouths, and never take them for granted. Always be mindful when your body is telling you something, and be proactive with your health. Don’t just let things slide. My world is in large part, my mouth. Normal is such a great thing!