Friday, February 8, 2008

Is that my jaw you're trying to pull out of my mouth?

I met with the orthodontist again, three and a half years after my first appointment, and told him about the problems I had been having with my jaw. He took some impressions of my teeth, some pictures, and then referred me to a physiotherapist.

"Let's see if they can do something for you first," he said.

I didn't know there was such a thing as jaw physiotherapists before. The idea intrigued me. What exactly were they going to do? Did they just massage your jaw muscles? Give you exercises to do? Or maybe there were even little mini jaw weights to lift? I had no clue. But it was worth a shot.

I discovered that the procedure consists of someone pushing on the parts of your jaw that hurt, and you trying not to scream "physiotherapy is the devil!!" It also involves the therapist putting rubber-gloved hands inside your mouth and attempting to pull your jaw out of your head. The best part is that when the hands come out, they leave trails of your own saliva all over your face. This just makes all the pain seem worthwhile.

Apparently, the musical theatre experience created a huge amount of tension in my jaw and made my TMJ problems worse. As the physiotherapist held my face, she kept telling me to stop clenching my jaw.

"But it's not clenched," I said.

Her response: "Oh dear."

Fortunately, I discovered that the first session was the worst of it. My muscles were the tensest they've ever been before I went to physiotherapy. Over the past two years, it's been easier and easier to go, and the relief I get from these sessions is amazing.

But it became clear to me that the physiotherapy wouldn't be enough. There was something wrong with my jaw, and if it meant that singing would make my life hell, then I definitely had to do something to fix this problem. Because a life without singing would out right suck. Far worse than getting your jaw broken and wired shut.

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