October 11, 2005

It's a damn shame, trying to eat a forkful of rice, and not being able to get your mouth open far enough to prevent the upper lip from shoving rice off the fork and onto your shirt.

That's been just one example of how my mouth has refused to work for the last few days.

It started on Sunday.


No, let's go back a week before Sunday...

I went to clean the trash and pump the bilge dry on my poor half-sunk sailboat. All of the "experts" recommend rubber boots and gloves when going into post-hurricane mud. They also insist that tetanus shots are a must.

That sounded to me like talking heads blowing hot air. I took no gloves, and wore Tevas. One strap on the Tevas just covered the gaping sore on the top of my right foot.

It was nasty but satisfying work. And I had no ill effects.

And then Sunday, I bit into a potato chip, and my jaw really hurt when trying to chew. Shrugging it off, I bit into a second chip, and my jaw locked into place. This was accompanied by an excruciating pain through the left side of my face and up into my ear.

The warnings about tetanus came back to my mind. Just to be safe, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny drove me to the doctor.

It didn't take long to get in to see the doc. I was both relieved and annoyed that he laughed at me when I told him that I was worried about tetanus. "You would know for sure if it was tetanus. Heck, you would be dead if it was tetanus."

It wasn't really as comforting as he meant it to be. I expected at least a lecture on the dangers of tromping through the contaminated mud in sandals with a wound on my foot. But I got nothing.

He gave me a tetanus shot -- to relieve my mind, and punish my hypochondria with a painful shoulder for a few days. He passed the problem of my achy jaw on to a dentist.

Now, I have periods where it's almost normal, but longer periods where my mouth won't open or won't close all the way. It's usually painful, and it's sometimes feels like I'm being tortured.

A coworker had a similar thing, and fought the pain for a couple of years, when it cleared itself up on its own volition. He's clearly more of a man than I am. I'll cry like a little girl long before I make two years of this.

But he thought of his alternative like this: someone else he knew had it surgically corrected. The pain after the surgery was intense. It was so intense that it caused her to puke. It's a bad thing to puke when your mouth is wired shut. Her parents had to wipe aside the yak and go after her mouth with wire cutters from the garage, so that they wouldn't have to worry about her choking to death on her own vomit.

Isn't that a lovely thought?