With the combination of the pain, medication, university pressure and work, I had become very withdrawn and I had lost contact with a lot of my friends. The only time I would go out would be when my best friend Sophie would drag me out and make me feel so guilty, I felt I had no choice but to meet up with her. Most of the time she was right to do so, because going out for an hour or two, for a break and a catch up would brighten my mood a little. Sophie herself was going through a bad time with Cystic Fibrosis and was becoming very unwell, to the point where she needed constant oxygen. She, like me, was depressed and since finishing university the year before had been unable to work. However, she was so strong and realised the importance of getting out there and living life while you can. Living life to the full and always trying to laugh and have a good time. This was a nice release for me but I sometimes struggled with the pain. I could not listen to loud music, sometimes could not eat at all (not even a soft diet), I was unable to sit or stand for long periods and found talking very uncomfortable for my jaw and neck.
Moving back on the pain management clinic, I undertook some more acupuncture. Although acupuncture is now being widely used within the NHS, this therapy did not work for me. I found it very draining and it actually made my pain a lot worse. My muscles would often be tight for days and this caused a considerable amount of additional pain. Apparently, many patients who are diagnosed with TMJ disorder find acupuncture very beneficial. This fact only intensified my worry that this condition was something other than TMJ disorder. During my long periods alone at night, I would often sit trailing through blogs, journals and articles relating to the issues I was having. Please do not believe everything you read on the internet because a lot of these sites scare the living day lights out of you. I would sit there reading about all of these horrible diseases I may have, my heart would be racing and often I would be in tears and in need of someone to speak to. It seemed the hospital did not have a clue why I was having these problems and in fact what my problem was.
For the 4-5 months since being referred to the pain clinic, I spent more time at the hospital than I did at work or university. Some weeks I would be at the hospital all day every day. One day at pain clinic after trying acupuncture, physiotherapy and numerous drugs and dosages, I begged Mr Poute to be signed up for some form of psychological help through the hospital. I felt as if there was no light at the end of the tunnel and I would never have my operation. We had already ruled out other diseases such as lupus, fibromyalgia and sleep apnea and the hospital were quite happy to accept the diagnosis of TMJ disorder.
For most people about to embark on orthognathic surgery you will at some point be offered the opportunity to see a psychologist to talk through your treatment and any psychological issues you may have. This has been made standard practice and I believe it is very important for anyone about to undergo surgery to speak with someone professional about their fears and concerns relating to surgery or the outcome of their surgery. For most people their face is something they worry about. Being a woman, I am very conscious of the way I look and always wear makeup before leaving the house. So you can image the horror I faced when looking like a watermelon after my surgery. But we will address that later on in my journey. Mr Poute agreed and said that he would arrange with my surgeon to be referred to the psychologist at King’s.