Clenched with anticipation

By Mir
October 27, 2010

The time has come for me to dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.

Oh, wait. I already did that. (He stepped on my toes and had halitosis, by the way.)

No, actually the time has come for me to spend quality time with my dentist, and by “quality time” I of course mean “all of my money.” So that’s what I’ll be doing today, and I’m all kinds of excited.

Well, “excited” may be the wrong word. I am looking forward to not being in pain anymore. Might that happen? Hope springs eternal. As long as it’s not on the left side of my jaw, that is.

I’ve know for years and years that my dentist wanted to tackle my TMJ, but it wasn’t until my recent difficulties that I became willing to succumb. Which should tell you how miserable I am, right there.

So. You name it, I’ve got it. I grind my teeth at night. I’ve had mild TMJ for years, and starting a few months ago I’ve been experiencing mild-to-moderate jaw inflammation, which dovetails nicely with the near-constant headaches I’ve been having. My jaw is trying to kill me, in other words.

In the meantime, I am tired and irritable, and I was starting to think that was just my personality, but now I’m thinking HEY, possibly chronic pain does that to a person, and without said pain it’s conceivable that I’m still a pleasant human. LET’S FIND OUT!

This morning I’m off to spend 90 minutes at the dentist being examined and measured and molded and fitted for a new bite guard. Which—natch!—is not covered by insurance. (Hey, kids! Guess what everyone’s getting for Christmas this year! A CUSTOM BITE GUARD! Hooray! Only, I get to wear it. You all just get to admire it. Who wants to sing some Christmas carols?) I am pretty grumpy about the whole thing, but I am also really, really tired of having stabbing pain down the side of my face. So.

Meanwhile, in other God-I-am-just-so-aggravated-with-life news:

1) My children’s pediatrician is only giving flu shots between 9-11, three days a week. I am aggravated that I’m expected to remove my kids from school to get their shots. I am SO aggravated that I am willing to take them to a walk-in somewhere else, instead, and pay out of pocket. Only every place I’ve called so far is only doing 13+, which means the kids are out of luck. When I take them for their shots, I will bring a “Please excuse my child for his/her tardiness, but the pediatrician is stupid” note along to school, after.

2) We recently had a lovely IEP meeting, but a comment submitted by the school music teacher made it clear to me that she’s one of those “Asperger’s is just an overindulgent helicopter parent’s excuse for a bratty kid” types, which made me both angry and sad, because Monkey loves music and she clearly can’t stand him. GAH.

3) In further school hilarity, Chickadee had a substitute teacher yesterday who informed the class that she’d be keeping an eye on the Blacks and Mexicans because “they weren’t raised right.” She also gestured to a group of white kids and explained that they were done with the assignment already and she knew that “the rest of you aren’t as smart and will need longer” but they should “try harder.” You can imagine what a fun dinner we enjoyed as she related THAT story! I managed to stop sputtering long enough to mail the principal, finally, but GOOD LORD PEOPLE. Welcome to 2010. Ignorance and hatred has been out of style for quite a while, consider some alternatives.

4) I am really, REALLY REALLY REALLY weary of taking the high road when it comes to the supposed co-parenting relationship I have with my children’s father. Bone weary. Jaw-grindingly weary. Handy PSA: Karma is a bitch, and you belittle your child’s other parent at the peril of your own relationship. Call me when the children are no longer children and lemme know how that worked out for you, mmkay?

But on the other hand:

This morning I gave Chickadee a cup of half-milk-half-coffee (lightly sweetened) and she downed it and then GOT READY ON TIME. (Did you hear the angels singing? That was why.) When I asked her how she felt, she said, “Fine, why?”

I pressed on with, “I was just wondering if you felt any different after the coffee.”

She thought about it for a moment. “I do kind of feel more awake,” she said. Then, after another moment of thought: “It’s entirely possible that’s psychosomatic, though, right?”

I laughed and told her maybe so, but I’ll take it. Still, fingers crossed that the novelty doesn’t wear off.


  1. diane

    There are just times in life that are plain irritating, aren’t there? LOL at the effect of the coffee on Chickadee. As someone mentioned in the comments yesterday, milky sweet coffee is an Italian breakfast staple – my grandfather started us on it early (about five?). Though his method involved dunking a piece of bread in the coffee.

  2. karen

    OMG, yes, the dunking of the bread! Yuck. I never did grow accustomed to that.

    But see? Told ya it works. We were given wine with sunday dinner too! um, not recommending that.

  3. Otto

    Hey, can I float (sink) a cookie in my milky coffee in the mornings? I bet I would be more pleasant then …


  4. Megan

    RE #3. What? WHAT?? No, honestly – truly and really – WHAT?!? Heads will roll, yes?

    Re coffee- damn my mormon upbringing; if only, if only my mother had been able to apply judicious amounts of coffee in the mornings instead of lavish heapings of guilt I think things would have been far, far more pleasant. Well, that and if we didn’t have early morning religion classes which meant getting up by 5:00 a.m. AT LEAST. Bitter? Oh no… no not at all… but at least I have discovered coffee NOW.

  5. StephLove

    I would post something about #3 but I…am…just…speechless.

  6. Kathy Knapp

    Yes Otto, you can put a cookie in your coffee!!

    Mir – the cost of the bite splint is worth it. At least in my opinion. Totally frustrating that it isn’t covered by insurance, but hopefully it will help as much as mine has. I had to pay for my 2nd on out-of-pocket after the dog ate my 1st one. I haven’t regretted that expense one little bit.

    Crazy teachers!! So sorry they are in your life.

  7. Chris

    Mir, this year my pediatrician is offering their flu shot clinic every week day from 10-4:30 convenient, no? No, my daughter is in school from 9-4 and doesn’t get off the bus until 4:20 and it takes 20 minutes to get to the peds office. So I have to go pick her up from school early(read:nightmare!) and tell her why and then expect her to be happy to go and get a shot. Yeah, thanks pediatrician!

  8. jamie

    Oh Mir. I have TMJ. Had reconstructive surgery for it when I was 19 ish… I still wear a bite guard at night.

    I hope that you can get things figured out! I also talked to my chiropractor about it, and there are apparently adjustments they can do to help things line up better.

  9. Kelly

    I jsut remember the time I tried coffee for the 1st time was before my 1st SAT take…. and um, didn’t realize that yes, it would make me awake but yes, it will also make me pee during the test so I didn’t have enough time to finish said section… woops. Luckily I learned before my 2nd try.

  10. RuthWells

    Otto, one word — biscotti!

    Mir, the universe just seems to be piling on the suckitude this fall. I’m sorry it caught you. : (

    I’m sure you’ll be more cheerful after the pain stops, though. Call me crazy.

  11. Nelson's Mama

    For what it’s worth, I think the bite guard is worth a try.

    I was diagnosed with TMJ at 42 and ended up with a full mouth of braces for 2 1/2 years – none of which was covered by insurance (and as you probably know – that ain’t cheap). Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad that I did it, but as a dental phobic, orthodontics was one of my worst nightmares!

    Way to start Chickie’s day!!!!

  12. Kendra

    Let’s do a science experiment…if it is just the novelty of feeling more grown up, try decaf and see if it has the same desired effect. Glad she got her butt moving!

    And what a little nerdling with the whole “well mother, it may just be psychosomatic”–that’s awesome!

  13. MomCat

    I think you just summed up why you’re grinding your teeth with points 1 through 4. Hope the bite guard helps you.

  14. Aimee

    Whoa… I truly hope the visit to the dentist helps. Frankyl, I’m reeling after reading #3 — how on earth is it possible that someone like that is getting work in the school system? ANY school system? I mean, this can’t be the first time she’s displayed her ignorance like that, can it?


  15. Em

    Last year when I called to make my children’s well child appointments, I was told they were blocking off the afternoon for all of the doctors for weeks because they expected the swine flu to be such an epidemic but I could make them for morning hours. SO… instead of blocking off the mornings when, one would assume sick children who weren’t in school due to the flu would have just oodles of time on their hands, I had to remove my WELL children from school to be checked over and declared well by the people who know these things.

    We never drank coffee but I do remember vividly my grandfather putting a nice warm cup of Irish tea, lightened with milk and sweetened with sugar, into my siblings bottle. When we were old enough, we just sipped it from his saucer :-)

  16. Angela

    I have a bite guard too (love it!) and wanted to share with you the warnings I’ve received from two dentists: keep your bite guard out of reach of the dog, who might very well want to use it as a chew toy!

  17. Anna Marie

    The sub said WHAT?? I read the rest of the post but I can’t get past this one…the mind, it boggles.

  18. yasmara

    Our local walk-in flu shot clinics (at Target, CVS, etc.) take insurance. Take the kids in (anyone over age of 18 months), flu shot, no charge, they bill the insurance. We did ours on a Sunday! They even offer FluMist if you prefer (for little kids, at least).

    That sub seems….ridiculously out of line. To say the least.

  19. joaaanna

    PLEASE let us know what happens with the situation in #3. I’m flabbergasted!

    #4 – just keep doing what you are doing. The kids will figure things out on their own. My stepson’s bio mother filled him with all kinds of nonsense. We told him if he had any questions – we’d be glad to answer them. And never, NEVER spoke poorly about her… in front of him. :)

  20. Monique

    Dear Lord, if it’s not one thing it’s another. ((((hugs))))) And good for you on contacting the principal about the sub. Some would not have wanted to get involved. If my child had come home saying something like that I would have been at the school the next morning in a MOOD and making a hullabaloo. Then again I’m Mexican-American so the insult would have been very personal. And no one has a right to single out a group of children and make them feel badly about who they are. And for an educator to be the one to make that disparaging of a remark is beyond me.

  21. Dsilkotch

    Back before I found out that I’m allergic to dairy and gluten-intolerant, and therefore not of the milk-and-cookies club anymore, I totally used to sink my cookies and then drink the sludge. Chips Ahoy and Pecan Sandies are the best that way. Goopalicious!

    Chickadee’s substitute teacher needs a job that does not require (or allow) her to interact with children.

    Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you that the dreaded dental ordeal will lead to rainbows and pain-free happiness.

    About your ex: don’t worry, your kids will learn exactly what you think they’ll learn from his pettiness. Petulant, trouble-causing exes have been discovering that to their own belated regret for generations.

  22. Erin

    I am shocked by situation #3 (the substitute), and squicked out by comment #3 (cookies in coffee? bleh!)

    I, too, need a bite guard. And I, too, have been putting it off since it’s not covered by insurance, and I also enjoy things like “paying my mortgage” and “buying shoes.”


  23. Flea

    You might try, along with the dental work, seeing a chiropractor. I started going this summer and those 20 years of tension headaches nearly every day? Almost completely disappeared. I’m just saying that the two probably go hand in hand. I might marry my chiropractor.

  24. My Kids Mom

    Oh, having a bite guard is so sexy! Each night my husband and I say to each other, in the most loving way of course, “Got yer teeth?”

  25. susan

    just wanted to mention that my mom used to make me coffee milk as a child, starting from when I was about 5, and I turned out fine! :) she actually did it to deter me from drinking my dad’s coffee, which I would do when he wasn’t paying attention. to this day, though, my favorite food is coffee. mmm… coffee….

  26. Rachel

    Ask the dentist if you can have the mold of your teeth he uses to make the guard, or if he keeps it so next time you don’t need a new one made… if he doesn’t have to make a new one next time it will save (a little) cash… My dentist gave me mine & several years later he used it to make a new guard at about 1/2 price, still out of pocket though. I have since switched to the guards you can buy at target & make yourself & they work just as well for me. I’d recommend getting the expensive one from your dentist first to get used to how they’re supposed to feel & see if it helps, then later you can try the cheaper Target/drug store kind. = )

    My daughter had a sub last year (she was in 7th grade then & it was Algebra, not basic math) that called kids “stupid” & said “smart a$$” under her breath, but loud enough the entire class heard it. Yeah, that comment was said after my daughter & a friend asked a question… entire 7th grade (150 students) were talking about the sub & that she had called 2 kids smart a$$es within the hour… long story, but this was on a Friday & I called the principal Monday am. She said she had received messages from several parents & phone calls from 2 others regarding this sub by the time i called. The other parents that had actually talked to the principal didn’t even had kids in the class when it happened. Anyway, I don’t think that person will say that again in class, if she still subs. =)

    Hang in there with the co-parenting.

    Sorry for the long comment… have a great day!

  27. Lylah

    The view is better from the high road.

  28. Kate in Michigan


    I totally want you to go to that school and kick that teacher in the nuts. Metaphorically. I would SO go sit there in the back of the classroom and just listen….. and THEN kick the teacher in the nuts. Metaphorically.


    what a week.

  29. Caty

    Cannot get over #3. Cannot. Wow.

    Hope the mouthguard works! And the Karma (on both 2 and 4). And the stupid ped note.

  30. birchsprite

    Yay for the coffee! Hope the dentist stuff goes ok!

  31. bonuela

    a) some teachers should not be allowed near children. my first day of high school a teacher said to me ” i wouldn’t argue with someone who outweighs me”. let’s just say that for my second day of high school i had a brand new math teacher. :-)

    b) acupuncture!! i go weekly for a chronic issue, but whenever i have an extra ache or pain she works on it for me. i had a clicking in my ear for 4 months that neither my denstist nor my primary could figure out. two weeks and some extra needles later and it is gone!! some insurance covers acupuncture, but even if not, it costs less then a new pair of shoes.

  32. Tracy B

    #3…It’s no surprise why there is so much racist tension in this country. We have “teachers” speaking in this manner. I can’t wait to hear the outcome of the email to the Principal. Don’t they have some kind of screening process.

    #4…KARMA is KING, sweetie. Believe me when I say, your children will realize soon enough without you saying a word. Children aren’t stupid.

    I hope you are feeling better already.

  33. Leandra

    You’re going to be so lovely and lispy and full-of-saliva-y with your new mouth guard everyone will want one for Christmas. Just be sure and don’t leave it in your pants pocket to be washed and, unfortunately, dried. Not that I would know anything about that.

  34. meghann

    I was going to leave some profound, awesome comment, but then I read Otto’s about the cookie, and it brought the memory of that one post back. All I can do is sit here gagging.

  35. annette

    Physical therapy can help TMJ (I was a PT, in a previous life:) )

    Sub is stupid. That is all.

    Ex is stupid. That is all.

    Still can’t get on board with the coffee thing, but, hey, if it helps Chickie…great! Maybe I will make it at my house JUST for my kids!

    Went to bigbox drugstore to get my kids vaccinated, but only had one with me over 12. Have to go to one of their stores that has a care clinic. Would have gone to pediatrician, but it is further away. Husband already got his shot at bigbox and while I am mailing in his receipt for reimbursement, I might as well mail them all! Good news is you get a $3 off instant coupon for that day only for anything you might need while you are there!

  36. jessica

    Sadly, I’ve met teachers like that sub, but most have had that “school filter” that makes them turn off the blatant racism during classes and when students are around. I hope the principal lets whoever calls subs in for the day know that this person should never come back. Ever. To any school district. I feel so sorry for all the kids who were subjected to this person throughout the day.

  37. Crisanne

    Had all the symptoms of TMJ, except my pain was worse in the evening and my husband never heard me grind my teeth. Went to the dentist to discover I was clenching my jaw all day long, especially when I was concentrating on something detailed. Now I know my teeth shouldn’t be touching in “rest position”, and I mostly retrained myself. Hope the bite guard works for you!!

  38. Debbie H.

    As a fellow “TMJ-er” I feel for you. I initially spent 12+ months in a guard/brace 24/7 to begin the process of correcting this jaw clenching, teeth splitting affliction. We do have dental insurance BUT this is not covered..pricey to say the least. And now I am 8 months into my orthodontist adventure, braces at age 50 + ain’t fun, just saying. When I am finished with the braces in 2012 there’s a bridge to install and a possible root canal (dentist is “watching this situation”). But rest assured I shall have great looking teeth and less clinking and an improved bite to show one an all. Oh as a parting gift I’ll have a “forever” night guard to insure that everything stays put. You can so do this, really.

  39. Little Bird

    All the comments about Chickadee’s teachers massive failure… what about Monkey’s teacher? People who refuse to recognize things like aspergers have some serious issues of their own. And those people should also not have jobs that require interaction with children (or adults for that matter).

  40. Rachael

    Let me know if you ever figure out 12-year-olditis. I have one of the male species in my house. I feel like Jack Hannah watching a pride of lions nearby quietly, waiting to see how they react. Can’t I simply hide in a closet until they’re all grown up? I have 6 more kids to go through this after this one. *whine*

    On the ex. I can relate and agree. Even his new wife agrees that he’s a butt simply because it’s me. It’s sad when you expect things to last forever and then find out that happily ever after just doesn’t exist like you thought it would. I blame myself for making a wrong choice in a spouse. But I got the best part of him — my boys. :)

  41. KMayer

    Not worried about your jaw or your kid’s caffeine levels. However, AM worried about librarian and loser music teacher at your IEP. It’s our responsibility to call out these uninformed bigots (whether racial or educationally motivated) and let them know their comments are unacceptable. Good for you for telling principal, and telling kids this is not alright. Ever.

  42. Anna

    I use the chiropractor for my TMJ issues, too. And I have a bite guard, but it didn’t help me because my teeth slide sideways, not backward. If that makes sense.

  43. Vivian

    Of course, the sub should never be asked back again.

    As a recently retired teacher, I hope that you point out to your pediatrician that his hours for flu shots cause problems for the students, parents, and teachers. I’ve always thought that pediatricians and orthodontists should work on Saturdays or later at night to fit their clientele. Actually, after raising my children years ago, there is actually one pediatric practice in my town that now is open later hours a couple of days a week and Sunday afternoons–such a help for working parents!

  44. pharmgirl

    #3 Holycarp. I sincerely hope that the maligned children went home and rallied their own parents. I would be taking that one as far as humanly possible.

    The school needs to turn this into a learning moment and quickly.

    “weren’t raised right” Indeed. I could make a pretty good case that her own upbringing was questionable.

  45. kate c.w.

    Unfortunately, on the same tangent as #3, there has been a flurry of news activity here in Arkansas that is equally appalling. A public school board member posted on his facebook page things about how he would disown his kids if they were gay, or run off any gay people in his vicinity. I wish I weren’t almost quoting, but I am. His name is Clint McCance, and here is an excellent local article about it:

  46. kate c.w.

    “Excellent” isn’t the right word of course, but I was referring to the coverage and attitude of the journalist. On a local TV news channel’s website, 65 percent of viewers polled said they agree with McCance’s comments. It’s a sad state of affairs. His words were very harsh, and lengthy. It makes me ashamed of Arkansas, my home state where I still live.

  47. getcha

    #2 – that is so very sad to hear and its infuriating to have to deal with those teachers. We had my sons IEP meeting Monday morning and his teacher of record is such a bully and does NOT like moms who call him on it … school board and sitting in class here we come

    #3 – OMFG

  48. Heather

    Both teachers in items 2 and 3, sound utterly ignorant and need to be educated and in the case of the second, obviously never ever hired again. Unreal.
    Coincidentally, I went to the dentist today and he was saying something about TMJ but apparently I’m not grinding at night and I have no pain (I don’t think, I mean, I have headaches but not jaw pain? Except now I’m looking at the list of symptoms and uh wow. But it’s ridiculously generalized of course.)

  49. Brigitte

    I’m just happy to see that Chickadee was as righteously (and rightfully) shocked as well she should have been. You’re raising her well!

  50. JMH

    #3 is interesting….I applied to teach in the Atlanta area (about 15 years ago). Since I am from Ohio, I was told “Thanks for applying, but we don’t hire yankees in our district” So I guess I am not surprised by the substitutes comments…..disgusted, but not surprised. BTW, I applied in several school districts in the area, both suburban and urban, and was basically told the same thing in all of the districts.

  51. addy

    re #3: Ummm NO!! Just NO!! Please tell me this is a joke-
    good job with the coffee – worked around here since the very early days.

  52. Gennie

    I’ve been treated for TMJ for 20 years (since i was 16). I have worn a bite guard every night for 20 years, and for me, it makes a huge difference. For me, by the time I was diagnosed, I had been in pain for so long, it didn’t even really register as pain any more. I was just tired and cranky all the time. But when the pain was suddenly gone . . . it was like a miracle.

    Another thing that has made a HUGE difference to me in more recent years is seeing a chiropractor regularly (monthly). When I was first diagnosed with TMJ they noted that some of the vertebrae in my neck were out of whack, but never did anything about it. Since I started getting adjusted regularly, both my TMJ headaches and my migraines are gone.

    I hope treatment helps you as much as it has helped me! Being pain free is a wonderful thing.

  53. Jennifer

    As a child of a divorced mother who took the high road – you will always have their unlisted phone numbers and he will not! I respect my mother, but my dad? Not so much. Certainly not enough to call, visit, or tell him he has grandkids (named after my stepfather).

  54. Rocky Mountain Woman

    We started drinking coffee when we were five or six at my house! I can remember the half coffee half milk being a pretty good deal in the winter when we had to wait for 10 minutes for the school bus in the cold….

  55. shadymama

    “I am really, REALLY REALLY REALLY weary of taking the high road when it comes to the supposed co-parenting relationship I have with my children’s father. Bone weary. Jaw-grindingly weary.”

    woman, i *hear you*.

  56. Sarah

    For the coffee idea – especially if you aren’t making a pot anyway – heat a mug of milk in the microwave and add some instant coffee (half strength even) and a bit of sugar or honey. With that much milk, you need less sugar, and since I’m a tea drinker I like my coffee (or latte) really HOT.

    Of course, my brothers swear by sweetening coffee with maple syrup – but that comes from working at a summer camp that makes its own syrup in the spring.

  57. Lori in MN

    Same deal with my peds office – nurse appointments for flu shots must be before 3:00. Seriously?! Luckily we had a day off of school last week…

  58. Beth

    Do you chew gum? My TMJ was getting worse and so were the headaches, so my dentist advised me to stop chewing gum. I took his advice and the pain lessened a whole lot, but it happened gradually over months. This was several years ago and I haven’t been tempted by chewing gum since.

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