Wednesday, September 20, 2023

A Really Rotten Day

Yesterday, which was Tuesday, I saw my chiropractor to see if she could help me with my painful jaw. (See Monday's post here.)

I did feel better after seeing her. She put my mid-back back in place, and worked on my lower back where my hips and pelvis were out. I wouldn't let her touch my face because she can be a bit rough and I wasn't up to the pain. However, her ministrations helped, and I was hopeful.

This morning, I was in a lot of pain when I woke up. It wasn't radiating down my back like the day before, but it was instead mostly all focused on my face.

When I swallowed, I noticed pain. If I chewed, at all, there was pain. I immediately put heat on my neck and shoulders as the chiropractor had instructed.

The pain continued.

I showered. Sometimes, a hot shower helps, but not this time. I was still in pain. I finally called my husband. "You're going to have to take me to the ER or somewhere, I can't tolerate this," I told him. I was in tears, the pain was so strong. This was about 9:15 a.m.

He came home and I suggested he call the dentist office. I'd tried to get her to see me Monday but she'd suggested I go to the ER and I didn't want to do that. For unknown yet very frustrating reasons, I always get better healthcare when my husband steps in. So, he called, and this time the dentist came on the phone to talk to him, and then I talked to her. She said she would call around and see if an oral surgeon could see me, so someone would call me back.

Apparently, the oral surgeons weren't available (there aren't that many in the area anyway), so the dental office called back and said the dentist would see me at 11 a.m.

My husband insisted on taking me. "I have to take care of my sweetie pie," he said. He is so sweet.

I knew, though, that he had many other things he'd wanted to do today as he'd told me a long list of chores the night before. I felt bad about taking up his time.

My dentist is a very nice and kind woman, and I have nothing but praise and respect for her. She took an X-ray which showed that my jaw wasn't dislocated, which was a relief to me because I was afraid that was what had happened. That means, though, that my pain is a soft-tissue issue of some sort.

She could see that I had facial swelling, and that worried her. She was afraid that it would swell down into my throat or even up into my brain. She insisted I go to the emergency room.

We left her office at 11:30, and after a quick stop in Food Lion to grab my husband a sandwich and me a six pack of Boost (which is about all I've had to eat for several days, TMJ is a great weight loss program), by noon we were at a satellite ER, Lewis Gale Bonsack. (If I'm going to report this, I may as well report where I went.) We had heard good things about this place, so I was expecting a good experience.

I guess those folks went somewhere else.

The parking lot looked relatively empty. I thought that was a good sign.

We clocked in at the self-check-in kiosk (a new experience for me) and waited in the outer waiting area for about 15 minutes. There was 1 person ahead of me and another came in afterwards. Of course, it was lunch time and that is never a good time to attempt something like this, but it was what it was.

The nurse called my name, and we went back and she took initial information about what was wrong. I told her exactly what my dentist had said and her concerns, and also noted that X-rays indicated no rotten teeth causing the swelling. Even when it hurts, I try to brush my teeth, though I may not do such a great job at it when the pain is this bad. In spite of many cavities from those teenage years of braces, my teeth (knock wood) are in fairly good shape.

After that, the nurse took us to two chairs in a hallway. There were rooms everywhere, but I guess they had people in them? Or maybe the facility just didn't want to pay the light bill? I don't know, but we sat in the hallway for well over an hour before a doctor came by.

While we waited on him, a young woman came in without a mask (everyone else was masked), and said she had a sore throat. She was placed in the hallway, too, about 20 feet away from us. This made me very nervous.

Finally, the doctor, an aging gentleman who did not look like a happy camper, glanced at me, asked me to remove my mask there in the hallway, and then said he didn't see any swelling. He looked down my throat and said everything looked fine to him. He acted like he didn't believe I was in pain. (I suspect he thought I was after pain pills, although I never asked for them, nor did I want any.) He suggested a CT scan. I said I could not do the one with the dye. I didn't realize there are two kinds of dye, the kind you drink and the kind you insert through a vein, but apparently however you go, you have to have the dye.

I haven't had a CT scan in 10 years, but I remember being sick from the scan. But I had to drink something then, and he said there was nothing to drink for a CT of the face. He didn't mention any other kind of dye.

So, when over an hour later the nurse came up to insert an IV so she could start inserting the dye in me, I stopped her. We were sitting in a hallway, for heaven's sake, and a not very sanitary one at that, what with sore throat girl sitting over there, and I have terrible veins. The last time I had a CT scan, it took someone 11 tries to get a vein. My primary care physician tries not to take blood from me because I am what the medical professionals call "a hard stick." She considers it a win if the nurses actually manage to get blood out of me.

So, I declined the CT scan. The nurse went and got the doctor, who said he was just looking to see if there was something inside causing a problem. I said I'd come back if things worsened.

This was probably a mistake. If so, that is on me, but by this time we'd been there for 3 hours. I was tired, hungry, in pain, and not up to sitting there another 3 hours to get a CT scan. So, we paid the insurance co-pay and left with nothing to show for the day but the dentist's X-ray.

However, I am happy to note that as the day wore on, after I'd showered and taken a muscle relaxer, the pain in my jaw had eased. It wasn't gone, but it was better by the time I saw the dentist. (Maybe the relief at seeing the dentist helped, who knows.) I still could not chew well or open my mouth very wide, but I felt better than I did. Since I had improved, I felt like it was ok to turn down the CT scan. (Besides, my husband was getting madder by the minute at how long things were taking when we weren't seeing a lot of people coming in and out, and he didn't like being in a hallway.)

The facility is modern, but I don't know why we were in a hallway and not in a room. If something that was built in 2021 is so overloaded that people have to sit in the hallway, somebody did poor planning.

So now I am home writing this, with ice on my jaw and heat on my shoulders. If there is swelling in my face, then it needs ice. I will ice it for 15 minutes every hour tonight and see what the morning brings. Soft tissue injuries take time to heal, so hopefully by the weekend I will see noticeable improvement.

If not, I can always go back to the ER and do it all over again.

By the way, we sat there so long that I was able to start a little song, to the tune of that old 70s song called Smokin' in the Boys Room.

Sittin' in the ER
Thinkin' it's a drag
Waitin' on a doc
Well it just ain't my bag.

Will they call out my name?
Will it be soon?
Or will I be sitting here
Until next June?


Sittin' in the ER, yes I am
Sittin in the ER.
Doctor turn that TV
Off of Fox News*
'Cause everyone news that the ER is the place for the blues.

One more time!

*They did not have a TV in the hallway. They had one in the outer waiting room but it was on the Lifetime channel.


  1. Yes, you did indeed have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and you still don't have any real answers! That must be so frustrating. What's up with the hallway? That seems very odd, too. (FWIW: I seem to end up watching HGTV in hospitals. I don't know why, but it always seems to be those twins bashing through walls with big mallet things.) Do you have a primary care physician you can consult and perhaps bypass the ER?

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry you are in such discomfort. I hope it's better very soon!


Thank you for dropping by! I appreciate comments and love to hear from others. I appreciate your time and responses.