Saturday, January 09, 2010

A Little on Life

Here is an update from my other blog (link in previous post). I thought I might as well share it on here since this has been a larger part of my life lately. I recently went to my first consultation with my new oral surgeon at John Hopkins.

Other than this, things are going fairly well. We had a great Christmas. My mother was in from Alaska for the last month. My sister Jamie also joined us for two weeks. It was great to have a house full of people and made the holidays so much fun.

Both congregations are doing well. It has been difficult to keep up with work when my jaw has been doing so poorly. Pain management hasn't been so great, so I am having to learn how to balance things. It hasn't been easy but I am learning. I really feel God is testing me in new ways and I am growing from it. Looking forward to a calm period in life any day now though... :)

Alright, here is the update from the other blog. Hope you are all doing well. Promise to keep the updates coming more frequently from now on!

I apologize that it has taken so long to post about my appointment. The past few days I have been extra tired. It's been exceedingly difficult to maintain my schedule with the fatigue.
By the time I would sit down to post, I would fall asleep!

The hospital was much larger than I expected it to be. While I had visited before, I never actually went inside. This would have been a good idea, as it took much longer to make my way through than I anticipated. It would a good thing I arrived early because by the time I made my way from the parking garage to the oral surgeons, I only had five minutes to spare! It took about 20 minutes to walk from my car to the appointment. Amazing!

They did a panoramic x-ray which I expected. I hadn't had one done in a number of years so it was good to have a new one done. I was glad I had brought so much of my medical history with me, including a written report from my ENT, the original write-up from my accident, and a list of all the medications and treatments I have had over the last few years. It was much longer than I had realized but shows just how much treatment i've really gone through.

What we have found so far is that the condyles of my jaw are flat with bone spurs on them. The condyles are supposed to be rounded so this is not good news but is to be expected with the length of time I have had TMD and the clenching/grinding I have been doing for 22 years. They also found I have signicant myofascial problems which we already knew. We will not know much else without an MRI.

The appointment was about an hour long. There is little hope for conservative treatment due to the fact i've already done almost everything there is to do. They do not want me using the NTI splint anymore because it is doing more damage than good. The doctors (there were two) prescribed 800mg 3 times a day of motrin plus a new muscle relaxant (skelaxin) to see if it will help. In a couple weeks i'll go in to make a mold for a new mouthpiece to wear 24 hours a day. They are hoping this will help a bit.

If this doesn't work they will do athrocentesis. This is an outpatient procedure where the doctors go into the jaw laproscopically, clean out the joints and look around to get a better picture of what is going on. While they do this they inject steroids into the joint. If this doesn't work we will move forward with surgery.

The surgery we are planning on is twofold: The doctors will round out the condyles to give them a normal shape, hopefully prevents the discs from getting lost again. They will then attempt to get the discs back to where they belong. If the discs are too far damaged, they will remove the discs permanently.

90% of cases of TMD do get better with conservative treatment. The doctors said they would have expected to see mine respond better by this point. I will admit, I hold little hope for mine to get better without surgery; maybe i'm just too much of a pessimist at this time and place in my life. I think i've just been through too many treatments to have hope anymore. When the doctor wrote out the prescriptions I just kind of rolled my eyes. I've been doing NSAIDS and muscle relaxants for so long, why would a higher dose do any good? Oh well, you just go with it and make them happy. He told me it is to look good for insurance. He said most of these steps are too look good for insurance, and because most cases do get better. He also said though that no doctor ever expects to see a jaw look like mine at 29 years old. So I guess i'm just the weirdo. :)

My physical therapist encouraged me to call the doctor back after my appointment to ask for trigger point injections. He felt the motrin/muscle relaxant therapy was not enough for me. Since I would have to wait three weeks before seeing the doctor again, he didn't want me to continue hurting. My PT feels the muscles are too tight to be relieved through pills and I really need the injections. So, I called hopkins up again and have an appointment for the 13th. They wouldn't let me leave a message for the doctor to ask if he would be willing to do the injections. All I was able to do was make the appointment. I hope the doctor is willing to do it, otherwise it is a wasted 6 hours of driving. Oh well, here's hoping! The shots don't sound pleasant, but if it helps relieve the pain for a while, it is a good thing.

Overall, the appointment was amazing. He is a tremendous doctor, considered I guess the #1 in Maryland and one of the top in the nation. He treated me with a lot of respect and listened so well. I've never felt so validated in regards to my TMD and I really feel like i'm in good hands. It is the first time I know there is some direction with this and I have hope that maybe one day I won't be in pain. Just having that hope makes it all worth it.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2nd Sunday of Christmas Sermon

Before I post my sermon, I will share with you that I do now have a second blog. I was planning to keep this other one anonymous, hence it being completely separate. After much prayer however, I felt it may be beneficial to share it with you. This other blog is solely about medical. It is not glossed over at all and can be rather depressing which is another reason it is separate. I didn't want this blog to be about that. I am possibly approaching a surgery or two (hopefully only one) to deal with something I have been semi-privately faced since I was a child. If you would like to follow this journal, the site is: I created this site as a way to start journaling my feelings and to possibly connect with others. I've never really talked openly about it so it has been quite healing already...and I only started it a couple days ago! Anyway, if you want to read it, I would love your prayers. If not, I don't blame you. Again, i'm not my normal bubbly self on it. Alright, here is a sermon for you.

Love to you all. I promise i'll post a real update on here soon. Sorry for being so cut off lately. I will catch up with all of your blogs soon. Miss you all and thank you for staying in touch!

As our world watched the ball drop over Time’s Square a few nights ago, ringing in the new year of 2010, there were shouts of joy, hugs, resolutions, and auld lang syne sung from coast to coast. New year’s is often thought to be a time to reminisce about the good times of the year past, and a time to resolve to make the new year that comes about one that will be even better. We resolve to lose weight, watch our finances, be better parents, attend church more.

As I’ve listened to the news over this last week, I’ve heard almost a sense of urgency to ring in this new year. The sense of bullet proofness we once had as a country seems to have been shattered a bit. As we recently felt the threat of terrorism touch us again, fear has rung within hearts and within the media. The economic stability of our country has been shattered as financial institutions fail, the Dow tanks, and oil prices have escalated.

I recently read the statistic that sadly psychiatric hospitals nationwide are reporting that admissions have more than doubled due to people suffering extreme stress about home foreclosures, job losses, and plunging stock prices.

People around us are looking for something to hope in, to trust in as the year ahead emerges. As this new year begins, I have heard more people come to me asking for prayer that this new year will be better than the last one; saying it has to be better than the last one. Their hope, their faith, is depending on God bringing them some good news in this new year of 2010.

The storms of 2009 were too much, the weight of the losses, those that were economic, those of health, of loved ones, and the many other kinds that come sweeping along overwhelmed this year and overwhelmed their hearts.

In the Gospel of John, we are given truth, we are given hope, and we are given a promise. We are given the truth that has been with us from the beginning of time. In his opening statement, John starts out with the phrase that says, “In the beginning”. It opens this way just as Genesis does for a purpose. For in the beginning was the Word, Logos. In greek, Word, or Logos, can mean many things. In fact, it’s definition takes over 60 pages to define.

It means so much more than the simple written word. It means so much more than logic. It means so much more than God’s word incarnate, Jesus Christ. In fact, I could preach on this one complex word Logos for days on end and not get to the heart of what God’s logos means to us, but thanks be to God I will not do so this day. But know this truth; God’s Word, God’s Logos, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the word made flesh, was present in the beginning of time, actively creating the world, the birds, the waters, the air, the animals, humanity. God’s word, Logos, came down to earth and became human out of love for creation.

It is important for us to understand this word Logos, because the Word, the same word who has been loving us and creating us since the beginning, came down to earth to save us from our sins by dying on the cross and rising from the grave, and still comes to us to bring us hope. The word, God’s Logos, has not left us.

The word of God is still very much alive. The word is the light that shines in the darkness. It is the message that we receive as we enter this Epiphany season. The word of God offers us hope as we hear it read each and every time we open our scriptures. Each time we hear it said, The word of the Lord, we are reminded that indeed, the word of the Lord, God’s Logos, the word made flesh, is alive and present in our midst. God’s logos, is offering us hope as we enter this new year.

Here, in today's scripture passage we hear this hope echoed in John. Did you know that this very passage, the opening chapter of John, is a nativity story? Certainly, we do not hear about a manger. There is no Mary riding in a donkey, there is no Joseph, no star in the east or shepherds watching over their flocks by night.

But what we do have is the logos, God’s word made flesh, God’s word incarnate, God’s love being birthed into this world through human flesh. God became just like us, hands and feet, dirty diapers and all through the Christ child so that we can become like him. In Jesus, we are able to see the face of God, the hope and promise that we are cared for, we are loved, we are forgiven.

Just as the logos comes to us in scripture, he comes to us in the waters of baptism. As we are reminded in the words of Paul this Sunday, God has adopted us as his children through the water and the word. We are made a part of God’s family through the word made flesh, through Jesus Christ. God comes down to us in this act, through the logos. We are sealed, we are marked, as his own.

The logos is alive and well in Holy Communion through the elements of bread and wine and through the word. Through the element and through the word, we know that Jesus Christ is indeed present and we are fed with his body and blood. Through the logos, we know that God comes down. We know that we are fed for the journey, to share the good news that the word of God incarnate, Jesus Christ forgives our sins and his grace is sufficient.

We can know that through us, God’s people, the word, God’s logos, is alive within this world. We are called the body of Christ. Jesus tells us that we are members of his body, here to spread his word throughout the world. We have been called and sent to continue keeping his word alive. We are entrusted with his message. We are part of what keeps the hope alive. We are a part of his promise. We are a part of the promise to reach out to one another during the difficult moments in each other’s lives. We are one of the many ways in which God does come down for one another. We are bearers of the good news to one another. We are the ones who can bring hope to the hopeless and joy to the one in sorrow.

As the Christmas season passes and we enter the new year, it is easy for us to forget the Christmas message. It is easy to walk passed the newborn king and neglect the message that God came. While we know that God has come, what we often do not let sink into our hearts is that the God who has come still comes. The newborn king in the manger is not left in the manger. The newborn king who grew into an adult and died on a cross was not left on a cross.

The logos, the word made flesh, still comes. As we enter this new year of 2010, let us remember the good news we can trust and hope in; the promise that we have assurance of. Let us remember the word made flesh, that has been with us since the beginning and will never leave us. For he is a light in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. Amen.