Saturday, June 21, 2014


Hello those few who still visit here!

I've decided to go ahead and restart this blog.  I have had five more surgeries since the jaw one in 2010.  While these have all been unrelated to TMD they have still greatly impacted my life.  When I'm a little more awake i'll fill you in on all that.

But, as this is a jaw site, I wanted to focus much of this on what has happened  in relation to my jaw and the side effects of the surgery.  I have since been diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a very painful condition of the facial nerves.  Basically these nerves branch out throughout the face, and when there is damage to those nerves you can experience immense pain, much like mini electrocutions in various places, mine is mainly along the jaw line. 

I developed this condition as for the jaw surgery they had to cut though the Trigeminal nerves.  I knew this was a risk going in but as my TMD was so serious, I went ahead and did it.  Looking back I would still make the same decision as my quality of life was so diminished.  It's important to be able to eat, not to mention talking and all that was impacted.  It's nice being able to open my jaw again!

Unfortunately my jaw is no longer at a 40mm opening.  It's now about 30 which is still decent but not great.  I desperately need to get a new splint made which is very costly after jaw surgery.  I can't have just a run of the mill kind anymore and it needs to be made by an orthodontist.  I bit through the one my oral surgeon made so am trying desperately to save up enough money to get one made.  I am currently on disability due to severe complications from a surgery in November on my cervical spine so I don't really have the money on hand.

Thank you again for still checking up on me.  I will do my best to get this blog going again so I can keep you all posted on what it's like four years out of my jaw surgery.  I'm eager to find out who is still here so make sure to comment, share your journeys, and ask any questions.  I will do my best to address them as openly and honestly as possible!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

4 Sunday in Epiphany Sermon

It has been a very, VERY long time since I posted on here.  Life has been hectic and there is way more to update than I have time for.  Instead, per request of some facebook friends, I am posting my sermon for this Sunday.

My sermon has a large story sandwiching it.  I felt the Holy Spirit was pulling me to share this story due to the content of the Scripture passage, 1 Corinthians 13 (the love passage from Paul).  Today, there is a 15 year old girl in the hospital who is the inspiration behind the sermon.  Her mother's blog is very moving and has been a major motivator in my pursuit to adopt in the near future. 

I am supply preaching this Sunday at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Renton.  Currently for those who may not know I am in the call process.  Thankfully there are two potential calls at the moment so God willing I will be back in the pulpit regularly someday soon. 

All right, here it is:
Her parents have given her the name, Hasya, which means, “have mercy”.  They chose this unique name for a very specific reason; their prayer to God has been “have mercy” ever since they came across her picture a year prior. 
 It is hard to believe this child, 15 years of age, is still alive.  Her parents continually glance at the faded photo at the online adoption ministry, Reeses Rainbow, a child no more than 20 pounds in a white metal crib with paint chipping off.  Her body is permanently contorted from a life spent in this small bed.  No one to hold her, comfort her, or demonstrate acts of love.  She is removed from the bed only for feedings and occasional clothing or diaper changes.  The feedings take no more than a minute or two, with the white mush coming through a bottle with a nipple enlarged to force the food through faster. 
 Hasya is a special needs child in Bulgaria.  At the age of four, like all special need children who have yet to be adopted, she is entered into an adult mental institution.  The large majority of children will pass away within a years time from starvation and neglect.  Not Hasya though.  Her parents prayer for mercy was answered as she lived not one, not two, but to fifteen years of age.  She waited, patiently, for her new family to find her.
 She is the size of a toddler due to living in the confines of a crib.  Like a goldfish, her body did not grow larger than the cage of her bed.  By the time her parents arrive, her weight has increased slightly to twenty-six pounds.  The institution was given more formula from Hasya’s parents to feed her until they were able to finalize the adoption.
After a long, very painful trip home, Hasya is now in America and in the hospital, receiving the very first real medical treatment in her life.  Born with cerebral palsy, she is in significant pain.  Without proper treatment, her bones are now frozen in place, the only joint movement she is able to make is in her right arm.  She continually sucks on her hand until it has become calloused an raw, a typical institutional behavior.  Her parents believed she had reflux due to a continual gulping sound she makes.  After testing they discover it is not reflux but a result of continual starvation.  She gulps air to fill her empty stomach.
After fifteen years, Hasya is receiving love in action for the very first time.  She may not know it yet, but her life has significantly changed.  Her new family views her worth to be of infinite value.  No matter what the future may bring for this sweet, beautiful child, she is valued and loved beyond measure.
 Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 about the subject of love.  We often hear this text preached in the context of marriage.  It is a text so beautifully written we see it everywhere; on pillows, cross stitches, on posters framed and hung in living rooms…even if a person is not of the Christian faith, you can bet they can recite a line of two.
 What can often be missed is the true depth of what Paul writes.  His words to the church in Corinth is not simply a pretty poem.  Paul is calling God’s people, all people, to action.  As Christians, we often view faith as the most important aspect of Christian living.  We believe a person without faith is lost.  From the time we are children, we are taught that faith is everything.
 Here in Paul’s writings however, we hear that faith is secondary to love.  In fact, if we go back and reflect on the words of Christ, we are told the most important command we are given is to love our neighbors as ourselves.  It seems this goes against everything we believe.  How could anything be more important than our faith?  While Paul does include faith and hope, he says out of “faith hope and love, the greatest of these is love”.  How, can any of us, extol the value of love above that of faith?
 This is what we are going to look at today; how is love above faith?  If we look in our own lives, we may actually see what Paul is talking about when speaking about faith, hope and love.  When we look deep into our lives, and get beyond all the busy-ness that attempts to grab a hold of our attention.  When we stop a moment to really look at what matters most to us, we can see that Paul’s words hold true .
 One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is Love Actually.  In the opening scene, Hugh Grant’s character as the Prime Minister says that whenever he gets sad or depressed, he imagines the arrival section at Heathrow Airport.  There love seems uncomplicated as people receive and embrace the ones they love. As he reflects on this, he adds, "When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge. They were all messages of love."
 It is a part of human nature to love.  It is the makeup of all relationships.  Whether we are on the “in’s”  or “out’s” with someone, it is the emotion that comes to the forefront.  “Do I love this person”?, “can I forgive this person”? “Am I in love with this person”?  Love is emotion, expression, and action that guides these questions and answers.
 We are all fumbling along in life trying to figure out and live out love in life.  The truth of the matter is, we all need help with it.  If we think back on the institution in Bulgaria Hasya came from, it is evident they are in need of serious help to live out love with the patients.  There is a blanket of coldness and lack of understanding special needs that has taken over not only the institution but many of the people in the culture.  People with special needs are ostracized and left to die.  They are in need of help to understand what love is all about.
 If we take a moment to look in our own lives, I am certain each of us can come up with someone in our lives that challenges our understanding of love.  We have all had times in our relationships when frustration, anger, or bitterness can take over to the point we want nothing to do with them.  In my own life, my younger sister who suffers from mental illness has chosen to have nothing to do with most of us in our family.  I will admit, anger and frustration easily take over for me when I think about her.  It is easier to become angry than to deal with the deeper emotions of sadness and pain.  There are times I wonder if i’ll lose my will to love her.
It is in moments such as this it is evident we need to change our thought process about love.  It is the nature of humans to believe we can control everything and anything about our lives.  Surely, we control the ability to love?  But maybe not.   What if we do not control love?  What if it is more than a simple emotion?  Maybe we’ve been looking in the wrong place?  Maybe we aren’t the source of love.  What if it doesn’t come from us?
When thinking about the nature of love, I cannot help but reflect upon the words Adeye, Hasya’s mother, shared on her blog the other day.  When asked if she or her husband feel anger and resentment towards those who afflicted such suffering , pain, and neglect upon their daughter, Adeye shared these words:
“Do we still feel moments of anger when Hasya is struggling, or when we get yet another prognosis that is less than favorable?  Of course!  We are human. We would do anything to turn back the hands of time and to ensure that Hasya would receive better care from Day One.
But for the most part, we get it.  We understand that we live in a fallen world where sin abounds.  We get it that in many nations, children who are born with special needs will not have much worth or value.  We understand that we’re dealing with cultures and societies which don’t grasp God’s amazing love for ALL children.  We are fully aware that we’re dealing with many complex issues which, very sadly, all contribute to a massive humanitarian crisis that millions of orphans on the planet face every moment of every day.
Do all of those things make it acceptable to treat children in this way?  Is it an excuse?  Absolutely not! I have to remind myself constantly of a truth the Lord began to speak to my heart (for the umpteenth time!) last August when I visited Hasya in her orphanage for the first time…
As God’s people we are called to extend much grace, much love…  Even when we don’t want to.  Even when all we feel like doing is lashing out and setting them straight.  Even when anger rises up in our hearts at the unfairness and injustice of it all.  Abounding grace!  That same grace that has been so freely given to us…in all our own filth and sin.  We are required to pour it out to others.  Because grace and forgiveness are meant to be given away.  Even to those who have done such devastating damage to our sweet, sweet daughter. 
You see, I have learned something through my other adopted daughter Hailee’s life over the past two and a half years.  God’s glory shines brightly through these children.  He takes these precious, wounded, broken little beings and from the moment they are in families…He begins to breathe new life in them.  Abundant life!  Glorious life…and hope.  
It’s amazing to me how the Father uses their brokenness for His glory!  How He takes what the enemy intended for harm, and He shines His light into the situation…And there is healing and wholeness!  REDEMPTION.  They become “New creations in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17  The only thing He asks of us, as their new parents and believers of His Word, is to love…unconditionally, freely, without reservation or holding back…even the ones who have inflicted such harm.    “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we are commanded to do.  When those negative feelings want to rise up in my own heart (and they absolutely do!), I am quickly reminded of the words of Jesus when, in His darkest hour, cried out to His Father in heaven, “Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.”  ~  Luke 23
As for me, well, I’ll continue to pray for biological parents who feel the need to abandon their children and for orphanage workers who are meant to care for precious angels around the globe.  And I’ll continue to beg the Lord to intervene and to raise up Godly families who will go and missionaries who will be sent out to places in desperate need.
 Perhaps tomorrow, like today, Hasya will convulse in tears once again because her limbs hurt from stiffness. Or perhaps her tiny little foot will begin to tremor because we have moved her just a little too quickly, and that hurts too.  And I will once again look into her big brown eyes and feel her pain which will break my own heart. Those old feelings will try to rise up once again where I will want to blame someone for this--for every injustice and every hurt inflicted upon this child.  And He will gently remind me for the millionth time that blaming never changed a thing, never helped a single soul.
 That He is her Father, the one who redeems her.  And even now, He is writing her story…and it is beautiful.  The rest? I will do my best to leave that in his capable hands.  Some day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.  But until that day comes…we have much work to do on the earth.   It’s not their problem…it’s ours!”
It is in the words of a mother that we can find the answer to the question I asked earlier.  How can love be more important than faith?  The answer is found in the question, “how can the two be separated”?  Love is the result of an active faith.  It is in our faith that love, God’s love, is birthed.  When we hear the words of Hasya’s mother, we can witness how faith in action has breathed love and life into a beaten, broken, and scared fifteen year old.  Was she never loved?  No, she was always loved.  Our loving Father never left her side.  She was held in the arms of Christ from the time of conception.  It wasn’t until her parents acted upon their faith and opened their hearts and lives to this special child that she experienced love in action.  They were the ones to show her what love is.  What faith is.  What hope is. 
To love means to turn to our faith.  When we do not know how to love, love can be found in our relationship, in our faith, to God.  When we are angry, bitter, or do not understand how such suffering can be found in this world, we can turn our hearts and minds to Christ who experienced the ultimate suffering on our part.  When we want to live out our faith but don’t know how, the Holy Spirit will be there to guide us to places that need to experience the love of Christ more than anything.  And we will be directed to the orphans, widows, the mentally ill, the sick, the lonely, the suffering; where we can learn to experience what love really is all about.  Amen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Answer to a Question


Lykia, thank you so much for your question. In regards to neck pain, yes, I have had and continue to have neck pain. I've been told this is the result of the clenching position my jaw tends to naturally land in. I attempt to not do so but for some reason it "rests" like that. Very frustrating.

Anyway, this puts pressure on my neck which causes soreness and the vertebrae to go out of whack. I see a chiropractor for this and it tends to help. My oral surgeon also made a splint for my jaw that I wear day and night. This splint keeps the jaw joint from fully resting and creates a 3mm gap. My neck and jaw pain has improved from this.

I did not experience your other symptoms of facial drooping and the like. After surgery I had some facial paralysis for some time, but this was the result of swelling and improved with time. I do still have a tingling sensation throughout the left side of my face.

My advice would be to find an oral surgeon (DMD, not DDS) who specializes in TMJD; make sure they have plenty of experience in the treatment of this condition including surgery. You may also want to consult a neurologist to see if your symptoms could be related to that.

Also, for everyone, I posted the wrong email. If you want to email me, you are welcome to do so at: I don't know why I put "yahoo"!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Almost 8 months post op; wow!!

Hello Everyone,

My goodness, I am SO sorry I have neglected the blog for this long! Life has been so busy lately with job changes and the like.

I am doing well in my non-TMJ related life. For those who asked, yes, I am in the midst of making some career changes. At the moment I am working a regular, poor paying job as a nanny to a beautiful two year old girl. This has been a good opportunity for me to appreciate that I do not do this for a regular living! While I LOVE being with this little girl, I miss the challenges, blessings, and opportunities to serve as a pastor. On January 24th, I have an interview for a chaplain residency position at the largest hospital in our area. Please, if you are able, say a quick prayer (or two) for me. This is my passion and I have been dreaming of doing this for many, many years. I am both excited and nervous to begin this part of my journey. If this particular hospital does not work out, I will be applying to others with the hopes of getting in to a good program.

In the TMJ world, things have been up and down. I am certainly still much better than I was prior to surgery, but some days feel like I have taken a thousand steps back. Last month I was kicked in the jaw (along one of my incisions) by a toddler at the daycare (used to work there). This seems to have set my recovery back quite a bit. Since then, I have had popping, clicking, and crunching noises return. I fear at least one disc may be displaced, but couldn't be sure without seeing the doctor.

My pain has been increasing as well, but of it I imagine is muscular. While I have been taking the steps to keep my stress at bay in the hopes of preventing the muscle pain, sometimes it just comes on no matter what! The plan at this point is to try and find a physical therapist willing to help me. I don't have insurance so cannot get a referral and payment would be a bit tough. I'm praying I can find something.

Other than that I really am doing well though. I know it sounds funny after all that but it is true! I am still better than before surgery and pray any further aggressive treatment can be put off for a long time. Whether that is the case, I don't know, but right now everything is one day at a time.

So, that is it for now! I will try and do better about updating, I promise. Since my jaw is giving me more grief I am sure it will be a loud and unwelcome reminder to keep you posted. *smile*


Oh, and Melissa, YES! I would love to talk with you further. You are welcome to email me at: if you would like to keep in touch. I will be praying for you and hope your appointment went well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

3.5 months Post Op

Hey everyone,

So sorry i've been gone for a while. I just moved from PA to WA state and have been running around like a crazy person. A bit stressful but a really good move. I'm so happy to be with my family again!

Anyway, it is about 3.5 months post op from my bilateral arthroplasty. Things have been fairly good. I can move my eyebrows again, though still a bit weak on my left side. I can feel almost my entire face which is awesome! I still take daily motrin (800mg pills) and soma, though can limit it to once a day. This is more due to finances than anything else. I lost my health insurance with the move and don't have the finances to pay for anything (and I mean anything) until I get my first paycheck.

The big thing i've noticed is the pain. It is obvious that this surgery goes through your major facial nerves. Of course I knew this going in but didn't quite know what to expect. I get that horrible tingly/itchy sensation all the time, going up into my scalp. Many times I have these itching spells and look like I have lice or something! The other issue i've notice is I still have quite a bit of pain/discomfort. My jaw feels tense and is especially sore on the left side. I use my therabite several times a day, which helps some with the pain and helps me to maintain my awesome opening. The surgical sites are still very tender to the touch in terms of nerves. My neck has tensed up more since I stopped PT, though i'm trying my best to do home exercises to relieve it. I use heat a lot too to try and help.

What have others experienced at this stage in their recovery? At times, family and friends have a hard time understanding why I still am not "better". I've explained to them that i'll never be completely better though they have a difficult time grasping it. I think they thought this would be the miracle cure, no matter how often i've explained to them it isn't. I still think i'm better than prior to surgery, though definitely some days I don't feel it is enough. I think the stress of leaving my job, moving cross country, and the lack of finances has definitely added to my problems. I'm trying my best to work through the stress so I don't hurt myself much more. It wasn't a great time to move in terms of recovery, but the stress of my awful work situation was so much more. Gotta love the rollercoaster of life!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Okay, so maybe I did!

Sorry everyone, I know, I know, I promised to update soon and didn't! Things have been a bit nuts around here. I am moving back to Seattle so am busy saying goodbyes and packing. I leave on Friday and there is SO much to do!

I am doing pretty darn good with my recovery. I am now about 9 weeks out and am still maintaining between a 35-42mm opening as long as I keep up on my exercises and don't get too stressed. After I gave my notice to the congregations I had a doctor appointment and the stressed caused my opening to go down to 32mm. Lesson learned; exercise, exercise, exercise! That therabite is a miracle worker, i'm telling you!

Pain wise it gets better and better. I am still struggling with what i'm pretty sure is scar tissue, it feels like I have tight bands connected from my skull to my jaw joints. Each time I open or move my jaw side to side they pull. I'm sure this will go away with time and again...exercise. When I wake up I usually hurt quite a bit from the evil clenching, but once I get the therabite out and take my 800mg motrin and the muscle relaxant it calms down.

The stress of moving has definitely taken its toll, but I know once i'm able to relax a bit i'll see improvement. I was doing better before the move, that is for sure.

One of the cool things is I now have movement in both eyebrows! They are still weak but keep improving. I can also feel almost all of my face now, but have pin prick type feeling in my left cheek and some of my right. This is an awful feeling but again, will get better with time. My doctor keeps reminding me it takes a while for things to get better.

I will update again (with all the pictures missing) as soon as I am settled in Seattle. Hopefully next week I can get this done. Thank you for your patience with everything. I'm glad to know people still come to this blog to check in and to find information.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I didn't fall off a cliff! :-)

Just dropping in to say i'm soooo sorry for the lack of updates. I had a parishioner pass away on Thursday and have been busy caring for the family, preparing for the funeral, and of course, recovering from the surgery.

The funeral is tomorrow. Please pray for the family and that i'm able to lead the service well. I'm a bit nervous as my pain is still bad and I tend to mess up my sentences sometimes due to probably the swelling, nerve problems, and meds.

I've been taking pictures and have PLENTY to update you all on. I promise as soon as i'm able I will do a big long update.

Thank you for checking in, and again, please pray for this wonderful family. The woman who died was such a special person. I hope i'm able to do a good job in honoring her life.