My name is Jenny and I am a soldier in the United States Army. Yes, soldiers can have TMJ problems. I am married and have one dog named Merlin (my second partner in crime). My story started out about six years ago when I had my initial bilateral sagittal split osteotomy. I never had TMJ disorders or even heard of TMJ until then.
In 2003 while in the Army, I was given the opportunity to get braces. Since I wanted braces from the time I was a kid, I thought Why not. They’re free! Little did I know that I would need corrective surgery to complete my treatment plan. Between the years of 2003 to 2004 my treatment went along without any flaws until the day of my initial surgery which was a BSSO (bilateral sagittal split osteotomy). The day of surgery I had major complications which led my oral surgeon at the time to believe I would need a second surgery to correct the rest of my defect. Later that year, I had to do a change of duty station and my treatment and braces came off unexpectedly.
Once I arrived at my new duty station, I was placed back in braces and a second surgery was planned to correct the defect. Little did I know that I would have a long road ahead of me with many surgeries that were complicated with hardware failures and TMJ problems. My surgeries have ranged from BSSO (bilateral sagittal split osteotomy) to a lower jaw reconstruction then to a partial joint replacement. In order to see my current provider I have to drive over 100 miles each way. I also fly to another clinic to see the provider that performed my joint reconstruction. To date I have been diagnosed with and suffer from TMJ disorders, chronic facial pain and nerve damage.
I have a strong support channel. My husband has been through a lot with me. I have to thank him and my family for keeping my spirits high. And my dog Merlin has kept me strong.
Many people ask if I would have the surgery again if I knew then what I know now. My answer is, I don’t know. I truly have mixed feelings. When I look in the mirror and see the scars and the facial deformity. I want to say no way would I ever do this again. Then I think about how this has made me a stronger person and how I would have never met some of the people that I did. The one thing that my mom keeps telling me is that “God would never give you anything he thought you couldn’t handle.”
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