I’ve struggled with my whole ear/nose/throat area for as long as I can remember. Ear infections, tonsillitis, sore throats: all on a regular basis. Every time I went swimming, I would get a really painful ear infection. Constantly down with bouts of tonsillitis too – I seemed to catch it as easily as catching a cold.
As a teen, I would get headaches soooo frequently. My doctors would explain them away as period symptoms, or growing pains. I missed lots of school because of headaches and associated symptoms – sickness, dizziness, neck ache, back pain. Again, these symptoms would be linked back to periods/growing up.
Didn’t stop as I became an adult either. When I was old enough to drink, I went out a lot. So was hung over a lot. Looking back, I think this used to mask my symptoms.
I’ve done a fair few jobs in my time, mostly retail and hospitality. The first job I found that really affected my health was working at Gala Bingo (yes, I know). I loved this job, found some great friends and a nice little social life. However, when I started to call the bingo sessions, I noticed my health decline. Headaches became more frequent. I had to start wearing glasses as my eyes were straining. My ears would (snap) crackle and pop, and I was getting ear infections again.
Or so I thought.
No signs of infection in my ears.
I had to stop calling bingo – sad face – and my symptoms improved greatly. Hmm… interesting….
Not long after this, I changed jobs to work in a call centre. And – can you guess? Symptoms returned like a bitch. Didn’t last very long here, as you can probably imagine.
I worked at Starbucks for a while – loved this job with all my heart – and my symptoms would return but not as badly.
I trained as a dance teacher (my life’s ambition btw) and the headaches/migraines/ear pain/ sickness would come back full throttle.
After I left Starbucks, I started exploring the idea that it might not be just headaches/migraines. I went to the doctors. We started treating my migraines to no avail. This is when it started to become clear that it was something else – MY JAW! (insert dramatic DUNDUNDUNNNNN here)
It also became clear that certain things would trigger my pain flares:
I went onto a soft food diet. I stopped working. I stopped doing things. I stopped living my life.
Can you imagine trying to live a normal life whilst not being able to communicate without it putting you into extreme pain? I’m not saying this to make you feel bad for me. I want you to understand why it’s hard for me to do things. Why I have to say no to plans I’d really like to do. Why I have to be careful about where I spend my energy.
It’s not fun being the sad sack who doesn’t go anywhere or do anything.