Glutton-related matters: Out of the blue

Congee: it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner

(Photo by @SpecialKRB)

It happens — a reminder, out of the blue, that you are fallible, that nothing can be taken for granted. Not even eating. Not even for a Glutton.

Right now, I have TMJ issues. This happened, as you can imagine, out of the blue, while stuffing my face with Isaan food after a lengthy family trip in Hong Kong. Commonly referred to as simply “TMJ”, this affliction is also known as “lockjaw”, which results in a sharp, shooting pain while opening one’s mouth. Although hearing me talk less is surely a blessed thing for many, many people, anything that forces me to eat less is nothing less than a tragedy (for me).

The average person can open his or her jaw three fingers wide — a feat that I am sure we have all taken for granted. Without medication, I am stuck at a paltry one-and-a-half, and what food I do manage must be properly soft, sludgy and nursery-like, or pain in the temple and jaw joint will result. This leads to an interesting set of calculations every time I see a dish: without painkillers, the crunch of a raw vegetable, a steak, or a handful of nuts is absolutely excruciating — is it worth the pain? Do I love them that much? Sometimes, yes. More frequently, though, I veer towards fish, soft pasta, eggs, rice porridge, soup. I have become everyone’s least favorite great-aunt.

Suitably runny: a Thai dessert from Somsong Pochana


Now, I sometimes get shooting headaches and sudden bouts of dizziness. Meanwhile, the feeling that I have been fitted with someone else’s teeth is persistent, akin to, my doctor tells me, athletes who hurt their legs and experience a strange feeling in their muscles while running. I am like an injured athlete, guys. If eating counts as a sport. This somehow gives me comfort.

How does something like this happen? My doctor helpfully tells me that this is something almost 100 percent stress-related. This is funny to me, since I do absolutely nothing. Yet I still unconsciously clench my jaw, all the time — while writing on the computer, walking down the street, sleeping. I need to relearn how to keep my jaw from seizing up (apparently, the “correct posture” for my jaw is lips closed, teeth apart, tongue behind the front teeth like you are about to say “No”). I need to relax. I need a holiday after my holiday.

So I am taking it easy. I am swaddling my jaw in hot compresses, twice a day, 30 minutes at a time. I am doing my jaw exercises. I am trying not to yawn too widely. And, er, as for avoiding caffeine … well, let’s not go crazy. Baby bites. Eventually, I will get my way back to that double-decker sandwich. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.

Someday I will be able to eat this BKK Bagel tuna melt, just like Kob

(Photo by @SpecialKRB)



Filed under Asia, Bangkok, dessert, food, rice porridge, Thailand

12 responses to “Glutton-related matters: Out of the blue

  1. 27thsky

    I’m now here. But been following your blog.
    Hope you feel better soon. Are there any signs before it became serious? I do have hints of aches from time to time. So i try to avoid chewing gum, and all the “tough” food, though sometimes it is hard to resist šŸ˜„

    • Ah, I’m glad you are already taking care of your jaw. I sometimes don’t, and I’m the one with the affliction! There was no sign at all, honest. Except for a canker sore, which my doctor says is a sign of stress. Then a tightness on one side of the face, and then the next day excruciating pain. Strangely, I am now sore on the other side of the face, but the right side is fine now. Maybe that means it’s gradually migrating across my face and will soon be gone!

  2. Our combined age is almost 80. Probably that’s why we suffer geriatric conditions.

    Get well soon! Or, we can rebrand you as BangkokMutton…


  3. Sergio Mireles

    Oh nooooo! That’s terrible! I’m so sorry! How long do you think it will last? Will it actually be like a nagging injury that never really goes away? Love that a relaxing holiday could help cure it though! Hope it gets better soon!

  4. Anasuya

    Have you ever tried acupuncture? I clench my jaw too!

  5. Nida

    I hope you get well soon ka!

  6. Anney

    OH DEAR! sorry for shouting, but this is tragic….. don’t worry about how you did it…. how can you get over it? Gentle massage around the jaw joints? Heat? Chillies? If I had any solutions I would send them your way immediately….. I have had a clicking jaw for years that gets louder and softer… but nothing like this – I think that you have to have faith that it will settle down, and in the meantime keep on doing the best ‘work arounds’ that you can – after all, there are some fabulous soft foods and soups…. and there is always ice-cream. Keep cheerful – all will be well. XX Anney

    • Thanks Anney :-). Actually, I am on some great painkillers and muscle relaxants right now, so only the most challenging foods — raw carrots, steak, sandwiches — are a problem, but I would hate to have to rely on medication for a long time, you know? I am sure this will be resolved in time. Thanks for your kind words.

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