I had my weekly visit to the ear doctor this morning, and the tissue continues to heal as it should. There’s an area totaling about twenty to twenty-five percent of the replaced tissue that needs to finish growing in, and that’s proceeding correctly. There’s no granulation tissue or mucosa, so unless something goes wrong (which can never be ruled out in this ear), the healing should be done in a few weeks. My next appointment with him won’t be for another three weeks, the day before we go away.
Despite this good news, I’ve been experiencing a fair amount of discomfort for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been feeling pressure, tightness, heat, and some pain in the ear, up over my cheek into my temple, and down into my neck. It feels as though someone has just punched me in the side of the head. I was initially worried that this was the result of an infection somewhere deep down in the ear, but as I’ve paid more careful attention to it, I’ve been able to separate it into three different sets of sensations. There’s a clogged feeling in my ear, accompanied by decreased hearing and an intensified ringing; there’s a feeling of congestion in the sinuses on that side of my head and sometimes even in that nostril, complete with post-nasal drip; and there’s a muscular ache radiating out from the joint of that jaw. After discussing it with the doctor this morning, it looks like that’s all the result of TMJ disorder in the jaw under that ear.
Getting a clear sense of what’s happening based just on what I can feel is very difficult. The ear, nose, and throat are all interconnected, and there’s only one nerve for all of the sensation in that area, so what I feel isn’t always what’s happening. After the doctor examined everything else, which included using a scope to view my sinuses (an odd and unpleasant sensation indeed), he’s pretty certain that everything I’m feeling is the result of TMJ disorder, with the exception of the hearing issues, which should improve once the tissue’s done healing. TMJ disorder is, according to him, essentially an arthritic condition, and in this case was likely caused or at least exacerbated by his surgeries. So with the ear itself apparently safely on the road to recovery, I now begin addressing the TMJ disorder. I’ll see my dentist next Tuesday to get that process, which will likely be a biteplate to get the jaw back into the proper position, started.