Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Complaint Department

I think I've written before about my jaw saga, but I'll update y'all on my current, stymied situation.

I've dealt with neck pain off and on for years. It comes and goes with my stress levels and amount of stretching yoga I am doing. A few months ago, this pain migrated to my face. The entire left side of my face hurt so badly that I thought I either had a sudden cavity or had been punched out while I was asleep. I made a dentist appointment and hoped for the best - that it was a cavity and I could have it removed and be on my way without spending too much money.

The dentist determined right away that I didn't have any cavities but suggested it might be jaw-related and recommended that I see an oral surgeon. So I made the appointment with the oral surgeon for a TMJ exam. My health insurance doesn't cover TMJ-related treatments so I had to pay out of pocket for the exam ($350). The surgeon took a ton of X-rays and sat with me for about 20 minutes to explain that he could definitely see that I have arthritis in my jaw. Also, the cartilage that is supposed to protect the joint on my left side is not visible. He thought it either slipped out of place or had worn down. He wanted me to get an MRI to determine exactly what happened to this cartilage. Because my insurance doesn't cover TMJ, I would have to pay the $800 MRI myself. The oral surgeon also suggested that I see an orthodontist to be fitted for an oral splint - a mouthpiece that encourages your teeth to fit together better and to relieve pressure on the jaw and joint.

At this point I made an appointment with my regular doctor to get her opinion. Here I should also note that my health insurance SUCKS ASS. I pay $200 per month for my premium and I also have a $45 copay per office visit!! So I try not to see the doctor, if possible, because $45 can buy a lot of groceries.

My GP thought I maybe didn't need the MRI, but that I should definitely try the splint. So okay....I made the appointment to see the orthodontist. The preliminary TMJ splint exam with him was $250 (again...out of pocket). He said that I have a very high threshold for pain which is probably why it took me so long to get all this checked out. He thinks that my jaw and face pain, and probably a lot of my neck pain will improve drastically by wearing this mouthguard piece. The cost of this piece of plastic you wear on the inside of your teeth???

$2,300.

My dental insurance will only pay 50%. So I'm looking at having to shell out a minimum of $1,200 for this splint.

Especially after all those different appointments I can't afford that. Isn't this why we have insurance? Just for weird health issues like this?

I'm so angry. And still in so much pain.

I'll just keep on popping Ibuprofens I guess.

3 comments:

FLIP said...

I am DOOOWN with Socialized Medicine at times like this, hell overall.

Megan Chapman said...

Oh this sucks and really pisses me off.

I am so sorry you are in so much pain and that you have spent so much money already to only get to this point where you will to spend even more to only perhaps get some relief.

I once had a masseuse that massaged my jaw from inside my mouth wearing gloves she also taught me how to do it myself... I never knew if I did it right, but we could talk about it sometime..

Again I am so sorry for your pain and discomfort and for having insurance but still spending so much money.

Stephanie said...

Hmmm. Massage? :)

The good news is I know of at least one strongly fiscally conservative person who is pro-universal health care, and if there is one, there has to be more.

I get that headache-jaw-face-neck pain when I'm under stress too - and when you mentioned stretching yoga helping I couldn't agree more.

Still, it's good to make sure it's not something serious, though having to spend so much money to check it out is not ideal.
One of the reasons i am glad I have this job is for the benefits... counting my blessings that I have them and also currently not needing them.