by Lin Parkin, Mermaids Sea Jewels
If I had a nickel for each time someone (doctors included) asked me if I had TMJ, I would be wealthy. Yes, I have TMJ. In fact, I have a pair of TMJs: one is my natural joint, and the other a complete replacement of my original jaw joint made of medical grade titanium and cobalt-chromium-molybdenum.
My TMJ merry-go-round ride began in 1984, and I’ve been stuck on it since. I had complete trust in my first oral surgeon who claimed he would cure my jaw problems with that infamous little piece of plastic (Proplast-Teflon) that would replace my disc and get me eating apples and steaks again. At least that’s what he told me. I believed him, because I implicitly trusted my doctors, because that’s what people do. At that time patients who had TMJ problems were routinely treated to surgery with Proplast-Teflon and, Silastic implants, as well as all kinds of other surgeries performed with no real science behind them. Oral surgeons had no clear idea of diagnosis that sent these patients into the operating room and the patients had no clue what the real results could be.
The TMJ Association and Terrie saved my life and my sanity. I met Terrie at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Technology Assessment Conference in 1996. At that conference I found out just how little was known about TMJ disorders, how scientist couldn’t even agree on what to call it, let alone on what caused “it,” whatever “it” was because that was unclear also. I discovered dentists can call themselves “TMJ Experts” but there were no board certifications or specialties in temporomandibular. Because of the lack of scientific research and evidence-based treatments, the best advice given to TMJ patients was to exhaust all reversible measures before EVER considering the “S” (surgery) word, and patients should have their pain needs addressed. That advice was too late for me, and the many patients that suffered from those irreversible surgeries in the 1980s.
As a result of my first jaw surgery, I’ve had several more and face a lifetime of revisions. I’ve now reached the point where I can no longer have much-needed dental work done because of limited mouth opening. Recently during shoulder surgery, I was read the riot act by an anesthesiologist for not wearing a medical alert bracelet. He had to do a nerve block, instead of an intubation because of the state of my jaw. I now live in fear that if I am in an accident an EMT will break my jaw in an attempt to intubate me not knowing my jaw circumstance.
I started checking out medical alert bracelets and most of them didn’t excite me. They were just too clunky looking for me. At the same time, as part of my new philosophy to take one day at a time, I started working with glass and tile and making mosaics. It was so relaxing for me and I felt at peace working with these beautiful colors of glass and stone. I began creating jewelry with these stones and an idea was percolating that I should make my own medical alert bracelet. While surfing the web I discovered an incredible movable charm. It was a skull, but what was so unique and cool about it, was that it had a movable jaw! It was an Eureka moment! I just knew I had a perfect idea for my medical alert bracelet.
I made my first medical alert bracelet, using my favorite color purple - Amethyst and Botswanna Agate - and that darling dangly sterling silver skull. Several people saw mine and fell in love with it. I thought if I could design pretty gemstone medical alert bracelets that uplift the spirit and make the wearers feel good about themselves that could be a win/win situation. So began Mermaids Sea Jewels.
Mermaids Sea Jewels medical alert products bear the official universal emergency medical alert symbol designed by the American Medical Association in 1963. All are custom engraved with your medical and contact information and all bracelets are engraved on both sides. The medical alert/identification bracelets have engraved plates that speak for you in the event of an emergency. No seconds are wasted attempting to get your medical information. There is no annual fee - you just carry your information with you on your wrist or around your neck.
I make the gemstone bracelets myself, right here in Florida, using as many materials made in the USA as I can find. Almost all of the products are lead free, many are nickel free. Sterling silver is my preferred wire, but there is something for everyone at many price points. Each piece comes in a gift box, made in the USA.
And there is one more reason to purchase from Mermaids Sea Jewels. Because of my strong support for what The TMJ Association does and how they do it I donated 10% of the proceeds to The TMJ Association's scientific meetings. So by doing something important for yourself, you are also helping further TMJ science!