Meet Heather

My name is Heather and I am 36 years old.  I started having TMJ/TMD issues in 2010. I was diagnosed with Condylar Hyperplasia in 2015. I have had 4 surgeries within a 4-year time frame. First I had an arthroplasty surgery to try and stop the bone growth. After that failed I had three Total Joint Replacement surgeries. One on each side and then the right side replaced again only after two years. I currently still deal with symptoms such as migraines, facial pain, on and off swelling, and pain.

I am a single mom that works in the healthcare industry. This has affected not only my life, but my son’s as well. There are days I do not feel well and I have to stay in, and/or I get fatigued easily. Luckily, my son is understanding and has seen firsthand how this has affected my life. There are days I can’t take him to do things or school concerts I have missed due to awful migraines or pain. He has had to worry every time I have had a surgery, hoping it will be my last. He would spend after school helping me with whatever I needed while I recovered. We had to skip our annual Florida vacation a few times due to my surgeries and missing time from work.

I did a fundraiser for the TMJ Association at our local frozen yogurt store. Since a lot of people who have TMJ/TMD issues tend to live on a soft food diet, I figured it was a perfect place to hold a fundraiser. I am a patient advocate and try to bring awareness for these conditions. I am hopeful for scientific research that will hopefully give answers on what causes this disorder. If we knew more about this complex condition, we could find better treatment options and hopefully patients would have better outcomes. I know this is not the end of surgeries for me, since the prosthetic joints have a shelf life. I am grateful for the TMJ Association and all they do for the patients living through this nightmare of a condition. It also helps to connect with other patients who are currently or have gone through the same thing.

4 thoughts on “Meet Heather”

  1. Heather,
    You are my hero…I read four JR surgeries in 4 years and my stomach dropped to the floor. You’re smiling, and you have a son and an advocate. Keep your chin up, if we keep telling our stories -medicine will inevitably catch up with this horrible disease/disorder. I refuse to believe otherwise after all my decades. 🙂

    Be well and Thank you for sharing.

    1. Erin,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I am hopeful that one day we will have research and better treatment options.

  2. Heather,
    I also had TMj surgery 12 years ago and have suffered from chronic facial pain and migraines ever since. I remember the day I experiences my first migraine… only months after my jaw surgery. I hear you and feel you and I pray we can find relief.

  3. I have Bi-Lateral TMJ Implants after having many arthroscopic procedures. My car accident was in 1985 and it took two years to find, TMJ pain in my teeth was nerve pain horrible. In 2001 finally had the implants put in. Now I am having nerve pain and doing arthrocentesis I am unsure if I am doing more damage to the joints. I can barely open my mouth very limited. It’s affecting my body even more from my shoulders to every place shown here, I do have Fibro and am in need of a Dr in New Jersey right now. I go to an Oral Surgeon who was there for my surgery he will do arthrocentesis only, he doesn’t do surgery anymore. My Dr has retired years ago. Can you point me in the right direction for a new Dr in New Jersey? Thank you so much for this information. I feel so alone at times family just does not get it.

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