My name is Heather Bowersox 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.