Me and My Big Mouth

My son Timothy has a small mouth.

He has been dealing with pain in his jaw for over a year now. He can't open his mouth very wide, can barely brush his teeth, and struggles to eat anything crunchy or chewy. Bagels, once devoured by the dozen, are now eaten like lollipops. Gum is off limits. Steak is downright cruel.

This condition is called TMJ, which stands for Timothy's Mouth & Jaw. However, it seems to be one of those gray areas of medicine, lost in the twilight zone between dentistry, orthopedics, and tribal ritual. Insurance doesn't cover it. Few doctors deal with it. We found an oral surgeon in Mt. Airy who has been seeing us, but even he can't provide an easy answer.

This morning I took Tim to be fitted for an orthotic for the mouth. It's a mouthpiece which is supposed to realign his jaw over time, or at least we hope so. The experience was kind of funny, and rather unpleasant. They had to take impressions, so the nurse inserted a large metal plate about the size of a manhole cover, filled with pink goo, into Tim's tender mouth. She kept it in there for about a minute. She was very nice about it and kept apologizing for shoving a a giant pizza spatula down his throat. Tim apologized for nearly puking on her.

Afterwards he said, "That's the biggest thing that's ever been in my mouth."

It got me thinking, What's the biggest thing that's ever gone into my mouth? And the answer is obvious: My foot.

My foot finds its way into my mouth on a regular basis. Sporting events (I've never meet an umpire or referee I couldn't argue with), staff meetings (I'm sure I drive Pastor Guy crazy), even at home (Why did I criticize Karen's attempt at creative cooking?). Yes, my foot has been in my mouth plenty of times. When you are clever with words, opinionated, and outspoken, it makes for a good blog but a mouth big enough to fit a Shaq-sized shoe in there.

While insurance doesn't cover this condition either, there is a treatment. It's administered in three parts--forgiveness, patience, and maturity. I have a good doctor. I think it's getting better. But I still taste leather too often.

Hopefully the orthotic will help Tim's mouth get bigger so he will never have to have that giant metal plate jammed in his mouth again and can return to the pleasures of eating. And hopefully God will help my mouth get smaller so I won't have to jam my sneaker in there anymore. I never care for the aftertaste.