Word of the day: Subluxation

Subluxation. It’s a pretty word, and it’s one I learned last week at urgent care. It means “partial or incomplete dislocation of a joint,” and it means I’m on a liquid diet for a week.

What happened?

I yawned.

That’s right: I partially dislocated my jaw because I was bored watching The Voice last week. Bedtime was approaching. It had been a long day. I was exhausted, and of course the guy I wanted to hear was last in the show’s lineup. I yawned just a little too wide, and something crackled and popped near my ear. It felt like a punch from a tiny fist to the side of the face.

I tried to tough it out for a few days. I took Advil, trained myself to yawn with my mouth closed (decidedly ineffective) and ate softer foods. By the weekend, though, I’d had enough. I was in tears after eating a chicken nugget. Pureed and reconstituted “chicken” with a breadcrumb coating, and it was too much for me.

The urgent care doctor was kind enough to ask if maybe I’d been in an accident or a fight. Me? I’d have looked a hell of a lot worse after a fight, because I’m not good at fighting. When I confessed to injuring myself with a giant jaw-popping yawn, she smiled and reassured me that “we see that all the time.”  Unlikely, but I appreciated that she waited until I was gone to mock me and laugh with her colleagues. She was able to tell that it wasn’t completely dislocated, thank goodness. The joint was likely jerked out of alignment when I yawned, which upset all the surrounding soft tissues. Those swell up, and the inflammation hurts. Because I’d been trying to eat more-or-less normal foods, I’d been giving the jaw too much work to do, and the inflammation wouldn’t ease up.

So, for a week, I’m keeping my diet as liquid as I can tolerate. I picked up protein shakes for breakfast, applesauce and soups for lunch, and limp saucy noodles for dinner. It’s boring and it’s frustrating, but I guess it’s necessary. The problem is that the Venn diagram of foods I like to eat and foods I’m allowed to eat has a very small intersection.

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I’m hoping to conquer chicken nuggets by the weekend.

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