My left ear was killing me. Convinced that I had a whopping ear infection, Steve urged me to skip the primary care visit and go straight to the ENT. It was my second infection in six months. I was expecting a short visit, a new prescription, and a quick recovery. What I got instead was a lesson in body mechanics. My ear wasn’t infected at all. In fact, it was just fine. The problem was with my TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint. (And, yes, I had to look that up.)
Surprising: My brain was (incorrectly) blaming my ear for the ache, a common misunderstanding. The doctor called it referred pain. I had a hard time believing my ear wasn’t the problem. I was just so sure.
Simple: I needed to change a bad habit: resting my chin on my left hand as I work at my desk. It took weeks of Steve or me catching me in the act for the habit to change. And, truth be told, I just did it again, so that fight’s not over.
Silly: I need to do 40 repetitions of a really goofy looking exercise every morning and evening, keeping the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth while I slowly open and close my mouth. (I’m careful never to do it in public.)
Here are the life lessons I’m taking away from my TMJ problem:
Surprising: How often do we misplace blame? We can be so sure something is the fault of another person or a particular set of circumstances when, actually, we are just plain wrong. We may need for a wiser friend (or Friend) to help us see the truth.
Simple: How many stupid little habits are making less of our lives? I’ll bet if we all took stock today, we’d each find at least one. Find it. Stop it. Ask someone else to help you catch it. And don’t give up the fight.
Silly: That tongue exercise makes absolutely no sense to me. But the doctor told me to do it, and it matters. I’m better. How often do you wonder why we need to fast, or take communion, or get up early on a busy day in order to have a quiet time, or…? It isn’t silly at all. It doesn’t matter if we don’t understand. Our Lord told us to do those things, and they matter, so keep it up!