I’ve been reluctant to go to sleep at night. And not just because I’ve been engrossed in my Nook.
A fun side effect of jaw immobilization is having jaw spasms. It seems to only happen when I’m sleeping – either at night or during naps. Not only is it extremely painful, it is also scary when it happens during sleep. In fact, I dread it so much that one night I stayed awake trying to come up with alternative lyrics to that song from one of my childhood (?) favorite movies, A Nightmare on Elm Street:
One, two, a jaw spasm’s coming for you.
Three, four, you’ll wish you drugged up more.
Five, six, it’s gonna hurt like #*@!
Seven, eight, you’re gonna lay awake.
Nine, ten, never sleep again.
[Bows]. Thank you!
To best understand what a jaw spasm feels like, think about what it feels like when you dream that you are falling, and in the dream you hit the ground. You know that feeling when you wake up suddenly and really felt like you fell? A jaw spasm is like that and is a sudden, involuntary movement of your jaw. When I am banded, I cannot open my mouth even slightly. But when I have a jaw spasm, my mouth jerks open to what feels like several centimeters. I cannot imagine what kind of force is required to stretch the bands so far and so suddenly. It takes me a minute to carefully realign my teeth and let the pain in my jaw subside.
Also, these spasms are often tied to a dream, making it seem so much scarier. Often, I am eating in my dreams. Maybe I’m making “eating” movements while I’m sleeping, but every now and then in a dream I’ll be biting into something, and my lower jaw will break off – then I wake up to find that I’ve had a spasm. Worse, I’ve had dreams that either I’ve fallen and hit my upper jaw on a counter top or something OR that my lower jaw simply falls out when I open my mouth. Jaw spasms accompany most of these dreams.
I was unable to find a lot of useful information on the internet about these spasms, but Dr. T tells me that they are result of my jaw healing. Some people on the internet say that it’s the reaction of facial muscles being immobilized. Or maybe this is just my body’s way of telling me that I’m really really hungry.
Luckily, the spasms are slowly starting to get better. I’m not sure if it’s a factor of where I am in the healing process, or if I am somehow subconsciously able to control them. I believe in lucid dreaming (you know, those dreams where you actually know that you are dreaming and you can “control” your dreams?). So, in a very Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors way, I’m starting to figure out when I’m starting to the jaw spasm is staring to happen, and stop Freddy in his tracks.
But until they stop, I’ll be laying awake reading my Nook until I can resist sleep no more.