It’s everyone’s worst nightmare: waking up in excruciating pain and finding yourself unable to open your mouth. And that was just the beginning of this woman’s ordeal.
Tamara Minge, from Mount Gambier in South Australia, is now on to her third jaw replacement and estimates the string of hospital appointments and surgeries have cost her at least $50,000.
The 29-year-old office administrator has had to deal with agonizing pain and difficulty opening her mouth to eat. Reading to her young daughter, Ayva, is an ordeal.
“It pretty much happened overnight,” Minge told News.com.au. “I woke up one day and couldn’t open my mouth, physically couldn’t open it, and was in so much pain.”
She rushed to her dentist and was referred to a specialist, who told her she had disc displacement on the right side of her jaw. The disc was out of place so long, it turned into degenerative arthritis, and within six months, Minge had to have her first jaw replacement.
“I could eat, but only things that could fit through a limited opening and were soft, I avoided anything chewy,” she said. “My lips wouldn’t move when I smiled.”
“I didn’t want to read to my daughter, it sounds terrible … reading was always worse than just talking so reading to her was horrible.”
“Last year, the left side started to get bad, there was this horrible crunching noise and pain.”
Minge was told she needed to have an operation on the left side of her jaw, too.
And her misery wasn’t over. Ever since the surgery on her right jaw, she suffered from skin issues. It seemed she was allergic to the nickel in the titanium alloy replacement and needed it to be replaced as well, with pure titanium.
“The pain’s never gone away, the range of movement’s never been good,” she said. “Lately, the swelling has got worse and there’s this crunching in the right side. It’s obvious to look at, that side of my face is inflamed.”
“It’s been really hard. It’s frustrating this is the third time.”
Since the second operation is more complicated, Minge will have to have her jaw wired shut for at least six weeks. “I could end up with a deformed jaw, given my age and that this is my second, this is a risk. I won’t have a jaw. I’ll be eating out of a syringe, on a liquid diet.”
“There’s a risk my face could be paralyzed, so I couldn’t blink or raise an eyebrow.”
“It’s double the time off work, getting my daughter looked after. Trying to do it all on my own, trying to come up with the money is quite stressful.”
“I see people my age going on holidays, buying houses, cars. All my savings, work, just goes on my jaw.”
“My 20s have been all about medical appointments.”
Minge also worries about how her 7-year-old daughter is coping. “She understands but it’s hard on her when I go into hospital to have surgery,” she said. “All the scars are so obvious she’s a bit emotional, and while I’m away.”
Minge’s friend Kristyn Norton set up a GoFundMe page for her with a goal of raising $5,000 to help her and her daughter through the surgery and recovery time.
It includes photos from her Instagram page of her scars, stitches and her bandaged head, with the caption: “Absolutely brutal … but I know it will be worth it in the long run.”
This is one courageous little family.
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