Tag Archives: tmj

Dying For a Drink…of Coke

I’m trying to limit my caffeine intake, and it’s killing me. Using less caffeine is probably why I’m up at 1am blogging (and probably why I’ll regret it in the morning).

I developed a theory about why I haven’t felt well over about the past two weeks, and I’m trying to test it/eliminate the issue.

I’ve written a couple of times that I’ve been experiencing neck pain. It’s really just pain on the upper left side of my body, period, i.e. neck, shoulder, ear and headaches. This is not the first time I’ve had this issue, although I don’t really remember having neck pain to this extent–the problem was more so the earaches. I had pain in both ears, but mainly in the left ear. I have head pain often because I suffer from migraines, so that’s nothing new.

A couple of years ago, or maybe a year and a half ago, I went to a few doctors because of the earache. I was–apparently, incorrectly–diagnosed with having an ear infection. I received antibiotics, and the antibiotics seemed to help. But pretty soon after they were gone, I’d have ear pain again. I went to an ear specialist, and they ran all kinds of tests…only to tell me nothing was wrong with my ears and to give me no medication or answers. The specialist did throw out there that it might be TMJ and asked if I grind my teeth during my sleep, but he really seemed to have no idea.

Some time after that, I went to my dentist for a cleaning. At the end, the dentist asked if anything else was going on, which is unusual because the people there have never done that. I’d forgotten about what the ear specialist said until I was asked that, and I mentioned the ear pain. She had the dentist who owns the office come in. They did a quick test and told me it does sound like I have TMJ. The owner prescribed me a muscle relaxant–apparently what happens with me is I have muscle spasms and my ear muscles tighten up, and I know that I clench my teeth a lot when I’m awake–and he said if the problem continues to come see him for a night guard. I don’t think a night guard will help me, since I clench my teeth throughout the day and tense my muscles out of stress/anger. In short, if I have to work a job, I’m going to clench my teeth and tense my muscles. It’s not just during my sleep, if at all during my sleep.

The muscle relaxant seemed to help pretty quickly. I have had ear pain off and on since then, but not like what inspired me to go to the doctor. Until now. The problem is the muscle relaxant was prescribed for a one-time go. And I have exactly one pill left.

Like I wrote a couple of posts ago, I didn’t and don’t think the current neck pain is just from stress like it usually is. I realized that there’s a bit of a correlation, though, between all this crap starting up and my having more caffeine. I have been trying different things that will help me not feel dead for the first few hours I’m at work, and nothing was really helping. I had said that I didn’t want to go to anything that had caffeine in it, but it started to seem as if nothing else would work. So, I tried the Super C Energy berry mix, which has caffeine, a bunch of vitamins and a few other things in it. It actually does help me in the mornings, and it doesn’t make me sick like most other “energy” things with caffeine in it did.


I’m not a coffee drinker, but I drink Coke and other sodas that have caffeine in them. I also swear by Excedrin for my migraines, which has caffeine in it. So, drinking Super C every weekday adds basically another full drink with caffeine to my days. I’m thinking that extra drink is one drink too many. My theory is all that caffeine is contributing to my having muscle spasms, which I’m starting to actually feel in other parts of my body, i.e. my feet and my face. But am I willing to go back to feeling like death every day at work for 3 or so hours? Uh, no. When I’m tired and can’t think, it makes my already-poor performance at work worse.

Instead, I’m drinking the Super C at work and not drinking sodas…which is torture. And, instead, I am even more tired when I get home. I basically took a five-hour “nap” after work, waking up after midnight (and I’m still tired). But so far, I’m not having the same level of pain. And I probably needed that nap to make me stop thinking about the Coke that I wanted. Unfortunately, now I am sitting in bed thinking about the Coke that I want. I’ve been drinking water in its place, which does nothing to curb my desire for Coke and other sodas. But it’s giving me the hydration that I probably need.

This is an issue I didn’t have at my last job, i.e. needing a lot of help to wake up mentally in the morning, because that job was far more active. The work I did woke me up. But at this job, I sit around waiting for phone calls, emails and staring at computer screens. At the job I had when I first experienced earaches, there was a lot of sitting around doing nothing. And it was overnight, so it wasn’t easy to stay awake, although it was better than my current job since I am naturally a night owl and not a morning person. They’re both jobs that allow me to sit around and drink caffeinated beverages at work whereas my last job wasn’t like that.

So, I’m going to give this a try for a while and see how it works. Thankfully, the weekend is coming, which means I can drink soda (not to mention I won’t have to go to work).

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