Last weekend, I was supposed to have my surgery. It turns out my health insurance company misfiled the predetermination claim, and this caused a delay in its review and ultimately forced a postponement of the surgery. That’s the American healthcare system for you!
So, now my surgery will likely take place over my spring break, sometime in the first week of March. Once I have a set date I will update this page.
Thank you all for your continued support. I honestly could not do this without you. I wish you all good health and a happy new year.
I am undergoing total temporomandibular joint (TMJ) replacement surgery at the end of December. The surgery entails the complete replacement of the TMJ with total joint prostheses as well as orthognathic (corrective jaw) surgery. The TMJs are the two joints that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone), and they allow you to move your jaw up and down and side to side so that you can talk, chew, and yawn. Mine are severely eroded, and the damage that has been done is irreversible. Replacing the joints with prostheses is the only solution to relieving my pain.
I created this page because I need help covering out-of-pocket expenses related to the surgery. I am a financially independent senior at Vanderbilt University, where I will graduate in May with a degree in Human and Organizational Development. Asking for help in covering my medical costs isn’t easy (and in some ways it’s more difficult than the thought of surgery); however, like the surgery, it’s necessary.
I've had braces since I was 12 (I'm now 21). They’ve been taken off on four separate occasions, each time with my orthodontist’s assurance that my smile was perfect. However, I always returned with misaligned teeth. My doctor’s confusion increased while my self-esteem plummeted. Last year, I started having trouble sleeping. At first, I blamed homesickness. However, I soon realized my insomnia stemmed from the pain I felt in my jaw. I then started experiencing the pain throughout the day. I couldn’t eat hard foods and started having trouble walking. When I couldn’t climb the stairs to one of my classes one day, I knew something was very wrong.
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). RA is an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the immune system attacks itself. Learning that my own body was attacking itself was a challenging reality to accept. Specifically, I have Still's Disease, which is a type of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The key word here is "idiopathic," which means that the disease has no known cause. There is also no cure, only prescriptions for various medications that I take on a daily basis.
While I have secured the funds to pay for the surgery itself, there are other expenses related to the surgery that aren't covered. I live in Nashville, but my surgery will be in Dallas. My surgeon, Dr. Larry Wolford, is one of a handful of physicians in the country who can perform this 7.5 hour surgery. I’ll need to travel to Dallas and stay in the city for at least a week following my hospital stay for post-op visits.
It’s a hard time financially for everyone, not just for myself and my family, but I would appreciate anything you could contribute. This will be a life-changing surgery. I will finally be pain-free and comfortable in my own skin. I look forward to feeling good about having my picture taken and creating memories with my friends. I can’t wait to smile and really mean it.
If you can't support with a contribution, please support me by spreading the word through posting on social media, telling your friends and raising awareness about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Thank you all for your time and I wish you all good health!
Also, if you'd like to know more about my surgeon and the surgery, click here.
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