Reflections on Pain After an Odd Jaw Bleed
It happened after a month of celebrations. First, it was Christmas and New Year’s. Then, it was my husband Jared’s birthday. Five days later, our daughter, Cittie, turned 3. Plus, we had just moved to a new home next to some uncles who kept inviting us to relatives’ birthdays and going-away celebrations, which inevitably involved food and drink.
One night, after my father-in-law’s birthday dinner, Jared complained of a painful jaw. Because he has hemophilia, I worry every time he experiences pain, as any hint of discomfort could turn out to be a debilitating bleed.
Jared didn’t think much of it. He’d previously experienced a similar type of pain that disappeared the next day. He thought his sore jaw might even be another toothache, as he’s long suffered from a bad molar.
But the pain wouldn’t go away. It made eating difficult during the party, which was disappointing for him. Ever the cook, Jared has always been passionate about food.
During our trip back home, the pain grew even worse. As I was driving, he started yelling expletives. At this point, I knew I had to shift into “quick response” mode in case it turned out to be a serious injury. Although I had planned to stop at a grocery store to grab some chips, I decided to go straight home instead.
By the time we got home, Jared was losing it. He threw himself on the bed, yelling and screaming. He wasn’t even able to change out of his clothes. It got to a point where he would let out rage-filled roars between sobs.
He was in tears when I heard him say that he couldn’t take it anymore, and even cried out loud that he no longer wanted to live. I was heartbroken. After all, I constantly pray that my husband will always remain capable of hope, even when all hope seems beyond reach. And of course, the selfish side of me doesn’t want to lose a husband, or have my daughter lose her father. At that point, I felt helpless, too.
But I also know that he doesn’t fully mean it. Physical pain can be so overpowering.
I experienced extreme pain when I opted to give birth to my daughter without anesthesia, but this was my choice. Those with chronic illness never asked for pain. To cope, the sufferer might let out exaggerated expressions or say things they don’t mean. They might even hit or hurt themselves or others to release the negative emotions attached to pain, such as anger, fear, and sadness.
A popular expression tells us to put “mind over matter.” Some may say that “pain is all in your head.” But watching my husband fall helpless to jaw pain reminded me that pain is very real, even if it’s conceived in the brain. Pain isn’t always easy to overcome consciously.
Jared does practice “mind over matter” when it comes to certain manageable types of pain. For instance, he has taught himself to ignore the prick of a needle going through his skin during an infusion. He is also able to ignore the pain of bruises, even though they may appear large and scary. But in the case of this jaw bleed, the pain radiated all over his head. The headache he experienced was what made it truly unbearable.
Still, despite the intense pain he was experiencing, he managed to sit up and infuse himself. His head was throbbing, but he was adamant that he could self-infuse. And he was right. The needle went into his vein in one quick motion, as I merely stood by and offered assistance. I am very proud of him for reaching this milestone.
Jared’s jaw has since recovered, but this odd injury now serves as a cautionary tale against eating too much hard food and candy. Jared’s hematologist said that jaw bleeds can quickly turn serious due to their location near the neck. Had his jaw swelled more, he might have started having difficulty breathing. It’s good that he was able to infuse quickly enough to control the bleeding.
My dear husband, I’m sorry, but no jawbreakers for you from now on!
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.