Well, the good news is that the oral surgeon saw me and doesn't *think* I'll need surgery. He said only about 5% of people with the kind of loose cartilage I have need it. That being said, he also said I was at a greater risk of needing surgery than most people, largely because I've been having troubles since childhood, and there's quite a lot of maladjustment to my jaw as a result.
There's deterioration on the right side of my jaw. The muscles on both sides of my face that are related to the jaw are inflamed and suffering spasms. I was given a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, and I'm supposed to spend an hour of every day icing, then massaging, the heating both sides of my face. I'm also incapable of opening my mouth straight up and down (it deviates a LOT to the right), so I'm supposed to stand in front of the mirror every day and practice opening my jaw straight. Ouch.
So the good news is, there's a lot that can be done that doesn't involve surgery. The bad news is, there's a lot of painful and time-consuming things I'm going to have to do to avoid surgery, and there won't be a quick fix for this lifelong jaw problem that's driving me out of my mind. It also means my jaw isn't going to be wired shut, so there goes my plan for an easy to follow diet. ;)
Essentially, I have a loose bit of cartilage in my jaw that causes popping and sticking, and I grind my teeth. I've been doing this for at least 22 years, which has led to a serious misalignment. Now, in three weeks, I'm supposed to retrain 22 years of bad habits.
...Wish me luck?