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My Tongue is Trying to Kill Me.

Posted Apr 15 2014 11:19am

Oh my goodness. Y’all are never going to believe this.

Okay, so you know how I’ve been dealing with adrenal issues for the past year and a half? Well, the doctor who had been treating me (the only doctor who didn’t tell me my problems were all in my head) moved out of state. And I was a little panicky when I found that out, because the medication she prescribed for me? I really, really need it. Like a lot. And I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to find another doctor who would give it to me. But, fortunately, she gave me a referral, and I went to see my new doctor – let’s call him Dr. M – a few weeks ago.

He was wonderful. My first appointment lasted for about an hour and a half, and most of that time was spent talking about my entire medical history. I had notes, test results, a timeline (yay for blog archives), charts and graphs (yes, I’m serious), and he looked at them all and actually listened. It was miraculous.

He said he would continue to prescribe the medication that I am on (hallelujah), but that we needed to figure out why my adrenal glands crapped out on me and fix the source of the problem, rather than just treating the symptoms. So, he asked me to hop up on the examination table. He looked in my ears, and then he looked in my mouth.

And that’s where the fun began.

Dr. M: You have a really big tongue.

Me: {embarrassed laugh} I know.

Dr. M: No, you have a really big tongue.

Me: I know. My husband’s favorite party trick is to make me show people my huge tongue.

You're welcome.

There’s nothing I won’t do for this blog. You’re welcome.

Dr. M: Your tongue is so big it’s constricting your airway. This is why you have adrenal problems.

Me: Huh?

So, he went on to explain that my tongue is so big that it’s made the roof of my mouth higher/rounder than it should be, (“You could drive a Hotwheel car under there!” was the direct quote.) and it’s so big that it makes it hard for me to breathe… which means my body has been working overtime all the time, and that eventually caused my adrenal glands to give out.

He asked if I noticed that I got particularly winded when I exercised. I told him yes, and that I had trie d to make myself a runner many, many times, but I just couldn’t do it.

“Yeah,” he said. “There’s no way you could run with that tongue of yours!”

Then he told me he was going to have to refer me to a specialist to see if my big-ass tongue was going to require intervention. “But, I’m telling you right now, this is going to require intervention.” So I asked what the heck they do for a tongue that’s too big (I was immediately envisioning some sort of tongue-reduction surgery), and he said they’d have to make my mouth bigger. “You can’t pour ten gallons into a five gallon bucket.”

It simultaneously sounded like the craziest thing I had ever heard and made perfect sense.

He left the room for a minute, and I immediately started texting Andy, Jenny, and my friend Gina. Andy’s response? “I could have told the doctors that a long time ago.” Jenny’s was “W. T. F.” Gina’s was “Can I laugh at you or is it too soon? I hope the intervention includes forking it.”

My support network, gotta love it.

Anyway… the specialist he referred me to is an orthodontist, and I went to see him a couple of weeks later. He made an impression of my mouth and took all kinds of x-rays, including some sweet 3D pictures of my skull, and I returned last week for the results.

photo (67)

He said my tongue is too big.

Let me provide you with a couple of quotes inspired by the X-rays of my head.

“As you can see here, your tongue encompasses everything and spills out the back.”


“Your tongue shouldn’t be so overwhelming.”

Once again, I texted these gems to my nearest and dearest. Gina’s response to that? “Any course of treatment? I hope you have to have your tongue cut off and a bird tongue transplanted cuz that would be funny.”

The X-rays showed that my body has made a number of adaptations to compensate for my giant tongue. My jaw sockets are flatter than they should be, and aren’t positioned correctly. Something’s supposed to be pointing at 2:00 and mine is pointing at 11:00. Or vice versa. I’m a little fuzzy on the details (I was taking notes, but I was too busy writing down the funny things he said to catch the specifics). My esophagus is pinched in the middle, instead of being round. And the top of my spinal column is stick straight, where it should be curved.

Basically, my respiratory system is inefficient and it makes it hard to get enough oxygen. He looked at a sleep study I had done at the beginning of this adrenal mess, and could see several points throughout the night where my body released adrenaline in order to keep my oxygen level up, which means a couple of things – I am not getting good/restorative sleep, and my adrenal glands are on overdrive all the time, even when I’m asleep.

The treatment? (No, not a bird tongue transplant.)

One of these sweet contraptions:


I have to wear that for a few months to prepare myself for the real deal.


Braces. For 18 months. At age 35. Because my tongue’s too big.

I couldn’t make this stuff up.

So stay tuned – this adventure is sure to be bloggable!

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