Thursday, July 24, 2008

2:30 - The Dental Time

Ok, my teeth weren't hurting but it was time to go back.

I have put off going to the dentist for a couple years and I have a couple things that really need to be taken care of and I'm terrified.

When I was a child, the dentist tried a new thing on me - drilling cavities with only a headset to keep out the noise. I wasn't supposed to feel any pain that way. I was feeling pain and kept turning up the sound to try to help. The dentist could also hear my music and he didn't like it so loud so he would turn it down and I would turn it up.

Finally, I bit him.

He sent me out of his office and told my parents never to bring me back. Instead of supporting me, my parents were mortified, I was punished and I never went back to any dentist until I was in High School.

Since then, I've done ok, but I have a really small mouth and a very big gag reflex.

In spring, 2006, I was eating GrapeNuts, the hard kind, and cracked my bottom tooth. That left ragged edges and scratched the underside of my tongue and cheek during the night. Felt like my tongue was swollen on the underside.

Naturally, this was the one weekend that my dentist was out of town. I saw some substitute dentist on Monday morning.

Swallowing hurt, and I think I was talking funny (Julia would say funniER, especially if the dentist was from New York!)

Actually, my tooth didn't hurt at all, but it was the jagged edge that was cutting under my tongue, making it hard to talk, swallow and eat.

Probably this incident set off several others, too.

Monday morning I was nervous about this upcoming dental stuff, worried about Sue (who had lung cancer at the time) and other things. I woke up on Monday with a mild sciatica attack and a stomach ache from living on soft pudding and such.

When I got to the dentist's office, his whole front parking area was torn up, construction vehicles everywhere. There was a big sign, a floppy one, blowing in the wind, that was hard to read but I could see something about parking in the back so I turned the corner looking for a back way in.

Naturally, the office complex said NO Parking for Dr J's office. So I kept going. Ended up back where I started from and called the dentist. Turns out I was supposed to weave through the construction equipment and workers. In the back was very little parking so I squeezed my car into a place where I was sure it would be hit by someone else backing out. Fortunately, that didn't happen.

The doctor shaved down the tooth some so the scraping wouldn't continue and put down some kind of plastic sedative film over the whole thing until the real work could start. They couldn't do a whole x-ray because of the pain under my tongue. So they're not sure if I need a root canal or not - I would bet any money that I do, since that's more $$$ for the dentist. They wanted to put in an implant for $3,500 but insurance doesn't cover any of that. The root canal sounds like a bargain. That was to be a 2-hour appointment in March, 2006.

So I left there, still not able to talk much because of my tongue, and went to my mother's to try to convince her to cancel my piano students for the afternoon. By then I couldn't talk and I was limping from the sciatica which was getting worse.

A friend of mine gives me her old Wall Street Journals to give to my mom. I thought that taking those up to her would be a good bribe so she'd call my students. She hates making calls almost as much as I do.

Taking the papers out of the car, I somehow managed to hit my eye with the corner of the stack of newspapers. Now my eye wass in pain, tearing and it was hard to see.

So, I limped up 3 flights of stairs, half-blind, sore mouth, mild stomach ache. I promised my mom that it would be mostly answering machines - no worries about talking to actual people. Of course, you know that only one turned out to be a machine!

Went home, took a much-needed nap.

Tuesday, I woke up in excruciating pain from the sciatica. It was the worst I had ever had this. I called my doctor's office and luckily he was able to see me. He thought that all the stress that's going on right now contributed, as well as sitting in that dentist chair all tense.

Finally, I had 2 new meds to make everything a little better, but they knocked me out and made me dizzy.

But things were getting better. My eye stopped watering and I ccould see again. I wasn't getting any more cuts under my tongue. And I could take my meds and go back to sleep.

I made the followup dental appointment and planned to go but then Sue died. I had thought that I would be going to her funeral and so on, so I canceled that appointment.

Then, the tooth seemed fine, so I put it off.

Then, in late April 2006, I found out I had cancer myself with surgery in early May. One of my diagnostic tests was a bone scan to be sure that there was no cancer in my bones. The next evening, I was playing handbells during a rehearsal and a crown just fell off. I figure the radioactive stuff or something made the bond weaker.

Sometime in June or July a crown on the other side came off. Eewww.

I figured the cancer was bad enough so I was taking the year off from my dental woes. I wasn't even sure I was going to survive the year!

So, here we are in July 2008. The receptionist had called to schedule my husband (who wasn't home, of course!) so I bit the bullet - no pun intended - and said that I was about 2 years overdue. I told her about the gag reflex and that I needed to have sedation.

So, the check-up, cleaning, X-Rays, estimate and all took place this afternoon. There were no problems that I didn't already know about - the missing crowns and such. Estimated cost, over $8,000. Part will be done this year (maybe! maybe I can draw this out another couple years...) and part next to take advantage of insurance.

Thank goodness there's no pain, and there weren't any new problems!