Tuesday, September 1, 2009

That's Me in The Corner

Ok, so here's the thing: I have perfect teeth. Now the only people who have ever bestowed that compliment upon me were dentists and x-ray techs. I have perfect teeth, not a beautiful smile. Not by any stretch. Capish? You see, while they're perfect - structurally - and while I've never had a cavity, and while I have a perfect bite (oh, this is sounding a lot like bragging, but I promise, that isn't where it will end up...) - I have my share of problems. Maybe more than my share, but don't we all sort of think that, where problems are concerned?

The first is purely cosmetic. One of the two reasons I do not have a beautiful smile. I have never whitened them. They are the natural shade of teeth well into their fourth decade of existence. That shade is, I can assure you, not a blinding white. The reason I haven't jumped on the whitening bandwagon has to do with the other, much more major problem.

When I was seven and still had a mouthful of baby teeth I was playing Brownies and Fairies in a church basement with my Brownie troop (oh, like you never played Brownies and Fairies...) and I tripped over my own clumsy feet and slid face first into a stage. I knocked out my front tooth - one of my ONLY permanent teeth - in a perfect diagonal. There was a lot of blood. And a lot of screaming Brownies. I think the Fairies were pretty distressed, too.

Because I was so young the only solution they could offer was a series of temporary caps as I grew. I had my first root canal in second grade. The dentist expected me to completely lose all four of my front top teeth due to the impact. Forty years later, that one tooth remains the only one I've had problems with, but oh the problems I've had.

I had a second root canal sometime in Jr. High. I remember this clearly, because my mother sent me to school in the morning then picked me up a few hours later, signing me out for a dental appointment. I had the root canal with a local anesthetic. When it was all said and done, there were about 45 minutes left in the school day. Instead of taking me home, my mom took me back to school. I was still drooling a little bit when she dropped me off. For one lousy class. Sometime in the middle of class, the drool stopped and the pain started as the anesthetic effect wore off. I didn't learn anything in that class, I can assure you. Then I had to walk home. My mom still feels a little bit bad about that. I may or may not remind her of it from time to time.

Sometime in high school I had a permanent cap installed and that was pretty much that. I needed a new one every 10 years or so. Just couldn't whiten because the cap wouldn't whiten and would then stand out. Not too bad.

Until recently.

Now they tell me there's bone loss, and quite a good bit of it.

Now they tell me I need an implant.

Right there in the front.

And that while the implant itself heals, I'll be toothless for - oh - about six months - give or take - depending on how well the healing is progressing. But not to worry! Because I can use a flipper! Which I have also referred to as a flapper and a flopper. Which makes the dental people laugh, but it seems like a pretty easy mistake to make to me. It is a purely aesthetic device that will keep me from looking like a picture with the tooth blacked out. It will not be functional. Think about that. I cannot eat without having a big blank space right in the front of my mouth.

Oh. My. Hell.

Do you know how much of my social life revolves around eating? Did you read my last frakkin' post? This means I can't even eat dinner with my family. For half a year. I'll drink a lot of smoothies through straws and nibble on things huddled over in a corner when no one is around. Maybe I'll lose weight. That would be a nice side effect. Of course I'll gain it right back as soon as I go back to solid food. I know how that works. I've seen Oprah. So there's not even that.

Ok, so I have this diagnosis that is giving me nightmares. Then comes actually getting some of this accomplished. First I made an appointment with a clinic near my home. I was pretty comfortable there until they told me how much it was all going to cost. I mentioned my concern to my primary dentist and she said, "well, there IS another option..."

Long story short, she sent me to an implant clinic at the local university. I am freaking out at this point. Dental school? Really? But it was a difference of around $2,000. But STUDENTS??? Freaking out is really an understatement. I won't get a manicure at a cosmetology school. There were a couple of days there when I couldn't stop crying. Ask Tom, he'll tell you. He kept saying, "Go back to the place where you're comfortable! It's only money!" Only money. Yeah. Money, in case you didn't know, is not something we swim around in, here. A couple thousand is significant to us.

So I go to the school for a consultation.

It's a big medical center and a big school. There was construction and I was detoured. Shit. Google maps hadn't said anything about that. Parking? She was a bitch. I got lost several times once inside the building because I couldn't find the clinic I was looking for. When I finally did, I felt my heart fall into my stomach. This was a school all right. There was no privacy. There were just chairs in a big open room. That's where all of this humiliation would begin. In a wide open space full of teachers and students. With me as a visual aid.

Now at this point I reminded myself that as part of my living will I agreed to donate my body to science. And I read Stiff. I know how cadavers are treated. But I figure privacy won't be as much of an issue when I'm a CORPSE!

So, despite my reservations, I take a seat and I sign the papers. The papers that say:

- a student will do all of the work, which will then be approved by a certified oral surgeon.

- there is no guarantee that your results will meet your expectations.

They said other stuff, too, but those two got the tears flowing. Right there in the waiting room.

I had my consultation. They didn't want to give me IV sedation. I stood firm. They shrugged and said they'd try, but if I'm a hard stick, they'll just do it with a local. I'm a hard stick. Fuck.

Then the scheduling - oh my stars, the nightmare that was scheduling. They were to call me. I waited three weeks. (I wasn't in a real huge hurry) I finally called them. They informed me that they never call patients and that I had been misinformed. Really feeling like I'm in good hands, now. So they say they'll 'see if the doctor still has my charts' and call me back. Four days later, no call. I called them again. Answering service. Message. No callback. I called the next day. Got a person. They put me on hold. I got disconnected. Called back. Straight to voicemail. Where I left a detailed message, as instructed. Next day? No call. Called back, spoke to a real live person, got it scheduled. "Bring an iPod or something, because if they can't do the IV sedation, you can listen to music to drown out the sounds..."

I think it would take a lot more than an iPod to drown out the sounds (of my screams)...

I've assumed the position in the corner, now, knees to chest, manically rocking, thumb in (still fully toothed) mouth.

When are they gonna do this? September 10.

When is my hysterectomy? September 11. (Yep. 9/11. What could go wrong?)

I won't be able to eat brownies.

I could sure use a little fairy dust.

Happy lucky joy time in the casa de Mommakin.

There's no hope for me. Send help for Tom.


Melissa B. said...

Wow...what a story! I've had 3 crowns in the past year, but I can't top the trauma that you've had to endure. I hope all goes well. And 2 surgeries in a row? You're one brave woman! I'll sprinkle some fairie dust from over here, too. BTW, you're 2 down from me in the SITS rollcall this a.m. Yes, this is what I do before I go to school. Do you think I need a life?

Becky said...

Oh. My. Hell. Is RIGHT!!!

I don't even really know what to say after this.

My first instinct is RUN! but I know that is not helpful. Oh you poor thing.

If going to the dental school is that unnerving (AND YOU ARE HAVING A HYSTERECTOMY THE VERY NEXT DAY!) and you have you husbands blessing on the money, why don't you just go to a place that will take care of you top to bottom and make you feel at ease. (and return you phone calls for pete's sake!) Omg~ I know it is hard, but it is only money, and it is your mouth! This thing has been chasing you since you were 7....get it done right!

Either way though honey, I am sure you WILL be fine, and your loving family will do what they cant to take care of you afterwards:) Hang in there!!!!!!

Jennifer Juniper said...

Oh my gosh! This is hilarious and horrifying all at once! I have a thing with my own teeth - I got the same compliments as you sans braces and never had a cavity until I was 36. The news of a root canal set me sobbing and scared the crap out of my munchkin. I had no control over my emotions. No. Control.

I can totally relate to the reading of the waiver and crying. Poor thing!

Badass Geek said...

My younger sister had problems with her front teeth, too, having to have them removed. She had a flipper for a couple years before they could put in the implants.

Best of luck to you. Maybe some noise-cancelling headphones for the iPod?

Sandy said...

Oh geez....that's awful. I've had a few crowns; some done twice, they come loose. No root canal but I hear they aren't as bad as they probably were when you were in Jr High.

I didn't know the details of implants. Lets just hope the 6 six months go quickly. But I'll tell you, I'd find the $2000 rather than have it done at the school. But that's me.

-->Sending positive thoughts and a bottle of Patron.

Pam said...

Oh my goodness! That sounds awful. Are you sure you want brownies? Wasn't it Brownies that got you into this mess in the first place. LOL! (Sorry i couldn't resist).

In all seriousness, I'm sending you all good thoughts and lots of virtual hugs!

JaelCustomDesigns said...

Happy Birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day! Enjoy it!!!

Anonymous said...

Shit, girl. That sucks big time. I can't believe these are your only options. You have quite a September ahead of you!!

Housewife Savant said...

You said the eff word and I snickered.
It was the only laugh I had while reading this post.
Unless you count the ones at your expense.
(But dang, you make it funny.)
And there was some nervous laughter because I'm glad it's not me, and a little bit o' pity laughter, cuz in your shoes I'd feel same.
You will be all right. I know it.
Nervous is normal. Nervous is good.
When you're nervous; you're ME.
Poor Rob, I mean; TOM.

If you're like me (besides being a bundle of nerves) you've got a stash of old prescriptions. Perhaps you'd want to take a ...

I'm not a doctor but I play one on the interwebs.

Happy Birthday!

Anita said...

Good freaking jehosaphat! I am a freak about my mouth, and I don't mean it's really clean or I floss well, I just can't really tolerate a lot of folks digging around in there! I know it's money ,money you either have or don't or don't need to spend on that, but no way would I be letting the school do it. My heart goes out to you baby. And a hysterectomy too........did you already talk about this and in my lazy end of summer reading lapses I've missed it? DAMN!
I wish I had more wisdom, more liquor or something to share with you, but please know I'll be cyber hugging the heck out of you on those days!

Jeanette said...

Happy Birthday - visiting from SITS.


Grand Pooba said...

Holy shit! What are thinking scheduling them right in a row? Are you trying to make yourself go crazy? Girl, if they can't sedate you, tell them they better have a lot of alocohol waiting!

mama-face said...

Looks like you've bitten off more than you can chew...the day after the dental surgery; the hysterectomy?


I advise you (and know you need my advice), to run, not walk, from this dental school. Bring your IPod to drown out the noise???? Maybe you could drum up some support from your loyal blog lovers, like say a dollar each? Seriously, I would take your husband's advice. You won't feel up to spending money during recovery so that should make up the difference. I think.

Reading the comments you've already received so far it seems we are all thinking the same thing! But you are one smart woman, so I know you'll know what to do. And just so long as you keep blogging through it all it'll be ok. For us.

You sure can tell a story. :)

MiMi said...

You've successfully made my stomach hurt! I can't even imagine...bring an iPod?? Oy. Maybe you SHOULD go to the more expensive place...
Root canals SUCK.
I had one and they hit a nerve and my right eye watered all.day.long.
Do you s'pose anyone else notices that most of your posts begin with lyrics to a song?
That's me in the spot.light, losin' my religion....REM is cool.

Anonymous said...

Ok. So reading this post reminds me of why I watch soap opera/drama stuff - to remind me that someone out there has it worse than me. Oh. My. Goodness. Good luck. Sending pixie dust, prayers, well wishes and anything else I can find at the bottom of my purse!

The Grown-Up Child said...

Hi Tammy. I just happen to be dental hygienist! I wouldn't go to the school to have the implant work done. It's a well established procedure that almost never goes badly, but since it is higher level work I would have it done by a professional that is going to stand behind their work (and who, you know, has done them before! It's not like you're talking about a molar.)

It's more expensive that way, but I think your mind will be more at ease too. How much is that worth?

And btw, most people DO eat with flippers! What would really be the point if you couldn't? You won't be able to bite into apples or corn on the cob, but general eating? Oh yes, sister. Don't worry yourself about that. And if you dentist is telling you that he/she can't get one to fit well enough for you to eat at all with it in place...find yourself another dentist.

Just a message from your friendly neighborhood dental hygienist!

blueviolet said...

Why, why, why are you doing these procedures two days in a row? That's just more than any one person should have to deal with in six months!

Gibby said...

WTF????? Right in a row? Are you nuts???? You are a brave, brave woman. My dad needed a ton of dental work done and he went to a dental school. He loved it and his student dentist has been his dentist for the past 20 years (hopefully that dentist has graduated by now, ba doomp boomp). I guess it just depends on the situation.

MaryRC said...

im sorry you have to go through this. i too am a dental hater, since i have inherited trailer park teeth. think of this as an opportunity to whiten your teeth. it WILL be okay. ill be white knuckling for you, thats what i do everytime i go. one of my best friends is my dentist, and is amazing. he fixed my smile and is still fixing my high maintenance mouth.

Unknown Mami said...

I know you've already made your decision because I read your most recent post first, but I am so glad you are not going to the school. I have had horrible dental issues for years and I made the mistake of going to a dental school for a root canal. It was an awful long drawn out procedure and what I saved in money I lost in time, discomfort, fear, you name it.

Oh and I feel you on the flipper. I am so sorry that you are going to have to have that for so long.

Anyway, I think you are fantastic. I am sending you tons of positive thoughts. I will be thinking of you on 9/11. Be good to yourself and let Tom be good to you too.

Anonymous said...

You should definitely listen to the friendly neighborhood dental hygienist! In our city, there is something called "sleep dentistry". It doesn't matter what you have done, you are sleeping like a baby! Too bad you couldn't find one close to you....
At least reconsider the school....I'm trembling for you:)
Best of Luck in whatever you choose, hope the new tooth lasts a lifetime!

carma said...

noooooooo....this is terrible. And they can't even be trusted to make a phone call...I'd better no go on so as not to make you even more nervous.

Kathy B! said...

Oh, Tammy. I guess I finally caught up. You poor thing. NOW I understand your decision fully and I'm glad you made the choice you did. If you have the money I think it's the only "right" choice.

And the hysterectomy? Good grief.

What's going on there?! I posted about my ovarian cancer earlier this week (and thanks again for clicking over, btw). Are you okay?

Off to do more back reading. How long was I gone anyway?!?