The Troubling Tale of Tooth #2

I first went to a dentist about my aching wisdom teeth around 1995/96. “They haven’t yet broken the surface,” he said. “Give them more time to come in, and it will be easier to pull them out.” And so I waited.

Now, if you’ve read my previous post about dental work you know: they weren’t going to come in. They were impacted. And all the extra time I gave them was time they spent putting more pressure on the teeth in front of them.

Also: I clench my teeth at night. Enough so that most of my dentists have outright asked me if I do, as they view the damage that I’ve done to my teeth over the years. Not one of them told me about night guards.

The combination of internal and external pressure has not been good to my teeth.

While I did finally have all four wisdom teeth removed (#1, 16, 17, and 32), some damage had already been done to the remaining molars. It probably would have been fine, if not aggravated by years of clenching. But #2 cracked, and it’s been filled over and over. The fillings fall out after a couple of years as the cracking gets worse. One dentist said, “This is crazy. Pull it.” The other dentist in his office said, “That’s crazy. We’d never pull a tooth we could save.” A third dentist said, “We could pull it, but the roots on this tooth are long, and it looks like it goes into your sinus canal. If we create a hole there, …” The words “graft” and “plate” were involved at this point and the terror blocked the rest of the sentence from my mind.

That conversation was three years ago. No more attempts were made to refill the tooth, and I’ve been “treating” it by brushing extra carefully and flossing a lot, knowing that I was only taking the weakest of stop-gap measures. I heard about and bought myself a drugstore-quality night guard, which helped with the pressure. Finally, I went to a new dentist on Monday. He said, “It can’t be saved. Get it taken out. There’s an oral surgeon on the sixth floor.” And so I went up to the sixth floor to make an appointment. Today, I am to have it removed, with the benefit of heavy sedation. I’m nervous, because the surgeon hasn’t actually seen the X-ray yet. I hope the long roots turn out to be a non-issue. I also hope that the new dentist is right about the pain in #30 (my only tooth with a root canal) being caused by pressure from #2, because it HURTS. The new dentist explained that, while the pain I describe is accurate to an incomplete root canal, and that he can see from the X-ray that the previous dentist didn’t get all the way down to the apex of the root, that type of pain should have manifested earlier. He and I both would like to avoid re-opening the tooth if possible.

I asked if I could have the X-ray back after the tooth is gone. This tooth and I, we go way back. I want to keep something to remember it by. And I will glare at it with great disdain. Grrrrr. (Clench, clench)

taking donations

You’ll be a dentist
You have a talent for causing things pain
Son, be a dentist
People will pay you to be inhumane
– Little Shop of Horrors

I have an appointment with a new dentist on Monday. I am scared. Yes, I am a rational adult, and not a child… but I have had either terrible luck with dentists, or the dental profession is horribly under-regulated. I have written about my previous experiences in the dentist’s chair, and the odds are stacked against me. On the other hand, my medical insurance runs out at the end of October, and I know that I need to get done the work that I’ve been putting off. Even my teeth are telling me, now.

So, if any of all y’all have any old, unused Valium that you can get to me before 2pm, I’d really appreciate it.

Week In Review

I finally went to my first 2008 Rockies game, which happened to be the last home game of the season. Shout out to Megan and Joe for giving me a ticket. I had a great time, even though the Dbacks spanked us. Opening Day for 2009 is April 10, and I plan to be there after missing the last two years because of Stupid Work Stuff.

After mentioning on Twitter that I’d sold a couple more bracelets before even getting around to posting them in my shop, an acquaintance/follower commissioned me to make a manly-looking mala bracelet for him. Cool beans! Not that malas are generally very girlie-looking, but I chose paint-brush jasper for it’s grey/black tones. The hard part was/is finding an affordable “guru” bead. This is the 3-hole-drilled bead that is used as the counting point on a mala, to mark the beginning and end of the circle. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I’m going to attempt to drill my own. As for the other bracelets: Still not photographed and posted.

My last contract day with my prior employer was Tuesday. I slipped out with a complete lack of fanfare, because I’m not very good with good-byes. Also, I was RACING to a FedEx drop box, and didn’t have time for chit-chat. I realize that the reorg put into place by upper management, under pressure from the Board and stockholders, was short-sighted. Heck, it was BLIND. But I don’t work (much) with upper management, the Board, or the stockholders. The folks with whom I worked are my friends, and in some cases feel like family. I will be happy to return to the office for more work whenever I’m needed. At twice my old pay, of course. 🙂

I took my mom in for a preventative maintenance ’scope, and she gets a clean bill of health. The family genes are pretty good at shielding themselves from everything we throw at them. Yes, yes, mom’s side of the family battles diabetes, and her sweet tooth (which I thankfully did not inherit) keeps me worried, but she has managed to escape that particular complication for YEARS longer than her mom or brother did. Still, I’m keeping my eye on her.

Two former colleagues and I met up for lunch, to discuss the possibility of joining forces into one design company. After speaking to our individual strengths and weaknesses, I’m not sure that we’d be any better off than we are as independent contractors, but I still want to see what the initial business plan looks like before I bow out (or shake hands on the deal).

With my new, limited income, I’m trying to stay close to home and keep as much money in the bank as possible. I went to the thrift store ONLY to do a quick check for a dress that could affordably be used for Costume Two. I didn’t find one, but I did find a vintage, self-belt dress for the ridiculous price of $2.95, so I bought it. It looks to be home-made, but by someone who really knew what she was doing. I considered buying the new-but-retro-styled wedding dress that needed a dry cleaning but was priced somehow at $4.95, but it was a size 4 and there was NO WAY that I was ever going to be able to use that for anything. The sad, sad part of that trek was finding a mid-century-looking buffet-style chest of drawers for $60, and not knowing anyone with a pickup truck to help me get it home. Regardless of provenance, I liked the shape. It doesn’t go with ANYTHING in my house, outside of the kidney coffee table in the basement, so I should just put it out of my head.

I came up with the brilliant plan of using Very Long Tweezers to remove the offending thread from my comatose sewing machine. Except that I didn’t know where to buy Very Long Tweezers. Mandelion came to my rescue, and suggested the local fabric store. Of course! One trip to JoAnn later, and I was holding in my hands tweezers that are specifically advertised for reaching tight spots in sewing machines. Perfect! Alas, they don’t fit into this particular tight spot. Oh, for fuck’s sake. In frustration, with the aid of the tweezers, a metal barbecue skewer, and scissors, I wrestled most of the thread out. I am skipping the last camping trip of the season this weekend, but hope to make good use of my time at home by getting some of these sewing/beading/photographing projects out of the way.