Friday, March 8, 2013

I Hate the Dentist

I Hate the Dentist. 

I Hate Tooth Pain. 

I Hate Tooth Surgery. 

I Hate Stitches in My Mouth.

Any of these titles would work (amongst others).

But before I go any farther, here's a disclaimer. I am grateful for caring, skilled endodontists and oral surgeons; for kind and fun hygienists. I don't hate the people (usually). I hate the dentist as a place, a process, a procedure.

(I hate the torture.)

And here's another disclaimer. This is very long-winded. My apologies.

Culvers shake and a great movie with my mom after
 arriving home from the oral surgeon's office.

Okay. After two weeks of horrible tooth pain and an absolute roller coaster ride emotionally, I am so sick of my mouth, the pain, and bouncing between dental health care providers.

It actually started a few years ago. I noticed pain and sensitivity in one of my back right molars and asked my (then) dentist about it. He said he couldn't see anything so there wasn't a problem. All I have to say to that is this: BULL.

Anyway, being the kind of person who sucks it up and lives with it, that's exactly what I've done for the past few years.

Until two weeks ago.

I was eating a muffin of all things at my favorite Christian coffee shop. (Hello, Reachout friends!) As I sipped the best latte I've ever had (thanks, Hannah E!) and munched on the blueberry muffin, I chewed down just wrong. Holy crow did it hurt.

After a few days of chewing carefully and sipping on tea, I finally had to call a dentist because the pain and infection was spreading. 

He gave me a prescription for antibiotic and pain reliever and told me that I needed a root canal. Tough news to swallow when I heard the price tag attached to it. So I started praying for clear direction.

God clearly directed me to make an appointment with the endodontist. Clearly. Rarely have I ever prayed for direction and received such a clear answer.

Even with that direction, I still didn't know how exactly I was supposed to pay for it. So I started praying specifically for His provision. And He came through and met that need through some amazingly generous friends in Christ.

So. I went to the appointment for the root canal on Monday afternoon. However, after further testing and x-rays, it was determined that my tooth was cracked so severely it wasn't worth the money to try to save it.

That really threw me for a loop and was very hard to accept. God had clearly directed and provided the funds, plus I just hated the thought of losing my tooth and the process of having it removed. 

But I moved forward and made an appointment for the next morning to have it removed. The "normal" dentist here in town thought he could get it out. That turned out to be a nightmare. After many very painful attempts to make my tooth numb, all I had was very painful bruising in the back of my mouth and no progress towards getting the tooth out.

So it was off to an oral surgeon for a consult that afternoon. Between those appointments, I spent a while crying my eyes out. The emotional and physical trauma was more than I could take without letting out some of the built-up emotion. I don't think I've cried like that since my last hospitalization (or experienced that much physical pain).

The surgical extraction was scheduled for Thursday morning and on Wednesday I worked a full day. That was exhausting but a good way to keep my mind off the next morning. Thankful for those who prayed strength for me throughout the day!

Throughout these days, all of the antibiotics and pain medications were taking their toll on my gut with my Crohn's disease. So hard to balance caring for different issues. As my oral surgeon said to me, I'm stuck between a rock and hard place with this one: trying to  rid my body of infection (which is very dangerous with the meds I'm on for the Crohn's) but at the same time not destroy my gut (which is also dangerous with  my Crohn's). God is taking care of me!

And then Thursday morning arrived. I put on my sweatpants and slipper boots and tried to feel just as relaxed mentally and emotionally. (Tried.) My mom went with me since I (obviously) wouldn't be able to drive myself home.

I have to say that with the exception of one (horrible) receptionist, the care I received the day of the surgical extraction was phenomenal. I am very grateful for the care I was given...from going over paperwork, to getting the IV in, to putting on the oxygen mask, to turning on the music from my iPhone (yay for Josh Groban!), to giving me more sedation when I woke up crying (that was not fun).

The surgery was much harder, longer, and complicated than anyone was anticipating. The tooth was fused to my jaw bone. Apparently that made things very interesting.

Recovery has been interesting. It's been painful and humbling and I'm so thankful for the care I've been surrounded with. If you made me instant mashed potatoes or brought me a milkshake, you were my instant hero.

Tonight I'm thankful for pudding, ice cream, Ensure, TV shows, ice packs, Vicodin, Tylenol, water, chocolate milk, nail polish, chats with friends via Skype, iMessage, and text (so I didn't have to use my mouth to talk!), and the prayers of my family & friends.

I'm thankful for employers and co-workers who understand.

I'm thankful for a God who somehow has a good plan in all this.

I'm thankful to be alive.

And I'm thankful that it is not I who live, but  Christ who lives in me.

That is the reason to keep getting up each morning.

Even during the awful weeks.

I asked my brother to snatch this photo on my iPhone while we were driving 
back from Appleton last weekend. Gorgeous!

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