I have a bad tooth. It needs to come out. The original plan was to have it removed in an OR so I can get twilight sedation but my insurance doesn’t want to pay for it and I’m left with having to cobble a plan together myself. I called a number of oral surgeons and no one wants to give me anesthesia outside of an OR. So any kind of general anesthesia means OR, which means a several thousand dollar bill from my insurance. No dice.

I have had dental work with local anesthetic and it’s not ideal but it’s okay. I premed heavily and then it takes a day or two to squelch reactions. It’s not super comfortable but it’s not life threatening and fortunately my laundry list of past procedures means that I have got pain management down to a science. I called my doctor and he agreed that using local sedation is fine if I premedicate. He is very good at giving advice for procedures and talking to providers that aren’t familiar with me. Great. All systems are go.

I have been a patient at my current dental office for about half of my life. I call them and they schedule me to have my tooth removed. Around this time, my dental pain went from sucky and uncomfortable to my entire face and all my teeth hurt and the pain is making me nauseous. Then the long suffering secretary at the dental office calls me to tell me that the dentist won’t remove my tooth with local anesthesia. They also won’t fill the cavity to make it more comfortable until I can figure out how to get this removed.

I talked to the dentist at length and will spare you the gory details of our exchange. I now had to find someone who didn’t know me who would agree to remove this tooth with local anesthesia quickly because the pain was awful. My entire face hurts and I’m reacting and it’s painful to talk, eat and be alive, and I’m terrified it will get infected.

The dental office at my hospital eventually agreed to do it with a local on a day when my specialist will be on campus in case anything goes wrong. In two weeks. A filling would be the same wait. So I’m getting it removed in a week and a half and while I am medicating to deal with the pain, it still hurts. It hurts a lot. I have had bowel obstructions and several surgeries and a million painful tests and good grief does this tooth hurt a lot.

I am so much better than I was a year ago. I can eat solids and exercise and travel and I’m not constantly riding the line that demarcating when I need epinephrine. I have made so much progress. But damn if it doesn’t feel like I am one bad day from losing all these gains. One bad tooth, one obstruction, one flu, one slip on an icy sidewalk. It wouldn’t take much to be right back where I was. Almost nothing.

When I have described my body as strong, it has never felt like the right word. Enduring, maybe. Durable. Not strong. Things that are strong and robust can withstand damage and still work fine.

But some things are not meant to be strong. It is not a defect, but an intricacy. A byproduct of artisanal process of craftwork. Not a mistake.

All beautiful things are fragile in some way. Marble cracks, pictures fade, buildings burn, people change. Beauty is a moment, the coalescing of so many things to form this fleeting arrangement. It is the impermanence that makes things beautiful.

My body has survived impossible things. It has recovered. But it isn’t strong, even if I want it to be, and saying that it is because of one good year feels like a lie.

7 Responses

  1. loren March 6, 2016 / 11:22 am

    Hang in there Lisa, you got this.

  2. Kay Boling March 6, 2016 / 1:32 pm

    Your body may not be strong, but your spirit is pure warrior goddess.

    Your articulate posts give me information, hope and a sense of community. I’m sorry you are dealing with all of this. While my own mast problems are still new and not very advanced, it’s my third rare disease diagnosis. I often feel like I’m being forced to play Russian Roulette, with 3 chambers full!

    I also know the exhaustion of trying to explain my medical needs, and the utter frustration of hitting brick walls.

    Sending you a gentle hug, and also my appreciation for sharing your story.
    I hope you get some pain relief soon.

    ~Kay in Florida

  3. Temper March 6, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    You summed up the experience of having to live like this better than I ever could.Such a frightening condition where you know all it takes is one tiny slipup to have it all come crashing down.Only just recently as the disease has progressed have I discovered just how fragile I really am. Im still learning and extremely reactive,so I still feel as if I am walking a tightrope almost every minute.Sounds like your going to be in good hands though and your going to be fine.Your in my prayers and hoping for the next two weeks to go fast for you.

  4. Cindy Maak March 7, 2016 / 7:43 am

    Oh, Lisa, I am so sorry. There is nothing worse than an angry tooth! Sending hugs your way.

  5. Ducky March 8, 2016 / 9:54 am

    I have a personal theory that pain response is affected greatly by location. The closer to the head, the more intensely one feels it. An infected cut or broken foot might hurt terribly, but it doesn’t take over all ability to think clearly. Throw in that you’ve almost certainly got a terrible infection going with it, and you’re pumping pain and infection all around your brain.

  6. Sean-Michael March 8, 2016 / 1:22 pm

    Hang in there Lisa!!! Wishing you less pain and good care plus swift healing. This post reminded me of my scary experience when one of my teeth partially discintigrated and my dentist told me to fly back to AZ for care then refused me care after seeing me in person. It became a hunt for who would care for my tooth and properly. I’m glad you got it covered but so sorry you had to go through this and be in so much pain in the mean time

  7. Deborah Ewing March 17, 2016 / 12:09 am

    Lisa your struggles sound so familiar , it felt like reading a page from my journal . Thank you for sharing your personal truth.
    Eckhart Tolle wrote
    Acceptance of the unacceptable is the greatest source of grace in this world . Thank you for sharing

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