Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My medical issues lack coordination.

Seriously, that's my thought. I can never have just ONE issue to handle. It usually hovers right around six. Six issues. And each one needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Alas, I am incapable of sending each issue off to have itself taken care of by a doctor on its own. I need to be there, with all of my other issues on hand.

I didn't mention something that occurred on the morning of my surgery, mostly because it slipped (and keeps slipping) my mind. About 15 minutes before meeting the anesthesiologist, a rather troublesome tooth began to ache. It was so bad that I kept holding my right hand to my mouth, as though that would possibly make it any better. (I always found that a little odd. Why do we reach for parts that hurt, especially when we know touching will probably increase the pain? Then, of course, there were those months when I had a kidney stone. Holding my back while it throbbed deep within certainly didn't reduce the pain, and I think actually holding my pained kidney in my hand would have been an issue unto itself.) When the nurse asked me what was wrong, I not only told her, but showed her. She actually asked if I wanted to postpone the elbow surgery. I declined, reasoning that in about half an hour I would be unconscious and wouldn't care if my mouth exploded.

The anesthesiologist was very nice about it, shoving 4 mg. of IV morphine to give me immediate relief. Because of my regular morphine usage, I didn't get that "Wheeee!" feeling, but DID feel the pain abate. That was good enough for me.

Now, some time ago, when I mentioned that I wasn't going to the GitP meet-up due to the cost of my dental issues, I formulated a plan. I've seen those unfortunate souls who've decided to have up to half, if not ALL, of their teeth removed in one sitting. Insanity if you ask me. There's something quite disturbing in seeing someone give you a crimson stained smile, with blood dribbling out of the corner of the mouth. They look like toothless vampires.

I could get everything taken out right now, no problem, but I don't want to experience what I've heard called "lip shrinkage." That's where a person's mouth appears to curl inward, silently informing you without actually seeing inside that they're toothless. I planned on doing a few teeth at a time, and also planned on doing it once I was closer to being able to afford dentures.

But now I have a real problem. The tooth that "attacked" the day of the surgery seems to be decaying right at the gum line. It's that edge of the tooth, or perhaps something else deeper inside it, that brought me an unpleasant surprise last night. (It's now Tuesday morning, much to my dismay.)

You see, to survive my growing dental issues, I've taken to using local anesthetics like OraGel and Anbesol. Just a little bit on the painful area, and I'd be able to get by with slightly greater ease. I was applying some gel last night when the applicator I was using came away with red on the tip...and the gel is more of a pink color. I put the opposite end into my mouth and pressed gently on the site, and watched as blood came from the dark bit of ugliness. That pretty much means this tooth needs to come out a lot sooner than I'd planned. I'm awake all night from it, and plan on calling dentists to see who can not only take my insurance, but see me IMMEDIATELY to have this tooth removed.

But...but...I JUST HAD SURGERY TO RELOCATE MY ULNAR NERVE! I know I'll probably never have a day free of medical woes, but can't I get a break from medical disasters? I mean, I don't have ONE diabetic ulcer on my foot; no, I have to get two. I can't have a fungal infection in just one area, but three. Surgery on just one elbow? That would be too simple. And for added fun, my right knee doesn't get better; it somehow manages to get worse...in the middle of Becky's visit...during a relatively slow walk through a mall! It's crap like this that makes me believe I won't die peacefully in bed. Instead, I'll start bleeding from everything, all of my bones will suddenly snap, my skin will melt off, and then I'll burst into a massive ball of flame. And even then, I might survive a few days, only to be finished off by a paper cut.

As I've suffer through this latest adventure, going back to when I officially decided to start saving up for replacement chops, I've had time to think about how all of this seemed to happen so fast. When I left NY for AZ, I believe I had perhaps one dark spot on a tooth that could've used a filling. That was it. In my five years in AZ, my mouth turned into a disaster area. I even had to have a tooth pulled smack in the middle of my five-year stay in Phoenix. Is it possible that teeth can go this bad this swiftly?

Or was I lied to? This question has been burning in the back of my mind. You see, some time in 2002, while living in NY, I went to see a dentist because it'd been years since I'd seen one. Nothing personal, I just have no great love of dentists. He told me that aside from needing a cleaning, and that my teeth were hopelessly misaligned, my mouth was in great shape. NY Medicaid actually handled all basic dental work without batting an eye, so I had the cleaning process taken care of. It never occurred to me that the doctor, who might have to accept lower rates from the state on charity cases, essentially lied to same himself any real work he'd have to do at a discounted fee.

A mere three years later, a small hole appeared in a tooth...and I'd only noticed it once I was in AZ.

AZ...Oh, they're very good when it comes to ignoring the needs of the needy. When I first got there, in figures that are rounded out, I was earning approximately $1,600 dollars BENEATH poverty level. And what did they give me for a food stamp allowance? A mere $20 a month. TWENTY FREAKIN' DOLLARS!...that they cut to $18 the next year, then down to $10 the year after that, and finally cutting me off completely. If that's how they addressed my nutritional needs, you can imagine how concerned with something like dentistry. Theirs was strictly a "pull policy," with no "drill and fill," no cleanings, and no dentures.

Two years after I'd moved to AZ, a tooth that was NOT the one with the growing hole in it started causing me problems. But I didn't know that. I made my way to the nearest emergency room because I believed I was in absolute agony from the world's worst ear infection. I was very close to begging for gobs of morphine to help me at least sit there and let the ER doc examine me. (I wasn't on a regular regime of narcotics yet.) But I withheld that request, allowed the doc to look in my ear, only to have him report that there was NOTHING wrong with my ear. So he looked into my mouth, and there it was: a tooth apparently going bad, seen at angles I couldn't achieve at home, with an infected gum. But his report wasn't about A tooth. He flat out said that my TEETH - plural! - were in bad shape. Thus, I was given antibiotics and a referral to a dentist that was able to take me immediately. And before I left, so that I could go home and get a little rest, the bothersome area was injected with local anesthetic. In fact, to give me decent relief, he stabbed the region in about four different sites. And to make it even MORE fun, when the anesthetic was no longer going into my gum, it would pool inside my mouth...and it tastes like poisonous death.

When I went to see the recommended dentist, he took x-rays and told me I had seven cavities. SEVEN! In five years, (my educated guess), despite brushing every day, flossing, and the like, I had seven cavities. IT seemed like an awful lot in a very short time, and that was when I first started thinking I may have been lied to back in NY.

The removal of that tooth was a lot of fun. While most of the tooth had turned to crap, the roots were still strong. The doc and I had to brace ourselves in opposite directions, and he pulled with everything he had to get it out...taking some of the gum with the tooth. That was a first for me. I'd had teeth removed, and seen only the tooth at the end of the procedure. This was the first time I got to see fleshy matter still attached. (Yummy.)

As for the other teeth...? Well, I didn't have any complaints about them...yet. Thus, the doc would do nothing else. Repairing them wasn't covered by insurance, and I was struggling financially to eat. I had no money to shell out for dental repair. My only remaining option was to hope they decayed slowly.

Apparently, my time is up. I got another seven years out of my original works, and now I'm definitely going to have to start losing them. This one tooth, the one that started acting up on surgery day, has been plaguing me for months. Now that the gum is starting to bleed, the time has come to removed it, as well as perhaps some others. This bothers me because a [vaguely] healthy diabetic diet kind of requires proper chewing...especially since I just might be developing gastroparesis. And I don't have the $1,750 that was quoted to me for dentures.

*sigh* I'm going to attempt to keep my mind active so I can contact a dentist when business hours begin. I've been awake all night, so what's another hour, right? But - damnit! - I wish my issues would have a meeting and decide to take turns instead of trying to crowd me. You know...get on a schedule of some kind...coordinate their efforts...and possibly work in one week breaks before I spend weeks recovering from each disaster.

1 comment:

evan said...

It seems obvious to me that they ARE coordinating, and that they are malicious little blighters.