Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘twice in one weekend’ edition

  • The aftermath from the dentist has hit me today. All of my muscles hurt from the anxiety of sitting in that chair for 2.5 hours. I hate it. I am not sure how I am going to get through the hours of dental work I have coming up.
  • Even though I have had dogs for most of life it never ceases to amaze me the effect they have on my life. I have not been feeling well for the last couple of days and Piper has not left my side. She is always lying by me or leaning on me. It is very comforting to say the least. Dogs are incredibly healing, they lower blood pressure and make us feel better.
  • We had a friend and her children over for dinner tonight. We had ham, scalloped potatoes, cauliflower and cheese sauce and green beans with garlic and ginger. It was a fabulous dinner and great company.
  • I am so tired. My hemoglobin is low and I think it has gone lower since last week. Low hemoglobin makes everything so much more difficult. Walking or climbing stairs is very difficult because my legs become oxygen starved. I also have difficulty eating. I have very little appetite. The stress of everything makes me nauseous and I have trouble keeping food down. Back to taking iron again, as much as I can stand.
  • Madison is slowly losing it. Her advanced age is making her dementia much worse. She is in ok physical health except for her arthritis and accompanying pain. She is deaf and going blind. Sometimes she seems confused and tries to go to places that don’t really make sense. Otherwise, she still has light in her eyes and at 18 she is not ready to be done.

Thank you Dr. Coodin

Never underestimate the effect a good dentist can have in your life. I have never had easy relationships with dentists. Going to the dentist has almost always been a huge trauma in my life. I could never stand to have my teeth scaled nor could I stand it if they ‘tapped’ on my teeth (why do dentists do that anyway?). Dental hygienists have caused me great amounts of agony as they tried to ‘clean my teeth.’

My dental fear is well-grounded. The dentist I had as a child looked like Vincent Price and had all the bed side manner of the Marquis de Sade. My bottom teeth do not freeze. So I have endured more than one filling without anesthetic. I would tell this guy that my teeth were not frozen and he would mutter, maybe give me some more anesthetic, and then carry on. I have also not been blessed with good teeth which means I had a lot of cavities in my childhood. Plus I had too many teeth. I had to have 2 teeth ‘pulled for space’ when I was about 8 years old. I learned young that dentists were to be feared and that I would suffer a great deal of pain every time I sat in the chair. Even if the dentist was really sympathetic it did not matter. My level of anxiety was so high that there was nothing they could do to counter it.

As a result of my full-blown dental phobia I avoided the dentist for many, many years. Finally, in my early twenties my teeth were so bad the choice was pull them all and get dentures or fix them – the cost was going to be the same. I opted to keep my teeth and went through months of painful appointments at a dentist’s office where they ‘catered to cowards.’ They were pretty good but my mouth was a mess. It was here that I learned my bottom teeth do not freeze. I would endure needle after needle and still the teeth would not freeze. Finally, they would try and intercept the nerve in order to get some semblance of anesthetic.

Over the years I only went to a dentist if absolutely necessary. Every time I went a dentist would tell me that I needed 8-10 crowns and my teeth were in horrible shape. I would let them fix whatever was wrong and I would run away.

Eventually, Deb found Dr. Coodin when she was in agony and she needed at tooth fixed. They agreed to come in early the next day because they were fully booked but they could not stand the thought that she was in pain. It turned out they could not do anything for her tooth and she had to have it pulled. They referred her to an oral surgeon that day. She was impressed with how kind and gentle Dr. Coodin was that I decided I would go and see him.

I told him before I opened my mouth that I was phobic. I let him know that I knew that I needed lots of crowns and that my teeth were in horrible shape. I told him he could look but that I did not want any tapping or poking into things with metal instruments. Dr. Coodin agreed to follow the rules and I opened my mouth. Here was the conversation:

Dr. C: You don’t need crowns.

Me: But I have all these big fillings and other dentists have said I need them.

Dr. C: Does anything hurt?

Me: No

Dr. C: Are your big fillings breaking?

Me: No

Dr. C: Then you don’t need crowns. In fact, putting crowns on your teeth will further weaken them and unless you are having problems I would not advise it.

Me: Then why do all these dentists tell me I need crowns?

Dr. C: Economics. They want to make money.

He told me I had gingivitis but he thought it could be reversed with diligent cleanings every 4 months. In the past, I have always needed anesthetic to have my teeth cleaned. Then he told me that he scales teeth himself and that he has no interest in hurting me or I won’t come back. He told me he would start slowly and as the gingivitis cleared up he could go deeper. He went on to say that many dental professionals make the mistake of going to hard and too deep on someone like me and that it would cause a great deal of pain because of the inflammation.

He was right. After about 6 appointments I no longer had aching, bleeding gums. My gum tissue was pink and did not bleed when I brushed my teeth.

I have now been seeing Dr. Coodin since about 2000. My teeth are stable and we take care of things when they come up. I just had them cleaned today and it did not hurt at all. Thank you Dr. Coodin!