I woke up feeling "ickky" this morning. Not sick, not sad, not overwhelmed, not angry, frightened or paralyzed. Just plain old "ickky".
My dominant thoughts are revolving around my Tooth Saga. I need to find a metaphor for what this tooth has done to me, my thinking and my reality. Maybe if I write it out, I will find a string within this story of mine. Maybe I'll just vent and release. I have no idea where these fingers are going to take me this morning but let's just say we'll find out together.
It all started with a tooth ache. A very real, painful, tangible tooth ache. Where there is pain, there must be a "fix", right? This was my theory at the beginning of my tale. Simple! Make an appointment with the dentist, fix the tooth and life goes on.
Except it didn't quite go that way.
Imagine my surprise when the dentist told me he could not see any reason for my pain. He had a few hypotheses and he didn't accuse me of faking my pain but I walked out of the office wondering if I just made it up or if I was entering the phase of not being worthy of being repaired.
The toothache diminished on its own and I felt like a fraud. Life went on. Until it didn't.
When (a few weeks later) part of a filling fell out of the tooth that had been aching, I felt victorious and validated. There WAS a reason for my pain after all. Now, my dentist could fix me up and I would be on my way. The end.
Except it wasn't.
The dentist found a crack in my tooth when he went to fill it. He referred me to an endodontist and threw around terms like "bridge" and "implant" and sent me on my merry way. His only advise to me was "Be careful with your tooth", which I interpreted to mean "Don't chew on that side of my mouth". He did NOT say don't floss and everything under the sun was getting caught up on that rough filling. So I flossed. I flossed that filling right out of my mouth.
One would assume that would be when the tooth ache would return. Except it didn't.
I called to make an appointment to get my filling repaired. Then I started questioning every little thing. WHY was I getting referred to a specialist? What insurance coverage did I have? What was I signing when I signed the release forms saying "There is no guarantee that a root canal would work"? Who was talking about a root canal anyway??
My instincts told me, "Just go get the tooth pulled and be done with it". The professionals told me, "You will NOT regret knowing for sure, whether or not your root can be saved". I surveyed the audience around me (everyone I talked to between that time and my specialist appointment) and the survey said, "PULL THE TOOTH!"
I ignored my instincts, I ignored the survey results and yesterday morning I left the house bright and early to go to see the specialist. And the specialist said, "A tooth like that cannot be saved". The tooth is ready to break off. He could see that with his bare eye (though two X-rays were taken to ensure my bill was adequately large, I'm sure ... no, I'm not. I'm certain it is just their procedure to X-ray first, examine second so the doctor has everything he needs at his fingertips without having to back track).
My question was, "Why in the world did I need to go to a specialist and pay specialist prices which my insurance does NOT cover, in order to tell me what this doctor could see with his bare eyes??"
I walked out of that office angry. Anger is better than pain I suppose. I felt used and abused. I don't know what I fear most. A dentist who is too inexperienced to make the call to pull my tooth so he referred me to a professional. Or a dentist who is in the business for the sake of making money off of referrals.
In either case, I woke up this morning feeling (for the first time since I was a child) fearful about "what comes next".
What if I have an inexperienced dentist, the tooth crumbles as it is being removed and he can't pull the roots because they detached from the tooth and he has to go digging for them? AAARGH!!
What do I do? Do I call the dentist's office and confess my fears? Or my anger? This specialist appointment will cost me about $150 AFTER my insurance pays me what is covered. $150.00 I cannot afford to spend right now. I want a full refund. But do I ask for that refund and voice my frustration before they pull the tooth? Or after? Because I am also very afraid I have a new dentist who will need to consult a specialist when the tooth shatters and he is scrambling to pull roots which are not attached to anything.
Am I overthinking this? Possibly so. What if this "broken tooth" results in a hemorrhage and this is the end of my story? The end. I hope my estate fights for the $150.00 I could not and did not want to and highly questioned paying in the first place.
Okay, there has to be a moral to this story, right? That is why I sit down and write here. Because I usually make write myself into circles and find a happy little ending or lesson to take away from all of this.
This is what I know for sure:
When your body is in pain, it is telling you something is wrong. LISTEN.
When the experts tell you there is no reason for your pain, ask them to LOOK FURTHER.
When your instincts and "the survey says", "DON'T DO IT!!", heed that call.
But those very same instincts woke me up in fear this morning. I don't like where this path is leading. Not one bit.
In the olden days, I had a cavity and the dentist filled it. As I aged, those cavities and teeth began to fall out or break, so I got crowns. My wonder-dentist (I wrote about him here) crowned every molar in my head except this one. Why? I really hate to think about what this whole "tooth saga" is headed.
Have I reached the age and stage of my life where I lose all of my teeth?
Will my recurring dreams of spitting out my teeth start occurring again?
Will I get compensated for throwing away $150.00 in specialist fees, that I could ill afford to spend in the first place?
Will I die in the dentist's chair? Or will he just refer me to another specialist when the going gets tough?
These are the questions I do not have answers for this morning. It's no wonder I woke up feeling "ickky". I guess that is all I learned here this morning.
Thanks for listening...
To be continued. I hope.