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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dental Blessings, Part 1

One of the not-so-fun aspects of my chronic diseases is that they seem to affect every single part of my life and health. I learned this a few months ago at a rountine dental appointment. I'd always had a clean bill of dental health, but unfortunately, somewhere in the last year, the combination of high dose steroids, not eating for days at a time, and constantly drinking Gatorade finally caught up with my poor little teeth. My mouth was filled with numerous teeny cavities between my teeth. Dr. M told me that I should just be thankful that it hadn't happened sooner and that the damage wasn't worse - the cavities, though numerous, were super tiny and early stage. He immediately started me on a prescription toothpaste (I know I take a lot of medicine, but now even my TOOTHPASTE has a prescription?!) to help reverse and prevent damage. He presented me with a "treatment plan" that detailed the several appointments I'd need to get all the work done. Out of the kindness of his heart, Dr. M generously offered me a steep discount, which brought his hygienist close to tears. I am a blessed, blessed girl. The bill was still quite steep, but I was so incredibly grateful for his care. His whole staff is absolutely wonderful and nicer than people should ever be. ;)

It gets better.

His office called me a bit later to schedule the first appointment. We set a date, and then the receptionist casually said, "Oh, the doctor wanted me to let you know that he's decided to do all your work... for free."

I was speechless. I stammered for a few minutes, not sure I'd understood correctly, and she went on, "He got the staff together and told us how much you've been through. He didn't want this to be another burden on you and this is just what we want to do."

Sometimes, "thank you" seems like it falls so far short...

My first appointment involved a bit of drama. People with EDS are instructed to tell their doctors and dentists that they may be insensitive to many pain medicines, including the stuff they use for numbing your mouth for dental procedures. I warned the sweet dentist, Dr. Z, that this might be the case for me, but since I'd NEVER had a cavity in my life before, I wasn't really sure. Anyways, she began numbing me up, and periodically would ask if I could still feel what she was doing. Yup, I could still feel everything. After her assistant left to get another syringe of numbing medicine (we'd used up the whole tube to no avail), she said, "Boy, you sure weren't kidding about being insensitive to medicine!"

Finally, they maxed out on the amount of novocaine an adult can have, and I still could feel everything on the lower jaw (where they wanted to work), but my upper jaw was numb, so they decided to work there.

As they worked on me, I felt sort of weird, and my eyes fell out of focus. I figured it was just that bright light shining in my eyes, and the two people working in my mouth, so I just relaxed and let my eyes close. When they finished, I stood up to leave.... and the next thing I knew, I was in a reclining position in the dentist chair with two concerned hygienists hovering over me offering me apple juice and putting cold wet washcloths on my sweaty forehead. I was so embarrassed... I stayed so lightheaded and loopy that eventually one of the nice hygienists had to drive me home!

Of course, after all that... my mouth finally DID go numb after I got home, and stayed numb for several hours. I looked like a stroke victim! I had to go to a meet & greet event with healthcare students, and I'm sure that they were all mentally diagnosing me with Bell's Palsy. The sweet dentist called me that night to make sure I was recovered after dramatically almost passing out in his office.

Now we know... Hannah needs LOTS of novocaine, and it WILL eventually kick in, we just have to give it a LOT more time. And, we also know... Hannah needs to eat a good breakfast before getting dental work done! I had been feeling rather sick that morning and just had a glass of juice before going to the dentist. Apparently the numbing medicine plus low blood sugar plus my "special" metabolism were a BAD combination!

I can't even express how thankful I am for the kind care and incredible generosity of my amazing dentists, Dr. M and Dr. Z, and their entire staff (all of whom now knows me after the almost-passing-out incident... how embarrassing!). I told them I feel like a spoiled grandchild every time I walk in!

Hannah ;)

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