Dental Adventures in DermatomyositisLand

2 years ago I walked into my dentist’s office,  and had no idea the shitstorm   what awaited me.

After the dental assistant took the x-rays, she strut back into the patient room with an entirely different demeanor. The friendly and helpful assistant was gone – replaced suddenly with a leery, judgmental, harsh, and suspicious glare. I was faced with an interrogation barrage of questioning as to what street drugs I did, how much I drank, when I had turned to drugs, and am I in counseling or have I ever gone to rehab…..

…………………..

Wait – What?

Keep in mind – I have never in my life done drugs, I never had been a drinker, and definitely not in the slightest since I got sick, and all in all – I really have quite a boring and settled life.

After giving me a once-over yet again, Brunhilde the assistant went to have a hushed chat with my dentist.

It took me almost an hour to defend myself, and plead my case to my dentist and assistant. Going through again and again the events of my appendix bursting, going septic, being on long term prednisone, and chemotherapy – any of those alone would ruin someone’s teeth, and all of them combined was a deadly combination.

After my begging coercing, they reviewed my dental records from the previous year where I had perfect teeth just needing a yearly cleaning.

I was then asked if I had consulted anyone concerning dentures.

What?!

I’m not even thirty. Who needs dentures at my age? How does someone even get dentures? Why do I have to get dentures?

Between the septicemia and medications, my teeth had been robbed of all calcium and lost all integrity. As my dentist began tapping my teeth with the metal mirror, they crumbled and broke just from the examination. My dentist kept repeating that she had never seen such disintegration so quickly, and was absolutely horrified and shocked at how barely a year ago my dental x-rays showed a perfectly clean bill of health.

That was the first time I had ever cried in a dentist’s office – unfortunately it would not be the last.

Afterwards, my dentist recommended a good denturist, and found an oral surgeon that had a sub-specialty in oncology – therefore familiar dealing with chemotherapy and “my specific situation”.

I quietly tried to politely listen and hold back my sobs.

My dentist then handed me the first prescription (of what turned into many) of harsh antibiotics aimed towards bone infections. Due to the immune suppressants I had no way to fight infection, and because my mouth was such a mess my jaw bone has been fighting a losing battle ever since.

A week later I was in the waiting room at the oral surgeon’s office.

I was ushered into an office with 4 large screens, an intimidating white and stark desk, a large examination chair, and numerous models of teeth and metal surrounding me.

The nurse that came in told me they were going to do a ct-scan before the surgeon would see me to make sure they knew exactly what they were dealing with, and I was lead into a torture device machine that encompassed my entire head, with my chin confined and strapped down while things whirled and buzzed around me. After being lead back through the maze of rooms and hallways to the surgeons room, my surgeon knocked politely and entered.

He smiled before somberly reviewing my dentist’s notes, x-rays, ct-scan results and medical history on the closest of large monitors. The surgeon then sighed and told me that unfortunately he has seen many patients who have been in my position, and seeing how badly the prednisone had deteriorated my jaw integrity, this was going to be an involved and expensive shit sandwich with no bread undertaking.

My surgeon was fantastic at going over all of my options, explaining to me why I needed bone grafting, metal posts for denture stabilizing, and how little was covered under my insurance.

Sigh.

I tried to blink away tears as he informed me the procedure and posts would come in just over $15,000.

That was back in November. It’s now July and I am now just getting the money to be able to schedule surgery.

Since then, I have had to have multiple teeth extracted due to breaking and crumbling. Each time I have had to have a round of very harsh antibiotics before and afterwards, accompanied by a letter from my family doctor assuring my dentist that I was fit for dental extractions. I also grew to know the contract absolving the dentist’s office of any liabilities off by heart – requiring to sign it each and every time I came in due to the prednisone and methotrexate.

The first time I came in after a tooth had broken clear in half while eating a banana, the dentist informed me I would have to be on antibiotics for at least 10 days before they could extract the broken tooth, as well as another 10 days afterward. I sat in the dental chair with tears welling up in my eyes, nodding as they explained all the risks of performing any kind of work on me, and through sympathetic eyes told me the entire nerve is exposed and if I am lucky it will die in the next few days, easing the excruciating pain.

Afterwards in my car I rested my head on my steering wheel and let it all out.

The tears, the sobbing, the hopelessness, the anger, the resentment, and the injustice of it all.

The emotional tidal wave over threw the throbbing pain from my mouth, and I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop the tears, I couldn’t stop the sobbing, and I couldn’t stop the sinking feeling in my stomach.

An hour and bucket of tears later, my eyes stung from the crying and my face was covered in blotches of red and pink, but I was somewhat stable enough to safely drive.

Over and over, this was the routine when my teeth would break spontaneously over the next 9 months – most times unprovoked and unpredictable.

Fast forward, and here I am now.

I am currently waiting for a follow up with my surgeon and hopefully to hear when my surgery date will be.

I have learned that denturist’s are somewhat like used car salesmen.

The denturist I have is working directly with my surgeon to ensure that everything is hopefully in place for my surgery, and things will go smooth. My “immediate dentures” are so far up to $4000 and fingers crossed, will not increase even more after they are initially placed.

It’s still a very emotional topic for me. I am terrified of anesthetic, so surgery is going to be a blast.

*insert dramatic eyeroll*

I get very teary eyed talking about surgery and recovery – the surgeon warned me with a suppressed immune system my recovery will take far longer than the average joe.

I can’t believe I will be 30 at the end of July, and had to save up for dentures.

I can’t come to terms with the fact my lower jaw is so affected by osteoporosis it needs bone grafting and metal posts just to hold up dentures.

I thank god Zed loves me and has stood by me through …. everything.

Zed’s biggest concern is how I am dealing with everything and how I feel. I honestly believe the only concern I will have concerning Zed is reinforcing to him that no, it’s not okay to hide my teeth – and yes, it may be funny the first time he chases me around with them, but after that it’s just annoying.

Well. That was much longer than I intended.

Hopefully in the time before surgery I will have cooled my jets and got my proverbial poop in a group emotionally.

Here’s hoping 🙂

-Emm

 

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About emmbeezee

Who I am and what I am about. I'm a technologically challenged, small town girl of 29 with a rare autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis. I am married to my best friend and soul mate, second and last marriage for the both of us. With that comes one full time teenage step-son, one half-time younger step-son, a mildly unbalanced cat, and my slightly neurotic, lovable Mom. I have weird hair, tattoos, and passions for roller derby, crocheting, and reading. This a glimpse through a keyhole into my world.
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