I suppose an update is in order about my tooth issue. I arrived home from my glorious vacation (really, aside from the tooth problem, it was amazing). I booked an appointment with the dentist for the day after my return. When I got there, they did x-rays, poked around (without any valium to chill me out, that was stressful), and the dentist pronounced I fractured my tooth. Not any fracture. A fracture in four places. In other words, I bit down hard enough to crack my tooth in four places, and one of them down to the root.
Now, I have had a mouth guard (custom) for several years. I clench my teeth. I do it when I sleep. I do it when I work. I lost it about 3 years ago. I had this awful habit of pulling it out in my sleep – it was this little piece of resin that fit over my front teeth. I pulled it out one night in my sleep, and it vanished. I think the cat batted it into some random place never to be seen again. So yeah, never got it replaced. And as such I resumed my bad sleep-teeth-grinding-clenching habits.
As a result of this new fracture, I had three choices: try to let them fix it (would not work in the long term), have them replace it with a bridge (NO – it would vibrate when I played oboe), or replace it with a new post and crown ($$$$$). I went with option 3, only after they swore up and down I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference when playing.
I take valium to go to the dentist, even for simple cleanings, because of my anxiety. I now had to go to an oral surgeon and let them pull out a tooth and do a bone graft. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, I had the option to be put completely out for the procedure. Not that it really stopped the anxiety. When I arrived, I had to sign a sheet that basically listed every worst case scenario from being sedated. As I sat in the chair, all of that ran through my head. I was shaking and terrified when they put in the IV. The most humorous part was as I started to go under. I remember feeling each new effect of the sedative and asking if I was going to die. This was the conversation:
Me: “Ben” – he was the doctor – “I feel dizzy, am I going to die?”
Ben: “No, you’re fine”.
Me: “Ben, I feel like I can’t breathe, am I going to die?”
Ben: “No, we’re watching your vitals, everything is just fine”
Me: “Ben, it’s getting hard to talk, am I going to die?”
Ben: “That’s normal too, just try and sleep”
Me: “BEN! I AM SLEEPY AND I AM GOING TO DIE????”
Ben: <muffled words – I was out at that point>
An hour and a half later I woke up, and his assistant was greeted by me asking “I can’t see the hippos anymore, where are they?”
Suffice it to say, I felt like the world’s biggest dork later on.
Anxiety is a pain in the ass – the most normal sensation always means YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. It’s so hard to explain that bit of anxiety to someone. It’s kind of like going into your house and seeing a crack in the wood floor, and automatically assuming the house is going to collapse on you. There’s no in between. There’s no logic in place to say “yeah, crap, crack in the floor”. It’s always, ALWAYS, worst case scenario. This bleeds into everything in my life, and quite frankly makes it really difficult. I live like this since my mid-20s. I’ve developed ways of dealing with the anxiety, but it is always there, under the surface. So I cope.
So back to the tooth. Everything went normally. Destroyed tooth was yanked. Bone graft done. I healed up just fine, although it took about 3 days to get back to eating solid food. I had a minor complication with a fragment of bone poking out, so I was banned from oboe-ing for about a month total until it settled back where it belonged.
Right now I’ve still got the gap there. I am playing again. Net side effects from the hole are excessive drooling when I play. Seriously, I collect so much water in my horn now, it’s gross – I have to keep swabbing and blowing out the upper joint. Second weird effect is the tooth behind the gap resonates when I play a D above middle C. It buzzes a bit, and my inner ear itches. Luckily, oboe is not a long-note holding instrument so when I’m plowing through Bach the feeling is fleeing. Long tones are a bitch, though.
I go back in one month to get the post put in. I was promised the heal time will be less than a week. After a month, I’ll go to my dentist, get a crown, and VOILA. New fake tooth. After all of THAT is done, we’re getting me a nice mouth guard for sleeping (again), and hopefully my sleep tooth clenching will be a thing of the past and I won’t have to live through all this again.
It’s been one year and 10 days since the last time I was told what a horrible person I was. It’s been an interesting year. I tried hard to let that little awful anniversary pass, but I couldn’t. Next year will be better. And the year after that I’ll remember it without hurting.
Today, however, I was reminded by The Man Friend™ (ok, more than a friend, shut up) that I am wanted and needed. Maybe I’ll remember that more next year than the Awful Memory.