Monday, May 2, 2011

Appointments 11 Through 13 and More Good News

The past few weeks are a bit of a blur. I had three appointments on April 22nd, 25th and 28th. The 22nd was originally scheduled to be the day when I would be getting my final four extractions, a day I had been nervous of for the past two months. It was the partial loss on another of my front teeth, number 8, that had initially been the catalyst for me finally facing treatment in the first place due to how much it affected my ability to speak clearly. I had no idea how having one more of my front teeth would additionally alter my voice, and though I knew it was part of the process, I couldn't help but be more anxious than normal. It would also be my second appointment of four extractions, the last of which was by far the most painful. But on that day, it apparently just wasn't my fate.

We began with a new series of tests to measure my bite to help align my teeth on the new model being built. This, however, took a little longer than predicted, and by the time I was about to be prepped for surgery, for one reason or another my blood pressure was a lot higher than normal. Unfortunately it also meant that the oral surgery students could not proceed with my extractions unless it happened to come down.
I left pretty disappointed that day for the first appointment ever, not sure what went wrong, with a surgery consent form mandated to be signed by a doctor I did not have. If anything were to increase my blood pressure, it would certainly be trying to figure out how to find a doctor and manage to get a form signed to confirm I didn't have high blood pressure fast enough somehow to be able to keep my next two appointments the following week. While I no longer generally feel anxious or scared at the dentist, my blood pressure has continually been higher than expected ever since I have been going. Recently I had been joking that it was because I was simply so excited to see Rakhee and share all the latest exciting news and continue to move forward.

My next appointment was mostly to discuss my amended treatment plan in the works, and new options that Rakhee had elaborated on in her presentation a few weeks prior. After all this talk of the possibilities for my new smile for weeks, I was finally getting closer after all my extractions and healing to actually hearing my updated ideal options on the verge of approval by three departments at the school. Additional consultations were needed to confirm the pros and cons of bridges versus implants on my premolars, #5 and #12. Additional X-rays were taken of my "bitewings" to show the crowns of my upper and lower posterior teeth. We also took an additional tomographic survey to show the new levels of bone that remained after my extractions to the perio- and prosthodontists to determine if I had sufficient bone to support implants or if I may need bone grafts. We discussed the possibility of keeping tooth #7 which was as far as I had believed all this time dead and worthless and waiting to get out, complete with its giant cavity, necrotic pulp and abcess. I have decided to embrace the shift in my consciousness that has happened over the past several appointments and be thankful for the teeth that I have, however currently messed up they might be. I spent years hating to even look at any of them, and it is nice to be told that I can keep one more small part of me, however weird or metaphorical I guess that might be.

My BP was still too high to be able to continue with fillings, and I left that day excitedly awaiting the coming news after Rakhee's consultations the next morning, determined to find a doctor and fix things before my next appointment. My struggle for finding a doctor was stressful to say the least, and my subsequent frustrations with the meds I got put on is an entirely different story I really don't feel like going into here. I am working on it, and whichever methods of meds, coping or treatment I ultimately find to keep myself calm for the rest of my appointments, I am sure it is the last thing you all want to read about, and I wish to write about it even less! I did however get my consent form signed, and am currently continuing to move forward.

Appointment number 13 actually marked my 100th day including my first appointment on January 19th of this journey. It is pretty hard to believe how far I have come. Even harder, perhaps, to think of all that is left. Today...was a very special day. It was the day that I would finally after all this time get to hold in my hands a new and improved and more importantly APPROVED treatment plan with five signatures on it, one each from my student dentist, her director of general dentistry, the periodontist, the prosthodontist, and myself. It would be the day that I would finally get to see my grand total cost of the seemingly endless number of procedures I would be undergoing over the coming months. It would be the day that the order and logistics of it all would finally make sense to me. Beginning to end, as soon as I could afford it all and schedule the nearly 25 appointments and hopefully heal on schedule, there it was...the cost of my new life on the bottom of the second page and 49 more individual steps:


Making my grand total counting all my previous work and accommodating for future meds and things approximately the new total you can see to the right on my fund-raising thermometer, $21.400, almost $9000 savings from the scary thirty grand I have had burnt into my mind for the past two months! This, was exciting. (Ha, I'm thinking now back to my very first appointment when Rakhee asked me if I wanted her to be my dentist and she said "We'll work on your enthusiasm." I am still a work in progress, healing and opening up more and more with each small step. I was happy, and excited inside, I promise!) Exciting, yet more REAL than ever before.

Rakhee and I both confided that we were a little nervous what with thousand dollar appointments coming soon of my ability to continue to perform monetary miracles and stay on track for the duration now that every chapter of this adventure was finally outlined in detail in front of us. But I have come THIS far, dammit! WE have come this far. And I think that if her and all the students at the school and all of my readers can learn nothing else from me, it is my ultimate desire when this is all said and done to prove to us all that anything is possible. I will find a way. I believe in myself, and in Rakhee, and in this story. I believe it has importance and value outside of myself, and I aim to inspire others in every creative yet vulnerably honest way that I can until the end, and everyone's continued support and positive feedback and donations from around the world only continues to demonstrate that.

Four months ago I nervously posted my biggest lifelong secret in a note on facebook to only about forty friends, terrified of what their responses might be, barely able to afford my first appointment, working part time, couchsurfing, and mending a broken heart while trying to process all that had happened on my epic two month bike tour. NOW, I barely even know where to begin anymore when trying to tell anyone new my story, it has practically taken on a mind of its own. I am about to hit 37,000 views on my blog! That's about 37 times the population of the town I grew up in, and probably more people than I have ever individually ever spoken to in my entire life, out there somewhere, listening, after a lifetime of feeling alone. I can't even begin to express how that feels after living with this for so many years. All I can do is try to remain humble and true to myself and my voice, speak with my honest convictions, trust in the journey, be thankful, and keep moving forward, one small step at a time. So that is what I am going to do.

For the remainder of my last appointment, we proceeded once again to take care of some more fillings, this time on the occlusal surface of teeth numbers 20 and 21. At risk of some of my blog feeling redundant, and after talking so much above, I am going to simply tell you that it went well, and share some pictures. These were the quickest fillings yet, without the need for those awkward-feeling wedges I hate, though this time there was no "complimentary shower." :-P I left that day with SEVEN scheduled appointments over the next few months, eager and determined to plan as much as possible. After a few more appointments of fillings, I will be making the exciting chair switch from the comfortable one by the window I've come to know and love, 148, to the Prosth Department with only five chairs and less availability. I currently have enough of a surplus to pay for everything up until attaching my bridges and beginning the implant procedure, and want to get it all out of the way as soon as I can possibly schedule it and find rides. This little Ebert rollercoaster has been fun, but now comes the time to refocus on the REAL fund-raising efforts I believe, so look forward to all the crazy ideas I have in the works :-) Thanks for reading, as always. I will have lots more to post real soon.

Okay, dumb question....all the previous pics of the rubber dam I kept wondering what spongy thing was smooshed up against my gums underneath it. Yup, pretty sure now that's just my own puffy lip. STUPID!

I seriously think I have more fun now at my appointments than like, anyone. Bizarre, I know.

Look, you can even read the name on the tool! What the hell is a Hu-Friedy?

I was seriously half asleep on blood pressure meds this time. So much, that I did not even realize how ridiculously color-coordinated my surroundings seemed! Seriously? The tool tray, the folder, the smock, AND the barrette? Does somebody love PINK or what? Haha.

I'm sure it's quite rare for patients to feel this way, but going to the dentist actually makes me MISS my dremel!

1 comment:

  1. Have you thought about ads on your website? I know people feel pretty bad about them, but if they were discreet, they might help you raise some funds!