Thursday, August 11, 2011

Appointments 25 & 26

I have to admit, a lot of the past few appointments is kind of a blur. I need to start taking my OWN notes or get a voice recorder or something maybe. On July 29th we mostly worked on taking some new impressions. My bite has changed slightly over time with a new crown and fillings and the lab needed a new record of it. Not many pictures these next few visits. Some times are just not conducive. I try not to be a pest to my students and also take most all of my pictures myself, but some appointments feel a little redundant or I run out of time or I feel tire or sore or the procedure is exhausting, etc. I did snap this one of a neat and CLEAN tray of tools, something I feel like I have often neglected with my messy "after" pics.
And here is yet another picture of me controlling myself from coughing. I believe this was the 4th time of taking impressions, and I can proudly say I have managed to fight my gag reflex til the very end thus far.
I have also begun baking cookies a little bit at the art collective and vegan cafe Conspire across from where I work at Tumbleweed as yet another means to continue to raise more money, and on this day decided to bring Rakhee some of the leftovers from the previous night's batch. I noticed after I had wrapped them in parchment paper and tied them with dental floss that I thought the package actually kinda looked like a molar, even. I forgot to mention this at the time, and forgot even to mention that I had BROUGHT them and just left them on the counter, so I hope that my gift was received!

My next appointment on August 2nd was the follow-up to finish my maxillary molar root canal on tooth #3. This It is weird. I have been through so much and so many different kinds of procedures that cause stress and pressure and pain and are just tiring in so many sorts of ways, that it is hard sometimes lately to imagine what my early ones felt like. Extractions? I barely remember anymore. I can retrace the process in my brain and I know the name of virtually every student and Dr. who has ever touched me and what they did, but it is just hard to compare some appointments to others I guess. In retrospect, one would think that the violence of grinding down jaw bones and cutting and breaking out tooth roots piece by piece would suck the most, but for whatever reason, this day just kicked my ass. It started off okay, and then I just reached a point where I got SO cranky I barely talked, didn't try to take pictures and didn't even want to write about it or anything. The only picture I took that day was sitting in the chair awaiting one of several Xrays:
It was just a lot. Similar to the first step of endodontic therapy, there are lots of steps entailing jamming and twirling files over and over into the 3 canals of the tooth, first to remove the cotton and the calcium hydroxide, then to insert gutta percha (a kind of rubber) cones into an exactly tapered fit of the canals. This means slightly modifying the depth and width and taper it seems to perfection, and also finding the exact match of size of a variety of choices of gutta percha to fit and fill the hole precisely. This was certainly a chore, the doctors seeming impressed with the assortment of failed cones strewn all over the place. I do seem to have some complicated roots, the curved one of which, we learned to gain easier access you can bend the tip of the file, needle and gutta percha as needed. I must say, while irrigating, Rakhee had turned one of the needles into a fricken corkscrew trying to get the right angle to reach into the curved canal at the front of my tooth, the mesial buccul. This canal seemed to be the star of the day, demanding all the attention and causing the greatest trouble due to the angle and curvature demanded for entry. I did however, state above, that I didn't want to write about this appointment. Haha. It is hard to explain, and it wasn't anyone's fault. It is just a very long and complex procedure with many steps. It was one of the longest appointments I have had, and there was virtually no downtime or anything, and I barely got a chance to talk.

I came home that day and just felt "beat up." I emailed Rakhee making "Rocky" jokes that she really "knocked me out," in a cranky, yet humbling funk that swept over me when I got home and decided to just go to bed immediately. It felt like another sort of milestone had been reached in my mind and whenever I am moved, it is generally always impossible for me to keep my mouth shut and not tell the subject of my emotions immediately. It is hard. Some appointments I know are a huge struggle for me and/or my student dentists or it might happen to be one of the first times they have ever done a particular procedure, and even if I may not seem as "chipper" or talkative or positive on some days as I strive to be, I consider it very important to me to be supportive. Sometimes in the rush of trying to wrap up a rough appointment and check out I feel that those moments of clam clarity, sighs of relief and gratitude get a little lost in the shuffle, and I don't wish to be one of those people. I may, after all, get a little pissed off at the duration or the stress of my visit, but for the record, I am never personally angry at or distrusting of my dentists. If anything, I hate a procedure or a specific tool and the sensation or duress it cause, but not the person performing or using it.
I elaborated:

"however sore or tired you make me, I promise I am always happy and proud to be your patient/guinea pig. I told you were were in this together. I am happy you can learn from me, and to be learning. it only enriches the experience for me to treat it like i am also in class and learn more about myself and this process. it is truly empowering after so many years of ignorance. the fact that i even know wtf a gutta percha IS or can name the mesial, distal and palatal buchul of my first maxillary molar #3, know that I hate calcium hydroxide and the smell of the touch and heat burning plastic which for some reason smells like cloves, know that I have a provisional crown made of ProTemp on top of prep you refined and dropped the margins of after packing cord, which I also hate, know that I know ANY of these things right now, even if chances are I will never become a dentist myself or or probably not even an assistant, knowing who I was when you met me, has got to make you swell up with just a little bit of pride and smile when you think of me, right? :-) I hope so. 
A few months ago, #3 was just another ugly part of myself I hated. It is you who helps me every day learn to care about it, know it, and not take it, and all my other teeth for granted. You are truly writing the story of my teeth with a new vocabulary and also telling me the story of myself as I've never even known it. I just wanted to tell you that. I have a lot of time to think and be thankful with a rubber dam on, you know...

Next up: Tooth #3! AGAIN! Damn, it's such a diva. I hope some of my other teeth can finally have attention soon!

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