Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So, I haven't written in here in a really long time.

     It is hard to exactly pinpoint why that is. About a year ago when I last wrote I was in a pretty confusing and emotionally intense place. My student dentist who had been with me for 40 appointments and changed so much about my life was on the verge of graduation. I felt uncertain about what would come next, what the transition to new dentists would be like, if anyone else could ever fill her very big shoes that had endured and endeared through so many appointments with me. I was scared again for the first time since we began our journey together, wondering when I would ever finish, if I would be satisfied with the outcome, and sad that she would not be there to see it, to finish "her masterpiece" as I rightfully believed she deserved.
     That being said, I also was in a place, for once, where in general throughout my day, for the first time in 20 years, that I didn't really THINK about teeth most of the time. I was slowly learning to "let go," to let uninhibited smirks and smiles and laughs escape my mouth without such a strongly controlled and tense face always holding them back. Sometimes, for once, I was happy JUST TO NOT THINK ABOUT MY FUCKING TEETH ALL THE TIME, to not worry what anyone would think of me if they caught a glimpse of my open mouth in conversation, while chewing, etc. I still worried and always had questions and wondered when I would ever be finished with my treatment plan, but those feelings were mostly tied to "being at the dentist," whereas I was able to just enjoy the moment and not really think about them much, as I calmly continued to sock away every cent from work and just go about living my life when I wasn't at the dentist.
     I never meant for almost a year to pass between entries, but I think that fact is also a very telling fact about the extent of which I allowed thoughts of my teeth to always control my life. The more and more I found empowerment as the months went on and new teeth continued to be built and restored in my mouth, the easier it became to eat and the less I was in pain, the less and less I think I really WANTED to write in my blog. This "story" and my treatment and my blog for over a year was truly the focus of my life, but the closer I came to completing it, the less I wanted to really write or think about it and the more I wanted to just go about living my life, finally just trying to be happy and relearning to smile again. In retrospect now, I think that may have been a bit of a premature misjudgement.
     A lot has happened in my life since then, and I don't know if I will ever find the time to fill in all the blanks, but one thing has always remained certain throughout this journey to me. I said in the very beginning that I knew that if I had just won the lottery or something and managed to miraculously fix all my teeth instantly, that it never would have really healed the true and deep-seated "issues" in me that gave rise to this problem and all the ways I lived my life in the first place. I may very well have never come to the realization that my behavior was a form of self-harm,I may have never gazed so deeply into myself to try to truly figure out how to stop from carrying on these old habits into my new life with my new and improved teeth. It has been two and a half years now, and I have TRIED to do those things and it still is not always easy.
     I am going to try my best to "catch up" the parts of the story that I feel are truly integral to my growth through this experience and and worthy of including in the narrative. With my teeth slowly shifting away from being the main focus of my life, I ended up in my first "relationship" of sorts since this journey began, that was really interesting in comparison to those I had in the past before this journey. The past year of the actual dental process has been particularly slow compared to the beginning and also the most expensive. You may noticed that I have basically been PAYED IN FULL for my treatment plan ever since January of this year.

(The small remainder is for a nightguard when everything is finished, but since I didn't need to pay that to move forward with finishing my actual teeth I have held off.) It was great to finally have money again for a while! However, I have ended up poor again recently after breaking my foot a few months ago and being on medical leave from work. In the past several months, between trying to process "what went wrong" in my relationships and how my childhood issues and my teeth continue to affect who I am, and also being mostly alone and in bed for 2 months, I am trying to finally put the pieces all together of this confusing lifelong puzzle and finally heal and move forward with my life, a happier, more balanced and smiley person. Things are all becoming clearer as I realize more and more how it is all connected, and I even feel I can tie my broken foot to my continued inability to not always focus on myself or feel 100% comfortable alone. You have a lot of time to think about things when you can't walk, let alone hike and bike and do many of the things you love most!
     I am writing these words on the verge of what is tentatively my FINAL APPOINTMENT on June 17th where if all goes well, I will receive my last 5 crowns on my implants, including my implant-supported, fixed partial denture for my 3 front teeth, numbers 8-10, which have largely been what the entire suspense of this journey and my concern for a decade of my life has been about. "What will my front teeth ever look like again?" That little piece of porcelain and its zirconia guts will be the single most expensive thing I have ever owned of payed for in my life. It is a huge mindfuck waiting, always wondering what it will look like, what CAN it look like given the limitations of my mouth with its general asymmetry and bone loss, etc. I know that with this grand finale must come a certain level of acceptance and the ability to just be thankful and proud and feel "DONE" and just move on, but the Ego is a powerful force in allowing one to think otherwise. But I am trying!
     There are so many things about the past few years of my life that have turned out far more wonderful than I could've ever imagined all those years I lived in fear, and so many surprises good and bad. I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason, and that life gives you the lessons that you need most to evolve and expand your consciousness, even if at the time you may not always be ready. I am learning to accept these lessons and be grateful and move forward, better than I ever could in the past, and it comes as no irony to me that my smile completion manages to also coincide with the time when I will also begin to learn to walk again on my freshly healed foot. Life always has a way of showing you what you take for granted, and finding those forgotten demons you keep locked away to tap you on the shoulder and remind you of how you aren't dealing with things you should be, if you are willing to listen. You can get mad at the world and blame everyone but yourself for your bad teeth or your broken foot or that your girlfriend broke up with you or countless other things, but when you truly accept responsibility for those things you may finally begin to see the role that YOU also play in them. I am working on this. It is a lifelong experience, and I am humbled and grateful that so many people have chosen to follow along with my progress. Thank you for reading, and I will try to write more soon.

Here are a few pictures from the past year. I think that you will agree, that though several of the teeth you can see in my smile are plastic provisionals, they are a profound improvement over the past partial denture, and certainly what I began with! Even when I smile without showing teeth, it still looks and feels much different.

Summer 2012 outside Macy's in Flagstaff

Winter 2013
Being silly on the swings in Miami, AZ October 2012

Getting my cast put on a few weeks after surgery from my shattered heel bone. April 2013

Most recent, laying in the grass in a rare green sanctuary-like house in Mesa, AZ, May 2013. This was the first time I really was able to spend in anything remotely resembling "nature" in two months since breaking my foot.


  1. Good to see an update. Hoping you recover well!

  2. So glad you updated. I've been following your blog since the beginning almost, I was directed here by Ebert. Your smile looks great!

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