Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Insert swear word here..... 

Ok, I thought I was just going in for a crown today. Well, that root canal needed more work. A lot more. And then prep for the crown. I don't even get the real crown for another three weeks. Grrrrrrrr.

Since this is my first tooth to need this type of work, it's all pretty new to me, so I'll try to explain the significance of major dental work in someone with multiple chronic ailments affecting her muscles, joints and mouth. I experience pain if I yawn too widely, if I sleep with my head at an improper angle (such as falling asleep on the couch), if laugh too long at the comedy club. Sometimes this pain will persist for days on end. This is PRIOR to anyone messing with my teeth. Sjogren's syndrome causes lesions in my mouth on practically a daily basis. If a corn chip grazes the inside of my cheek, it will become raw and develop sores before the day is out. And heaven forbid I should burn my tongue. Sometimes if I'm very sick, these sores last for multiple days or even weeks and require steroid paste to make them heal. Again, this is normal for me PRIOR to dental work. So when I have someone's hands in my mouth in an uncomfortable dental chair for hours on end, all hell breaks loose.

The first offense is the novacaine, not so much the pain of the injection, although it DOES hurt like a son of a bitch. It's the chemical reaction my body has immediately afterward. I shake violently from head to toe, my heart rate goes up a bit, and I feel as though I will faint. That, I believe, is my body reacting to whacked out norepinephrine levels. Fortunately, my current dentist is smart enough to know that I am NOT having an anxiety attack (my previous dentist refused to work on me because he thought that's what was happening), that this is a physical reaction that occurs EVERY time I receive novacaine. She knows that if I sit and read for a bit, I will go back to normal in a few minutes. That's fine, but the exhaustion I feel afterward is overwhelming and I can't think my way out of a paper bag, so I have learned not to have any procedures done without someone to drive me home afterward.

Then there is the pain from just sitting in the chair. I think it's having pressure on my neck from being tilted at an odd angle that is the real culprit, but I get extreme headaches even from short checkups. The longer procedures are worse because I stiffen up from immobility. The current dentist is careful to allow me breaks to rest my jaw and get up and stretch when practical. I try to focus on relaxation as much as possible during the procedure as muscle tension heightens the problem.

Believe it or not, as much as I like to talk, I actually have a small mouth. Not a lot of room for two sets of adult hands holding various implements. And the tooth that needed the root canal is naturally in the back, so they ain't kidding when they say "open wide". And I found out today that I have unusually deep roots, so they were drilling practically all the way to China.

So right now, the inside of my mouth feels like raw hamburger, every muscle from the shoulders up is twitchy, and my jaw is so stiff that I can't open my mouth much more than half an inch. Can you have arthritis in your jaw?? I'm on my emergency pain medication, but I'm still hurting somewhat. Too bad I can't tolerate most narcotics.

I have a massage appointment on Monday for the inevitable neck and facial muscle problems. That will probably help more than anything else. I'd go more often if money weren't an issue.

The really aggravating thing is that I might need to have a similar procedure on the tooth next to the one we worked on today. I have been getting referral pain there, so it is actually hard to tell where the problem lies. If it's still hurting when I go back for the crown in three weeks, I'll have to schedule more work. Sigh.

I'm getting too exhausted to type anymore. Think I'll ice my jaw for awhile and try reading quietly for awhile.

Pain level: 5
Fatigue level: 9

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