Thursday, April 30, 2009

The pitty party's conclusion

In case you missed part one; here it is.

Mom and I arrived at the orthodontist's office a little early. We were greeted by an overly chipper woman who handed us some paperwork and directed us to the waiting room. Maybe she wasn't overly chipper and I was just in a bad mood at this point, whatever.

I filled out the same paperwork that I had completed five times in the last week at different offices, turned it back in and waited to be called back. This particular office was surprisingly swift and I only had to sit there for about ten minutes. I told my mom to just stay put this time. She had gone back with me at the oral surgeon, but I had known there would be a procedure and sometimes I don't always absorb what the doctor says in those situations. I was sure though, that this appointment wouldn't take long. I hadn't seen this doctor yet. He hadn't had a chance to survey my injuries so I thought he would pop something in to stabalize my jaw and then form a plan of how to proceed the next time I was in his office. After all, how could he do something with my teeth if the bones in my jaw still hadn't healed?

I was totally off the mark.

The woman who took me back and put me in my chair had no idea why I was there. She was clearly confused by my swollen & bandaged jaw, healing facial bruises and cast. So I had to tell her what was up. Telling the people in doctor's offices is really awful. I don't mind so much to tell others, but when I tell the women in the medical field they get this look of pity mingled with horror on their faces just before they tell me how awful they feel for me and offer words of encouragement. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate their kindness, but the pity that they have for me is sometimes too much. Especially since I've been trying hard not to go there in my own head.

She took a moment to process and then she looked at my teeth. She really didn't say a lot, but got up to get the orthodontist. He, of course, knew I was coming in, so he got right to work looking at the damage and my x-rays and forming a plan. He wanted to fix my teeth immediately. Meaning that not only was he going to stabilize my jaw that afternoon, but he was also going to put braces on my bottom teeth. That was a word I was not at all prepared to hear. I knew I was going to have to eventually have braces, but I never, ever thought that they would put them on before my bones had mended.

The first thing that popped into my head was how much pain I was going to be in. My mouth still hurt, despite all the Novocaine, from having the arch bars removed. I could not believe that he was going to put me through another procedure in the same day. I was torn between hatred and gratitude for this man. Gratitude because he was going to fix me. The one thing I wanted done most the night of the accident was to have my teeth back where they were and here I was two weeks later and they were still screwed up. So there was some relief there that I was finally going to get my biggest wish. But the hatred was fighting that feeling because I knew it was going to hurt, a lot.

Something you should know about me is that I have never had braces. My adult teeth came in perfectly other than a small over bite. This has been a source of pride for me ever since all my friends and even my brother were walking around with heads full of metal and all I had to worry about was brushing and flossing and taking regular visits to the dentist every six months. Having my teeth jumbled in this accident has been a serious blow to my ego, and then needing braces to fix the problem has been like pouring salt on the wound. Braces at twenty seven. Who would have ever thought?

I thought for a second laying in that chair that I might hyperventilate. Instead I started to cry. It took every ounce of energy I had left not to let myself be reduced to sobbing. Just a few small tears escaped the corner of my eyes before I made myself smile and say everything was fine. Internally I was fighting a war with myself. I hated everything about the situation I was in and all the" why me's" and "what if's" came flooding out of my psyche to the forefront of my consciousness.

They set to work. I had things shoved in my mouth to hold it open. It hurts to even smile right now with all the stitches still in there so at that point I was saying a silent thank you to the oral surgeon for all the Novocaine he'd injected into my gums. She had to clean my teeth and then the doctor came to glue on the braces. As a whole that process wasn't as awful as I'd anticipated. I'm sure the fact that my mouth was numb helped tremendously and after the whole thing was over the hygenist (dental assistant?) told me she'd never been that easy on anyone. They were not entirely oblivious to the pain that I might be in so they worked as swifly and lightly as they could. I was grateful for that. In the past I've met some dentists that are real bastards and just don't give a rat's ass if you were in pain. This man (nor the oral surgeon) worked off that train of thought. That definitley made the whole situation easier to manage.

I was beginning to wonder how he was going to fix my jaw. Were the braces also intended as a reinforcement for my broken bones? Nope, not at all.

After they got everything wired she sat me up and said we were going to go take some x-rays. Then we were going to put in the wire that was going to stabalize my jaw so it could heal. The orthodontist was hand crafting something. I couldn't decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing, but at the moment I didn't care because I wasn't laying down with other people's hands in my mouth.

When I got back to my chair they had let my mom come back which I was glad of. I'd known she'd been sitting out there the whole time in agony wondering what was going on. I might be twenty seven, but I'm still her baby. She gave me my medicine and we waited for my brace to be finished. Finally they were back with a wire much thicker than the one on my braces and with little pieces of metal saudered to it. The plan was to attach this thicker wire to my braces with thinner, more pliable wires, so that my teeth could move independently, but the bones in my jaw would still be imobile. I'm still not sure that it makes sense to me, but he's the orthodontist and I'm not.

This was clearly something that they didn't do often, if ever. How many people need to let their teeth move without causing further damage to their broken jaw? This was the orthodontist's brain child and he attmepted to relay the message to his assistant, but she was clearly nervous and unsure of what she was doing.

I laid back down and she attempted to follow his directions. I'm still wondering why he didn't just tie on the first wire so she could get the idea, but he didn't. It took her several tries to really grasp what she was doing and she was trying her hardests not to hurt me. I could tell she wanted to hurt him for throwing this in her lap and walking away. He did come back periodically to check her progress, but he really should have stayed with her for a bit. Tying on this one little wire took an hour. About half way through the Novocaine was totally gone and I was very close to going crazy. My internal battle was still raging in my head and it was on the verge of breaking out for everyone to see and hear.

Finally, God bless her, she perserveerd over her task and it was finished. I'm not sure which of us was more relieved. My positive attitude was completely gone. I had been in that chair for over three hours, and I needed to get out of there as quickly as possible. Which is exactly what Mom and I did after some discussion with the doctor and some more paperwork.

Once I got home I crashed. I was exhausted and I was in pain; the most pain I'd been in since I left the hospital.

Some good did come from the whole ordeal though. A lot of good actually. Within moments of having the braces on my teeth had changed, and they have been moving back into place more and more each day. You can tell a difference in their placement from sun up to sun down.

I also have been cleared to eat soft solids a soon as I'm comfortable chewing, which means my teeth have to move a little more because the displaced bottom teeth are currently blocking my top teeth and not letting my molars touch. That is a problem when you're trying to chew. But if they keep moving at this rate I'll be able to chew in no time. I did have a sweet potato for lunch today which is a huge step up from the "all liquids all the time" diet that I have been living off of.

These are all just baby steps to full recovery, but each step is worth celebrating.

You'll be glad to know that my pity party is over and my positive attitude has resurfaced. I'm sure that won't be the last bad day I have on this journey, but I'll take whatever kind of day I can get. I wake each day with the knowledge that being alive right now is a gift meant to be treasured.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really loving reading your blog. You have illustrated your physical pain to the point that it makes me hurt for you and you have echoed your mental process very efficiently.

    So efficiently I'll direct you to this post I wrote about a month ago in regards to pity.

    For me it has been one of the worst things anyone can do and most people don't. I just wanted you to know that someone knows how you feel.

    I'm still thinking and praying for you!