Tuesday, March 3, 2009

That Bastard Ray

So, a gazillion years ago … okay, fifteen years ago, when I lived in NJ … I had a root canal done on one of my first molars (#14, for those in the know). This not having been my first root canal, I knew what to expect, and all went well for about five years.

Then … oh joy, oh rapture … it got infected. Have you ever had an infected tooth? OUCH!! There’s no place for your face to swell. It started out as this funny little maybe tooth-ache, but only when I bit down hard. A good friend insisted I go to the dentist immediately (having experienced her own tooth infection recently).

I went, and he confirmed that puppy was infected (perhaps having to peel me off the ceiling when he “tested” the sensitivity of the tooth in question was an indication of potential problem), so maxed me out on antibiotics and vicodin. “WOW!!” is all I can say about my first experience with vicodin. Did you know it’s not a pain killer? I didn’t! I was amazed by this little pill … it didn’t make the pain go away, I just didn’t care! How does that happen?!?

Anyway, after the course of antibiotics my dentist (the same one who had done the original root canal … back then your “regular” dentist used to do the work, not refer you out) re-did the root canal. He said he discovered some “live root” that must have “re-grown” after the initial work. Really? Mer.

In any case, Dr. Doesn’t-Know-His-Ass-From-His-Elbow performed his/my tooth’s second root canal through the crown. The very expensive crown. The crown that made it look like a perfect tooth that had never had work. The crown that protected the tooth from future harm. The crown that my insurance would not replace, and that I was too nice (back then) to force Dr. DKHAFHE to replace out of his own damned pocket, expense-wise.

Fast forward two years. I now live in MO. The very same tooth is infected … again. Sigh. I go to a new dentist, who insists it is impossible for a tooth that has had a root canal to get infected. Even after I explained everything; she couldn’t see anything on the ex-ray, and made it perfectly clear she was simply humoring me with a prescription of antibiotics. Which, thankfully, cleared up the infection.

Move ahead three more years. That very same $!#@&%\ tooth is infected AGAIN!! I drag my sorry ass to yet another dentist, Dr. Eager-to-Please, who takes one look in my mouth, runs up a couple ex-rays, prescribes mega-antibiotics, and refers me to an endodontist, like, yesterday (I really like this new dentist!).

Dr. Sexy-Young-Endodontist (bonus!!) is flabbergasted when he looks at the ex-rays, takes some of his own, and shows me my mouth on a computer screen (no looking at dinky little 1.5” squares for him!). He cannot believe the damage done to my alveolar process and palatine bones, which are full of holes made by the numerous repeated infections. Holes which make my face extremely unstable (insert dumbass joke here ... go ahead, you know you want to). Holes which would allow my cheek to disintegrate if I were hit in the face with … oh, I don’t know … anything!

He tells me I’ve had far more than three infections in there, and probably lost feeling at some point. He also confirms I have four roots on the tooth in question, and Dr. DKHAFHE missed the entire extra root not once, but both times he did a root canal on that tooth. Also, Dr. SYE questioned the possibility that any “live root” could have “re-grown” after the initial work.

So, Dr. SYE has to perform the third root canal on this tooth. And clean up the gross infection around it, which mostly consisted of necrotic tissue. Yeah, that’s right! I had dead tissue in me!! Eeeeeew, gross!! But it’s done, and two rounds of antibiotics later, all is well that ends well … or is it?

Sort of ... the effing crown has come off twice since then, and the last time (a year or so ago), Dr. ETP advised me there was precious little post left to re-attach the crown, and next time ... because there certainly will be a next time ... we'll not be able to put it back. And that's the case. Crown came off Friday night as I was brushing before night-nights, and now I have to have the root system removed and either bridgework or an implant. I just know I'll have a full set of dentures in my q-tip years.

In any case, it was these repeated infections of #14 that allowed that bastard Ray to get his foot in my door, and he has been kicking my ass in one way or another these almost five years since. Most recently was yesterday. I had my quarterly check-up Friday (quarterly to ensure no med-related liver damage has cropped up). They invariably result in a phone call within a couple days telling me my blood test results are in and I’m good to continue with my meds. But yesterday I got the message that my blood test results were in and I needed to call the doctor.

What!?!?! Why!?!? What is it?!?!? Is my liver failing?? Do I have (gasp!) "funny" cell growth?? I don’t know … because it’s after 5pm and no one will answer the effing phone!!! I can’t tell Mom, my usual sounding board, because she and Dad are on vacation and like hell am I going to rain on that parade. WAH! But I thought I was in remission!! Last time I was thisclose to remission, and Dr. Awesome (my bastard Ray doctor) said if my results this time and next are the same, then it’s official and I’m in remission. In fact, we’ll titrate down on bastard Ray meds in that case. Woo to the Hoo!!

But this … this … this message!!! Erk, I had to wait until today. So, the first time I call I’m put on hold almost ten minutes before I have to hang up and go to a meeting. Second time I call no one ever answers (it’s a busy office). Third time’s the charm: I get through and don’t have to wait long. My worries are (almost) for naught! Sigh of relief. I am most certainly not in remission, but also not having any liver/cell issues … just a re-elevated sed rate, which means no titrating back on the bastard Ray meds for now.

But lest you fret: I will go into remission, and I will titrate down on these frigging bastard Ray meds, and we will all live happily ever after. It will just be a little while longer. Patience, patience.

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