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My Mental Health Day

Thursday was my health day. Because I work in one city and my doctors are in another, I try to get all the appointments together. So I took a sick day to see my podiatrist, my GP and get my eyes checked after the laser surgery.

Right now it’s warm to downright hot in Vancouver. An unusually hot day is anything over 30 Celsius. So yesterday was a nice day to take off. I stopped by Art’s Auto on Clark Dr. He’d worked on my burned out signal light earlier in the week but it still wasn’t working right so he said to bring it in Thursday. However, after I left that day, it seemed to work fine so I dropped by to pay him. He said, oh don’t worry about it. If you have problems, come back. Not only does he run a good mechanic’s shop but he does things like this. Saturn looked at my car and charged me $90 to tell me I needed to spend $600. Art looked at the same problem but when he couldn’t fix it, he didn’t charge me a penny for the time. Thanks, Art.

Then I mosied downtown to my GP’s. Unfortunately it’s one of those tune-up appointments where everything is checked and probed. The oh so fun pap smear and after a certain age, the doctor says, it’s best to check the anus too. Oh joy. But relatively painless if discomforting.  

I then had an hour to kill so I walked a few blocks down Davie. I haven’t gone along there in years. Many of the shops are the same and I just wandered in and out of a few stores in the sun. It amuses me that the stores that have men’s underwear in the windows always have mannequins with prodigious packages. Those gay boys. Then I went back to my podiatrist and he chipped away at the orthotic (unfortunately it didn’t work when I tried it later).

It’s nice to have a day off during the week and it’s been a long time since I have taken one. With a few hours until the eye appointment I decided to go to the Comicshop, my old haunting ground. I had worked there for years as a book buyer and it’s one reason why I get any score at all on a geek test. Well, that and being into science fiction and fantasy, even if I don’t dress like a Trekkie. I picked up a few comics that I still read: anything by Los Bros Hernandez, (the Love & Rockets related comics), Fallen Angel (though I’m starting to get tired of it), Castle Waiting and Echo (the new comic from the author of Strangers in Paradise).

After talking with the guys, Doug and Brent, for a while I decided to wander up and down 4th Ave. in Kits. This is the trendoid yuppie area. I used to know it well when I worked there but it’s been maybe a year since I went into the shops. The Bath Shop was gone. So was one of kitchen shops. Both are now clothing stores. Other shops had come and gone and by the higher level of trendification I could tell the rents had had been substantially raised. I found a little craft store, a charity run for people with disabilities. They sell all sorts of handmade toys and sewn objects. There were some sock monkeys so I checked them out for Kij, who always needs a source for more. The woman there confirmed that the rents had shot so high that many people had to leave. The charity had shrunk to a smaller space to survive. I figure it’s only a matter of time before the Comicshop can’t afford the rent. 

I did go into Capers when I saw there were lovely cream yellow and deep purple gladiolas and bought some for my place. It was also fun to just walk along and look at the people and the way they act. I bought a top and then drove downtown to the laser eye clinic for my checkup.

One bad thing is that it’s during a workday and rush hour. I actually found some metered parking that wasn’t too far. As I was about to put money in, the meter the guy who collects the coins came by. I told him to go first and then joked that he could just give me the money. He said, I’ll give you some free time. How much do you need? I said an hour but realized afterwards I needed less. He popped my loonie through the parking meter twice and then gave it back to me. Thanks, meter guy.

Eyes are mostly doing what they’re supposed to though my midrange is still dragging. I go back in three months to see if that’s improved. When I got home, I parked the car and then walked up to the Drive to buy some food for me and the wee beast, and to get some cider for a friend’s barbecue in the evening. It was just too nice a day to stay inside. And considering the worry I still have over my mutant tooth, which is healing slowly and which they say I might now lose (I’ll look like hillbilly trash if that happens because I can’t afford $3000 for an implant…so I’m freaked), I wanted to enjoy the full day.

That’s why I went to the barbee and sat around talking to a few people. I haven’t been in a great mood of late, too stressed by money issues and boredom. My mental health day was just really pleasant and low key. Those little acts of generosity by the mechanic and the meter guy were uplifiting. When I finally got home I was going to write my 200 words but I fell asleep with the laptop on my lap.

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The Mutant Tooth

Addendum on the traumatic dental surgery. It’s Friday. Yesterday I went in because my tooth and gums were hurting more than the other days. I had taken a Tylenol with codeine and by the time I went in the swelling was partially down and the tooth wasn’t hurting. They said that it looked okay but to call if I was having problems today.

I went home and then by evening my tooth was hurting again. I took another Tylenol and another and another, every two hours. I kept waking through the night with throbbing pain, in time to my pulse. I kept taking Tylenol. This morning when I finally woke up from brief spates of sleep I was so swollen that my right eye is closing. My top lip is sticking out and my nose is being pushed to the side. The inner lip is swollen.

It feels as if someone is poking my lip while slowly shoving a not sharp knife up my nose. My head hurts and I feel nauseous. Needless to say that in about an hour I’ll be going back to the specialist, again.

Problem is, I can’t take sulfa or “cillin” antibiotics. And for some reason, having not had antibiotics in ten years, this will be the third time this year. I just hope to god that they only have to give me antibiotics because I’m completely freaked about them going into my tooth again. This is as close to torture as I want to get.

I also have to officiate at a wedding tomorrow and now worried that I’m going to scare the wedding guests. Update later.

Which was that they had to lance the infection and stick in a “drain” and give me antibiotics. I also had somehow popped the sutures so they sewed me up again.  I took a Tylenol 3 and then slept. Finally, there is no pain and the swelling is going down but not yet gone.

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Why I Need to Marry a Dentist/Orthodontist

I have this tooth. Actually, I have many teeth but this particular one caused me huge grief. It’s a mutant tooth and like most mutations, it’s not particularly useful. Okay, so I’m a mutant, with four kidneys, an extra rib and an extra ankle bone in each foot. None of these bothered me much, except for the rib when I’ve been driving for more than three hours.

Then my tooth started to hurt. It’s crooked, like a few other teeth. I tried to ignore the twinges until they began to linger. Dentistry is expensive and I’ve been trying to save for a crown I needed on another broken tooth. So off I went to my dentist, who took an x-ray and said, “How odd, it looks as if your tooth has two roots.” But she gave it a try.

I should mention that along the way I’ve become overly sensitive to epinephrine. I’ll get a racing heart, tunnel vision, breathing constriction (or it feels like it) and numbing arms. Epinephrine is what makes freezing last when dentists drill into your teeth. No epinephrine means using other types of freezing that don’t last more than an hour. My dentist froze me and started drilling and I started writhing. She couldn’t freeze deep enough so she packed it in and sent me to the specialist.

When I saw the specialist she said, “How unusual. It’s going to cost between $800-1200 for the root canal…” Make that canals. Two three-hour visits later, with a lot of pain…the only way they know when the freezing is coming out is when I start to writhe and whimper… and she said, “Hmmm, I can’t get that second root. We’re going to have to do surgery.”

At that point I had hit the $1200 mark. I said, “I can’t. I have no more money.” They were quoting another $500 for surgery. But they said since my tooth was so unusual they wouldn’t charge me for the surgery. You’d think I’d leap at such a chance to have drills and needles and cutting in my mouth. Needless to say, it was like walking the gangplank with a musket at your back. There really isn’t much choice when your tooth is still hurting.

Now, dental work is never fun and I almost always will feel pain because the freezing seems to come out of the nerves first but will stay in the soft tissue of the lips and nose for several hours. It makes me a bit paranoid. I wouldn’t last very long under torture.

Which brought us to yesterday. I went in at 9:15 and they froze me up with about six shots. I thought, good, I don’t want to feel a thing and having these horrid, not exactly pleasant needles will be all I’ll feel. Should I mention that originally they said the surgery would be quick, less than a half an hour?

Thank god at least the soft tissue was frozen. They cut into the gum on both the distal and lingual sides. I felt like there couldn’t have been any tooth left with all the drilling, digging, pulling, prodding, sawing. I also get TMJ (trans mandibular joint syndrome) so holding my jaw open was its own type of excruciating. It was getting so sore that my jaw was starting to shake.

The types of pain I experienced ranged the whole spectrum; piercing, pinching, deep aching, sharp and deep, throbbing, visceral in ways I can’t describe. I am not exaggerating at all when I say they were having to top up the freezing every five minutes. I lost count at over thirty needles and those were only the ones I felt going into my palette or gum every time. And it barely helped. It seems I metabolize the freezing super quickly.  Hooray for mutant super powers.

Digging out the root, twisted and infected, was its own form of torture. And then she touched the exposed bone. Who knew bone could hurt so much. A deep lingering, shuddering pain that had me crying. I couldn’t help it. After that I was wired so tense with layers of pain that I was shaking head to toe. They gave me a rest and one of the assistants had to guide me to the bathroom because I think I was in shock. I was shaky for about another fifteen minutes, before going back for more dental fun.

They dug, they drilled, they sawed and they tugged. I say they because there were three people with their hands in my mouth. They had to refreeze me to stitch me. As I sat there, (they wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to keel over), the assistant said, “We’re only going to charge you for materials. The surgery would have been $1500 but you need to pay $185.” I should also mention that while I was in Kansas I broke my front tooth…again. It usually last two years but it’s been less than a year.

When I was told I needed to pay another $185, I’m afraid it was the last straw in a traumatic morning. I’d been there for three hours. I couldn’t stop crying, but I tried to hide it, then told the specialist that I wouldn’t be able to pay for a while because I had another broken tooth that had to be fixed. She ended up not charging me, which I thank her for. They said it was the most unusual tooth they’ve ever seen and they look at special cases every single day. Oh joy, to be so abnormal.

Right now, my mouth aches, my gums are swollen and throbbing, and I can only eat mushy stuff. I look like a demented chipmunk, with one cheek so swollen it’s encroaching on my vision because my eyelid is pushed up. I spent yesterday afternoon sleeping, where I kept dreaming that I was sucking on keys and coins against my gum and that it kept hurting my stitches. That’s because even in my sleep I was hurting. I just hope to any gods in existence that the rest of my teeth have nice, healthy normal roots. Now I just have to find money to get the front tooth fixed…again, a crown on my molar, and I would imagine that eventually I need one on the mutant tooth. Should I ever need this type of dental surgery again, I’m gonna have them knock me out.

I won’t even get into the costs for braces in a mouth with several problems. That’s at least $10,000. Know of any single dentist/orthodontists, or better yet, one who wants to do a work of charity?

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