For over two years, I have not been able to chew on the left side of my mouth. Three dentists and seven x-rays have said things like "Your tooth is completely healthy" and "Nothing is wrong" and "You should be feeling no pain." One said "If you keep chewing on only one side of your mouth, your face will eventually distort." Which was a very rude thing to say.What else could I do but just learn to live with it? Until last year when I finally had crown lengthening surgery, followed by a crown, followed by...the same inablity to chew on the left side of my mouth. So I remembered that people with perfectly symmetrical faces are supposedly not really beautiful anyway, and I just lived with it more.Until three weeks ago, at three in the afternoon on a Friday, which, by the way, is when all dentist, periodonist and oral surgeon offices are closed.My dentist prescribed vicadin by phone, and my lower left side ached through the weekend until my root canal surgery (where I heard "I hate to do anything to this tooth. It's a very healthy tooth.")This periodontist also told me that I was free to chew on the left side of my mouth within a few hours, which seemed very exciting. Until I did it. And it hurt...the tooth right above where I got the root canal hurt. So for two weeks, I tried to ignore the repeated failure of the left side of my mouth, but the pain increased. This time the upper tooth held out until Saturday morning of last weekend, then the dull ache returned. Along with the flu.Monday morning my dentist took a look- with only a mirror- and made all kinds of hmmmm sounds to his assistant, then told me my tooth was fractured clean up the middle. He said that in fifteen years of practicing dentistry, he had never seen such a healthy tooth split like that. He removed one quarter of it to ease the pain, while asking questions like:"Did you bite down on a bone?""Were you hit by a softball?"He said it seemed to him that something happened last week; however, it could have happened a while ago.He referred me to a specialist; she told me that I needed to have the tooth extracted, an implant, a crown, some nerve protection work. The cost- because I have already reached my coverage limit-is up to me, completely. Seven thousand dollars.Maybe it was that number that made me remember what happened over two years ago.Two and a half years ago, in April, I bit into a granola bar that had a rock in it. This experience ripped reality in two, introducing me to an unvisited dimension. It hurt so badly that I checked to see if my teeth were still in place. I kept the rock and the rest of the bar just in case.My teeth seemed fine, so after a few days I threw away the evidence. Then slowly, very slowly, I began to experience pain. I figured it was just the second cavity of my life...a very elusive cavity...and I did not connect the rock. Now I know that that bite caused two miniscule fractures that took two years to explode- within two weeks of each other.Now here is where my story turns, even though you thought it climaxed with the seven thousand dollars: Two and a half years ago, in April, I was administering the WASL at Options. Administering this test to successful students is painful and boring enough, but when you administer the test to Options kids whose failure in life is sealed by their failure of the test, sometimes the only bright spot in your day is to sneak some of the treats provided by the school, which are meant to enhance test scores. Apples, peanut butter, bagel and cream cheese bites, orange juice...and granola bars. All sitting in bowls plastered with signs that read "For Students Only."Yep, the seven thousand dollar little crappy granola bar, years of pain, facial distortion and eight surgeries were destined to further ruin the life of an already pathetic, failing Options casualty of the state.I know there must be a moral to this story. I already knew that the WASL was dangerous, costly. Can you help me find another one? Most importantly, does anyone know a back alley oral surgeon? The implant looks like a twenty cent screw from a Home Depot bin.Fortunately, the Democrats took power in both the House and the Senate, Rumsfield resigned and Britney and K-Fed broke up, all during my week of implant news and flu; otherwise, I would reallly be questioning my world right now.Oh, and I am grateful that I am here and not in China.
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