Category Archives: wellness

Being (a) Patient: A Moment of Gratitude

When you have been through as many dental consults as I have (six periodontal, four prosthodontic and two orthodontic) and several months of procedures with an oral surgeon, you can get pretty tired of going to dentists’ offices, especially when the actual dental reconstruction work hasn’t started yet.  It begins to feel endless before you even begin.  Then the blessing comes.

I had to have my broken bicuspid bonded in order to be able to have a brace put on it.  The entire front was missing. I am going to be in braces for over a year. So my prostho didn’t want to put a temporary crown on it for that long.  When he said he was going to bond it, I figured it would like a patch, similar to the blob of bonding material my oral surgeon put behind another tooth to save it.

So, you can imagine my surprise when he molded it to look like an actual tooth…  not just a tooth either, MY TOOTH.  I could barely talk when his assistant put the before and after photo up on the monitor. It looked like it had never been broken… like nothing at all had happened to it.  It looked perfect!

I know it’s just one tooth and a temporary solution at that.  I still have a looooooong way to go in this dental reconstruction but it’s hard to express how it good it felt to have that first little step be so beautiful!  I felt a little bit more like myself than I have in a long time.  Even with my appliance in, I felt uncomfortable smiling wide because I knew my broken tooth would still show.  Thursday night, I wore the widest, brightest (had a cleaning too) smile that I have had in almost six months when I showed his work to my family.

I knew the prosthodontist I had chosen was an artist.  …I can always spot one a mile away.  I wasn’t worried about whether he could do the work but it is awfully nice to see proof that I was right in my own mouth!

What was your big moment of gratitude this week?

Love and blessings to all.

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

Pajama Day

This may be the word’s shortest blog post…

The reason why is because I need a pajama day.  Pajama Day is when you stay in your pajamas (and maybe even in bed) all day not because you’re sick… just spent.  I think everyone feels this way sometimes but whether they acknowledge it is a different story.

When you are a creative person (writer, artist, musician… whatever) it becomes obvious pretty quickly when you have reached this state.  The ideas may be there swirling around but the act of actually bringing them to fruition seems suddenly daunting and impossible.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is just stop.  Animals do this naturally.  When Chauncy and I get home from a walk, he’ll plop down right in front of the front door for as long as he needs to.  He doesn’t worry about getting anything done …or even being in the way.  He just does what he needs to do in that moment, nothing.

Next time you feel frenzied, just stop.  Give yourself permission to do nothing.  It doesn’t have to be for a whole day.  Try an hour or even five minutes… See what happens.  You may be pleasantly surprised by what happens next…

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: The Long and Bumpy Road

When you have an injury or illness that requires a long plan of treatment, you’re probably going to hit the wall more than once.  At least that’s been my experience thus far.

I have been having one of those weeks where I was starting to feel like the 10 steps I went forward in May to get my smile back…well, I fell back seven.  When you have 4 doctors (or in my case dentists: a periodontist, a prosthodontist, an orthodontist and an oral surgeon,) they aren’t always going to agree on everything.  I also found out it would be a miracle if I don’t end up with any pink porcelain (which is used to simulate gum tissue when there has been bone and/or gum tissue loss.)  And some of the people who are closest to me are sick of hearing about my teeth after four plus months and think I should stop seeking out the holy grail of treatment plans and just get on with the fuckin’ work already.

Can’t really blame ‘em there.  I am sick of it too.  I would love to just get on with the treatment already but I am also terrified.  I have felt like I have been putting a puzzle together in the dark since I fell.  Whenever I think I have all the pieces together, a light flashes on just long enough to reveal that something isn’t quite right yet.

I have made progress for sure.  I managed to avoid the plates and screws that the residents at the hospital wanted to put in my jaw.  I found a great oral surgeon who set my jaw and saved the other three teeth; they wanted to pull in the hospital.  I nixed the treatment plan that would have left me an 8 tooth bridge from upper premolar to premolar, as well as, the douche-bag perio who said it was my only option.  Thankfully, I’ve found a skilled team who can deliver on keeping me in all separate teeth.

So, what’s the problem then, right?  Four millimeters is the problem… four fuckin’ millimeters of vertical bone loss above my missing central incisor (or right front tooth to you and me.)  Between my body growing it and the bone graft(s), I need to gain 4mm (and have plenty of gum tissue) in order to avoid pink porcelain.  Is pink porcelain that big a deal?  Well, when you have a high smile line or a somewhat gummy smile like I do, it’s going to show.  I keep flashing on an image of a youngish Wayne Gretzky with his pink-topped crowns.  I couldn’t figure out why his upper gum looked like it had a squiggly dark line running through it at the time.  Now, I know it was pink porcelain.

My prosthodontist is an artist and I am sure even if pink porcelain is required that I won’t look like an ice hockey-player by the time he is done but, you know, I also will do everything in my power to make sure I gain those four fucking millimeters!

What experiences have you had as a patient?  How did you overcome them?  Is there anything you wish you had done differently looking back now?

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Keeping the Faith: Going home to the Sea

Jones Beach has always been one of my favorite places.  Yet I had been avoiding the water, since Hurricane Sandy caused the bay to invade my little home last October, until yesterday.  I was in a great mood after two doctors’ appointments: 1) the first confirmed that I have enough bone in my upper jaw for successful grafting and tooth implantation. 2) the second cleared me for all normal activity.

I was driving home from the second appointment when the beach started calling me home.  I bypassed the parkway and kept heading south on instinct.  When I got there, I bounded out of the car and hit the boardwalk with a feeling of absolute elation.  It was like being welcomed with open arms to where I belong.  The feelings of peace and healing I have always felt near the water were there just as they always have been my whole life.  Any of the previous fear and disappointment I felt after the hurricane just evaporated.

I imagined if the ocean could talk, it would say, “It was nothing personal Cynthia.  I am here to heal you.  The storm had its’ way with all of us but we are both still here.  So, is the love and it is infinite!”

It reminds me of a quote I came across a few years ago:

“The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.”

Blood of the Martyr

My life has been a series of storms over the last seven months (punctuated by moments of happiness and the utmost gratefulness.)  When you are getting hit with one challenge after another, you finally learn that you cannot control everything.  The awareness that you cannot always know what is happening next and how to plan for it is overwhelming and frightening.  I realized though that when nothing is logical anymore, and the challenges that are thrown my way seem so daunting and unfair, that it comes down to faith.

I recognized this week that when I have done everything I can do but I am afraid because I still don’t know what is going to happen, that I have to have faith that somehow it will all work out.  When I look back over my life, I realize that it always has one way or the other.  It’s hard to remember that when you are focused on your current problem or challenges.  When you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s hard to remember what it looks like.

While I was walking the boardwalk yesterday, I kept peeking sideways to glance out over the ocean.  I noticed while I was walking that in some places the dunes were too high to see the water.  Although, I could not see it, I knew it was there and was still comforted by it.  I knew shortly it would appear again.  It occurred to me that faith is a lot like that.  You don’t always get to see a clear path right away in finding a solution but somehow you find a way to get where you need to go.  Challenges are how we grow and learn.  Faith (and favorite places) is how we get through the scary parts.

Love and Blessings to all,

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: Holding Out for a Hero

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have never been shy about saying that western allopathic medicine is good for putting people back together when they are broken, and for acute care when someone’s life is in danger, but when it comes to treating chronic conditions and disease…not so much.  I believe that if you are looking for someone to take care of your health, start by looking in a mirror.

I know that I am responsible for my own health.  I have studied nutrition, yoga and various wellness practices.  I walk regularly.  I meditate.  I eat a vegetarian whole foods diet.  Yada yada yada…When it comes to health and wellness, I was on it… and then I got broken.

After this accident, I was completely overwhelmed by how my mouth was going to be put back together.  I knew in my bones that the plan the hospital had come up with, wasn’t the way to go.  So, when I found the doctor who fixed my upper jaw without screws or plates, I was elated and tried to dump the responsibility for the rest of my care on him.  I asked him to put together a team for me to do my dental reconstruction.

Like most doctors would, he complied by finding specialists who he liked and were located in my geographic area.  The only problem was they weren’t right for my particular case.  The periodontist he referred me to had the chair-side manner of an icy, wet blanket.  (I suspect he was part reptile…)  He gave me only one option for a course of treatment that was totally unacceptable to me.  Shortly, before I left his office, he looked at the photos of my smile before the fall and coldly said, “You’re never going to look like that again.”

I left his office enraged and called the doctor who had referred me to this monster.  I won’t bore you with the dialogue but it boiled down to what the Hell was he thinking sending me to this douche bag? (of course, only in more polite terminology.)  After some back and forth, he said “You have to get a consensus.  You’re going to need to go do consults with several different specialists until you find a doctor you like and then pick the plan you like the best.”

He was right.  The punch in the gut I got that afternoon turned into a kick in the ass.  I realized I was being a baby.  I never really had dental work before or orthodontics ever.  My teeth were always straight and healthy.   Aside from a few fillings when I was a teen and getting my wisdom teeth pulled, I only went to the dentist for cleanings.  I let my fear and ignorance turn me into a helpless victim.  I wanted someone else to fix this problem and I just wanted to show up to wherever it was being performed.  I just wanted to wake up when it was all done with a beautiful smile again.  Reality called and reminded me that I am responsible for my own care.

So, I started doing my own research on NY periodontists and prosthodontists.  Then I began the expensive time-consuming process of being examined and doing initial consults with these fellows.  I have learned a lot about my condition in the past few weeks and the various ways to treat it.  I haven’t picked one yet but I have it narrowed down to three perios.  I still have to hear the third plan.  So far, I am happy to report that, they are much more acceptable than the initial prognosis that I was given in that first reptilian consult.  Also, the specialists I am considering working with now, all have experience working with people who were injured in accidents, as well as a good deal more compassion for what I have been through.  They actually all like the fact that I have been consulting with other people and have been becoming educated about the various processes to reconstruct my gum and fix my teeth.

The bottom line is we are all responsible for our own bodies, regardless of what our condition is and how much help we need to fix it.  Take your time, find the right people and the right course of action for you.  Learn as much as you can and be an active participant in your own treatment plan.  Don’t just be a patient, be your own hero!

Love and blessings to all,

Cynthia

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