Category Archives: Being (a) Patient

Being (a) Patient: Dental Reconstruction Complete!

Seven years, ten months and 23 days ago, I fell down a large public staircase and basically broke the middle of my face. Several key moments of my journey of healing have been shared on this blog in a series called Being (a) Patient; this entry is the last.

I was filled with worry over the last couple of days. I must admit that I temporarily lost all the perspective I had gained in my last post. I was worried that I may never get a result I would be happy with and would need to give up.

I knew that perfection wasn’t in the cards because, as my second prosthodontist put it, I didn’t have “an easy fixer-upper.” So, I knew my smile wouldn’t never be what it was but I still hoped for something I could feel good about. I am happy to report that happened today!

I would like to acknowledge my team over the last 7+ years:

Oral Surgeon: Bobby Licul

Periodontist: Jay Fishbein

Orthodontist: John Campogna

Endodontist: Sean Pobiner

Prosthodonstist: Andrew Pacinelli

I put a lot of time and effort (blood, sweat and tears!) into finding the right specialists. I had six periodontal consults before I chose Dr. Fishbein. I had consults with five prosthodontists and even did some preliminary work (essex bridge, flippers, one temp crown and bonding) with two prosthodontists before I began working with Dr. Pacinelli.

Dr. Andrew Pacinelli was my ultimate choice to install my crowns and veneers because in addition to his prosthodontic skills, he also had the emotional intelligence to treat a patient who experienced a significant  trauma. He recognized right away that I had been through a lot.  Communication skills are extremely important to me. Dr. Pacinelli kept me informed every step of the way while he transformed my front top eight teeth. He listened to my concerns throughout the process and kept working and working and working… until we had a result that made me happy!

Here it is:

Picture to come!!!

Final Thoughts

Given the chance to go back in time, would I hold the handrail and not have gone through all this? Absolutely but I am still so grateful for everything that I have learned and all the people who were there for me throughout this trial.

If you found this blog because you are going through your own healing journey, please know that you can get through it! It may take longer than you feel like you can endure at times but have faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel and it’s beautiful!

Being (a) Patient: Suck It Up Buttercup!

My hope was to finish my dental reconstruction by my birthday this year- that didn’t happen. I recalibrated and set my sights on it being complete before the end of the year- my prosthodontist broke his ankle in November. So, that won’t happen.

After several hours of dental work this morning, I went home sore, headachy and feeling a bit sorry for myself.  Currently, I have four final porcelains and four temps in my mouth. Nothing quite matches. It was necessary because the color on four of the porcelains didn’t match and needed to be redone. These also happened to be the ones that go on my four front teeth! It happens and it’s being fixed along with some other needed improvements. Prosthodontics work is a process, not a one and  done.

I took two advil and had a little rest.  When I woke up, I began the usual worrying- Will they be right at my next appointment? What if the technician matches to the color I don’t like? I can’t go through that again! Will this ever be done? I want to be done! It’s been seven years, nine months and 20 days already! Aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!

Suddenly, in the midst of all this useless worrying and self-pity, a little voice said, “It’s not that a big deal.” I started thinking about the people who are sick and in the hospital with COVID 19 and other life-threatening conditions. I thought of friends who have had huge painful losses this year. I realize that I have been fortunate. My loved ones who have been afflicted with corona virus healed successfully.  It was absurd that I was feeling sorry for myself just because I am back in temporaries.

So, now I am choosing to focus on what I am grateful for instead. I am also feeling pretty confident that I will be finished before March 2, 2021- the eight year mark of when I fell. Onward!

 

Being (a) Patient: Final Countdown

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end in my dental reconstruction. I am going to the prosthodontist to get the temporaries on six of my front teeth.

I have already had two sets of temps on the two missing teeth. So, after tomorrow my eight front top teeth will never be the same. Honestly, only two of them currently are.  Four of the six that are being veneered/crowned tomorrow, have been damaged since my fall on March 2, 2013. The other two, my left front tooth and left canine, are innocent bystanders but… it doesn’t make sense to do only six. I wouldn’t have a consistent smile ever again.

I was desperate to get my smile back after I fell!  I couldn’t believe what happened to me. So, I did the only thing you can when faced with trauma, I moved forward one day at a time and sought the best medical help I could find. Sometimes, I had to seek it over and over again. I also cried… but not too much. It’s okay to be sad as long as you don’t get stuck. You have to move forward even if it is only a centimeter at a time. Feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere!

I feel very emotional right now. I have a right to- I am at a point of no return. Tomorrow, my prosthodontist will shave down my natural teeth to fit the veneers. There’s no reversing that. I know that it is time. I am putting my trust in God and my prosthodontist that in the end I will have a beautiful smile to share with everyone!

Being (a) Patient: Heartbroken

Sometimes, when you are being put back together things don’t go the way you want or expect them to.  You believe you are going to make a giant step forward and are disappointed and pushed backward.  Such was the case with me yesterday.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get what I expected and what I did get was unacceptable to me.  I feel like I have a cough drop stuck to the back of my front teeth that never dissolves.  It feels horrible.  I have no comfortable place to put my tongue.  I don’t like the way it looks either.  I am also lisping worse than I was with two teeth missing.  The good news is that it is only temporary.  The painfully frustrating part is I need to find a new prosthodontist.

 

In the meanwhile, I will regroup and hang with my favorite wellness practitioner, Chauncy.  No matter how hard life gets sometimes, Chauncy always make me feel grateful!

Chauncy always gives me a reason to be grateful!

Dr. Chauncy to the rescue!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: Bye Bye Flipper

I am very grateful to have had my flipper for the last two years and four months (and the essex bridge for two months before that.).  Although it wasn’t fun tasting plastic all day, it definitely beat missing two front teeth.  I will be wearing it for the last time this morning because I am happy to share that by this evening, I will no longer need it!!!  I am getting two temporary crowns on my implants today.  Hooray!

Farewell my beat-up, well-used and discolored flipper!  Today, you will be granted an honorable discharge.  Your service has come to the end.  Thank you!

 

Many blessings,

Cynthia

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Being (a) Patient: Tough Decisions and Temporary Solutions

I have avoided writing this blog post for almost five months. I actually did write one back in June; when I first found out I can’t yet afford to finish my dental reconstruction. The shame and frustration of admitting that reality were so raw I couldn’t bring myself to post it at the time.

Since then I have tried to save enough to get to the point where I could put most of the money down to get the eight crowns and two posts I need but I am not quite there yet. I have enough money to start the work but the large payments I would have to make in the months following, make me uneasy because I would essentially be eating Ramen noodles the whole time and living in terror of ANYthing that might go wrong.

If I have learned anything from this situation (actually…I’ve learned a lot,) unexpected things happen. As much as I would like to stick my head in the sand right now and throw all my money and credit cards at my prosthodontist and be done with this trial, it’s not financially responsible and there is no way I can justify it. Besides, I am way too into healthy eating to survive on processed, freeze-dried noodles!

I am, however, impatient to make some progress. I want all my teeth to stay in 24/7. I also want to break bread with other people. I haven’t shared a meal with another human being in over two and a half years.  (It can be kind of gross when you are missing two front teeth and have braces.) I want back those things that I took for granted before but now I won’t. I would be grateful to have that kind of functionality back.

I asked my prosthodontist last week if we could at least do temporary crowns on the two implants and bond my two worst teeth. He went to work, taking measurements and an initial mold. When I called yesterday, his office manager told me they need me to come back next week for more measurements because, “he is trying to get [me] the best deal on parts.” (Kind of makes me sound like a car, doesn’t it?)

I still don’t know how much this temporary solution is going to cost. Hopefully, it is feasible. The temps will have to be redone when I get all eight crowns. So, I already know that it will end up adding to my total cost in the long run but it will be worth it. I just can’t endure another year in braces and a plastic flipper! I really need to get out of limbo. Being able to share a meal with loved ones and smile without being self-conscious will be priceless! Sometimes, progress is more important than perfection.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Being (a) Patient: Patience Rewarded

Today- two years, one month and eight days after I fell, I reached a milestone in my dental reconstruction.  My dental implants have been implanted and my periodontist said they look beautiful!  I saw the x-ray and I have to agree (even though the local is wearing off and my mouth is throbbing with pain.  Don’t worry; I can handle it!)

Have I mentioned my periodontist before?  I had consults with six different periodontists.  SIX!  Only two felt confident that they could do what I wanted.  I wanted all separate teeth, to keep my own teeth and to avoid pink porcelain.  It seems reasonable enough, right?  It would have been if I hadn’t lost bone in my upper jaw when my right front tooth was knocked out.

The first periodontist I went to, tried to tell me my only option was an eight tooth bridge.  After I finished crying, I set out to find someone who could give me what I needed and I did find him.  Although, there are never any guarantees when bone grafts are involved, my periodontist believed it would be possible to restore the missing bone enough to place two side-by-side implants, giving me the separate teeth I wanted.  He delivered on that today.

It’s been a loooooong process.  I had to have a tooth super-erupted through orthodontics.  That took around six months.  Then I received a socket graft. That needed to heal for three months.  I had to have a frenectomy.  That needed to heal for about six weeks. Then I had the BIG bone graft!  That healed for six months.  Today, I took a giant leap forward toward having a beautiful smile again!

Whether I am able to dodge the  pink porcelain remains to be seen.  So far though, so good!  I’m so grateful!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Naturally Veggie: Tortilla Lasagna

I love tortillas and salsa!  However, given my dental issues since I fell in 2013, I have to avoid crunchy, hard food.  I started making what I call Tortilla Lasagna as a way to indulge my love of tortilla chips… all Mexican food really.

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce

Tortilla chips

Black Beans

Salsa (I added some real grape tomato slices here as well)

Vegan Cheese

Chopped Olives to garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

I am not  going to include measurements because I usually just make it for myself in a loaf pan.  You just layer in the ingredients to fill whatever pan you are using.  (Usually I only put in a layer of each item and then eat the whole pan.)

Put in the oven for twenty minutes and voila!

It’s quick, easy and delish!  Even after my teeth are finished, I will still be enjoying this dish.

Give it a try.  Let me know what you think.

Love and Many Blessings,

Cynthia

 

justdragonfly

 

Being (a) Patient: Progress Isn’t Always Pretty!

Five days from now,  I will go to my uber-talented prosthodontic clinician who will once again rebuild my much abused flipper.

What’s a flipper?  A flipper is a dental prosthesis that simulates teeth that are missing.  It’s used by damaged people like me and pint-sized beauty queens  who are in between their baby teeth and adult teeth.

I have not been able to wear my flipper for over a month, due to a complication with the augmentation bone graft, I had done in  September to restore the bone I lost when I fell.  Originally, my periodontist cut my flipper back to keep it away from the graft.  However, it was still cutting off the circulation to my gum.  So, I had to lose it to ensure the best possible result.

I have mixed feelings about wearing it again.  Physically, I am more comfortable without it.  It tastes like plastic.  It presses against my gum and hard palate all day.  It makes me gag.  It make me cough.  It makes me angry.  It reminds me to hold the handrail on stairs.  Emotionally though, it makes me feel safe.  It makes me feel like maybe people will think I just have adult braces.  It makes me feel less… vulnerable.  I don’t like to feel vulnerable.

I keep my top lip pulled down when talking to people.  When I laugh or even smile, my hand flies up to cover the gap left behind by my two missing front teeth.  I’ve realized since this has happened that a toothy grin can compensate for more than just physical insecurities though.  When you can’t flash a smile, tilt your head and toss your hair, your personality flaws become glaringly obvious.  When it comes to conversation, I’m not an artist.

I think, perhaps, writers are writers because it gives us a chance to express what we would have liked to have said in any given moment, if only we could have thought of it at the time.  If only…

I am determined to learn from this experience and be better for having gone through it.  I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.  Habits form over decades; not all at once.  Change doesn’t happen all at once.  I hope that by the time this is all over that I can look back and see that I have taken one step at a time in the right direction.

Love and Many blessings to All,

Cynthia

justdragonfly

Being (A) Patient: The Next Step in My Dental Reconstruction

Tomorrow, I go to three of my dentists.  (I know, you must be so jealous!)  The next step in my dental reconstruction is demolition.  My lateral incisor (tooth next to the right front tooth…) is being extracted.  I have mixed feelings about this as you might imagine.

Of course, it’s nice to be making progress.  Every procedure puts me one step closer to a complete smile.  On the other hand, losing another tooth is a bummer.

I fought hard to keep my teeth after I fell.  Had the residents at the hospitals had their way, I ‘d be sporting plates and screws in my upper jaw and most of my front top teeth would have been… I can’t even write it.  Thankfully, my oral surgeon saved them all.  My lateral incisor though, every clinician agreed had to go.  Before it went though, it was put to work.  For the last eight months, my orthodontist has been slowly pulling it down with my braces.  The procedure is called a super eruption.  The tooth is helping to draw down bone, as it is slowly pulled out.  Any millimeters of bone growth I can gain will really help, as I am told it is difficult to grow vertical bone from a graft.

After my lateral is excised tomorrow, my periodontist will put in a socket graft.  Once that heals, I’ll be ready for the big one: ridge augmentation.  My perio will graft in the area where I lost jaw bone above where my right front tooth was knocked out.

I’m grateful to be moving forward.  And I’m grateful to this tooth.  I am also a little nervous.  I am hoping this is the end of the losses.  And things just get better and better from here.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly