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Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Not Paranoia...Dentists ARE Out To Get Me



It all started back before I was born. In utero, in fact. There I was, just a happy little fetus, floating around, when BAM! Mom's appendix ruptured. Suddenly she was having surgery.

By the time my teeth were coming in, I was already getting cavities. I have practically no enamel on my teeth. Thanks 70s psychedelic drugs and antibiotics! Almost every doctors appt as a child included the drill. Being a kid, I just assumed this was normal. Then came the retainers. Varying in size and level of humiliation. I'm totally not kidding when I tell you that in 6th grade, I had this enormous retainer contraption that was honestly the size of my fist. I think I still have it somewhere. It should be part of a museum exhibit on child torture and humiliation. It was impossible to get it in or out without splitting a lip, and it was almost impossible to talk. I was supposed to wear this ALL DAY except when I ate. Combine this with the ugly haircut I had that year, and I'm surprised anyone ever talked to me. My teachers applauded me for being in mainstream classes instead of special ed. Did I mention the "oral therapy" that I had too? It involved what I like to call mouth gymnastics. Things like lifting weights with your tongue and lips, and swallowing while holding a rubber band on the roof of your mouth. It sounds incredibly glamorous and sexy, right? Since my hair had grown out, you'd think I'd be as popular as the girls that could tie cherry stems into knots. I think my parents and dentist/orthodontist saw what was about to happen, so the next year I got braces. The brackets were actually designed for equine use, because they were the largest brackets humanly possible. Goodbye popularity.

During the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I had major reconstructive jaw surgery. My case was actually used as a medical journal case study. It was an 8 hour surgery in which they cut my upper jaw into 3 places, implanted bone from my hip, and removed part of my lower jaw because it was growing longer on the right side. They lined everything up and wired me shut. After the surgery, I was so swollen and numb that I couldn't open my eyes, but I heard my brother start to cry when he saw me. Nothing boosts your confidence like a 16 year old boy crying at the sight of you. If Leatherface were a 14 year old girl, we would have been twins. My bottom lip was so fat, swollen and heavy that it hung open. I couldn't drink or even contain drool. I had to hold a rag up to my mouth to keep from drooling everywhere. It took me all summer to recover. I could hardly eat or drink, so I got really skinny. I had no energy to do anything, so I sat on the couch watching crappy movies and soaps, and passed time by teaching myself how to french braid my hair. I looked forward to getting the wires removed so that I could open my mouth and eat. Too bad I didn't understand what the process of getting the wires removed was. The wires are basically woven or sewn into the gums around each tooth root to hold it in place. At intervals of about every 3rd or 4th tooth, there is a little loop of wire sticking out of the gums. So to remove the wire, they snip the little loop, and then PULL THE WIRE OUT OF YOUR GUMS WITH PLIERS. Without novacaine. And this process is repeated until all the wires are gone. This may be the point when I split into a second personality to block out the trauma.

In 10th grade, I finally got my braces off and just had to wear a little retainer. My orthodontia was pretty much over. I was traumatized, but got through it okay. I am left with enough screws, pins, chains, and plates in my jaw to warrant a strip search and bomb squad at the airport metal detector. I also have severe TMJ, a jaw that pops and locks when storms come, a scar on my hip, and a small numb spot on my chin from nerve damage.

Now that I am an adult, I am terrified of the dentist. Who can blame me? I brush and floss, but still get cavities. I have nightmares about all my teeth crumbling out of my head and aliens implanting devices in my teeth. I specifically looked for a dentist that offers gas and sedation. They offer me gas for everything, even just a cleaning. I think I've only turned them down once. A few days ago, one of my many fillings broke and I had to go in to get it repaired. It will need a crown, but not before we find out if it will require a root canal. I've got a 50/50 chance. I'm on antibiotics just in case.

Now who wants to make out?

8 comments:

NIKOL said...

I loved the line where you talk about splitting into a second personality to deal with the trauma. But, of course, I'm sorry you had to go through the trauma in the first place.

peewee said...

wellll, wasn't THAT a delightful easter post!

That is seriously the thing dental nightmares are made of and here you are a real life survivor! When I was a kid I had straight teeth but all my rich kid friends had braces and I would beg and cry for my mom to get me braces. I went to school everyday with TOTAL envy and major insecurities because I DIDN'T have braces and that made me a "poor" kid. Kids are so dumb. Or Im just dumb. Either way I woulda been JAELOUS of you not only having braces etc but AND you got to be skinny. BITCH.

憲妤憲妤 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

Karen said...

On second thought, maybe it wasn't so bad never getting braces and constantly being asked why my eyeteeth were up so high.

Kris said...

Over Easter dinner, I reminisced with my family about those awkward junior high days. They called me Chipmunk because my retainer made my already chubby cheeks bulge out even more. One of these days I should post my 6th grade school pic as the "before" and my 10th grade school pic as the "after". One of these days....

peewee, not only was I skinny, but I also looked like Sloth from The Goonies! You definitely should have been jealous of me. I did have gorgeously french braided hair though!

peewee said...

oh, ane last thing....at LEAST you didnt get those eyebrows! sheesh!

Kris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kris said...

But...I DO have those eyebrows. Which is why I will never try out for Survivor. Mama needs her tweezers!