How Can I Keep Moving Forward?
October 1, 2019
I can’t do this anymore.
Have you ever been faced with medical teams who vehemently disagree? Trained doctors who look at the same x-rays, the same tests, the same scans, the same records, yet come to opposing conclusions? Lauded professionals who directly contradict what the other is seeing, surmising, suggesting?
Even the minutia I thought I had sorted medically came crashing down, as differing doctors lack any consensus whatsoever on plans of action. Sharp pains in my teeth and lip are worsening, while new excruciating ones have arrived in my jaw and head. Another day spent with a prosthodontist, a maxillofacial surgeon, an endodontist, a who-knows-what… and I lie here somehow more overwhelmed and upset than before what was supposed to be a productive day of next steps, building on the answers I thought I had received from my recent marathon with dental and oral specialists. Another set of x-rays, another set of scans, another set of appointments — essentially, if not exactly, repeating what I had done just last week — is not only a massive pile of bills, but also large doses of additional radiation straight into my head. Is any of that actually necessary? With the disaster that is the American medical system, there is no real way to ever know. And I, the patient, remain helplessly at its mercy — drained, derailed, disoriented, despondent, drowning.
This new team of dentists has scheduled my next procedure a mere seven days away in their busy lives. For me, however, that is seven physically and mentally agonizing 24-hour periods where I am left anxious, alone and afraid, unable to eat properly or speak properly, counting down the minutes until I can take my next painkiller and wincing as each sip of hot soup or cold smoothie tortures the damaged roots of my dead and decaying teeth, stuck in an exhausted state of depressing limbo without a clue as to the right thing to do next, how to possibly chart a path forward or what to expect short and longterm — for my teeth or anything else for that matter.
Who do I trust? Where do I listen? What do I decide? I did what everyone said: asked for top recommendations, chose the very best doctors, got multiple trusted opinions… which now conflict. There is zero consensus on surgeries, priorities, timelines, even how to read the same x-rays to discern what is broken where. (And if you think I am showing any of you dental-minded people enough of this x-ray to subject myself to yet another opinion, you’re insane. So yes, I am fully aware it shows none of the damage.) The only thing everyone seems to agree upon is that "the bone IS broken,” a phrase I have heard countless times, and complications from this accident will plague me forever, reiterated yet again with nonchalant mentions of multiple root canals, additional extractions and tooth resorption for decades to come. But what happens NOW?
I have tried mightily to shift my perspective in honor of the new year. To follow glimmers of light. To reframe my state of mind. To rise above fear. To harness unknown strength. To use this experience as fuel. To trust in the universe, count my blessings, believe in miracles and simply put one foot in front of the next. To neither validate nor succumb to the dark, hopeless, painful misery I am unable to escape. But I simply cannot. This impossible, terrorizing process is destroying my very will to persevere.