Hi there scripturient followers. Did you enjoy that dramatic cliff-hanger from my last dentist related post? Fabulous wasn’t it!? Well have I got news for you. I was given the appointment in the end. Don’t get me wrong, this also took months in waiting time, but frustrations for this aside I thought this was important info to share. After all, if you’re as desperate and nervous as I am you are going to want to know what a jaw surgery consultation is like, and to bring alone some sort of an emotional support animal. Who better for such a task than your fiancé? What proceeded I can only describe as a carry-on film. I had bought my partner along with me to help explain things, but he sat there gormlessly listening to what ensured, and after all I cannot blame him. It was absolutely hilarious! But let’s start at the very beginning…
With my partners phone dying having forgotten to charge it the night before and mine dangerously low on mobile data, we followed the google maps route to the hospital in question, which as I am sure I had mentioned is a bloody long way from where we live. He had to take a personal day off work because I was too nervous to drive there myself (I’ve only just passed my test and got a car btw) so I cannot fault him for that. The ward was tucked away and the car park huge with its own mini roundabout, but completely and utterly full to the brim. This is just another reason why I was so grateful to have been a passenger:
I have developed this irrational but also kind of not so irrational fear that I will be in a car accident and therefore smash my last two bloody teeth in and the paramedics won’t know what to do to help so I will have to eat through a tube forever. Because why wouldn’t that happen aye? Anyways, an old lady who should not have been driving nearly reversed into our car while we were stationary in a long line of other cars looking for the space. Needless to say we couldn’t go forwards or backwards, so despite screaming at the deaf woman she continued to blindly go into us until my partner leapt out of the window to slap the back of it till she noticed. Wonderful; how some people are permitted a license I don’t know. At least a boy racer would’ve seen the cars behind them and known no to just start backing away. If a child had been there he or she would be under her wheel, but this would be the place for it I suppose. Adrenaline fuelled and with paper in hand I ran from the car to find the correct ward, not unlike Dora the explorer with an open bite. Once there I took a meat market ticket styled tub and waited for my number to come up on screen. Luckily the other half had found a space and could join me for the meeting.
This was very much a group meeting. A little professional pow-wow so to speak. It reminded me of the casual brainstorms that would be had at uni. And no wonder; they appeared to all be PhD’s and then some. I was just a complex case study they were trying to solve as a group. And I liked it. I knew I would be in good hands from their casual medical lingo and how blaze it all was to them. The ‘system’ may have been the cause of my problems to begin with, what with the faulty guards and dragging out my pain needlessly for years, but you can’t fault theses doctors or nurses by any means. The informality of this final stage was great. The two surgeons sat at one end while the ortho and another guy (not sure what his speciality was, joints and bites maybe?) went over my notes and back and forth with ideas and options.
“Does someone want to explain to the patient what’s going on? She looks very confused”, one of the surgeons smirked, and I laughed giddily.
“Basically, we are debating whether or not we are going to slice you up”, the guy closest to me said with a grin. My sense of humour! I trusted him to do the slicing instantly.
Do you all remember the lady who saw me at the orthodontists and told my dentist to make me a mouth guard? She was lovely, and is also doing an academic paper on the topic. She was one of the main people there, and I though it was marvellous. Credit where credit is due they all were, but she made careful attention to translate my experiences into medical jargon for the rest present. After all, I know a fair bit about all sorts but naff all regarding maxillofacial surgery or orthodontics.
Then we were assured that I didn’t really need to be present as they could be there for some time, my digital mould spinning about ominously next to my x-rays on screen. God, they looked awful. I couldn’t help but think if that was a dog you would put it down. I look like a poster child for one of those don’t buy pugs adverts. We were ushered out of the room along with my partner who felt like a bit of a spare part, but the lovely lady followed us out and took me aside to explain that thy were going to look into it further before slicing and dicing because I had described a perfect bite before the guard was given and increased in size at the front. Who knew that a little slat piece of rubber could do all this damage!?
She said it would be a shame to go down the surgery route without exploring every other avenue, because I had such a pretty face as well. I could’ve cried right then and there. I had been so focused on getting surgery to bring back my quality of life; my attitude, my function, me (and my muchness) that I hadn’t given myself the breathing space to mourn the fact that I probably needed it in the first place. Nobody wants surgery after all, and after seeing all this stuff online about it, I realised it was certainly no picnic. With these thoughts floating around my head and the clinical smell of the hospital halls filling my nostrils she assured me that it would be my decision what they did in the end, so I shouldn’t feel pressured either way. It turned out she had owned her own practice for over 10 years where she had seen this sort of thing before. Damn. She didn’t look that much older than me. Talk about perspective!
Then a nurse came to the waiting room, not to get me, but to tell me that they wanted to take more moulds, not digital ones this time, in case the digital ones had meant they had missed a trick. I was stoked that they really were going all out for my case, but she broke the news that unfortunately we couldn’t take the moulds today so we would have to come back. I wasn’t too thrilled given the journey we had taken but she assured me that next time I was here I would be seeing a specialist. He only comes in 4 times a year. Bloody hell. Celebrity of the maxillofacial world is coming to see little ole me? I got excited. Maybe he would sign my jaw bone when he was poking around in there. This line of thinking was a sign that I had gotten way ahead of myself; too excited and dare I even say expectant of positive results. After all, I had jested that when they’re poking around in there maybe they would take a little off the sides, maybe tuck the ole double chin in little bit, you know? the works! I was clearly delirious…
The Sega Continues…
I hope that you are enjoying this ongoing saga as much as I haven’t been. Long story short (ha! If only…) I came back a week later to get this bloody impression taken. I needed to have extra padding on the guard because of the extent of my open bite for it to make any sort of impression at all. When he asked and I told him I had been waiting 2 years for this he nearly fell off his spinny chair. The nurse looked miserable as all hell and as if she didn’t believe me. Thank goodness for my blog aye, I get to document this disaster for the world to read indefinitely. Let ‘survived an open bite’ be carved into my gravestone, for these rants have proved most therapeutic. I didn’t know frustration like this existed until I realised I couldn’t grit my teeth with it any longer. Still, she dubiously handed the dentist practitioner more and more of the foamy substance. It was tediously awkward. I had to have a go at biting into it 4 times before they could get a ‘good’ one. I had to explain that I move my jaw around so much these days to give myself more biting surface that I have forgotten what my ‘normal’ bite is; in truth I don’t really have one, but by biting down as hard as I could without hesitation we think we got a fairly reasonable one, and I was off back home again. So it turns out, THIS was make or break, and these impressions would help to give me my treatment plan.
Enter famous man that turns up 4 times every year like the turning of the seasons. This is another month or so later again, by the way. Another epic journey, thrilling car park, Dora the explorer style dash and sadly unpaid day off work, much to the annoyance of bosses. Drum roll, please…
“Oh sorry. I didn’t look at it, we can’t find the moulds. Been a bit of a mix up”.
Oh don’t worry it about it mate, I only live down the road and wasn’t at all mentally preparing myself for this since yesterday. Christ alive, a phone call to reschedule wouldn’t have gone amiss! He looked in my mouth for about five seconds before declaring it ‘not looking good’ and told me to anticipate another 2 follow up appointments with someone else in the post while they try to locate the models. So, I wasn’t going to be seen by this magical man after all then. I’m well aware of the whole beggars can’t be choosers thing, but with my ongoing issues, desperation and inconvenience aside, couldn’t that time have been spent better treating me or someone else? I’m not even sorry for being bitter anymore. So, follow up appointments in the post is where I’m at. They are 2 and 3 months away from now. Fingers crossed for me, please. As my mouthguard is barely holding up, and it’s currently about as thin as my patience and as close to breaking point as my sanity.
I went back again and they were a sweet cool hour late seeing me. I ate kfc like it was my last meal and upon arrival They bought in another person to look with horror and they wondered why I was getting them removed beyond it being a formality I went off to get another spin around your head styled x ray to which I told the woman I was tall and it looked beautiful Unfortunately in the waiting room of which something most unpredictable happened. With hair in a messy plait of all things and my fiance still dutifully in the other waiting room I was hit on by a dude with a much older man of a starkly different colour, who’s opening line was that they were biologically related. The schtick was kind of admirable but did he really think now was the time? He asked me what was wrong and I grinned the open bite grin.
Parking aside, I prepared myself with another binge eating session of solid foods before setting off again. I was nervous this time, but eager to get my teeth extracted after so long waiting. Imagine my horror then when in the reception I could hear them discussing how they had lost my notes and there was an error. “I broke the bad news already” there would be no extraction today. This was to get a bite mould fitted, something which I now intended to never wear again. I explained that the first thing I do when I wake up now is shake. It hurts to talk and when I do its inaudible. I asked if they pulled all of my teeth my jaw would shut however they wouldn’t want me to be in my twenties with no the. I explained for the millionth time that they don’t serve any other purpose but pain. I’m in so much pain. And to have the choice of surgery removed from me was terrifying. They made me an appointment back to see the surgeon. I worried this would take yet another four or more months but they overlooked me in given the predicament. He actually said what’s another few weeks atop the five or six years youve been waiting. He had appoint I suppose. I called up the morning of the appointment to double check that it was still on; there wouldn’t be another 2 hour round trip and £20 in parking.
Second thousandth time is the charm as they never say, so as I was but a few feet away from the familiar receptionist; in the distance…sirens…no, seriously. In the distance, and then in the foreground, earth shattering, ear piercing sirens. As luck would have it a fire alarm had gone off, and we were quickly ushered out of the building, past the many moulds of other patients teeth in the backrooms, and so I stood dutifully, awaiting my fate.
I sat down in the ominous looking dentist chair in the centre of the room for one time too many, and noted how a new nurse as well as two new sets of eyes and three familiar ones bore into me. The head honcho so to speak sat back In his chair like a dragon on a pile of shiny gold mouth guards. He raised his brows at me expectantly, like this was going to be a fun debate. I wasn’t sure quite why this was the attitude he had; it seemed to be in his nature, and it was not necessarily a bad thing. something that made a particular sort of person cagey or on edge? Perhaps. But I want so easily swayed. The others seemed encouraging. The guy who was always to my right on the laptop was the ‘funny one’ in my head, and he was genuinely a warming presence about him for his wicked sense of humour. “Go on, don’t let them frazzle you!” I smiled thinly, already exhausted for what I knew was coming ahead. Explaining oneself and the pain which you are in is difficult, particularly when you lack the language that they use to convey your meaning. In my experience doctors aren’t always right nor do they have your best interests at heart. This has been proved to me time and time again, and I couldn’t help but think this was going to be another one of those occasions. For instance, in my heart of heart; my very gut and knew jerk reactive core, I knew the ‘solution’ that they had given me was somehow slap dash and wrong. It was like placing a band aid on the problem due to the simple fact the “waiting lists are long”, “the department is underfunded”, and of course the terrifying notion that once teeth have been ground down, the gap would be just on the cusp of not eligible for surgery, despite none of my teeth coming into contact accept for at one finite point. NOW. I do at least possess the good sense not to come in with guns blazing accusing them of a Shane Dawson-esque conspiracy theory. Oh no, I simply said that from the mouth moulds taken, I really did worry that by whittling down my already ground down teeth it wouldn’t really solve my problem. “No it wouldn’t. You’re right.” I waited. And waited. There was no follow up to this response. The next line from the man was does this answer your question? And he all but shouted next patient ushering me out of the chair. “No”, I said softly but firmly. We would not be moved, I tell you. I suppose I must have been in there for the allotted thirty minutes trying to get my point across. I neglect calling it ‘pleading’ my case as he sat with a snake-like, smug smirk plastered across his face; chest puffed with a sense of superiority. I may not know anything about maxifllio facial surgery, but that was why I was here. I was doing what they had been encouraging them to do; to think about it before ‘jumping in’, and I had more questions to ask.
If you have ever had to defend your dissertation or on a whim decided to apply to dragons den and make it to the final then you will know the feeling I had in this hot seat, but my resolve and voice didn’t waver as I expressed the concerns that they acted as though they had never heard before, despite my clear communication of them at every stage. He warned me that he had lost an upper jaw before, and that if I were his daughter he wouldn’t let me have the surgery. Upon reflection however, and my very sobering claim that the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is shake he agreed that he wouldn’t deny me surgery, only that it would be a last resort. I explained that we had been in agreement since day one then, as it was hardly something that I was thrilled by, from the side effects to the process of a wired shut jaw itself. Still, he beckoned over the sheepish nurse form the corner of the room which unceremoniously shoved a hand held mirror in my face. He demanded I smile as if commanding a dog, to which I was immeasurably uncomfortable. I have to wonder whether this man, who in his own words has been working since the 1970’s, had ever encouraged his male patients who come to him unable to close is mouth, to look at themselves in the mirror and smile their biggest grin. The fact that, “You would look horsey”, post-surgery did nothing to deter me, as it is not as though I smile much these days anyway.
They finally seemed to ‘get it’ when I told them outright that the open bite itself was not my greatest concern; it was the hodgepodge gap around my biting teeth. I think he thought I was in some sort of a disillusion that my teeth would magically spring back to how they were. I have made my peace with that, and accepted that I can use a knife and fork as I already have adapted to so long as I do live. What I cannot live with any longer however is holding my jaw in a hovering position open and outward for another day; just as I have done the last 1,460 days and counting. The subtlety of that torture is the kind of slow drip from a mounting pain and fatigue lending your brain to madness. He was quick before I had finished my sentence explaining in a far from flowery way the gap across all teeth, to interrupt with the fact that jaw surgery wouldn’t correct my clenching. NO. If I could grit my teeth then I would have; I was not a fool even though he clearly took me for one. The four other team members were quick to interject on this occasion with medical jargon that clarified I lacked any discernible night surface and this answer seemed to suffice this charade.
What happened next will be revealed in good time. Until then,
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