Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I've been in a ... I can't think of the word, I want to say headlock, but it's more like an impasse, for the last several months, over the bite splint that my dentist made for me to help my TMJ problems.

It has worked quite well for that, but I've found, since I got it, that grinding on it has worn away at the back of my upper front teeth until they're kind of open and rough and slanted feeling at the tips, and the chipped bit at the front is ... more chipped on the surface. This seems to have caused my pronunciation to change, and I'm struggling to pronounce my 's' and 't' without whistling a little, which is not good in my line of work.

I went back to the dentist and she told me it wasn't possible for plastic to wear down enamel. When I continued to have problems she looked into the research more and confirmed this, and when I was still insistent that the changes happen after I've worn the guard, she sent me to a specialist and I paid €150 and two hours of my time to be condescended to, have my lifestyle belittled, and told to relax again, the way the dentist who first gave me the TMJ and started me grinding told me to do yoga. 'What is it my wife does?' he asked in plummy tones, 'mindfulness?'

I went back again to plead for a new soft guard like I used to have, but they won't make me one as it's too bad for my jaw. She gave me a free consultation with the expert who is, I think, her partner, who worked really hard at not being condescending, and instead explained that I have a condition the name of which I haven't retained, but it seems to be a fancy word for hysteria - I've become hyper sensitive to the inside of my mouth, and things which nobody else would notice are bothering me. It's serious, he says, as it causes people so much distress and anxiety. He underlined my anxiety issues, asked about panic attacks, about how all this affects me, was sympathetic rather than condescending - sympathetic because I have this mental illness he was describing. Because it's not possible for the guard to wear down teeth, so therefore I am either doing it myself at other times, or ... just crazy.

I feel extremely conflicted. One because my son sat there listening to the whole thing silently, and looking back, I'd rather he hadn't heard all that.
Two because I feel incredibly sure of the changes and discomfort I recognise in my mouth when I wake up in the morning.
Three because I was just talking to someone about the phenomenon of medical professionals dismissing and making light of women's complaints about their health and the alarming statistics about how much life is lost as a result...
And not least because there is, of course, the possibility that they're right and I'm delusional. And if this is the case, I'm seriously delusional, and should I be allowed out unsupervised if I'm this unwell?

All along the dentisty people contradict themselves a lot, or so it seems to me - plastic can't damage enamel, but the bad type of guard I had could because it concentrated the pressure in one spot, but this one couldn't, even though the way I have been grinding on it has also concentrated all the pressure in one spot, oh it's not the same. I'm hyper sensitive to what's going on in my mouth, but at the same time, I'm doing the damage during the day without noticing...

But then, I am depressed, I am anxious, I do have a chronically stressful situation to live with.  It's not that much of a leap to suggest I'm fucking crazy as well.

I'm finding this all very hard to take - I always do. Oh, god, I want to reset to when I was eighteen, and I was relatively thin, I had no fillings and I didn't grind my teeth or pull my hair out, and my vagina was still relatively robust and my perineum wasn't scarred and my eyebrows were nice and full and my skin was resilient and my breasts, while not ones anyone would pick out of a catalogue were at least firm and youthful, not that I understood that. And I didn't have a headache that had gone on for two weeks.

I feel like I'm disintegrating. I don't know what to do. He filed the splint down for me, and smoothened it, which is what I'd thought she'd do the first time I went back to her with it, and instead she got defensive and upset.

Ugh. I feel like the whole thing with the suicidal student has knocked me into a downward spiral. I've no defenses agaisnt this tooth stuff. I don't know how to get back on track. And I don't know how to be a dynamic, brave, selfless Autism Parent either. Disintegration. 


Ms. Moon said...

I recognize so much of myself here, Jo. The sensitivity to the inside of the mouth- yes. I have that. It is a constant source of anxiety.
I have no answers for you at all and I have no comfort beyond saying that doctors do NOT give women the same treatment they give men. They just don't. It is a fact.
You have much on your plate and yes, that student probably did have a lot to do with your current state of mind. I do not think you are crazy. You are simply suffering.
How I wish it weren't so.

Jennifer said...

Don't stop trusting yourself to understand your body better than a bunch of half-assed doctors who don't really care. There are a lot of them out there. It's worth searching for a good doctor that really listens and cares about you.

As for being a woman, I agree with Ms Moon about how we often get second class treatment, even from female doctors. As an overweight woman, I usually get told that if I'd lose a few pounds I'd be better no matter what I'm complaining of. They take you even LESS seriously when you're fat.


Jennifer said...

And I do hope you feel better soon!

Mwa said...

I've had doctors tell me that what I told them was impossible as well. Mostly male doctors. When it was possible and I wasn't crazy.

You are having an awful time. I don't think mindfulness, yoga or perhaps a course of talking therapy are crazy ideas. Not for your teeth, but to help you find a balance. They all helped me immensely.

Big hug.

Jo said...

Mwa, I really wanted to tell them about your experience with the farting question, but the right moment just didn't present itself! It's a good example, though. I wish I could find the right therapist and the money to attend. I never get what I need from it, though, mostly because at the end of the day, I have to do the work myself, and it just doesn't seem to happen...

Jennifer, I've read the most depressing posts about doctors' treatment (or rather, refusal to treat!) of fat women. It's appalling.

Mwa said...

May I just stress that that thing has resolved itself? :-) No need for further detail.