Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Ignore What You Are Hearing


The dentist.  From the earliest of my age to present day time, no one has put more fear into me, prevented me from attending appointments, or having flat out having panic attacks, than going to the dentist.  Allow me to put this into perspective.

Decades ago, my dentist was an older gentleman, but very good with children.  He had a calm voice, very reassuring.  And his hygienists were always very pleasant.  In times of more involved dentistry (cavities) of course there would be some pain involved, but with the help of some laughing gas along with novacaine, I always managed to get through those appointments.  My dentist and hygienist did fairly good preaching good oral hygiene to me so I really did not need any more support in that area.  But my mother knew her role in that she wanted to make sure that I knew what was at stake if I did not take care of my teeth.  So, what better way to convince me to brush every day, see the dentist every six months, and take really good care?  “When I went to the dentist, his hands were so shaky, and the drill used to smoke when it grinded the teeth.  And then one time, the drill slipped and cut into my gums and I bled like crazy.  I hated going to…”  You get my drift.  That is all it took for me to look at any dentist like Steve Martin as Dr. Maxwell  in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Keep in mind, I have been through cancer involving all kinds of surgeons and technicians.  I have had to go through heart surgery just to name one of the many recent issues involving more than thirteen doctors.  My family physicians did nothing more to me than curing my colds and viruses so I was never afraid of them.  The dentist however, at least my prior dentists will all go down as my biggest fear instigators second only to my urologist (and who could blame me on that one, “man’s plumbing” was never meant to have certain things done to it).  My current dentist however is one of a kind.  For various reasons, I am no longer afraid, okay freaked out, to see the dentist.  Howeverrrrrrr, in the event is something that goes beyond her scope, such as say… a tooth extraction, this does not get held against her.

Shortly after my heart surgery, I broke a molar.  It was then that I discovered what the role tooth hygeine plays in cardiology.  Many cardiac patients discover their conditions following visits to the dentist.  It seems that some bacteria that develops in your mouth, can enter your bloodstream which goes to, wait for it, your heart.  Given my cardiac history, I was ordered onto antibiotics prior to getting the broken tooth pulled, standard preventative care.

This time around I have been treated differently.  There appears to be no concern by anyone (other than me) and I make the appointment and it arrives.  There is something to be said to an oral surgeon who makes the comment “just ignore the sounds you are about to hear” which is followed by crack, crack, crack.  Okay, so I know what just happened, the rest of my tooth has been dismantled in shards.  But then he follows it with, “there seems to be quite a bit of bacteria there, so I’m going to send you home with some antibiotics.”  Which is a little late to be doing that with me.

I just had a round with sepsis back in March and have no idea what caused it.  For days, I reflected on how I could have contracted anything that would have led to me being put in the ER via ambulance at four in the morning.  And hear I am lighting the fuse on the “stick of dynamite” that I am now holding.  I know the protocol from here on.  Take the temperature at first sign of warmth.  And if by chance I hit a temperature of 101, then it is off to the races.  Hopefully, this ends up harmless.  But I will be a little more steadfast and stubborn when it comes to a decision like this, like I am with everything else.  Many in my life do not understand why I trust my care with a network located in another state, because they have the experience that my life relies on.

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