Dental mentalism

I went to the dentists yesterday.

I love the dentists.

I am seen by student dentists in their final year at university and because of this, I a) get free treatment and b) get some of the most careful attentive care possible. Everything is double-checked by a doctor from the university dental school and ninety-nine times out of a hundred they agree with the opinions of their students.

Over the last year and a bit, I have been seen by five student dentists, *ahem!* cutting their teeth in the real world (sorry). Apparently my gnashers are beautifully clean, and amazingly, it’s rare for them to treat someone with a full set of their own 32 adult teeth. I also like to think I’m a good patient, so we get along fine (I swap stories with the nurse regarding our children). Early on in their placements the students are understandably nervous, but soften up like ageing fillings after a number of visits.

I have been treated for hereditary gum disease over my course of treatment and this is finally starting to clear up. Except for one 10 millimetre pocket next to one of my back teeth. This means that there is a void where my gums and teeth don’t connect for a whole centimetre down into my jaw.

I will have to have this pocket and the surrounding teeth deep cleaned to give the gums a chance of re-attaching and healing up. I will also have to have three small fillings. Three appointments in all should cover it.

What’s this got to do with MS? I hear you ask.

Well, most people have a local anaesthetic for deep pocket cleaning. I will request to forego this. I’ll just grit my teeth (sorry, again) and bear the pain. I know I can do it, I have done it before, albeit down to about 6 millimetres.

The reason is this: I am fed up with numbness and weird sensations. I have plenty of that to deal with on a daily basis. Also, I have developed such a high pain threshold these days, that I am prepared to endure the few minutes of sensitive sharp cold bone and nerve pain of the dentist than have a morning of slack-mouthed numbness and tingling. I may even see if there is a chance of doing the same for the fillings, but we’ll wait and see on that.

I don’t think I am being particularly “hard” or macho or anything. I think the psychology of the dentist makes you expect the pain to be worse than it actually is, in the same way that a wasp sting is in no way comparable to the panic stricken flapping and shrieking people make when one of the little creatures enters their airspace.

Don’t get me wrong, it will hurt…

…I’ll just have to grin and bear it. 🙂

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My MS History – Part One

Once somebody tells you, you have MS, you start to put a jigsaw together. You wonder whether that strange tingling sensation you had in your right arm last year had something to do with it, or in my case the vertigo diagnosis from the previous year and the little numb patch between my big toe on my right foot and the others.

It all happened at roughly the same time, but seemingly by stealth as I can’t put an exact time or even a date on it. My old office at work used to look out onto the rolling Derbyshire scenery. In the distance there was a radio mast on top of one of the hills. I remember looking up at that radio mast and hilltop one morning to see two radio masts and hilltops, but weirdly, only when I looked left. Also, when I hammered away at my computer keyboard, I noticed that my fingers felt a bit tingly. ‘RSI?’ I wondered.

I had recently had delivery of a new computer and I had shifted my workspace around and moved my desk from one side of the office to the other. When this sort of thing happens, my employer automatically sends a health and safety person round to assess how you are sitting, whether the new screen you have is causing any eye problems (“Yeah, well I do have this problem with doublevision”), or whether your seat is suitable (“Funny you should say that, but I get this strange electrical tingling sensation down my back and into my thighs when I put my chin to my chest”). The doublevision I put down to eye strain as I had other unexplained problems with my eyes a few years before (this particular jigsaw piece hadn’t dropped into it’s slot at this point).

The health and safety guy, barely into his twenties, was non-plussed. “Maybe ask your GP,” was his suggestion.

“Yeah… maybe I will”

I recounted my recent problems to my brother shortly afterwards at the football. “If you were a TV, I’d take you back to the shop” was his comment. I could see his logic, and I needed to see my GP about something minor anyway – I needed a wart removing from my lip – I could always mention this weird stuff at the end as an aside.

I saw a locum GP. It turned out that the wart was the least of his concerns. He did various tests. I had my reflexes tested, I watched his finger move left to right, I stood on one leg, I touched my nose then his moving finger then my nose and so on. He booked me in for an emergency CT scan at the hospital in the city. I should get an appointment within the fortnight, he said.

He thought everything I was experiencing was connected somehow, but wouldn’t be drawn on what it might be apart from that it could be something pressing on my spinal cord.

“Basically, where my expertise ends, someone else’s begins…” were his words, “take it easy… don’t do anything strenuous… no heavy lifting… look after yourself… be selfish… let others take the strain for a while.”

A GP has never said anything like this to me before. My previous visits had always been met with a “don’t worry about it, it’ll go away” air about them.

I thought of the heavy suitcase that I had to load and lift into the car, ready for our family holiday in a couple of day’s time. “I’m going on holiday at the weekend.” I explained.

“Where are you going?”

“Cornwall.”

“That’s good. They have hospitals down there.”

“You’ve got me worried now,” I laughed . . . no flicker of a smile on his face.

As I left the surgery, I felt the weirdest sensation. Something other-worldly, like I had been given a serious secret assignment.

I had a door with what could be a monster lurking behind it. All I had to do was find the key.