There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

Nardone's to the Rescue!

Here is a dental saga. A year ago this week, I broke a tooth while eating a hoagie. Not a little tooth, mind you, but one of the big ones, located in my lower left jaw. My dentist was ready to fix it but it was well and truly broken in half. I was not able to even get it PULLED until October, by which time it was infected, I needed two courses of antibiotics, yadda yadda. My main dentist recommended I get an implant.

So I scheduled a follow-up appointment with a local oral surgeon to do an implant in February of this year. At that appointment, he said the bone was not regrown enough, and based on where the nerve was located, there was some danger that if he did the implant, the nerve would be compromised and I might be in pain the rest of my life, and might never really enjoy eating again! In short, he could not/would not try it. To say I was upset would be an understatement.

So, at my dentist's insistence (I was willing to go for a bridge, he insisted on the implant), I consulted a second oral surgeon. That person reviewed the X-rays and said with all confidence, Yes he could do it! And so we set an appointment for late March. The timing was poor: Insert several months of delays due to coronavirus quarantine and at least two rescheduled appointments. The good thing, if there is one, is that the delay gave my jaw bone adequate time to heal, so at least no bone grafting was needed.

Well, the much-anticipated dental implant finally occurred on this day, at 10:30 on Thursday morning. And might I add, sarcastically, what great timing - as this was the first week of fall semester classes, a time that is always totally busy and stressful. What could I do to make the crazy first week of classes even "better"? How about we add in a side of oral surgery!??? Yay!

I was to to be knocked out for the implant surgery, and they required someone else to drive me to and fro, so my husband accompanied me. Needless to say, I was off work for the day. I don't have to tell you that by mid-week, I was dreading the whole thing! I suspect it was that whole "you might be in pain the whole rest of your life and you may never enjoy eating again" thing that he said back in February.

The oral surgeon's office is downtown, on Beaver Avenue. So we would park in the parking garage that is in the same building as the oral surgeon's offices. I needed to be prepared to cough up more than $800 for the portion of the surgery NOT covered by my insurance.

I have to take antibiotics twice a day for five days to prevent infection. We picked up the antibiotics a few weeks ago, as I remembered how upsetting it was last October when I had the tooth pulled, and after that event, we went to Walmart to get my prescriptions. That time, I wobbled all around Walmart and nearly fell. (Two days later, though, I backpacked into the Hammersley Wild Area, with a mouthful of blood and a pocket full of pain pills! My husband told me then that I'm one of the toughest girls he's ever met.) But this time, I was not planning to do anything extra after the surgery.

The procedure went as well as could be expected. They put a wristband around my wrist, with my name and birth date on it. They knocked me out and I woke up a little bit later with the implant installed, and I was in no pain at all! I did walk into a wall in the office, though, when I cut a corner too short and my body didn't respond to my brain's commands.

When we were done, my husband was starving and I was too, as I was not allowed to eat or drink for six hours before the surgery. (Sad to say, I am one who does not starve well!) I wanted a milkshake in the worst possible way. So he ran into C. C. Pepper's on North Atherton for a cheesesteak, my treat. And I walked over to McDonald's for a milkshake.

Guess what: their milkshake machine was out of commission, and I nearly cried at that news, I wanted one so badly! Milkshake denied! (My husband: "What a girl! They can drill into her jaw and she doesn't bat an eyelash, but take away her milkshake, and she cries like a baby!")

And so I went home instead. And T. Tiger checked the wristband they had put on me, to make sure that we'd gotten the right "Muz" back! And I ate at home: I had butter and peanut butter on very soft white American bread, with a big glass of milk, for lunch.

I had been very excited to discover, upon checking the TV guide in the morning, that Pink Panther movies were being featured on a local TV channel all day. But in the end, I spent my afternoon with a book, and even took an afternoon nap for a little while, as I was well and truly exhausted.

What you see above - Nardone's pizza  - is the treat I had for supper. It is a Pennsylvania specialty (here is their website), sort of a cheesy pizza bread. It can be heated in the microwave or the oven (it was microwave this time, which makes it really gooey). Nardone's is what you have when you can't eat anything else, and it is comfort food. When I buy it, I look for the one with the most cheese on it!

My husband worked in the medical field for many years, and was part of the pain management team at the hospital in Johnstown where he worked. He was very excited for this opportunity to help manage my pain, and kept asking me every hour or two, to rate my pain. "Zero," I'd say, and he almost looked a little disappointed that he couldn't help out! "But ask me again a little later." I giggled at the end of the evening, when he said, "I discharge you from the pain management team. You're worthless as a patient!"

As I type this story (which - I'm sorry - has sort of turned into a dental mini-series) the next day, I am still in no pain. The only lingering side-effect is that I can't quite open my mouth the whole way, as my jaw is a bit stiff from being open all that time for the drilling.

I am rinsing my mouth with saltwater. I am still eating soft foods for a day or so, and taking it easy. I will be chewing on the opposite side of my mouth. My tongue has found the new implant, with its smooth head, and finds it very, very interesting. I am taking my antibiotics (Amoxicillin) twice a day.

I have an appointment in October for the oral surgeon to check it, and hopefully, a few weeks after that, I'll get my own dentist to install the crown that goes atop the implant. This week's dental surgery kept me wakeful two nights in advance, stewing over it. However, I have had many crowns in my life, and have absolutely NO FEAR of the next steps. So, yay me, we are well on our way toward resolution! The thing I feared most is behind me!*

The soundtrack song is this one, from the film The Rescuers: the Rescue Aid Society.

*And let me state also that once I retire, I lose my dental insurance. Yes, I can Cobra it if I want to, and I may opt to do that. But I wanted the bulk of the implant expenses to occur while I was still employed with Penn State. So let me note that this whole "delay, delay, delay" thing has impacted other Very Big Decisions in my life, which we'll talk about more sometime soon. . . .

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