Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I HATE dental work

This is the top of the mouth guard- you can see a larger slit in the front opening of it, near my thumb. This is where my tongue is supposed to be placed during the actual burst of radiation. While the radiation appointments are about half an hour, the radiation burst is only about 15 seconds, which is good, because the longer my tongue is there, the more I start to gag.

This is the top of it- kinda gives you an idea of how long it is. It really is a good few inches, and unfortunately, I have it in for about 20-30 minutes (basically the whole time) for my appointments. You really do gag pretty bad on it at first, but with some getting used to, it gets to a point of tolerable. They say by the end of this, this little thing will be like a friend to me. I don't care if it's plastic or not, I think by the end of this, I'll be ready to throw it in the fire.
So here's the long and short of it. The tumor was called a carcinoma expleomorphic adenoma. It is cancer. Fortunately for me, it is non-aggresive. They give me a 90% chance of beating it, in fact. I give myself a lot higher chance than that though.

After starting appointments a week late because of weather, I finally got into the UW cancer department, and am underway with treatment. It's an amazingly large process, and even just figuring out logistics is a bit of a nightmare.

My first real appointment was Monday and basically included a consultation with the doctor that I will be seeing. He described my treatment options, gave me as much information as he could and sent me on my way. I then had a dental appointment- something that I have been required to do due to the side effects of radiation in the area that I will be treated in.

The concern is that once I start radiation treatment, the bone along my jaw basically dies off. If I have any type of dental issues that would require a tooth extraction, or if the bone gets exposed in any way, I won't heal like I should. The dentists explained to me that just a simple removal of a tooth would include me spending half an hour a day for 50 days in a hyperbarric chamber.

Because of this, I was facing some pretty heavy duty dental work.  Not only did they create a dental guard that sits in my mouth for 20-30 minutes every time I receive radiation (it's terrible- 4 to 4.5 inches long, pushes my tongue into an awkward position and really triggers a fantastic gag reflex), they decided they needed to address 8 different dental issues in my mouth, including replacing a few old fillings, putting a couple more in, performing a root canal and removing my last wisdom tooth.

Apparently these decisions did not come lightly- I was told that a team of 8 dentists met for about an hour and a half just discussing what to do with me. I was told that in most people, much of this would never have been any issue, including the wisdom tooth, but with me, well, it was a different story.

At least all of the dental work is done. It honestly is what I was looking forward to the least. I was under general anesthesia for the work, which was fantastic, remember none of it, was given some good painkillers, and even got a strawberry milkshake on the ride home.

1 comment:

  1. The worst I've probably gone through was my wisdom teeth getting pulled. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the doctor had to dig as deep into my gums as they physically could and remove some bone that was in the way before even getting to the teeth. Having bone removed from your mouth AND teeth in all four quadrants hurts like