Tuesday, April 17, 2007

gnawing fear

I've been in the nursing game for a few years now, and with time I've learned to be with my patients when I'm with them and to disengage when I'm not. Every now and then a patient gets past my professional boundaries and works their way into my heart, but on the whole, when I leave work I'm off duty and I leave it all behind.

Today I'm finding that a difficult task! I crossed paths with three patients all who had all their teeth removed. Not a pretty sight really, and it was made altogether worse by their age. We're not talking old people here - these patients were all younger than me. Scary stuff that I've carried home with me right beside my empty lunch box.

I can't get their gummy mouths out of my mind! Every time I close my eyes I see rotting teeth and sunken lips.

This, because deep down inside I've been carrying a secret fear that I might have gum disease myself.

It all began in December last year. We had some friends over for lunch and the wife mentioned that she has been taking antibiotics for the early stages of gum disease. These people are quite well to do, so there are no rotting teeth in sight, just nasty disease lurking beneath the gum line.

As she mentioned her problem, my heart sank. If she with the beautiful smile could have gum disease, might I too? I often feel as if my teeth have moved after eating an apple. I frantically try and wiggle them before deciding it's merely my imagination at work. My gum line is rising higher and higher. Sometimes when I clean my teeth there is blood on the toothbrush. All this suggests I have gum disease eating its way through my mouth. I know this because the internet told me.

So have I been to the dentist? No! I haven't been to a dentist for nine years. Last time I went I had masses of enormous fillings. As a twelve year old I had six adult teeth removed from my overcrowded mouth. I do not like dentists. I cannot bring myself to go. Besides, there's a shortage of dentists in Tasmania - I might no be able to get in anyway! And what if they really do tell me I have gum disease? I can't face it.

So, no trips to the dentist. Instead I dream that my teeth fall out in crucial meetings and I bring baggage home from work.

I will, I really will go to the dentist this year. I made the resolution in January that I would venture in and open up my mouth. There's still eight months. I still have time to meet this New Years resolution. I will. Seriously.

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At 9:31 pm, April 17, 2007, Blogger Sandy's Notes said...

Your so funny! I too have dreamt of falling teeth. But my gums are good; a little old but good.

I also hate going to the dentist. Last year I had to have a shot of Novocain and I cried. What a baby I am. I have a reason though. I had a broken jaw, a bad surgeon, and a lot of pain, a long time ago.

My dentist knows I'm a baby though and treats me like a little girl. Sad, but I love him for it.

At 11:56 pm, April 17, 2007, Blogger merry said...

OK, Cecily. You must go to the dentist!

I am now in a regular, twice-yearly routine ... but after college I did go about seven years without seeing a dentist! At first, my office changed dental plans so I was waiting for the new one to start, then I changed jobs ... I don't know, it just got really easy to put off! (I've never had teeth pulled other than wisdom teeth, but, I did suffer through eight years of orthodontics!)

I've got receding gums and my dentist has recommended seeing a periodontist ... which I have put off for a year, but actually have an appointment to go after my regular appointment this month (need new x-rays to bring with me!).

I think I did have 'go to the dentist' on my resolution list for more than one of those seven years!


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