Well dear friends here is the update. I saw my new dentist. She is a gentle soul with a compassionate heart. She was horrified by my journey and was very reassuring that she is sending me to the best periodontist she knows. He is in fact quite lovely. My first visit with him highlighted my two choices: bridge or implant. After a consultation and recommendation, I did some research (asked a couple of friends who work in dental practices) and opted for the implant. The process is long and grueling, oh and not covered by insurance, but it appears to be the better one for me.
Fast forward a month and I have undergone the first major appointment, where he removes the tooth and adds bone simulator to create a hospitable environment for the implant. I will spare you the gory details. What I found most interesting was the recommendations and my reaction towards them. I was advised not to exercise and go on a soft food diet for the week following my surgery. Here’s how that conversation went:
Dental Assistant: “It’s important that you not exercise for the week to allow for optimal healing”.
Me-Inside voice: “What? No bike? No workout, but, but…”
Me-Outside voice: “Does that include biking to work”.
Dental Assistant: “Yes and all other forms of activity: lifting, laundry, gardening”.
Me-Inside voice: “Do you know what I do for a living? “
Me-Outside voice: “My work is rather physical, how much activity are we talking?”
Dental Assitant: “Rest on the weekend and take it easy during work. It’s really important that the graft has time to heal”.
Me-Inside voice: “Ya,ya,ya I know, this woman is crazy.”
Me-Outside voice: “Ok.”
Dental Assistant: “You’ll also need to be on a soft diet for the next week. No hard crunchy foods, no chewy foods”.
Me-Inside voice: “But that’s what I eat, nuts and seeds, raw veggies, all day long”.
Me-Outside voice: “So much for my squirrel diet.”
Dental Assistant: “The squirrel is going into hibernation: ice cream, yogurt, soft foods.”
Me-Inside voice: “I’m lactose intolerant!”
Me-Outside voice: “I get the picture.”
Dental Assistant: “And no alcohol.”
Me-Inside voice: “Ok, kill me now.”
Me-Outside voice: “Ok.”
The interesting thing was my reluctance to follow these simple, short term changes. They’re not hard, and it’s not even for that long! In fact I am more restrictive with my patients who have a disc bulge or pelvic organ prolapse. The one good thing coming out of this is the reminder of what it’s like to be the patient. How simple changes can be really difficult for some patients to accept. It feels like one more affront to an already fragile state of mind. Therapists, remember this when you give your list of do’s and don’ts. What may be easy for you to give up may pose a difficult challenge for your patient. Understanding the reason behind the recommendations will go a long way in ensuring compliance. Having alternatives or giving examples is also helpful, just make sure the alternatives will work for your patient (ice cream and yogurt for lactose intolerance anyone?). Making changes to our routines is extremely hard. It means making new brain patterns but with a little support and encouragement, we can do it. Even me!
What’s the hardest thing you have been asked to give up?