Tag Archives: pro-active

The Shoe is Still on the Other Foot

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?

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When the Shoe is on the Other Foot…

Those of you that see me in real life are fully aware of my dental woes. It’s a humbling experience to be in such a vulnerable situation. I have had a myriad of MSK issues; fracture, sprains, strains, disc bulges, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence and even a diastasis. When these arise, it’s upsetting or just plain maddening, that I can’t play or run for a few weeks, but it’s not the same feeling when you’re out of your comfort zone.

The thought of having a root canal done was upsetting enough. I was angry, feeling like my dentist had failed me, after all I had been complaining about this tooth for 3 years (yes years). She would reassure me, do some desensitizing and send me on my way. Nothing beyond conservative treatment was considered until I went in with real pain. I couldn’t chew on that side, so out came the filling and the revelation that there was indeed something worse. So begrudgingly off I went to the endodontist for a root canal. Nervous, but relieved that finally this tooth would be dealt with and I could move on. After all it’s not life threatening, it’s just a root canal. So after about an hour of drilling, he gives me the bad news: he can’t save the tooth. It’s too far gone. Cue the waterworks. I can’t describe the emotions I went through, from disbelief and denial to anger and resentment. Not toward him, he is great and I highly recommend him, but toward my dentist of 5 years. I am angry that she didn’t listen to me and that she brushed it aside. Could this have been prevented? Maybe. But maybe is good enough for me. I am typically pro-active. As a physio I know how much easier it is to resolve something in the acute or early stages and the importance of early intervention. The good news is that this will make me more aware of how my patients feel when I give them the news of their diagnosis. I am also feeling very vulnerable. I didn’t study teeth. I don’t treat teeth. I treat TMJ, but that’s a joint like any other, it just happens to be in the mouth. Dr. Moncarz was very sympathetic to my tears. He reassured me, same as I do to my patients when I tell them they have a disc bulge or pelvic organ prolapse. I felt better, after all it’s not life threatening, and in fact, a disc bulge is probably worse. I guess at the end of the day, what we don’t know, or don’t understand is scary. Whether or not it should be. As far as my anger, it will subside. I don’t think I can trust my former dentist again. My endodontist has referred me to a new dentist. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Bottom line: Physios, please remember the emotional impact that your diagnosis can have on your patient. Patients, ask your therapist, dentist, doctor questions, we are here to guide you through. We’ve seen it a million times. It’s not scary to us.