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Friday, December 13, 2013

54: A Good Time at the Dental Surgery Clinic

Women are always looking for a new, chic way to tie a scarf. I’ve got one for you. In reflection of the festive season, I suggest a scarf of red and green, perhaps in a natty plaid. Loop the middle of the scarf under your chin, lifting both ends straight up. Tie a loose knot on top of your head, and draw one end down and forward over your shoulder to show off the fringe to nice advantage.

Now take a gel ice-pack, the nice supple kind, and slip it into a fat, cozy sock from your bag of unmatched ones that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away. Then slip the sock à la ice-pack inside the scarf, down one cheek—the sore one, curving it under the jaw. This will enable you to go about a certain amount of business while hopefully curbing the swelling and pain in the jaw as the freezing slowly comes out. .
If you opt to omit the sock, you may frostbite your face. Come crying to me, and I’ll sell you a little spray bottle of my colloidal silver gel, made with half colloidal (double strength) and half aloe vera. It’s what I gave my son Lindsay last weekend when he came home with a reddish brown brand on his cheek after a sledding (snow-mobiling) trip in frigid temperatures.

But back to the ice-pack and my article: if you haven’t just had dental surgery, this post may be of no use to you—unless you find some entertainment value in it.

On the subject of freezing coming out, I thought perhaps it would be less traumatic if it thawed more gradually, because it was happening now and it was a humdinger. I quickly hit upon a brilliant way to slow down the thawing process. I dug a pint of Häagen Dazs vanilla ice cream out of a special place in the freezer where I have been hoping that no one else would find it. I began to eat it, directly out of the container, letting it float over to the very damaged side and slowly melt there, calming the inflammation. It felt very, very soothing, and it tasted very, very good.

In the middle of this inspired therapy, my son Ben came out into the kitchen. He stopped short when he saw me eating ice cream, and being a man of few words, he simply raised his eyebrows—very high. He knows, as does anyone who knows me, and anyone who has followed my blog, that I don’t “do” desserts, because my body doesn’t tolerate them, and that ice cream in particular, in the past, has thrown me for an awful whammy.

But I’ve recently made a discovery: Häagen Dazs is made only from real ingredients: cream, concentrated skim milk, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract. None of the other strange things that you’ll find in various combinations in every other brand I’ve checked: glucose-fructose (bad!), pectin, mono and diglycerides (derived primarily from partially hydrogenated soy bean and canola oil. They may also be synthetically produced). Salt, sodium bicarbonate, potassium sorbate, sodium citrate, xanthan gum, phosphoric acid, glycerol monostearate, natural (read: unnatural) flavour, sunflower oil, soy lecithin, stabilizers, guar gum, cellulose gum, polysorbate 80, locust bean gum, carrageenan, calcium sulphate, colour, and tartrazine.

So I gave the Häagen Dazs the acid test one night a while ago and had a generous serving right before bed. And contrary to my recent past experience, I went straight to sleep and slept eight hours. It was such a profound experience that I remarked to my dear husband Greg in the morning: “I’ve fought this health battle for so long and suddenly realize I only ever had a Häagen Dazs deficiency.”

By contrast, he and I recently had dinner out, and when he ate his dessert with the usual two scoops of vanilla ice cream, I decided to hazard two little nibbles of his cold garnish—and within five minutes, my head was spinning. So although sugar is not a good thing, it would seem I can handle a little, but evidently it’s the rest of the ingredients that create chemical chaos in me.

Perhaps you’re wondering what the subject of this article really is. It seems to be all over the map. It reminds me of how we wrote back in some of the arts classes I took in university. Stream of consciousness, we called it. And we would read aloud what we had written to the rest of the class. No one was ever censored for rambling self-indulgence—or rank indecency for that matter. Forbid that anyone should inhibit the creative and intellectual process! And there were other influences in effect. It was the early seventies: what can I say?

But, dear readers, we were in the kitchen, with Ben watching me eat ice cream. I said in my most compassionate voice, “I would share this with you, son, but I’ve been eating it right out of the carton and I’m concerned that I may have some terrible germs and I wouldn’t want you to catch anything from me.”

Ben had been my designated driver for the day: the oral surgery clinic had told me that I would be considered legally impaired for 24 hours following my procedure. When we arrived there, I told the surgeon I was really looking forward to this. Probably not something he often hears. I clarified: “I’m looking forward to getting this behind me.”

You see, for at least a year, I had been trying to face the fact that fatigued adrenals that are not responding to treatment are very likely being kept under stress by chronic infection in the mouth. Over time I embraced the inevitable, found a “biological” dentist, who gave me a hi-tech 3D x-ray, which a radiologist then goes through carefully, millimetre by millimetre, and looks for trouble spots. This culminated in the removal of two old broken-off teeth as well as the discovery of three more, seemingly functional, crowned teeth that were all infected and poised to erupt at any moment.

It was these three molars that were removed today. The surgeon also had to do a bone graft, which required another incision back where my wisdom teeth once stood, to “harvest” some material to plant in these newly emptied sockets.

I had opted for sedation and had assumed that that meant I would be mellow but conscious throughout. Not so. They had just slipped in the IV and I was watching my pulse reading out on a screen: “74” (I guess I was just a tad anxious), then “72, 71 ...” and the next thing I knew they were telling me to climb off whatever I was on (was it a wheelchair or a gurney?) and climb onto a bed. I couldn’t believe they expected me to get there on my own steam, but I did. Then I lay there floating in and out of stupor.

A young man was wheeled in and told to climb onto the bed next to mine. I don’t know what he came in on either. I found his arrival fascinating and turned partially onto my side to watch better. Apparently the attendants found my interest inappropriate; they pulled the curtain between us. But they pulled it back again before they left. Good.

I turned toward him again. I guessed him to be in his early thirties. “How’re you doing, buddy?” I asked, as well as I could with a fat, numb mouth and a pile of gauze clamped between my teeth.

He answered with a question: “What happened?”

It was hard to understand him: he had a wad of paper towel protruding from his mouth that looked like a large origami crane had crashed and died there.

“I think you had some teeth pulled,” I offered.

“What happened to you?”

“I had three teeth pulled.”

“I had four,” he raised me, obviously remembering something.

We lay in silence for a few seconds.

“This is a good way to meet people, isn’t it?” I said.

He laughed, making a tortured sound. “You’re funny.”

He said something I couldn’t understand. “You’re mumbling,” I said. I asked him to repeat himself. He did. It sounded like, “This is the worst day of my life.”

So I repeated it as best I could with my own limitations, with a questioning inflection at the end, as a means of asking if I had heard correctly.

“No,” he said, “this is the best day of my life.”

“The best?”

“Yeah. I feel so good.”

“Yeah, me too. It’s the drugs.”

“You like it?”


“Me too.”

I thought a moment. “I haven’t done drugs in ... (It crossed my foggy mind that perhaps he would ask me why I didn’t do drugs anymore and I would share with him about Jesus. I strained my brain to think and calculate) ... thirty-five years.”

“Me either.”

“You weren’t even born thirty-five years ago.”

He started to laugh again. It sounded more like sobbing, and the origami crane flapped above his mouth. “You’re the funniest person I’ve ever met.” And he sobbed some more.

A man pulled back the outside curtain with a suddenly yank and stared intensely at my new friend, obviously thinking he was crying. “Are you laughing?” he asked briskly.

“Theth,” came the muffled affirmative through the bird’s wings. The man left.

“You’re mumbling again,” I said. “Would you please try to speak clearly?”

A man came in and told me my son was here and I could get up now. He stood there waiting.

“You’re going to let me get up by myself?” I asked dubiously.


“I’m not sure I can walk by myself.”

“Yes, you can,” he said.

I have no idea if he supported me with an arm. I floated like mist away from the bed, turning carefully back once to say goodbye to my friend. I was sorry to leave him. I wondered if I should give him my phone number. Or would he think that was inappropriate? “Good luck, buddy,” I said aloud; then I turned and swam out to the waiting room where I was put under the care of my son.

I was quite spacey on the homeward ride, and Ben was quietly amused. Once we got home, I wandered around the kitchen and various other places, slowly getting together a meal for the two of us, mine rendered unrecognizable by the blender. It was after that that the freezing began to disappear in earnest and the pain and swelling came on like a rhinoceros. I threw my usual pharmaceutical phobia out the window and swallowed one of the pain pills they’d given me, and I got out my red and green plaid scarf to rig up an ice-pack. Oh, and I’m taking the antibiotics, along with colloidal silver, which together afford a synergistic effect. Not taking any chances here. A week ago, a woman at the farmers’ market told me of a lovely young Filipino gal, part of a group she attends, who passed away just recently, suddenly, with no warning. An autopsy revealed that she’d had a silent infection in her mouth.

The swelling looked like it was going to get serious. I thought of some natural anti-inflammatory capsules I have in the cupboard and took a couple. The main ingredient is turmeric. That made me think of a turmeric drink that my wonderful massage therapist described to me. I didn’t have all the ingredients she uses, but, hey, considering my cooking skills were fostered in a remote cow-camp on Canada’s largest cattle ranch, improvisation was learned early on. (The memoirs of that time in my life, Yes, I Really Was a Cowgirl, is available on my website: a great Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for person.)

So I cooked up a mixture of turmeric, coconut oil, water, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and honey, and then stirred a spoonful of it into a mug of warm milk. Not unpleasant at all. Very soothing. So I sat there sipping quietly, occasionally adjusting my scarf and ice-pack, thinking about Christmas and friends and family and how I’d like to wish everyone a merry holiday and a blessed New Year.

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