Tired, and ready to go home after teaching swimming all afternoon, I made myself a cup of coffee to go.
Walking to the car, talking with my son, I took a sip.
PAIN shoots up the right side of my mouth.
PAIN radiates around my jaw and through my cheekbone.
I stop walking, and cluth the side of my face.
My son, oblivious to my situation, continues talking.
I pull myself together enough to tell him that I cannot talk, and he needs to wait a moment.
I realized that the mild pain, that I had noticed earlier that day, was not connected to my sinuses or my ear. (In the past, I had pain from toothaches that turned out to be sinus infections)
This was no mild toothache; this was serious PAIN.
I had been to the dentist a month before, in July. Everything was fine. I felt some sensitivity in several teeth, but all the x-rays looked good.
Taking care of my teeth is important. One possible side-affect of my chemotherapy is damage to my jaw.
Zomera (Zometa) generates dense bone tissue that can reenforce bones tissue that was destoryed by cancer. Zomera does not reverse the bone damage, but it is effective in preventing fractures. Unfortunately, it cuts down on the blood supply to the jaw, and that can create other problems, like osteonecrosis of the jaw.
The next day, Monday, I went to the dentist.
My dentist, it turns out, was on vacation. One of his partners, who had done a root canal for me several years ago, saw me right away. He was unfamiliar with Zomera, and referred me to Hadassah.
That night, I could barely eat or drink. Hot or cold food/drink caused shooting pain, that took almost half an hour to fully subside.
So, this morning I went to Hadassah's Mouth Clinic. This clinic specializes in providing dental care to patients who have other serious medical conditions, such as cancer. The doctors there are familiar with Zomera, and how to treat patients who are undergoing chemotherapy.
The dentist who treated me was terrific. At first, I was worried, because he looked so young (read: inexperienced) and was Israeli (read: I expected him to be brusque and condescending). My preconceptions were unfounded. The dentist patiently answered all my questions, explained what he was doing as he went along, and consulted with the senior dentist when he had any questions. He was gentle, careful, and experienced; he practiced dentistry for 10 years before deciding to specialize in treating patients like me.
The dentist took care of the first stage of the root canal. He applied a topical antibiotic to the inside of the tooth, and put in a temporary filling.
I will have to return, either to him or to my regular dentist, for a permanent filling and a crown.
Meanwhile, now that the anesthetic has worn off, I am in pain again. It is not nearly as debilitating as it was this morning. But the dentist did warn me that it could take a day or two for the pain to subside.
The pain, and the stress, wore me out.
I came home, fed my kids lunch, then crashed. (I slept for almost four hours!)
I am no longer sensitive to hot and cold. In theory, I can eat anything.
In practice, chewing hurts.
I am out of ideas of soft foods. (How much yoghurt can a person eat?)
I am hungry.
Didn't we agree that cancer patients should be exempt from all these other minor health problems?
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,