Tooth and nail.

I had a tooth pulled yesterday.

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There’s a couple of things going on that landed me at the point of having a tooth so broken they couldn’t repair it…

I’m claustrophobic as heck and I’m afraid of the dentist. {Any dentist.}

Type 2 Diabetes.


I grew up with severe asthma. Spending hours on breathing machines in the hospital and having to – to this day – carry a rescue inhaler. Struggling to breathe, breathing so hard my ribs hurt for days, feeling like a goldfish knocked out of their bowl… I remember the difficulty of trying to breath for days on end very, very clearly.

Fighting for air and not getting it is a feeling that instills instant, blind panic.

I have always feared anything that would compromise my breathing. I hate putting my face in the water, never wore masks for Halloween and I’ll go in full, irrational, freak-out mode if someone tries to cover my mouth, even in jest.

I’ve bitten and kicked at dentists. NOT because I’m an asshat.  I mean maybe I am, but it’s usually because it’s a fight/flight response and I felt they were blocking my breathing.

One of my charts was marked ‘Friendly Biter’.

I got asked not to return to one office — which was fine, I was never going back anyway. They blocked my mouth and nose with a work-dam during a root canal.  I lost my mind and rolled out of the chair mid-procedure after my attempts at arm waving, grunting and pushing away their hands didn’t work to alert them that I could NOT breathe…

As an adult I still feel like I have to warn every new dentist. ‘Uh… I’m claustrophobic. There’s a really good chance I might freak out on you. I mean, I’ll try really, really hard not to, but I have a history…’

No matter how wonderful and careful the dentists are — they’re messing with my mouth.  And in my mind that means my breathing. I have to do some serious brain-calming to get in and out of every single dentist chair and not bite or kick anyone.

Like a lot of folks, I had some early dentist visits where pain was involved which doesn’t help the situation.  Parental deception, scary instruments, noises, futile distractions.  And there’s no new toothbrush, sticker, toy or post-visit Icee that will ever make up for some of that. Most dental visits for me still involve a) lying about/hiding pain to avoid a procedure and b) being in tears.

Dentists and clowns still scare the crap out of me.

Go figure.

So, because of my fear of dentists, I don’t always get the preventative work done that should happen when you’re a non-dentist-phobic adult. I put crap off becasue I’m afraid it’s going to hurt and i’ll be scared.

And then it hurts.  And I’m scared.  And I have to go anyway.

Not the best example of adulting. 🙂

But let’s get to the root (pun intended) of this issue…. Type 2 Diabetes. T2.

My teeth were relatively normal and healthy with a filling or two until I got T2.  As the disease progressed unchecked, then I was ‘pretending’ it was no big deal and managing it poorly and then finally when I landed on heavy meds because being an ostrich hadn’t work….

T2 was rampant and doing damage.

Right around the time I was diagnosed with T2 my teeth started to have issues. Bad issues. Like every tooth in my head has had work. I have 7 root canals and crowns. One implant. And now I have two visible holes where teeth are missing…

Some dentists say it was the diet that I consumed that got me to 400 pounds that is the core issue.  Eat crap, eat diet laden with sugar; your teeth will fall apart.

Some say it’s genetics.  My mom had ‘soft teeth’.  So do I.

Some say it’s the T2 meds. They cause severe dry mouth and after a decade on those diabetes drugs, they create all kinds of dental and gum issues. {Including this wonderful yellowish tint that defies most whitening tactics.}

Some say that uncontrolled/poorly controlled blood sugars cause poor and delayed healing.

One dentist, recently, did research when I told him about T2 being in submission. He shared findings that teeth/gums are proving to be more prone to nerve/gum/tooth damage from uncontrolled blood sugars and T2 diabetes that previously thought. He feels strongly that the nerve damage from T2 hit my feet and my mouth and we’re just now seeing the extent of the damage.

I believe all of them.

Having this suddenly-crumbling, painful, tooth extracted reminds me of the silent damage T2 can do. And was doing.  And that I’ll have to keep paying for.

It also reminds me that I’m one HELL of a lucky woman.

I am so, so lucky this disease attacked my toes and teeth and not my heart, kidneys or other internal organs.

And it reminds me how grateful I am that I now have 6+ HEALTHY years to my name.

I have 6+ years of fighting off and reversing T2.

I have 6+ years that I have NOT done additional damage.


I was texting my friend Evelyn about my pulled tooth.

And I got to musing about what life would be like with 6 additional years of 400 pounds/barely controlled blood sugars/damage to my body.  What medical care would I be involved with?  What kind of meds would I be on and how much would it be costing me? Would I have finally lost my infected toes/feet?  Would my teeth be hanging in or falling out?  Would I have had a stroke, or lost my kidneys or had any of the other collateral damage that comes with obesity and T2…?

Would I even be alive had I not begun to fight to reverse this disease?

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Me: ‘I often wonder what life would be like right now if I was still unhealthy, obese, T2.  Like 6/7 years MORE damage.’

Evelyn: ‘According to what your doctor said, I may have never met you. So happy I did.’

Me: ‘You’re going to make me cry.  But you’re right. I think I would probably be dead. Having a tooth pulled is minor…’

Not to borrow trouble or create stories that don’t exsist….

But seriously?

What if I hadn’t turned things around?


I had an experience in the spring with scabs on my knees — SIGNS of a healthy body working to heal. Great scars, fun/stupid runner story to share, no infection, total healing.  AMAZING!

And this dang tooth serves as yet another reminder of the former life I lived/survived with T2.  Confirmation that I’m doing the right things and encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing.

Keep healthy. 

Keep added sugar out of my diet as best I can. 

Keep running/active for the love and joy of it all.

I think T2 did the damage that ruined the tooth, but my non-T2 body can now heal up the surgical wound quickly.

 

I’m lucky.  I worked hard to stop this disease from ravaging my body any further than it already had.

I’m lucky it’s just a tooth.

Still fighting this tooth and nail. (Get the pun?!)

 

 

 

 

 

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