At Least I’ll Die With Good Teeth

Her name is Ira, my new hygenist at my new Dentist’s office. She has a lovely, think Estonian accent and a very caring, nurse-like demeanor.  She reviewed my Health History with me and connected immediately.  It is strange how we find intersections everywhere. It turns out that Ira has a friend with a similar paired condition as mine–a rare twin with twin curses.  Her friend’s condition is a Crohn’s/PSC combination, while mine is UC/PSC.  I think the timelock is the same either way.  Evidentially her friend is on a transplant list.

I’m not, and I don’t want to be. Technically, I should be on that as well, but I’m there to talk about teeth, at present, not dying. Ira and I can talk about the heavy realities when she’s scraping the roots of my teeth to save them.  After years without health insurance, caused by the inability to live a healthy life that involved health-supporting jobs, or with woefully inadequate health insurance that didn’t allow me to maintain a natural level of stability, stomach acids and puked-out bile have eaten away at the very implements I need to eat.

My teeth are in terrible shape. I have no one to blame but myself, I suppose. I needed to be doing better in that department a long time ago, but my quest to live a life without pain often led to not living a necessarily responsible life. I just lived, as completely as possible with as much energy my body would offer me, which, considering my conditions, wasn’t much very often.  Burning through all of my rocket fuel often meant a complete, exhaustive collapse at the end of the day.

Only to wake up two hours later, urgently needing to use the bathroom.

And then I would try to go back to sleep, weary from being violently awoken.  Eventually I would fall back asleep. Sometimes soon, sometimes not. That cycle continued for nights.  Nights stretched into years.

I became more asleep than awake.  The logistical coordination of brushing was too much work.  I know that sounds unbelievable. But when you’re worn out, physically obliterated, for most of your day, and all you want to do is fall into a soft slumber and let your body recharge, find a foothold in the fight to get your life back, you have few options. Sleep comes, whether you like it or not.

When I worked at the law firm, I would sleep over the lunch hour in the Maternity room, a room set aside for nursing mothers.  When I worked at the college, I would sleep in my car.  Often, I would become so completely exhausted that I would have to escape into a powernap for 15-20 minutes or risk complete collapse in front of my colleagues. Sometimes I would nap in bathrooms. Sometimes conference rooms.  Sometimes under my desk.  You can’t look weak at work.  You must maintain your mask.  As my former boss–an ice queen who shall not be named–at the law firm used to tell us, “We must look like ducks–calm and serene above  water, paddling like crazy below.”

Showing weakness doesn’t get you into a dental chair where you have the resources at your disposal to slow down the decay.  You can’t be weak.  You can’t break down.  There is little patience in the business world for broken people. No job, means no insurance, means the fractures don’t end.

Ira and I talked about Kerli, and how creative of a musician she is. Kerli is from Estonia, just like Ira. Another unexpected intersection of two people. What are the odds that I would have listened to a musician from her host country, and had a conversation with her about it.

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