Health, Life

Face Your Fears: The Third Chapter


In this seemingly endless series of entries that detail my fear of all things dentistry, I think I finally make peace with it all.

Today was the day of perhaps the biggest procedure of all the ones I’ve got waiting for me: the dreaded root canal. Just the mere mention of it to some will make them cringe; for dental chickens like me, it’s more like someone setting my hair on fire (and as of now, there’s lots to burn since I’m letting it grow).

To be perfectly honest, the procedure itself wasn’t all that bad but what happened during the whole thing was definitely a bit discouraging. Let’s just say I got there at 7 am and didn’t leave until 11:30 am. I’ll get to that later.

At 7 am sharp, I was taken to the chair and prepped for the procedure. That, of course, meant having my cheek injected with Novocain. While I discovered that many things in the industry have changed, the one thing that hasn’t is the size of the syringe and the pressure of the needle as its inserted into your cheek. Still slightly painful, still freaky and nightmarish to witness.

Thankfully, that would be about the only discomfort I would feel.

The doctor told me to rub my cheek in order to get the Novocain working and boy, it did. As he saw other patients, I slowly felt the right side of my face going numb. It’s always a weird sensation, especially when you have an itch in the region that is numb. How is that even possible? And how do you satisfy that? I tried to no avail.

Then the fun began. Once he gave me the sign that he was going to begin, I donned my Bluetooth headphones — better sound and no wires to complicate matters — and picked some music to listen to.

First he had to remove some decay from the tooth which was already chipped. Scrape, scrape, scrape and a little drilling. Afterward, he started to dig into the tooth in order to reach the nerve which, if it were still healthy and alive, would have bled when he finally reached it.

That’s when I realized I hated the smell of my teeth being obliterated by water-jet drilling instruments but also remembered how it used to be with actual drills. The sound is now much less frightening and the music drowned it out so it was a wash.

His assistant kept adding dilator to the area in order to open things up but it yielded no results with all the excavating. That’s where we hit a snag. The nerve was dead and there was no clear indication of when they would reach it. As a result, he had to keep taking x-rays in order to determine how much closer he was.

In between delays, he took time to juggle his other patients while I sat and waited for him to return: checking social media, texting Ann, taking pictures killed time.

Photo Jul 10, 10 35 33 AM

Yes, even in the dentist’s chair, I’m being all artsy-fartsy.

There would several of these delays until the x-rays showed that the nerve was finally reached. By now, the pressure or potential pain of the procedure wasn’t on my mind. What was driving me crazy was having my mouth open for so long while he worked on the tooth. Granted I shut it as he worked on other patients but my jaw was becoming incredibly sore after a few hours, and I would be in the chair until about 11:30 am or about 4.5 hours total.

Now if you’ve never had a root canal done I won’t bore you (see what I did there?) with the details. I’ll just let this picture sum it up.

Photo Jul 10, 11 00 49 AM

See all those miniature drills and pointy things? Once the hole was made in my tooth, every single one of them found its way down said hole and I swear it seemed like he used a thousand of them.

Photo Jul 10, 9 47 57 AM

Success! And digital x-rays freaking rock. If you’re old enough to remember when x-rays had to be developed in a darkroom, you know what I mean.

Once this goal was achieved, more scraping and drilling followed and after that, filling the hole with silicone and other thin, long, red needle-like things. And again, it seemed like there were thousands of them being dropped in there.

Finally, the home stretch. Bonding was added to make the tooth feel like a normal tooth again and after all of that, we were done. I was beginning to wonder if just pulling the tooth would have been easier but that’s why he’s a dentist and I’m not.

When I got home, the family expected me to be a drooling, disheveled mess but much to their dismay, I wasn’t and immediately made lunch because I was so freaking hungry after all that. It was hard to enjoy a hot dog with a sore jaw and the Novocain still not entirely worn off but I needed something in my stomach.

And while I didn’t do much but sit there and listen to music, I was exhausted when it was all over and thankful I took one of my paid Summer Days to stay home and take a nap afterward. Sure I could have gone to work but a nap felt so much better.

This is not the end of things by far, but I don’t think any of them will compare to this. My dentist was incredibly patient with me and explained everything in detail. An excellent job and I couldn’t be happier with him. And my wallet is a little shorter now but insurance paid a whopping 80% of the procedure so there’s that, too.

I’ll definitely be ready for the next thing, and it’s safe to say that my fear has finally gone away – even if my jaw is still sore as I write this.

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Health, Life, Money

Face Your Fears, Part Deux


About two months ago, I had mentioned in a post that it was time to get over my somewhat rational fear of dentists – or at least they work they do – and get the ball rolling with an exam and whatever else the dentist may recommend.

Today was that day. And the results of my visit were anything but favorable.

I went to a local office that has a sparkling reputation on Yelp! and is also where Anthony and my mother-in-law go for cleanings (she usually takes him so they get it done at the same time).

After filling out what seemed like an endless questionnaire regarding my personal health and dental visits, I was called into the back where I took a seat and had a series of 18 x-rays taken.

Things are definitely different now – they are digital. The last time I had them done, you still had to bite down on a small piece of plastic or cardboard whose corners felt pointy when the nurse stuck them in under your tongue. Then they had to develop them. Now you bite down on a device that transmits the image to a computer. So far, so good.

Then the dentist sat down next to me, introduced himself, went over the x-rays and pointed out everything that was wrong in my mouth (aside from the occasional profane language that slips out of it). Next, he let me know what he thought should be done first based on the severity of each condition.

Yeah. There’s that much. Fuuuuu…

It was during this consultation when I explained my fear and he told me that, of course, it wasn’t uncommon. He also told me how some of his patients were actually worse than me. (For privacy, I won’t go into details.) But the fact that I was sitting there speaking to him and preparing myself for whatever treatment he thought necessary put me way ahead of those he mentioned. I was already on the field ready to play; they hadn’t even shown up to the clubhouse.

His first recommendation was simple: bonding my two front teeth, both of which were a bit jagged at the bottom and could possibly chip at any moment. He also explained that this would be a great way to ease myself back into the patient’s chair and dental care as a whole.

And that’s where we started. I asked if I could listen to music during the procedure and he had no objections. In fact they supply their own if you need them but I’m not sure what kind of music I’d be listening to and I’m pretty picky with my headphones, so I used my own earbuds and thank goodness for Spotify Premium and my iPhone.

He told me to raise my left hand if I felt any discomfort during the procedure and amazingly, I didn’t. As he and his assistant blazed through the process of bonding my teeth, Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil kept my mind off of what was doing on inside my mouth. About the only thing that got to me, despite the volume level being somewhat high, was the scraping of the bonding material from the teeth. I feel myself cringing just typing about it.

(Listen to the album here)

And that was it. I had gotten this far and with only a few beads of sweat on my forehead and maybe a slightly left watery eye. And naturally, a sore jaw that is still sore. He told me that if I can survive this procedure with no anesthetic then the next one – a pretty big one – shouldn’t be an issue. He also referred me to an oral surgeon who will be handling the extraction. I’ve seen him before and he’s good, at least from what I can remember with the twilight sedation I was under.

Even so, I’m still worried about the next thing since I’ve never had it done. And after that I’ve got a laundry list of other things that needs to be checked off. Strangely, the tooth with missing parts wasn’t the worst one. Sure, it will still have to get extracted but the x-rays showed that another one that I knew was slightly chipped had worse damage to it, and that’s the next thing to be taken care of in a few weeks.

We had planned on taking a road trip to San Francisco this year but unfortunately, it looks like the summer will be have to be scheduled around all of my procedures. Additionally, the job gives us three paid Summer Days that we can take for three-day weekends if we wish. Those plus my remaining sick hours and possibly some vacation days will most likely used for days I need to have work done.

Then there’s paying for all of this. Even with insurance, it’s goodbye, Vacation Fund!

But at least I’ve taken the first step toward having better dental hygiene. It will take some time and money to get it all right but I know it will definitely be for the best.

Health, Life, Vacation

Face Your Fears


6425b286c9f1ca14ba538f0e8d20ff45Next week is the start of our vacation in fabulous Las Vegas. It’s something that we had planned for months and saved up for, and we have a list of things to accomplish while we are there, some free and some not.

Either way it’s happening and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying some time away from home and office, and just be a family. Our list is long. It will be [mostly] conquered. You will see pictures on Instagram.

But the one thing I’m not looking forward to when we return is something that I really should have done sooner: visit the dentist. You see, I’ve got a few teeth – well, one is a partial tooth – that need some TLC or perhaps even an extraction. The last time I put off a dentist visit was years ago when I had a tooth literally rotting away and at one point, cold air entering my mouth (when I would inhale while speaking) would produce excruciating pain. I can’t even describe it but I know I couldn’t speak much. My coworkers secretly loved it I’m sure.

While one of the teeth in question has yet to reach that point, I don’t want it to. The other tooth is chipped and will need some care as well but nothing like the other.

Now you’re probably wondering why I just don’t go right-effing-now to get it done. There really isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t – I have dental insurance and plenty of sick days at work. But the answer is simple: I am afraid.

I fear dentist offices. Everything about them. The sound, the smell, the feeling. I will go to the doctor and have every exam possible done to me without hesitation. I will give blood without a second thought. But the dentist? I have to be forced.

In fact when I had to get that rotting tooth extracted, I paid the extra $300 to be put to sleep during the procedure. It was money well spent considering I didn’t have to expose myself to all that freaks me out. I remember counting to three and then waking up, asking the dentist if they had done anything at all. It was nice.

But the fear is still there, and with good reason.

Today, there are several kinds of people who work strictly on teeth. The dentist is for check-ups and cleanings. Your oral surgeon specializes in pulling teeth. Orthodontists straighten them out.

And when I was growing up, orthodontia was starting to take off. I mean, every freaking kid had braces and yours truly was no exception, in addition to wearing neck gear and a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth (later removed by Ann’s boss, an orthodontist).

Before I could have my braces put into place, I had to go to the dentist to get four teeth extracted. Yes, four. Two top, two bottom. And they were not in any condition to be extracted, meaning they had pretty much taken up residence and had no fear of ever being removed.

That all changed.

Remember, this was the time before oral surgeons and other kinds of specialists so my dentist was the one who had to do it. And when I think of that day, it’s pretty traumatic. There was blood all over gloved hands. Grinding and crunching sounds. Tools banded around the teeth to be extracted. Feeling the pressure of the teeth being pulled from my jaw (and I don’t handle physical pressure well). The dentist sitting what seemed to be literally on top of my while be tried with all his might to remove these four teeth. And of course, seeing the tooth in all its glory being held by a pair of pliers and seemingly six inches long. It all seemed cartoonish, but gone horribly awry.

I’ll be honest about this. That experience traumatized me for life. If not for this, I would have no problems happily skipping myself to a dentist for any kind of routine work. But as it stands now, that experience really messed me up and I won’t go until I’m at a point where things can’t wait any longer.

It’s stupid. It’s most likely not good for me. But then again, neither is drinking soda but I’ve already stopped doing that. (Seriously, stop drinking that garbage. It’s got no nutritional value and is a shit-storm of chemicals in a can. STOP. IT. NOW.)

So I’ve decided that upon our return from vacation, I need to face my fears and get this shit taken care of before it gets to the point my last extraction reached. I’m not sure how many people I will have to see or what, but I know that sucking it up and being a man about it is the only thing I can do.

Here’s hoping that nothing happens while on vacation or at the very least, I win $300 on the slots to pay for the twilight anesthesia.

Because I’m gonna need it.

Bike Life, Health, Life

The Sky Is Falling


JobuEvery now and then, life throws a really nasty curve at you, and there’s no amount of rum or fried chicken you can offer Jobu that will help you hit that curveball.

And last week, I had my curve.

For those who don’t know, my main mode of transportation only has two wheels – either scooter or recently acquired Yamaha R3 motorcycle. And any rider will tell you that the main thing to keep in mind is that when you’re riding, consider yourself invisible.

I do – all the time. As far as I’m concerned, cagers* are completely oblivious to my presence and with the number of them texting and on their phone in general, it’s absolutely true. Chances are they’re even oblivious to fellow drivers, too.

So when friends and relatives find out that you’ve given up driving in favor of something more inherently dangerous (yet much more economical and practical in terms of traffic), naturally they are concerned for your well-being.

And I’m okay with that.

It’s been nearly two years since I started riding and up until last week, it’s been an enjoyable experience. Granted, there have been times when distracted drivers (read: on their phone) slowly drifted into my lane, prompting me to yell and honk at them. No harm, no foul; just a slight annoyance and I carry on – or a severe tongue-lashing at the next red light. (I despise the act of texting while driving even more these days.)

Then there’s lane-splitting which I do, but it’s not like I’m lane-splitting at ridiculous speeds. I’m not. Doing so is just crazy. I do, however, take advantage of it at red lights to get away from traffic because distancing yourself from it is safer.

By the way, whether you like it or not, lane-splitting is legal in California.

But last week. Wow, last week. Nothing could have prepared me for it.

It seems I had an accident on my scooter but here’s the strange thing about it: there were no witnesses and I was the only one involved. Try and wrap your head around that one if you can. And if you can’t, the video will prove it.

Basically, here’s what happened.

I park at a lot a few blocks away from the office. It’s been where I’ve parked since I started my freelance gig in August 2015. At the entrance and exit, there is an arm that raises when you either a) pay your fee or b) wave your parking pass at the sensor.

And just like that, once you pass under the arm, you’re in the underground lot.

Last Thursday, something strange happened at the exit.

I packed up all of my stuff in my scooter and got ready for my ride home. Then, as I always do, started my GoPro camera to document my ride in case anything happened. There’s a good chance that any incident wouldn’t be may fault so documentation is important.

I rode up the ramp toward the exit and waited for the sensor to recognize the presence of my scooter at the arm. Knowing exactly when it raises and how quickly it does, I approached it at my normal rate of speed.

Aaaand that’s when it happened.

Just as I was approaching the exit, the arm decided it wasn’t going to stay up. So here I am accelerating toward the raised arm thinking everything was all hunky-dory – then it almost decapitates me.

In the process, I fell hard on my right side with the scooter landing on my right leg.

What you see here is me not reacting in time to this. I just couldn’t do it. I kept my hand on the throttle and I rode through the arm as it lowered, bending the holy hell out of it in the process – and thrashing my neck a bit, too. This was taken shortly after my coworker informed me of it.

Photo Feb 18, 6 20 54 PM

I didn’t even notice the damage to my neck until a coworker came by and pointed it out as I was shooting videos of me describing what just happened. I was more concerned with my scooter not starting immediately after the incident and how I was going to get home. (When you ride, you’ll understand.)

Fortunately, it decided to start after a call to Ann in which she told me to summon our insurance’s roadside assistance service. We’ve since joined AAA not because the gecko didn’t help, but we just felt that having an extra lay of security is the right thing to do.

But the scratch on my neck was just one thing. I assessed the damage to my scooter and it looks pretty scratchy now, and the reflector on the right side is now broken. Other than that, it’s fine and still runs.

As for the rest of me, I hurt. I had pain in my right shoulder, right knee, and right side of my neck. After all, I just turned 47 and am edging ever-so-closer to Senior Citizen discounts at Denny’s.

I didn’t seek immediate help nor did I talk to anyone at the condo complex where we sublet parking spaces. When I got home, I immediately emailed our HR department to let them know what happened so they would have the info FTITM.

They did, and got the paperwork rolling. It was to be a workman’s comp incident since it happened at a place that they sublet.

After giving them the details and showing them the video (to which everyone reacted the same way: “OH SH**!”), I was sent to the local urgent care to get checked out. Based on my pain, they recommended no less than six sessions of physical therapy.

Now keep in mind that I’d already used some of my sick pay to combat a bug I was just getting over. The thought of using more for this wasn’t really cool with me.

In addition to physical therapy, I was given a care package consisting of a reusable cold pack, an electric heat pack, anti-inflammatory pills and Tylenol. Not exactly a Halloween bag.

They then scheduled my physical therapy session for the following Monday, followed by a doctor’s check-up immediately after.

During the session, I was bent in all kinds of ways that would probably make any professional contortionist blush. But the good thing was that I wasn’t experiencing pain at any of the targeted areas. I may be getting older but it seems my body is still like a Timex watch.

Seeing no need for further sessions, the therapist signed me off. I then went to see the doctor and he released me for work duty, as if I work hard sitting at a desk all day.

Now if this had happened with my shiny new motorcycle, I would have been slightly more annoyed even if it was an accident. I probably would have endured more damage to my body as it is considerably heavier than my scooter with metal pegs protruding from the sides. That could hurt. But that wasn’t the case so it’s cool with me.

After all this, I’m over it. I had to endure a few days of pain so big deal. The company has since moved my parking privilege across the street to the lot under the office where there are no arms to deal with. Additionally, my employer saw to it that was given the best of care. I have absolutely no complaints.

There will be no lawsuits, no claims, no nothing. In fact, I’m feeling so normal I’m going running in the morning. I can just chalk this up to being a freak accident which is exactly what it was. The company is going to have a chat with the condo management to see what can be done about the arm sensitivity, and chances are they’ll have to replace the arm since my neck really jacked it up.

Photo Feb 18, 6 22 58 PM

And everybody thought that a driver was going to take me out?

Wrong!

*A cager is rider-speak for anybody in a car. Hey, don’t take offense. I’m still one whenever the family goes anywhere.

Health, Life, Work

Broken 


That’s pretty much how I feel after today’s unplanned visit to my doctor.

The tendinitis that’s been bothering my right wrist/thumb turned out to be a little worse than another doctor had diagnosed. I kind of figured that was going to be the case because the pain is still there and only seems to be getting worse.

In fact, this doctor — my on-again, off-again sawbones — did a much more thorough exam that included my squeezing his fingers and a lot of poking and prodding along the areas where I feel the pain. He confirmed that’s it’s definitely tendinitis and recommend a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain.

I’ll get it sometime. Today wasn’t that day.

Also worth noting is that the compression band I’ve been wearing on my wrist isn’t doing much good because most of the affected area is in my thumb. He suggested one that not only covered my wrist but thumb as well.

As far as the cause of it, he believes it to be a work-related injury because I can’t honestly tell you anything I might have done outside of work to bring it on. I’m 46 and my extreme sports days are far behind me (as if they ever existed) so he’s probably right. When I think about everything I do and have done at my job it’s easy to see how it could be the cause. Plus, throwing around 20-lb. boxes of frozen dough in the Bakery every night probably isn’t helping me. The job is very hands-on and physical with little time to take it easy.

In short, it has broken me.

Now the fun part. Because I’m in the Bakery, I’m constantly putting on and taking off gloves. It’s gotten to a point where putting a glove on my right hand is a painful experience, one that is repeated all night long. There’s no way I can get better if I’m doing this, plus wearing a compression sleeve on top of that. I haven’t even mentioned how many times I wash my hands in a typical shift (let’s just say it’s plenty).

And if it doesn’t get better then surgery could be in my future. Just what I always wanted! (Can you sense my sarcasm?)

If I get a doctor’s note that limits my workload, I really don’t know what I would be doing because everything in a grocery store is very physical. I know for sure that my current position would be out that’s since what broke me in the first place. Bagging and front end duties would also be impossible. I just don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out when I get a note from him on Monday. The only logical solution would be to get a less physical job and trust me, I’ve been looking but nothing is turning up. Even so, writing with a pen tends to inflame the injury, making it hard to do. Heck, even moving it in the wrong direction will make yell with pain. It’s no fun at all and makes me grumpy. We’ll see what happens.

I also found out I gained about 15 pounds between visits (about 7 years) so he wants me to work on bringing that down as well as getting some blood work done. I’m on it.

But there has to be some kind of good news amongst all this, right? Well there  is. I’ll just let this tweet summarize things.

So…there’s that.

Goooooodnight, everybody.

Composed on my iPad using the WordPress app and SwiftKey, because it’s not as painful as typing on a traditional keyboard 

Health, Life

Only It’s Not Coffee


image
That's Good Drinkin'!

That mug you see is not filled with coffee as the quote from The Big Lebowski might imply. In fact I’m not sure it was ever used for coffee since my drink of choice at my last job was green tea with jasmine, one packet of artificial sweetener and a squeeze of honey added to kill any semblance of tea (and dignity) it might have had.

And I really wouldn’t consider any coffee I concoct to still be coffee for the same reason as the tea: the additives, only twice as many.

In either case, the current contents of the mug are not meant to give me pleasure but instead provide relief. It is filled with warm TheraFlu Nighttime Formula as I have been fighting off a cold for the last few days with today being the worst yet. While I was able to completely clean then den and then go to work yesterday, the only thing I did today was go grocery shopping at WinCo in the morning and it wiped me out. After lunch, I donned my pajamas and robe and have been roaming the house in sickly comfort. The family, as a result, has been avoiding me and I can’t really blame them.

Being sick sucks. I want to run, go for a 20-mile bike ride, anything to break a sweat. Instead I sit and do nothing. Blah.

So I just thought I’d post since they are so infrequent. My Facebook Vacation also continues but there’s more to it. It’s just not working for me with any browser and I can’t upload pictures from my devices via WiFi. I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t really miss it either. It’s an incredible time-waster.

I think that TheraFlu is starting to kick in. Goodnight.

Composed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with the WordPress app

Computers, Economy, Electronics, Fatherhood, Free Stuff!, Health, Hobbies, Life, Music, Phone-Cam, Photography, Requiem in Pace, Staycation, Work

2013: My Year In Review


Since this is a personal blog, I figured that instead of writing a year-end review about other things, it would be better suited for me to give a year-end review of things that actually happened in my life. It’s much easier to do something like this now since chances are I captured those moments with my phone, giving me photographic proof of the events.

With all of that out of the way, here’s a month-by-month photo essay of how things went with me and the family in 2013, some of which was never mentioned here on the blog. Take a virtual trip of the things we did, places we saw, events that brought us happiness, triumph, and even sadness.

Got your scrollin’ finger ready? Good! Here we go!

Continue reading “2013: My Year In Review”