Something I haven’t talked about at all here is this sudden strange and ongoing problem with my teeth. I can’t pin it to any drug side effects or collateral damage from the cancer itself, but I’m absolutely convinced it’s related in some way.
I had to have my back lower molar on the right side (tooth #32, to be exact) extracted within days of our return from California due to an infection in the bone. And now, on Monday, I am scheduled to have the top molar directly above it (tooth #2) extracted as well. It’s just weird. All this mouth pain. At first I was convinced it was because I grind my teeth at night. After all, I’ve been under a bit of stress and in that weird sleep/wake state that passes for a night’s sleep for me, I know I’m clenching my jaw, pushing my teeth into each other with a ton of force. But it seems there’s more to it. The theory is that tooth #2 is fractured, even though nothing shows on the x-ray. My sensitivity and pain is through the roof.
My dentist tells me that neither one of those molars is necessary, and in fact, it’s probably going to feel more natural and less awkward when the top molar is extracted. As it stands now, that tooth has no partner on the bottom row, so chewing on the right side is an incredibly strange experience. Tooth meeting gum is just weird.
I guess the good news is that there’s really no cosmetic impact. You’d never notice that my last molar on the top and bottom are missing, even if you looked directly into my mouth. But I have to tell you, it totally pisses me off. I feel weirdly ashamed that my teeth are falling out, or being pulled out; it seems like such an unnecessary insult on top of everything else.
One of the side effects of the Aromasin is bone and joint pain. My dentist won’t rule out a connection, but there’s nothing in the drug literature that specifically mentions teeth. I know I probably haven’t been on the drug long enough for it to have that kind of an impact, but I really want to lay the blame somewhere.
I’m more nervous about having this tooth pulled Monday than I was for either of my surgeries. I had the first pulled with nothing more than Novocain to cut the pain. The timing was so close to my surgery that I was worried about having too much anesthesia on top of anesthesia. Now that I’ve had such a bad reaction to the surgery anesthesia, I’m reluctant to go under again for the extraction, even though it’s an option. I’ll probably stick with the Novocain, even though this time I kind of know what I’m in for — and it’s not pleasant.
Last night one of my editors emailed a list of stories to work on. One of them was about wearing a mouth guard. I responded right away and said, my teeth are a disaster and there’s no way I can research and write about this topic. We had a good laugh and she offered an alternative. I only wish I could change my life as easily as I was able to change the assignment.