Monday, September 22, 2008

The good news and the weird news

Well, I had my first dentist's appointment in six years or so this morning. I've been experiencing some pretty serious, quality-of-life-reducing jaw pain for quite a while now, and since at first some of it seemed to originate in a spot where I was once told I had a "soft spot" developing, I had assumed that I was looking at some pretty advanced tooth decay.

So the good news is no tooth decay. The weird news is that instead I have a disorder. Namely, bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding.

The first two people who heard the news said, "Well, that's good right? No root canals!" Fortunately for me, Jacob and I share a brain (I have been known to refer to "our head"), so he understands. Sure, it's nice to be able to say that I still haven't got a single cavity in my head despite, by conventional standards, abominable dental hygiene. But, well, when we thought it was cavities, I could just be knocked out for a while and someone would FIX IT. Now, though, the problem is just as serious as ever, but, not to be punny or anything, it's in my head. And it's going to be a journey to fix it, and not just a doctor's appointment.

The diagnosis completely blindsided me--I would not have suspected it at all. Now that I've read and thought a little more, I do have a few thoughts, though. First off, I'm pretty sure that I don't actually grind my teeth at all, not even in sleep...I'm pretty sure I'm clenching them, as I've caught myself doing it several times since the appointment and it felt pretty--well, normal. Which leads to my second observation, which is that I'm not at all convinced that the problem is entirely or even primarily nocturnal--in which case the dentist's recommended treatment (the standard treatment) of a night-guard won't really solve it. I also feel like I need to know more, to see to what extent the temporal-mandibular joint might be involved/affected, since I have had ear problems wrapped up with this too.

So far, what this really makes me want to do is hurry up and get an appointment with my mom's naturopath, which I wanted to anyway. I really trust her, and I feel like she could give me a better picture of the full range of options and treatments, plus helping me with other problems that I would really like to resolve.

Basically, I've been trying to clear up my health and get things straight because, well, for one there are obvious quality of life issues. Also, though, my next pregnancy can't afford to be like my first one, not with a toddler running around. There were entire months of my first pregnancy when I found sitting up exhausting and barely had the energy to read--and mind you, I had no actual medical problems. And last, but not least, there is nothing more worth investing in than one's health when it comes to preparing for an uncertain future. I cannot afford to be less than my best if things come to a crisis, and currently I'm a whole lot short of "my best", whatever that may be--I'm confident that I've never approached it even in childhood, actually, since I've always had pretty poor health.

Well, now is the time to end that. Evelyn needs a capable, awake mother and Jacob needs a functional mate. I need to be able to do things without the additional burdens of pain and malaise.

It's just frustrating, because I don't know how much I can realistically do to reduce stress...our life is about as simple as it could reasonably be, we don't take on a lot of commitments, and there's just not really ANYTHING that I feel could beneficially be cut from our schedule. The very few things we do go to outside the home are really important for our mental/emotional wellbeing, just by virtue of their being so rare. Evelyn is what she is and I can't change that any faster than it's changing, and that's the primary source of stress in my life now. And, well, the world is a scary place right now and I really don't think that not thinking about that is a safe or productive answer.


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