Before anyone goes thinking I'm ready to off myself, let me just say I'm far too much of a chicken. Plus, I have too much to say. I've got a big mouth, lots of opinions and lots to do.
Yesterday, however, I found myself in a very triggering situation. I was unprepared, which is to say, I was completely blindsided. Back in 2006, in April to be precise, I was in the radiologist's office for my annual routine mammography and my first ever DEXA scan (bone density). Precisely one week later, I was back in his office, for the fourth time in seven days. I was picking up films to bring them to MSK to be reviewed by their radiologists.
One day earlier, I was sitting in his office. He gently held my hand as he looked into my eyes with kindness and compassion. "AnneMarie, I'm fairly certain the breast surgeon will want these things removed to make sure it's not cancer." I don't recall how I got to my car. I don't remember walking out of his office. I went from "cancer" to hearing myself screaming and crying. I called my husband and I was sitting in my car in the parking lot. Sobbing, over and over again, "You don't understand, they KNOW what they are looking at..... " I couldn't calm myself to drive home. Until I could.
The following day, I walked back into his office to retrieve all of the films (years of films) and his report. I understood the way a radiologist evaluated their findings. If memory serves me, it was a scale of 1 through 4. Whatever number was the worst possible finding.... that was my number. What? You think I sat beside my girlfriend who was my chauffeur without tearing the envelope open? They are MY records.
It was late in the day and thankfully, I was semi-high on a percocet. I had a small surgical thing to remove a neuroma from my foot. Damn thing was messing with my shoe fetish. IT HAD TO GO. A neuroma is a type of harmless tumor. Harmless, unless of course, you can't wear the fabulous shoes in your closet. I had two choices. Replace my shoe wardrobe with practical, comfortable FLAT shoes (or live in flip flops which doesn't really work in a NY winter) OR have the neuroma removed. I chose the latter. Redundant information as my thing for shoes is well established. One of my favorite quotes is the one about giving the girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. The right shoes matter.
Thanks to HIPAA, I would have to walk in to retrieve the films we would be transporting despite the fact that my foot was just opened and closed in an operating room. HIPAA rules supreme. We pulled up to a side entrance of this rather large medical building. The office, thankfully, was the very first door inside that particular entrance. I hobbled, my foot in a boot, steadied by crutches and my friend who had to control everything. I was wobbly from the foot, wobbly from the anesthesia, wobbly from the percocet and VERY wobbly knowing we would be driving to Sloan Kettering. Admit it. NOTHING screams "CANCER!" quite like "Sloan Kettering." Percocet on an empty stomach transformed the shrill scream into a dull roar.
I was already familiar (and exceptionally impressed) with the inner workings of MSK. Ironically, my knowledge of MSK was because of this friend...... the friend who helped me up the two steps and helped me move my legs so they would transport me to the desk so I could sign for my records. It was this very same friend who had her throat sliced from ear to ear less than two months prior to remove her cancerous thyroid. And it wasn't the "good" thyroid cancer. It wasn't the BAD thyroid cancer. It was the very RARE thyroid cancer.
Again, you know me well enough to know I use the word "good" with a heavy dose of sarcasm. In a digital world, someone needs to work on a universal sarcasm font. It would save me lots of time explaining I am being sarcastic. Plus, sarcasm loses its sarcastic value when it has to be explained.
Yesterday, I had to meet with an oral surgeon. As I circled the parking lot and settled on a space, it wasn't until I approached the door did I realize, "This is the building. THIS IS THE DOOR." I began to tremble. I couldn't control it if I tried. The radiologist has since moved and I walked past his door which was free of any tag to indicate the suite number or the name of the occupant. I began to swallow my tears. REALLY???
It was over six years ago and the simple act of walking up those two small steps through that doorway triggered a flashback. I'm not sure I have PTSD but damn if it didn't feel like an episode. I walked the long hallway, my eyes filled with tears until I arrived in the main lobby area. I took the elevator up to his office. Dental chairs are another triggering thing but that pales in comparison to what was about to happen.
The surgeon came into the room almost immediately. I love offices where you are not left waiting. I already liked this guy. A lot. He took a look at the X-rays that were taken by my dentist and then looked at the area of concern. We began to talk. Rather. HE began to talk and I put on my best "be your own advocate" hat and listened closely. He put the x-ray on the wall so he could explain everything and I could see what he was talking about.
I'm liking this guy more and more. Until I heard words like temporary prosthesis, bone graft, CT scan, implants, about a year, lots of down time in between as things need to heal. Major trigger. I barely had time to compose myself from trauma of walking into the building and this is starting to sound like something else. I think he sensed my angst when I began to say "I've learned NOT to ask 'what if' until ......" And he picked up the ball and ran with it.
At this point, I'm in love with this guy. In Love. Basically, this is going to suck. And, it's going to cost a bloody freakin' fortune BUT....
I have substantial bone loss in my upper left jawbone. I have to go back to my dentist (who happens to be a genius with cosmetic dentistry even though he is "just a dentist") so he can make this temporary thing. Then, I will go back to the surgeon to have teeth removed. After about four months, I will have a CT scan so he can see if my sinus is behind the bone. If it is interfering with the bone, I will need something called a sinus lift. Then, a bone graft. "No big deal, the bone is taken from a jar" or, "we will remove some of your lower jaw bone to fill the space." Then, the implants will go in. They have to be in my jaw for six months before I can have the permanent teeth put on the implants. The entire process will take about a year. And potentially many thousands of dollars depending upon how many implants are necessary and if that sinus lift thing has to be done.
There are many X factors in the equation. I'm going with the old adage about preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Nah.... I'm so done with the word HOPE. I'm going to skip past the hope for the best part. I'm presuming I will be dealing with the worst possible scenario. Sinus lift, need for several implants because of the bone structure. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised. I seem to feel that I will be bitterly disappointed if I place even on granule of hope into this equation and we hit the bump in the road. Hope has been drop kicked out of this by a great pair of shoes.
I hate the thought of walking around with a temporary prosthetic for an entire year. I feel like those things are always falling out. The oral surgeon was exceptionally sympathetic when he read my face after hearing "about a year." The thought of running in and out of medical offices for a year is triggering me further. He assured me there's lots of downtime with this whole thing.
And all I can think? "Unless, of course, that temporary thing keeps coming loose.... then, there will be lots of running back and forth to the dentist.... and what happens if the thing falls out right after the dentist leaves on Saturday and no one can reattach the damn thing until Monday..... Suppose I have a party on that Sunday and the thing is not in my mouth where it belongs.... you can see the thing unless I never smile... it's the fourth tooth from the front.... why the hell is this happening..... this just sucks.... but wait, it's not cancer...... the lingo may be awfully similar..... it's a tooth"
There is option B. Do nothing and basically wait for the left side of my face to cave in. If shoes were a deciding factor for that foot surgery, I don't have an option B. I kinda like my face the way it is. And I really like to smile.