Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Peri - (Oh no!) - dontal disease

We had just returned from our honeymoon, blissfully (yes, blissfully!) happy.  Marriage was even better than we had anticipated.  Somehow, after saying our vows, we entered into an even more intimate, comfortable, secure, loving relationship.  Taking care of each other became our top priority. And we constantly teased, hugged, loved.  I remember thinking, "It doesn't get better than this."

Three days after we returned from our honeymoon, I attended a routine dental appointment.  Water shot out from Dr. L's high-powered cleaning device to clean the surface of my teeth and the spaces in between.  His assistant maneuvered a suctioning device around my mouth as Dr. L cleaned, and at one point she removed it.  I took the opportunity to swallow.  And tasted blood.

Dr. L pulled up a chair after the cleaning and told me that he was concerned about the amount my gums had bled during the appointment.  Usually this is a result of tartar build up, he told me.  But I had none.  He was concerned that my having had undiagnosed diabetes for awhile had led to the development of gum disease.  I couldn't believe it.  M is forever teasing me about how thoroughly I brush and floss.  How had this happened?

One week later, I was at Dr. P's office.  He was the periodontist Dr. L referred me to.  He used a measuring tool to assess how deep the pockets between my teeth and gums were.  The deeper he could submerge the tool beneath my gum line, the more concerning the pocket was.  I had remembered Dr. L telling me that 3's were normal.  When I heard Dr. P read out 4's, 5's, even 6's to his assistant, I fought back tears.  Closed my eyes against the pain and focused on taking one breath at a time.

Dr. P pulled up a chair after the procedure and told me I had periodontal disease and would need to schedule surgery as soon as possible.  Untreated, periodontal disease would lead to tooth loss.  This was all so overwhelming to me.  Within the space of 8 months, I had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, learned how to manage diabetes with fingersticks and injections, began using a continuous glucose monitor, and a pump...and now diagnosed with periodontal disease.  And this in addition to all the good stress, the moving in with M, planning our wedding, taking and passing my licensing exam, getting married...

I've had about a week to adjust to this latest news, this new chronic condition that I'll have to manage for the rest of my life with quarterly visits and hypervigilance about oral hygiene.  This news stole M's and my bliss for a time, until we fought to regain it.  Until I renewed my commitment to yoga and my spiritual practice.

J, Dr. P's assistant, met with me before I left my appointment.  She told me that whenever she doesn't understand a condition her daughter was born with, why it was that other little girls don't have to manage what her daughter does, she tells herself that it's because they wouldn't be able to.  That if we're given it, we can handle it.

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