The desire for one small tooth, a molar, in my lower jaw on the right side, has pretty much ruined my life.
I tell myself that vanity had nothing to do with it. Truthfully, my mouth is small and even when I smile widely, you don’t see the huge toothless space in my right lower jaw.
I desired a molar, the first one after the premolars, so that I could chew on that side of my mouth again. But honestly, after more than five months of chewing only on the left side of my mouth and having become accustomed to it, I wonder if I should have left well enough alone and not ruined my life.
You do the best that you can at any given moment in your life. You make the best decisions that you are able. And what might seem wrong in retrospect often seems so very right in the moment.
Do you ever find yourself thinking that life just isn’t fair? Well here’s the thing, it isn’t. There are a lot of people who think that it should be. I never thought that I was one of them. I thought I was too rational for that. But now I wonder.
You do your job. You eat healthfully. You try not to pollute the environment. You are kind to animals. You are helpful to those around you. You do your best to be a good person. And still the universe dumps on you. Where’s the justice in that?
Then maybe you begin to wonder if you are a good person. Is there some sort of cosmic balance sheet and you’ve just come up short. Had one to many bad thoughts? Maybe been a little too judgmental? Didn’t give enough to charity? You wonder, is there some sort of fairness to the universe and you’ve failed the test.
So I wanted a tooth.
That poor tooth that I wanted replaced had been through a lot. It had been filled when I was young and refilled when I was older. It had cracked and needed a crown. It was damaged in a fall from a horse and needed a new crown. It was damaged again when a horse head-butted me in my jaw and then it needed a root canal. Then finally one morning while eating breakfast, the crown of that poor tooth cracked right off of its roots.
It had to come out and I was going to be left with no molars in my lower right jaw. At the time, I couldn’t accept that. So the tooth was pulled and an implant was put in place by an oral surgeon.
I do not like anitbiotics. Antibiotics give me nothing but trouble. When I take an antibiotic, it takes my intestines six months or more to get back to any kind of normal. So when the oral surgeon told me that I was going to have to take an antibiotic, my first reaction was no way was I going to do that.
But he convinced me, scared me actually, into taking it. He offered to let me take it for only five days. I accepted the offer. But when filling the prescription for clindamycin, I found that he had compressed a normal ten day amount into five days. It was way too high a dosage. And my troubles began the very next day after just two double doses taken on the day of my surgery.
I am constantly in pain. Sometimes, if I move wrongly, the pain becomes excruciating. I’ve nearly passed out from the pain on a number of occasions. I find panting helps.
My joints are a mess. Shoulders and elbows, hips and knees are stiff and very difficult to get moving. Most of my muscles hurt too. Although, I suspect that much of that is referred pain from my joints.
I’ve had a number of setbacks. One came about two months after the oral surgery when it seemed like I was beginning to recover. I got a flu shot. It set me back to the beginning … and perhaps further beyond that. The pain I experienced from that point on was worse than it had been.
But things eventually started to get a little better. My hips and knees were improving even if my shoulders and elbows were not.
Then, a couple more months down the road when I was feeling a smidge better, my husband thought that what I needed was a probiotic. So we bought one and I took one capsule and the next day I was in so much more pain that I could not believe it. And now my wrists were also involved. And I can’t raise my arms above my head anymore. Getting my hands to the top of my head to wash my hair is a major endeavor.
Early on in the process of the ruination of my life, I had some blood drawn. Here, where we live, you can do that without involving a doctor. I ordered tests to check the function of my liver, kidneys, and thyroid and also check blood glucose. I ordered a lipid panel and a complete blood count with electrolytes.
The results showed that I had some liver damage, which is what I suspected. But everything else looked good enough. There was nothing in the results that stood out to explain the joint pain and the muscle soreness.
I learned later that other tests were going to be necessary. Tests for autoimmune diseases.
But based on my severe reaction to the probiotic, we began to suspect that I have a very leaky gut. And I started thinking about it. I realized that I’ve probably had a leaky gut for the last 30 years or so and possibly longer. When I was about 39 years old, a doctor prescribed a high dose of erythromycin for a bronchitis I couldn’t shake off. I told him it was too much. He convinced me to take it. It triggered Meniere’s Syndrome in my left ear. The dizziness, nausea and inability to stand and walk did not go away with stopping the antibiotic. I was a real mess for several weeks until we got it figured out.
The ear/nose/throat specialist I eventually went to when my regular doctor refused to accept that the antibiotic had done that do me, confirmed that yes I had Meniere’s Syndrome, yes I had developed it about 30 years before what is normal, and yes it was likely the erythromycin had done this to me.
Right about the same time as developing Meniere’s Syndrome, I began having migraine headaches every day. It took about four years of suffering with them for me to figure out all the food triggers and environmental triggers. And during that time, I constantly wondered what had changed so drastically in my body that suddenly things I had eaten all my life now gave me migraine headaches.
Looking back on it now, I realize that most likely that high dosage of erythromycin took an already leaky gut and made it even leakier.
So, why did I think I already had a leaky gut?
I had spent all my life growing up having throat infection after throat infection with attendant bronchitis about six times a year and getting erythromycin every time due to my parents’ insistence on the antibiotic. It was determined by our doctor that I was getting sick all the time because my parents smoked and I am allergic to tobacco. The constant post nasal drip created a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. Studies have shown that antibiotics taken in childhood can have detrimental effects later in life. It took a heavy toll on my intestines, to be sure.
So my intestines were already compromised and that large dose of erythromycin for the bronchitis pushed me right over the top. Which brings me to now.
When I had the oral surgery and took the clindamycin, I had no idea I might have a leaky gut. I just thought I had food and environmental sensitivities. I’ve had them for so long now that they are a part of my life and I’ve lived with an adjusted diet for so long that I give it very little thought. But it would seem that the high dose of clindamycin pushed my guts right over the top again. It’s about the only thing we’ve come up with to explain what has been happening to me. My hope is that this is not like with the Meniere’s Syndrome and that this pain and stiffness is not now a permanent part of my life. But I fear that it might be.
Most days I can handle the pain as long as I don’t make a wrong move. It’s really slowed me down though. Getting dressed for the day first thing in the morning is a fifteen minute exercise in pain and frustration. But what is really wearing me down is my inability to get any kind of decent sleep. During the day, with the distractions of the few chores that I can still do, I can ignore much of the pain. Lying in bed with nothing else going on, sometimes … often … nightly actually, the pain is too much to ignore and I find myself sitting up, in the dark, and wishing I could just sleep. I’m so sleep deprived right now I often wonder how I am still functioning.
And then, my sleep deprived brain wonders if I could just think about this all positively, would it all go away? People are always touting the benefits of positive thinking. But what about the converse? Do negative thoughts bring about negative results? My sleep deprived brain wonders if I’m perpetuating my condition by not embracing it somehow. It wonders if I could just make peace with my plight, could I begin to heal. Sometimes, I’m convinced this is the case. Sometimes I think that for sure I’ve brought this on myself. Maybe if I’d been a better sister over the years, or done more for others, thought less about myself, maybe then I wouldn’t be going through this.
I don’t think I hate myself. But if I liked myself a little more, might I be not suffering right now? If I were a little less uncertain about my goodness, would I then not have this problem that I do? It seems unlikely when you look at it rationally. But a part of me wonders.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m actually a bad person and I deserve all of this.
And all I wanted was to be able to chew on both sides of my mouth. Who knew the desire for one little tooth could cause so much trouble?
I first wrote this quite some time ago now. It’s been through a number of edits. Since writing this, I have been to see a nurse practitioner. She ran five other blood tests, all for autoimmune diseases. The tests came back negative. She did say that some inflammation markers were slightly elevated. I could have told her that.
The upshot is that as of right now, we have no idea what is wrong. She wants to run more tests, but I’m reluctant. During the consultation, she pretty much flatly refused to discuss our theory about leaky gut. It’s been my experience that most western medical professionals do not recognize leaky gut as a syndrome. So I may have to turn to alternative medicine to get some relief.
For now, I am waiting out my six month window for my intestines to heal from the clindamycin. The six months will be up on February 9. If in a couple of weeks after that I do not see some improvement of my symptoms, it will be time to seek out further help.
On a lighter note, I got the new tooth installed on the implant and it is working like a charm. I am happy to be able to chew on both sides of my mouth. But I do still wonder if it was the wisest of decisions.
I would like to figure out what is wrong with me and what I need to do to correct it. I worry that there is no answer. But if there is, I will find it … eventually.