Seriously, the holding pattern is kind of ridiculous. It’s the same thing, every day:
- Call doctor; am told that they’re waiting to hear back from the insurance. - Call insurance; am told that they’re waiting to hear from their board
The thing is? It’s just words on a paper. They don’t see my tooth broken off in the front. They don’t get to hear about how my jaw aches and how my face hurts. How every single tooth feels loose and how I can’t take bites because I’m genuinely afraid yet another tooth is going to break. How I can suck air between my teeth because they’re that thin.
There’s nothing left inside my teeth. They’re hollow. They’ll break if I bite into a sandwich, so if I can’t cut it, I can’t eat it. When I said this, in utter frustration, to the woman at the oral maxillofacial clinic, her response was, “Okay.”
It might be okay to you, but I’d like to get this done and over with. I’d like to feel like I’m not a walking cancer patient in everything that I do. Like I’m not feeling sorry for myself. Like I can go get a job. Like I don’t have to feel self-conscious about talking to people when I KNOW they can see the holes in my teeth.
The scars I carry, I’m going to carry forever. I look like the victim of a shark attack. People are always going to stare at me, but come on. Can I at least enjoy a good sandwich while they do?
I like turkey.
It’s disheartening because, really. How many times can you ask your friends to donate their gas money to your teeth?
And that’s just a third of my final goal of $30,000.
Teeth aren’t just a vanity thing, you know. It’s a health thing. Cancer wasn’t the worst part, it’s the recovery and getting back into society. It sucks.
Mary was diagnosed with Stage 3 squamous cell carcinoma (tongue cancer) in July of 2009. As a non-smoker her entire life, this came as quite a shock. She had half of her tongue removed and remade from from a skin graft in her arm.
A month after her surgery, she began six weeks of daily radiation treatments and chemotherapy. She lost sixty-five pounds but managed to keep most of her hair, which she considered a fair trade-off. Unfortunately, the radiation also took a heavy toll on her mouth, killing most of her salivary glands. Without the use of saliva, a person’s teeth tend to go bad in less than a year and this is what’s happened to Mary.
Her surgeon and her dentist both told her that dentures and implants are they only way to fix this problem.
As it stands, she’s already broken off one tooth in the front of her mouth and before she could have the others removed, she spent forty hours in a hyperbaric tank - another side effect of the radiation treatment. After her teeth are removed, she will spend another twenty hours to help heal her mouth before she can continue the process… which will take an entire year.