Dentistry, and memory

Like everything, the longer I perendinate, the more things pile up.  Writing and topics for writing are a lot like that.  One of my favourite writers says about writing,’Thinking about writing is not writing.’  Yeah, I know.  If only all those bits I write in my head as I’m walking in the general vicinity of the dog could be magically turned to print, how cool that would be.

Since February I’ve been concerned with: my ongoing saga with dental pain and the alleviating of said pain coupled with a bout of the recurring back pain exacerbated by a quick slip on the icy trail;  turning my sewing expertise into an actual income-producing business;  organizing the materials in the various closets and bins related to sewing in the hope of optimizing efficiency;  absorbing web site designing skills and designing brochures to market said sewing self;  calamity cat Mozart who has taken over from Murphy and has been to the vet three times this spring/summer with abscesses requiring antibiotics;  struggling with enough energy to get more than one thing done a day;  how to sort through the many passions I have and the quest for the proper thyroid med amount; re-staining and painting the trim of the house;  and wanting to write about my thoughts on finding myself fifteen years past my cancer diagnosis.

But what I want to write about today is my dental journey.  The last two years has been an ongoing dance with fixing teeth and getting crowns.  I broke down and had two root canals done rather than get more teeth pulled and added to my all-plastic partials, then a third tooth went ballistic when the crown made for it had to be re-done and the extra attention meant that tooth needed a root canal as well.  Each time my eight year old partial went with the impression to the lab until one day it got sent back in pieces with no word of explanation.  The subsequent replacement is not the same and now the upper one has returned from a different lab with one of the hook bits broken off.  (At least this lab says they don’t know what the material is or how it’s made.)

All of this has meant that in the last year I have been without some of my teeth for more than three months, putting all those times together.  And that has reminded me of the dental journey part of my cancer dance that started fifteen years ago.

I was so fortunate that I was diagnosed with breast cancer while living in Victoria, BC.  In addition to the traditional medicine crowd, I had three wonderful, loving and supportive naturopathic practitioners.  One of those three was a biological dentist named Dr. Dino Paulos, a joyful teddybear of a man who luckily practiced in the Greater Victoria area.  Because of my cancer diagnosis, and the fact that my other two naturopaths were great friends of his, I got in to see him within a couple of months, not the nearly year wait that was most normal.  The consult was to get my silver amalgams replaced, I thought, but it turned into so much more.

He asked me about scars I had from past injuries or surgeries, then before I left he injected all my scars with procaine (related to novocaine, I think), including the scar from my tonsillectomy, probably the most painful thing I have ever experienced.  I had to open wide and do the Ahhhh thing loudly while he stuck a needle down my throat to my scar.  The pain made me cry and the injection actually helped release trauma from the surgery episode.  The next time he injected wasn’t half so bad, and luckily only those two times did he inject my throat, although he injected my appendectomy scar and my breast cancer scar until the first is hardly noticeable and feeling returned to my mastectomy scar.

Along with removing my silver fillings, Dino wanted to remove my root canal teeth because he said that root canals can harbour foci infections that the body’s immune system can’t deal with but constantly tries to.  I was reluctant to lose teeth but that Christmas Eve I had such tooth pain that I sat up at my mother’s house in San Diego with a hot water bottle trying to think of an easy way to suicide.   January found me ready to do it all.  All ended up meaning that besides the three root canals, three other teeth couldn’t handle the extra drilling and had to be extracted as well.  I spent the better part of a year living on mashed potatoes and cheese blintzes waiting for my mouth to heal so I could get new teeth that came out at night, something I never thought I would do; but  I was in my early 40’s and determined to do it all, whatever was necessary to get beyond breast cancer.

Dr. Dino used kinesiology to muscle test me before, during, and after all the procedures.  For the filling  removals I was dosed with chlorella (something I was taking daily as well) and I was appreciably stronger after the metal was removed.  There was infection in the root canal teeth and with their removal I  again experienced more energy.

His office at the time was in his house on the coast of the Saanich Peninsula, with a view of Mt. Baker.  It was an oasis of peace and tranquility.  You arrived through a tall wooden gate to a high-fenced garden with a little stream and some of Dino’s driftwood creations.  I would bring knitting in case I had to wait but there was always an elaborate puzzle in progress on the coffee table in the waiting room to help pass the time as well.

Dino always greeted me with a twinkle in his eye and a big hug, and the session always ended with a warm, encompassing hug as well.  The dental part of my cancer dance was by far the most painful part of that journey and I must say that losing the teeth was way worse than losing a breast, but making that journey with such a kind-hearted person was a highlight of that time.   My life was made richer by that experience and I remember with fondness the caring and loving energy, not the pain.

So it is with sadness that I discovered yesterday, while trying to find out what material those original partials were made of, that Dino died suddenly in April of this year.  I wish that I’d managed a trip back sooner;  I was actually considering spending an extra month in BC this fall to get new partials made.  I’m sorry for everyone who was family and really close to him.  I’m sure they will miss his joyful presence for all their days.  Thankful am I that we made that connection and that Dino was a big part of my healing process.  Would that there would be more in the world with that capacity for joyful life and caring compassion.



One response to “Dentistry, and memory

  1. Hi Lynn,
    Reading your post made me contemplate, kindness, generosity and people that have and will touch our lives in sometimes subtle and profound ways.

    I pulled up Dino’s obituary and read the comments that other people had written, the comments basically mirrored yours. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed. I wish that I had met him and I’m am glad that he was there for you.

    I am sorry my friend that you have been in pain for so long. I wish I could help. I am sure that the right medical people will show up for very soon. Maybe the under ground wellness folks can guide you to the right people?

    In closing for now, I would like to thank you for touching my life in subtle and profound ways….

    Love you, Carmen

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