Opioids and Looking Like Uncle Festus
(This will be posted to The Pain Community Blog on Facebook this November)
Several years ago I began taking opioid medicines to combat the hideous pain I’d been living with for decades.
It worked and I began to experience the happy diminution of pain throughout my body.
But–there’s always a “but” in happy stories–a few years ago I switched to another opioid after developing tolerance to the first medicine.
While the new medicine worked well I quickly developed dry mouth that I dealt with on my own; I wasn’t about to let a little sub Saharan dryness diddle with my improved pain.
Yet it’s in the interstices of muting pain and acidic Saharan Zephyrs that brews disaster in the mouth of the blissful unsuspecting.
Yes, brewing calamitous enameled weakness.
It started with a ham a cheese sandwich where in my second bite I crunched something much too hard. Fishing it out I held on the tip of my finger that which could only be a chip of tooth enamel.
This dolorous calving of my teeth repeated itself over and over in the following months.
Dental care became a must.
However, my tale of ending up like uncle Festus flamed up as if accelerants had been hidden in those increasingly edgy spaces between my individual teeth: my unemployed wife, my inability to work, our son still at university, dwindling savings and the conspicuous lack insurance.
But we all know too well that dental insurance is…well…laughable.
Denial fell like a blackout curtain across my reason: The loss of enamel, like calving glaciers, would certainly end soon; I could ride it out.
And neither can you.
Denial crumbled like my teeth when I saw the gaps, the lost teeth, the decay.
Uncle Festus in the mirror.
Eventually, I sat in a dental chair for days over months at the University of California-San Francisco being worked over by a student dentist from India.
I got good care, though the out-of-pocket expense was, and is now stunning.
Now living in Chicago with my wife employed and after selling one of our apartment buildings at the hands of eminent domain in Utah, we now have the thousands, I mean thousands, necessary to hammer, pick, extract, fill, bone transplants implanted perfect imposters.
I now look less like uncle Festus and more like my aging self.
The moral of this posting?
There is none. We’re trapped between the Scylla of delicious opioid relief and the Charybdis of disastrous decay.
What’s to be done?
Change, if you can, the medication. Consult a dentist privately or at a University if possible. Drink more liquids than you can possibly stand. Suck sugarless mints. Mouth wash, mouth wash, mouth wash. Floss daily if you can or use a waterpik. Rinse your mouth especially after eating; rinse, rinse, rinse.
Oh, yes, contact your legislators and agitate for better dental care insurance.
Any suggestions from sub Saharan veterans is sorely welcome.