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Living at the Dentist’s office

            Lately I’ve been living at the dentist’s office, or the oral surgeon’s, depending on the week. First there were regular checkups to see how I was healing from this summer’s oral surgery, and then at about the three month mark a crack appeared in the temporary upper teeth, not visible on the outside, and, luckily, the oral surgeon had been testing out his own 3D printer this fall and made a second version of my temporary device, so it was available to be switched out for the cracked one. And after that, I had to start the process of going from a temporary implant to a permanent one, which means molds and try-ons and who knows what else.

            But in the meantime, I also had regular cleanings, and more extractions, because my bottom teeth were jealous of all of the attention the upper teeth had gotten, and I had to get a temporary tooth, called a flipper, to fill the empty space up front, so now I have to be even more careful about what I eat, so I don’t accidentally pull out the flipper and swallow it with my dinner.

“That doesn’t sound yummy at all.”

            I wish this was all as entertaining in real life as it looks on paper.

The bone and gum loss in my mouth is so premature and seems to be a big honking clue that there is some underlying systematic disease process at work in my body, but no one can explain it or tie it to a specific diagnosis. So I continue to lose my teeth, and I continue to get more and more exhausted, and nothing I try seems to be able to slow this process down, let alone reverse the damage already done.

            I’ve also had to go for blood tests, and a mammogram, and a gynecological checkup, and there’s the oral pathologist and the primary care doctor and the gastroenterologist coming up, and, of course, the continuing dental visits.

And I’m tired. I’m tired of having to spend money on my teeth, and on tests and supplements, and I’m tired of having to spend so much energy and time going to doctors and researching potential diseases and treatments, without success.

            My nutritionist mentioned that someone she knows, with similar autoimmune issues to mine, had some success with Low Dose Naltrexone (the regular dose, which is prescribed to interrupt opioid addiction, is covered by insurance, but the low dose is an off label use and therefore only available at a compounding pharmacy, and therefore not covered), so now I’m doing research online and asking my various doctors what they know about that. But I’m worried that either the doctors won’t prescribe it, or that they will and then I’ll spend more money and time on yet another possible solution and get no improvement.

And in the meantime, my micro-part-time job is getting harder to manage, and when, on top of that, an emergency comes up: like the smell of gas in the building (leading nine members of the fire department to stomp into my apartment, silencing even Cricket, and then they turned off the gas for the whole building, for two weeks, while they checked the connections in every apartment), or the toilet leaking into the apartment below us (leading to a new wax ring and therefore a new toilet and new tiling because our toilet had been set in place with concrete, for some reason), the resulting invasion of workmen makes life even harder.

“Oy.”

            But, Mom has been doing better, and has had a string of good luck with new doctors who seem to know what they’re doing and care what she has to say. And the dogs both passed their yearly checkups with flying colors, and Ellie survived yet another dental cleaning and now has fresh clean breath, and I still love my work, and have tons of good things to watch on TV, and good books to read, and good food to eat…

            And I feel like I should be celebrating all of this good fortune, but I don’t have the energy. So I keep trying new probiotics, in case the gut microbiome is the source of all disease (as Facebook keeps telling me), and I keep trying new breathing exercises and yoga poses and guided meditations, in case a calm mind really is a healthy mind (again, Facebook), and I hug the puppies, and I take my naps, and I read my mysteries. Because what else can I do?

“Bark. At everyone.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?