August 24th, 2014

girl in tree, hiding

Continuing Recovery & Weakness

Lying around recovering from the gum graft surgery today. Played with my new Prismacolor pencils a lot, enjoying how soft and blendable they are. Love them madly.

Crystal & Suzen came to visit in the afternoon & we sat out in the front/side of the house in the Adirondack-style chairs Shannon kindly carried down from the deck. We couldn't hang out inside because Crystal needs Suzen with her & we didn't want Suzen traumatizing the cats.

I'd really enjoyed sitting out in the fresh air & sunshine with Crystal, so I suggested to Shannon that we go for a very slow, gentle walk out to Ben & Jerry's in the evening, because I was excited to get out and move around a bit. So we went out after dinner.

Mistake.

We walked downtown, about 3/4 mile away, and I was tired when we got there, but not too bad. On the way home, though, I became absolutely exhausted. So weak that I could barely walk & ended up holding onto Shannon's arm for the last few blocks to help keep me steady. By the time we got home, I was a dizzy, trembling wreck, good for nothing but falling into bed.

I sent some quick emails to Debbie & Julia, both of whom I'd been hoping to see briefly tomorrow, to let them know that I'd pushed myself too hard this evening & preferred to just rest rest rest all of tomorrow. I actually have a therapy appointment, so I'll need to walk to the bus stop, then from the bus stop to Melissa's office, then back to the bus stop near Melissa's, then home from the bus stop near our house. I think that'll really be my limit, based on my experience this evening.

I went to bed & lay down listening to a podfic (I was quite certain that I wouldn't be able to pay proper attention to the audiobook I've been enjoying lately), but my headache wouldn't let me sleep. So I got up a few minutes ago & decided to write this journal entry. I plan to go lie on the couch & do something distracing (color or play a game on the iPad) until I feel able to doze. Maybe watch some silly tv ("Big Brother") with Shannon if he likes.

I hated feeling so weak when we were out walking. I felt like an old lady & cursed my body for reacting so violently to such a tiny medical procedure. But Shannon pointed out that my body is putting a lot of its energy into healing those wounds right now, and I remembered that they're not entirely minor wounds, since I had no real gum tissue to which the periodontist could attach the gum grafts & so they're attached to tissue that isn't really hardy enough to support them easily. So the wounds may be requiring a lot more energy to heal than such small physical areas might lead me to expect.

In any case, whether it seemed reasonable to me or not, I was beyond exhausted & plan to get as much rest tomorrow as possible. And I'll hope that my headache gets better & lets me sleep soon tonight. It's ridiculously early, but I'm still worn out.
girl in tree, hiding

The Periodontist's Advice

Still exhausted but unable to sleep.

I've been forgetting up until now to write down the stuff the periodontist told me after the surgery to attach the gum grafts.

He told me that they had to carefully use extremely gentle pressure to slowly push my existing mucous membranes away from the relevant teeth until they had created a sort of pocket of space between my own tissue and my teeth, into which the donor gum tissue could be inserted. So the donor gums are between my own gums and my teeth, where they will not be visible.

He told me that these grafts will not change the appearance of my gums or help them to heal, really; they will only prevent the gums in those locations from receding further. There's nothing that can be done to actually better their situation. I have no remaining gum tissue on those teeth, and so the grafts had to be attached to the mucous membranes of the inside of my mouth, where they attached right below where my gums should be.

When pushing my mucous membranes away from those teeth to create the space for the grafts, Dr. Cangini apparently discovered quite a bit of bone loss underneath, where it had not previously been entirely visible. Lucky me.

At least I found out about this before I actually lost the teeth (which frequently happens to me, as with many other people, in my dreams). I may still lose them, since they suffered so much damage before being treated.

I'd been noticing the receding of my gums in those locations for the past few years, but I didn't realize that it presented such a big problem. I figured it was largely cosmetic, and I didn't care about that, especially since they are bottom teeth. I'd been meaning to talk to my dentist about it, but he hadn't mentioned it on my previous visits until this year when he urged me to see the periodontist as soon as possible. Um ... shouldn't he have recommended this sooner, before the situation became so severe? Well, that's all in the past & there's no benefit in being angry about it. There's also no benefit in being angry at myself, since I had no idea of the seriousness of the situation.

Apparently, many factors contribute to this kind of severe gum recession. Genetics is one, but having had braces is apparently another considerable contributing factor. The dental hygienist told me that a good 2/3 of the dental recession cases she sees are in people who had braces as children. Oral hygiene, of course, is another large contributing factor. I've always been very good about brushing, but my flossing has been sporadic at best, and I haven't been very good about seeing the dentist regularly in the past couple decades, getting a cleaning (with x-rays and exam) every 2 or 3 years. But they always said my teeth and gums looked fine, so I didn't worry & just continued as I had been doing.

Mistake.

Also, I must admit that my oral hygiene suffered during the years when I was severely depressed. All of my hygiene suffered, but neglecting regular showers obviously did not have serious potential consequences as neglecting brushing and flossing.

Ah well. Apparently, my dentist may still need to do something called "bonding" to protect the exposed bone, but Dr. Cangini doesn't know until he sees me for my follow-up appointment a week after the gum graft surgery.

So we'll see. And I'll cross my fingers that I don't start losing teeth in my 40's or 50's.

As it is, I wonder how many other parts of my body are going to end up with implants. First my eyes, and now my mouth. Sheesh!